This post makes me happy, because the person in this post makes me happy.
There’s nothing better than putting a good book into the world. Unless, of course, you’re the actual person who helps to put good books into the whole. To put a good book into the world and to be putting good books in the world—it’s almost kind of a superpower.
It’s literally saving the world, one good story at a time.
I’m excited to introduce to you Blythe Daniel—author, literary agent, and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. Blythe has represented authors associated with Focus on the Family, Proverbs 31 Ministries, The Huffington Post, Today Show Parenting, and more. She has partnered with Harvest House, Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, and Zondervan, and has helped to campaign published books, such as The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, Breaking Busy by Allie Worthington, and Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman.
Blythe, along with her mother Dr. Helen McIntosh, has authored Mended, a book that speaks into the healing and rebuilding of relationships between mothers and daughters.
Of this, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to dive deep into, curious with questions about Blythe’s writing process, what it looked like to be working to represent and champion the words of others all the while harboring the dream to write Mended, and what advice Blythe has for those wanting to write books of their own.
Grab the hottest, deepest cup of coffee (or tea, if you’re like me). Listen and lean in—the words in your heart just might depend on it.
Rachel Kang: When did you first feel the pull inside your heart to write Mended?
Blythe Daniel: Wow, like for years? Does that count?! Mom and I had talked several years ago about writing a book about mother-daughter relationships but we had a good relationship (made stronger by the effort we put into it) and [thought] that people wouldn’t just want to hear that but the harder moments as well. It was timing that God brought together, actually. Right before the start of 2017, we outlined the book and our publisher came to me (since I’m a literary agent) and asked if I had any clients writing about mother-daughter relationships. I told her about ours and she asked me to send it! So that’s how God brought it all together.
RK: What did your writing rhythms look like while working on Mended?
BD: Oh boy, this wasn’t an ordinary season for us nor was our writing rhythms. Just after we signed our contract and started thinking about the book, Mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She started chemotherapy and I was traveling that summer to writer’s conferences and to see her. She would go to her computer to type on days that she felt well enough to do so. Because of the intense time for our family and subsequent hospital stays that Mom had, we didn’t get to work on it like we thought we would. We were given a year to write it, but honestly, we really didn’t start writing it until a few months before it was due. I would sit in the hospital with Mom and listen and type while she gave me deliciously good content to type into the chapters. Then I’d stay up and weave in some of my stories and start the process over again the next day. We live over 1,300 miles apart but we did most of our writing when I visited her at Christmas 2017 and early 2018 before turning it in. The good news is that we had more time to develop it after our wonderful editor gave us her initial feedback. From there, we spent another couple of months of back-and-forth edits and that was a tighter schedule of reading and revising but I loved the editing phase as much as the writing phase—if not more, I’m wired that way!
RK: As a literary agent, how did you juggle supporting writers in their dreams and journeys, all the while knowing you had a message in your heart to share too?
BD: Good question! I wanted to write all the years I have been investing in the dreams of others, but I just had a sense it wasn’t my season yet. I knew that with raising young children and working, I didn’t have the time or the sense of what my unique offering would be. But when God was so faithful to bring the opportunity to us, I just knew it was Him. And, after Mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma and we had this book in front of us, I just said out loud one day, from my beliefs: “God, I know you would not have called us to write this book if Mom were not going to be here for it.” I knew that’s just not the way God operates and so I knew that she would be okay with her cancer diagnosis and we would continue to write and talk about our book. And she has had greater challenges than we could have imagined post-chemo and with Parkinson’s but our relationship has deepened further and we actually added a chapter to the outline that we didn’t expect based on this journey (Chapter 11: Do Hard Things Together).
RK: What were the challenges and joys of co-writing Mended?
BD: The challenges and joys at the same time were what to include in the book that would resonate with the reader and would be balanced well with practical truths and personal stories. We wanted to share from our stories but also encourage readers with practical things they can implement. It really came together so beautifully with what Mom had to share and then I’d fill in with my thoughts. We bounced off each other and we are grateful that it was smooth and came together as thoughtfully as we could have envisioned. It was work, yes, but it wasn’t labor-intensive. It wasn’t difficult to write. And I think that’s the difference when God is in a message that’s His versus us trying to drive a message. << Tweet that! It’s listening carefully and praying and being in His Word as you write so that you can hear from Him.
RK: How did you balance honoring the story of Mended while honoring your family’s story?
BD: You know, we did think through, “Is this honoring of Mom (my grandmother),” or “Is this sharing too much but also sharing enough?” We didn’t want to hide anything from the reader and so we tried to be as honest as we could while still honoring my grandmother’s life and the life and love between Mom and me. We didn’t have to work too hard to do this because we had been in a place of healing from our wounds. So I think there was wisdom in waiting to write this book when we could share what we have seen and experienced without being too far away from it but also not too close to it. So it was a balanced timing and approach of what and how to share.
RK: How did you know that the message of Mended was one that God intended and not just something you wanted to pursue?
BD: It was interesting hearing from a few moms and daughters that we had shared with that we were writing and they said to us, “That’s such a need,” or “You need to write that book.” We felt like God had placed it on our hearts at a strategic time for us—God had shared with me about a year prior to be intentional in writing this with Mom—and we didn’t know what type of response we would receive, but we decided to put ourselves out there and write. So many times I think writers feel like it all has to line up, and in some ways it does. But when you can identify a need and speak to it in a way that others haven’t, that to me is when you have the green light to share from your unique experience. To pursue writing and position yourself in front of readers in various ways ahead of time to prepare for when the book will be in print is key.
RK: What advice would you give to beginning writers that dream of writing a book?
BD: Don’t feel rushed to write. Take some time to sit with what is brewing in you. Give it over to the Lord as you think about it: Lord, this is yours and if you want me to write it, show me when and how and how open I need to be about the message and the process. You know what this is to look like. I would start, not just thinking about your story/message, but how you are reaching and could reach the intended reader. Start putting those building blocks into place now; it will make it much easier when the time comes to publish your book. Connect early with the reader so he or she feels connected to you.
Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She is a speaker for writer’s conferences and writer for publications. She links bloggers with readers through BlogAbout. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children.
Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren.
To learn more about Blythe Daniel, Dr. Helen McIntosh, or their book Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, visit www.ourmendedhearts.com.
For questions on non-fiction and/or fiction submissions or to connect, visit www.theblythedanielagency.com—tap the contact tab to see info on submissions.