A Christmas (Publishing) Miracle

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
This story begins over ten years ago when I met Sonia. We sang together in the choir, sat on the same row, and we knew each other in a “singing together” sort of way. One year, I decided to sell some of my Chicken Soup for the Soul books at a fall festival at our church, and I suppose it stuck in Sonia’s mind, me being a writer.

So time passed. But this October, our pastor grabbed me after church and said, “Sonia has written a book and she wanted me to tell you that she’ll be back in a week or so and she hopes you can help her.”

Sonia grew up in the Philippines and she goes back there for a couple of months at a time now that she’s retired. And I vaguely recalled her saying something about writing months ago. But Sonia has written a book?

“Sure, sure,” I stammered. “I’m happy to help.” I was thinking I’d just skim her book and give her some feedback. That was not what Sonia was thinking.

The next week, Sonia handed me this sheaf of pages. It was her book, a single-spaced manuscript, and immediately I could see that it needed major formatting. She asked me to read it and edit the pages for her, to get it ready to be published. Her plan was to find a religious publishing company and get her book out into the world. “But don’t worry, Cathy. The church will help me with the publishing side of it. I just need you to fix it!”

I glanced down at the page in front of me and began to read. The book was going to need formatting and a serious line edit. But I love Sonia and the book is about her journey after the death of her beloved husband, which of course speaks to me as well, and so I did as Sonia asked. I fixed it.

It was mid-November now and I wanted Sonia to proofread my edits, to make sure I stayed true to her voice. But Sonia does not have a laptop and so in a moment of divine inspiration, I realized I could get her “book” printed at one of those big box office stores. Sonia could read her book and I could make any changes and turn over the file to the church. The church would take it from there.

Except when we met with our pastor and the church people, they really couldn’t get involved in this business venture. I had recommended earlier that Sonia should probably go the self-publishing route anyway, and everyone thought that was a swell idea. And by the way, could I oversee that?

Uh-oh. I have read a fair amount of self-published books; I’m not sure that actually qualified me for managing and getting someone’s book published. But Sonia was so impassioned about her book and the proceeds would go to help the seminarians in the Philippines and at this point she was adamant about paying me for all the work. I just couldn’t say no. I’d figure out Kindle Direct Publishing and get ‘er done.

Oh! And one other thing. Could I get the book finished in time for Advent?


The first Sunday of Advent was December 2nd. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Lots of stuff happened in between, but by November 30th, I had submitted the final version of the book. Late that Saturday night, December 1st, Sonia’s book was online and available for purchase.

But my part in this story is not the point of this Christmas publishing miracle. During one of our many, many conversations, I told Sonia that she was relentless. Relentless. She was determined to get her book out there and despite my efforts along the way to be done with the book, Sonia would not let go of me or her dream.

Maybe it’s because Sonia will soon be eighty. Or perhaps it’s because she’s so deeply committed to growing the church in the Philippines. Whatever the reason, she believed in herself and this book. She cried when I handed her the proof copy and we had to go straight to our pastor so she could show him her miracle. “Can you believe it, Father? I’m a writer!”

I can indeed, Sonia. And now my message for you: Believe in yourself, friends. Be relentless. And you’ll find your miracle publishing story, too.

Cathy C. Hall writes stories for children and adults and now, it looks like she publishes, too. If you want to find out more details about Sonia's book, check out Cathy's website here. And however you celebrate the season, may it bring moments of joy and peace (and  publishing)!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--What a wonderful friend you are. You were part of a Christmas miracle.

And yes, you are so right. If a writer is passionate about their project, they won't give up.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

That’s a lovely story. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!

Margo Dill said...

This is like a WOW Hallmark Story! :) Brings a tear to my eye. You are a good friend to this woman too and this is why a miracle happened.

Pat Wahler said...

What a wonderful story, Cathy! I know how much work such a project entails. It was so generous of you to share your time and talents with your friend.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Awwww Cath! This is such a wonderful story. You are a generous friend. And you figured out KDP no less! You are a rockstar! Those are some serious skills to add to your resume. Merry Christmas, love! :)

Linda O'Connell said...

Serendipity? You did a wonderful thing by bringing her dream to fruition. Love this story.

Peggy J. Shaw said...

Proud of you and how you handled this. Many would have turned their backs on Sonia.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You are not only MY Master Yoda, I see; you are a light in the window for others as well. Sonia sounds like a loving, caring person. I'm so happy she found you! You don't see it, I know, but Cathy, my friend...you change lives.

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