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Fairytales for Everyday Life

- 09/01/09  

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September-October 2009


< Former Bollywood Star's Encounter with Christ

< Russia: Fairy Tales for Everyday Life

< Only a Blog Away

Hi, ! 

What do Russian fairy tales, ex-Bollywood stars and Mexican bloggers have in common? You guessed it—this issue of Inside MAI.


We aim to inspire you with glimpses of how God's at work in Christian publishing around the globe. The power of the written word transforms lives word by word, article by article and book by book.


-John D. Maust, president

Former Bollywood Star's Encounter with Christ 


The only son of a Hindu chief priest, Dharm Prakash Sharma enjoyed a privileged upbringing and career in India’s limelight. The legendary Mahatma Gandhi mentored him before Sharma became a Bollywood star, then a successful management professional and member of India’s Parliament. But at the height of his political career, he encountered Jesus Christ, an event he counts as the apex of his life.


Sharma describes his conversion in My Encounter with Truth, co-authored with Babu Verghese (WOC Publishing). The book is designed as an evangelistic tool for readers who can identify with his search for true spirituality. "He is a prototype of the average Indian," Babu said. "Most Indians will identify with Sharma’s quest and his angst over every failed attempt at finding the true God…His testimony is living proof that God reveals Himself to a true seeker."


Since the book's publication, both Christians and non-Christians have responded enthusiastically. My Encounter with Truth is being translated into nine Indian languages and into Sinhalese. Amit Bose, the general manager of a South Indian television channel, said that "for evangelism, this is a hit book."


Despite his book’s acclaim and his celebrity-filled past, Sharma thinks little of his life as a public figure. "The photographs were burnt, the press clippings were destroyed and anything that reminded him of his years before he met Christ," Babu said. "He counts them as dung."


"He told me that the only thing that had to be highlighted in the book was the person of Christ and the availability of salvation."

-MAI intern Christine Kindberg

Read more about Dharm Prakash Sharma.


Russia: Fairy Tales for Everyday Life

Anna Shirochenskaya is the director of Triad Christian Publishing in Moscow, Russia. As a writer, translator and publisher, her skills and creativity have helped develop Triad’s niche in Christian psychology and devotional materials.

Talk about your strengths. 
We want to introduce readers to the best foreign authors and to help our Russian authors become the best. Our books are distributed to Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic and secular markets.

Tell us about your bestsellers.
Our top two titles are both by Russian authors from our series "Christian wisdom stories for reading and meditation": Once by Olga Klyukina and One Penny Candles by myself. We've been reprinting both of them every six months for the last two years. Our next bestsellers are by Philip Yancey—Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? and Where Is God When It Hurts?

Impressive that your top titles are locally written. Tell us more about them.
Each story usually fits one small page and is based on a Christian truth. The themes come from old Russian chronicles, Greek or Persian folk stories, or the author’s personal life. They only take two or three minutes to read, but then you want to meditate and apply the truth to your life. It’s a perfect format for a big city and fast-paced life. Young and old readers alike enjoy them.

What upcoming projects are you excited about?
We are developing a self-help series by Russian Christian psychologists. Each book is based on a favorite fairy tale and shows how the characters could've solved their problems without magic. We’ll launch the first three titles this fall: Conflictology for Cinderella, A Few Recipes of Happiness for a Cry-Baby Princess, and Very Special Tales for Grandmothers.

Introducing new authors is a tough business. It takes up to seven years to get our readers to trust a new Christian author—even Philip Yancey had his seven-year trial period in Russia. But we see this project as another investment in the future of Russian Christian literature.

How are you managing in today’s economy?
Even during our "seven fat years" I watched our funds very closely and we never spent more then we needed. Triad is 10 years old, quite young, and we have published about 180 titles so far. But we keep reprinting 130 of them every one to three years. So the strong backlist helps us fund new projects and experiments. It also helps that we supply books to many countries with large Russian-speaking communities such as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Baltics, Germany and the USA.

Anna Shirochenskaya will lead two workshops at LittWorld: Keeping Prices Affordable and Your Business Thriving, and Connecting Christianity with Real-Life Issues. See the conference schedule for dozens of additional workshops.



Only a Blog Away   

“Every writer should be blogging,” editor Dan Elliott told me during an animated breakfast meeting. “That is, unless you’re the rare celebrity who doesn’t need to worry about getting your work before the public.”


Publishers are finding new authors through blogs, Dan said. And they are encouraging authors to use their blogs to build close, interactive relationships with their readers.


“Conversation, connection and relationship” are the key terms to describe the author’s role and purpose today. 


Dan, the editorial director for books at Tyndale House Publishers and MAI trainer, has witnessed many changes in the publishing world in his two decades-plus at Tyndale. One of the biggest is how authors are gathering and targeting a niche audience of devoted readers through blogs and social networking like Facebook and Twitter.


One example is author and MAI Board member Robin Gunn, who developed a loyal readership of young girls through her “Christy Miller” series. These girls have grown up and Robin now reaches them through her “Sisterchicks” novels that model ways that female readers can find lasting friendships. 


On her website, Robin tells of a reader who wore her Sisterchick T-shirt to the airport. A flight attendant spotted the shirt and said, “Are you a Robin Jones Gunn fan?”  The reader said, “YEEES!” and that she’d just met Robin at a book signing.  The next thing she knew, the reader was bumped up to first class. (I need one of those shirts!)


One of the historic disadvantages of writing—compared to public speaking or teaching—has been the
relative lack of immediate feedback and interaction with readers. Today’s social media are changing that; authors using blogs and facebook can hear exactly what their readers think, sometimes in unvarnished terms.


Finally, the new social media help authors go global. The internet introduces them to an international audience, who might never see the author's writings in hard copy. MAI finds this exciting, because Christians in the West now have easier access to the wisdom and experiences from writers elsewhere in the world.


For example, Mexican fiction author Keila Ochoa Harris has a regular personal blog, and contributes to MAI's Spanish writer blog Aventura de Escribir. Another MAI friend, Marlene Legaspi Munar of the Philippines, posts challenging devotional pieces. And award-winning blogger and MAI board member Wambura Kimunyu of Kenya offers insights on faith, culture and politics from an African female perspective. 


I can see why Dan emphasized, “Having a blog is one of the most important things a writer can do."


J O H N   M A U S T

M A I   P R E S I D E N T 



>>Check out the new LittWorld blog.



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