The Transformation Project: Michigan Short-Story and Memoir Writers Join Their Creative Minds

The Transformation Project: Michigan Short-Story and Memoir Writers Join Their Creative Minds

Transformation. It can occur slowly, as in an evolution or a migration of change. Yet, you experience it in split fragments, in the smallest measurable flashes of time.

In the big picture, you see the mass of micro-changes as a whole. You convince yourself that the transformation occurred in one mighty avalanche, now that the end result is within view.

You stand back. You scan the mountain range. You marvel at its beauty, its grandeur, its foreboding strength, giving little thought to how it came to be. But when you’re in it, actually a part of the transformation, you see all the intricate details of these micro-changes – each separate and unique and profound – like the first snowflakes of winter.

It started with an idea about five months ago. Members of West Michigan Word Weavers, a Christian organization and a local writing chapter of Word Weavers International, thought, “We talk about writing…dream about it. We envision getting our words in front of our readers and inspiring them, transforming  their views and their outlooks, impacting their lives. But are we doing it?”

Some of them were. For others, the task seemed so daunting – the mountain too hazardous to climb. Then another thought occurred.

“What if we join our collective thoughts and ideas, like a rope? What if we pull one another up with it – encourage one another along the mountain slope and toward the summit?

“What if we write an anthology? Our focus of short stories and memoirs would surround the word transformation.” And that’s exactly what they did, the joining together proving to be an act of transformation all its own.

Eighteen writers from as far south as Kalamazoo, as far north as Hart, and as far east as Grand Rapids, gathered their words, their stories, and their recollections. They asked for feedback – for critique – a long-standing tradition and the reason for the group’s existence.

The group worked with a professional editor and Word Weavers International member, Rachelle Rea (www.RachelleRea.com), to polish their work until it gleamed. Upon completing her portion of the project, Rea said, “I had the honor to edit each word, and many of them put tears in my eyes. It is always a joy to see words start to shine because of the author’s hard work and my privilege to polish; The Transformation Project is no different. Just as this anthology was transformed from a smattering of stories into a beautiful whole, it is destined to impact the hearts of readers.”

The group worked with a local artist and Word Weavers member, Amber Lauren Striker, as she designed the book cover. Of her contribution, Striker said, “I have always been inspired by the organic shapes and textures found in nature. Designing a piece based on the theme of transformation gave me the perfect opportunity to delve into the lines and shapes I already love to use.” Her artwork – a three-part process including pencil, ink, and color – took a total of 34 hours to complete. It depicts the artist’s unique interpretation of the evolution of transformation, and its originality provides the pop that the package needs in order to rise in the online and print market.

“The Transformation Project was conceived of a pure and fervent desire to share transformational experiences through a love of recollection and storytelling,” Striker said. “I was proud and honored to be asked to attach an image onto those words.”

Another Word Weavers member and local publisher, Dennis Snyder of Concerning Life Publishing (www.ConcerningLife.org), formatted the work for both ebook and print and proudly stamped it with his publishing label. He said he believed in the project, “from the word ‘go,’” and wanted to get the work into the hands of those who would benefit from it in time for Christmas and gift-giving.

In addition to his publishing efforts, Snyder also contributed a memoir. Of it, he said, “I saw this as a unique opportunity to tell one of my personal stories of God’s transforming work. It was interesting to have it alongside the stories of others who have tasted of God’s marvelous grace.” He also added his affirmation of the work in general when he said, “The book is worth reading because it is about God working in the lives of individuals. We all need to realize that God loves and cares about us personally and is actively working in our day-to-day lives. We may not always see it. Our lives may appear to be a jumbled mess. Yet God is working, sometimes behind the scenes, to transform us into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

As President of this Word Weavers chapter, I spearheaded the project. I learned a ton about coordination, revisions, and promotion through the process. I’m continuing to learn and grow through the launch.

In these five months, I’ve worn the hats of agent, editor, proofreader, encourager, decision-maker, and promoter. Some of the hats have fit a little better than others. But wow. It’s been both fun and rewarding.

My favorite part of the experience was observing the stories and memoirs in their early stages – back in late August when we gathered them – and watching them grow, develop, and mature throughout the remainder of the process. Through the endless revisions and follow-up with the authors, through the reading and re-reading, I got to know and appreciate their hearts. Each review helped me gain new insights into both their pain and their hopes. I listened and learned, and I grew a little more myself as a result.

Thanks go to the Word Weavers group as a whole, both to those whose work you can see and those whose work remains invisible. Members served as judges early on, anonymously and thoughtfully critiquing and scoring the work. Small groups further provided both critique and encouragement during the revision and re-write stages. Unsung heroes are currently promoting the work through social media and word-of-mouth channels. And, of course, the prayers and petitions from so many of the members provided the strength and sustenance necessary in the pursuit and distribution of the finished product.

This soft-cover, 166-page collection encompasses times of both laughter and tears, struggle and victory, confusion and certainty. It’s life, plain and simple, depicted through the eyes of those who have lived it but with a focus on those life-changing events that forced the transformation.

The Transformation Project can be purchased in either ebook or print forms wherever fine books are sold, including www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesAndNoble.com, www.Smashwords.com, and www.KoboBooks.com.

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