When a publisher I was unacquainted with contacted me out of the blue in the autumn of 2015 and sent me the manuscript for Mysteria, I scanned a few bits of it and found it—on the surface at least—to be unique and intriguing. The publisher, Michael Shengaout, was requesting a full editorial evaluation of it, as well as seeking out my interest in editing it. I promised Michael an evaluation in a month’s time; I also affirmed an interest in editing the manuscript, depending on my further impressions upon reading it carefully and completely.
Three weeks later, Michael contacted me to inquire politely if “we are still on track.” Alas, I had to say no. I told him—with apology and sincere regret—that because of mounting pressures from other work projects with prior claim on my time, I’d have to back out of the Mysteria project entirely. It would be “impossible,” I assured him, for me to take on the task of editing Mysteria anytime soon. I’d not had a free moment to look any further at the story’s written draft.
How grateful I am for Michael’s quick and humble response to this in an email I read early the next morning. He actually used the phrase “I am begging you to help,” as he requested that I at least provide him with an editorial critique of the written draft. Michael’s manner—reinforcing my gut feeling about this story’s specialness—won me over. I agreed to give a careful look and to pass along my thoughts on how the manuscript might be improved.
A week later, it was my turn to beg. I’d spent a day reading through the entire manuscript, and found my thoughts and emotions profoundly captured by this story—by the vibrant characters of Arnold and Lothar and their noble friendship and surprising actions, by the desperation of their village’s plight in facing the deadly onslaught of the plague, by the appealing beauty of the story’s Swiss Alpine setting, and by the uniquely profound portrayal of the mystery of the cross of Christ. Here was a story I not only wanted to edit; I felt that I must edit it, no matter what burdensome crowding it caused in my work schedule.
I gave Michael my manuscript critique—spelling out various ways in which I believed the wording and arrangement could be strengthened. I also made my plea: Would he still be willing to have me serve as the book’s editor?
Michael’s rapid response was a joy to receive. It began: “Absolutely yes!”
Later, once I dove into the actual work, my love of the story only deepened, along with my conviction of its inherent spiritual and artistic strength. I can therefore express only gratitude to God and to Michael Shengaout for the privilege of having a part in Mysteria.
THOMAS WOMACK (http://www.bookox.com) is a veteran editor with three and a half decades of work on successful Christian books. Beginning with his first editing assignment in 1978—The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges — he has continued to partner with dozens of distinguished Christian authors in bringing out many notable books. Three decades later, Thomas compiled the daily readings in the Jerry Bridges devotional Holiness Day by Day from NavPress, selecting and editing excerpts from a number of books by Jerry Bridges.
This book was honored in 2009 with the Christian Book Award (in the “Inspiration” category) from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). Thomas is working with Jerry Bridges now on another devotional book project.
Thomas is also an AUTHOR himself (frequently using the pen name Mack Thomas), with more than twenty books published. Three of his books have been winners of the ECPA’s Christian Book Award—formerly known as the Gold Medallion. Those Gold Medallion winners were the children’s book What Would Jesus Do? (in 1992), The Complete Bible Discussion Guide (in 1993), and the children’s book A Mouse in Solomon’s House (in 1996).
His books have nearly two million copies in print.