Candy-coated Spiritual Depth
by W. Terry Whalin
Over ten years ago at a Hollywood launch for the McGee and Me films, I met Bill Myers. He arrived wearing a tuxedo and red high top tennis shoes--just like the cartoon character McGee. With a strong propensity for the absurd, Bill sometimes falls into his off beat sense of humor.
"Hey, McGee, cool your jets." Brenda Myers said to her director/writer husband, Bill. Since the early days of their marriage, Brenda has called her husband, McGee, to clue him in when she's had enough of it. The days are over when Brenda uses her pet name.
The animated character, McGee is almost a household word, after millions of McGee and Me videos from Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishers. Myers with Ken Johnson co-created the series. The idea for a series began with a three-day, brainstorming session at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Nigel, Calif. No rookie, Bill came with a list of acting, direction and screenwriting credits plus five books.
"The first night I was so intimidated by the creativity of the people around me," Bill says. "I went to my room and prayed, 'Lord, I'm in over my head on this one. Let's make a deal. Let me share my one idea and then get me out of here without embarrassing myself.'" Myers single idea centered around a boy with an imaginary friend. The final evening, the executive producer asked Myers to quarterback the soon-to-be award-winning series.
At a bookstore autograph session, a public school teacher told Myers, "My kids hate reading but they've read all the McGee books even though it is a public school. I'm not a Christian but it's better these kids learn to read something with a Christian theme than nothing at all."
Today Bill's career continues to blossom and he has written more than 50 books for kids, teens and adults with over six million copies of his books in print. His series of books about the adventures of Wally McDoogle have over 1.5 million books in print. The latest title is The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle #22: My Life As a Tarantula Toe Tickler. (Tommy Nelson). He has several other active children's series and teenage series with Tyndale House and Bethany House Publishers.
His adult fiction such as The Wager, The Face of God, and Blood of Heaven (all from Zondervan Publishing House) have received broad acclaim from readers. Bill's next adult book from Zondervan is called Soul Tracker and will release this summer. He said, "my criteris for investing eight months of my life in a book is 1) to make sure it draws the reader closer to God, often examining issues where Christians are struggling 2) to make sure it's an original thrilling ride that you can't set down." According to Bill, Soul Tracker (and the others to follow this book) have this potential.
In his small office--formerly half a garage, Bill begins work with an hour of prayer and Bible study. Then about 8 a.m., Bill revises his pages from the previous day. After two hours and a short break--maybe some basketball, Bill skips lunch and writes new material until about 3 p.m. "My goal is five pages a day or 20 manuscript pages a week," Myers says. "If I have time, I'd like to rewrite each page about four times. I have to work hard at my writing because I'm still learning my craft."
To keep connected to his readers, Bill teaches a Bible study each week and is mentoring a small group of teen boys. Occasionally he speaks to his youth group of 350.
The discipline and commitment to excellence pays off through Bill's writing. He says, "I really don't want to waste the reader's time just entertaining them. And if I'm going to teach, I really need to make sure they are entertained and engaged enough to keep turning pages."
You can learn more about Bill Myers at his website
W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk--as an editor and a writer. He worked as an editor for Decision and In Other Words. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 publications including Writer's Digest and Christianity Today. Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books and one of his latest books is Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Write Now Publications). See more about Terry at:www.right-writing.com/whalin.html. For more than 12 years Terry has been an ECPA Gold Medallion judge in the fiction category. He has written extensively about Christian fiction and reviewed numerous fiction books in publications such as CBA Marketplace and BookPage. He is the former Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Howard Books and creator of www.right-writing.com. Sign up for Terry's free newsletter, Right Writing News.
© 2008 W. Terry Whalin