Beliefnet
O Me of Little Faith

It’s another round of confessions, this time related to the Pocket Guides. I’ve done it before, on multiple occasions, and now I’m doing it again. Why? Because I have no shame.

1. Sometimes, when I open up one of my new books, I read a passage I have forgotten about and laugh. Occasionally out loud. Yes, I crack myself up, and I don’t care WHO knows.

2. In writing the Afterlife book, I will admit to trying to think of a topic that had broad appeal and could be easily marketed.

3. Before beginning Pocket Guide to Sainthood, I knew its appeal might be more limited. (Protestants don’t care about the saints, and Catholics don’t like when you joke about the saints.) But I wrote it anyway. In fact, I wanted to write it in 2006, because the topic is So. Completely. Pocket Guideish.

4. Authors are supposed to say that they view each of their books like they view their own children, and therefore it’s hard for them to choose a favorite. But I totally have a favorite.

5. I’m not going to tell you what it is.

6. OK, I will tell you. It’s a tie between Sainthood and my first one, Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse. I love all the books, but these two I love slightly more because the subjects are so insanely perfect for this format. The books pretty much write themselves. Looking back, though, the Apocalypse book as a whole falls slightly short of perfection, because it doesn’t have a list chapter. I came up with the list idea for PGTTBible. It is now Pocket Guide canon.

7. Because of all the research involved — and because I wrote these more than a year ago — I get nervous during interviews because I just know you’ll ask me something about the 18 chambers of the tenth court of Diyu (the hell of Chinese mythology), and I will not be able to recall a single one of them. There are so many numbers and foreign-sounding names and unpronounceable Aztecan deities in the Afterlife book alone that I would completely fry my brain trying to memorize all that stuff.

8. Which is why I always have copies of the books with me when I do radio or podcast interviews. And I am very good at filling airtime with mindless chatter while frantically paging through them to find the answer to the question you just asked.

9. Because I have written these books, you might think I am one of those egghead experts who can talk knowledgeably about an obscure subject on a whim. But I’m not. If you want me to speak intelligently about this stuff, you need to give me time to prepare.

10. I spend a lot of time preparing to sound intelligent. It involves reading my own books. Which I wrote. Lame.

11. I’m still not sure I’m pronouncing Mictlantecuhtli right. He’s the Aztec god of death. His wife is named Mictecacilhuatl. If you ask me to pronounce both of those names in the same sentence, I will create a diversion, possibly a fire, and run away.

12. I carry a book of matches in my pocket for just such an occasion.

13. Number 12 is a lie.

14. I’m afraid some Catholics will think I don’t respect the saints enough because of some of the things I write in Pocket Guide to Sainthood. But they’re wrong. I probably respect them more than most evangelical Protestants. It’s just that some of the legendary stuff is really, really funny, like about how St. Barbara once got even with a local shepherd by turning his sheep into grasshoppers. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to herd grasshoppers, but it is freaking hilarious.

15. Same goes with my treatment of the Bible. I only make fun of Jeremiah’s three-year stint of naked (and barefoot) public prophecy because I take the Bible seriously. And because if Rick Warren had tried that kind of thing he wouldn’t be nearly as influential as he has become.

16. I feel a stab of guilt every time I send a shameless email promoting my books, or publish a self-marketing blog post, or write a Twitter update, or send a message to the members of the Facebook Pocket Guide group. Mainly because I hate shameless marketing. But then I get over it, because that’s kind of my job.

17. I was bummed that so few people entered submissions in Tuesday’s caption contest. And when I heard that the degree of difficulty created by my rules was the probable culprit, I was just disappointed. Come on, people! Rise to the challenge! You can’t give away a free book and not make people earn it!

18. I feel kind of bad about #17, like I came on a little strong there at the end. Sorry about that.

19. Sometimes I will take a piece of Dove dark chocolate and dip it in peanut butter and eat it. This has nothing to do with my books, but it’s so decadent! There are children in India who don’t have peanut butter to dip their Dove dark chocolate into.

20. I really miss Fake Jason Boyett, but I can’t imagine how I used to find the time to make that crap up.

21. When I started this post, I really only had about three confessions I’d already thought about writing. I have no idea how I ended up, 15 minutes later, with 21 of them. Sheesh.

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