If 10 years ago you were to have told me I would be a Christian, I would not have believed you.
If five years ago you were to have told me I would be a Catholic, I might have puked.
If on the day of my confirmation to the Catholic Church you were to have to me I would author books on the Catholic faith, I would have laughed.
From the moment I picked up the Cross and began following Jesus I wanted to influence people. I didn’t want acclaim or praise, I just wanted to help make disciples. Then, years later, my faith began to take a turn. My eyes and ears and heart were turning toward Rome. How little did I know about the Eucharist, the Church, history, and the many weeds of lies that I was told about Catholicism.
A friend of mine handed me Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn. The book was not the treatise on theology I thought it would be, and I don’t think it was meant to be. What happened, though is I began to ask myself, “Could this be true? And if it is, this changes everything.” After I read it and the books Scott suggested, then more books, there was no other choice. It was Catholicism or nothing. It was because I realized that following Jesus meant following His Church.
But I wasn’t going to stop there. Soon after converting I started a Masters in Theology program with Holy Apostles College and Seminary, an experience that has fed me and made great improvements on my writing and knowledge. I also had a blog before I converted, where I wrote about apologetics. It was never much of a success – must have gotten 5 views a month and that was likely only from me refreshing the page after edits.
I had a lot to learn and a voice to find, but that all picked up quickly after a shot-in-the-dark email to the then editor of Ignitum Today, Stacy Trasancos. She let me get a monthly spot with IT and very quickly I found my voice, got myself a new website, www.shaunmcafee.com, and all the social media accounts I needed. I got to know everyone I could and asked every question about how they went about their writing. I have met so many great and unselfish people in the online world that I truly cherish.
It wasn’t long before I decided to start thinking about writing a book. Stacy had turned her recent Masters thesis into a self-published ebook with Amazon. I saw others were doing it too, so I wanted to follow suit. On the doorstep of one of my parishioners, it hit me like a truck: a book idea about what Catholics can learn from Protestants in evangelization. The reason it came up is that we were out going door-to-door evangelizing, and the gentleman said he wished that in some ways we would take lessons from them. I committed at that moment to writing the book.
I got writing and made an outline and also recruited a small team of advisers who could provide some lite editing. After familiarizing myself with the writing guidelines of the top publishers, and by the suggestion of one of my author friends, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to submit to a real publisher first. After I had written most of the book I began to seek opinions. To my delight, I received input from accomplished writers on everything from content to book recommendations on how to better my writing.
Once I had written about 80% of the book and had a few chapters finalized, I submitted to the first publisher. Within two weeks the proposal was rejected. It didn’t bother me. As an unproven author I couldn’t expect my work to be accepted, and I knew that many writers get rejected several times before being accepted. Also, my attitude was one of humility: if God wanted this published, it would be. As far as I was concerned, this was His book, not mine. So I made small changes to the proposal to fit the guidelines of the next publisher and submitted to Sophia Institute Press during Holy Week.
A month a half went by and I had heard nothing other than a courtesy, “we’re reviewing your proposal” email —- which, by the way, was very nice and appreciated.
In between this, I got started on another book. After being told how, if accepted, the publisher would have changes, it made no sense to add more content. I gained a lot of excitement about the new book idea and took to writing right away, running the idea by a bunch of friends and associates.
An email came in late May that had me popping champagne. Without proposal, my college VP told me that he and another friend/staff/professor were going to start a new publishing LLC by the end of the Summer and offered to accept my newest book idea. His friend, who had also advised me on my proposal to Sophia, has written over 50 Catholic books. How could I not accept? So I did.
Not a week later, I was checking my email and noticed I had one from my contact at Sophia Institute Press. My heart was racing to hear the news, or the update. Maybe it was a rejection, maybe it was just a question. I had to open the email with a prayer and a reminder that this is God’s work, not mine.
The email started off with a “sorry”. I squinted. “Sorry I took so long to get back to you on this.” In a split second my thoughts raced as to what the next sentence could be. It continued, “We are very interested in this and eager to keep the conversation going … here is your editor.” I cheered. I almost cried. I’m almost crying typing this now, thinking of all the dramatic changes that God has brought me through and planting inside me so many hopes and dreams. I cheered so loud, my wife assumed there was a huge goal in a hockey game on TV. By God’s grace and love, I had finally met one of my life’s longest and largest goals, to write a book on a religious topic.
Not just one book, two were accepted. However, once the email and the contract came from Sophia, the reality set in. All the patient waiting and praying, all the doubts I had about my own voice, not being sure if I was being a narcissist, all of it, gone. So with that, here’s a quick synopsis of the titles (both of which are subject to change).
A Convert’s Playbook:. Protestants have had a leg up on us for years in evangelization. It’s not their theology, it’s their enthusiasm for the sharing the Gospel, and not to mention, they have a lot of great techniques and tactics in doing to. It doesn’t hurt to take a page out of their book, so how can we engage the New Evangelization through this lens? In the book I discuss telling your personal testimony, reading the Bible more, placing stress on a personal relationship with Christ (and the Church), what the parish can do better, and how to go forward in the battle against secularism alongside our true brothers in Christ.
The Convert’s Guide to Surviving Catholicism: The book coverts two ideas: what you can expect after converting, cause there is a lot more to know than what RCIA covers, and how you can get plugged directly into the missionary role of the Church, be involved, and find your vocation.