Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's in It For Me?

"What's in it for me?"--that's a good question. It's a question that many people and many businesses ask; but, is it a godly question?

 For those who do not follow Jesus Christ it isn't a question to wonder about. Why would they worry about Christian concerns when they do not follow Christian beliefs? On the other hand, for those of us who do proclaim Jesus as our Saviour then this question should concern us.

Do you ask "what's in it for me?" when someone needs help? Do you, if you run a business ask "what's in it for me?" when presented with a project or partnership or submission? Do you look for glory? For profit? For recognition or awards? Do you chose only those who are well known, have a following, or are prestigious, or are well-off, knowing that the benefits for you may be great?

As Christians shouldn't we ask: what's in it for God?

Doing what brings God glory brings rich rewards. Don't push away those who follow Christ to embrace those who you think will bring you fast benefits.

 Help the lonely, the poor, the hurting, the nonbelievers. Reach out to those who seek it and those who don't seek it (especially these because the majority don't know how to ask or where to ask). Take a risk on an unknown that will bring glory to God. Push for new horizons with a new person.

 What's in it for you?

Answer: glory to God, that's what.
 What more do you want?

***Many thanks to a follower. She left a comment on a previously written post. It bolstered my spirit. I was about to shut down this blog, believing that no one really read anything I wrote; but as long as one person is out there--I will continue. So many thanks!! You were an answer sent by God.***

Friday, November 8, 2013

Two books and another to go

I wrote Mississippi Nights and was published by Ambassador International.
I wrote 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir and was published by Ambassador International.

My next book is near completion (seems I've been saying that for months) and I'm sure I will be published by Ambassador International.

After all my searching and after all my prayers, when I finally met Sam Lowry of Ambassador International I knew I met the people I've been looking for. They are a smaller house, but they are Christ-centered. They are not as well known throughout the states, but their name is getting out there.

They want to bring glory to God's name and I want the same. They will also hold me accountable for my actions. And to tell a secret: * I deeply care about what Sam thinks of me and I hope to never disappoint him*.

As you can tell, I love my publishing house. And as I have my devotional releasing and with author copies on the way, I can say without a doubt that I am so blessed that God has led me down this path!

I do not seek fame nor fortune (although a little money in my pocket would not hurt!). I only seek to bring stories to readers and hopefully reach the lost and above all bring glory to Christ. I may not get the book signings I want or believe I need, then again, may God bless me with so many signings I will be tuckered out from the travels!

I've asked influencers. I'm contacting stores. I'm reaching out to others. I want to spread the word about my books...and to do that I need help. So maybe my prayers will be answered and my name will get out there. Maybe what I wrote will touch the lives of others. I would like that. It was people in my life that touched my life.

For example:
When I was 14, I sat in the doctor's office waiting to be seen, and waiting, waiting, waiting. Next to me was this frail old lady knitting designs on a plastic weave. She introduced herself and handed me a burnt orange design with white markings. It looked like Arabic. She asked if I knew what it said. When I shook my head, she pointed to the orange. Look at it, not the white. It was then that one word stood out: JESUS
She got up and left. I never saw Ms. Appleton again. No one knew who she was nor remembered the old lady next to me. But I have never forgotten her.

When I was 16, I had a tremendously wonderful English teacher, Mr. Kilpatrick. He encouraged me to read, to speak my mind, and to write. He personally saw that I was in AP English during my senior year. He considered me creative but yet analytical, able to tear a story down to its bare bones. Through his encouragement, I never gave up my dream of being an author.

Another neat story: Three years ago, I got lost trying to find the parking garage of the Hyatt in Indianapolis. I was in a big city, downtown, with five lanes of one way traffic, and driving a big, hunking Tahoe. I passed the entrance, started shaking because I had no idea how I was going to get back. I stayed in the inside lane, ignoring the tears streaming down my face, and rolled down my window to keep myself from passing out from fear. On the sidewalk, sitting on an overturned bucket, a kind face black man called out to me, "Keep turning. Keep going on around. You'll get there! Keep going." He smiled and waved me on. I could only nod my thanks. After two turns and cutting off a Ferrari, I made it to the entrance. And I thanked God for the angel he sent to tell me to keep going.

These three instances in my life have stayed with me for years. I hope that someday I can make the same impression on another. :-)

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Time to Be Published - Part 3

A lot has happened in the course of living since I last posted. So where did I leave off?

My old, old story and the critique group that helped spur it forward.

Through ACFW I became a member of a smaller critique group. Through them my story was polished and trimmed. If they had trouble with a sentence structure or its wording, then the readers would, also. In time I got to know each of these ladies and the one man in the group. The man was also a pastor who lived not far from me.

I was introduced to the Blue Ridge Christian Writer's Conference. This conference, smaller than ACFW's, but just as popular is always held in two places, one being just outside Asheville, NC. I thought and thought about it. I prayed about it. I was extremely nervous.

Within weeks I was making the 9-hour trip to NC. This time with the hopes of learning more and finding an agent or an editor or maybe even a publisher.

When I arrived, after picking up a fellow author who has now become a dear friend, I felt overwhelmed. So much stuff and so many people. I was a little speck of humanity in a sea of people. After the first assembly we were able to sign up for interviews with agents, editors, and publishers. In the pamphlet I had circled a few names that I was wishing to meet.

What captured my attention was the photos of two men, father and son. Reminiscent of 18th century gentlemanly flair, I read more about their publishing company and like what I read. Thought I would give them a try.

I discovered that they were not there...yet. So I signed up for two others people. On to classes, on to dinner, on to bed, I went. The next day was breakfast and a class. Then lunch came. I had already lost track of my new friend and stood in line without knowing anyone. I turned and there behind me was the one publisher I really wanted to meet. And I did the one out of character thing, I said, "Hi. Glad y'all could finally make it!" to the CEO of Ambassador International.

And that started the relationship. I sat at his table. I talked to him about Ireland, his home country, about books and conferences, and about Mississippi. He asked about me. Then invited me to his table that evening.

I was shell-shocked and discovered that I had not even taken a bite of my lunch. Quickly scarfing down my food and returning to the classes, I looked forward to that evening. When it came, again we made small talk about Ireland, Mississippi, stories and such. He asked about my story and I told him. I wasn't finished yet, still had about three to four chapters to go, but I handed him a one-sheet.

He liked it. Invited me to send it to him when I finished. He introduced me to his son, the COO of the company.

I cannot tell you how elated I was. By the time I arrived home, I was determined to finish that story to the best of my ability. I succeeded, with the help of my critique group, and I sent in the manuscript. He praised me for a good to great job. Days later I received the contract to review.

In my hands I held a book contract for a story that began when I was 14. Now it is published, and I have a devotional about to be printed and a second story near completion.

God sets before each and every one of us a path. Sometimes it winds and twist, we may not see where we are going, we may even walk off that path at times, but if you stay true to your faith and follow Him, then He does some mighty wonderful things.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Time to be Published - Part 2

In the wake of the ACFW conference held in Indianapolis, IN, I can't help but smile at the gleeful posts throughout the social media. Authors, editors, agents, and publishers had a grand time. New friendships, old friendships, re-established friendships abounded.

I was exhausted, but energized and ecstatic three years ago when I returned from Indianapolis. Never did I dream that I would meet Terri Blackstock whose book Last Light introduced me to Christian suspense. She personally signed a copy of Predator for my son's 16th birthday (who has now become a Terri Blackstock fan). Meeting Pat Simmons and having my picture taken with her was great! She is a wonderful and beautiful soul with inspirational books that invite a reader into a different culture. Denise Hunter became a favorite author of mine. Not only is she as sweet as the books she writes, but she's also a very charming person. Then there is Cara Lynn James. She kept me company while I was the odd woman out at the Thomas Nelson table that first night. (Courtesy of arriving late and being seated by a server at their table) She eased my nerves and suddenly I felt as though I was amongst friends. Later on I met Lynn Coleman, one of the founders of the ACFW. Of course, at the time I did not know that. I knew very little of the writing world and the host of authors out there. Down-to-earth, humble, and far surpassing the value of rubies, Lynn Coleman inspired me in ways she would never know. During all this hub-bub, I shook hands with Jeff Gerke, the founder/publisher of Marcher Lord Press (the voice of Christian speculative fiction) and chatted with him, unaware of who he was at the time.

I was a fish out of water, as the old cliche goes.

When I had my session with the agent from Books & Such, she enjoyed my stories, said I had a voice, and wanted me to send them to her! How elated I was! How I could not stop grinning.

BUT that road was not the one I was to travel.

Once arriving home, I sent in the letters. I pulled out a story I had been working on and started writing on it through the NaNoWriMo loop that ACFW hosted in November. I received a letter weeks later. The agent was retiring and could not accept my stories. Sad, but I was not disheartened. I was writing. I was now in a critique group that was helping me strengthen my novel.

Suddenly, that December, I felt the urge to pull out an old, old story of mine. One I had written when I was only fourteen. Even though I was working on that one story of mine about a mother and her son, I was also writing about a family and their trials.

It all started with one click of the mouse: from home to Indiana and back again.

In part 3 I will tell about how that one old, old story and the critique group led me to an online friendship that was born from a smaller group, and how that took me one more step down the path to being published.

Remember, as long as you trust the Lord with your dreams, He will always provide a way for you.

Until next time....