Are you guarding your writing time?

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With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you. II Tim 2:14

I’m fascinated by the soldiers assigned to stand guard at Buckingham Palace to protect the queen and her family.  For in spite of the many distractions and other annoyances they encounter from tourists, sightseers, pests, and the weather they never allow their distractions to deter them from their assignment to protect the queen.

Like the guards at Buckingham Palace, you also have been given an important assignment – to stand guard of your writing time. For the time you spend writing is very important work  God has assigned you to do for his kingdom. The time spent writing is the time when God wants you to write his answer to a lost and dying world. The time spent writing is the time where you’ll write to offer inspiration, hope, encouragement, comfort, and healing.

But watch out! For just as the guards at Buckingham Palace are bombarded with distractions to keep them from their duty to protect the queen,  you’ll encounter distractions to keep you from your duty to write for the kingdom. How can you overcome these distractions when they occur?

By tapping into your power within. For as the soldier taps into the inner discipline he has acquired through his soldier training, you have an inner power that was given to you when you became a writer for the kingdom – the Holy Spirit.  As you draw strength from your resource within, He will help you overcome any distraction you face.

You’ve been given the charge today to protect your writing time? Are you ready to stand guard?

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

Responding to God’s call to write: What strategies have you put in place to guard your writing time? Have you asked God for his help today to overcome your distractions?

 

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You can get back up again

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PHOTO BY JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. Proverbs 24:15

I am a huge admirer of tennis star Venus Williams. For in spite of the many times she falls short in her quest to win a major tennis championship, she always finds a way to get back up again.

In 1994, after bursting on the professional tennis scene, she became the world’s No. 1 tennis player, the first African American woman to do so, after winning seven Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in singles play.

But in 1998, an expected foe arrived for Venus on the tennis circuit in the form of her sister, Serena Williams. Initially winning most of the Grand Slam tournaments during the early years when they played against each other, Serena began to overpower and outplay her older sister, causing Venus to lose every Grand Slam final she played against Serena between the years of 2002-2009.

To add insult to injury, in 2011, Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that left her fatigued and experiencing joint and muscle pain, and she made the difficult decision to stop playing professional tennis. But two years later, after a change in diet and her training schedule,she returned to the tennis circuit and won another woman’s singles title.

Venus continued to play professionally until she powered her way back to Wimbledon’s Center Court this past July, and then advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in early September. Falling short again of winning the coveted Grand Slam title at both events, when asked if she would retire after her losses, Venus graciously replied: ” It’s nothing complicated. I will continue to play tennis.”

Sometimes you’ll find yourself knocked down by the sting of rejection when submitting your work as an aspiring writer. But no matter how many times your work is rejected, like the tenacious Venus Williams, get back up again.

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

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Start first in Jerusalem

And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samara, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8b

After Jesus’ Resurrection and before he ascended into heaven, he commissioned his twelve disciples to share the good news about him with the world. But instead of commissioning them to share the good news first at the end of the earth, he told them to start in Jerusalem.

As as aspiring writer, it’s important to follow the same strategy Jesus gave his disciples if you desire to write for publication. If you’re a new writer, rather than submitting your work to  a national publication, start with a local one. For example, submit your article to a local magazine or newspaper; submit a poem, devotional or short story to your church or community magazine; write your own blog and send it to family and friends, or write an opinion-editorial piece and submit it to your local newspaper. As your work is accepted for publication in the local markets in your city, and your credibility increases as a writer, then you’ll be ready to submit to the larger ones.

Ready to make a difference in the world today as a Christian writer? Then start first in Jerusalem.

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

Writer’s prayer: Father, thank you for calling me to write for publication and for the reminder to start first at home. Amen.

Writer to Writer: Research one or two local markets you can submit your work to for publication. Post your comments on my blog on your findings. I enjoy hearing from you!

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Where can I get my writing ideas?

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In an recent documentary about his life, An aged and famous singer was asked where he got his ideas for his great and enduring songs. Without hesitation, he  responded: “I just listened-in and observed the world around me.”

According to Ethel Herr, in her book, An Introduction To Christian writing,  ‘’Ideas swarm around us everywhere – in all we see, hear, read, touch, experience, do, feel and learn about. The secret is to reach out and grab the inspiration.”

Where can you reach out in the world around you to find your writing ideas? Ms. Herr suggests the following places:

  • Yourself – ideas can be found in your past and present experiences, hobbies, journals, dreams and lessons learned in daily life.
  • Your family – ideas can be found in familiar sayings, experiences, relationship problems and bits of colorful ancestral history
  • Your friends – ideas can be found in their experiences, hobbies, distinctive points of view, insightful conversations
  • Your church – ideas can be found in sermons, church members, special projects and programs, attitudes  
  • Your community – ideas can be found in neighbors, club and organizations, historical landmarks, social programs
  • The media – ideas can be found in stories of people doing interesting things, letters to the editor, classified ads, TV shows and movies
  • Miscellaneous sources – ideas can be found in books, travels, the content of your purse, conversations you overhear, the doctor’s waiting room

Struggling to find ideas today as an aspiring writer? Then look around, and you’ll find your ideas are everywhere!

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

Writer- to-Writer: Name one place from which you generate your writing ideas? Post your comments on my blog. I enjoy hearing from you!

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Keep tending your sheep

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Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest, Jesse replied, but he’s out in the field watching the sheep.   “And the Lord said, “This is the one, anoint him.”
                                                                                                     I Samuel 16:11, NLT
Up to the point of David’s anointing by Samuel to eventually become King of Israel, nothing much was ever said about him in the Bible.  He was just the son of Jesse, in charge of tending his family’s sheep.
But while David was a young boy tending sheep, God took notice. He noticed David’s discipline and dedication in going out each day to take care of his family’s sheep; he noticed David never complaining about the monotonous task of tending his family’s sheep, and he noticed how well David protected and took care of his family’s sheep.
Like David tending sheep, the job of writing can be a lonely and monotonous one. But just when it seems no one is noticing the time, diligence and discipline you put in each day to write the book God has given you, remember that  God notices. And when the time is right, he will place you in the land of publication.
 Sharing the journey,
Jeaninne
Responding to God’s call to write:   How are you handling the monotony of writing? Are you tending this “sheep”  well, or are you ready to give up on your writing journey?  Post your comments on my blog. I enjoy hearing from you!
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How to have a successful book signing

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This weekend, I broke one of my golden rules as an author: I offered a book signing without having an intended audience for it.  Previously, I’ve offered book signings without an intended audience at local libraries and bookstores, and had vowed I’d never do a book signing again this way. Yet, here I was, on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, waiting for people to walk into the local library, visit my table and purchase a book.

One of the top promotional items on the list of a new author is to  offer a book signing. But how can you make sure your book signing generates the sales you want, as you begin your journey as an author?

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, in her book, The Frugal Book Promoter, How to do what your publisher won’t, offers the following suggestions to help new authors ensure their book signings are successful:

  • Ask to be a speaker or reader to discuss your book with the audience.
  • Ask the location for your book signing to do their share of advance publicity. This  can include exposure in their newsletter, in print, or on the web, and posting signs or distributing  fliers or bookmarks in the store or library before the book signing.
  • Ask the sales associate at the cash register if you can stack some of your books on the counters.
  • Design  “knock”’em” dead signs and put your signs everywhere.
  • Take along wire or plastic stands and use them to display your book upright, where there is little space available.
  • Ask the bookstore manager or sales associate to train their salespeople to refer customers who go through checkout to your table.
  • Bring something to give away to those who buy your book, and make sure the giveaway includes information  for ordering your book.
  • Use a guestbook to encourage people to list their email addresses for future promotional purposes.
  • Bring your own fine-tipped markers for signing and know what you’ll write before the signing, but personalize messages when you can.
  • Do not think of book sales as the prime purpose for your book signings; they are occasions for exposure in person and in the press, for branding and for fun.

Having a book signing as a new author is an exciting part of writing for publication, so I hope the above suggestions will help your  book signing be the best that it can be!

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

Writer to Writer:  If you are  a new author, are you planning to have a book signing? What suggestions in this post will you use to ensure your signing is successful? Post your comments on my blog. I enjoy hearing from you.

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Let it shine!

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Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. Matthew 5:15, NLT

I ran into a young lady the other day who told me she’s working on her fourth book. “That’s wonderful, I replied. Who’s your publisher?”  “I have written four books, but none of them are published.”

In the bible passage today, Jesus tells Christians they are the light of the world. But he also tells them not to hide their light, but to let it shine so others can see Christ through them. But what are some ways Christians hide their lights? One of them is through fear. Their fear about sharing their faith causes them to hide their light, which can keep others from learning about Jesus Christ.

Similarly, as aspiring writers, we can hide our lights through our fears. Our writings may be good, but our fear of what others will think about what we’ve written may cause us hide them in a journal, desk drawer or computer file. And no matter how good our writings are, no one will ever see them if they are stashed away.

Have you written something you’ve been hesitant to share with others because of your fears, whatever they may be? Determine today to stop hiding your light as an aspiring writer, and to submit your writings for publication for all to see.

Sharing the journey,

 Jeaninne

Aspiring writer’s prayer: Father, help me to overcome my fears, and to let my light shine as a Christian writer for all of my readers to see.  Amen.

Writer to Writer: How are you letting your light shine today as a Christian writer? Post your comments on my blog. I enjoy hearing from you!

 

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Go get your blessing!

God feeds the birds, but he doesn’t throw the worms in their mouths.  Matthew 6:26

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For a long time, I used to wait for publishers to find me. I felt if my writing was good enough, eventually a publisher would discover me and offer me a book contract. It’s the same philosophy I’ve had about my daughter’s desire to model; instead of doing the work required of compiling a portfolio and visiting each modeling agency, I did nothing, hoping like the models of old, an agency would discover my daughter and offer her a modeling contract.

But I’m learning it doesn’t work that way. Just like the birds have to search for the worms God provides, and I have to search for a modeling agency for my daughter, as aspiring authors we have to search for the right publishers for our manuscripts. We have to search by investing in a market guide and reading and highlighting the publishers that publish the type of books we want to write; we have to search by writing and submitting an effective book proposal to our targeted publishers; we have to search by knowing when the representatives for our targeted publishers will attend various writing conferences, so we can pitch our book idea to them. Publishers are located all over the land waiting to publish the next great author; but book contracts won’t just fall in the laps of aspiring authors any more than a worm falls into the mouth of a bird; if we want to receive a contract for a book, we have to go and find one.

Ready to find a publisher for your manuscript? Then go get your blessing!

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

Writer’s Prayer: Father, I commit today to doing my part to find a publisher for my manuscript. Amen.

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Did you praise yourself?

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“Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it.”                                                                                                                                                   Jess Lair

I asked my prayer partner to pray for me as I determined the goals I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year for my writing ministry. Before she prayed, she asked me a very poignant question: “Have you praised yourself for the goals you accomplished last year?”

What a great question! For many times I begin a new year without first reflecting on what I accomplished with my ministry the previous year, which causes me to criticize myself   for what I haven’t accomplished, instead of praising myself for what I’ve done.

But I’m probably not the only writer guilty of this. As the year came to a close, were you also critical of yourself for what you didn’t accomplish? Did you forget to praise yourself for what you did accomplish this past year?

If you answered yes to both questions, I encourage you to take a moment to answer the following questions:

1)What goals did I accomplish last year as a Christian writer?

2)Have I praised myself for the goals I accomplished last year?

Nothing’s wrong with celebrating what you did well last year on your journey to write for publication. So as you reflect on what you accomplished as a Christian writer, be sure to shower yourself with a little praise!

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

Christian writer’s prayer: Thank you God for all you allowed me to accomplish in 2016 as a Christian writer. I look forward to the new opportunities that await me in 2017. Amen.

Writer-to-Writer: Take a moment to praise yourself for three things you accomplished last year as an aspiring Christian writer or author? How did it feel to praise yourself?  Share your comments on my blog. I enjoy hearing from you.

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The top ten lessons I learned this year as a self-published author

 

download-1Can you believe it? Another year has come and gone. And as I reflect today on the lessons I’ve learned  in 2016 as a self-published  author, here are ten  I’d like to pass on to you in my blog post today:

Lesson # 1 – If I had to do it over again , I would pay a fee and  submit a book proposal  to a Christian Manuscript Submission service  

Although this resource is mainly for aspiring authors who want to pursue the traditional publishing route, even if you decide to self-publish, it won’t hurt  to submit a book proposal through this service, to see if a traditional publisher is interested in publishing your book. If a traditional publisher shows interest, you then have the option to decide which publishing route is best for your book, or you may decide to go with a hybrid option.

Lesson #2 –  Remember, it’s not the book that sells, but the platform. Build a platform for your book and it will sell itself.

If you decide to self-publish, it’s very important to build a platform for your book.  You do this by determining who the audience is you want to reach, and how best you can reach them using the skills, experiences and credentials you bring to the table.  For example, are you a motivational speaker who’s written a book on how to inspire others to succeed in life; then your platform will serve as a great marketing tool for your book.

Lesson #3 –  Most bookstores are still not willing to house a self-published book, so don’t be surprised if they say no when you ask.

Although more aspiring authors are self-publishing every day, due to the long-standing relationships that have been established with traditional publishers through the years, most of the major Christian and non-Christian bookstores are still not accepting self-published books. So no matter how good your self-published book may be, and how well you think it would sell in a local bookstore, don’t be surprised if you contact the bookstore manager and they say no.

Lesson 4 – Know whether you work better with a soft deadline or a hard deadline.

A soft deadline is one you create as a self-published author for when you will complete your book; a hard deadline is one that is created for you by a traditional publisher. It’s important to determine which type of deadline you prefer. Are you self-disciplined? Can you set goals for yourself as an aspiring author and strive to complete them? Do you prefer not to work under a lot of time pressure? Then self-publishing may be a good route for you to consider.

Lesson #5 – It doesn’t matter how many books you  write and self-publish, if you don’t have a good marketing and distribution system for how you’ll sell every one.

Determine the marketing and promotion plan you’ll have for your book before it’s self- published. You’ll need to define who your target audience will be, and the type of advertising you plan to use to reach your target audience.  At the end of the day, this will help to ensure you end up with a lot of book sales and not a lot of books.

Lesson #6 – Know your strengths as well as your weaknesses as a self-published author.

As a self-published author, you are responsible for not only writing your book, but also marketing and distributing your book to your targeted audience. If the marketing and promoting of your book is something you won’t enjoy doing, or you simply don’t have time to do it, then be prepared to hire someone to do it for you.

Lesson #7 – Remember It takes money to make money. As a self-published author,  you’ll need money to not only self-publish your book, but to pay someone to market and promote  your book to your targeted audience; you’ll also need money to get to and from the various speaking engagements and book signings you’ll be asked to attend. Make sure in your planning  that you create a budget to take care of the monetary responsibilities that will be required to publish and promote your book.

Lesson #8 – Don’t quit your day job just yet. Most authors  do not survive on  book sales, so it’s important to keep your day job or have other streams of income until your book sales demonstrate you are able to sustain yourself financially as a Christian author. If you have already stepped away from an existing career to pursue a career as a writer, determine how best to  sustain yourself financially until your writing will sustain you.

.Lesson #9- Expect obstacles along the way. Self-publishing your book will have it’s challenges along the way, but if you believe this is the route God wants you to take to get your book out to your audience, then remain confident in the path you have chosen and follow it, in spite of the obstacles.

Lesson # 10 –  Don’t give up. – Although you desired to do so, maybe you weren’t’ able to  self- publish your manuscript this year, for various reasons, and are feeling as the year draws to a close that it may never happen. I’ve been there and want to encourage you not to give up, for “the one who calls you (to write) is faithful, and he will do it.”  I Thessalonians 5:24.  Remember that God knows his plans for your writing ministry and he will help you accomplish your writing goals, so don’t give up!

These are my top ten lessons learned this year as a self-published author.  I pray they will encourage you in some way as you end and begin another year as an aspiring Christian author. Happy new year and keep writing for Him in 2017!

Sharing the journey,

Jeaninne

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