The MacGregor Legacy - For Love or Loyalty

1760 Scotland - To atone for her father's evil, Lauren Campbell agrees to help Malcolm MacGregor. By the time she realizes she's the bargaining price to free Malcolm's mother from indentured servitude, it's too late.

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "A Most Unsuitable Match" by Stephanie Grace Whitson


#christianfiction
 
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
 
A Most Unsuitable Match
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
by
 
Stephanie Grace Whitson



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West, while teaching Nebraska history to her children. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


An unlikely attraction occurs between two passengers on a steamboat journey up the Missouri River to Montana...

She is a self-centered young woman from a privileged family who fears the outdoors and avoids anything rustic. He is a preacher living under a sense of duty and obligation to love the unlovable people in the world. She isn't letting anything deter her from solving a family mystery that surfaced after her mother's death. He is on a mission to reach the rejects of society in the remote wilderness regions of Montana. Miss Fannie Rousseau and Reverend Samuel Beck are opposites in every way... except in how they both keep wondering if their paths will ever cross again.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Most Unsuitable Match, go HERE.

Buy the book on Amazon

Visit the Author's website.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Word of Inspiration: Blessed Is Our Nation

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance." (Psalm 33:12)

This scripture reminds me that God hasn't given up on our nation and neither should we. As long as there is a remnant of God's people in this country, He will continue to bless this country because of His children--US. Our churches may not be without spot or blemish, but there are hearts that still love and seek Him. We may get caught up in the responsibility of our daily lives and may not show it every hour of the day, but our heavenly Father knows our hearts. 

We are still a nation who loves others and gives to those in need. When natural disaster strikes, our churches and nonprofits--even our military--head to the scene offering whatever supplies and help we're allowed. We are still the country that sends out the most missionaries abroad. Many of us are still homeschooling our children, standing up for our children's rights in the public schools, and voting with our hearts not with the politically correct ideals that mean nothing. 

None of us will have perfect lives. God never promised that. In fact, most of us are blessed and spoiled even if we don't see it and realize it. In spite of where we are in our lives, God WILL NEVER leave us nor forsake us! Do not lose heart. We are not alone. Keep praying and seeking the one true God as one generation turns into the next.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "The Hardest Thing" by Penelope Wilcock

#christianfiction
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Hardest Thing
Crossway Books (July 31, 2011)
by
Penelope Wilcock


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



PENELOPE WILCOCK is a full-time author living in Hastings, Sussex, on the southeast coast of England. Her blog, Kindred of the Quiet Way, is about a simple and spiritual Christian lifestyle. Her other books in The Hawk and the Dove series are The Hawk and the Dove, The Wounds of God, and The Long Fall.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

This latest in Wilcock’s The Hawk and the Dove series takes readers into the world of a fourteenth-century monastery struggling to forgive an old enemy seeking refuge.

The first of three sequels to the celebrated The Hawk and the Dove trilogy takes place one year after the end of the third book, in the early fourteenth century. A peaceful monastery is enjoying its new abbot, who is taking the place of Father Peregrine, when an old enemy arrives seeking refuge. Reluctantly taking in Prior William, the upended community must address old fears and bitterness while warily seeking reconciliation. But can they really trust Prior William?

In her fourth book in the series, Penelope Wilcock wrestles with the difficulties of forgiveness and the cautions of building trust. Taking the form of journal entries, her story will delight the imaginations of readers captivated by a time and place far distant from our current world. Her timeless themes, however, will challenge our prejudices today as we, along with her characters, are forced to ask ourselves, “What is the hardest thing to do?”

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Hardest Thing, go HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Word of Inspiration: There is Justice for the Oppressed

"Bless the Lord, O my soul...Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." (Psalm 103:2-5)

Many of us are heavily burdened and oppressed by the companies and bosses we work for, family members who are impossible to please, and financial responsibilities that overwhelm us. These burdens not only weigh us down, but still our youth much too soon. But when a burden is released, don't you breath better and feel younger? Whatever you are going through right now, there will come a time when you will feel joy, relief and youth again. Life is like a wheel. Joy and sorrows come and go, but if you are in a place of sorrow, take heart. Joy is around the corner! Your youth will be renewed like the eagle.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Timeline for Book Launch Campaigns

So much goes into launching a book whether it is your first or one of many. Now that I'm about to embark on the release of my second novel, I have a few tips I'd like to share.

Most likely, you'll know the release date a year in advance. Some smaller publishers may give you six to nine months notice. This will give you plenty of time to save and plan for your book launch as you continue writing the next book and revising macro and copy edits on soon-to-be-released book. 

If you receive an advance, my advice is to keep your day job or let your spouse keep supporting you, and plan to use a good portion of it, perhaps all of it, on your promotion efforts. You can write the next great American or European classic, but if no one knows about it--your book will remain one of the world's best kept secrets. Therefore, the best thing you can do for your writing career is to invest in it--wisely.

6-9 Months
~ Create Marketing Plan for your book launch
~ Hopefully, you already have a website/blog, but if not, buy your domain. Set up your site or hire someone to develop it for you. 
~ Set up your social media sites and link them all to your website/blog. If you already have these sites set up, be sure to update them, check their links, upload your book cover as soon as it's available.
~ Create an online Media Kit. This is a place that will have a page for your bio, photo, book covers and purchasing info, sample chapter, video book trailer, a way to contact you, a calendar with your upcoming schedule and events, and blog tour info. Even if you don't have the info for these pages yet, create the pages and set them up so you can add info as it's available.

4-5 Months
~ Schedule book tours. You can either do this yourself or hire a company to do this for you. If you have the funds, I recommend more than one book tour. Determine ahead of time how many books you plan to give away for review and/or as giveways on blogs. Be sure to schedule a combination of reviews, interviews, and guest posts so readers aren't bombarded with the same info if they follow multiple blogs on your tour.
~ Determine if you will host a contest campaign with multiple giveaways beyond mere books. You need to know where you will host it, who will help, goals, and target audience.
~ If you need to provide books and giveaway items, try to purchase a few each week. Don't wait and try to buy everything all at once. Sometimes bulk isn't the best answer--especially if you're on a tight budget. A little at a time is more affordable when you don't have bulk cash. When I buy things this way, it helps my buy out of my paycheck rather than my book money, allowing me to save it for lean months or or big item purchases. 
~ Put out a call for Influencers who will read the book and post reviews on their blogs, Amazon, B&N, and other online locations. 

2-3 Months
~ Set up book signings. Check local schedules for events and festivals that might be taking place where you can bring your books. Piggy-back on their promotion of the event and utilize a location where people will already be gathering. Since I write Scottish historicals, a great venue for me has been the highland games held throughout the country. 
~ Start posting a few status updates regarding your book launch and what you're working on to start building excitement and anticipation on your social media sites. 
~ Start designing and ordering bookmarks, business cards, postcards, magnets, and the promotion items you plan to purchase.
~ Determine budget and schedule for any paid ads. 
~ Set up Google alerts for you author name and the title of your new book.

1 Month
~ Fill out questions for blog interviews and return as many as possible.
~ Write press release, including first book launch party dates and times and begin submitting it to local and online media.
~ Post scheduled events on local media calendars, including public community calendars at libraries, chamber of commerce, etc.
~ Send out personal invites to people for book launch party and online blog tours.

2-3 Weeks
~ If you have a regular newsletter, send out a new one or a special announcement regarding your book release and launch party event.
~ Start posting teasers for reviews with links on blog and social media.
~ Send out a reminder to Influencers.

1 Week
~ Post blog tour info with links on blog and social media.
~ Begin book launch contest and/or blog tour.

Book Release Day
~ Reminder announcement on website/blog and every social media channel with a link where to purchase.
~ First blog tour stop with link and keep up each day until blog tour is over.

This isn't meant as an exhaustive list, something to give you ideas on where to start your planning so you can customize it to fit your needs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Word of Inspiration: Surround Yourself with Godly People

"Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:12-13)

Sometimes we are lured away from God through the subtle deceitfulness of the world. Certain activities may seem harmless at first, and they probably are, as long as it is in moderation. It's the slow, inch-by-inch influence that can can be so dangerous. 

For instance, friends with different mindsets, rated R movies that exploit the opposite of biblical principles, music that keeps repeating the same concepts that go against our beliefs--these things in moderation will not change our thought patterns, because of our biblical foundation and other Godly friends who will remind us. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with Godly friends and exhort one another daily. Also, time in God's word will help us keep focused on Him, but if we don't have a balance, the deceitful things of the world will begin to influence us no matter how much we think otherwise and deny it.

Godly friends can help us see when we're changing in ways that may not be pleasing to God. Our trust, friendship and history with them gives us reason to pause and reflect that perhaps there is some real viability in what they're saying. This is where teenagers often lack maturity in being able to withstand admonishment--even some adults. Godly correction is good for us and gives us a chance to correct our behavior before serious consequences result. So be sure to surround yourself with Godly people so you can have a trusted accountability partner--for me--that person is my husband.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review - "Here Burns My Candle" by Liz Curtis Higgs

#christianficiton 

Book Description

~ A mother who cannot face her future.

~ A daughter who cannot escape her past. 

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within. Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips. His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory's many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her. 

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown. A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

My Review
Even though this is modeled after the biblical story of the Book of Ruth and one may be able to guess at how things are going to happen, the story is riveting and keeps one turning the pages. Liz Curtis Higgs breathes life into the characters and paints vivid scenes that the reader can imagine as if living in 1745 Scotland. The three women in the story, Lady Elizabeth, Janet and Lady Marjory all have a kindred connection through their marriages, grief and suffering, but each woman is distinct in how she reacts and carries on. 

Elizabeth is new to the Christian faith, while Marjory has forsaken hers only carrying out the physical acts of attending church. Janet's faith is practically nonexistent, only doing as much as society expects of her. The family's spiritual foundation and fortitude is sorely tested when tragedy strikes, long held secrets are exposed, their guineas dwindle, and high-society forsakes them. Lady Marjory begins to see the striking characteristics in Elizabeth, the very things that she used to look down on begin to save them. She starts wondering why she ever doted on her other daughter-in-law. 

Higgs brings out true human character in this story. It may be a work of fiction, but it is very true to life. She has captured one of the greatest stories in the Bible and brought a new perspective that I'll not soon forget. If you love historical Christian fiction, characters who grip your heart, and a story of how faith cannot be shaken through the worst, then I advise you not to miss this book. 

Here Burns my Candle on Amazon.

Liz Curtis Higgs website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Facebook Tips


Social Media is like writing. You have to work at it through trial and error before you figure out your voice and discover what works best for you, your personality, your goals, and connections. Plus, keep in mind that goals change, so your social media will go through stages, just like your writing.

Here are some perceptions that we are going to have to accept and figure out how to work around:

1) People prefer to friend personal profiles over liking fan pages. The word "friend" sounds better than "fan" or "follow". I think this is why Facebook changed "fans" to "likes".
2) We can ask FB friends to like our author page, but we can't force them as you have probably discovered.
3) People can "unlike" a page just as fast as they can "like" it.
4) Readers do want a glimpse into our personal lives. They like praying for us, connecting with us, and knowing all the news. I consider them my online church family, but I don't share everything. 

I started out trying to keep my personal profile separate and luring everyone to my author page, but I gave up. I couldn't change other people's perception, so I had to change mine--the way I think about FB and my place/role there. I'm on FB to network and make connections to people. Being able to see and communicate with my family are an extra bonus. FB isn't private. They own every piece of content and photo we upload onto their site, regardless if it is on a profile page or a public page. If a hacker wants my info, he/she can get it. If we are careful and don't upload anything I wouldn't want people to see or know on my personal profile or my author page, then it doesn't matter

Here are some suggestions that have worked for me. These suggestions will
not work for everyone, so please keep that in mind.

1) I recommend my author page to every person who friends me. Over half of them have not liked my page. I don't know why, but I do know that I don't want to lose my connection to them, so I've made the decision to sacrifice my profile page to accept others. Some people who have NOT liked my author page did buy my books. I don't understand it, but I stopped trying to analyze it a long time ago.

2) For those who have both friended me and liked my page, I make sure I post different things on each so it doesn't feel repetitive to them. I'm so used to it by now so it doesn't seem like extra work. It's merely part of my job.

3) The social culture of FB and Twitter are so different, that I don't link them. I tried this, and I started losing likes because FB people don't like as many posts as Twitter people. Therefore, I use Twitterfeed and I've set certain blog posts to go to FB and others to Twitter. That way some of it is automated and does free up time for me to post things I want to generate discussions on and to do other things.

4) If you want to generate discussions, ask a question. People love giving opinions and sharing ideas. Be careful not to get too political or controversial.  

5) I give a glimpse of my personal life, but I don't share anything I wouldn't want anyone on the Web to see or know. I post fewer family photos on my author page, but I do post some. I post more on my personal profile. I'm careful not to post images of my teenage daughter in her swimsuit or talk about vacation until we are back home. I monitor her FB page and I don't allow her to accept people she doesn't know. Other authors have sent her friend requests, but I don't let her accept them unless there is real viable connection. For instance, some of my author friends she has met, others had something in common with her, and I personally know them and trust them after having met them several years at writing conferences.

6) I screen each friend request and the profile of anyone I send a request to. If someone doesn't have anything about themselves on their About section, then they aren't being transparent enough for me to accept their friend request. I realize that some people are private, but FB is a "social" network, and if I don't know you, I need to know why I would want to know you. What do we have in common? If their timeline is available, I check to see what kind of posts they have. If it is nothing but games, I don't accept. If a man sends me a friend request and everyone of his friends are female, something is wrong and I don't accept. If someone sends me a friend request and their entire page is in a language I don't understand, I don't accept. I won't be able to communicate with them and I am not interested in having to click on translation options. 

7) When I reach my 5,000 friend limit, I'll have the perfect excuse to send people to my author page, and they will know it isn't because they didn't pass muster to be my friend. It puts the blame on FB's rules, not me. Plus, I won't have to screen people anymore.

8) I don't worry about keeping up with 3,800 friends. I create my friend lists and use them as needed and I don't worry about it. I have enough pressure. I don't need to add more to myself. If I happen to see a post on my newsfeed and I want to comment, I do it and I forget about it. I don’t worry about trying to comment on everyone’s post. Based on some of the comments I've seen from others, I'm concerned that many are putting too much pressure on themselves to try and keep up with everyone. Don't do that. Just relax and let go.

9) I've set all my social media on an email address that is NOT my main email and I've turned off notifications that I don't want. That way, I'm not annoyed by tons of alerts. I don't need to know that 20 people commented on a post after me. Also, if one of my social media accounts is compromised, they don’t have access to my main email. This has happened to me before and I had to start all over creating a whole new FB account, so I know what it's like to build it up from scratch, TWICE!

10) I place ads on FB every so often and they have worked--ok, but not great. You can set a daily cap and target people who are not already a friend or fan. My husband and I have set up a separate credit card just for online purchases such as this so that it isn't linked to anything if it were to be compromised or stolen.

I hope these Facebook Tips are helpful to you! What other tips do you have?


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Word of Inspiration: Wealth is More than Money

"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous." (Proverbs 13:22)

Most of us make just enough to live on and savings are hard, especially after child care, medical expenses, braces, the mortgage, and college tuition. If we can leave something for our children, it's usually gone before their children are old enough to inherit it. 

This inheritance that Proverbs is referring to is something deeper, stronger, more lasting and fulfilling. I believe it is the inheritance of God's word, biblical principles. This is something that will last, can never be used up and given from generation to generation. Monetary wealth will not last that long. 

The wealth of the unrepenting sinner is all of earth. They already have all they will receive. They are born into sin and will die in sin if they never repent. There is nothing else. It is stored up for the righteous, because the Bible says that we will inherit the earth. (Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:11, Psalm 37:22, Psalm 82:8, Matthew 5:5)

So set aside time for family Bible studies and prayer with your kids. Don't just leave their teaching to the church Sunday School Teachers and Vacation Bible Schools. Your children need to know what YOU believe. How YOU struggle with everyday life and how YOU find the strength to overcome it. They look up to YOU more than anyone else--be a living witness--their example.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "Out of Control" by Mary Connealy

 #christianfiction
 
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
 
Out Of Control
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
by
Mary Connealy






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a finalist in the Christy Awards, Carol Awards, and IRCC Awards.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch were Carol Award Finalists. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she's one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father's homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe--until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out.

Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family's cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch--and Rafe's controlling ways--as soon as they were able. He's haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn't expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels--or to be forced to kiss her!

Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he's ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Out Of Control, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:


 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Word of Inspiration: YOU are Invaluable to God

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Luke 12:6-7)


Sometimes we forget to put things into perspective and we feel forgotten, unloved, invisible and as if we don't matter. It's true that the world doesn't care about any of us, and even the celebrities have a temporary spotlight of favor. Tiger Woods and Brittany Spears is proof enough of that. The world is unforgiving and volatile toward the whims of fads and the latest hype. 


But God's love endures forever. God IS love. He is steadfast, unchanging, and if that makes Him old-fashioned, then so be it. He will still be there for us when all the fads are past, the hype is gone, and the money runs out. Think of the Footprints in the Sand poem. When we are at our lowest and in the depths of despair, God will be the one carrying us through it whether or not we acknowledge Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us. 


If we feel separated from God, it is because we are the ones who have turned from Him. We are invaluable to Him. He proved that when He gave his only son, to die as atonement for our sins. No one can put a price on that.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Don't Self-Defeat Your Marketing Efforts

On my publication journey I've watched writers try a number of things to build a platform and promote themselves. Many have been successful, while others have not. I'd like to share some thoughts on some self-destructive behaviors that could be hurting the growth of an author's platform.

1) Don't protect your tweets on Twitter. I'm sure there are times to have a private Twitter account, but if your purpose is to build a Twitter platform and increase awareness about your books and the work you have to offer, this will not help your efforts. If you MUST have a private Twitter account, set up a separate private account, but have a main account (preferably one using your author name) where you allow anyone to follow your tweets.

2) Don't post all about you and your books. Your posts should consist of 20% about you, your books and events. The other 80% should be something of value to your readers. It can be related to your books and ministry, or promote someone else with valuable insight. This includes social media posts, as well as a blog.

3) Don't set up accounts and not link them. It's useless to have a Facebook and Twitter page, if you aren't promoting them in your bio, website/blog, in your email signature line, in your newsletters, in virtually everything you do. It's the same thing for your website and blog on your social media pages.

4) Don't avoid social media because you don't have time. None of us have time to be everywhere at once. It's okay to have a profile set up on LinkedIn, Four Square, Stumble Upon, Digg, and Goodreads and not be as active as you might be on Twitter and Facebook. You don't have to actively maintain it, but it would be crazy not to set up a free profile about you, your books, and a link back to the places where you do hang out. It's free advertisement!

5) Don't be inconsistent. Whatever blog or social media schedule you set, stick with it and be consistent. People are creatures of habit. They like knowing what to expect and they don't like being ignored or neglected. If you need to make changes to your schedule, announce it, and move on. Also, make sure all your user names, bio, and photo on each site is consistent to build your name and image as a platform brand.


6) Don't assume people aren't reading. Just because you aren't getting tons of comments, doesn't mean you don't have lurkers. I've had lots of people come up to me at writing conferences and workshops and tell me they follow my blog or ask me about something they read on Facebook. Sometimes I've already forgotten what I posted--but they didn't. So don't give up or be inconsistent because you think no one is paying attention. 

7) Don't use your husband's email. If you are trying to get published, the last thing you want is to show a lack of professionalism by using your husband's email and promoting a family/couple Facebook page. You should have separate accounts for your author pages and email. Agents and editors do not want to think they are responding to John Doe, when the person is really Jane Doe. It's embarrassing and annoying--your readers will have a similar reaction.

These are just a few things that came to mind. What are some other behaviors that could slow an author's platform growth?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Thomas Nelson Survey - Chance to Win $10,000


From Thomas Nelson:

One of the highlights of our days in the Fiction department at Thomas Nelson? Receiving reader letters—either directly addressed to us or passed along from our talented authors. It’s critical to be reminded that at the end of our long days acquiring, editing, designing, selling, marketing, and publicizing books, those stories are reaching readers, striking nerves, changing lives. We want readers’ feedback. How stories have given you hope. Which authors’ series you can’t help from sharing with everyone you meet. We want to know what makes you stay up late in the night to finish a story, and conversely what turns you away.

We’re conducting a series of surveys—seeking answers from readers who love Christian fiction. Up for grabs is a free ebook for every respondent who completes the survery, as well as a $10,000 prize for one entrant. The responses we gather will help shape the future of the books we publish for years to come. As well as the data we’re collecting here, we’ll also seek more in-depth feedback from a panel we’ll develop over the next year. More details to come. The note below from one of authors gives a specific picture of how reader feedback shapes her work. In short, your opinion matters! We thank you for your time and appreciate your responding.

--Thomas Nelson Fiction

Dear Friends—

Publishing books is a team effort, and there are a lot of players—authors, editors, cover designers, marketing staff, and a host of other behind-the-scene folks who help get the books on the shelves. And readers are also a large part of the process. Your input matters, probably more than you know.

When I hear from readers, I really listen to what they want. This is particularly true with my series books. For example, Seek Me With All Your Heart (book #1 in the Land of Canaan series) wraps up nicely at the end, but one of my minor characters (Katie Ann) was left pregnant after her husband left her. I received lots of emails about Katie Ann from readers, so book #2 in the series—The Wonder of Your Love—is Katie Ann’s story.

With the popularity of social media resources such as Facebook, it has allowed me to keep in close contact with readers and to seek opinions and advice. Several times, the publisher and I couldn’t decide on a cover, so we posted the cover options on Facebook and let readers decide. And if you’re posting anywhere on my Facebook Fans Page, your name could end up in a book. I often scan the names there, so you are unknowingly helping me just by being on the site.

Readers also made it clear that they wanted books in digital format, large print, and audio versions. Authors and publishers listened, and most (if not all) of my books are available in multiple formats.

As an author, I hope to write entertaining stories that will be enjoyed for many years. As a reader, I have favorite authors, and I’m not afraid to let them know what I want in future books. We listen to the likes and the dislikes in our effort to bring you the best stories we can, so don’t be shy. Tell us what you think!

Warmly,
Beth Wiseman

Thursday, August 04, 2011

God Doesn't Pass Out Free Judgment nor Judgment-Free Tickets

On the issue of judgment, I've witnessed lots of pastors and respected ministry leaders teach and say things on judgment that gives people misconceptions. Sometimes no matter how you state something, people are going to twist it. When this happens, it isn't the teacher's fault. 

However, I've also heard several sermons that don't go deep enough or cover the subject wide enough. In the ministry leader's defense, I also believe that people feel overwhelmed at times and can only handle bite-sized pieces of info, so teachers customize the message for this reason. The danger of doing this places people in danger of missing the rest of the teaching, and thereby, forming these misconceptions.

There are two messages I want to get across to readers in THIS particular blog post. 

1) God doesn't pass out free judgment tickets. In other words, just because you are saved by grace and have come to a place of knowledge in your life and you are now living free of some of your strongholds, doesn't mean you now have a free ticket from God to place judgment on others who haven't gotten to where you are yet. 

2) God doesn't pass out judgment-free tickets either. In other words, just because you now have a relationship with Christ and are free in Christ, forgiven of your sins and all your mistakes, doesn't mean you can go around misusing your power, your authority, and mistreating others because you know you can ask for forgiveness. When someone points out your bad behaviors, you pull out the judgment-free ticket and tell them they don't have the right to judge you. True, but they do have the right to judge if your relationship with them is producing good or bad fruit in their life regarding how you treat them and how they want to be treated.

Here are scriptures telling us when it is NOT time to judge:
"Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4) 

"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." (Romans 14:10)

"Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way." (Romans 14:13)

I firmly believe that if a brother or sister in Christ is behaving a particular way, you should pray for them and let God deal with them. It isn't your place to go to them and insert your advice when it hasn't been asked for just because you want to help. Good intentions still don't justify you getting between them and God.

Here are scriptures telling us when it IS time to judge: 

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

"But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person." (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)


"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Corinthians 6:1-3)

Based on these scriptures, we don't judge non-Christians right now since we are still in the flesh, and therefore, being judged by God, ourselves. God will judge these non-Christians. It isn't time for the Saints to judge the world, when that time comes, the Saints will have already been judged by God Himself, and we will stand with Him as one collective whole against the world when it is judged.

The only time we DO judge, is when a brother or sister's sin is affecting us or a portion of a congregation, which is the body of Christ--when a person's sin is hurting relationships with others and producing bad fruit in other people's lives. Then we judge BY THE SPIRIT, not a personal agenda. We judge by the WORD OF GOD, not man-made doctrine.

If it is a personal relationship that is producing bad fruit, we may have to make the difficult decision of severing ties with that person until they change. It's called tough love. It may seem like we are withholding our love from this person, but we aren't. We are setting them outside our lives and giving them to God to handle. 

It may seem to them like we are trying to manipulate them--to get them to do what we want or to do things the way we want, but in this case it isn't. This is setting boundaries so their actions do not continue to hurt us and others. Their problems are much bigger than we are, and God is the only one who can help them help themselves. 

Get out of the way, and let God do His thing with them.

"Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." (1 Corinthians 14:29)

Dare we judge prophets? How else are we to tell if one is a false prophet or a prophet from God if we do not judge the fruit of his words? Yes, we must judge prophets by their fruits, as we must judge people by their fruits. We are called to judge the fruits of the spirit, and people and prophets all act out of a spirit--whether the Holy Spirit or any other spirit trying to trick and manipulate us.

Remember:
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders,drunkenness, revelries, and the like...those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)

This isn't talking about someone who might slip up and make a mistake or temporarily fall into their old ways. This is talking about people who practice this behavior. That means they are committed to it.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:22-26)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "Love Find You in Amana, Iowa" by Melanie Dobson

#christianfiction
 
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 
is introducing
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
 
Summerside Press (June 1, 2011)
by
Melanie Dobson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011.  

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

With a backdrop of the community of The Amana Colonies, the Civil War, and a great love story, Melanie Dobson’s new historical fiction title LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA both enlightening and entertaining.

The novel is set in the United States during the turmoil of the 1860s. As the rest of the nation is embroiled in the Civil War, the Amana Colonies have remained at peace with a strong faith in God and pursuit of community, intertwined with hard work, family life and the building of their colony.

Amalie Wiese is travelling to the newly built village of Amana in 1863. When she arrives in the colonies she finds that her fiancĂ©e, Friedrich has left to fight with the Union Army. Amalie fears for his safety as she also struggles with his decision to abandon the colony’s beliefs. Matthias, Frederick’s friend, stays back in Amana to work in the colonies. But there is something wrong with Matthias; he always seems angry at Amalie when there is no simple explanation for him to act that way.

The goods that colonies manufacture are much needed supplies for the war effort and Matthias decides to deliver the goods to the soldiers. When he leaves, Amalie realizes that her fear for Matthias’s safety is equally as strong. What will become of Friedrich, will Matthias return safely, and will Amalie marry Friedrich? LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a richly told story of life in the Amana Society and the people who live and love there.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, go HERE.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Word of Inspiration: He Who Comforts

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die. And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth." (Isaiah 51:12-13)

Why do we allow situations on earth to overtake our reason and belief? We know that God is so much bigger than all our problems, yet we lose sight of Him in the midst of the pouring rain. If you are in the middle of a storm, take cover in the Word and in His presence. Close your eyes and be still and KNOW that He is GOD. Ask for his peace and comfort and then be quiet and listen. Try not to list long requests in how you want Him to deliver you from your situation, but listen to his comfort and allow Him to bring you through it. You don't need to know the details. Trust Him. We walk by faith, not by sight.