Continue On (Special Post for Authors)

December 26, 2012

By Special Guest blogger, Heather Hart

 

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

~ 1 John 2:28

You know that moment when you finally finish a big project. Sure, there’s always more to do, but something big is done, and you just sit to bask in the feeling of completion? I was there recently. I had finished up a huge project that had been a year in the making – and it felt good!

Of course I was already working on promoting the finished project, and I had at least 4 other big projects on my desk, but the afterglow of finishing one was enormous. I even put away my clean clothes that had been sitting in a basket in my room for who knows how long.

The temptation to bask in the afterglow of finishing a big project weighed heavy, but our work is never done. I love the verse in 1 John above, because it reminds me that even when one thing is finished, I need to continue living for Christ. That way when He comes, He won’t find me wasting time, but working for Him and for His glory. It’s just like the Bible is saying to me, “Great, you’ve finished a project. That’s awesome, and now, continue to work to bring Christ even more glory. Don’t stop; keep up the good work so that when I Christ comes back, you will have done everything that I asked you to do.”

I remember something that my youth pastor said back when I was in high school that has always stuck with me. He asked us how we would feel if when we got to heaven God asked us why we had never read His Word. Would we be happy to tell Him that we didn’t find it interesting, or that we didn’t have the time? Probably not. As a writer, I can’t help but think how I would feel if I got to heaven and God asked me why I didn’t write what He called me to. Would I be happy giving the answer that I had finished one project and I thought that was good enough? Again, probably not.

My newest book, “A Year in Book Marketing,” has been a difficult one for me to complete. It’s being published in two parts, the first part coming out January 1st, 2013. I’ve been writing and helping other authors since 2009, and I know God has big plans for this book. It helps authors to continue on sharing the message that He gave them by marketing the books they have written for Him. If you’re an author, or know one, I highly encourage you to check it out. You can learn more about it at: http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/p/book-marketing.html

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Book MarketingHelping other authors since 2009, Heather Hart is the author of “Book Marketing 101” among other titles. She lives in Texas with her husband, Paul, where she fills her days caring for their four young children, typing away on her computer, and brainstorming new marketing ideas. Heather works as a self-publishing-coach.com liaison, author, and authors assistant whose desire is to glorify Christ through her work and to help other authors do the same. You can learn more about Heather by visiting her website: http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/


What I’m Writing… Blog Hop!

December 12, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

Welcome, blog hoppers!  Last week I got tagged by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer *…stringing 26 letters into stories*  So this week I get to answer the questions and then send you to five of my writing friends!

Enjoy….

Introducing my soon-to-be-out ebook

“True Power & Real Peace”

True Power and Real Peace

Where did the idea come from?

True Power & Real Peace was written backward.  Some of you have read “A Light in the Darkness.”  In that book, the hero, Gabriel reads a book about God.  When I wrote “A Light” I realized that I couldn’t have him read something that’s already been published.  There were two problems with that.  First, I couldn’t just copy whole tracks of someone else’s work.  Second, there wasn’t one book I could find that would speak to each issue he was having throughout the book.

So the only thing TO do was write the book he was reading in the story as if it was a real book.  To do that, I had to write whole sections of a “real book” that wasn’t real.  After “A Light” was finished, I went back and read it and it struck me how easily “True Power & Real Peace” COULD be a real book.  I did a little work on putting the pieces together and filling in the in-between places, and that’s how this book was written.

After “A Light in the Darkness” came out, I had several readers write to say they had been looking for the book “True Power & Real Peace” and hadn’t had any luck finding it and could I tell them who it was by or how they could get a copy of it.  Well, it was by me, and the only copy in existence was on my computer.  That’s when I decided to publish it.

Genre: Spirituality, Inspirational, Christian Living

What actors would play your character in a movie version?

The actors for “A Light in the Darkness” are Meaghan Jette Martin and Adrien Grenier.

HollyGabriel

Short Synopsis

I’ll do the synopsis of “A Light in the Darkness”

Holly Jacobs can run from her mother’s past no longer. She is unceremoniously summoned to her mother’s new fiancé’s home in Napa Valley. The place is wonderful, but Holly can’t enjoy it because she knows that just like all the others, it can’t last. When her mother begins pushing Holly to make permanent plans with a young man Holly has no interest in, Holly takes off, never expecting to find a light in all of her darkness.

The final chapter of the Faith Series begins…

 Publisher:  Spirit Light Publishing

How long did it take to write the first draft of “True Power”?

Well, the first-first draft was written inside “A Light in the Darkness,” and that book took about four months to write.  The actual first draft of “True Power & Real Peace” was a lot harder because I had to take the pieces that were already written and put them into logical order (Gabriel reads them out of order in the book). Then I had to write the pieces around it.  Also, I was in no hurry for that one because I didn’t think it would ever really be published. So I’m honestly not sure how long it took to write.

What other books in the genre compare?

Two of the books referenced in “True Power” are John Ortberg’s “Love Beyond Reason” and Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love.”  So those two definitely would compare although Ortberg’s book is more mainstream Christian and Williamson’s has more New Age overtones to it.

Any  other in this genre?

I’ve never written in this genre before.  In fact, I’m in the process of asking what genre it would even fit into because I’m really not sure.

Anything to add?

“True Power & Real Peace” is BY FAR the most personal book I’ve ever written.  It gets to a depth of how I live that I don’t think I would have even attempted to write but for the crazy way it came about. My life has been rocked by some pretty intense storms during and since writing this book including–the suicides of two very close people in my life and my son’s dyslexia, not to mention the countless storms that come up each day while being married and raising three kids. 

This is honestly a book about “how I do it,” how I have and maintain a deep relationship with God through the storms and in the quiet times.  It’s also the key that kept me sane when I had everything I ever wanted and I was still miserable.

Still, how do you put all that into words?  How do you dig way beneath the surface and fashion those feelings and experiences in a way that is understandable to others?  I don’t know.  Maybe I didn’t, but this would have to be considered my attempt at doing so.

The ebook will be out very soon, and you can judge for yourself how well or poorly I did.

I sincerely hope you enjoy it as we move into the New Year!

True Power Ad 2

Be sure to visit my friends’ blogs to continue the “What I’m Writing” blog hop…

Mary Campagna Findley

Naty Matos

Suzanne D. Williams

Shelley Hitz

Laura Marshall


Chunking Down

December 4, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

This lesson is a great one for the holidays because let’s face it, we have overcrowded lives already, and then you add this HUGE amount of baking, buying, wrapping, decorating, packing, driving/flying, celebrating, and then cleaning up on top of it.  It can get to be WAY too much.

The essence of this lesson is very simple:  Don’t try to do a whole task, especially an overwhelming one, all at once.

Chunk it down.

What does that mean?

It means instead of trying to do ALL of the Christmas cards in one sitting, do 10 of them and then go do something else.  Rotating through 3 or 4 different tasks, for me, makes things go faster and I don’t get as frazzled.

I do this with my books.  Obviously you can’t write or edit a 400-page book in one sitting.  So I chunk it down.  I set a goal of say five written pages or 10 edited pages.  When that amount is done, I then have the option of doing a few more or going to do something else.

I often do this around the house too.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to clean the kitchen” when it is an absolute mess.  I say, “I’m going to put 25 things into the dishwasher.”  Often by the time I get to 25, there are only a few things left, and I can finish it with no trouble.  If there are a lot of things left, I do something else for a few minutes and then do 25 more things.”

This one lesson has kept me from going crazy because I don’t look at the overwhelmingness of what I’m doing–I do what I CAN do and come back later to do another little chunk.

So what do you have that is overwhelming?  Maybe it’s cleaning out a closet.  Do one shelf at a time instead of all of it.

Maybe it’s a school project, chunk it down in to smaller pieces and do one or two small pieces.  As you do a few smaller pieces, the whole thing will stop looking so overwhelming until the point when you just say, “I’m going to finish this” or to the point that finishing it looks doable.

Good luck chunking things down!  And I hope your holidays are happy and filled with peace and joy!

*~*

Look what’s on Free Kindle Today and Tomorrow…

Click here to get your FREE copy of Cowboy!


The Power of Today

November 26, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

One of the biggest issues people face is not facing issues.  And one of their most readily available ways of distracting themselves is not thinking in terms of TODAY.

We all know people who are stuck in the past.  What he should have said.  What she should have done or not done.  Wish I could go back to… when the kids were little, before the kids, before the house, before college… etc.  These people think in terms of “yesterday,” pining for a life that can never be again.

An equally destructive thought pattern is “tomorrow thinking.”  I’ll start the diet on Monday.  Next week when I get the bills paid… When we get the house paid off… When the kids get out of school… When the kids go back to school… When I get a new job…. When we retire…

I know.  You have no idea what I’m talking about, right?

The problem with both of these thought patterns is they rob you of the power of today.

You don’t have tomorrow to work with (and you might never have tomorrow to work with).  You cannot fix nor change the past.

What you have to work with is today.

Does that jar you?  Does it scare you to think in terms of today?  Is tomorrow much more hopeful or yesterday much safer?

Well, it’s time to break out of thinking that way because those are merely excuses that will keep you from making today all it needs to be.

People ask me a lot of times how I get so much done.  With a husband, three kids, two schools, two businesses, a house, teaching Sunday School, volunteering, writing the blogs, marketing the books, publishing new books, writing more new ones, etc.–how do I not go completely insane?

I honestly think my secret is maximizing today.  I do make lists of things that need to be done, but I don’t let that overwhelm me.  I focus on right here, right now and do as much as I can in any given moment.

I’m not looking back and wishing it was yesterday or five years ago (though there certainly are things I could do that with).  Nor do I look ahead much into what I want to do or be in the future.  I’m too busy doing and being right now.

So for today, look at your thought patterns.  Do you spend a lot of time not right here and now?  Do you daydream about tomorrow, or fret about (or pine for) yesterday?

Today I challenge you to harness the power of today.  Doing so can change your life!

*~*

White Knight

“Expect the Unexpected!”

Buy it today on Kindle

or

Nook!


Free Ebook Thursday & Friday ONLY!

November 8, 2012

Taking today off from blogging to let you know that my #1 Christian Romance Best Seller, TO PROTECT & SERVE is FREE on Kindle!

TO PROTECT & SERVE

Romance of the purest and sweetest kind…”

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. He’s not afraid of anything, and no situation is too dangerous to keep him on the sideline if lives are at stake.

Lisa Matheson runs a semi-successful ad agency that’s on the brink of falling apart. Her employees are incompetent and her schedule has become exhausting. When she takes on a client with a brilliant idea for a big conference, she thinks that maybe, finally this is her lucky break. However, the fire station wasn’t what she had in mind for finding conference speakers. When she falls for a handsome but shy firefighter, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t quite get control Jeff and the death wish he seems to have…

“Staci Stalling is like an artist, and she really paints a beautiful picture. There are few books that can glue me to my seat and with every Staci Stallings’ book, I am glued. In ‘To Protect and Serve,’ you will smile with them, get angry with them, and you’ll also cry when the characters are hurting. In this novel, Staci shows that love does not only encompass emotion, but to love, we need to trust, to accept and in some instances, surrender.” 

–Amazon Reviewer, Rhonda Aberdeen

Get it FREE on Kindle!


Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #4

November 5, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Human beings seem to be hard-wired to go for something.  It might be to win.  It might be to succeed.  It might be to be the best at something.  It might even be to grab as much pleasure as possible by doing as little as possible.

It also seems that we are hard-wired to not just want to go for whatever it is, but to be the best at it.  To be the chief of it.

Zaccheus knew all about this hard-wired human drive.  You know how I know that?  Because the Bible says Zaccheus was the chief tax collector.  That means he was over all the other tax collectors.  That would be like being the manager of the tax collectors, the supervisor.  He wasn’t just some newbie, rookie who was working his way to the top.  He was at the top.

Now you also have to understand what being a “tax collector” meant at the time to understand the depth of Zaccheus’ “top” mentality.

Tax collectors worked for Rome, and the Jews hated Rome.  Think the Boston Tea Party before there was a Boston or tea.

This was the forerunner story of taxation without representation.

The Jews pretty much paid taxes to Rome for the express reason that Rome owned the Jews and their land.  And the Jews held great animosity for Rome just taking their money via taxes.

Add to that, the tax collectors got paid by taking more money from the people than Rome demanded.  So if your tax was say $20 (I know, but let’s make this easy).  Then the tax collector would come and collect $22–$20 for Rome and $2 for himself.

But here’s the thing.  If you decided not to pay the Roman tax, you could be thrown in jail–possibly for a very long time, leaving your family, wife and children, to fend for themselves.  You couldn’t say, “Come back tomorrow.  I’ll pay you then.”  You couldn’t put it on a credit card.  You either paid it, or you went to jail.

So let’s say for a minute that you are a Jew back in this time, and the tax collector is coming.  How much fear do you attach to that arrival?  After all, you may know what Rome will charge, but what will the tax collector add on top of it?  What if you can’t pay that?  Worse, tax collectors became much like extortionists in that they began to “collect” as much as they could get away with.  Instead of $22, maybe he would charge $30.  And if you didn’t have it, off to jail.

Do you see why this man, this chief tax collector (who probably collected taxes from the tax collectors in his “downline”) was so hated?

Long story to get to this question.

What are you “chief” of?

When we become “chief” of something, like Zaccheus, we can take our eye off of people.  We put it instead on the goal–on the money or the prestige or on ourselves–what we want, what will look best for us, what will give us power.  We forget to be servants.  We forget to have compassion. We forget about love.

And this chief mentality can creep in some very subtle and sinister ways.  For example, I’ve seen it in church choirs, where a choir member is told they are not good enough to be in the choir by the chief.  I’ve seen it in schools where the chief leaves others out on the playground simply because he or she can.  I’ve seen it in organizations where the chief refuses to listen to anyone else’s ideas.  I’ve seen it in relationships–parents to children and between spouses–where one opinion always wins, and no one else gets a say.  I’ve seen teachers with a chief mentality and bosses with a chief mentality.  I’ve seen managers with this mentality–lording their power over workers who must comply risk getting fired.  I’ve even seen this mentality in esoteric situations like writing–where certain authors set themselves up as “chiefs” and dictate to others what can and can’t be written.

I’m sure you have many other examples.

I think that Jesus’ answer to the chief mentality was best displayed when He washed the feet of the disciples.  In Jesus’ Kingdom those who want to be first must serve, not be served.  You don’t acquire a high seat in the Kingdom.  You don’t get to be chief because you understand that God already is, so that is not even your goal.  Your goal is to serve as many people as possible.  Forget about being “chief.”

So the question, “What are you chief of?” should make us stop and think, “What am I pouring my life into trying to be a worldly chief?  And how can I turn that around and instead be a servant?”

In the work place, maybe the manager calls everyone in and says, “I want us to be a team.  So you tell me what you need to be able to work better?”  Maybe an organizational leader says, “Tell me your best ideas” and then listens and incorporates those ideas.  Maybe the parent says, “Let’s sit down and work out how we can make this work for both of us” rather than me dictating everything.

In fact, I just had a conversation with my 13-year-old the other day.  I said that years ago I heard someone say that when you’re a parent, you start as the hands-on worker with the child.  The child’s schedule is determined by you.  What the child eats, what they wear, everything is determined by the parent, and that power is seductive.  The problem begins when a parent needs to move from manager to supervisor and then from supervisor to consultant.  If as a parent you don’t or can’t make that switch, you will have an extremely contentious relationship with your child.  Put another way, as the child gets older, you are no longer the “chief.”

The truth is, the older you get on this cycle, the less “chief” you will be.  You will have even less of a managerial position with your grandkids than you did with your kids.  You will have even less with your great-grandkids.  Each generation, you are required to relinquish more control.  It’s a lesson I think that is woven into the very fabric of being human.  So learn to let go of being “chief.”  Let God take that position in every situation in your life.  I guarantee you, it will greatly reduce your stress level!

*~*

Sneak Peek!

For Real

The third book in

~ The Courage Series ~

Official release is Nov. 14, but you can get your copy NOW…

Amazon Kindle

BN Nook

“For Real will show you how you can lay those things that are preventing you from loving Jesus at the foot of the Cross.

It will inspire you and give you hope.”

—Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman


Questions That Make You Go Hmmm… #1

October 25, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Every year I think I’m doing great getting finished with the raffle at my son’s school.  I always think, “If I can just get everything done through that date, I’ll be in great shape.”  And every year, that date comes and goes, and life goes on after it… without me.

I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s that last frantic week trying to count and sell 4,000 raffle tickets.  Maybe it’s the day of the Carnival and the 9 straight hours of adrenaline-pumping panic.  Or maybe it’s having to get up the next morning and teach Sunday School like I’m awake and functioning.

Whatever it is, I always get to Monday morning and crash!  Then I get up and scramble trying to get bills paid that I’ve put off so our electricity doesn’t get turned off and creditors don’t start calling for my husband’s business.  Long about the time I get those done, I notice that I can’t see the floors nor any cabinets in my house.  And the fact that my kids still think they need fed and have help with homework doesn’t help matters.

This year was particularly challenging because I now have multiple other ventures going as well.

So all that to say, “Sorry.”  I didn’t mean to go MIA on you.  It just happened.  I’ll try to get a bit more organized in the future. :)
Today we’re going to turn our attention to questions.  I’ve been reading a book that delves into symbols and spiritual lessons.  One of the most fascinating things about this book for me are the questions, both that it poses and that strike me as I’m reading.  So we’re going to talk about some of these questions.  Feel free to answer them in comments if you feel so led.

Most of them are not “answerable” like yes, no, true, false, etc.  They are what I would call “soul questions”–questions that when you answer them in your soul, you get a road map to how and why you do what you do in life.  For example, if you’re angry, you may find at the bottom of one of these questions an injustice you suffered that you’ve never gotten past.  If you’re holding onto other people’s approval, you may come to realize through these questions that God holds the key to letting that go and being free.

Here’s our first question.  Read it, and write your answer before you read my take on it:

How is your belief in God and what He is and who He is working for you?

 

As I stumbled on this question, I marveled because I used to see God as a harsh, judgmental employer.  I was the servant, He was the Master, and I’d better get everything done right or else!

I was scared of God, of His power, of His wrath… of what I saw as His capriciousness.  He could wipe out a village with a tsunami or He could spare a farmhouse from a tornado, and we were powerless–aside from begging and performing “well enough” to affect any of His decisions.

My belief this way affected everything.  I felt like I never did enough, and never did enough right.  I was constantly on the lookout for things He might judge me for doing or not doing.  I was on a tightrope that I was destined to fall off of, but that I had to stay on or I was worthless, and worse, worthy of condemnation.

It was a sad, small way to live.

Then, my understanding and belief in God and who He is changed drastically.  Over the course of about two years, I came to know that God wasn’t a capricious, vain employer, but a loving wonderful friend.  He didn’t cause bad things to happen, but He was right here with me when they did.

I learned I could rely on Him in the little things and the too-much-to-carry things.  I learned He really does love me–when I’m doing His Will and even when I mess up.  He’s right there to pick me up, dust me off, forgive me, and help me to forgive myself and move on.

The transformation in my life has been huge.  The way I used to see God was not working for me at all.  This way works wonderfully, sometimes mind-blowingly well.  I can finally relax and enjoy life–rather than rushing around trying to prove something.  I can be excited about opportunities rather than desperate about them.  It’s a cool way to live.

So if you’d like, please share what thoughts struck you with this question.  I’ll be back next time with another one!

*~*

“An unusual story by a masterful author!”

Jonathon Danforth has a plan.  Take the class his sister signed him up for.  Attend a couple classes and then quit as soon as possible.

Plans change!

Check out this unique story on Amazon Kindle

or  Barnes & Noble Nook!


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