A Mystery to Me

I stated in the last post about how I really liked this publisher. The staff appointed for various divisions of the production were great. They were helpful, made suggestions, and in the end produced a nice product.

We don’t always find that with self-publishing. This particular publisher not only lined up book signing events that I could accept or reject, but gave me helpful tips on advertising, created a website exclusively for my book, made a trailer for my book with one million views on T.V. Let me design the cover, and the royalty checks came regularly. They, to me, seemed to go above and beyond. I could not have asked for better.

Things were going smoothly and my books were selling at book signings.

Having been up late the night before I was kind of dragging the next day and not feeling like doing much. Actually I was bored! I came in my office to play a game of Bingo on the computer. Sitting down, yawning, before uploading the game, the Lord dropped another bomb. “You wanna write another one?”

Eyes snap open and boredom left the scene!

I was really hoping it would be another novel and thank you Lord, it was. As usual, when I excitedly asked, “What’s this one about?” the typical “you’ll see” was the reply.

I’ve stated before that each of my books have a message the Lord is bringing across within the story. And I know various people will glean different things from the stories but hopefully whatever that is will draw them closer to the Lord. This book has a strong message and again parts of it is from my own experiences. That’s something else. Don’t tell anyone but each book has a part of me in them. Shhhh, only those who know me really well will recognize those parts.

“Dawn’s Light” was not only fun writing , but it was as though I had started reading a book and couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter to see what happens. I’m serious! It is that intriguing, sit on the edge of your seat kind of story, light romance, and I had no idea what was coming next. My editing friend was even calling and asking, “What’s going to happen? Where’s this going? Does……?” My only answer was, “I have no idea!”

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Intrigued? Stay tuned.

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A Gift With Imagination

Having a new publisher for this book has been a blessing. I don’t recall the title I had chosen but I learned there was another book with the same title so we decided to change and “my team,” at the publisher, came up with “Pursuit.” It fit perfectly for the story line and when it was time for the cover design we worked together to create it.

I thought, and still do, the beach chairs lined up on the beach is perfect. Each chair is a different color and each chair is representative of each main character in the book. Each of the main characters are different in their thoughts, actions, jobs, etc. The post card depiction fits perfectly also. I thought that was pretty cool! We want our covers to depict what is inside and the front cover design should be created to stand out over all other books on the display rack. We want the buyers eye to be drawn to our cover over all others.

As stated in the previous post, keeping characters straight is a unique challenge since this was my first novel. I was constantly having to refer to my “cheat sheet” with everyone’s names and characters. I had to do that with all the novels.

And of course, I love the beach, so I needed some fun time involving a beach. That’s what I find so fun about writing a novel. It’s like painting. That blank piece of paper (or computer screen) is like an artists pallet. You can paint any picture you want on it.

With novels my characters can be anything I want them to be; A fat, ugly judge, or a beautifully dressed Miss Pris. I can have a goofy or a serious character, and I can have them rich or poor or both, and I can make up the town or use somewhere I know about.

For me, I lean pretty much to reality type scenarios. So far I have used areas that I am familiar with or have personally been there. As for people/characters? The sky is the limit, so go for it! Let that wonderful imagination have free reign.

My preference is wanting my story to be realistic. I want my reader to be so engrossed in the story that they feel they are right there in the story. I’ve had several people tell me, “I feel like I’m right there living it! I loved it!” And not just with this book but the other novels, too. If that is achieved I am a very happy camper!

Speaking of “living it.” That is exactly how I am while writing a novel. I am those characters! I feel their joy, their sadness, their happiness and their anger. I had to laugh and stop writing one night because I was so engrossed in writing that I wasn’t paying any attention to my cat, Miss Kitty. She began pestering me for something and wouldn’t stop. I finally looked down, in frustration, and yelled, “Mildred stop it!” Mildred is the character I was “living” at that moment. All I could do was laugh when I realized what I did, and give Miss Kitty some love.

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I’ll be back – Hope you are, too.

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A Whole New Ballgame

I found that writing a novel is quite different from what I’ve written so far. Laying Down my Net had characters but I knew them because the story is a true story. I just had to come up with fake names for them.

With this novel it was a quite different in that jobs, various characteristics and personalities, likes and dislikes along with family ties had to be created. The writing part of it wasn’t so bad because, like I have said many times, the Lord gives me a part of the story as needed. But I still have to do my part in the thinking through and bringing it all together. If I get off track He brings me back.

Many times I would go off to the lake during the week when it was empty of people and sit on the beach with my legal pad and write. The Lord would give me parts of the story and then when I came home to type it we filled in the rest of what was needed.

The problem, well not a problem per say, but the difficulty is keeping up with all the characters. Making sure to be consistent with using the right name for the right person. I had a sheet of paper to the side of the computer and write down, “Teri – the prosecutor,” “Clay – Dad,” etc. and I had to keep up with them or have a real mess on my hands.

When it came to the mystery part of the book I had to think about what made sense and what didn’t. Would a prosecuting attorney really say that? Would a defense attorney look like that? There was a whole lot more thinking and meditating going on with writing this novel. And of course the big wedding ripped it!

The editing was a nightmare! Once the manuscript was written and ready to send to the publisher I needed to go through every sentence and of course, I found mistakes. Not just mistakes in punctuation or spelling but having the wrong name for someone saying something. For example, “Clay said…” when it should have been “Tom said…”

Thank God for my dear friend because she would catch what I didn’t. Don’t forget, we’re not only writing the story but we are reading it over and over and over and over and over. We know it so well we could recite it paragraph by paragraph in our sleep! Always have someone else go through your manuscript before submitting it to a publisher. They can point out if a point you made doesn’t make sense as well as catch other kinds of mistakes. And don’t forget your flash drive, disc copy, or printed copy.

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Hang around – more good stuff coming.

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Money or Planting Seeds?

I’m skipping ahead for this post because it is what I call “The rubber hits the road.” It goes back to motives. It is something, as difficult as it is to write, that anyone hoping or planning to enter a writers world must know. It is not to discourage you but give you an inside look at the real business of publishing. This part of that business is not fair to authors but it is a fact!

Three things are involved. You the author, the publishers, and the retailer. None operates without the other unless you sell your books yourself and cut out the retailers, but you are still left with a publisher. Without the publisher your book will not be printed!

When a book goes out to the world, for example, through a bookstore. The bookstore takes a % and sends the rest to the publisher. The publisher takes their % and sends the rest to you. I think I’ve mentioned this before.

What happens if a publisher goes out of business? Here’s the cold hard facts!

Book # 1
Book # 2
Book # 3


Book # 4
Book # 5

Book # 1 and 2 = over $11,000 paid in publishing fees. That does not take into account for the books I had to buy, all promotional items; book marks, business cards, posters, advertising, etc. THAT PUBLISHER WENT OUT OF BUSINESS!

Book # 3 = No publishing fee. (I cancelled the contract not knowing what I now know. I wrote about this one) Yet I still had to buy all the promotional items and buying my books, as mentioned above.

Book # 4 and 5 = $8,000 paid in publishing fees. Not counting buying my books, promotional items, advertising, etc. THAT PUBLISHER FOLDED when two top executives were indicted for embezzlement, fraud, theft by taking, and a whole string of charges.

All of these books are still being sold on Amazon as well as the other book selling businesses AND I DO NOT GET A PENNY! When one of the books sells that business gets the money because there is no publisher in the middle to disperse funds to me. (Those businesses will NOT pay directly!) The books are no longer being printed but don’t forget they are still out there! (Used books, little off the beaten path book sellers, etc)

What’s my recourse? Sue Amazon and any other businesses that sell my books for copyright infringement! (I spoke to a copyright attorney about this) This is true of any articles, books, etc. that you have written and have with a publisher and/or under contract with a copyright.

Money or planting seeds? After much anger, hurt, and disbelief for all the hard work, time, and expense put into writing these books I asked the Lord for His will regarding the books. They are His books for His glory. After much prayer I chose to continue to allow the books to be sold and pray that the Lord will speak through them to all those who read them.

I hope this has not doused any dreams of writing but hopefully it has helped to inform and enable you to go forward with eyes wide open. Any publisher can fold at any time no matter how big or how long they have been in business. I learned that the hard way. Four of those books were published with very well known long standing publishers. God bless you as you look again at the motives behind your desire.

Don’t run away yet – Happier posts are coming.

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Lord, Can We…?

After two non-fiction books and a serious, “In your face book,” the Lord said, “Are you ready to write another?” I groaned and whined a little. “Lord, (whiny voice) we’ve been doing all these serious books and I’m kind of worn out. Can we do a novel maybe? I’m really sick of all this serious stuff.” (sniff, sniff)

And “Pursuit” was being born.

As usual, when I sat down to this computer I had absolutely no idea what would be written. The past 2 years have been filled with a book being released, book signing events, and just every day life.

To start another book was both exciting and daunting. Daunting because I eat, sleep, and breathe whatever writing project I have undertaken. Which means no sleep, a quick sandwich, and a mind that never stops. He didn’t give me a clue as to what kind of story it would be, which means really sitting at the foot of the Throne and praying Someone up there knows what He’s doing! I prayed turning it all over to Him and started typing.

I was glad when I saw we were using Atlanta and Georgia areas as the locations for the story. At least I was familiar with that and wouldn’t have to do a bunch of research stuff. When He started bringing in beaches I was really excited. The Lord knows I like mysteries, suspense, and beaches, so as the pages started filling with words I was also pleased to see I had two characters in positions that I was familiar with also. But I had no idea where any of this was going!

And then the story got into something I was totally unfamiliar with – weddings. Two of them!

I started off with a little research and then decided to consult with my very dear friend about how to plan a big wedding. When I married I insisted on a very informal, small wedding. In fact, it was very small, only five of us! And I wanted to wear jeans and a Mickey Mouse T-shirt but my groom said “NO!” (not all little girls dream of a big wedding) I had no clue how to plan, much less describe, a big wedding and that was frustrating me to no end.

Have you ever tried to describe a long flowing beautiful wedding dress with material and lace that you’ve never heard of, much less can pronounce? And how come a kid has to have the wedding ring on a satin pillow? Is the groom so weak or lazy he can’t hold a ring?

My friend had many good ole belly laughs at my phone calls screaming in her ear about the stupidity of wasting all that money for an hours worth of “I do’s.” “Have you seen the prices of some of these rags they get married in!?” The research was killing me! Flowers, food, cake, clothing for brides maids, what do the men wear? Oh crap, I forgot the Mom’s and Dads! You mean I have to dress them, too? (screaaaaam) The honeymoons were fun and of course they went where I have been before. It was fun writing. Some of those cakes and wedding dresses are awesome! And some I wouldn’t wear to camp in!

As the story progressed I would send a chapter to my friend to edit. That way she didn’t have to spend hours upon hours going through several chapters. She would call me laughing and I knew right then, when she couldn’t even talk for laughing, I was in trouble, or she loved what was written.

My first novel, even with the cottin’ pickin’ wedding research stuff, was fun and once again, another manuscript would be shipped off to a publisher.

Hang in there – I’m not done yet.

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Don’t Take It Personally

By now I have three books published and I’m busy doing book signing events at various bookstores in the area. There are some days I sell none, but have met people and have made a list of e-mail addresses from the drawing, to notify of my next event.

This is kind of fun because I’ll look up and someone will be standing there that came to my last signing event and we usually will get into a short conversation about whatever book they bought or whichever one is my latest. Kind of like an old home week. Its nice to know people will let you know when they enjoy your book and better yet, when they show up at your next event.

We will on occasion create “followers” if they really enjoy our books. But I have found, like I’ve stated earlier, “It takes all kinds to make a world.” My latest, at that time was Seek My Face. My display table had all three books; Laying Down my Net, Sacrifices of a Saint, and Seek My Face.

Its interesting to watch people’s reactions as they pick up a book, glance at the cover, turn it over and read the back cover. I can almost read their mind by their facial expressions.

The reactions to Seek My Face has actually been a surprise to me. People, on the most part, will linger over the other two books and maybe ask a few questions about it, but when Seek My Face is picked up, if it is, it is like someone has touched something nasty!

I actually had someone say, “I don’t read that kind of stuff!” and tossed the book back on the table and walked away. I admit, Seek My Face is a confrontational book. Is it that people don’t want to be confronted with the Word of God? Is that why many do not read the Bible, because it confronts us, as well as guides us?

I learned, basically from having that book on my display table, to not take reactions or comments personally. Everyone has their own tastes in reading material and we are not going to be able to please all of them.

To me, its sad because even today, and maybe even more so today with the anti-Christian stuff going on, that there is such a lack of interest in Seek My Face. On occasion I will have someone who shows a genuine interest in it but on the most part I bring the same number home as I took.

Their loss, not mine, is my way of thinking. I can’t take their lack of interest personally. It is their choice as to what they read or don’t read. That is not a reflection on me.

If you would like one FREE copy of “Seek My Face” (I’ll pay the postage – USA ONLY) (Additional copies are $10.00 + $5.00 postage & handling) send me an e-mail with your name and address to: elah501c@bellsouth.net.

I’ll be back with more. Stay tuned.

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Anticipation

A summary, of sorts.

The stories have been written. The publisher selected. The editing has been done, the manuscript has been sent and accepted and the tax form sent. (Yes, you will pay the govt. taxes on all books sold and if you do not send a tax form you will receive no royalties!) Those are the first steps we have taken in our dream of seeing a real book with our name on the front.

We wait.

After some time has passed we get the formatted copy to go through and check for any mistakes. We read our story again and check everything and make the necessary corrections and send them back to the publisher.

We wait some more.

The Publisher makes the corrections and sends us another formatted copy of our book with the corrections made and we check to make sure all the mistakes we sent are corrected. (If you keep a copy of the page, paragraph and mistake, as well as the correction, you will not have guess work and a very simple means of checking what has been corrected without having to reread the entire book again.) Then we sent “accept” for the formatted copy back to the publisher.

We wait some more.

An e-mail (with this particular publisher) will be sent saying my book has gone to print.

Yayyyyyyyyyyy

The anticipation rises. The hard stuff is behind and now in just two or three weeks I’ll be receiving my box of free books! (No, you don’t get one free this time. 🙂 )

Seeing our work done in a formatted form is one thing, but having the actual “real” book in hand is yet another, and no matter how many books you have published, its always exciting to see the new, real thing, in living color, in your hand.

I’m guess-timating release sometime late July. Once I get the official release date, I’ll share that.

Stay tuned, more good stuff ahead.

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Be Encouraged Even When Things Don’t Look Good

As I sit here and type this I sit in awe. The Lord said, “You will write a book.” (singular) Now several years later I have eight published books. (I AM is about to be released) Thinking back I wonder, how did all this happen?

It happened because of God’s grace and through my faith in Him! He showed me in each writing, that He is faithful to do what He says He will do. One book proved that, but eight? How can I ever doubt Him again? That is not bragging on me, that is bragging on our faithful Lord, Jesus Christ.

If you recall I had stated in earlier posts that the proceeds go into the ministry and in another post I talked about our motives for writing. Yes, the sales of my books supports Elah Ministry, Inc along with donations from loving people. But what if there are no sales?

Of course I love when people buy my books and especially if they enjoy them, but I have to confess that when book stores started going out of business and the book signing events dwindled down to almost nonexistent due to all the new technology that allows people to read on their confounded devices, it gets discouraging. I haven’t done book signing events in quite some time now due to that fact. People just don’t seem to want a “real” book and book stores, as well as authors, have suffered. I have heard that is changing though and people are returning to the “real” books. Praise God.

The Lord asked me one day, “Are you writing to make money, or are you wanting people to be drawn to Me through your books?” My immediate answer, of course, was the latter.

“Okay – Prove it!”

No book signing events, selling a book here and there, no royalties to speak of coming in, do I give up? Do I stack the boxes of books in the basement and say, “forget it! It’s a waste of money?” And believe me I have a LOT of money tied up in these books!

I’m sure some of you are wondering why I’m willing to give a free book. Answer – Because it isn’t about the money! Doctors offices, Dental offices, Hospital ladies rooms, clinic waiting rooms, wherever I have an opportunity to leave a book with a sticky note “Free to take” with my business card and a book mark advertising the ministry inside the book, I do. Its more than “Get your name out there.” Its a means to introduce people to Jesus.

More good stuff to come.

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The Library

A publisher is constantly telling their authors, “Get your name out there!” That can mean giving free books away, sitting in a coffee shop handing out business cards with a few books on the table, having a drawing for a free book, or doing a signing event at the local library.

People tend to buy books from authors they are familiar with. I’ve heard so many say to each other at book signing events, “This sounds interesting but I’ve never heard of this author.” We are unknown authors when we first start out and that does make a difference.

I started having a drawing to win a free book. Just a simple slip of paper with their name and e-mail address placed in a jar and I assured people that I do not share their e-mail addresses. This accomplished two things; 1. “Would you like to enter a free drawing” drew people from the door straight to my display. 2. It enabled me to create an e-mail list of people to notify of my next signing event. At the end of my allotted time I would have the manager draw a name from the jar. We’d announce it over the intercom in case the person was still in the store. If no one came forward then I would e-mail the person and announce their winning. I found this worked very well and yes, I sold more books because more people lingered at my table.

My least favorite place to do book signing events are libraries. “Get your name out there” is the incentive but people are at libraries to get free reading material, not buy books. I’ve met some very nice people at libraries and have had some wonderful conversations and have sold maybe one or two books at the most while there.

Being a Christian author it also gives us an opportunity to discuss Christian beliefs, witness, or just present Christian reading. On the back cover of Laying Down my Net it mentions that I “see angels and hear the angels sing.” Three young high school gals stopped at my table and in reading that, one exclaimed, “You see angels!?” That led to an interesting discussion.

So libraries are not out of the question and expect to donate a copy of your book. Some libraries ( and book stores) will even have you do a “reading and a question and answer” session. But don’t expect to sell several books. And yes, you will need cash. (or accept credit cards)

Stay tuned, we’re not finished yet.

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A library signing event in Tn.

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Motives

That “Encyclopedia Britannica” that got thrown in the trash so long ago was written out of hurt, anger, and revenge for all those who had hurt me. Thinking back on it, I think the Lord used that sarcastic and rude man on the other end of the line to stop me from my sinful intentions of hurting others. I’m grateful now, even though it stopped me from writing for many years.

This leads me to the question – why do you want to write a book, a magazine article, a devotional, or even a blog? Is there an ulterior motive hidden down deep behind that desire? We all must think long and hard about that question because our answer determines what we write and how we write it.

As I’ve stated before, I had no intention of writing a book after my “book” hit the bottom of the trash can. The Lord had told me, “You will write a book” at that women’s retreat two weeks after I got saved and fifteen years later He said, “Are you ready to write a book?”

Before I put the pen to the paper He told me in no uncertain terms, “All proceeds from the sales of your book is to go into the ministry. You are not to take even a penny!” They do, and they have from that moment on, even though I didn’t know what the book was going to be about, or if it really would come to pass, and if it did, if it would even sell. I agreed.

And in case anyone is wondering, No, the publishers fees and all expenses involved does NOT come out of ministry funds.

Shame on me! My doubts were so much higher than my faith. The Lord taught me many hard lessons during those five years of state to state moving and yet I doubted. Another comfort zone destroyed! He’s taking me into unknown waters blind! Fear and doubt will hold us back. Thankfully, I picked up the pen and hoped that He would do what He said and began writing.

My only reason for holding that pen and writing the words given to me at that time was simply two reasons; Stepping out in faith, as He tells us to do, and being obedient. Which He also tells us to be. As the pages progressed I began to see how my words – His words – our words; my journey, could be an encouragement to others. I think the most significant response to that book (Laying Down my Net) is when a woman told me after reading it, “I need to really reevaluate my relationship with Christ.” That made the work, the year long trial and error and learning experience well worth it to me. It can be an eye opener into our own journey.

The biggest blessing for me as a result of my obedience, is my brother. For some reason our relationship had gone astray. We had always been close and suddenly it was as though we’d had a huge fight or something and no longer communicated. I never understood why and was deeply hurt. He read Laying Down my Net and suddenly, our relationship was back to where it had always been. I don’t know why, other than he told me, “It answered a lot of questions.” If I never sold more than that one copy, I would be praising God for it.

As Christians are we writing in the hopes of filling in a gap in the check book, to see our name splattered across the front cover, to help others through our testimonies, or are we writing to glorify the Lord whether we sell them or whether we give them all away? That decision is between you and the Lord but it is a decision that each who put their pen to the paper have to make.

I write to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to honor Him and bring praise to Him and encourage others to do the same. I pray it will touch a non-believer and open their eyes to Christ’s great and mighty love and hopefully to dispel those silly thoughts of, “God doesn’t do that!” like one woman said when I gave a testimony. Each one of the books, be it fiction or non-fiction, serious or a novel, has a different message the Lord is bringing. If my motives for writing changes, I’ll quit!

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