Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year, New Opportunities

            I like to think of a new year as a time to make a fresh start. I have a friend who doesn’t believe in making resolutions, because she believes it can discourage us if we don’t follow through. I don’t know if I call them resolutions, but I like to have goals of ways I hope to improve in the coming year.
            2012 writing goals: 
            -To hone my writing skills.
            -To explore and understand where I should concentrate my efforts: fiction, nonfiction or blogging, etc.
            -To not live according to other people's expectations of me. Although, I do want to listen to the advice of other writers, I need to make my own decisions when I am ready to move into a new area.

          2012 Personal/Spiritual Goals:
            -To increase my time I spend alone with God and the time I spend praying for others.
            -To read God’s Word deeply. Also, I want to memorize scripture. I am glad as a younger person I memorized many scripture verses, was a member of a Bible Quiz Team and a coach of a junior high team. I thank God for the love of His Word that was instilled in me at an early age.
Well, I don’t want to bore you because there are many similar posts out there at this time of the year. But, I wanted to write them down, because goals written down are more easily reached.
            Have a great 2012.
            What are your goals for the new year? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Memories: The $50 I'll Never Forget

            It was December 1981, and I would soon move away from my childhood home for the first time and attend college in another state. I had decided to major in journalism at a Christian college and was working a full-time job and also doing part-time work to save the money for my tuition, room and board.
I saw an ad in a Christian magazine (the one I eventually worked for), about making a contribution to a fund that provided Christmas gifts for children of missionaries. I felt compelled to contribute, but wondered how I could do that when I needed to save money to go away to college.
            But, I felt it was the thing to do. I sent a check for $50.00 to the address indicated in the ad, and told no one about it.
            On that Christmas Eve, as was my family’s tradition, we opened gifts from my grandparents.  I opened a small box from them, with an envelope inside. When I looked inside the envelope it contained $50.00 in cash. It took my breath away as I saw the same amount in my hand that I had given as a gift to the missionary children. My grandparents had no idea I had donated the money, they just wanted to help me with my expenses for college.
            I don’t believe God always gives us back, in monetary terms, what we give to others, but I think sometimes He lets it happen so that we will be encouraged and remember that He is present in our lives and able to supply our needs.
            I did save enough money to go away to college, graduated, and was able to eventually work in Christian publishing. And I have never forgotten about that $50.00 on a special Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Memories: The Importance of Words


            I learned a lesson about the importance of words when I was a member of a Christmas choir at my hometown church, about thirty years ago.
            My hometown church had an average attendance of about 150 people (the largest church in our town). Our youth pastor, who had also been a music professor, organized a choir one Christmas (we didn’t have a choir on a regular basis) of those who wanted to sing and present a cantata (no tryouts in small churches). I was one of about fifteen who formed the group.
                                                         Bob Phillips/Dreamstime.com


            We sang mostly Christmas music we were familiar with, or so we thought. The first thing he taught us was how to breathe, so we could get the best sound out of our voices. He also instructed us how to sing particular words of songs, so that those listening would hear the words more clearly.  For example: When we sang the song, “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,” he told us to sing the line: “Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him,” as, “Oh, come let TUS adore him.” Most of us found this humorous, but that made it memorable and we felt like we had a secret from the audience. It also made the rehearsals fun and we felt like a team.
            We sang on that Christmas Sunday to the best of our abilities and to the glory of God, remembering what we had learned.
But, I took away from that experience a truth about the power of words. We need to shape the way we speak and write so the hearer or the reader understands and enjoys our message.
Thanks, Terry, for something I remember every Christmas and in my daily work as a writer.
Don’t forget to adore Christ the Lord this Christmas.
           



      
           

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do You Have a Hard time with Promotion?

This is a guest post by Cherie Burbach. Cherie is an author, blogger, poet, crocheter and geek.

 You can find her at www.cherieburbach.com


Christian writers: Do you have a hard time with promotion? I hear this a lot from my fellow Christian writers: "How do you promote your work when you're not really supposed to brag about yourself?"
Bragging is not something a Christian is supposed to do right? But then how do you find readers? As Christians, we must constantly reflect about how we promote our work.

Atee83/Dreamstime.com


Promoting Books is a Must Today
There are simply too many authors and too many books out there today to skip promotion. It's a necessity if you want to reach the right readers. It isn't about getting someone to buy your book over someone else's, rather, it's about finding that special person who will get something out of your book, whether it's enjoyment, a lesson, or a call to faith.
And that's the reason we write, isn't it? Because we have some amazing stories about the wonderful things that God does and we want to share them with people. More importantly, we want to help the right people find them. Promotion helps do that.

Self Reflect Through Prayer
One thing I do to help make sure I'm "in check" with my faith when it comes to promotion is pray about it. I ask for guidance and then I confidently go out in the world. I try and listen to what God is telling me about my life and my writing, and I follow that advice. If I have a bad feeling about a certain marketing method I hold off and pray about it some more. If it doesn't seem like something I "should" do, I skip it. There are so many ways to network and promote your work today, so if one doesn't seem like it falls within your Christian sensibilities, pray about other opportunities.

Let God Do His Thing
Did you ever write something you thought was completely small and random, and yet someone told you it touched them? Inspired them? Those are my happiest times as a writer because I know this is all God's doing. He inspires our words and then uses them to reach out to someone else. I give all that glory to God, because I certainly know it isn't me!
Several years ago I wrote an essay for NPR, that I submitted and never heard a word about. I assumed it was another rejection, and completely forgot about it until six months later when a lady from NPR told me my essay was the second most popular out of tens of thousands of entries. In the essay (http://thisibelieve.org/essay/12446/), I shared details of my childhood growing up with verbal abuse and an alcoholic parent. I remember writing that essay very quickly and not giving it much editing or thought. Imagine my surprise to hear that it was so popular!
Now, five years later, it's still one of the top five essays on their site, and I have people who email me, telling me they can relate to it. Each time I hear from someone, I am struck by God's amazing ability to connect with us all. When we realize how much we need God in our life, it will help you feel more confident about being a writer, and all the things that go along with writing professionally, including promotion.

Writers Generally Don't Like the Spotlight
Writers, in general, don't seem to like to promote. We're content to hide behind the computer screen and not have to make calls or reach out. But the reality of being a writer today is that marketing is part of our job. It doesn't mean you need to shout about your accomplishments when you enter a room, but you will need to connect with others and do your best to find readers.
If you're like me, you're a dork and feel funny about the whole promotion thing. But lean on God during these times. He will help guide you to the right situations. Sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone is exactly what God hopes you will do.


Cherie Burbach writes about friendship, dating, family, and relationships at About.com (NY Times) and Life Goes Strong (NBC/Universal). She has penned eleven books and ebooks, including Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza and 21 Ways to Promote Your Book on Twitter, and has published over 500 articles on the subjects of health, sports, and lifestyle. For more info, visit her website, http://www.cherieburbach.com
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