Monday, November 03, 2014

10 Ways Introverted Writers Can Handle Marketing Their Books

Today I'd like to introduce you to Zoe M. McCarthy, one of my accountability partners and someone who has amazed me with all she does as she systematically plans her work and works her plan. Her debut novel, Calculated Risk, comes out this month and here she's sharing some secrets on how she's dealing with the marketing as an introvert.

I’m a writer not a promoter. When writing, I do little socializing. I research my books on the Internet. My agent is happy to correspond through email. I even got contracted through email.

So, how do I become a marketer and face live people, saying clever things?

We introverts can market our books as well as our extroverted friends. Click to tweet.


Introverts get their energy from within, not from other people like extroverts do.

So, all the interacting introverts must do to promote their books siphons their fuel.



Here are 10 ways I handled marketing activities.


Approaching Experts for Help

Way 1 - Talking to experts. First, I always researched the subject on the Internet. When I knew terminology and what I was asking about, I wasn’t as intimidated to talk to experts. This helped in calling about newspaper ads, booking a signing, and ordering promotional materials.

Way 2 - Ordering Promotional Materials. I used the “chat now” option when ordering bookmarks, posters, etc. After written exchanges with the expert, I got comfortable with the person. Then when things got complicated, I was ready to communicate in a more efficient manner – a telephone call!

Way 3 - Talking on the Phone. Before I called newspaper reps or bookstore managers, I made a cheat sheet. I wrote my own name and phone number, the name of the company and contact person, the title of my book, any dates I was considering, all my questions, and anything I might trip on. Just writing it calmed me.

Way 4 - Calling on Fellow Authors. I joined several author groups and participated through emails and Facebook. We help each other. Some are veterans at marketing activities. They share what they’ve learned and field questions. It’s much easier to ask my questions of a friend, even a cyber friend, than a stranger.

Way 5Finding the Energy. I tackle visits and phone calls in the morning. Because I lose energy quickly in interacting with others, I need to be well rested. I also make time to pray.

Way 6Using the Internet. I belong to a Yahoo group of authors with the publisher of Calculated Risk. They organize group ads published in a popular magazine. They also hold monthly Facebook meet-the-author parties with readers. I haven’t done a blog tour, but I accepted invitations to post on several blogs, all through relationships with online writer groups.

Being The Focus Of Promotional Events

Way 7Getting the Right Helpers. For my local book launch party, I enlisted two helpers who are active in church and the community and know many people. They amazed me when I listed the people I needed to contact. Each took turns saying, “I’ll do that.” Helpers like these are an introvert’s dream.

Way 8Interacting from a Distance. For promotional exposure, it’s easier for me to give a prepared talk from a podium than to mingle in social events. I know numerous introverts who are energetic speakers, but flee from circulating with attendees afterward. I lead writing workshops and speak at spiritual retreats. It’s dining with the participants that’s hard for me. But the more I do it the easier it is.

Way 9Role Playing to Interact. Many actors are introverts. After dress- as-your-character dinners at conferences, I learned it’s easier to promote my character than me. Others concentrate on the costume and the character, and less on me. So, I’ll wear my Cisney marketing rep costume to signings and my launch party.

Way 10Giving Yourself a Break. Radio and TV interviews can be effective to promote books. Even with prepared answers, I’d be terrified interviewers might ask unscheduled questions. The clever answers would occur to me ten minutes after the interview’s end. I gave myself permission to avoid such torture. I compensate by signing up for as many written interviews as I can.

My marketing attempts might be ineffective, but it won’t be because I’m an introvert.

What ways do you other introverts handle marketing your books?


Zoe M. McCarthy believes the little known fact that opposites distract. Thus, she spins inspirational contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is “Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites.” Calculated Risk, Zoe’s debut novel, will be available November 21, 2014. Christian Fiction Online Magazine published two of her short stories. Zoe enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing, speaking about her faith, planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren, and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Deerfield Fair with the Girls

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Welcome to A to Z!
We'd love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

This week is the letter D.

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.
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Deerfield Fair. It's been part of our family forever. Forever? Yes! It's the fair my mom grew up going to and when my older sister and I were kids, still living in Maine, we'd make the trek and go to the Deerfield Fair whenever we could...which wasn't often, but it was enough to engrain it into us.

It's the fair of all fairs in our family. Still.

So, this year when Mom said she wanted to go to the fair, we converged in Boston. (Did I mention the fair is in Massachusetts?) We flew in from IL, MO, AZ, and Puerto Rico.

This last summer I went to a LOT of fairs and let me tell you, Deerfield Fair is nothing like them. It's bigger and better and cram-packed with people and events. Country events--things like horse pulls, oxen pulls, horse shows, 4-H shows...all that fun stuff.

The big event for us was the heavy horse pulls. We spent hours sitting in that arena watching the horses and teamsters and listening to the announcer. It didn't take long for us to loose our Rs and start talking how we used to. Start became staht. Horses were hosses and we cahfully remembered where-ah we pahked the cah.

We spent hours and hours sitting in the horse arenas (plural--one for pulling and another for the horse shows, which were super cool to see!) Cheryl was smart, she brought her toys and did some journaling with her paints. Talk about cool!!  I loved watching her dip and dab while we waited for the shows to start--cuz yanno, we couldn't lose our good seats. =)



We had a BLAST! The fair was WONDERFUL, but being together was the BEST. We talked and ate and acted goofy and did all those fun things sisters do when they get to go on a trip with their mom. hehe.

So tell me, did you go to the fair as a kid? What was your favorite thing?


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If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter D, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Time to Celebrate!

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Welcome to A to Z!
We'd love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

This week is the letter C.

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.
~*~*~*~

It's time to celebrate!!

Our baby has a name!
What? You didn't know I had a baby in progress? LoL. Actually, some of you did. It's the Christmas anthology I've been compiling.

Awhile ago the idea to put together a Christmas anthology hit me. It was a full-blown brain blizzard. I put it off but the idea wouldn't leave me alone so I finally shared it with some people...and that led to going for it.

A group of us, represented by the wonderful Linda Glaz, decided to take the plunge and go for getting a book out in time for Christmas. I've had the privilege of compiling the book and I have to tell you, I have been SO BLESSED by the stories. I cannot wait to share them with you!

At this point I don't have a cover or release date but that's okay. The book is well underway and it's all I can do to sit quietly and wait.

Oh, wait!
I still haven't told you the name! LoL. (Did I mention how excited I am?!)

*drum roll*

Christmas Treasures: 
A Collection of Christmas Short Stories

Stay tuned for more information as I get it.

So tell me, what's your favorite kind of Christmas story?

PS--Keep an eye on Facebook to see who has stories in Christmas Treasures!

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If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter C, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.




Monday, October 20, 2014

Monkey Bath

Sometimes when we are at work with the monkeys someone will go by and make comments about them being dirty or having fleas and lice. (It makes me mad, but I keep my mouth shut. But really, if the monkey was like that, do they think I'd bring him out like that? Do they think the fair board will allow me to set up and work there? Really, sometimes people talk before they think. Other times I think they're in a hurry and don't want to stop so their kids can see a monkey up close.)

ahem.
Rant over.

Sure, some monkeys are dirty. Some monkeys do smell. Some monkeys might even have fleas or lice. *shudder*

But NOT all monkeys! 
And certainly not mine!

Those of us who have monkeys and love them, take care of them, and that means they get baths.

Toby loves his bubble bath. Adores it!

A few days ago, author Karla Akins, who is also an animal lover (be sure to check out her well-loved pets!) sent me a link to this video and asked if my monkeys do this...



YES!! They do! I use baby shampoo for their bubble bath and on their fur like you see in the video and they scrub and scrub, using their hands, feet and tail. Sometimes though, I end up as wet as they do.

Monkey Monday at Patterings

Maybe another day I'll show you what happens when Toby decides to he doesn't want to take a bath...

And thank you, Karla for this great video clip! Squirt is adorable!!

So tell me, do your pets like their baths?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beauty Instead of the Beast

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Welcome to A to Z!
We'd love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

This week is the letter B.

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.
~*~*~*~
It's been raining here at my house for days and days. Even when I wasn't home it was raining. We've had everything from storms to drizzle. Constant drizzle to tornado warnings. 

Yesterday my daughter came out of her room and growled when she looked out the kitchen window. "See, this is why I hate winter! It's so dark and gray. It's awful." I know what she's talking about. Often the winter--the dark days become like a Beast in our lives, making it hard to see anything else. Thankfully, later that day God reminded me of something I need reminding of often...


My youngest son stepped outside for something and came running back in to tell me to come see.


Beauty had flooded the sky.









Often we're so focused on the Beast that we miss seeing the Beauty.


After snapping a few pictures (okay, lots of pictures), I turned around to go back to the house. This is what I saw...


More beauty, even if this picture doesn't show it well.

A double rainbow.

What a reminder that there's beauty all around us. Even on dark days full of storms and the constant dripping of drizzle.

Sometimes we just need to step to where we can see and then look around.

Beauty is there, if we'll just look.

So tell me, what's something beautiful you've seen lately?

~*~*~*~
If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter B, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Changing of the Colors

Sometimes the best way to make a change is to do something drastic. Like remove the background I've been using for years. The background I love adore. The background that is truly me.

So I did it.

I removed my background.

I've always said I never wanted a white site, and we both know that using words like always and never is never a good idea.

Maybe I was holding onto my pink and green stripes too tightly...

Losing readers is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about over the years and lately too. I want to know what makes a person leave a site.

As I've tweaked my focus from time-to-time I've seen people stop following, and I'm good with that. Time is such a huge issue for everyone and I'm honored and humbled that anyone reads my blog--when I started blogging it was out of obedience, not to be found by others. I've worked at staying obedient even when it felt I wasn't doing what should be done to build my site. I want it to be relevant and good. I want people to leave with a smile, sometimes. I want to give them something to think about, sometimes. Sometimes I post things because I feel I need to.

Recently, on Facebook as well as on my agent's client loop, I asked for input on my site and my friends came through for me. They gave me encouragement and things to think about and opinions--I asked for opinions. =) I'm so thankful for all their input! I will be making changes here, as soon as I settle at home for more than 5 days in a row. LoL.

Some of the responses to my request for input made me think about what makes me leave a site...and there are some sites I will NOT go to, some that I leave without reading a word of the content (content I know they have and would like to read), and some sites that I'll scowl as I read the content and leave ASAP.

What is it that makes me leave a site like that?

  • Black sites or too-dark sites. I just can't do them--can't read white text on a black or dark background without killing my eyes and my eyes work hard enough without adding to their struggle.
  • Evidence that the site owner doesn't care about how the site looks. I find this in content-is-king-everthing-else-is-stupid group. Yes, content is king, but if the owner demonstrates they don't care about their site, why should I?
  • Cluttered. AND, I've found that this is very subjective. What I find cluttered is far different from what a minimalist finds cluttered. 
  • Ugliness. There. I said it. If I come across a site that strikes me as ugh-gly, I leave. Sorry, but I do. Chance are that I'm not the only one.
The interesting thing has been to see how my site fits into half of those categories (some people hate pink and my site is was definitely very pink). Do I have to please everyone? No way! It's not even possible. But, I can find a way to mold what I have here into something that doesn't drive people away before they read a word. And that's what I'll be working on. I may find something I like quickly and easily, but then again, it may take several tries. I'm not in a hurry and I want to get it right. The site may be pink when I'm done with it, but I doubt it'll be as pink and as bold as it was. The thing is, I'm staying open to change. So, if you see me changing faster than the trees up north, please bear with me. 

So tell me, what makes you leave a site?

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Anxious About...

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Welcome to A to Z!
It's here! And I'm so excited. Another round of A to Z.

We'd love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

This week is the letter A.

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.
~*~*~*~

This year I've learned a lot about anxiety.
It's not a learning curve I sought out.
It's not been a fun lesson.

But it is the path I've been on and I know God has used it in my life. When the anxiety became too much I turned to the only One I knew who could handle it and do something about it. I dug into the Word and I think it saved my sanity.

I know it saved my peace of mind.

Not only did I find peace of mind, I found peace. All-encompassing peace. The peace that passes all understanding.


Now I'm anxious to--as in really looking forward to--share what I learned about anxiety and worry. I've been working on a study about worry and sometime this fall I'll be putting it on Kindle.

It's a good kind of anxiousness. One that I like.
One that I can live with.

So tell me, what's an anxiety you can turn the tables on and turn it into the good kind of anxiousness?


~*~*~*~
If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter A, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.



Monday, October 06, 2014

Done with Monkeying...

Done for the season!

This last weekend was our last monkey gig on the calendar. Which isn't unusual. I've gone from an empty monkey schedule to three events within a few hours, but not this time. It's too cold for monkeys outside! And I have to admit, I'm glad to see the cold weather come this year--it means I get to stay home for awhile. =)

Here Fonzie is enjoying the frozen treat Eileen gave hime while at the St. Clair Fair, in Belleville. He LOVED it!! (thank you, Eileen!)


Monkey Monday at Patterings

Wednesday, October 8th, A to Z starts! That's THIS Wednesday. And if you've asked for the links for this run of A to Z I'll be getting them to you soon.

Just didn't want you to think I'd forgotten. ;-)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A to Z, Take 4

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Can you see me
happy dancing?

A to Z is back and I'm so happy. This is my favorite blog meme to participate in and host.

What's a meme? A meme is when a group of people get together and post on a similar topic or theme. It's the blogger's version of a progressive dinner...or a potluck dinner. Full of variety and fun.


Here's why the A to Z meme is my favorite...
  • Because A to Z gives me the perfect excuse to just post on any random thing that happens to begin with the letter of the week. 
  • It often opens my eyes to things in my world that begin with that letter and lets me post on things I wouldn't normally post about. 
  • I take a lot of pictures and it's a fun outlet for them.
  • A to Z is a great post jump-starter for me, often giving me just the spark of inspiration and creativity I need.

The A to Z meme will be starting again Wednesday, October 8th. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us. It's a come as you can thing--no commitment, just jump in and post on the week's letter as you can.

I'll be posting a blog hop linky so each of you can have the linky gadget on your sites. It's more user friendly that way. =) If you'd like all the linky codes (A through Z) so you can schedule ahead, email me (patterly {at}gmail{dot}com) and I'll get it right to you.

Here's the deal for A to Z:

  • Anyone can play. Some of us will be returning A to Z-ers, but any one can join us and we would LOVE to have you along! The more the merrier! Grab a friend and join us!!
  • Anything goes. If you're pressed for time, pressed for brain cells (a common ailment of mine), stumped, whatever... a simple list will work! Or a picture or a verse—anything to get a post up. Seriously. Just make sure it ties in with the week’s letter. It can also be as focused or even a complicated post about a word that starts with that letter. Anything goes, related to the letter.
  • One letter a week. We'll start with A and finish April 1st, unless we take off for the holidays.
  • Wednesday's the day. (This is different from past rounds, so take note!!) Posting day is Wednesday. Or Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. ROFL. If you're like me, you might not remember on Wednesday, so any day works. I don't care, but that brings me to...
  • Let's link together! Part of the fun of a meme is linking together so we can encourage each other on. I'll put a linky up on my site each Wednesday, shortly after midnight so you can link up. Since this is a hop, you'll be able to put the linky code in your post too so the links appear on your site. (So very handy! *grin*)
  • Guilt-free participation!  Time is precious commodity for all of us. If you participate, all I ask is that you take a few moments and visit and comment on TWO other participants' sites. No need to visit everyone, but a couple is very appreciated.


Want to know more about memes and why you'd want to participate? Check out Making the Most of Memes for more information.

Would you feel more comfortable joining us if you had more of an idea of how or what we do? Check out past A to Z posts and feel free to follow some of the links at the bottom of each post.

Grab the button and join in the fun! If you're joining us, we'd love to have you add the button to your sidebar or inside your post, or both.


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.


Don't forget, A to Z starts back up on Wednesday, October 8th. 
Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Maranatha Christian Writers Conference

Last week I was able to attend the Maranatha Christian Writers Conference, thanks to a scholarship from Cec Murphey. It. was. WONDERFUL, and everything my awesome agent said it would be. Loaded with information, warm and welcoming, an incredible ratio of faculty/attendees, and packed with opportunities. This conference isn't focused on fiction. In fact, it covered more than I anticipated. All-in-all, it was fantastic.

It took almost 24 hours after the close of the conference for me to assimilate what God had for me--and I'm still in awe of it. Because I'm heading back down the road in just a day or two, I did a video clip of how the conference is changing my direction. I do not want to lose momentum, and more importantly, I sense that immediate obedience is key here--so I'm posting this video clip, despite the fact that the road noise is bad and that I'm driving. *eye roll*

If you had seen me, you would've laughed. I didn't want to stop and write but there was no way I wanted to lose or forget what God was giving me. Desperation is the mother of creativity, or something like that, so I rubber banded my phone to the GPS mount and did video clips. I learned just how hot it gets in the windshield of my car...hot enough to over heat and shut down my phone! But here's what I got just before she overheated...



I'll be building on this and there will be tweaks here at Patterings... Tweaks that God has been leading me to for months now. I'm excited and scared. It's taking me right out of my comfort zone, but that's okay because I'm holding onto God's hand and I'm hoping that YOU will join me!

So tell me, are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gone Working

This summer has been filled with monkey business.

I've been at fairs more than I've been home. It was a great summer but so very different than normal for me. But hey, why be normal, right? =)

Fonzie is a trooper and a great lil worker. Here he is enjoying a break while on the job...


I'm so very thankful for the work, even if it's been hard being away from home so much. God provides and I've learned more than I anticipated...more than I imagined I could've while holding a monkey's leash. I'll be telling you more about that in the months to come.

Monkey Monday at Patterings

So tell me, what's something special-to-you that your pet does?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ACFW's At-Home Conference

For years I've been part of ACFW and each year I watch the conference come and go. Since joining, most of the conferences have been so close to home that it made not attending that much harder. But the time hasn't been right yet, and I'm good with that.

One thing that's made staying home easier is the At-Home Conference that Karin Beery and Tiffany Colter host online. I've been able to catch a few sessions here and there even when I was super busy, and I've been able to teach, too. It's always such a treat.

Why is the At-Home Conference so cool?

  • It gives those not attending the ACFW Conference and the sessions there a chance to learn. Each year Karin rounds up a great crew of teachers who present lessons on many different aspects of writing.
  • We can fit the At-Home conference into our own schedules, without leaving home or what we're doing. The lessons are sent via email so we can read, study, and apply them even if it's in the middle of the night or the baby's teething. 
  • The At-Home conference offers a chance to connect with other writers--a virtual meeting. This year they're doing a Facebook group so we can chat and interact, asking questions, sharing what we've learned, and encouraging each other. That connecting and networking is often what makes attending a conference extra special, so being able to do some of the same even though we can't go is a great bonus!

When is it?

This year the At-Home Conference will be offering four classes a day Thursday, September 25 through Saturday, September 27.

Some of the classes...

  • Moving to the Next Level: a Judge's POV
  • Writing Great Dialogue
  • When You're Stuck - Fun Ways to Unlock Your Creativity
  • Cooking Up a Novel Without a Recipe
  • Writing Crime Right: Ensuring Accuracy in Your Crime and Suspense Stories
  • Rx for Writeritis: Remedies for Literary Ailments
  • Creating Speaking Topics and Bible Studies From Your Fiction
  • Deep POV
  • Using Social Media for Building Brand Image
  • Your Characters' Personalities and You
  • The Forgotten Art of Line Editing
  • Clearing the Blog Fog  -- I'm teaching this one! ;-)

I have to tell ya, I'm really looking forward to some of those!

Check out who's teaching these classes!

How can you attend the ACFW At-Home Conference?

  • Members of ACFW can sign up here. If you attended last year, it will say you've already registered, but you will need to update your information. Click the 'update' option and proceed with registration.
If you can't attend the ACFW conference in St. Louis, join us for the At-Home Conference. In addition to the great list of classes, there's also more than a dozen donated books and items that will be given away at the end of the event.

For more information, head to the At-Home Conference site.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Learning. It's Worth the Investment

Oh.
my.
goodness.
I should’ve done this six months ago—not that I had time, but hey, better late than never.

I planned on setting September or October aside to learn how to use my very annoying computer (six months ago I was moved onto a mac—not my choice—and I’ve been going crazy ever since), and other things because I’m so sick of banging my head on the wall. I figured four weeks invested in learning all I could would eventually be saved in time wasted hunting and pecking and all the accompanying frustration. Since I found the classes I wanted faster than anticipated, AND I had a window of days open unexpectedly (God is so good!!), I started early, never dreaming how fast my frustration would end.

Last week I broke the piggy bank I’ve had in hiding and bought Joseph Michael's video course on learning Scrivener. It was worth it. I am in awe of all this program can do. But the part that currently has my mouth hanging open is the project statistics and settings. It not only keeps track of your word count, but you can set targets, specific DAILY targets, and it will track it for you. It even gives you a bar graph to show where you are in reaching your goal. No more mental math for me! A quick glance will tell me if I’m even close (cuz the bar graph is color coded: red to yellow to green).

No more clip boards and stray pieces of paper for me! I now understand why people rave about this program and say they’ll never go back. I'll tell you more about this tool as I dig into it more and gain more experience on it.

I’m taking other classes and I’m finally learning how to use my Mac, too. No more making applesauce with it! WOOT!

If you’re frustrated by things you don’t know, it’s more than worth taking the time to LEARN them. It’s worth the investment of the time and money. The return on your investment is often surprising. I know mine sure is!

So tell me, what's something that has you frustrated because you don't know how to do it?

Monday, September 01, 2014

What's Your Resource?

The other day, after washing the dishes I was gnashing my teeth over how long it was taking me to rinse the kitchen sink after scrubbing it. I mean, really, how long does it take to wash bubbles off the sides of a sink and down the drain?

Like you, I had a mile-long list of things I needed to do but it was taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. rinsing that confounded sink. I used the dishcloth to wipe them, I used my hand to splash water on them, but still, the bubbles weren’t much closer to the drain than they had been before. Frustrating with a capital F (for my attitude right then, of course).

That’s when I had to laugh at myself. All that splashing and teeth gnashing for no reason. The sink sprayer was within six inches of my hand but I wasn’t using it. Why?! I hadn’t thought of it. I was so consumed in what I was doing, what I was thinking about, and what I needed to do that I didn’t use the resource that was right in front of me.

It was a DUH! moment.
It was a DUH! moment that God used it to show me I do the same thing in almost every area of my life.

God’s grace in my life is abundant. It overflows. But too often I forget about it. I go on about my day, doing the things I do, frustrated because it’s taking so long or is more difficult than I anticipated or… But the real problem is that I’m not using the resource that’s right in front of me and all around me. God’s strength.
My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
When I try to do things in my own strength I’m guaranteed frustration and possible failure. God never meant for me to do things apart from Him. The things He gave me to do require HIS power, HIS strength, HIS resources. Without those I’m just splashing water around wondering why things aren’t working like they’re supposed to.

Am I the only one who does this? Take a moment and examine what you’ve been doing lately. Are you frustrated at the ineffectiveness of your attempts to do your work? Maybe you’re using the wrong resources.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Where's Your Best ROI?

Life is too full.
It really is. I watch my church friends run from this practice to that game to... It seems never ending for them. Could I do it? Probably. But I won't because my life is full with too many other things (and we homeschool, effectively reducing the number of extracurricular activities pulling at our time).

On my awesome agent's client loop we've been chatting about platforms lately--specifically blogging...which we all know I love and miss when I'm away from it doing monkey business, like I have been this summer. But summer is over. Right? =)

So...
If we're writers, platforms are a MUST.
There is NO disputing that. They’re a fact of our lives. At least they are if we ever want to sign a publishing contract. Check out what Terry Burns has to say about the importance of a platform. Sobering--especially if you haven't been working on a platform but have books written.

If we’re writing our blogs geared toward other writers more posts is a huge turn off because writers are juggling two lives--their work and family AND their writing life because most can't do just one or the other. But what if we’re writing for those who aren’t writers? If our blogs are aimed at people who aren't writers, who are READERS…who most likely won’t comment? Case in point: Karen Wingate’s blog. Recently she found others are reading her blog--local friends! They don’t leave a comment, but they chat about it. And I don't blame them because I love Karen's articles too. How does that effect the blogging equation?

Fonzie looking for all the people.
And what if the blog is for writers, and readers, and people wanting to see pictures of monkeys, or your latest knitting project, or whatever it is you do besides write? How does that factor in to what you post and how often?

This is something I’ve been mulling over a lot lately—especially as I work Twitter more (hey, doing ANYthing on Twitter is more than I’ve done in years, LoL). The people I see on Twitter are other writers. I get notices that I have new people following me on Twitter—and ALL of them are writers. Makes me wonder if there’s any NORMAL people on twitter. Or do the normal people lurk? Or… I just don’t know.

Then there's Facebook.
Okay, I'll admit it.
I've grown to love Facebook.  I heard that snicker. LoL. All the months I've spent on the road with the monkeys has pushed me into Facebook--just to stay connected with friends. And yes, I'm thankful. =)

So tell me, where do YOU get the best ROI for your social media (PLATFORM) time?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8 Tips to Help Your Blogging Blast Off

I've been getting a lesson ready for ACFW's stay-at-home conference--it's on blogging and I've had so much fun working on it! I've been doing some digging, asking questions on my agent's loop, and relishing this dive back into a topic I love.

Here's a nugget from my digging...



8 Tips to Help Your Blogging Blast Off:


1. Design impacting blog posts that someone can read in 60 seconds or less.

2. Use paragraph headlines on longer posts so a person can skip / scan to relevant info.

3. Tell stories from your personal life. Make a point.

4. Choose the perfect picture that goes along with your writing.

5. Don't let perfectionism paralyze you from publishing. Nobody's perfect.

6. Even the best bloggers run out of ideas. The difference? They don't quit.

7. Turn your blog post into a podcast, video, slideshow, infographic, etc. "Recycle" via other technologies.

8. Don't neglect social media platforms. Get your blog post in front of as many eyes as possible.

Source: Infographic courtesy of Sugar Pine Realty

The At Home Writer's Conference is September 25 - 27 and the class line-up is a good one! We'd love for you to join us!

So tell me, what would you add to this list?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Lesson From the Dogs

Gracie is the first to respond to each and every alarm that’s sounded—she quits whatever she’s doing and charges toward the point of concern. I’ve seen Puppers bark a warning, race toward the threat only so far, then fall back to what she’s watching over as soon as Gracie arrives. Gracie spends every night roaming, keeping watch on the perimeter while Puppers is the one who stays in the yard.
When Gracie comes home in the morning Puppers cares for her, whether it's licking her sore and sometimes bloody feet or pulling the burs from her hair.

Although we didn’t assign them, each dog has a job in our family—a job given them by God, one that fits with how they were created. If Gracie didn’t do her job, we wouldn’t have blueberries because the deer would eat the bushes as they did before she came to stay with us. If Puppers decided she was too tired or over worked to care for the needs of others, Gracie would limp and ache all night, making it so she wouldn’t be as effective as she is, not to mention the burrs and sticks that would get matted in her fur. Forcing Gracie to stay home at night by tying her up makes her miserable and Puppers is happiest when she’s nurturing someone, whether it’s Gracie, one of the cats, or one of us. Each dog not only does her job, but she takes great joy in the role she plays in our family.

As Christians we should be the same way. Some of us are assigned to the perimeter, roaming far from home, while some of us stay in the yard and minister to the others as they return or touch base. Each role is necessary and if one of us neglects our job for whatever reason, the whole family is affected.

I never see Puppers ignore someone who comes to her for nurturing—if it’s breathing, or supposed to breathe, she’s there, caring for their needs and showing her love and concern. She doesn’t seem to care that she doesn’t get out of the yard much, that she’s left behind and misses out on the exciting stuff. Washing feet is fine with her, even when they’re caked with mud and who knows what else. I’ve seen her spend an hour cleaning Gracie’s feet while the big dog sleeps, then lay down to rest and end up with a cat nestled in to her. She doesn't care that it's a cat and not puppy, only that she's there for the one who needs her.

Makes me wonder about myself. Am I doing the work God has given me to do? Am I taking as much delight in fulfilling my God-given job as my dogs are?

Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it. Colossians 4:17


Monday, July 21, 2014

TV Time with Toby


Toby loves relaxing with the family in the evenings. Sometimes, he's a bit like a lap dog and just curls up on my lap to sleep. Other times he hops from person to person, playing and visiting, and every now and then he'll actually watch the TV for a few moments. Like here. He liked Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.  =)

So tell me, do your pets watch TV with you and can you tell what shows they like best?

Like pictures of the monkeys? Follow me on Instagram!

Monkey Monday at Patterings

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

BFFs: Fear and Procrastination


I'm a procrastinator at heart. Pathetically so.

I know all the reasons I need to push on. I know the importance of it. I know that procrastinating could easily kill all hope of what I'm hoping for and what I've been working for and I feel God has for me. But sometimes there's something even bigger than all those things I know.

Fear.

Fear of what? Fear of failure.
If it's not done, it can't fail.

Am I the only one who deals with this??

And I even know the verses to fight this fear—because I've searched them out so often!

So here's the verse that's pulling me out of this bog fueled by fear:

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 NAS

Timidity. Cowardice. Fear. It's NOT what God has given us!

God's given us power. His power. “Miraculous power,” might and strength.
And love.
And discipline. Now there's a word we love to hate. Discipline. Self-control.

THAT's what God has given us.
That means that any time I let fear have control, I'm turning my back on God and what He has given me and choosing the hog swill of fear instead.

How dumb is that?!?!

Sooooo, now that I've put that in perspective (for myself) it's time to get back to work. In power, love and discipline—those awesomely cool gifts God gave me.

So tell me, how do you fight procrastination?

*This is a repost from a couple years ago that I'm needing again these days.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Just Call Me Casper

Sometimes I want to wave my hands in the air and ask if anyone hears me.

Did you say something, Mom? 
I hate feeling like I’m invisible.
I hate feeling like I’m talking inside a bubble.

I think I’ve turned into Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.

Am I alone feeling like this? Is it a mom-of-teenagers-and-older-kids thing?

The other day, after introducing myself to a group and getting no response (none!!), and after saying something to my son and getting no response (until I reminded him I’m mom), and after saying something and having my husband talk over me, changing what I said, I began to feel kinda… vapory. Floaty.  Was I really there? Did I really say anything? Maybe I just imagined it all… But I knew I hadn’t imagined those things.

Then I got downright mad.
I did. (Does it count if hormones were screaming in the background?)
I don’t get mad like that often. Thank goodness. But then the edge of anger left and I fell into a pit I hate. Self-pity. ugh.

After wallowing around in self-pity for way too long I decided to just be a ghost. I like being a hermit so settling into ghosthood shouldn’t be bad. Right? Talking to myself is normal. At least for me it is.

But then I heard that still, small Voice.

I hear you.
…if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. John 9:31b NAS

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; The Lord hears when I call to Him. Psalm 4:3 NAS

I’m not talking in a bubble.

God hears me.

And when I’m honest with myself, I know the others hear me too—they’re just busy in their own world to acknowledge mine. It’s okay. I get it. Sadly, I’ve done the same to others.

Just knowing God hears me, and listens to me, was enough to pull me out of my self-pity.  I mean—the God of the Universe hears me.  Me! The spoiled, whining, self-pitying bump-on-the-log me.

It’s okay if others don’t acknowledge what I say. I can be Casper—the friendly ghost.

Because God hears me!

And He hears you too.

So tell me, how do you combat the I’m-feeling-invisible monster?





Monday, June 30, 2014

Traveling with a Monkey

Toby loves to travel and he's an excellent passenger. His favorite spot is on my lap--lounging, dozing, looking out the window, or picking his toes (hey, that's serious monkey business). If he's not napping, he likes to sit on my shoulder and hang over the back of my seat where he can see out all the windows and keep an eye on his brothers and sisters.

When we're on the road, Toby's favorite times are snack time and going through the drive through windows. He usually greets the cashier person and by the time we reach the pick up window people are running to see if there really is a monkey. =] Not only does he adore the attention but he loves cheeseburgers too. ;-)



Monkey Monday at Patterings

So tell me, how does your pet while traveling?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wrong Turns or Detours?

Choices. So much to choose from. So many possible outcomes, so much promise, so much hope wrapped up in those choices.

But what happens when the choices and the hoped for possibilities fall flat?
What happens when the choice throws you to the ground?

What happens when you're left scratching your head trying to figure out what went wrong?

I can tell you what happens.
Once the stunned feeling wears off, you get up, brush yourself off, figure out where you are and which direction you need to head, and you go from there.

Each of those steps have become key to us.

  • Get up. Don't stay under the beast's hooves where you'll keep getting trampled. Don't stay in the mud puddle you've landed in.  Get. up.
  • Brush yourself off. So many things--usually yucky things--will cling to you when you get up. Brush them off and don't let them linger. They'll only slow you down and make you feel worse, even if you are out of the pit.
  • Figure out where you are and which direction you need to head. This could take some time. Often at this point your head is still swimming, like it did when you were a kid and you spun in circles to see who could spin the longest. If you try moving forward before your head clears, you won't make it too far before landing on the ground again. Or throwing up. Let your head clear so you can see and take stock of where you are. Then find the direction you need to go. You don't have to know specifics, for those first steps, a general direction will work for now.
  • Go from there. There's no magic button to push to instantly change where you are. You have to start where you are. Move forward. To do this, you have to quit looking back. Sure, know where you came from but don't become fixated on it! Face forward and take a step. Then another one.
The best news is that God is faithful--regardless of whether it was a wrong turn or a detour. Don't let go of His hand and believe...TRUST...that He's there with you. He is! He won't ever leave.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name;
you are Mine!
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be scorched,
nor will the flame burn you.
for I am the LORD you God,
The Holy One of Israel,
your Savior.

Isaiah 43: 1-3 NASB

Friday, April 18, 2014

Meet Kate Breslin

I met Kate Breslin through our agent, Linda Glaz, and I'm excited to introduce you to her today. Her book, For Such a Time, is one you don't want to miss.


Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther

In 1944, Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, to maintain her cover as von Schmidt’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths, Stella appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's indulgence gives her hope even as she risks discovery with every attempt to help the prisoners. When her bravery brings her to the point of ultimate sacrifice, she faces an excruciating choice. God may have brought her to the camp for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she cannot save herself?


Kate, welcome to Patterings. I have to say (again) that your book, For Such a Time, is probably one of the books that I have most looked forward to reading!

Patty, thank you so much for hosting me today and letting me share with your readers!

The Holocaust is a tough topic, particularly today. What made you decide to do a historical on such a difficult issue?

I got the idea to write For Such A Time while reading Queen Esther’s story in the Bible. I realized how much the Jewish people had suffered at the hands of one tyrant or another throughout history; I began to see similarities between the wicked Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews and Hitler’s more recent Holocaust of WWII. I wondered if I could superimpose the life and challenges of Esther into this more recent time period. I knew little about WWII or the Holocaust when I began my research, but it soon became an emotional journey as well as a spiritual one. I was shocked to read first-hand accounts of Nazi brutality, yet moved, too, by tales of courage and faith-keeping in those who faced death. And there were so many real-life heroes and heroines who risked all to save others. Needless to say, I felt compelled to try and write their story.

How long did it take you to write For Such A Time and what did your research involve?
The entire research and writing process took me about five years: I studied WWII history in the European theater; the Nazi party, including Himmler’s evil SS; I also pored through personal accounts written by prisoners of the camps, including Dachau, Theresienstadt (Terezin,) and Auschwitz. I read memoirs of German Wehrmacht soldiers who fought from North Africa to Stalingrad, and I also attempted to become knowledgeable in the tenets and traditions of Judaism. At final count, my bibliography stood at close to thirty books, including several documentary videos and substantial online information. It was important to me to treat this horrific period with the sensitivity and accuracy it deserved, while crafting a fictional romance between a Jewess and an SS-officer.

What was a highlight of the research?
Much of my research was emotionally exhausting, but I do recall a story that stands out, written by one of the prisoners: about a former Luftwaffe pilot who, because of an injury, had to earn his living as an SS-guard at the camp of Dachau. He saw the plight of the prisoners and many times would bring from his home in the village food and medicine for them. When the Americans liberated Dachau in 1945, they were shocked to see a crowd of sickly, emaciated prisoners circle the guard protectively, so that he would not be hurt. The humanity in that moment touched me; like a glimmer of light in the darkness I’d been reading. It gave me hope that even amidst such evil, goodness could exist.

Did you travel to the region For Such a Time is set in? If you did, how did that affect you?
While I would like to visit the camps I wrote about, I’ve never been to these places. Instead, I “saw” my story setting through reading, viewing pictures, videos, and other imagery. I know that when I do go, it will affect me deeply!

Who is your favorite character in the book? How did their story impact you personally?
Well, I confess I love them all (except Captain Hermann, of course!) I admire little Joseph, because of his bravery and his child’s willingness to love, yet I think Stella (Hadassah) resonates with me most. Her journey became mine, and as we both struggled with the big question of “Why?” I gained a better understanding into the strengths and weaknesses of my own faith.

What was the main thing you learned from writing For Such a Time?
I learned that unconditional love is the surest weapon against evil; it was how Jesus destroyed death. And while evil may take the body, it cannot take the soul, so long as we hold fast to our heavenly Father.

What would you like readers to take away from the book?
I hope readers will gain better insight into the real events of WWII and Hitler’s reign of terror. It’s also my wish they’re inspired to stand a little more courageously in their daily lives. It only takes one to make a difference!

Where can people find you on the internet?
Either my website: www.katebreslin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kate_Breslin‎
Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/KateBreslinAuthor
I’m also on Pinterest and Goodreads!

If you like, you can sign up on my website to become a “Kate’s Crusader” and receive information on future events, books, giveaways, and/or blurbs from me. There’s also a contact form, or you can email me direct at katebreslinauthor@hotlink.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for being here with us today, Kate!

Here's an excerpt from For Such a Time...


You can purchase For Such a Time at Amazon.
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