Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How Positive are You?

This question came up for me when, upon looking at a Harris Poll listed in a Malaleuca booklet last night, I learned that only 33 percent of the American population considers themselves happy.


I slunk back for a moment, to my earlier days, when (not surprisingly) I believed that what was happening on the outside of my life - jobs, money, appreciation, etc., directed my happiness. Only later did I learn (and believe) that happiness comes from the inside.

It really didn't matter the job I had or the money I made, or quite frankly, who said something kind to me (or not) that directed my thoughts about life, it was all about what I thought about life - all of the good I saw in it.

I am a writer because I love it. Is being a writer always easy? Of course not, but that's one of the reasons writing and publishing and marketing is rewarding to me. I love to write and I love to help others write. When I'm having a negative day, it's simply because I've lost my focus on how beautiful, and unmistakably wonderful life is.

Being positive isn't something we keep in our jacket pocket. It isn't something we wear like a badge or a business icon, it's at the very heart of who we are and what we think. It's a change we make within ourselves.

We will grow as a writer as we choose to think positively about ourselves, our gifts and talents, and the direction we are traveling. If traveling on inspiration, we will quickly find that we are where we are for a reason. That nothing can ever be an accident. And that the best thing we can do for our lives is to live it with joy.

Here's to a joyful day!


Monday, July 27, 2015


I haven't done this for awhile - posted the most frequently read posts on my blog. Favorite posts from May to July 2015.

Here they are:

James C. Duckett, author of Hidden Identities and Pushing the Wall, received the most reads. You can find the post here

In second place? My post on Successful Book Signings

In third place: Keep Positive: Sometimes it's Hot Out There, by yours truly, tied with FRIDAY FLICKS:The Gift: A Parable of the Key, also by yours truly.

In fourth, Dancing in the Rain 

And in fifth place, Successful Book Signings - Part 2

I appreciate all my faithful readers!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Prepare For Your Future: A Writing Career Takes Time

I used to think that with a little practice I could become a great writer. The key word in the last sentence? Little. What I've come to realize is that with 'a lot' of practice, I hope to become a good writer - even a great one.

All of this takes time. It may even take into my 90s before I feel as if I've reached the pinnacle of my writing career. But until then, I'm preparing myself for the future. I am spending time at writing, at editing, at reading great writing books, at visiting with other writers and getting new ideas on how to write and market.

Bottom line is that I'm preparing for the future and trying to enjoy the present every step of the way.

But some days, I admit, the journey gets rocky, and the path gets windy, and before long, I'm hating my current life in favor of the life I 'could' have.

Living in 'could have's' and 'should have's' has never gotten me anywhere, in fact, when I think this way I not only stop in my writing progress, I retreat. I move backwards.

Because a person is constantly in motion, whether that motion is physical or emotional or spiritual, at any given moment they are moving forward or backward. There is no fence sitting here, no stagnant way of being that doesn't move you. You will move. It will be forward or backward but you will move.

I don't think it's unhealthy to dream about where you'd like to be in 5 or 10 years, but I think it's unhealthy not to live in the present because you're so caught up in your future.

So what are you doing today to prepare for the future you want tomorrow? Are you having fun writing short-stories or novels, not yet published, but written?

Are you taking the suggestions, the criticisms of others when it comes to your writing? Or are you in hiding, not showing your work to anyone until it gets - good?

As in all things worth having, a writing career takes time and effort and tears and lots of mistakes and getting up and trying again. Very few of us can say we're an overnight success, and those you believe 'are' have just stumbled upon something dreamy, making us believe that they didn't have to do much (if anything) to be successful.

Kind of like seeing your friends at church all dressed up, with no idea how the rest of their week has gone.

I have to smile when I tell people it took me eight years before my first short piece was published. That even after that, I wasn't raking in the millions, not even the dimes. I have to smile, because, after all, it took a great deal of work and effort to get where I'm at, and it will take a great deal more to get to where I'm going.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dancing in the Rain

The heat of the summer has got me bogged down a bit. I love the sun, don't get me wrong, it's just the endless days of it without some sort of break. And today, well, I got it.

Thank you, God.

I am feeling thankful today. Yesterday I talked to some young children whom I teach in church about talents.We listed them all: dancing, singing, playing the piano, even whistling - my personal favorite. We also talked about those talents we rarely see as talents:

Helping a friend
Cooking a batch of cookies to share with a friend
Reading God's word
Praying with our hearts, not just our heads

and so on.

And it got me thinking.

Rain is not only a talent that God has, it is a talent he shares with all of us - even the grass and flowers.

Writing is an obvious talent, but it becomes less of a talent if we don't share it with others - if we bury it deep in the earth for example.

And I guess that's the bottom line with talents. If you have one and don't share it, because it's only one after all, and frankly, you wish you had more, then you're missing out - maybe even missing out on the rain in exchange for mud.

Perhaps you're afraid to share your work. You will probably be criticized. Maybe even made fun of. And you wouldn't want that. If you're feeling like your talent (if indeed you have one) is only meant for you, think again.

Bring out your work. Send it off to a publisher, or get someone in your circle of friends to read it. You may hear something quite surprising. You might even sell your work. But if you don't, you'll definitely learn something.

As far as rain goes, I'd rather dance than wallow anyway, wouldn't you?

Friday, July 17, 2015

FRIDAY FLICKS: Up for a Mystery?

Yesterday, I announced that I will be at the Relay for Life - American Cancer Society event today at 6 p.m., and I announced that some of my books will be at a discount.

Here they are:

Both of my mysteries typically run for $12.98 online, but at tomorrow's event they will be $10, saving you almost $3 a book!

Please join me!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

BOOK SIGNING TOMORROW! American Cancer Society Relay for Life

I will be at the Relay for Life of Murray tomorrow from 6 p.m. until dusk.

Relay for Life

202 E. Murray Park Drive

Come and have a nice walk on the Survivor Lap and join me at my booth. I will be selling - at a discount - all of my books. Meisha Hatch, author of the book, "I'll Always be With You,"


will be with me signing copies of her book on her experience with her husband's cancer. Meisha published with our company, Idea Creations Press. We would love for you to stop by!

There will also be a fantastic raffle!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Have You Ever Been Measured for a Coffin?

Something happens when you have visitors to your place over the summer - especially grandchildren. All I've ever known about game playing comes out when the grandchildren are over - including being measured for a coffin.

If you've never personally been measured for a coffin before or don't know how to play Cardinal Puff, or haven't played Spoons or Kick the Can in years, perhaps it's time to invite your grandchildren over.

Even writers need a break, and doing something fun is the perfect way to relieve stress and get your heart pumping.

Here's to fun!!


Friday, July 10, 2015

FRIDAY FLICKS: The Gift: A Parable of the Key

Just a few weeks away, SEPTEMBER 1, The Gift: A Parable of the Key, will be ready for release. I'm excited. Maybe you are too, having previously read my other two books in this series: Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones and The Feast: A Parable of the Ring. If you haven't read either book yet, there's still time!

In the meantime, check out my new book trailer for The Gift!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Successful Book Signings - Part 2

If you missed yesterday's post on book signings, specifically where to have the best book signing possible, you'll also want to read this post. Today I'm going to talk the other ingredient to a successful book signing.

When it comes to selling books, besides having a terrific (perhaps even a 'non-book' place to sell your book), it's good to make sure the venue has great foot traffic. I have had sorrowful signings because there simply hasn't been enough people walking by my booth to sell much of anything.

On any given day you're going to have 'lookers,' 'buyers' and 'not interested' people strolling by for a little 'look see.' If there are only a few stragglers making their way to your signing, expect to sell very few books. When you consider that most folks have to see your book multiple times (some say 7) before they purchase it, it's no wonder that the numbers will really matter when it comes to sales.

If your booth is outside, and the day is stormy, that's another consideration, though one out of your control. I prefer getting a table inside to prevent the stress of last minute storms. A fine storm may still slow down the crowd a bit, but at least you'll not get rained on.

Consider the numbers who attend craft shows and other big events in your city. Think about the holidays and what your city does. Yes, some of the booth spaces are pricey, but there are others less so. Do some checking at least six to eight months ahead of time - many of these spaces will fill up fast.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you're unsure about how many folks attended the particular event you're interested in signing at, ask. Another option is to attend the event you're interested in one year, and if you like what you see, set up a booth space the next.

An important thing about doing a signing at any event is that you man the table at all times. Some events allow you to display your items, leave the event, and return later to restock. I have been to shows where the author has left the table, only to return with the same book count. You need to be at your table, not only to sign autographs for interested readers, but to speak about your book and answer questions that may not be able to be answered by simply reading the back cover.

You need to do all you can to get the word out about your book - and this means not being afraid to talk about it.

Good luck!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Successful Book Signings

If you're like me, you find that the best book signings are those outside of a book store. Some of my slimmest attendance has been at book stores, my greatest, at places like craft fairs and beauty salons. If you doubt me, try it.

There is something about being in a place least expected for autographs. Something rewarding about the surprise. Variety is the spice of life, so they say, so why not have your book signing at an unexpected place?

If you've written a book about dogs, why not plant yourself at a pet store?

If you're book is flowing with romance, why not make some plans to do a signing at a candy store; better yet, plan a fun event at a candy store around Valentine's Day.

Consider a mystery, a children's book about moving to a new home, a book about plants. Get the juices moving. Make a list. Take a look at that list. What idea gets the heart pumping? What idea stands out from the others?

What makes a signing great?

Your creativity under pressure. Yes, you're under pressure to sell some books, but making your signing fun and unexpected is half the battle to making it a success.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the other half.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Keep Positive: Sometimes it's hot out there

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it difficult to remain positive in the midst of hot temperatures, hot blooded people, and an endless supply of scorching news.

But rather than getting mixed up in the heat, why not use it to your advantage?

Use the current setting, including its temperature, in your current novel.

And that hot blooded person, who bugs you to high heaven or lower earth? Write them up in your next short story. Sure, change a few things like hair and eye color, but use your thoughts and feelings to really get the word out. Negative news, or any news for that matter, can be used in whatever you write, from a journalism piece to your next teen novel.

Ask yourself, "What do people care about?" and you'll get a good idea of what to write next.

"What do I care about?" is also a terrific question, because what you truly care about, whether that truth be places or people, can't help but be reflected in the book or short story you write.

Happy Writing!