I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Interview with Michael Kimball on Self Publishing (Plus get a FREE book!)

In my March (2nd Quarter) Newsletter, Michael gave a great interview that I thought should be shared with those who don't read my Newsletter. (If you'd like to subscribe to my Quarterly Newsletter you can do so on the right side of this screen. Make sure to confirm subscription through your email. If you'd like an opportunity to be a Featured Blogger in one of my Newsletter send me an email.) 
Michael blogs with his lovely wife, Shelia, at LongingsEnd.com.
You can find out more about purchasing his books here.  
If you'd like to read my book review of "Portals" you can do so here- it's a great book!

1.       How many books have you published (you can list all the titles here if you’d like)?

To date, the books I’ve published include:
-        Portals (a novel)
-        Alligator Bay (fiction for young readers 8-12)
-        Timken’s Christmas (short story)
-        A House For Molly (short story)
-        The Girl and The Forest (short story)

2.       Have you self published all your books?

I’ve self-published all but one. My first book was The Girl and The Forest together with A House For Molly. It was published by a small publisher in Pennsylvania. They had been quite successful publishing quilting books but were taken with the two tales and wanted to get them out to the public. Unfortunately, there was a warehouse fire and all ten thousand copies were lost. Sometime afterwards, they went out of business so the title never really had a chance to get off the ground. Being my first foray as an author it was terribly disappointing and it would be years before I decided to give it another try.

3.       Have you used more than one publisher, if so why?

Yes, I have. In fact, I’ve yet to use the same publisher twice! I think it’s because, by the time I got more serious about writing for a wider audience than family and friends, the publishing world was embroiled in the sort of revolution in the industry we see peaking now. Competition in the self-publishing world is fierce and the number of players constantly increasing. Authors now have a wide variety of publishing venues from which to choose with many having their own particular strengths—and weaknesses.

4.       What publishing houses have you utilized? Please tell us which has been your favorite to work with and why?

The first publisher, the one in Pennsylvania, was RCW Publishing. Since then I’ve worked with iUniverse, Full Sail Books, and WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson. And I’ve self-published eBooks with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Booktango.

RCW Publishing was owned by Rebecca Wilber. She and her husband, Mark, became very dear friends and remain so to this day. I loved working with them.

Gretchen Ricker at Full Sail Books is wonderful to work with and I admire her efforts to inspire Christian authors and promote their work.
For my first novel, Portals, I decided to go with WestBow Press. There was some expense involved and it also entailed a much more disciplined and structured process. But the end result was the production of a book of very high quality in both hardcover, softcover and various eBook formats. There was the added benefit of being part of their parent company, Thomas Nelson, who monitors sales looking for titles they decide worthy of converting to a traditional royalty relationship.

Booktango was both frustrating and thrilling to work with. Their model is quite unique and they allow authors to retain 100% of the selling price of their books. In working with them I had occasion to enjoy the help of one of their executives who was passionate in his support. They still have room, in my opinion, to improve their process but they represent one of the better venues for authors wanting to break into the market as you can do an awfully lot at absolutely no cost.

5.       Did you do your own edits or hire someone?

Primarily, I’ve served as my own editor. But I also married one! Sheila has a background in journalism and has occasionally helped me on the editing front.

Being my own editor isn’t necessarily by choice. If I had the financial resources I’d love to write and leave the editing to someone else as the editing portion of writing is amazingly time consuming and requires different skills than creative writing.

6.       Did you query agents? Tell us about your experience.

I’ve disappointed myself in this regard as I haven’t given it the sort of unrelenting effort it needs to bear fruit. I’ve queried a handful but without success. And I know that it takes a far more dedicated and determined approach. One I am getting closer to pursuing in earnest.

7.       What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The same age-old advice that’s been offered before: Write! Hone your craft and keep at it. And take advantage of today’s dazzling array of self-publishing options. It’s easy to get a book published. Even at no cost at all. The harder part lies in marketing and sales. Of course, if the content isn’t compelling, if you don’t have a good book to begin with, no amount of marketing will ever sustain success.

You have to love to write. Write to benefit others. Especially the Audience of One. And be generous. Grow your fan base by being willing to share your work at low or even no cost. If it’s good reading that base will grow and perhaps one day provide the revenue stream you’re looking for so you can write full time.

8.       How do you market? Any marketing tips?

Marketing is a weakness for me but I’m getting better at it. It’s hard to balance the three-legged stool of writing, marketing and tent making to keep the bills paid.

My own approach has evolved to what I mentioned earlier: being generous and doing what I can to either give away copies or make them inexpensive to buy. In the current year you’ll see much more of this from me. I’m thinking that the first two or three novels are the seeds of generosity I need to sew to build a strong base of readers who enjoy my work and would then be willing to pay a reasonable amount for future works.

There are so many social platforms that can help get the word out, too. Like Facebook and Twitter, etc. Platforms that are organic where people who have read something they’ve enjoyed freely promote it at the grass roots level with their friends.

I’m also going to more aggressively pursue getting my books reviewed by people like you, TC. Folks who have a good reputation and a following of their own where my writing can be introduced to others I have no connection with.

9.       What was your favorite book to publish?

It’s hard to pick out a single title as my favorite. Each book holds a special place in my heart because each was written with someone in mind. Portals, being my first novel, perhaps holds an edge as it involves my working through a period of extended challenge in my life, helping me to sort through a painful and complex issue one bite at a time. It also led to meeting my wife, Sheila, joining two writers together in pursuit of our heart-child, Longings End.

10.   What’s the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

As much as I don’t like to admit it, my greatest challenge is my own laziness and procrastination!

11.   What’s the greatest lie satan tells you regarding your books?

That successful authors are few and far between and I’m not going to be one of them.

12.   How do you stay focused?

Love. Writing is love in motion. Why write if it isn’t to bring a benefit to your readers? There isn’t anything I’ve published that wasn’t written, as I’ve said, with someone in mind. And with love comes focused passion: the book must be written so it can go out and accomplish all you mean for it to.

13.   Who is your favorite author?

That’s an easy one for me: George MacDonald. He had a gigantic intellect harnessed to a likewise great and child-like heart and his writings covered an array of genres. Just as he has for countless others, he has helped me see my Lord ever more clearly, fanning flames of love for Jesus.

14.   What’s your favorite book (besides the Bible)?

George MacDonald’s, The Curate’s Awakening

15.   Any advice you’d like to share.

Write from the heart or don’t write at all. And if writing is your dream, the thing you believe you were meant to do, be willing to risk everything in pursuit.

16.   How can people purchase your books?

If your preference is for books in traditional print form you can buy them online at either Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. If you have a Kindle or Nook or don’t mind reading eBooks on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, we’ve set up a special opportunity at our Longings End Book Store where you can download a copy of any title of your choice for free. Just enter the discount code WISDOM during checkout and the price will be reduced to $0. This offer is good through the month of MAY!
I also want to encourage your readers to visit Gretchen Ricker’s website for Christian authors, Full Sail Books.

17.   Are you writing another book?

Internal Affairs is the working title of the next novel and there are several chapters already written. (You can get a preview by visiting the Novels page of the Longings End website.) I hope to see it published and available to the public sometime in 2013.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Would God Say You're a Good Listener?

Have you ever had anyone tell you you’re not listening when you thought you were? 

When you listen, are you really paying attention to what’s being said or to what you want to hear?

I’ve recently asked myself these questions.

I’ve come to realize I “SAY” I’m listening to God, but really I’m just waiting to hear what I want and disregarding the rest. 

I’m picking and choosing what I want to hear. 

I didn’t realize I was doing this.

I really thought I was listening. 

But after asking God repeatedly for something and not getting an answer, God revealed to me that He HAD given me the answer, I just wasn’t accepting it.

I was waiting to hear the outcome I wanted. 

It sucked when I realized I wasn’t getting the answer I was looking for.

 But it was also liberating. 

I had my answer. I could move on. I could accept the solution (even though it wasn’t what I wanted) and let go of the frustration I’d been experiencing. 

While I found this to be a relief, I imagine God did too.

Now He wouldn’t have to HEAR me say thing same thing over and over and over again (kidding).

You see, God is a good listener. He does hear everything we say. He never tunes us out and He doesn’t push our needs aside. 

While He has the best solutions for us, He doesn’t force them on us. He patiently listens and waits for us to shut up long enough to HEAR. 

This was a pretty good lesson.

I’m certain I’m still not the “best” listener God has, but I’m getting better at HEARING.

How about you…do you HEAR God or are you listening for certain answers?

Monday, April 15, 2013

A New Summer! (Plus an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God!)

Do you know anyone you’d describe as Vivacious?

I only know one such person…my friend Summer Gordon. 

Her name accurately describes her…she is full of life, full of sunshine, full of summer.

Recently Summer prayed a bold prayer…a life changing prayer.

Summer prayed for God to change her. She told God He could take anything away from her as long as she got MORE of Him.

God was quick to respond (blessed are those who hunger and thirst…Matt 5:5-16).

Shortly after praying this, Summer lost her job. 

This opened the door for God to show Summer who He is and what He had in store for her (guess what, it wasn’t a career that many envied). 

God lead Summer to Sierra Leone. She spent a short time there ministering to orphans. 

Upon returning home, Summer began missing her “kids”. She discovered she didn’t care about her career and she found her God-given calling…to be a missionary.

Before we go any further about her calling (and how you can help), I want to tell you a little more about Summer.

Not only is she giving up on the “American Dream” (Summer made a nice living), she is also giving up comforts many of us take for granted: Like showering in a tub and not the dirt ground where you need to bathe after a bath, like electricity/internet/medical care/etc.

You might be saying, “of course this is what she’s giving up, it’s part of the package.” But let me tell you more about Summer…she’s a naturally pretty girl, she’s a girl you wouldn’t think could go without her hairdryer and makeup, she’s a girl that turns heads with her outward and inward beauty.
Let me tell you something else about Summer, she suffers from SEVERE allergies. I’m talking allergies that can be life threatening as well as annoying as they interfere with daily living.

Summer is trusting God to keep her safe as she leaves modern connivance's and medicine behind to care for His orphans (her kids).  Summer has to fund not only her monthly expenses (which include security guards) but also solar power to refrigerate her life saving/sustaining allergy medications. 

Summer needs your prayers. She needs prayers for her safety (each morning she wakes to the Muslim call to prayers), for her walk with Christ to overflow into these kids, and for healing in her body.

Summer also needs financial support as she endeavors to change the lives of the orphans God has entrusted her with. 

Summer leaves April 28 and will return for a brief visit home around Oct. 

If you’d like to financially support Summer, there is a monthly donation up on the website, click here ! (any amount $5, $20, $100, whatever, is greatly appreciated).

Even if you have no money to give that’s okay. She needs prayers. I encourage you to commit to praying for her on a regular basis

I will try to give updates on her work as I receive them, though this will be tricky as internet access there is VERY limited and postal service isn’t easily available either. 

Thank you for any support (whether financial and/or prayers) you can give. 

God bless. 

Urgent Prayer Request and Praise Report: A few days ago the orphanage was the target of a hate crime. The facility was destroyed and a few of the older children were hurt and detained (praise God they were released from police custody Sunday afternoon!). Currently, outside the fragile walls housing these precious Warriors for Christ, the riot is still going on. Stones are being thrown even as inside the kids and missionaries are having worship serve!
Please keep lifting them all up to God. This is a precarious situation.

Thank you and God bless.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Are You Aware of this Initiative that is Transforming our Education System (including some HomeSchooling modules)?

There’s something I’ve been following for awhile. To be honest it’s overwhelming to try and bring to you in one post. I plan on giving more information and resources in my 3rd Quarter (June) Newsletter. 

But I feel I must at least bring your attention to this as it affects ALL Americans…it affects our future as well as our children.


Specifically CSCOPE (in Texas) and Common Core Standards (Nationwide). 

These curriculums are even finding their way into Homeschooling programs

So what are they? 

That’s tricky to answer as this goes back years.

Now some of you may be saying, “No big deal, the government already has tons of ways it tracks our habits/life styles/beliefs” but others may be saying “Nazi Germany!” 

Both responses have some credibility. 

I’m not here to tell you what to believe, only to enlighten you about what is transpiring in our educational systems.

In 2012 a mandate was established that released all information schools have collected on students since 2009 to Federal Agencies WITHOUT parental consent.

 Did you know that? Why does the federal government need this information about our youth?
Now on to the actual curriculum…So what are they teaching our youth that is so shocking?
Tons of stuff, here’s a few highlights that have grabbed my attention:

1.       TX lesson plan for 6th graders has them design a flag for a “new socialist nation”. This same program relates the Boston Tea Party to acts of terrorism

2.        While progress is being made in TX as parents are demanding changes, here’s what some teachers complained of regarding this curriculum: “expected to deliver the content verbatim and only on the scheduled days in the lesson plan. If some students were not grasping the lesson, the teachers were directed to move on to the next lesson. Uniformity and sticking to the calendar were stressed over actual learning. Teachers were also asked to sign a contract that would prevent them from revealing what was in the CSCOPE lessons or face civil and criminal penalties.” (Emphasis mine).

5.       Mixing religion and education (which many say is a “no, no”) appears to be okay in this case. The Church of Scientology has helped produce an educational film being shown to some students that is based on the 30 human rights declared by the United Nations in 1945. These include everyone has a right to a job, social security, housing, clothes, medicine, etc. This is being taught in classes MORE than the US Constitution. (8 weeks vs 3 weeks). Here is the 5th Grade teaching module on this.

6.       Progressive thoughts being taught along with downplaying God in our history as well as “Students were even subject to a lesson framed around the idea that “Christianity was a cult,”

I know I’ve given you a lot of info and you probably don’t have time to read it all, but please, please, please become aware of what is being taught to YOUR child (or grandchild, nieces, nephews, etc). 

Now you might be asking why this is being allowed to occur if parents and even some teachers are outraged over it. Here are two possible reasons: 

1.        Political Correctness has transformed history lessons. You may wonder why the Board of Education is allowing this to occur. David Barton explains “that CSCOPE is referred to as “instructional material” and not “curriculum,” therefore is not subject to regulation by the State Board of Education.”

2.       Many teachers are against these program s and yet state after state is adopting variations of it. Why? “States that adopt common core can, according to Beck, receive waivers of the most demanding provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act.”

For additional information check out this list here or visit the Common Core website.There's also some freaky sci-FY stuff being proposed with the data mining.

You may have read all this, and even done research, and find you are okay with what is being taught and that’s okay. This is America, we are allowed to have our opinions, however, there are many who are NOT okay with some (or all) of this curriculum and that’s okay too. The point is that we must be educated and aware of what is shaping our kids lives as well as our own future. We can’t just trust and assume our kids are being educated in a certain way. We must take responsibility for our kids and what they are learning.

I know you’re busy, but don’t be too busy to value what your child is being taught.  Educate yourself to make sure you agree with what your child is being exposed to.

Thanks for reading. Any additional information is welcomed to be shared here in a respectful manner.