Monday, September 15, 2014

Schedule Change Up!

I'm on a mission!

Life is SO crazy busy lately... (I mean, I honestly don't remember a time in the last few years when it HASN'T been that way) but God's been on me lately to rise above.

But that's not what this post is about.

It might be what THURSDAY's post though.

THIS is just a notice that I'm changing up my schedule, in the name of reorganizing Krista and trying to live a HEALTHY life, honoring God and family with my time.

It's a little change. I'm still trying to blog two days a week, I'm just moving it from Monday/Thursday to Tuesday/Thursday... with Thursday being a flex day.

The thing is... Sunday's are busy, and I HATE THAT. Sunday should be a day of REST, and God's been reminding me lately that I need to honor that, instead of viewing it as just another day to "get things done." I mean, we always go to church, but afternoons were a time to fit in writing, or do a project around the house, or to clean the house. (Last year we hosted small groups in our house, so Sunday afternoons were hurry-and-clean-before-people-get-here)

But not any more. Sunday's are our rest/family day.

I sat down tonight though, thinking, CRUD, I have to write my blog post for tomorrow.... and God raised his eyebrows and said, "Why?"

I responded, "Uh, because tomorrow is Monday? Blog post day?"

God rolled his eyes. "So?"

I sighed. God obviously didn't hear the blog rule of being consistant in your posting days. "Okay, so everyone says--"

The Almighty interrupted. "Since when did I care about what everyone says, Krista? Why can't you post on Tuesday? Hm?"

"But--but... tomorrow I'm supposed to post. People will come looking for something..."

He gave me that look that God is so good at giving, even when I can't actually see it.

I sighed. "Okay. Tuesday. That's a good idea, actually. Then I won't have to rush on Sunday nights to post, and I can do it on Monday. One less thing on my Sunday to-do list, so I can REST on Sunday."

God winked at me. "I'm known for my good ideas."

"Well, is it okay if I write a quick post, telling people that I'm changing to Tuesday?"

"Sure. Just tell them all it was my idea, kay?"

And that, my friends, is my slightly-fictionalized but pretty accurate account of what went on in my head between me and God.

And the reason that, after this week, you'll have a post from me ever TUESDAY instead of Monday... and most Thursdays. (Thursday I leave as an optional day... I'll usually post but the "optional" part relieves a TON of stress on busy weeks when I can't!)

As always, you can also sign up to have posts emailed to you!! (See sidebar for sign up...)

Discussion: So... how good are YOU about keeping your sabbath Holy and for REST... vs. to-do list catchup? Do you need a stern reminder from God too??

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why I Hate the Gym

You ever have something you really don't want to do but when you do it, you love the results and you wonder why you always drag your feet?

I do.

It's exercising.

In the morning, I look at my work out clothes with dread. My to-do list is long... changing, carting Annabelle to the gym, getting all sweaty and nasty... ugh. Seriously, that TO DO list is not getting any shorter!!!

But then I put a hand to my stomach and remember the fat that isn't getting any smaller either....

Then while I grumble under my breath, I change, throw on my tennis shoes, load Annabelle up, and drive the five minutes to the gym.

For the next hour, I sweat and burn and torture my body.

Somewhere in that time, this amazing thing happens.

I stop hating it.

And start loving it.

Energy is injected into my veins. The drips of sweat carry away my disdain. I leave,energized and feeling 10x's better. I wonder why in the world I ever hated this in the first place. I'm ready to take on the world, baby.

Then I wake up the next day.

And see the exercise clothes...

And the process repeats.

Weird, huh? I've never once gone to the gym and been like, "Dude, this is stupid. I'm just going home." Well, except once, when five minutes into my workout, the phone rang, telling me a kid was puking at the school and I needed to come get them. Yeah. I wished I hadn't gone to the trouble that day.

But other than that....

So what about you? Are you gym goer? Do you thrive on it and look forward to it, or are you weird like me and have a love/hate relationship with it?

Monday, September 8, 2014

An Unexpected Visitor

Yesterday, my daughter and I were leaving to the grocery store when I heard her shout:

MOM! Look!

I looked...

And there was this very pretty black dog in our yard, no collar.

We live in a subdivision attached to 2 other subdivisions, so it isn't abnormal to have a dog roam our yard that got loose from their own.

We got home from the store, and he was still there.

Later that night, we left for small groups, and when we got home, STILL THERE, laying in our front yard, whimpering.

He's a sweet fella. A little skiddish and scared. We had to make a decision last night... we live backed up to a really road and my heart hurt at the thought of him getting hit, so we went ahead and put him in our backyard.

I posted to local FB groups, hoping to locate the owners, but all I found is that the dog has been roaming around our neighborhood for the last two-three days!

*sigh*

My kids have named him "Bear" because they think he looks like a big black bear. He kinda does! Annabelle took Daddy

While we would LOVE to have a dog, and my kids are already totally attached to the sweet man, alas, keeping him long term is not an option. Financially we are NOT in a place to afford vet bills and food for him, so I just feel it would be irresponsible. Which hurts my heart, because my kids beg for a dog daily.

My oldest (13) has even asked if she could get a job to pay for the dog. HA HA! Um, no. 

This is like hanging a carrot in front of their nose... (although they aren't fond of carrots, so a better analogy is probably ice cream or something!!)


A sweet local lady is bringing us by some dog food and a collar for him today, and we're going to try to get him in for a vet to check for a microchip tonight.

Please pray we can find Bear's owners, preferably. And if his owners left him on purpose (which would be SUPER sad) please pray that the perfect forever family can be found!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mix and Mingle - ACFW style!

Me and a few of my fellow alleycats... Oh goodness I love these ladies!
For those who haven't followed my blog for a ton of years, you may not have heard me gush about attending the annual ACFW conference.

I didn't get to attend for a few years because, of course, Annabelle was SO SO SO much more important.

But this year, I'm GOING again and I'm SO VERY EXCITED!!

There is just something about being surrounded by 500ish other writers, all who write with the goal of glorifying GOD with their stories, that is just pretty amazing. Plus, a writer's brain is weird. It takes a writer to "get" a writer

I once had a married (minor) character in a book (not one I've published...) and told my husband that the character would be the hero in the next book.

Hubby: But... he's married.
Me: Oh, I know. I'm gonna kill her between books so he'll be a widow.
Hubby (looking concerned): Um....

See? Not many can be okay with that. It's, well, kinda creepy.

Anyway, ACFW is a time to reconnect with other writers, I'll MEET my new agent for the first time, and PITCH my newest project to editors, which is a fairly big deal in and of itself.

Oh yeah. We were buff writers......
A writer friend of mine (waving at Laurie!!) came up with the idea of doing a "pre-conference" mix and mingle via our websites, and I thought I'd join in!! The idea is to answer a few questions about ourselves, post it on our blog, then link up on her post, so other attendees can browse each others sites and find out more info about writers who we'll meet.

Now, I know a good deal of my readers aren't writers so obviously won't be attending, but the questions are fun so I thought you might like a peek into ME!

Without further adu...

Name: Krista Phillips

Location: just south of Nashville, TN

What you write/tagline/trademark: Contemporary Romance (also known as romantic comedy) / Finding Joy in the Journey (my blog tagline, but also applies to my writing!)

Place in the book world: Published my first novel, Sandwich, with a Side of Romance, with Abingdon in 2012. Indie-published a novella which released last month, A Side of Faith, and plan 2 more novellas in the next year. Currently working with my agent, Sarah Freese, of Wordserve Literary to polish and submit another full length novel.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: I'm super cool with hugs, but do a mean handshake too since I know not everyone is super cool with hugs!

Jessica was a much better monkey!
Monkeying around....
The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Books, Dr. Pepper, my kids, organ donation, anything heart related, Jesus

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My hubby and 4 girls. I'll miss them a TON but I'll be honest, I've learned the art of enjoying my time away when I get it! ALL momma's need a break from time to time!

Conference goals we can pray for? I'm pitching to editors for the first A Side of Faith) So prayers that I can be confident without being annoying would be GREAT!! (I'll also have "I heart sandwich" buttons for anyone who wants to help spread the sandwich news at conference!!)
time in MANY years at conference. I'm also marketing my current novels (particularly

SUPER WRITER SPIES!!!!
Anything we can celebrate with you? LIFE. You can celebrate my new release, but God's taught me the last few years that LIFE and JESUS is so much bigger than any book release could ever be, regardless of the number of books sold.


One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Yeah!!! You can like my author page on Facebook, follow me on twitter, and/or sign up for my newsletter (see signup on the sidebar of this blog!) (No spamming... I literally send out an email 3-4 times a year, if that!) Whoops, sorry, Laurie, that was three things!!!

Okay blog readers, I'd love to know more about you, too!! Share as little or as much as you want. Name, area you live in, age, social security number (JUST KIDDING, please don't share that....) what God is doing in your life, what your dreams are....

I'm always sharing with YOU about me and my crazy life... I'd love to hear about YOU!

And if you're a writer attending ACFW, go to Laurie's site and link up!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Confession

Last week on The Writer's Alleys blog that I'm a part of, we had a guest post by the amazing Allen Arnold.

The topic was that dreaded word that none of us can EVER get enough of:

TIME.

I think we all struggle with how to juggle the things we have going, and feeling like we fail with too many pots boiling and not enough hands to stir. I know I do anyway!!!

His post was a spectacular reminder that our time is GOD'S, and just like our money, if we entrust ALL of it to God and pray He gives us wisdom with how to use it, then we won't run dry. God provides, both our daily material needs as well as our schedule needs. Go read his post, though. He says it much better that I every would!!

Something else struck from his post though, even more so than about my time management.

This blog has been a bit of a struggle for me lately. I LOVE blogging and love getting thoughts onto screen and being able to share with my readers. But any blogger will tell you, things like "comments" and "pageviews" are super important. Both to our own heads as an encouragement to that we aren't speaking to "air" as well as publishers who are super concerned with an author's platform... how many readers they are engaging on a regular basis. At one time, I'd average 15-30 comments every post (which is a decent average since only a small portion of readers usually comment.)

Now I'm good to get a handful, and many times none at all.

At its height, my page visits were in the thousands per day. Now there are days I struggle to stay in the hundreds.

Some of that is because of Annabelle. Everyone followed her story and wanted to check up on her, and there isn't the urgency/need now that she is doing SO much better.

I expected... and even wanted... those numbers to go down, because it meant that my sweet girl was doing well.

But I also wanted to figure out how I could write to KEEP those blog readers too. (refer back to publishers taking a keen interest in platform numbers... to the point that many GREAT books aren't published because an author doesn't have a platform to sell them to)

There were some days my heart wasn't in it, so I just wrote something to get it down in an attempt to keep something out there for people to read.

There were other days that I was super passionate about at topic and spent an hour or more typing it just right.

In both cases, there were many (ahem--- most--) days when it just fell flat. No reaction. Barely a Facebook like. Comment section was like birds chirping.

The writer in me panicked. What am I doing wrong? Is my writing crappy? Am I not hitting the topics that readers are interested in? I've experimented with various kinds of post, and except for the ROCKIN' blog party the other week when both comments/visits were through the roof.... it all just felt stagnant. Void of my normal passion and void of God's blessing.

But reading Allen's post, something very deep hit me, and it was the heart of why blogging had been so unsettling to me lately.

To quote him:

"God plays this odd game with me. Often before I write a post like this – I’m drawn to a movie scene or I get hit with an emotion that pulsates through me... a deep sense of loss or maybe confusion or perhaps joy. I’ve learned this is God’s way of giving me a foretaste of what the people I’m writing to are feeling. 
It’s taking me to the sweet spot of what he wants to go after.
Kind of an advance preview." - Allen Arnold


YES! THAT is what I want.

I'm so very tired of trying to analyze what readers want to read, what their sweet spot is.

I want to know what GOD'S sweet spot is... what HE wants to go after in my writing.

YES, the reason I blog is to share my heart with readers, but instead of turning to GOD for the divine wisdom of what my readers need, I've been using my own brain to try to figure it out. And failing MISERABLY.

I've forgotten my own deep held belief that a NUMBER, in the end, isn't what matters. It's the HEART that matters. If whatever I'm doing, whether writing books or blogs or Facebook posts, is for JESUS, then the rest will come as God wills.

If there is just ONE person God wants to read something, and that is ALL the impact my writing has, then it's enough.

It SHOULD be enough.

I'm telling you right now, I won't be perfect. A some of my posts will probably be stupid and fall flat.

But I'm going to start treating my blog like my books. Prayerfully asking God to give me wisdom as to what to write. To breath life into my fingers as I type. Reminding myself that my worth... my BLOGS worth... is more than numbers or comments or links. The goal isn't book sales and page views and comments.

The goal is to, as a community of believers, share each others burdens. To truly figure out how to find the JOY and PEACE that God wants to give as we go on this journey. It is to go after the HEART of God, to please HIM and give him glory with every letter typed.

Oh how I can pray that I do this with both my books AND my blog.

And if I can't... well, then I just need to stop doing it all together. Because it's all meaningless without the blessing and purpose of Jesus.

Discussion: Do you have things in your life you need to toss over to God's hands? Things you are using the WRONG measuring stick to assess? Areas where you are working hard in your own wisdom but forgetting to tap God's heart to see where He wants to lead?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WALKIN' ON WATER -- kinda?

I was sitting in Books-a-Million the other day, getting a bit of writing done while my kids were at a church function.

As any good writer does, I was multi-tasking by writing and eavesdropping at the same time. It's amazing the story ideas you get by listening to others speak.

Anyway, one girl was telling a funny story. I didn't catch the whole thing, just the tail end. It went a little something like...

"So, the guy was walking around the cafeteria, telling everyone he's Jesus. Someone said, 'Prove it.' He said, 'Okay, I will' then took a cup of water off the table, dumped it on the floor, and stepped on it."

I had a really hard time not laughing (thus giving away my eavesdropping status.)

Some might call the joke sacrilegious. Maybe it was a little bit.

But sitting there, I just had this picture of Jesus up in heaven with an amused smile on his face, a wink in his eye, saying, "Ha! Good one!"

Am I the only one who pictures Jesus like this? 

And furthermore, am I the only one who finds the whole "walking on water" joke a wee bit funny??? 

Anyone have any other fun jokes to tell? I'm a fan of giggles. Let's have 'em! 

(photo from freedigitalphotos.net)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ten Ways to Ensure My Book Flops

NO BOOK (flip) FLOPS HERE!
Confession:

I'm not a book marketing/sales expert.

I know, SHOCKER!!!

I'd venture a guess that a lot of authors are in the same boat. We try... but a lot of it is guess and check. And maybe I'm wrong and I'm alone, but my passion is writing--- not being a saleswoman.

While I'm still doing the whole "guess-and-check" thing to figure out how to get the word out about my book (and to convince people it's worth purchasing)...

I decided to make a list of tactics I need to stay away from.

Not only are they unwise ideas... but they also made me giggle coming up with them.

And laughter is never a bad thing!

TEN ways I can ensure my book totally, completely, inexplicably flops

10.) Change my book title to "50 Shades of Faith..."

9.) Schedule Facebook posts for every 2 minutes for the next 60 days. No better way to annoy people into not buying than massive overposting!!

8.) Focus my marketing efforts on standing on a street corner with a poster that says "BUY MY BOOK."

7.) Take hostages. "Buy my book or I'll shoot!"

6.) Lawn signs. Ya know those signs contractors use? "Another job by Mr. Painterman!" Instead, ask readers to put, "I read A Side of Faith today!" in their lawns.

5.) List my books myself on Amazon as "collectable" items for $100 each. (this is almost a true story... I found Sandwich, with a Side of Romance listed for about $150 collectable the other day. I giggled... but alas, they've taken that posting off. LOL. I'm fairly certain it wasn't because they sold them....)

4.) Door-to-Door sales...

3.) Use "God told me that you are supposed to buy my book..." as a sales gimmick.

2.) Cry. A lot. To everyone I meet. Tell them I'm crying because my book isn't selling, and hope that they will then go and buy it to make me feel better (but mostly just to make me stop crying so they can get peace.)

And the number one way to ensure my book completely flops is...

GIVE UP!

Yup. Just like that. Quit. Unpublish the book. Take it off all outlets where it can be purchased.

While all those ideas above are truly horrible ways to try to sell a book, this one is the worst by far.

It is only usurped in its status as "worst idea" by its sister idea of "Don't try in the first place."

I can market and try to sell my book until I'm bluer than a smurf, but the only thing I can do WRONG is give up on what God has called me to do.

God has called to write novels that bring him glory. And furthermore, God's called me to publish what I've written.

Last week, I'll be honest. I was fretting. Being 100% responsible for "sales" of something like a book is a LOT of pressure, especially since I view this as my part-time work-at-home job to help contribute to our family finances.

But in my fretting, God kept whispering something to me.

"I've gone before you, Krista."

Over and over, I heard those words. I can try as hard as I can, and I SHOULD try as hard as I can, but I can't measure my success in book sales or money made.

I can only measure my success in how obediant I am to what God has called me to do.

The rest of it is out of my hands, which is GREAT, because God's hands are SO much more capable of mine.

What about you?

What are YOU called to do? 

You may not be an expert. You might not know how to do it all. And I promise, you're going to go through times when you feel like a failure, when you ask, is it worth it?
At the end of the day, don't give up. It might not look exactly how you thought it would. The calling might end up being something totally different, even.

But don't chicken out... and don't give up.

(picture by freedigitalphotos.net)