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)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Certain Red-Headed Boy

One of the questions posed to me at the launch party on Monday was about Cameron, the hero in A Side of Faith.

Cameron, you see, has red hair.

It isn't a common trait you see on heroes in romance novels. I'm not sure why not, but it just isn't.

I picked his color of hair for a really good reason though.

You see, I have guilt. You know something that you said/did years and years ago that you can never undo but you will forever have it ingrained in your head that you said it?

Yeah, something like that.

I was in the 7th grade....

YES, I still feel guilty about something I did in the 7th grade. Don't judge.

Anyway...

I had this friend. We'll call her "M."

M and I were bestest of friends. We ate lunch together, we talked in the halls together, we passed notes in class to each other, we shared secrets of what boys we liked. Real 7th grade stuff, ya know.

Well, I was also cursed (er, I mean, blessed...) with two older sisters. You need to understand, I was not what anyone would label "cool" or "popular" or even pretty back then. I was basically a nerd with glasses and a overly large gap between her teeth (and hair my mom insisted on cutting insanely short.)

But my sisters? Yeah, I totally labeled them as such. They knew EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and I hung on (most) of their words of wisdom as gospel truth.

Oh... I was so very, very naive....

(love you, sisters...)

My sisters taught me a few very important lessons regarding boys. They swear they don't remember this, but it is to this day ingrained in my head.

1.) Never date a boy shorter than you.
2.) Never date a boy younger than you.
3.) Never date a boy with red hair, because they are, the whole lot of them, ugly.
4.) A boy should always hold your hand from the front, otherwise they are a sissy. (or something like that...)

*ahem*

So, those were the rules.

I thought these rules were universally known truths that everyone on the planet should be aware of.

Granted, I did feel bad for all red-haired boys... and wondered if they just stayed single for the rest of their lives or something. But hey, my sisters were experts...right?

Okay, so back to the 7th grade. M and I were in the lunch line chatting one day, and she leans over and whispers into my ear, "Krista, I like a boy."

My ears perked up. I wasn't super boy crazy by this point, but the whole idea of it was starting to get interesting. "Really??? Who???"

For the sake of this public blog, we'll call the boy "L."

When she whispered his name to me, my back straightened and my eyebrows knit together. "L? You like L? But... he has red hair. You can't like a boy with red hair!" I was honestly shocked. Had she not had someone super knowledgeable to tell her this universal truth, perhaps?

Oh, but obviously she hadn't.

(inserting note: You have to realize how horrible this was of me. "L" was one of the nicest boys in school, I believe was a Christian, and all around good guy. I'd have probably been his friend had we known each other any more than just in passing. I just didn't think he was "crushable" material...)

Back to M: The moment the words escaped my mouth, fire burst from her eyes as her giddy grin morphed into a ferocious scowl. She stomped her foot, twirled around, jutted her chin into the air........

And never.

To this day.

Spoke to me again.

Except for one moment in the cafeteria where she called me the "B" word as I walked away a few weeks later.

I realized my error very quickly. I apologized. I cried. I wrote notes begging for forgiveness. I was in best-friend mourning.

Every time I would see her (which was daily since we had social studies together...) she would look the other way.

At my heart I have always been a people pleaser. So to know I couldn't fix this, that I hurt my friend so badly, was excruciating.

So much that I begged my mom to send me to a private school the following year, which she did.

On one hand, I so wish I could take back those words. But ya know what? I met some amazing friends at my new school, and had some AWESOME experiences, so I wouldn't change the direction my life took.

I still would take back those words, though.

So when I was dreaming of Cameron, trying to figure out his story, I got this picture of a redheaded boy in my head.

And I KNEW that my heroine was going to snub him for his hair. I didn't know why. I didn't know how. But my little story was a way to apologize once and for all for my meanness. And to teach my 7th grade self a wee little lesson:

Don't judge a boy by his hair color.

And don't diss a friend's choice of a crush.

Neither will end well!

(But... it might just give you interesting inspiration for a story someday :-))


Okay, so I spilled my story. Do you have a moment from your childhood you wish you could take back? Or a certain crush you regretted? Or a certain "feature" you swore you'd never accept in a boy? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A SIDE OF FAITH Basket - THE WINNER!!

I'm overwhelmed, y'all!

Launch day totally exceeded my expectations! Thank you so much for everyone who joined in the celebration, shared on Facebook, Tweeted, etc! I am humbled by your love, your great questions, and those that shared their stories of faith. You touched me deeply, and I am so thankful for all of you!

On a frivolous note, A Side of Faith ended up making it into the top 10 of the Amazon's HOT NEW RELEASES for Christian Romance yesterday! How amazing is that!

Okay, so now to announce the winner of the FAITH Filled basket from yesterday....

Drum roll please......

Picked at random from all the enties... the winner is...

Pam Kellogg!! 


Pam, I'll be sending you an email later today:-)

Again, THANK YOU to all who stopped by yesterday! I hope you enjoy the book!! If you did, I'd super appreciate it if you'd let others know about it. The BEST way books are sold are by word of mouth! You can also go to amazon.com, goodreads.com, or barnesandnoble.com and post a review, which is SUPER helpful as well!

We'll chat again on Thursday! Topic: Why Cameron's hair is red!!! (The story behind the books dedication...)

Monday, August 18, 2014

~~~~IT'S PARTY TIME~~~~

IT'S HERE!!!!!!

IT'S HERE!!!!!!

A Side of Faith is HERE!


And you can't have a book launch without CELEBRATING, right? Of course not! So today is party day here on my blog, and I'm ecstatic that you've joined me!

What IS a blog party, you ask?

Well, here is MY version of it.

A blog party is basically just an all-day open house where you can come and go as you please!
I'll be present pretty much the whole day, responding to comments as they come in, answering questions you have, drinking some Dr. Pepper, eating chocolate.... (Oh, yes, I'll have the real stuff at home, I mean, I gotta live a little on release day, right?!?)
YOU can leave comments, ask questions, click on links to buy the book... *grin* and register to win the FAITH-FILLED goodie basket I'm giving away!

THE BOOK

He is everything she never wanted...

Rachel Carter is on top of the world. A new job in a new town, friends, and a house to call her own. Men? Eh, someday. And when the time comes, she’ll go for a nice safe geek or something. She will NOT be repeating the mistakes of her youth.

But then Cameron Foster comes knocking on her door, reminding her of the man she vows never to think of again.

God wouldn’t send her a man who reminds her of everything she is trying to put behind her...would He?

 FUN FACTS ABOUT....

A Side of Faith

  • A Side of Faith is a NOVELLA. See this post if you're not sure what that means!
  • The setting is in Sandwich, Illinois, a REAL town about an hour or so west of Chicago.
  • There is NOT the "first" Sandwich book, just the first novella! Sandwich, with a Side of Romance released in 2012 and is a full length Christian romance. While the characters are in A Side of Faith, they are no longer the main characters.
  • For those of you who've read Sandwich, you'll be excited to hear that Reuben and Maddie have some FUN news to share....
  • I worried that readers would be confused when they find the heroine's name isn't Faith...instead points to the THEME of the book!
  • I published A Side of Faith myself, referred to these days as indie-publishing! It has its positives and negatives. Positive: I keep more of the profits! Negatives: I fronted all of the costs and did all the work! (and there was a lot of work...)
  • Because I published the book myself, it won't be found in libraries or non-online bookstores. Boo!
  • Two more novellas are planned! A Side of Hope will release this winter and A Side of Love will release in the Spring. I also plan a "finale" full length novel for next fall called, The Greatest is Love.

 THE AUTHOR

  • I have a very unhealthy love of Dr. Pepper
  • And chocolate....
  • I was born in Sandwich, Illinois. Many things in the books are based on my memories as a child, which I did for nostalgia reasons. So a few things may not be current.... :-)
  • My hubby and I have four amazing, beautiful daughters, ages ranging from 13 to 4. We're currently shopping for shotguns to keep those prospective boys in line.....
  • I'm an odd-ducky author who loves numbers as well as words.... and have the excel spreadsheets to prove it! (Cameron in A Side of Faith was one of my favorite heroes to write!)
  • I met my husband in a chatroom at 17 years old. I married him a year later, and gave him our first daughter a year after that.
  • I thank God everyday that the crazy guy I chatted with didn't turn out to be an Internet predator.... He's pretty awesome, actually!
  • I have a super awesome new agent, Sarah Freese of WordServe Literary! We're working on selling some other projects outside of Sandwich.... so stay tuned!
  • I LOVE CHOCOLATE! (Oh, yeah, I think I already mentioned that....)

 HOW DO I GET THE BOOK

A Side of Faith is available at most major online retailers via ebook!

amazon.com
barnesandnoble.com
itunes (ibook)
kobo.com

It is ONLY available on Amazon.com for the paperback version.

THE GIVEAWAY

I'm so excited about the gift package!! During my launch party for my first novel, Sandwich, with a Side of Romance, I gave away a SANDWICH themed basket.

I decided this time, I would do a FAITH themed basket.

In it, you'll receive ---
  • A gold FAITH bracelet (fake gold--cause I'd need to sell a LOT of books to afford the real stuff!)
  • A FAMILY, FAITH, FRIENDS candle
  • A super cool pink plastic cup with a Bible verse about faith on it
  • A cute little wooden decor with FAITH on it
  • A copy of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance
  • A copy of A Side of Faith
  • And just because I couldn't forget the sandwich tie-in all together... a $15 Subway giftcard!
Total Value: ~ $80 ~


HOW TO ENTER

I'm using Rafflecopter to track entries! 

You'll have a bunch of different ways to enter, up to SIX entries per person!

If you have issues using rafflecopter, let me know in the comments below and I'll walk you through it!

*Note* Only entries made through Rafflecopter will be counted!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

LET THE PARTY BEGIN!

  Let's chat about faith and books!

I'd love to answer any questions you have, or hear YOUR faith story!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What is a Novella anyway???

I tend to take it for granted that everyone knows what a novella is, but I've gotten the question A LOT over the last few months, so if you're one who asked, don't feel bad. You've got great company!

A Side of Faith is a novella, vs. Sandwich, with a Side of Romance which is a novel.

This just means that it is a small novel. Usually about 1/4th to 1/3rd the length of a novel.

A novella still has a beginning, middle and end.
MY novella's will still have a romance.
And MY novella's will still have a happily-ever-after ending.

What it doesn't have is as many subplots, and while it still has some twists and turns and surprises, there aren't quite so many as a novel. It takes place over a shorter period of time (a few weeks) vs. my novel which took place over several months. It basically cuts to the chase a bit faster.


I decided to do novellas for several reason: 

I have 3 of them planned, and their stories were simpler. I also wanted to get it out on the market sooner, and writing a novel takes a much longer period of time (I can write a novella in about a month, a novel in 3-6 months.)

It also makes them cheaper... the novella will be for sale for $2.99 (ebook) vs. the current price of my
novel ($9.99.) (prices subject to change, as I never know when Amazon will mix it up, but most of the time that's with the print books.)

Oh, and will A Side of Faith be available in print?

YES! But mostly just on Amazon, as I'm going through one of their printers called Createspace, which allows books to be printed as they are ordered vs. in large batches, so they will only be for sale on Amazon at this point (retail prices is $5.99 since the cost is much higher to print, but subject, again, to change!)

So, that's it in a nutshell!!!

Any questions about novellas or novels? There is also such a thing as "novelette," which means, in Krista-translation, "really-tiny book." It'd probably take 8-10 novelette's to equal a novel! I don't plan on writing those at this point :-)

(Side note: Annabelle is headed to Vanderbilt Children's today for a minor surgery... her 3rd set of ear tubes. This is so tiny compared to everything she's been through, but your prayers that it will be quick, painless, and we can be home super fast afterward, would be appreciated!)

(picture courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)