Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Unfinished Gift Goes on Tour

Just after Thanksgiving my novel is going on tour, all over the country...without me.

Just a few years ago, such a thing was unheard of. One more example of the internet changing the way people do business. It's a pretty cool thing, especially for writers. It's called a blog tour. Like a virtual booksigning tour, except I don't go anywhere, and I only sign a few books.

I heard about this a few months ago. Immediately saw the potential. A great way for a lot of people to hear about your book in a short period of time. Most writers have to put them together by themselves. Lots of hard work and lots of time. Lots of time I don't have.

Another reason I'm grateful to God for putting me with Revell. Revell is a division of Baker Publishing Group. Baker has created their own blog tour. They've done all the work to set it up, way better than I ever could have.

Here's what's going to happen. Revell has put a team of bloggers together, about 100 of them. They all love fiction. Some are authors, all are writers. They read books and write reviews for their "followers," people who read their blogs on a regular basis. Some bloggers have a few dozen followers, some have hundreds.

Very soon, Revell is going to send them a copy of my book and fellow Revell author, Melody Carlson's book, The Christmas Dog. They'll read our books, review them on their blog, usually with a graphic of the book's cover (1-click away from Amazon). To encourage their readers to read the whole thing, those who comment are entered into a contest to recieve a free signed copy of the book.

In a week's time, hundreds if not thousands of interested Christian fiction readers from all over the country will find out about The Unfinished Gift at the peak of the Holiday Season, right after Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 3oth through Dec 4th).

And all this will happen without me ever getting off of the couch. An amazing thing. Well...that's just a saying. I don't sit on the couch that much. Not all the time, anyway. No more than anyone else.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Literary Alter Ego

I've been reminded recently of a literary character from a book I read, shortly after coming to Christ. It's the main character from what is now considered a classic Christian work, written in 1955 by Hannah Hurnard. The book is called "Hinds Feet On High Places."

When I first read the book (decades ago), I could really relate to this character, although I didn't admit it...well, to anyone. Here I am (decades later), and I realize I can still relate to this character quite easily. If you've read a good number of my posts, what I'm about to confess won't come as a great surprise.

I wish I could say my alter ego was someone bold and courageous. That this character was full of faith and zeal, ready to do daring exploits for God. Actually, it would be nice if this character was even a guy.

But sadly, the character I speak of is a young girl in Hurnard's allegorical story named Much Afraid. You'll have to read the book to get the full effect of what I'm saying. But Much Afraid, as you might guess, is afraid of many things. It's a great story with a wonderful message and a great ending. But Much Afraid realizes her strength and courage doesn't come from within but from her relationship with the Shepherd.

Apart from Him, she is...Much Afraid. As am I.

Left to drift, my mind will often wander toward any number of what-if scenarios. Most are extensions of the present situation going badly. From this, fretting comes. My mind then creates plans, intended to be solutions, to each of the what-if scenarios. But these are mere illusions, intending to bring me peace, because now we have a plan. It's a good plan. It covers all the bases. Things are back under control.

For a little while, the illusion holds. But stuff happens. I didn't cover all the bases; it's not a good plan; I'm not in control.

The victory, I'm learning, is to realize I never have control. Whenever I think I'm in control, that's the illusion. Whether the situation is so overwhelming that it shakes me to the core, or just mildly confusing, it is equally out of my control.

Much Afraid eventually comes to realize where her hope and strength comes from. It is wrapped in a dependent relationship with the Shepherd. This weakness and uncertainty I feel is not an illusion; it is a doorway to grace, an opportunity to experience a genuine peace, deep down inside. And I don't even need to know what the plan is. I just need to know the One who leads me.

That He is a Good Shepherd. Good in nature, and good at leading me. I don't need to have answers for any of my what-if scenarios. The fretting is replaced by a peace that is better than the illusion of peace that comes from my own plans. It is a peace that surpasses understanding, superior in every way.

Because my Good Shepherd is also the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. The One who holds worlds and galaxies in place, who loves me with an everlasting love and gave Himself up for me. I am not set adrift in this life to wander as an orphan. Things are not just happening to me.

He holds me all the while in the very palm of his hand.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Email Gadget - Help me test it?

As I continue my slow crawl from the primordial ooze of internet ignorance...I've responded to some advice that suggested I put a gadget on my blog that would allow people to receive emails notifying them of any new posts I write (did that even make sense?).

I went to a site called Feedblitz, the one recommended as "super-easy". Apparently, I should have been directed to the one that is "ridiculously-super-easy," because I hardly understood a word of the super-easy instructions. But in the end, you might notice the gadget is there on my blog site just under my picture.

The question is...does it work? Did I do it right? I'm wondering if some of you would use it and let me know if my posts are sent to your email account. That's the general idea, to keep you from having to check back since I only post a few times a week (or less).

If this is successful, it will give me confidence to add a widget that will allow me to create an email list for a newsletter (this would be sent out even less often, every other month or so).

So...jump in if you dare (I salesman will call).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Sign...I'm Signing...I'm a Signer!

The title to this post will only make sense to fans of "What About Bob?" One of my favorite comedies, starring Bill Murray. He plays a rather pathetic soul whose afraid of everything. In one scene, we see him literally tied to a mast on a sailboat, and he shouts out the victory moment: "I Sail...I'm Sailing...I'm a Sailor!"

That's the sense of exhilaration I felt as we concluded my first book signing this afternoon at a real store (with real customers coming up to the table). I've done one at a writer's conference, and at my church, but today many of these were people I don't even know (did I mention...I sign...I'm a signer now).

No one even asked me where the restrooms were. Before it started, I made sure to find out just in case. One man did ask me where the cash register was, but everyone else that came to the table bought a book. And they wanted ME to sign it (I'm a signer now, I sign).

I've got three more scheduled over the next 4 weeks. But hey, I'm okay now. I sign.

On a more serious note...I want to thank all of those who also came out, who do know me and came out to support me. I'm especially humbled by those who did, who've already bought and read the book, but you came anyway. And many of you bought additional copies as gifts for others. But you know and I could have bought those copies online much cheaper. But you know, and I know why you bought them today.

I am humbled by your kindness.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Two New Book Signings in FL

Firmed up this week, two more book signings. One in Daytona Beach, one in Orlando, both at Family Christian Stores. I've already scheduled two with Barnes & Noble stores. Both stores in both places are just down the street from each other.

The first is on Saturday, Oct 31st, 1-3pm, at the Family Christian Store in Altamonte Springs (a suburb of Orlando), on 436 at the Palm Springs Center (near Albertsons and the Florida Hospital).

The second is in Daytona at the Family Christian Store right across from the Speedway, on Saturday, Nov 14th, between 1-3pm.

If you're near either of these stores then, stop by and say hi. Even if you've already bought the book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No Greater Place to Be

I decided it was time to draw attention to what really matters most to me. It's not my writing. It's not even my family or my wonderful church friends. It's taking time every morning to pull away and draw near to the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I had such a time this morning, and I was reminded of the supreme value of such time, how I wouldn't trade it for the world. A little while ago, I wrote something that captures what I'm trying to say. Perhaps it will inspire those of you who know what I mean, to draw near again.

No Greater Place to Be (A Prayer)

I have no greater place to be, no greater thing to do,
than to sit at Your feet and gaze at your beauty,
and listen to Your Word.

In Your presence is fullness of joy.

Your Word speaks peace to me.

With You my soul finds rest.

Fears are stilled; sorrows cease.

Lord, there is no one like You,
no other thing that can affect me this way.

Only You.

Only being with You, spending time alone with You.

When I am with You this way, in silence and stillness,

Time seems to stand still.

The clock within me slows to Your pace.

And it is a lovely pace.

My heart is refreshed, my mind is renewed.

I find I don’t ever want to leave this place, sitting here,

Alone with You.

It humbles me to know

While I draw near at no cost to me,

My place here came at a great cost to You.

I am here at the foot of the Cross.

Where You gave Your life for mine.

What manner of love is this, that you would die for me?

And now, call me Your own.

And offer me new mercies every morning.

And invite me to come, this close, every day.

Without fear, fully loved.

Until the day I see you face to face.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Blog Interview this week

Hard for me to know what to tell you about and what to skip. I guess there's a lot more activity this week because the book has finally released. And I'm sure that's a good thing.


A blog devoted to lovers of historical fiction contacted me a few months ago and asked me to do an interview after my book released. It's called Favorite PASTimes. They ran that interview on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. If you'd like to catch it, click here.

If you like historical fiction, you might want to linger awhile and check out more of the books and authors they've reviewed and interviewed.

An Article I wrote Published by Online Magazine

Christian Fiction Online Magazine printed an article I wrote for their October issue. It just came out today. One of the editors actually approached me to write this back in August. It's for a monthly feature called "Author By Night," for published authors who have a full time job doing something else.

If you'd like to read it, click here. I have a feeling the link will only be good for the month of October, since this is a monthly feature. In November, you'll probably read another author's Author By Night saga. After that, you'll probably still be able to read it when October becomes a back issue.

A long-winded way of saying, "Git it while it's hot."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Facebook Fan Site

This just in...

I created a new fan site on Facebook last night. This would be a result from the ACFW conference in Denver. I took a couple of classes on how authors should use the internet to connect more effectively with those who read their books.

I did have a fan site, but I couldn't figure out how to use it, or how to fix it so that I could use it. So it just sat there. And the site was actually called The Unfinished Gift, totally centered on my first book. Since my 2nd book is due out in June, and I just finished my 3rd, seemed like I ought to have a site that had a little more range.

So...TA-DA!! A new fan site.

I've gotta tell you, though. I do this begrudgingly. The whole idea goes against everything I believe about humility. How I wish we could use another word besides "fan." It conjures images of teen fan magazines and wall posters of the latest teen sensation.

I didn't have a prayer of being that in my teens. Much less in my 50's. Much less.

But I must concede it is an effective, inexpensive way to relate to those who do read and enjoy my books, so if you'd like to link to it, you can click here. Or you can scroll down to the bottom right hand corner of my blog and get to it from there.