Monday, October 21, 2019

New Post, New Topic, New Path

I've written about writing, books, general things, yet nothing seemed to stick with me for long. There are many blogs out there for authors that deal with writing. There are many blogs our there that review books and talk about books. And I have never been one to written about general topics.

As I sat staring out my window one night, it occurred to me: why not write about my life. And my life intersects with so many people and it is this life that many of us have in common: chronic pain.

Thus a new life to this blog was born. I will post about fibromyalgia, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, and many others. I will seek guest bloggers and average-day people to share their stories. If one person can be reached, then my job was a success.

There is one thing about chronic pain that many people do not realize. It colors our perception of life. It doesn't make us suicidal. What it does is make us long for relief and an escape from the pain we live in. Sometimes we have that thought that death is welcomed. If we don't wake up, then that is okay because finally relief from the torment had arrived.

What keeps us going? Will power and for us believers, God-Power. It takes a strong person to live day to day with pain as a constant companion. Each day, I find a strength to carry on. The strength to make it one more complete one more task or finish one more chore. I find the strength to hide the underlying assault on my body. I, and many others, find the strength to smile.

Imagine having the body aches from the flu. Multiply that by ten. That's a good day for us. Now multiply it again by twenty. That's a bad day for us. And yes, we have more bad days than good days. One reason is because we push ourselves to do something, to fulfill a promise, to socialize, to run an errand, to provide for our family. And the list goes on.

Chronic pain comes in many forms. From fibromyalgia and MS to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and CRPS/CRPD and lupus to RA and Lyme's. Many of us can go years with the wrong diagnoses or being undiagnosed. Not because of the failure of doctors, but because of the similarities among these conditions. Add the role that the environment and genetics play and it is a puzzle that is at times hard to solve.

So I encourage anyone with chronic pain, reach out and seek a fellowship with others and learn all you can about it. For those who have family or friends with chronic pain, please research and help. Read more on the issue and learn more about what it does and how to help.

Pain colors life. Yet having the love of others to help see us through this keeps the color of life from being dark by changing it into light.

Below is a YouTube link to a doctor who does his best to help his patients and educate them.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Don't Bust Your Brand

If there is one thing that authors are taught: we need to have a brand.

A brand is different than a tagline. For instance, my tagline is Writing from the Heart. My brand is a Christian story that brings glory to God, free of graphic scenes and vulgar language, promises the readers a small town setting and the love of family, shows flawed and authentic characters, and has redemption or reconciliation themes. Those three that I highlighted are the most important parts of my brand.

When a reader picks up any of my books, most, if not all of, those qualities are there and that brand is what they can expect despite the genre of the book.

One of the worse things that can happen is when an author bust their brand. By busting their brand, they have cheated the reader, slid away from what was expected of them, and/or made the author's readers feel as though they have been lied to.

How can an author bust their brand?

I asked a few author friends and here are their responses:

Allen Steadham, author of Mindfire and Jordan's World:

"An author can damage their brand by doing or saying something which contradicts it or engages in behavior that tarnishes their own reputation, which will also harm their brand. For example, if a Christian author was arrested and charged with DUI, it would harm their brand if that brand was all about a clean lifestyle."

I agree, Allen. If a Christian author writes Christian fiction and incorporates the Christian lifestyle and worldview, readers expect the author to be like that, too.

Dan Peyton, author of Remnant:

"I am careful what I post on my author page. I write for the general audience and for YA. My books are proudly clean and now I will add Christian to that when Remnant comes out. I have had authors want to share posts....This is to make use of our page audience. However, often I am being asked to share a book that is NSFW, the cover art alone is something I wouldn't have in my own house. I can't promote that kind of book on my private or professional page on Facebook, it could damage my image as a clean author. At the same time I see authors who write YA fiction and even Christian fiction, yet every other post is about Game of Thrones. I don't care if you like that book/show, but if you are presenting your Christian and/or YA audience with a book series that is full of incest, gore, foul language, murder, and more, then you are tarnishing your images, at least in my opinion. It looks to me like a double standard."

Dan, I believe that same thing concerning the Game of Thrones series. I read the first 5 books decades ago. Thankfully I'm more mature and can see now how it can desensitize people and how it goes against my walk with Jesus.
For those who don't now what NSFW means: Not Safe For Work. These are images and/or websites that contain explicit sexual material or other adult content.


"Another way you can tarnish your brand is by attacking someone else....If you rant about other authors' work, attack genres you don't even write in, and/or rant and rave about a reviewer who gave you a bad review, it doesn't reflect on them, it reflects on you. It makes your brand look petty and unqualified."

Joanna White, author of Forgotten, Hunter, Sightless, and Shifter:

"The way you interact with people online, like if you fight with people about things....even if [you] didn't start the still ruins [your] reputation."

Yes, yes, it can. I don't know how many times I have seen this, authors arguing with readers and other authors. People watch and remember.

Verity Buchanan, author of The Journey (release date TBD):

"Making your book out to be more than, less than, or different from what it is. If there's one thing I've learned from watching my mom build a business, it's that branding needs to be a 'what you see is what you get' policy."

Exactly. What we say we are, we should be. What we say we do, we should do. What we say we think and believe, we should think and believe.

Brenda Covert, author and editor:

"There was an author in the news recently whose first book--about to be published--got canceled after she posted a photo on social media to shame a worker....the author's judgmental and unkind behavior cost her her what you post about others and always err on the side of grace."

Brenda was the editor on my book, Mississippi Nights, and her words are wise. Always give grace. As authors we play the "what-if" game and we know that they are always many sides to a story.

Dan quoted from Philippians. This verse, I believe, should always be applied to those who write Christian fiction or clean fiction (even nonfiction!). Follow this passage from God's word and we won't bust our brand.

Philippians 4:8 KJV
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

I Will Not Write Children's Books

Years and years ago I worked for a bookstore, Book Warehouse. I loved this place in Batesville, Mississippi. Even though I was a part-time employee, it was a coveted haven for me. Who could not be happy to be surrounded by books? I found so many new authors, enticing stories, beautiful gardening ideas, delicious recipes, weird biographies, super-weird beliefs, and the list goes on.

On slow days we spent time rearranging the tables to make them more presentable...or alluring to the customers. Shelves were switched around so that multiple titles would be forward facing. I loved the fiction, gardening, classics, and science section. But I avoid the children's section.

One reason was because it was always a mess. It had to be divided by age, by content, and shelved alphabetically and the section was huge! Another reason was that I didn't want to spend all day back there in the corner with the children's books. I would browse it with my son, but I didn't want to be the employee who had to work in it.

I had vowed then that if I ever became an author, I would not write a children's book.

Oh, the young and foolish always think they know the future.

It would be a surprise to my younger self that I now have two children's books published and am in the process of writing even more. I have two more stories sitting on the sidelines because they haven't found a home yet.

Even though I love writing my fiction novels, which one has been published (Mississippi Nights) and the other is in the editing process (Alabama Days), and even though I have a devotional on the market (30 Days: A Devotional Memoir) and I'm writing another nonfiction book, I have found a love in writing for kids.

To tell tales that would bring a smile and a laugh to a young child is something I can't describe. Imagine that, an author who is speechless, wordless.

I might have thought back when I was in my twenties that I would never write a children's book because that seemed too beneath me. But the young is always foolish. Now I see the wonderful results of writing for children. It were the books I read as a child that prompted me to dream of being an author. Those writers seeded a dream. My parents and teachers nourished that dream. And through God's timing that dream became a reality.

Now it's my time and my turn to give back to the children. Maybe my book will seed a dream within a child, too. It's a good thing that I didn't listen to my younger self. God knew then that I would need to be more mature to understand my gift He gave me.

And I'm am happy and dare I say, proud, to be able to write for children! By the way, they are the harshest of critics so I must make sure I write the best I can for them.

Here are some of the top books I remember as a child and that I loved:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

When You Write for One

As a Christian author you are more than just an author who is a Christian, you are a Christian who writes. And as a Christian our number one goal is to honor Christ in all things.

By all things I mean: words, language, scenes, message, and tone. The world has a way of encroaching into ours lives and we must be ever diligent.

One way that the world sinks its talons into us is by making money the number one goal. Yes, making money is a plus. Money must be made to ensure a successful business and to build a profitable future; but when we make money our goal, we lose.

There are authors who rake in the royalties and hit the bestsellers list--and that's quite nice--but that's a rarity. Being an author is not always profitable, but you can make it rewarding.

Write for Christ. Give in love. Choose to help others.

What I mean by "give in love" and "choose to help others" is this: choose a charity--one that will honor Christ--and vow to donate a percentage to that charity.

Here are two examples:
Chad Pettit, author of Fate of the Watchman and upcoming book Fate of the Redeemed, has vowed to give fifty percent (50%) of his royalties from Fate of the Watchman to Voice of the Martyrs. VoM is a Christian organization who helps the persecuted and shares the Gospel worldwide, no matter how dangerous.

It's done for God's Glory.

Daphne Self (me), author of The Adventures of Wilhelmina: The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog, has vowed to donate thirty percent (30%) of her royalties from The Adventures of Wilhelmina series to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and other various children's hospitals. St. Jude is a hospital that helps children worldwide battle and treat cancer--no matter race, social status, religion, or ethnicity. Even if the parents cannot pay, they are there to help in many ways.

It's done for God's Glory. 

When an author decides to put God first and chooses to help, then he/she is successful. Success isn't measured in money--it's measured by love. Your book will be the one to reach those who needed to hear and read that message. Your book has a purpose.

So I challenge you:

  • Write for Christ, your Audience of One
  • Choose a charity to support (just make sure that charity aligns with God's word)

Trust me, when you put Jesus first in all things, amazing things will happen.

Here are some links to some charities and Christian organizations:
Voice of the Martyrs
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Samaritan's Purse
Love Worth Finding
In Touch Ministries
Gideons International
American Family Association
Air1 Radio
KLove Radio
Pure Flix

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Book Review

by Renee Blare
(Prism Book Group 2015)

A true romance written with overtones of Beauty and the Beast.

When I say 'true romance', I am meaning that this book is reminiscent of the older stories from the 80's and 90's. The love story of the Harlequin romances, but the cleanliness of the Love Inspired line combined with Renee Blare's unique writing style gives a pure, romantical tale that also portrays an accurate insight into PTSD.

Fast-paced, and heart thumping, the action flows from one scene to another.

If I had to find one flaw that stood out, it is that the book could be longer, have a little more description and scenes added, and the transitions from one action to another smoothed into narrative that's less jarring at some points within the story.

Otherwise, when a reader opens the book they fall immediately into the story and action. As they read, the story unfolds bit by bit. There are no unnecessary backstories thrown in. There are no long, descriptive narratives that bog down the reading. What the reader experiences is an escape into a love story and a reading adventure.

Aimee is portrayed as a strong and yet godly woman. Miles, who cannot love a man like him?, is the tortured soul who finds a breath of new life because of Aimee. I loved their interaction.

Beast of Stratton is a modern day Beauty and the Beast story with a suspenseful twist and one that will delight true romance readers.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Revamping & Rededicating

This blog has sat for many a moons being ignored and forgotten. It had not been my intention to do so, but time was not forgiving and life demanded other things from me.

2019 is a year to begin anew. And to do that, I plan to set a schedule that will hopefully appeal to authors and readers alike.

For the next 3 months (as a trial basis), I will schedule A Book Review, The Writing Post, and Tidbit Talks. Three post per month on Wednesdays.

Hope you enjoy the upcoming posts starting next week.

Monday, August 6, 2018

John 16:33

John 16:33 is a verse that many people turn to for comfort and to fortify their soul.
Just recently though, I found a newer meaning to this verse. It wasn't a verse I sought; it wasn't a verse that I was led to; it wasn't a verse that was sent to me.

It was only after what happened that I found this verse and a new meaning came to me. Read the last part: "I have overcome the world." The world.... not a country, not the sea, not even people. But the World. And the world isn't just the planet. It is everything within it. The World.

How is that possible? It is possible because of who Jesus is. I didn't say "who Jesus was". I said "who Jesus is". He is alive!

Back to the verse and its new meaning. It started when I came across a band I used to listen to. I enjoyed this band. Not all of the songs, because being a hard rock, secular band there were some with explicit lyrics. Then there were the ones that I listened to and this was during a time of extreme emotional distress. I was alone. Not physically, but emotionally and spiritually (in my belief, that is).

I was a 31-year-old widow. Lost my husband in the line-of-duty and then two months later my father died in my arms from a massive heart attack. I had failed to save him. During this time, my mother and I grew apart. Grief will do that when there are no mentors or others there to help someone through the grief. We were alone. Our church wasn't there with us. Our extended family left us. And I struggled to balance work, raising two young sons, and dealing with all that was spiraling around me. I could not allow myself to break or fall.

Looking back it came to no surprise that I was attracted to the songs by Godsmack. They were angry. They were hard. But they were poetic and lyrical. The raspy smoothness of the lead singer caused me to gravitate to their music. I felt soothed. And it drove me down a path that led to more heartache, more helplessness, and destitution. It took years to pull myself away from all that. To pull myself away from that music.

Fast forward to last week, I came across their YouTube channel. One of those flukes in advertising while watching another video. New song? Really? New album? Interesting. Out of curiosity I clicked on it. Two songs in and I was captivated, again. But the song that spoke to me was "When Legends Rise".

For days that song played in my head. No other song could drown it out. No other song could erase the melody and words from my mind. I would wake up and in my head that song played. I would read the Bible and in my head that song played.

I could not travel that dark road again. And Godsmack would lead me down it. That is the dark part of me that is drawn to that style of music. And I wanted it. But I didn't desire it!

Even after asking people for something that was like Godsmack, there wasn't anything out there remotely similar that would erase them from my mind....until one sponsored Facebook post did. And I followed the link and watched the video. And now I have a new song in my head. And relief has been found.

So how does this tie in with the verse? The power of Jesus. He overcame the world. And all we have to do is seek Him. All we have to do is cry out, "Just give me Jesus!".

And that is what the song by Unspoken has done. Their song "Just Give Me Jesus" shows the power in Jesus' name. He erased a song from my head and replaced it with something that glorifies Him. He took a temptation and gave me freedom. He took the darkness and the anger and gave me light and happiness.

He has overcame the world, even if that world is inside someone's head. We matter to Him. And nothing is too small for Him and nothing is too large. We just need to cry out and say, "Just give me Jesus".

Just Give Me Jesus