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not facebooking

Just as writers whine about finding a publisher, we’re guilty – at least I know I am – of whining about the need to build a platform. How am I supposed to even get my book written if I’m required to spend tons of time growing my presence – my platform – on social media?

While, of course, we want to reach people with the message we believe God has entrusted to us, it is critically important that we not get caught up in the world’s way and leave Him out of the process.

In my workshop, “Discovering God’s Plan for Your Ministry,” (one of four workshops I’ll teach Saturday, September 23, from 9 am to 4 pm at the Stay Focused Christian Writers Retreat in Cherry Hill, NJ), I’ll talk about building your platform God’s way. Click here for more info and to register.

Whether or not you’re able to come, I hope you’ll read the message below from D.J. Williams who served on the faculty of this year’s Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I know it will encourage you so I’m sharing it here with his permission.

Keep writing and living His answer!

Platform Building Versus Storytelling

D.J. Williams

For months I’ve been working on my next novel while balancing the demand to expand my platform so my novels gain greater exposure. I’m fortunate to have a rockstar publicist, who helps me navigate through the mysterious road of platform building.

Platform Building is the buzz word in today’s world of publishing and the gatekeeper to pitching your next book. How many hits do you get each month on your website or blog? How many followers do you have on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? How many clicks from your Facebook and Amazon ads? But the question most neglect to ask is if all of the effort in building your platform through social media results in more books sold. Sure, we hear about the success stories, but they’re few and far between, unless we’re listening to the platform building guru who tells us how easy it is to do in ten simple steps.

For those who feel overwhelmed by it all, take a step back and remind yourself of why you write. What inspires you to dig deeper into your characters? What wakes you up early in the morning or keeps you up late at night as the story pours out of your imagination onto the page? Answering these questions is where your storytelling journey begins because it’s the cornerstone. Building a platform through social media is an extension, but it isn’t the magical solution to success.

My latest post on my website shares about where my writing journey began on the Zambezi River when a spark of a story was rooted in my soul. Social media. Platform building. None of that was part of the equation. Instead, I was compelled to tell a story that haunted me until I was able to take it from my imagination and write it on the page. That’s why I feel compelled to write. That’s why I’m a storyteller. That may not be what an agent or publisher wants to hear because we’re in a day and age where even if you sign a publishing deal, you’ll end up doing the lion’s share of marketing and promotion. And you could have a great following on social media, but that doesn’t mean your book will become a bestseller.

I’ve met with writers, agents, and publishers who prioritize platform over storytelling. The belief is that if you don’t have a big enough platform, then no matter how great of a story you write, you’ll never get anyone interested. But is that really true? Perhaps a great story builds the platform instead of the other way around.

Let’s look at two examples of books within the last few years that seemed to explode out of nowhere — Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) and The Martian (Andy Weir), as well as a veteran bestseller who’s been around since before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — John Grisham.

Here is their social media reach:

Gillian Flynn – Facebook – 101,625 | Twitter – 1,649 | Instagram – 4,233
Andy Weir – Facebook – 62,887 | Twitter – 30.1K | Instagram – Zero
John Grisham – Facebook – 1.5 Million | Twitter – 19.2K | Instagram – 6,665

While some of these numbers look good, the real truth is these books and authors became bestsellers because of good old fashioned word of mouth. That’s how you sell books! Social media is an extension, not the foundation. So, instead of spending countless hours worrying about building your platform, why not write a story that grabs a reader and doesn’t let go?

Storytelling must always be the priority. If we write stories that resonate with people, then the word of mouth will spread. And you don’t have to build your platform on every single social media outlet. Pick one or two and make it fun instead of stressful. Recently, I listened to a podcast with John Grisham and Harlan Coben (70 million books in print) as they discussed the publishing world. Harlan flat out said that social media doesn’t sell books. I’m inclined to believe him, well, because he’s a bestselling author!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

To find out more about D.J. and his powerful novels, go to https://djwilliamsbooks.com. And click here to check out his Writers Circle where he provides lots of helpful info and writing challenges.

 

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hurricane

The devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey and the fear of the havoc Irma will cause in Florida is overwhelming.

But hurricanes are not the only things that have the power to destroy lives. Are you in the midst of a storm? You can be an overcomer.

  1. Keep a balanced perspective. Do not allow yourself to be swallowed up by nurturing negative thinking patterns, but look for the positive (Phil. 4:8).
  1. Turn your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2-4), knowing as you come to Him that He really does understand all that you are feeling (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16; 5:7-8).
  1. Tell the Lord your honest feelings (Ps. 13:1-3; 69:1-3) and your needs (Ps. 62:8; Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7).
  1. Look for the “silver lining”—for the good things God can work through what you are enduring (Rom. 8:28). Ask, Lord, what are You trying to teach me?
  • To depend on Him power and not myself (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
  • To be a sensitive and credible witness (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
  • To build my faith and character (Rom. 5:3-5).
  1. Be still (Ps. 46:10). Listen to and claim God’s promises.
  • He is with me (Isa. 41:10,13; 43:2-3; Rom. 8:35-37).
  • Nothing can separate me from His love—feelings are not facts (Rom. 8:38-39).
  • His help is not dependent upon my faith but His faithfulness (2 Tim. 2:13).
  • He will meet all my needs (Phil. 4:19; Rom. 8:32).
  • Peace and the fruit of His Spirit, regardless of circumstances, are His gift to me (John 14:27; Isa. 26:3; Gal. 5:22-23).
  • His power is available to me (Isa. 40:28-31; Eph. 1:19).
  1. Choose to use problems as opportunities to experience and display God’s power  (2 Cor. 4:8-11).
  1. Develop an expectant faith-filled attitude as you learn to wait on Him (Ps. 37:7) and praise Him before, as well as after, He answers (Ps. 42:11; 71:14, 16).

 

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Snow CO 2017 Terry Whalin

Guest post and photo reprinted with permission of W. Terry Whalin, faculty member at this year’s Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Terry shares a wealth of knowledge on “The Writing Life” in his blogs at terrywhalin.blogspot.com. At the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference he will teach two workshops, “Go Viral: Social Network Marketing” and “Nonfiction Book Creation from the Ground Up.”

Terry took this photo on May 19, 2017, in Estes Park, Colorado, during the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

For many years I’ve been attending conferences. My time at the recent Colorado Christian Writers Conference was unusual because in mid-May, we had over three feet of snow. It snowed for almost two solid days after we arrived at the event. Some faculty members who arrived late were stuck at the Denver airport. The snow made for an unusual and memorable event.

Some people wonder how I’ve published such a range of magazine articles and books. I’m not the best writer in the room but I am one of the most consistent. If I pitch an idea and an editor says, sounds good, send it to me. I make a little note, then go home, write the article or book and send it. Yes you have to write what the editor wants but overall I’ve found such a simple strategy works.

Just attending conferences is a financial investment of money, time and energy. In this article, I want to highlight five ways to profit from a conference.

First, listen for opportunities then take action. For example, one editor I met told me about a forthcoming series of Bible studies that his publisher will be doing. I’ve written Bible studies in the past and enjoy this type of writing. I noticed the opportunity so I made a point to email this editor and affirm in writing my interest in the project. The editor was grateful for my interest and said at the right time he would be in touch. This type of follow-up work leads to additional writing opportunities. You have to be listening for them.

Another editor at the conference has worked on a publication that I’ve never written for. It has a large circulation and I wanted to write for this publication for the exposure as much as a new writing credit. I’ve emailed the editor and we are corresponding about some ideas which I believe will lead to an assignment and eventually publication. You have to listen for the opportunities, then take action.

Advanced preparation before the event is a second way to profit from the conference. Study the faculty and see what they publish and then write pitches and book proposals. Most publications have writer’s guidelines and other information easily available online. Several writers at the recent conference brought flash drives with the electronic copy of their material. I appreciated the effort of these writers and it moved their submission to the top of my stack. I put their material into our internal system and moved it forward through the consideration process. In one case I’ve already turned in a writer’s project to my publication board and I’m hoping to get a contract for this author in a few weeks. The germ of this activity was her arrival at the conference prepared for her meetings. You can learn and mirror such actions when you attend an event.

Most conferences have a freebie table with magazines and writers guidelines. These publications are looking for freelance writers. You have to pick up the publications, read the guidelines then make your pitch or query or follow-through. This consistent action of follow-up is the third way to profit from a conference. When someone mentions an interest in your material, make sure you exchange business cards with them. Then when you get home, send them an email and follow-up.

At the conference, I met many people and came home with a large stack of business cards. I’ve been following up with writers and encouraging them to send me their proposal and/or manuscript. Yet few of them have reached out to me—and this type of situation is typical from my experience. If you reach out to the editor and take action, your actions will receive positive attention and you will get publishing opportunities. This is the fourth way to profit from a conference.

One of the reasons to attend a conference is to learn a new skill or a new area of the writing world. The fifth method to profit from a conference is to take action on these new skills. Are you learning how to write fiction or a magazine article or tap a new social network? A variety of skills are taught at conferences.

It’s easy to put away the notes and never look at them again. The writers who get published take a different course of action. They review the notes and apply it to their writing life. At the Colorado event, I taught an early bird workshop about Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (my book). I worked hard on my handout which had many additional resources and links for those who used it. Here’s my handout for your reference: http://terrylinks.com/js I encourage you to download the handout, print it and follow the extra material to profit for your own writing life. I’ll be at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and other events this year. Check my speaking schedule link to connect and I hope our paths cross later this year and I can help you one on one.

As writers we are continually learning and growing in our craft. A conference can be a huge growth area if you take a action and follow-up.
__________________
It’s not too late to register for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Lodging and meals on campus are still available. But don’t delay! The “procrastinator’s fee” kicks in on July 19.

 

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4th of July

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, I want to encourage you to not overlook the freedom that Jesus Christ offers us, that He purchased on the Cross.

Jesus on cross

If anyone knows HTML, please teach me how to add space between paragraphs and lines! And how to remove the bracket that is not in the source code! 

 

“And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free”
from . . .

the consequences of sin – Isaiah 1:16-19; Romans 3:24; 1 John 1:9

the power of sin – Romans 7:15—8:2; 1 John 5:3-4

worry about financial problems – Psalm 34:8-9; Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:19

limitations that negate – Isaiah 40:29-31; 2 Corinthians 19:8-10; Ephesians 3:16,20; Philippians 4:13

aloneness – Psalm 9:10; 54:4; 139:1-5; Revelation 3:20

discouragement – Psalm 9:10; 42:11; 138:3; Romans 10:11; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 11:1

fear – Psalm 34:4; 91; 118:6-7; Isaiah 43:1-5

wondering why – Isaiah 30:20; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 4:8-11

wanting to give up – Psalm 27:14; 42:11; Habakkuk 2:3; John 15:5; Romans 8:35-37; 2 Corinthians 8:10-12; Colossians 1:29

feeling inadequate – Psalm 34:9; 81:10; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:6-8

feeling separated from God – Psalm 139:7; 145:18; Romans 8:38-39; James 4:8-10

weakness – Psalm 18:29,32; Isaiah 40:29-31; Habakkuk 3:19

feeling unloved – John 3:16; Ephesians 3:18-19

doubts – John 14:12-14; 16:24; 17:19

inner turmoil and confusion – Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7

impatience – 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 10:36

uncertainty – Psalm 32:8; 37:34; 119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6; Habakkuk 2:3;
John 8:12; Galatians 5:16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:5-8

feeling useless and untalented – Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:7,11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11

the power of the enemy – Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 5:8-10

sorrow – Psalm 43:5; Isaiah 25:8; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Revelation 7:17; 21:4

not knowing how to pray – Romans 8:26

being down on ourselves – John 17:19; Romans 5:1-2; Philippians 1:6; 3:12-14; Jude 25

feeling like our future is hopeless – Psalm 32:8; 73:22-24; Proverbs 23:18; Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 29:11-13

feeling overwhelmed by problems and burdens – Psalm 55:22; 68:19; 146:8; Matthew 11:29-30; Romans 5:3-5; 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 5:7

being intimidated by temptations – 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16

fear of failure – 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 16:3

defeat – Psalm 118:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:8-9

depression – Psalm 118:24; 139:6-12; Isaiah 46:4

hesitancy to give – Proverbs 3:9-10; 28:27; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 2:4; 1 Peter 5:2

rejection – John 6:37; Jeremiah 33:25

unfulfilled yearnings – Psalm 37:4; 107:9; 145:19; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Isaiah 44:3; Matthew 7:7; John 6:35; 7:37-39; 15:5; 16:24; Revelation 22:17

ignorance – Psalm 16:7; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Colossians 2:3; 3:16

fear of sharing our faith – Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 21:14-15; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:8

never-ending frustrations, struggles, plodding – Joshua 22:5; Psalm 37:34; Romans 12:11; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

being overwhelmed when our faith is weak – 2 Timothy 2:13

anything else that would put us in bondage – 1 Peter 5:7

Compiled by Marlene Bagnull

If anyone knows HTML, please teach me how to add space between paragraphs and lines! And how to remove the bracket that is not in the source code next to the picture of Jesus on the cross. Meanwhile, this paragraph is supposed to be there but isn’t.

Yes, Father, I need to read – again – the verses about patience.

 

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Angela Schans Head Shot 8X10Guest Blogger
Social Media Coach
Angela Schans

If you are like many authors who have started a blog or website, Facebook page or other social media profiles, you’re likely to now be wondering, “Why isn’t this working? Where is my active, engaged, and growing audience? Is this working like it’s supposed to? How can I optimize my efforts?”

At the Build a Strong Foundation for Your Online Platform Clinic I am teaching at the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference you will receive a social media tune-up, overhaul, or kick-start, personally tailored to your current starting point and individual goals to make God’s answers accessible to the online world.

  • Get your social media platforms assessed.
  • Receive a point-by-point personalized agenda for your social media tune-up, start-up, or overhaul.
  • Spend class time with me by your side helping you with your social media renovations so that you can share His answer (as written in your book!) in the most effective way.

You may enter the class as a social media baby, but you will leave, a ROCKSTAR! Each day will begin with in-depth instruction on technical topics made simple including:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media Algorithms
  • The nuts and bolts of YouTube production
  • how to design engaging and attractive graphics and videos to express His Answer in a professional and consistent tone with your book/brand

In my pursuit of becoming an author, I found myself tired and frustrated when my blogging and social media efforts were being viewed by 2-20 people in a week’s time.

It wasn’t until I unlocked the power of connecting various digital media tools to optimize my blog and social media accounts that my blogs finally got the thousands of daily visitors I had been longing to see.

At this year’s clinic, I am excited to share with a select group of Christian authors exactly what to do to move the needle for audience growth and professional digital development of their author platforms.

Having this ideal opportunity to assess each of my student’s current digital footprint and offer today’s BEST practices for maximizing their impact on the world-wide web is a thrill!

I’ve had the joy of helping others optimize digital success through personal coaching. Click here for testimonials of some of the people I’ve worked with. And check out their websites or YouTube channels to see the great impact their efforts are making.

I can’t wait to check out your website/ social media profiles for style, voice, professionalism, user friendliness, and appeal. I will also be investigating your current content creation process and sharing individualized techniques to offer tips to improve your online impact.

Together we will apply valuable online renovations so that the work you have put into your author platform actually WORKS for you!

We’ve extended the deadline for applying for my clinic through July 10.  You’ll find the application at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics.

I’ll also be teaching an early bird workshop on Wednesday, July 26, from 2:45 – 4:00. In “Demystifying Digital Design” you’ll learn how to design beautiful digital graphics to promote your book, brand, or website. I’ll share the finer points of digital design. What makes a message pop? What colors work and how can you choose them? Where can you get royalty free images to help illustrate your blogs, videos, graphics or books? How can you edit images? What font should you choose? In this workshop you’ll learn how to use PicMonkey to design or edit any picture you can imagine to help you “Write His Answer.”

God bless and I look forward to seeing you at this year’s Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, July 26-29.

 

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writersblock.gifThe blank sheet of paper, blank screen, worse still blank mind . . .

I’ve been there, especially when facing a deadline. What about you? Have you been there, or are you there now?

Of course, the first thing we need to do is pray. But what about those times when God seems silent?

From personal experience, I can tell you again that I’ve been there. But be encouraged. God doesn’t leave us “high and dry.” (Yes, I know that’s a cliché.)

You’ve no doubt heard one of the versions of the story about the man who drowned. He asks God why He didn’t save him. “But,” God says, “I sent two boats and a helicopter but you never got in.”

The bottom line . . . I think God has a plan, a good plan, for those times when He allows us to feel stuck.

And so encourage one another and help one another . . .
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (TEV)

If you are not part of a writers’ critique group, I urge you to find one or start one. Click here for help for forming a group, the critique process, and goals for a Christian writers’ group.

Of course, a great place to find other writers who may already be part of a group you can join or who may be interested in joining with you to form a group is at a writers’ conference. Early Registration for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference has been extended through June 30.

Beyond saving money by registering now, you’ll receive an additional free 15-minute appointment with the faculty member of your choice. For those who register for Thursday through Saturday, that’s five appointments! (Two day registrants get four appointments; one day registrants three appointments.) Not only is this a way to get your manuscript before an agent or publisher (it’s rare to be able to connect with them other than at a conference), it’s also a great way to get your questions answered by a seasoned author. (Click on “Appointments” in the top menu of the conference website for info on our appointment procedures, making the best choices, and how to prepare.)

And if you’re really stuck, consider one or more 30-minute paid critiques for only $30 each. Your manuscript will be forwarded to the faculty member of your choice in preparation for meeting with you at the conference. Click here for info on genres and critiquers available as well as length parameters for what you need to submit by July 8.

Our amazing Registrar and Appointments Coordinator, Barb Haley, says:

We have a fantastic list of faculty willing to do paid critiques. Let me encourage you to consider taking full advantage of this opportunity. I don’t think I’ve ever learned quite so much as I have from professional edits of my writing. 

We’re coming to the conference to learn more about the craft of writing. But the opportunity to have a trained pair of eyes look over our work, point out strengths, and offer personal ideas to improve our skills is invaluable. Many years I’ve done 3-4 paid critiques, and I know it is definitely some of the best money I have ever spent! 

Writer’s block or being stuck is part of the writer’s life, but God can use it for good. Will you let Him?

Some scholarship help as well as time payments are still available for the Philly conference. Trust Him to overcome any obstacles that may seem to stand in your way and register by June 30. You’ll be grateful you did!

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golden egg
Okay, it’s yellow not gold. And it’s really not an egg, but it is egg-shaped and it did hold eggs that have now hatched. I don’t know how many baby birds are inside, but they sure make a lot of noise. And they keep Mom and Dad really busy with their need to be fed.

I’m fascinated as I watch their parents fly in and out of the nest with morsels of food. They don’t appear to grow weary or annoyed by the needs they must meet. Their life’s focus is to care for their young until they are strong enough to be pushed out of the nest.

The instincts God has placed within His creatures amaze me. They simply do what they were created to do.

What about us? Father has given us the gift of emotions and the freedom to choose how we will respond to the needs around us. His Word encourages us to:

Feed the flock of God; care for it willingly,
not grudgingly;
not for what you will get out of it
but because you are eager to serve the Lord.
1 Peter 5:2 TLB

Father, I pray for myself and for those You have called to “write Your answer.” Help us to focus not on what we will get but on what we can give. Show us how to write words to meet the needs of our readers. Give us strength to persevere when we question whether we’re really making a difference.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

  • Do you long to find editors and agents that are hungry for the “food” you have prepared?
  • Have you written a book but don’t know how to get it published?
  • Do you have a book in print that is not selling?
  • Are you faithfully writing a blog but getting few visitors?

The Colorado and Greater Philly “Write His Answer” conferences provide the help you need.

CDs of the May 17-20 Colorado Christian Writers Conference are available. Click here for the order form

And it’s not too late to register for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.  I’ve extended the early registration date to JUNE 30. In addition, everyone who registers through June 30 will receive an additional free 15-minute appointment. For those who come all three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), that’s FIVE appointments.  Come two days and you get FOUR appointments, and one day and get THREE appointments.

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