Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't be a Creeper!

This morning has had it's fair share of curve balls--my husband was having car trouble, so I had to take him to work after doing a school drop-off. After that, I was doing pretty good on time and was hoping to squeeze in a grocery shopping trip. I always feel good when I can get that done early in the day, and not have it hanging over my head or get trapped in the later morning crowds. I made it to the store around 8:15 AM, and no one was there. It was perfect!

Well, it was perfect until on my very last aisle, a fellow shopper began talking to me. Now, I can be friendly, and I can chat with other shoppers. That's fine! But, this wasn't just your average fellow shopper. Nope. He was a creeper. You know--the kind that says awkward things and makes you feel instantly uncomfortable? That was him. His first remark was something about how it was strange that we were the only ones in the store, and isn't it strange how people can become friends when they're shopping? Well, I guess that would be strange...

I gave an awkward smile, and kept moving.

Oh, but it didn't stop there. Nope. He mentioned that if he didn't get all the items on his list, his woman would be upset, and might beat him. Which, he said, wasn't always so bad...if you know what I mean. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

Oh boy.

So, I took Dorie's advice. Just keep walking, just keep walking, just keep walking, walking, walking. 

Lord, I prayed, please, please don't let him get in the check-out line right behind me.

Well, you know what happened. Yep. Guess who gets right into the check-out line behind me? Further evidence that God isn't just a genie in a bottle.

He starts chatting with the clerk. Oh, but this isn't just casual conversation. Oh no. According to Mr. Creeper (MC), the store is going down the toilet! He is upset to not see the normal staff on hand. He's upset because apparently he feels that the manager is a narcissist. Yes, a narcissist. And...I never knew this before, but according to MC you can always tell a narcissist because they always talk really loud. LOUD! LOUD! LOUD!

Checkout is complete. Grab the receipt. Go! Go! Go!

Lord, I prayed again, please, oh please don't let him be parked ANYwhere near me!

Yep. He drives a white Dodge car. And it was parked in the space RIGHT beside ours. And apparently, he was still upset about the store's narcissistic manager. How do I know? Well, he was still talking about it...VERY LOUDLY! You know, I'm still not sure why he thought the manager was a narcissist. I mean, the guy was working. Maybe that makes him narcissistic?

At this point, I just wanted my groceries to magically load themselves. And he just kept talking. Help! Finally, groceries loaded, I proceeded to secure my most precious cargo, and then try to quickly leave. Behind me I hear him bringing his cart to the cart return spot that is on the other side of my car.

"Don't worry...you're safe!" he says in an exasperated tone, and stalks off.


Ok, to dear Mr. Creeper--listen, I'm glad you finally got the message that I wanted to be left alone, and that maybe you were giving off a "not-so-safe" kind of vibe. However, if you're offended that I was CREEPED OUT, then please...don't be a creeper! It's really super simple. Be normal! Then people won't think you're a creeper. Don't be so angry at EVERYTHING! Oh, and you might not want to mention your love of being beat by your woman to...well...pretty much anyone. And another thing, when conversing with another grocery store shopper, it may be construed as taking things a bit too quickly to mention your "friendship" within the first two seconds. Let's just slow things down and back it up a few hundred-thousand notches, ok? It's not that maybe WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY down the road we couldn't be friends, but I just don't think we're there yet. And finally, if I am indeed safe, then why are you being so dang CREEPY?!

And to the rest of you out there, maybe there's a lesson in this for all of us. Don't be a creeper, and you won't creep people out! Just fly casual. Be cool. Say no to drugs. The end.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Definition of Patience

Patience. It's a life-long struggle. The first quote that comes to mind is, "Patience is a virtue." But, what IS it really? When I Google the word, I get definitions like: the capacity, quality, or fact of being patient.

And one who displays patience has these qualities (according to Merriam-Webster):

  • Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
  • Manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain
  • Not hasty or impetuous
  • Steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity

The word has synonyms like forbearance, long-suffering, sufferance, and tolerance. Those words contain a lot of power.

As a parent, the idea of having patience has taken on new dimensions. Yes, dimensionS—plural. I cannot tell you how many times I have gently (ahem!) encouraged my children to possess this quality. Truthfully, I have come to see how much I lack this quality in my life—my relationships, my hopes, my wants, my needs, and on and on.

One day, it hit me. I was trying to explain to my child what it really MEANS to have patience—to BE patient. And I told her, "Patience is...waiting without complaining." And my own words pierced my heart. Thank God for His grace in that moment.

How often it is that my anxieties and my own little daily stresses throw me off, and cause me to be irritable and...im-patient. It's funny how often not being patient leads to complaints, ingratitude, and general crankiness. There is so much unrest in my own life, when I lack patience. Without patience, my life lacks peace.

There is an inherent peacefulness that accompanies patience. It's like the calm in the midst of the storm. It's peace in the midst of the chaos. We can all picture someone in our lives who has displayed this peaceful patience, either in the past or in the present. When I see people like this, I cannot help but envy their peace. It's a quality I long to emulate.

When my children are impatient, it is often accompanied by whining, and sometimes tears. Sometimes, they are inconsolable (read: having a tantrum). I often tell them that instead of resorting to these tactics, they have the ability to use a strong voice, their manners, and have some patience. Perhaps I (and we all) would do well to use my strong voice, my manners, and have a little patience when I encounter a situation (or even a person) that has the ability to unsettle me.

Patience is...waiting without complaining.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Advice to a Would-Be Publishing Intern

I was recently contacted by a younger (ahem!) college-aged friend, who is pursuing a degree in writing. They wanted my advice on pursuing an internship with a publishing company (specifically a Christian publishing house where his college is located). Here is what I had to say:
I would advise you to figure out which publishing companies publish books that you respect--the kinds of books you enjoy and that get you excited. That will narrow the field to companies you are really interested in and learning from. In [your city], publishing companies range from the more corporate to the smaller, family-owned houses. Then there are the ones that are more middle of the road in their size and scope. I would have you look at each company and really see what kinds of books they publish--ask yourself if they publish the kinds of books you respect. 
I also asked him what he wants to do with his degree, because that will focus the direction I give him and the people to whom I refer him. There are so many hopeful publishing industry professionals out there right now, looking for great internships that will help to propel them into their chosen careers. My advice to all of them would be the same: take a good hard look at the companies where you might want to intern—what books do they publish? Do you respect and enjoy the books they publish? What is their direction? What is their philosophy? What is their view of the publishing industry at a whole? There are many other questions to ask, but starting with these is a great way to begin your search.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Conversation Starters - Questions to Ask Your Child About School

This year has marked the transition from carefree pre-school days to the rigors of elementary school life for my family. I saw it coming, and yet did not see it coming—all at the same time. It definitely came entirely too quickly. I know I'm not alone in those feelings either (fist-bump to all you other parents out there).

If you're anything like me, you are dying to know what goes on with your child during the day, when you are not around (unless your child is that child, and you just prefer not to know). So, you ask them the infamous "how was your day?" question. But alas, you typically get answers like, "Fine," and "I don't know," and "I don't remember." Really? I gave birth to you and have dedicated my life to bringing you up, and this is how you repay me when I ask for simple information?

Well, I have some ways to eek out that valuable information from your child. Using questions like these have really helped me get a better grasp on what goes on with my child during the school day. Use them as-is, put your own twist on them, or come up with completely new ones! Then come back and let me know how the new conversation goes. I would love to know! And if you have discovered a new question that has generated some great discussion or conversation, I would love to hear about that, too!


  1. What was the first thing you guys did in your classroom today?
  2. What was your special area today? (Computers, Library, Music, PE, Spanish, etc.)
  3. What was your favorite part of your day? Why was it your favorite?
  4. Did you have recess today? How many times? What did you play (or play on)? Who did you play with?
  5. Did anyone special come and talk with your class today? What about?
  6. Who did you sit by at lunch today?
  7. Was there anything that frustrated you, made you sad, or upset you today?
  8. Was anyone mean to you today? Were you mean to anyone today?
  9. Did you have a special job in your class today or this week?
  10. Did your teacher read any books to your class today? What were they?
  11. Did you sing any songs in your class today?
  12. +Add your own!
I hope this helps to get the conversation at the end of your child's school day. The time goes so quickly...Carpe Diem!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2 Key Elements That May Be Missing in Your Social Media Content

Many businesses have (and are) questioning the value of generating social media content to market their products and services. The fact remains that most consumers in America and across the globe are connecting through some sort of social media outlet, and if businesses aren't involved in these important spheres of influence, they are missing out on unlimited potential to reach customers. So the value of diving in with social media marketing is unquestionable!

As a business, you may be on board with this social media marketing movement, but are you reaching your maximum potential? Are you reaching all of the customers (or potential customers) that you possibly can? You may be generating content, but that content may not be scratching the itch for your clients and customers.

There are two things that may be missing in your social media marketing content:
  • Photos/Graphics - A study in 2012 showed that specifically Tweets with image links have a two times higher engagement rate than those that did not have image links. That was two years ago! With the dawn of Pinterest, graphics and pictures have become even more important in social media marketing. It is supposed that Pinterest may have over 40 million active monthly users--most being women. The crux of Pinterest is the images that flood users' main pages, begging to be re-Pinned--everything from deliciously appealing recipes, to alluring fashions, to the easiest DIY headboard transformations. The importance of images is the same across the social media board. Blog and Facebook posts that contain images are are twice as likely to be shared. I mentioned earlier that re-tweet rates for Twitter posts double when image links are present. And finally, images can help to boost your search engine optimization (SEO)--more on that another time.
  • Questions - Are you asking questions of your social media followers? If not, you have a one-sided friendship with them, and no one likes that! Ask for their input. Your clients and customers want to feel involved in your business. They want you to hear them, and you can't hear them if you aren't listening. Questions are a very simple way to engage users, and get more attention for your business. Ask for your customers' opinions on whether or not you should stock a certain potential product. Ask them if they like a certain new product on your shelves. Ask them to weigh in on color choices for a project you're working on. Ask them to share, re-tweet, re-pin, etc. the image of an event or sale you're trying to promote...and they will! When your clients feel more involved and engaged with your business, they are exponentially more likely to re-pay you with coveted word-of-mouth recommendations. Get creative and engage your customers by asking them questions, and getting to know what they think through your social media marketing.
Just try it! What do you have to loose? Try incorporating these two elements, and then wait. Now, don't be impatient, either. You can't start adding images to your content and asking questions, and expect overnight success. The key is: "keep calm and carry on." Wait and watch, and you will see the engagement level sky-rocket through your business' social media marketing.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Today's FREE Kindle e-Books: Inspirational Fiction

As I perused the Kindle e-Books store today, I ran across several FREE Kindle books that look interesting--inspirational fiction titles that I thought I would share with you. I have not read any of these books yet, but they all look interesting...and they're FREE! There's no guarantee that the free part will last very long, but at least for today they won't cost you a dime. Enjoy!

To Love Anew (Sydney Cove Book #1)

From the Back Cover:

A heart-gripping journey toward forgiveness and love Hannah Talbot has no one. Forced to leave the only home she's ever known, she works for a cruel employer who brutally takes the one thing she has left--her dignity. When she is banished to an Australian prison, she is certain God has turned his back on her. How could he--or anyone else--ever love her again? John Bradshaw is a successful businessman, but his untamed spirit wants more. Little does he know what he will have to endure to find the adventure he seeks. Betrayed by those closest to him, he loses everything, even his freedom. There is no returning now. His life is not his own. Now aboard a ghastly prison ship, John and Hannah are about to cross paths. What will happen when two hearts filled with pain discover how to love anew? This first book in the Sydney Cove series will capture your heart.

Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills Book #1)

From the Back Cover:

In the harsh Scottish highlands of 1564, superstitions threaten a truce . . . a traitor plans his attack . . . and a new love is born. An arranged betrothal was never the course Anne MacGregor imagined her life would take. Yet when her father explains that her cooperation is the only way to bring about the long-sought truce between feuding families, Anne has no other choice. A simple ceremony pledging Anne's hand in marriage after one year of commitment is the only seal to the promise of peace. But when the arrangement requires the reluctant Anne to follow Niall Campbell back to his home, she soon discovers that peace is not so easily achieved. Before they even arrive, rumors about her abound, and her safety is threatened. Meanwhile, Niall's ascension as leader of his clan is in jeopardy, as a traitor works to bring about his downfall. As Niall and Anne begin to see beyond each other's defenses, love takes them by surprise. But will it be enough to defeat their foes? Or will the truce be broken, their lives forfeit, and war return to their beloved land?

Somewhere to Belong (Daughters of Amana Book #1)

From the Back Cover:

Johanna Ilg has lived her entire life in Main Amana, one of the seven villages settled by devout Christians who believe in cooperative living, a simple lifestyle, and faithful service to God. Although she's always longed to see the outside world, Johanna believes her future is rooted in Amana. But when she learns a troubling secret, the world she thought she knew is shattered. Is this truly where she belongs? Berta Schumacher has lived a privileged life in Chicago, so when her parents decide they want a simpler life in Amana, Iowa, she resists. Under the strictures of the Amana villages, her rebellion reaches new heights. Will her heart ever be content among the plain people of Amana?

Good, Clean Murder: A Plain Jane Mystery (The Plain Jane Mysteries, a Cozy Christian Collection (Book 1))


Hardworking and hungry Bible school student Jane Adler cleans houses to make ends meet. But finding the money to pay for the last semester of school is the least of her problems when she uncovers a body in her boss's bed.


An Untamed Land (Red River of the North Book #1)

Book Description:

Proud of Their Heritage and Sustained by Their Faith, They Came to Tame a New Land She had promised herself that once they left the fjords of Norway, she would not look back. After three long years of scrimping and saving to buy tickets for their passage to America, Roald and Ingeborg Bjorklund, along with their son, Thorliff, finally arrive at the docks of New York City. It was the promise of free land that fed their dream and lured them from their beloved home high above the fjords of Norway in 1880. Together with Roald's brother Carl and his family, they will build a good life in a new land that promises untold wealth and vast farmsteads for their children. As they join the throngs of countless immigrants passing through Castle Garden, they soon discover that nothing is as they had envisioned it. Appalled by the horrid stories of fellow immigrants bilked of all their money and forced to live in squalid living conditions, the Bjorklunds continue their long journey by train as far as Grand Forks. From there a covered wagon takes them into Dakota Territory, where they settle on the banks of the Red River. But there was no way for them to foresee the price they will have to pay to wrest a living from the indomitable land. The virgin prairie refuses to yield its treasure without a struggle. Will they be strong enough to overcome the hardships of that first winter?

The Preacher's Bride (Hearts of Faith Book #1)

Book Description:

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.

Candle in the Darkness (Refiner's Fire Book #1) (Refiner's Fire)

Book Description:

Caroline Fletcher is caught in a nation split apart and torn between the ones she loves and a truth she can't deny.

The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised to believe slavery is God-ordained and acceptable. But on awakening to its cruelty and injustice, her eyes are opened to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. At the same time, her father and her fiance, Charles St. John, are fighting for the Confederacy and their beloved way of life and traditions.

Where does Caroline's loyalty lie? Emboldened by her passion to make a difference and her growing faith, will she risk everything she holds dear?

Chasing Charlie

Book Description:

Vince Glasser, an overworked federal agent and single father with a troubled past, already has enough on his plate when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He deals with it the only way he knows how--by fighting the illness with everything he has in him. Along his path toward a certain end, he mends relations with his estranged younger brother, reexamines his faith that has lost its place in his life, prepares his son to live life without his parents, and finally finds room for romance with his longtime partner, Angela Hawkins.

Angela, a caring but headstrong woman and one of Vince's best friends, finds herself falling in love not only with her partner, but also with his young son, Charlie. In caring for both of them, she sees that despite decades-old mistakes that have left her in a pattern of empty relationships, she can still find redemption and have the family she's always wanted, even if only for a short time. But a nagging feeling tells her that death isn't the only thing that threatens to tear her new way of life from her grasp. How far will she go to keep her family as intact as she can?

Amidst the struggles of a family with an expiration date, between the medicine and the meltdowns, Angela and Vince find God just in time and learn the true meaning of grace and the power of prayer.

**Please note that there may be affiliate links in this post (as a matter of disclosure).**

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seven Keys to Successfully Promoting Yourself and Your Business

I recently realized that I've been my own boss for over a year now! That's crazy! I never, ever thought that would be the case. And as many of you other freelancers know, work comes and goes, so labeling this a "career" may be a stretch.
Prior to launching out on my own, I was a publicity and marketing professional in the Christian publishing industry. For almost nine years, I worked with books, authors, television and radio media, newspapers, bloggers, and magazines. It was an exciting industry to be a part of, and my job was always changing and adapting. I worked with both new and experienced authors. Every author wanted to see their work promoted, to help spread the word about their book, and interact with their readers. And I'd like to share some advice from those years in the industry with you--advice for promoting whatever it is that you do, or want to do. While I talk a lot about publishing, you can adapt these "Seven Keys to Successfully Promoting Yourself and Your Business" to your specific situation.
These may seem completely unrelated to promoting yourself or your idea, but trust me...they are intimately connected. Some of the easiest authors to work with had a firm grasp on all of these things. And their readers loved them with fierce loyalty, and helped promote their books by spreading the word. Their books were the most successful (from a publishing standpoint), and they were some of the most contented individuals I worked with.
  1. Know who you are. This may seem elementary, but it's not. I can't tell you how many individuals I've worked with who had not allowed themselves to be comfortable in their own skin prior to writing their book. It's almost as if they were looking to their book to make them who they want to be, which never, ever works in the long run. Your success depends on you knowing who you are--that way, whether your succeed or fail, your world isn't shaken apart. You are you, and nothing and no one can shake that. Don't try to find your identity in the book you wrote, or the business you're trying to start. Know who you are beforehand, and don't shy away from that.
  2. Don't just take "yes" for an answer. Most of us have people who are in our corner--people who love us.  And those wonderfully dedicated cheerleaders are great at telling you how wonderful you are. So, now you have this GREAT idea, and you want to share it with those who love you. And of course, they're all thrilled and think you'll do amazingly well, and can't wait to see you succeed. However, I would caution you. If no one is telling you "no," there is cause for concern. Just like we all need dedicated cheerleaders, we all need realists in our lives who will bring us back down to earth and shoot straight with us. Not every idea is a good one, and you should WANT to know if you're idea is a good (or a bad) one. Seek out people who will tell you the honest truth, and love them for it.
  3. You're going to have to get your hands dirty. Before you dive into an endeavor that will require you to promote yourself, you need to know that YOU--yes, you--are going to have to do some promoting yourself. You may have a publicist working for you, or a teach of specialized marketers at your disposal, but only you are your best promoter. The quicker you accept this fact, the better. Publicists, marketers, sleek advertisements, social media, etc. all only play supporting roles. They should never be viewed as magicians, who can make you a star. If you don't give them anything to work with, magic can't happen. Genuine, authentic success can't be conjured out of thin air.
  4. Let your passion shine through. Curb your vain ambition. There are countless individuals I've witnessed who want to be (for lack of a better term) a "star." They want recognition. They want authority. They want to be well-known. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think they were always like that. Many of them started out with a passion and a message to communicate--and usually a good one (see #2)! But, somewhere along the way, ambition took over and thwarted their passion and turned it into something that won't inspire, won't encourage, and won't benefit anyone. An idea, concept, or book that truly grabs ahold of people is pregnant with passion. People crave authenticity and transparency (see #1), and will see right through vain ambition. Embrace who you are and what you're passionate about, and check your vanity at the door. Ambition isn't a necessarily bad thing, but when it clouds your passion and thwarts who you are, it becomes a bad thing. No one wants to listen to someone who is only out to promote themselves, and nothing more.
  5. Stay humble. Would you describe yourself as arrogant? Self-absorbed? Cocky? You probably would not--most people wouldn't. But you would be surprised at how many authors, speakers, and others can come across this way, when it comes to their book or platform. Now, I attribute this change in persona to many of the things I've already talked about. They allowed themselves to get lost. They only listened to yay-sayers. They started to expect magical fame. They lost sight of their passion, and grabbed hold of vain ambition. Staying firmly rooted in the reality of who you are is the key to staying humble. Remember who you are, and where you've come from. Don't forget to love on the people in your life. Be kind to those who cross your path. These are simple truths, but you would be surprised how many of us, many times in our lives lose sight of them. As a Christian, I have a different term for it, but you can ask me about that some other time. Love your neighbor. Do good to those who cause you harm. Give without expecting anything in return. Take care of the poor, the widowed, and the orphan. Serve. Combine ambition from #4 and a lack of humility, and you get someone who's hard to work with, hard to love, and someone no one wants to listen to or support. And you may be able to disguise your ambition (and sometimes, lack of humility) for a while, but true motives will always shine through in the end--both bad and good.
  6. Keep your eye on the prize. Your journey will undoubtedly not turn out how you expected. Author Nancy Guthrie has written many wonderful books that talk about this. Keep a firm hold on your passion and who you are, but accept that this passion may take you on an unexpected journey. Stay focused on what's most important, and don't sacrifice those things for anything else. If you're left with an empty, icky feeling because of a choice you've made that strays from what is most important, odds are it was a bad choice for you. It's like our childbirth educator told us, "It's never too late to change doctors." She was talking about people who ended up being uncomfortable with pressures from their OB or childbirth team, and was making the point that you should never feel forced into something that takes you away from what's most important to you.
  7. Embrace failure and re-defined success. Let's face it--your book or idea may be a flop. But, if you've held true to who you are, and the other pieces of advice I've offered, you will still be successful! "Success" may just look significantly different than you (or anyone else) thought it would. I realize this may be a hard pill to swallow, especially for someone who faces pressures from publishers, publicists, marketers, sales teams, editors, banks, and on and on. But, don't let anyone define your success for you. You alone know when you're successful. Several years ago, I knew some people who started their own business, but there were some personnel complications down the road, and they had to file for bankruptcy. Watching their journey was a profound lesson for me. Despite their financial struggle after the business folded, they were ok! They were still the same people, and still had the love of their family. Even though it was a painful experience, they were ok! They embraced this new chapter, and accepted it for what it was...a chapter, and not forever. In my opinion, they were infinitely more successful despite their financial woes. They accepted a new reality and newly defined success, and you can too.