Everlene’s Sky

How A Letter to a Sailor Ignited a Lifelong Friendship and a New Book

While serving in the Navy, aboard an aircraft carrrier in the Persian Gulf, Michael Russo received a letter from a stranger. That letter was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and the catalyst for his debut novel, Everlene’s Sky.

 

I interviewed Michael about his friendship with Everlene and the book he just launched, a novelization of her life story.

Here are some of the questions I posed to Michael:

  • Tell me about the first time Everlene made contact with you.
  • What propelled you to write back to her?
  • How did her correspondence impact you.
  • At what point did you start thinking, “Hey, this would make a great book”?
  • And when did you start writing it?
  • Prior to this, had you written for publication?
  • Describe your writing process.
  • How involved was Everlene in the process?
  • The title, Everlene’s Sky, comes from a quote from Everlene. Can you share that quote and why you used it for your book title?
  • Describe your publishing process.
  • How has the book been received so far?
  • What are you doing to help promote Everlene’s Sky?
  • What would you say to someone who’s in that place where you were–they have an interesting book idea and are at the beginning of the writing and publishing process. What have you learned that you can pass along?

Be sure to watch the 700 Club segment about Everlene Brewer and her unique ministry to U.S. service men and women.

You can connect with Michael Russo via Facebook or Twitter.

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Have you had an encounter with a stranger that became a subject of your writing? Tell us about it.

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beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike. Connect with Elizabeth on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She loves to connect with other writers!

Get Inspired! Workshop Recordings are Now Available Online

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We know you can’t attend every event Inspire hosts–and that you still want to learn and improve your craft. So, we’re happy to announce that our Get Inspired! workshops are now available on our website. These workshops are free for all Inspire members. Just log in on our website and you’ll have immediate access to the recordings. If you’re not a member, but would benefit from these and future workshops, you can join today and you’ll have access a lot of great content.

ScrivenerWordWorkshop  TIPS & TRICKS WITH WORD, SCRIVENER BASICS AND HOW TO SUBMIT TO INSPIRE FORGIVENESS
Michelle Murray and Lori Sinclair present a power-packed training workshop on the three topics listed above.
Publishing Smackdown PUBLISHING SMACKDOWN: Part 1 and Part 2
Traditional Publishing vs Indie Publishing: Not sure how you want to publish your next book? Listen in as Susy Flory and Lorena Bathey debate the pros and cons of both options.
DialogueWorkshop DIALOGUE WORKSHOP
Keli Gwyn and Candace Calvert lead an entertaining, educational and interactive discussion to help writers sharpen dialogue skills.
jennifer_harrision LINKEDIN WITH JENNIFER HARRISON
If you’re like most writers, you know you “should” be on LinkedIn. You may even have an account. But you have only a vague idea why you’re there. You’re not alone!
Kathy_Boyd_Fellure PINTEREST-PERFECT-PLATFORM WITH KATHY BOYD FELLURE
If you haven’t already discovered the picture wonderland of Pinterest you’re in for a treat. Board pinning is a fun, relaxing, and creative way to draw an international audience.
DrPortiaHopkins DR. PORTIA HOPKINS explores WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE which leads to healing for both writer and reader as we engage with our hearts and write with vulnerability.
SocialMediaWorkshop  SOCIAL NETWORKING…HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
A panel discussion on how writers can effectively use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Blogging to connect with potential readers.

New recordings will be added soon, so once you’ve listened to these, be sure to check back frequently.

What would you like to learn? If you have a suggestion for a workshop, please leave it along with your comments. Your feedback shapes our mission!

Forgiveness: What’s Your Story?

BREAKING NEWS: The Submission Deadline has just been EXTENDED TO JULY 1.

What emotion does the word forgiveness evoke in you?

It’s not a neutral word, though we toss it about like a badminton birdie. It flits through our conversation without carrying much weight until that moment when we’ve said or done something hurtful. All of a sudden a gorge opens up between us and someone dear to us. This formidable canyon severs our connection and distorts or destroys communication.

Like me, you’ve been on both sides of the gorge. You’ve sinned and desperately needed someone to forgive you. And you’ve been hurt by someone you love. Trust and communication were destroyed. And then the grace of forgiveness brought renewed relationship, restored friendship, hope and trust for a better future.

What’s your forgiveness story?

Are you willing to share your story in order to inspire forgiveness in others?

Inspire Christian Writers is accepting submissions for our 2015 anthology, Inspire Forgiveness. We are looking for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, devotionals, and more on the topic of forgiveness. If you’re an Inspire member, you can submit your piece today. If you haven’t yet joined, you can join today for only $50 per year.

Submissions need to be fewer than 1,500 words, clearly relate to the theme, and follow the Inspire style formatting. Start preparing today. We can’t wait to see how God will bless our readers through your stories on this important topic.

We’re accepting submissions between March 1st and July 1st, 2015.

beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike. Connect with Elizabeth on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She loves to connect with other writers!

What Inspires You to Inspire Others?

As Christian writers, we serve a unique purpose: we want to inspire others through our writing, and offer hope to a hurting world. Whether our writing is fiction, nonfiction, devotional or any other format, our underlying purpose is the same.

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So, why do we do this? What inspires us? It boils down to faith. We have faith that God has called us to write, and to use our gift of writing to help others. Every day we get up and think what can I write today that will affect a change in others?

How do we decide what to write about? As Christian authors, we are in tune to the ways God has worked and continues to work in our lives, so our mission is to use those experiences to inspire others. We all have different walks with Christ, and because of that, we each offer a unique perspective to our readers, and therefore create unique content.

As projects develop and grow, it’s not always easy to stay focused on our original intent, and I think that’s the most pertinent part of what we do. We must remember that underlying any attention we, or our work, may get, the glory goes to God. We must remember that helping our readers to know God and His goodness is our underlying mission.

So, how do we stay inspired? Again, faith, combined with prayer. We must pray daily that God helps us get the message out to others that He wants communicated through us. We must serve to encourage each other as Christian writers that even on those days where our hope is low (because yes, it happens to us too!) there is a purpose to what we do. We don’t know when that one person who needed to hear our message that day may just see what we wrote, and be inspired. Maybe it’s a mother who’s at her wits’ end and just can’t see beyond the screaming baby and her messy house. Maybe it’s a father who is exhausted from trying to provide for his family and isn’t getting the positive reinforcement he wants at home, and needs hope to hang on and keep moving forward in a Christ-like manner. Maybe it’s a young person contemplating suicide. Maybe it’s someone who has never had Christ in their life, and your work opens their heart to Him.

You and I don’t typically know who we help, but we know who we serve. We serve God. So, each day, hold onto that promise from God. Know that He is proud of the work we are doing, and that together we will continue make a positive change in this world that can be so full of darkness.

We must remember as we do this work that not everyone has the same calling as we do, and not everyone will see the value or share the passion that we do in our work. Our passion comes directly from Christ, so do not be discouraged if you face controversy or negativity. Use these experiences to become messages in your writing. Continue to move forward and persevere in your mission. While others around you may not understand why you barely sleep and can’t wait to get your thoughts onto “paper,” why you feel this need to put so much time into writing that may not cause you to prosper financially, you and I know why we do it, and most importantly God knows why we do it!

May you continue to be inspired and continue to inspire others.

DMR Headshot B&WDenise Rezsonya is a Christian author and youth advocate. She lives in Noblesville, Indiana with her husband and two children. She inspires teens through her devotional resource books, Be the Light Volumes 1 & 2.  You can learn more at Denise’s website.

 

 

 

Peer Promotion: How to Promote a Book in 7 Steps

Excitement is growing at Inspire. Several of our members have books coming out this month and many more books will be released over the next few months.

13208387_sWe are having fun with launch parties, book signings and celebrating the successes. One of the questions I hear among our writers is “How can I help get the word out?”

In response I am listing seven things we can do to promote our friends’ books:

1. Pray for the ministry of the book. We write with a purpose of touching hearts and changing lives, which can only happen when the message is read. Inspire writers pray for each other’s projects, asking God to put them in the hands of readers who can benefit from the messages or stories being published.

2. Post book reviews. After reading your friend’s book, consider what you liked best about the content, style, and message, and write a brief review. Then post the review on Amazon.com, GoodReads.com,  Christianbook.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Readers rely on reviews to make purchasing decisions. Your honest review will have a positive impact on the sales of the book.

3. Blog to promote the book. By posting a well-written interview and/or book review on your blog, you can help generate interest in your friend’s book. Include a book trailer if possible.  You can increase interest by offering a free copy of the book. Don’t forget to mention the book in comments you leave on other blogs as well.

4. Tweet to get the word out. Twitter provides a great forum for peer promotion, allowing you to post brief, pointed tweets about the book or re-tweeting what others say about it. You can also re-tweet posts from the book’s author. If the book is mentioned in an article or review, you can tweet it out to the world. Tweet quotes from the book to whet the appetites of your followers. Then be sure to invite them to book signings.

5. Create a buzz on Facebook. Update your status with a positive comment about the book and “Like” the author’s page. Post quotes from the book. Invite your Facebook friends to a book signing. You can also give away a copy of the book on your Facebook page. Your small efforts help build a big buzz.

6. Distribute marketing pieces. Carry promotional postcards or bookmarks with you. Pass them out whenever the opportunity presents itself. Give them to your local bookstore manager and church librarian. Ask them to carry the book. Distribute a speaker packet to a church leader, ministry director, pastor—whoever makes decisions about speakers. Present bookmarks to your book club and encourage them to read the book. Personally recommend the book to a friend (or lots of friends!)

7. Help with the Book Launch Party or Book Signing event. I recently attended a book launch that was hosted by a dear friend of the author. The party was a huge success! The friend put the same care into the party as she would a baby or bridal shower. Every detail was perfect–and the author was relaxed and enjoyed her guests. Maybe you don’t have time to throw an entire launch party, but there are many things you can do: Invite friends to attend book-signing/book launch with you. Provide refreshments for the event. Offer to help with book sales at book-signing. Create a gift basket for a door-prize drawing. You can also host an intimate gathering in your home for a meet & greet with the author.

Your enthusiasm about your friend’s book can make a difference in getting the word out. Employing these seven steps will make your peer promotion efforts more effective.

Here’s a question for you: What steps are you taking help promote your friend’s books?

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beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike.

 

Become a Writer In Residence

Do you dream of uninterrupted writing time, surrounded by nature’s beauty? Would you benefit from living and writing for several weeks among a community of artists?

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Why not apply for an Artist In Residence Program?

Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Artist in Residence Programs at the Headlands Marine Mammal and Nature Conservation Center in San Francisco. If chosen, you will be awarded a residency of four to ten weeks to devote to your craft. Residencies include housing, studio space, chef-prepared meals and much more.

Are you ready to learn more? You can visit the Headlands website for details about the AIR Programs and application process. If you’re interested, be sure to apply before the June 15 deadline. There is a $45 application processing fee.

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Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced a Writer in Residence program? Do you plan to apply? Why or why not? 

Putting Pen to Paper with Judi Braddy

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Judi Braddy, Presenter

Surely everyone’s mother said it: “Whatever’s worth doing is worth doing well.” This is especially true regarding the ministry of Christian writing. Since every biblical truth carries the weight of eternity, it is imperative that we make certain it is communicated accurately, clearly and with excellence.

Fact is, words put on paper—or computer—live longer than those simply spoken. (Some say internet postings may never be retracted—yikes!). Understanding the quality and far-reaching influence of our work, it’s apparent why sloppy, sappy writing should no longer be accepted just because it’s “Christian.”

The good news is that more care can be taken clarifying written words than spoken ones. One author defined writing as “refined thinking.” Indeed, if words are to be taken seriously and shared liberally, they must be crafted carefully.

Applying a few of Paul’s spiritually-specific admonitions to Timothy, this workshop will attempt to educate by sharing some basic tips and techniques to help Christian writers answer the following questions:

  • How Do I Know If I Have A Gift/Talent For Writing?
  • How Do I Develop That Talent?
  • What Are Some Basic “Nuts & Bolts”?
  • Where Do I Find Ideas For Stories?
  • How Hard Do I Really Want To Work At This?

Join us for Putting Pen to Paper

Saturday, May 16th, 9:30am to noon

At Oasis Christian Mission Center, 10255 Old Placerville Rd #1, Sacramento, CA 95827

This Get Inspired! Workshop is free for all Inspire members and only $15 for non-members!

Judi Braddy is an author, motivational speaker, licensed minister, wife, mom and (very young) grandma. The author of six books–Prodigal in the Parsonage; It All Comes Out in the Wash; True North;  Camp Gramma; Everyday Sabbath;  and, Simple Seasons–Judi has lived through scads of seasons and turned over a number of new leaves.  Basically she and King Solomon have come to the same conclusion—there is a time and season for everything.

She and husband, Jim, live in Elk Grove, California where he serves as a denominational executive. For more information about her writing and speaking, visit her witty website at www.judibraddy.com or email her at judibraddy@aol.com.

 

Becoming Known Part 3: Reciprocal Book Reviews

bookstore_bannerReaders have a million choices when it comes to what book to read—especially when they are shopping online. Honest book reviews are often what sells a book to a reader even more than the book’s description. Even if a book has been recommended to a reader, before they click the “buy” button, most readers still check the reviews to see what others have to say. But it’s hard to get people to review your book.

Other writers are in the same boat. They too need book reviews. If I knew a writing colleague would be posting an honest book review on my book, I am happy to post one for them. It takes a bit of time to read the book and a bit of effort to create a review that is helpful and honest, but the results are worth it: a review for your book and knowing that you’ve encouraged someone else.

Last month we chatted about how to use the technology on Amazon.com to post a book review. Beth Thompson also wrote a terrific article last month on how to create an effective review. You can refer to both articles to help your readers post reviews of your books. You can also refer to the articles when suggesting reciprocal book reviews to your writing colleagues.

One of the things I love about reciprocal book reviews is that it is one of those practical ways to follow the teachings of Jesus. He said:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12; see also Luke 6:31)

Even secular society quotes this maxim, calling it “The Golden Rule.” It’s golden because it is wisdom that is precious; how we should live our lives each day. Love your neighbor writer as yourself.

So if you want other writers to provide you with book reviews, offer book reviews to them. You both profit from doing so.

There’s an added benefit to this. When you post a review of someone else’s book and sign it with your writing name, you get your name in front of readers—perhaps even people who will one day be reading your books.

Send out review copies. Request reviews when the book is launched. If it is already launched, it’s still not too late. Reviews are always helpful.

Seek out writing colleagues. Maybe they have a book out. Maybe they’re still writing their first. But suggest a reciprocal book review. Ask for one from them and promise one to them.

Do unto others.

Do you write book reviews for fellow writers? If so, we’d love to see them! Post a link to a recent review in the comments. 

 carol_petersonCarol Peterson is a Christian woman who can’t stop writing about God, His great big, beautiful world and our place in it. Carol writes for women and children and blogs at: http://carolpetersonauthor.com

She writes to educate, entertain and inspire–children, their teachers and parents, other writers, and readers of all genres.

 

Inspire Authors to Launch 4 Books on Saturday April 25

This Saturday, April 25 we have three (three!!) Inspire authors launching four (four!!) new books in the Greater Sacramento Area. What a day of celebration it will be! I hope you’ll join us for the launches, which take place in two locations:

BecauseofGraceCryingintheMorgueFirst, we’ll celebrate the launch of Jane Daly’s Because of Grace and Mary A. Allen’s Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.

Because of Grace: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Hope

Every mother fears losing her child. When that horror became a devastating reality for author Jane Daly, everything she believed in became distorted. As she tried to come to grips with a life that would never be normal again, Jane found God’s presence leading her from the pain of loss to the peace that passes all understanding. Take a walk with Jane Daly through this story of sorrow and healing, and experience the touch of God that ultimately carried her from grief to hope.

Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark

Based on an inspiring true story, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark is filled with deep emotional truths that speak to the heart of women. With real and sympathetic characters, the story weaves a picture of God’s tenacious love and the joy that could not be contained in his precious daughter.  Both titles will be launched at the Edgewood Clubhouse, 5700 Spyglass Lane, Citrus Heights CA. 

Stop by between 1-3pm to purchase signed books (or get your copies signed), visit with Jane Daly and Mary Allen and enjoy refreshments and giveaways.

Next we’ll gather at Face in a Book for the double-launch of Lara Van Hulzen’s new “Romances with a Twist of Faith.”

RememberMe gettome3Remember Me

Detective Ben Russo is in trouble. He just can’t remember why. When a car accident lands Ben in the hospital, he can’t recall anything about his life. What he does know is he’s enchanted by a tiny nurse named Tess, but can’t shake the feeling they’re both in danger. After being left at the altar, Tess Jansenn moves to a new town and starts over. When her ex-fiancé, Ben, shows up in the ER where she works with no memory of her, she must decide – tell Ben who he is or let him remember on his own. Can Tess forgive and forget what drove them apart, and when Ben remembers, will the consequences of his choices make it too late for love?

Get to Me

Aimee can identify a killer. Dane can keep her safe. But is he willing to face his past to do it? When Aimee Jansenn stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad she comes face to face with a killer. As the only witness to a crime, she falls into a deadly situation and is in need of police protection. Dane Scott has sworn off women. Until a fireball named Aimee enters his world. Telling himself they’re just friends, he vows to protect her. Can his heart follow suit or will she change his mind about love for good?

Lara’s launch will be at Face in a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd., #113, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762 from 4 to 6pm. 

Lara will have a drawing for a special gift basket with copies of both books and some other fun goodies!

Self-Publish Like a Pro with Lara Van Hulzen

Most of us want to write books that makes a positive impression on our readers–maybe even a life-changing impression. In order to accomplish that, we need to ensure the books we write are published professionally, whether we publish through a traditional publisher or choose to self-publish. If you’ve ever considered self-publishing, you’ll want to learn how to self-publish like a pro.

I’m impressed with the way Inspire writer Lara Van Hulzen approaches self-publishing. Her books look and read like they’re traditionally published. So, I interviewed her about her self-publishing process to find out what she does. Here are the questions I asked her.

About Self-Publishing:

  • With so many publishing options, why did you choose the indie publishing route?
  • When did you decide to self-publish?
  • What was your first step?
  • Your book is very polished. Tell us about your editing process.
  • Did you do the formatting yourself or did you hire someone for that?
  • Your covers are gorgeous! How important is it to have a professionally-designed cover?
  • How did you find a great cover artist?
  • Your second book, Get to Me just released. What did you do differently with it?

About Marketing:

  • What steps are you taking to market your books? Are you working with a publicist or a launch team?
  • What have you learned about marketing since you started this publication journey?
  • You’ve received some great reviews on Amazon and other sites. What advice can you give writers seeking reviews of their self-published titles?
  • What has surprised you the most so far in your publishing journey?
  • Any last words of advice for writers who plan to self-publish?

RememberMegettome3If you’re in the Greater Sacramento area, be sure to stop by Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills on Saturday, April 25 from 4-6pm for a book launch and signing party.

You can find Lara at LaraMVanHulzen.com and sign up for her newsletter.

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What questions do you have for Lara? Leave them in the comments for a chance to win a copy of either Remember Me or Get to Me. We’ll draw a winner on Friday, April 24th.