Friday, September 30, 2016

Doing What Feels Right for You by Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving 2015, we left the family gathering—my husband, my daughter, my son-in-law, and my twenty-month-old grandson—and headed for the hospital. What a better way to celebrate the holiday than to give thanks for a new life brought into the world.

No—not my daughter this time! Ana’s friend had become a new mother, and our close friends had become first-time grandparents that morning. We called ahead, not wanting to intrude on anyone needing rest, but were told they wanted us there.

As the new parents expressed concerns about their roles and being bombarded with advice from well-meaning friends and family members, Ana and Shawn looked at them and offered these wise words. “Do what feels right for you and your baby.”

As months passed, I heard several times how much those simple words still meant to the new parents. By accepting the freedom to make their own choices—instead of trying to follow a variety of opinions on how to raise their child—they were saved from going crazy.

What has this to do with writing?

It’s important—valuable—to glean what we can from those who have more experience. We can learn from their mistakes and gain helpful knowledge. But, at the end of the day, we still need to do what feels right for us.

There was a time when I thought I would never self-publish. You know the saying. Never say never. So, here I am, going down the indie path with a debut novel. Sarah’s Smile, the first book in The Daughters of Riverton series, is being released on October 14.

How did I get here?

I sought traditional publishing for years, and some publishers and agents seemed interested. Requests for manuscripts were made, but rejections followed.

A respected agent lost my manuscript and asked me to send it again—twice—over the course of a year. Then she dropped communication. I felt so discouraged. I’m a “doer,” and I’m also kind of a control freak, so the thought of leaving my publication hopes in the hands of other people felt unsettling. At the same time, indie publishing was becoming a reputable avenue.

Then two years ago, my husband and I started talking about self-publishing. What would that look like? What would it take to become an indie author? I was already freelance editing, so I had experience in running a small business. But to pay people to edit, proofread, and design covers? Spend money with no guarantee that we’d break even?

I knew without a doubt it was the path I was to take after my husband and I prayed about the decision and he felt complete peace about moving forward. At first I was shocked. He’s always so careful about budgets and making sure money is well-spent. But his confidence gave me what I needed to jump in. We agreed we had to view indie-publishing as something more than possible income—we had to embrace it as a ministry—a calling.

Some may choose traditional publishing. Some may choose indie-publishing. Others may want to live in both worlds as a hybrid. Regardless, there are decisions to make in terms of platform, marketing, website formats, blogs, social media, etc. etc. etc.

So, whatever you choose . . . do what feels right for you.

Sarah’s Smile
Sarah's Smile

Romance. Heartbreak. Scandal. Secrets. Second Chances.

In 1902, Sarah McCall is waiting to leave for the mission field when the man she once loved steps back into her life. Abandoned as a child by her mother and gambler father, she strives to overcome a tarnished history she didn’t create and a heartbreak she can’t forget.

Peter Caswell returns to his Wisconsin hometown a pastor, dedicated to his four-year-old daughter and new congregation. But no matter how hard he tries to move on with his life, he can’t forgive himself for his wife’s death.

When Sarah learns that Peter is returning to Riverton, the letter giving her departure date for Africa can’t come soon enough for her. They were best friends—she loved him and supported his dreams—but he married another and broke her heart. Although ten years have passed since he left Riverton, Peter hopes Sarah still cares enough to give him a second chance. But a charming newcomer pursues her affections—and Sarah’s childhood nemesis manipulates her way into Peter’s life. Will Sarah and Peter find their way to forgiveness and each other, or will past mistakes make a life together impossible?

BOOK CLUB MEMBERS: You’ll find 20+ questions included for discussion and reflection.

Releases October 14 on Amazon in paperback and e-book. E-book available for pre-order now.

Dawn Kinzer has been published in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, the Backyard Friends magazine, The One Year Life Verse Devotional, and A Joyful Heart: Experiencing the Light of His Love, and featured on the radio ministry, The Heartbeat of the Home. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her Daughters of Riverton series.

A mom and grandmother, she lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  Favorite things include dark chocolate, cinnamon, popcorn, strong coffee, good wine, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.

Find out more about Dawn and her books by visiting:


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why Back Cover Copy Shouldn't Be Your Last Priority By Nichole Parks

Let me tell you. The best part of my job as Marketing Coordinator is back cover copy. And the worst part of my job? Yeah. *wrinkles nose* That would be back cover copy too.
You see, I go through life loving the stuffing out of back cover copy.
To me, it’s not just a summary. It’s not just long story short. It’s like a whispered secret you can’t quite catch the last of. You’re intrigued. You’ve got to know more. So you open to that first page. And cha-ching! Congratulations, my friend. You’ve just made a sale, and potentially a loyal reader.
My poor co-workers—they had such a hard time understanding my obsession.
That is, until I explained.
It’s your chance to engage the reader before he/she even opens to the first page. Take, for example, the copy written for Julie Lessman’s Christmas novella.

Accidents happen, and then there’s Grace . . .
Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s dyed his long johns pink and scorched nearly everything she cooks—even catching fire to the kitchen. But he’s desperate, and she’s as destitute as they come.
Though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died.
When Grace’s past threatens his family, they have one chance to celebrate Christmas together at home . . . if Grace hasn’t burned it down by then.
It will impress an agent and publisher and reader. Not everyone is going to share your story with the same enthusiasm. Not everyone will have reader your whole book. But if you have an entertaining and captivating back cover blurb, your passion for the story will shine through.
Casey Demchack has some great insight on this in his article 7 Secrets to Writing Persuasive Back Cover Sales Copy
It’s fun.
As you can see from the alternative taglines for The Gift of Grace below, the brainstorming process can be full of kicks and giggles. 
She’s the accident to his prayers.
Grace has been good all year, but she’s still getting Cole for Christmas.
He might need saving from his saving Grace…
Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run ridiculous. Follow those rabbit trails. You never know when one might land you in Wonderland. Of course, if you need a Mad Hatter to guide you, check out my back cover copy services over at Marketing15.
Nichole Parks (not to be mistaken for Nicholas Sparks) packs a punch as Marketing Coordinator for Gilead Publishing. Her fingerprints are all over the covers of their latest books. When she’s not cuffed to her inbox, Nichole evades blind dates and loves on her latest dark humor manuscript. Always with a flair for the traumatic… Stalk her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Spending Time in the Social Media Basement by Johnnie Alexander

How do you describe yourself to best fit your online presence and, in turn, help you in marketing your work? Author Johnnie Alexander recently received some great advice and she's sharing it with us. -- Sandy

Johnnie: “I feel like I’m climbing out of a basement,” I said to my daughter, Bethany Jett, who is also a writer. “Soon I’ll be on the first floor, and then I can build.”

My imaginary first floor is more commonly known as my social media platform. It’s made of the usual planks: Facebook, Twitter, a website and blog, Pinterest, Goodreads, and so on. The widest is Facebook where I connect daily with friends and followers on my personal profile and author page. The widths of the others vary, and that’s okay. At least they exist.

You may be wondering why I’m in the basement if I already have a planked floor.

Good question.

I’m in the basement, climbing upward step by step, because several of the planks have been neglected in the past few months. My focus, which isn’t marketing-centric at the best of times, has been on completing a novel, going through the edits, writing a new proposal, and attending a writers conference. When I wasn’t involved in these writerly activities, I was catching up on what was neglected while I completed that novel, went through the edits, etc.

Confession: After writing the novel, I also watched TV, read a few books, succumbed to allergies, and napped. Both my body and my brain needed the rest.

A couple of things happened to snap me from the funk.

First, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference where I strategized with my publisher’s marketing team and received insights during my appointments with the publicity pros who were there.

Second, I followed Melyssa Griffin’s advice for updating a Pinterest profile. After a very long brainstorming session with my daughter, I finally clarified my online presence—who I am and what I do.

If you write fiction, you know what a difficult task this can be. Often we don’t have a specific topic to blog about and promote. (Though, as my daughter can attest, even nonfiction writers can find it a challenge to incorporate all their interests under one umbrella.)

Melyssa’s first tip: find two keywords or phrases that identify you. Melyssa’s is Entrepreneur and Blogging Tips. I chose Book Buff and Road Tripper.

Melyssa’s second tip: use keywords to write a short bio and call to action. (Click on these links to see Melyssa’s Pinterest bio and what I came up with for mine.)

Invigorated with a renewed energy and fresh ideas, I’m working behind the scenes (in the basement) to update all my planks with my Pinterest bio as a basis. I’m also creating a workable plan that builds up the most appropriate planks while leaving me time for imagining and writing new stories.

I have a list of items to accomplish, but one by one they’re getting done. My head should be poking out of the basement door before too long.

And though the planks will still be different widths, I’m confident the floor will be strong. 

What two keywords or phrases best describe your online presence?



Johnnie Alexander imagines stories while raccoons and foxes occasionally pass by her window. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, was a CBA bestseller and has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian. Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series #1), her first contemporary romance, was a Library Journal Pick of the Month. Recent releases include The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection) and When Love Arrives (Misty Willow Series #2).

Johnnie is marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and president of the American Christian Fiction Writers Memphis chapter. She lives near Memphis with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees those pesky raccoons whenever he gets the chance.

Join Johnnie at to experience the charm of country living, the love of random travel, and the joy of treasured memories.

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