Monday, October 31, 2016

Social Media, Marketing, and Branding Series: Part One by Edie Melson

Edie Melson

Hey everyone, Annette here. Today we begin a three-part series. Parts two and three will follow tomorrow and Wednesday. Enjoy these great tips!

Social Media, Marketing & Branding Basics Part One: Building Your Social Media Platform
by Edie Melson

The prospect of building—or continuing to build—a viable online presence can seem daunting and wearying. With this series of 3 posts, DiAnn Mills and I will be sharing some secrets, shortcuts, and simplifying techniques to take the intimidation out of connecting with our audience.

Connecting With Our Audience
And that’s where we begin—and what we always return to. This is the reason we engage in social media, marketing and branding. Yes, this will lead to sharing about our books and blogs. That will ultimately lead to book sales. But, a successful platform is not built on a foundation of  advertising.

Basics of Relationship Building
·         We should be on Facebook
·         We should be on Twitter
·         We should be blogging somewhere
·         We must own our list

We’re on FB and Twitter because the majority of our audience is on these two networks combined. We can choose to insert another network in place of one of these, but that requires more effort to connect with the same amount of people. If we target a specific audience—such as YA—we may need to add Instagram or Snapchat into the mix.

We are blogging somewhere because that’s where we connect with our audience on a deeper level. 

Owning our list is marketing-speak for building an email list. Here’s why:
1.      Social media is in a constant state of flux. If we rely solely on that, a single change in the algorithm can take our reach from 60,000 to 600 in less than 24 hours.
2.      Having people who have chosen to add their names to my newsletter or blog sign ups means I can send them up-to-date information and know it will reach them.

What to Share on Social Media
I have several guidelines I follow when I share things on social media. First—unless it is launch week for a book—I stick with Edie’s 5 to 1 rule.

For every 5 social media updates I send out, I then allow myself to send out one about me.

An about me update:
·         An update about a book I’ve written
·         An update about a blog or article I’ve written
·         An update about an event I’m part of
Not an about me:
·         Sharing a favorite Scripture or quote
·         Sharing something that happened to me or touched me

I have built my considerable platform by promoting others ahead of myself. It may sound counterintuitive, but when we’re willing to do this we instill trust in our audience and receive respect from our industry counterparts.

We’re sharing the messages God has given each of us and must remember that there is plenty to go around. Scripture reminds us that the harvest is plentiful, it’s the workers who are few. (Edie’s paraphrase of Matthew 9:37)

Types of Updates
·         A Scripture or an inspiring quote
·         An intriguing question.
·         Something funny.
·         A link to something I find valuable.
I share these things in a variety of ways, through plain updates, through memes, and through video.

I recommend 4 to 5 updates a day, 3 to 4 days a week.  These updates should be a mix of things you post and things you share and/or retweet.

Bottom Line
We live in an age where social media is the way to connect with our audience. It’s a valuable tool, and we need to learn how to use it effectively without fear and with minimal frustration. We also have to guard against it taking over our lives.  

Be sure to leave your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments section below. None of us can know everything about social media and we’re all stronger together!



While My Child is Away by Edie Melson


Parents and children are separated for many reasons: divorce, school, camp, even work. It might be for just a few days or indefinitely. These prayers give voice to all that you are hoping for your child when you can t be the one to meet their needs. Prayers of blessings, protection, instruction and grace. Or prayers for those around your child to choose wisely, see their needs, and love them as you would. Prayers for friends, teachers, coaches and mentors to step in and fill every need. Knowing that a loving Father God is caring for your child, even when you can t, gives you the peace and assurance that all will be well.



Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including While My Child is Away and While My Soldier Serves, reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them during these difficult times.

In addition, as a respected expert in social media, Edie has the proven expertise to teach others how to plug in and reach their target audience without the restraint of physical boundaries. In her role as social media coach she’s worked with clients that range from authors and speakers to business and ministry leaders. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, has been updated, expanded and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers.

As a respected blogger, her personal site, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s also a regular columnist on, Just 18, and Putting on the She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine, the Senior Editor at Novel Rocket, and a long-time member of the Advance Speakers and Writers Association.

Edie and her husband of 35+ years have raised three sons. They live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina with their dog, Jake and cat, Emily Dickinson. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Deadly Research Can Be So Uplifting by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

I wrote a series of articles several years ago when 30 Days Hath Revenge originally came out. It was a quick history of The Plague. It covered The Justinian Plague of 542 A.D., The Black Death, or Black Plague, in the 14th century, and the Third Great Plague of the 17th century. There were other, more recent outbreaks, too, which I discussed, like The Barbary Plague in San Francisco during the early 1900s, and smaller outbreaks in Chandigarh, India (1994) and in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa (2003).

As I researched for my book, I became fascinated by a portion of Old testament scripture I had read numerous times in the past, but it was an author who specialized in germ warfare who pointed out to me what I had missed.

In 1 Samuel 5:1-7:1, we have the story of the Ark of God being captured by the Philistines. They take the Ark back home and place it in the temple of Dagon in the city of Ashdod. At first, the Lord God sends a little message to the Philistines by causing the image of Dagon to fall on its face. The priests of the pagan temple, finding their god on the ground that next morning, picked up the image and put it back in its place.

(As an aside, how much does this look like us? God knocks down an image we tend to worship, and we, like the priests, pick it up, dust it off, and continue to live our lives in the same fashion, missing the inherent warning? Hmmm…Now, back to our story.)
So, the Lord God does it again. When the image of Dagon fell a second time the very next morning, the head and hands also broke off. They were found lying on the threshold of the temple. A very symbolic act by the Lord God to denote His dominion and power over the pagan god. Problem is, neither the priests nor the people of Ashdod got the message. You would think they would have put two and two together and thought to themselves, “Hey, we didn’t have this problem until the Ark of God arrived.” But, they didn’t. So, God proceeded to Plan B.

(One more aside: This, by the way, shows how merciful God is. He could have just gone ahead and enacted Plan B, but He tried to get their attention by other means first. This is often how God operates. Unfortunately, we often miss the earlier messages and only see the bad ones that follow, like the people of Ashdod. Then, we have the audacity to criticize God and ask why He is so vicious, so uncaring, and so malevolent in His ways. “Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?” Had we listened the first time, He wouldn’t have to enact Plan B. Hmmm… Now, back to our story.)
In verse six and following, it says the Lord God’s hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and He inflicted them with “tumors.” In the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate, they add this line (NIV): “And rats appeared in their land, and death and destruction were throughout the city.”

That’s when the priests and people of Ashdod finally figured it out. Oh, it’s the Ark… So, they called for a meeting and decided to move the Ark. To Ekron. Duh. Now, two cities were infected because God did not stop the affliction in Ashdod. Verse 9 says the people in Ekron were also infected with “tumors.” In the Septuagint, it adds: “in the groin.”

The Bubonic Plague was referred to by that name because of the buboes (in the Biblical account = tumors) which appear under the arms and in the groin area. Lymph nodes swell with a mixture of the bacteria, both alive and dead, and puss (hence the stories about the “stench” and “smell of death” often recorded by historians).

In 1 Samuel 6, seven months passed before the Philistines called a major conference. Seven months of the plague devastating five major cities of the kingdom. Such is sin. It causes great suffering and stubbornness. So, when the conferees arrived and discussed the situation, they decided the Ark of God must be sent back to Israel. They also decided a guilt offering be sent with it: five golden tumors and five golden rats, to symbolize the affliction, and one for each ruler of the five major cities of Philistia (vv. 1-18). They finally got it.

Historians believe that this account in 1 Samuel is the first recorded account of a bubonic plague. There may have been other outbreaks in biblical times, too. They just didn’t get recorded.

What can we take away from this? It’s interesting how God uses the effects of sin (in this case, war, pride, and disease) to “preach a sermon,” of sorts (cf. Romans 1:19). In one of the worst accounts in recorded history, it started with one little microscopic bacteria and a flea. But that’s how sin operates. One seemingly small incident, decision, or choice against the laws of God, even by those who seem religiously devout, hatches in one individual and spreads throughout that person’s body, who in turn, comes in contact with another and another.

And the rest, they say, is history.

If only we would listen to the first message, we’d never have to experience God’s Plan B.

A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years of experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels. The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) is scheduled for reprint with Hallway Publishing, Spring 2017. Kevin’s second book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is also scheduled for a second edition Oct. 2016, with Book 2 coming soon. Kevin also has had articles appear in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson