Blessings of Abundance

I often get down on myself for not meeting writing goals. Didn’t hit 1,000 words. Didn’t write a single word. Didn’t blog for five days. Didn’t finish my crits for my group. And so on. Then comes the other points of reality that stab at the fledgling indie author. No sales today – this week – this month. No reader magnet downloads. No comments on my blog posts when I do post.

Oh, woe is me.

This describes many indie and trad authors lives. At least with trad, there is more than just the author on the team to create and promote (but all authors, indie and trad, bear the weight of most if not all marketing unless you’re of the Tom Clancy status). We mope and whine and then somehow pull ourselves together the next day with a fresh cup of coffee, a hearty breakfast, and an attitude to again conquer the world.

How much we take for granted.

IMG_7580In the United States, we are so very blessed with the abundance of fresh meat and produce and clean drinking water. This morning I biked to my office, chose from among 20 or so different varieties of coffee from our office machine, and dined on chicken breast and raw carrots (yeah, not typical breakfast food, but I’m on a sort of health kick).

As I sat at my office computer pondering today’s #8AMPrayer tweet, still moping about my Amazon Author Central stats, I stared at the chicken and the carrots and the coffee.

I hadn’t even given thanks for them.

I took them for granted, hung up in my “first-world” problems.

I can do better.

I tweet the #8AMPrayer every workday around 8 AM Central to help center myself on the true purpose of the day – serving Him. Sometimes I am late with the tweet, but always when I do tweet I have moments like today when I realize the blessings I have and the opportunity to be a blessing for others.

Lord, let us appreciate and give thanks for these blessings and pray for the elimination of hunger and thirst worldwide. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Today is the Day!

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

Today is the day! It is the day the Lord has made! We only have today – yesterday has passed and tomorrow has not yet come. Embrace today!

This is one of my favorite snippets of scripture. The abundance conveyed in sixteen words is incredible. For within directs both our gift and our purpose for all of our lives, because our life is a long string of individual days.IMG_7520.jpeg

Human nature is to fail. We are not perfect, and never can be. Yet our sins must never distract our focus on serving the Lord every day as a gift to Him for providing the day for us. Mistakes and bad decisions are forgiven therefore we shouldn’t dwell on them. We should rejoice!

The pre-sunrise early morning speaks of the promise of the day. Everything is new and fresh. We have not yet addressed the stresses of the workday. I am guilty of often jumping from bed to shower to car to work without stopping to give thanks for this day and to promise that I will utilize the talents also gifted to me to serve. That’s a primary reason why I tweet the #8AMPrayer every workday, to remind myself not to forget my purpose here.

Obviously, that extends to writing. I recently read a tweet that promoted the idea that fiction should entertain and not contain a message or a lesson. That seems like a waste of a great opportunity – why not strive for both? The written word is a powerful influencer, a tool a gift from God. For me, I choose to offer it back as a gift in my writing, be it an 80,000 word novel, a 10,000 word novelette, or a 140 (or 280 now) character tweet.

I stated this before – a Christian fiction writer has a responsibility to advance His kingdom. That goes beyond entertaining. Today is the day He has made – I rejoice in the opportunity to help others through writing this day!

Bible quote from https://www.biblegateway.com/

Picture by Greg Schaffer

Looking for Followers in All the Wrong Places

Book marketing is challenging. In order to get our words read by others, we have to not only make them aware of our works but convince them to read it. That is necessary from a sales perspective. Christian fiction authors also bear the responsibility of getting their words read as we write to promote God’s kingdom. Yet often authors shun marketing.sara-kurfess-1416213-unsplash

I get it. Marketing is hard and not exciting and just not fun, but we have to put at least as much effort into marketing our books as creating them. I know that from firsthand experience. I did zero promotion for my first two novels (beyond a few lame tweets and mention on a dusty website). And I was surprised and saddened at my anemic sales! So much I had to learn (and still have to learn).

An author’s platform is, in my view, their online presence and following. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blog, website, and so on make up the online presence. Constant activity in all channels is necessary, though it’s not necessary to choose all channels. Followers are also necessary, because who will care about or even read tweets to a dozen followers? Sure, hashtags ensure more visibility, but it’s a very large Twitter universe out there.

Currently in the #WritingCommunity there are numerous activities to promote increasing Twitter followers. I admit that I began to participate in these follies, essentially variations of the “I’ll follow you if you follow me.” Why am I negative about them? Because these do not result in quality followers. I could build up 14,000 followers easily but if they are all mainly authors struggling for recognition like myself, what good is that. No, we need to focus on quality not quantity with our social media engagements, else isn’t it a waste of time?

I’ve adopted a better strategy. Write well. Interact with communities I want to reach as an author, not echo chambers. I’d rather have 100 followers passionate about my works than 20,000 who don’t care about my content, just my follow back. Focusing on a quality platform is the only way I can fulfill God’s call for me as a Christian writer.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Warning Signs

An extension to situational awareness is to recognize warning signs when that awareness makes you aware of potential danger. How we react to those warning signs can have profound effects on our life, whether it be with our writing, our relationships or even with our health.frequency-309372_1280

About a year and a half ago I developed a dull pain in my left upper chest, right below the collarbone. I thought that at first I had possibly slept on it wrong, but after a month I realized this was something else. Still, I’d go days when I wouldn’t feel the dull pain, only to have it return a week or more later.

This went on for a couple of months before I decided to investigate the issue (first mistake: if concerned about health, get it checked immediately). My primary care physician diagnosed it as a “trigger point” and suggested I do a door frame stretching exercise. That really didn’t help much, both the diagnosis and the exercise. I needed to know what it was, or at least what it wasn’t.

Google searching brought up a couple of potentially serious causes. I could have bone cancer or a cardiac issue. A trip to the clinic ruled out bone cancer, though the X-ray showed some arthritis in my neck (I’m 51 so that’s to be expected). The EKG, on the other hand, informed the clinic physician of a serious heart issue and that I needed to go to the ER immediately.

I felt fine, had no history of hear issues, and considered myself to be in decent health, and so I explained that to her and asked her to provide more details. She showed me the EKG printout, circling one peak or valley, stating it wasn’t normal. Again, I felt fine, and asked for verification that the leads had been inserted in the correct sensors (I’ve that happened before, resulting in alarming readings). She verified and also pointed out my heart rate was too low – 42 beats per minute.

At that point I was pretty much sure her diagnosis was incorrect. I’m a runner so it’s not uncommon for my resting heart rate to be in the low 40s or even upper 30s. I protested and managed partial success. I didn’t need to go to the ER but I had to see a cardiologist the next day.

The cardiologist took one look at my EKG and asked me why I was there. I shrugged my shoulder and replied because the clinic told me to come. A few more questions followed with an apology for wasting my time and that I was perfectly healthy, more healthy than the majority of the 51 year males he’s seen.

Eventually working with a chiropractor produced the results I desired, a reduction of the annoying pain, but I would have been fine living with it if I had to. I did not ignore the warning signs and addressed them head on instead of ignoring and hoping the issue would go away.

What do we do when we see warning signs in our spiritual lives? Today I pray, but before I probably did a lot of things that were counterproductive. As a Christian author, I hope that the words I type somehow help others find their spiritual weaknesses and help to find a path out of the darkness.

Leaving Darkness is available at https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Darkness-Greg-Schaffer/dp/1973644118/

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay