I Just Discovered a Great Writing Blog: Ed Cyzewski

Ed Cyzewski, Christian Author, shares valuable tidbits of info from his experience as a writer, blogger, and editor. I feel like I just walked into a Baskin & Robbing ice-cream shop.  I can’t decide what to taste first.  It’s all good.

If you are interested in writing and/or Christianity, I highly recommend Ed’s blog and Facebook page.

Ed blogs at www.edyzewski.com

Did You Sell a Book Today?

I hope you did.

I have not sold a  book today.  Nor did I sell one yesterday. But I have sold almost 50 dollars worth of books (at $2.99 a book) since June 14.  That’s progress! Yes, I expected and hoped for more sales.  If every one on my contact list, people interested in the book, purchased one, I would have a couple of hundred sales.  That being said, I’m happy and thankful for the books that were sold and read.  I’m also extremely happy that people are sending me such positive feedback.

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, warned me not to have high expectations. He even stated that many people don’t sell any books.  I’m glad that I’ve sold as many as I have. That being said, it is time to buckle down and follow a marketing plan.  It is time to move on towards a writing future.

Don’t give up!  If  you are a writer, you will write.


Marsha T.


Marketing Your Book: For Self & Indie Authors

Thank you, bookmarketingtools.com, for your informative book marketing tip in the article below:

Why Authors Need To Set Up A Mailing List, NOW!

If an author has looked into marketing their books at all, they have probably heard someone say “You need a mailing list.”

You Need A Mailing List

I am going to agree with them and tell you that you need a mailing list for your publishing business!

– Why do you need a mailing list?

– Is it worth the cost?

– How do you get started?

These are common questions that authors ask because they do not understand the power that a mailing list gives to them as a self-published or indie author. I will show you why you need a mailing list and more importantly, how to set one up.

Why Is A Mailing List So Great?

Imagine being able to publish a book and then instantly deliver an email to 50, 100, 500, 1000+ fans waiting to hear about your new book. That is the power of a mailing list. It will take work to grow the list reader by reader, but if you start getting your readers onto a mailing list now, it will pay off for you in the future.

When someone signs up for your mailing list, they indicate that they WANT to receive updates from you. This isn’t an invitation to fill their inbox every day, but they do want to hear from you. Use this invitation and send information, especially about your future books, to those readers on your mailing list.

You can also utilize your mailing list to get eager beta readers or to give advance copies to some readers so that you have reviews lined up when you launch your book. You can run potential book covers by your mailing list to see which one they like best. All of these things build anticipation for your book, so when it is released, your readers on your mailing list already know it’s coming and they are excited for it (and are therefore more eager to buy it)!

Can’t I Just Use Social Media For That?

Many people, authors or not, are reluctant to setup a mailing list, and one reason is that they think they can use social media to accomplish the same things. A mailing list and social media are not mutually exclusive pursuits, but if I were to pick one, it would be a mailing list, and here’s why: You’re in control!

When you have readers on your mailing list, you control that list. On sites like Facebook and Twitter, you aren’t in control of the list. Break a rule on Twitter or Facebook? They can close your account. Bye bye reader list. Even if you don’t break the rules, Facebook is limiting who you can reach. Yes, you may have 1000 fans on Facebook, but they artificially limit how many of those people who have said they want to hear from you, actually hear from you. Roughly 10-20% see what you post, unless you pay Facebook. If you have a mailing list, the email is sent to all of those who signed up for your list and you retain control of the list if you want to move to another mailing list company.

While social media is great for connecting with and interacting with your readers, there are limits to your reach. A mailing list gets you (and your book) directly into people’s email inbox.

How To Create a Mailing List

Alright, so you’re convinced that a mailing list is important. Here is how to set up a mailing list:

First, you have to create the mailing list. Two of the most popular companies are Aweber and MailChimp. Aweber has been around longer but MailChimp has been around long enough now, and they have a low-volume free account that is perfect for authors who are just learning about setting up mailing lists, because it is free to start and you don’t have to pay until you have thousands of readers (and at that point, it will pay for itself). Aweber does charge starting with the first month, so I would only use Aweber if you have an established reader base.

Go to either of those sites and sign up for an account.

Next, create a form for your blog. MailChimp and Aweber will each walk you through creating a form to go on your blog. The mailing list sign up form is the perfect way to get people onto your mailing list. They just have to enter their email, and click “Submit” and they will be all signed up. Feature this in a prominent place on your blog (see our mailing list sign up form at the top of the sidebar to the right).

Entice your readers with bonus content. How are you going to get people to give you their email? You need to make it enticing. Can you write a small novelette that is a prequel for one of your main characters? Your readers will love this exclusive content and will sign up for the mailing list to get this small book. If you’re good at drawing (or if you have a friend who is), you can create exclusive art for your book to share with your mailing list readers. Be sure to mention this as a call to action in the back of your book to get your readers from the book to the mailing list!

Lastly, promote your mailing list. Once the mailing list is all setup, you need to let your readers know! This is when you can use Twitter and Facebook to get your readers onto your mailing list. Direct them to your website and tell them to sign up so they can get exclusive content and learn about new books as soon as they are published. As mentioned above, add a page to the back of your books asking your readers to sign up for your mailing list (mention the free bonus). That’s all you have to do!

Wrapping It Up

A mailing list is an extremely important part of your publishing business. It gives you a level of control over your reader list and direct access to your readers that social media accounts just can’t measure up to. You can use your mailing list to get beta readers, line up reviews, and of course, drive sales to new and existing books!

Don’t wait any longer! You really need to set up a mailing list for your publishing business, today!

Happy Mailing List Marketing!


Goodbye Robin Williams

Depression is not Contagious

I’ve brought up the subject of depression earlier in this blog. But after hearing the shocking news that Robin Williams’ ended his life yesterday, I am stirred again. Not only has Robin Williams’ family lost their father, brother, uncle, and husband, but the world has lost an amazing talent. I didn’t even know him personally and I’m sad he died. In addition to being sad, I’m mad.  I am mad enough to express my opinion on this subject.

I am not a clinical expert, but I did work two years for a suicide prevention project, and I am an expert friend of family and friends who have lost loved one to suicide. Each of these people had a diagnosed depression.  Each of these people were prescribed medication.  Each of these people were urged to seek therapy for the painful and unresolved issues festering somewhere in their person. Each one of these people chose not to continue their therapy.  Each one was talented in their own way, and smart. They contributed one-of-a-kind gifts to those that knew them. Each one left this world much too early. And each one, to some degree, hid their depression as if it were a contagious, untreatable, shameful disease.

I do not believe that suicide is an intentional, selfish act. I believe that most people who take their life do so because they can no long endure a pain that haunts them every day. How long do you think you would last crunching numbers on your P.C. with an untreated compound fracture of the ulna bone? I believe that a person who leaves a family they love behind via taking their life is not in their right mind. I believe that those locked in debilitating depression are simply too sick to grasp how deeply they were loved. Or too ashamed and confused to get the help they needed.

The biggest tragedy of depression, the most common cause of suicide, is treatable. The biggest roadblock to treating depression, and other mental illnesses, is STIGMA. How many more needless deaths will take place before we de stigmatize mental illness?

Depression affects the mind.  It is not an illness of the mind. It is an illness in the brain, a part of the body, a physical illness, not a spiritual illness, though depression can affect the spirit.  Depression is not a lack of faith, a failure, or a moral issue.  Depression is not laziness.

Depression hurts.  Depression can be debilitating. Depression sucks enjoyment. Depression removes the sunshine in a sunny day, the joy of something once enjoyed.  Depression lies.  It calls you “a failure” and  “lazy.”  It says “You cannot get better,” “Medicine is a lack of faith,” “Counseling is not trusting God.”

I believe that none of these things are true.

I believe that God weeps for the person struggling with depression.  I believe that God longs to comfort the person struggling with depression.

Please, please, please, hold on! Hold on to your family. Hold on to your friends.  Hold on to your doctor’s orders.

Hold on to life!


Today I was unfriended. The person who unfriended me was considerate to tell me why she unfriended me. The reasons she gave me is that she is not religious and somebody in my family failed her.  I was impressed with her consideration and sensed that she may have been reaching out to me in some way. Because the “I don’t believe in religion” point-of-view revealed a common misconception, I took the opportunity to share my point-of-view with her and with you. All identifing information has been removed from my return post (see below):

I appreciate your honesty and point-of-view and am sorry that my (relative) blew it for you. That is a hard and lasting bitter pill to swallow. I can understand your anger. And so does God. I believe in a God who is a perfect father even when the people in  life fail us. The irony about your statement about not being religious is that neither am I. I believe that religion can be extremely destructive. That’s why my subtite is “through the religious maze into amazing grace.” My story is one of a woman who left religion behind in lieu of a relationship with a compassionate and faithful God whose greatest talent is healing a broken heart.

I am not offended that you want to befriend me. I get it. But know that you will be on my heart and I will be talking to God about you; i.e., praying for you.

Jefferson Bethke (see link below) says it in a song way better than I can.





Recently, I wrote a blog about the Old Testament doctrine of tithing. I quoted some convicting, but also encouraging, passages in the book of Malachi about tithing (see my blog: TITHES: The Ancient Test?).

Test of what?

a)      Trusting God

b)      Obedience to the pastor

c)       God’s blessings

d)      Just plain old Scrooge cheapness

The answer is (c), God’s blessings.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not through open the floodgates and pour out so much blessings that you will not have room enough for it” (3.10).

To many believers, the book of Malachi could just as well be called “The book of tithing.” That’s what I thought until the day I opened my Bible and my eyes “popped” to a scripture that put the doctrine of tithing into a new, and broader, perspective:

“Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking the faith with one another?” (Malachi 2:10).

What does breaking faith with others have to do with giving a tithe?  The same thing that giving a tithe has to do with breaking faith with others. In fact, tithing is just one segment in the book of tithes, oops I meant, “The Book of Malachi.”


In Malachi, the Israelites are called back to the godly ways of their forefathers and, most importantly, to relationship with their God (Mal 5:5,6). Bringing the tithe to the storehouse, was actually a way to honor God; i.e., a form of worship.


New Testament churches that focus on tithing, are missing the primary theme in the book of Malachi.

One characteristic of an imbalanced–or toxic–church is a tendency to develop a new doctrine based upon one or a few “pet” scriptures taken out of context. These doctrines usually are 1. preached frequently, and 2. enforced using emotionally-manipulative language that all too often motivates parishoners via fear, shame, and guilt.

New Testament giving should also be a way to honor God, a form of worship.It is a love, not a fear based-based act.


Tithes: The Ancient Test

stock-photo-5159938-money-of-the-world      “…how do we rob you? ‘In tithes and offerings…Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.   Test me in this says  says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’ ” (Malachi 3:8-10).

You can’t be a church-goer for very long without hearing this portion of scripture. At the mere mention of Malachi, Christians think “tithe.”

I believe in the tithe. But I do not tithe.  Does this make me a hypocrite?  I don’t think so. Whether money, time, or talent, as a Christian, I believe in generous giving. I believe in grace-generated giving.

“…the grace that God gave the Macedonian churches…out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity…they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:1-3).

I believe that generous giving as modeled in the New Testament (grace), is an entirely more significant and less selfish giving than the Old Testament tithe (law). I also believe that tithing, or giving money in any capacity, is not the ancient test of faith. Though money is usually necessary to run a ministry, in my opinion, which may or may not be humble, I believe there is a more important theme in the book of Malachi, one that exceeds the significance and importance than giving of ones finances and wares to the work of the gospel.

to be continued…

Widdeling a Perfectly Good Day Away

Time is the only commodity I can’t get back. Thus, I do not like to waste it. But that is exactly what I am doing. I have assorted miscellaneous, but important, chores to face, yet I am entirely unmotivated. All I have done today has been get dressed, prep for yoga class, send an email to BJ and Angie, water the gardens front and back, make & eat breakfast, and deadhead dead spring blossoms.

I have not sold a single book in several days.  Is this the end of a ten-year-journey, a journey meant to entertain, encourage, and inform readers? Is my book going to be a flop? I would be terribly disappointed if my story does not get into the hands of at least 1,000 people.

There now, I have named the problem: I am discouraged. I must come up with a plan.

Don’t Be Enticed by High-Cost Publishing Services

booksSo, you want to be published?

You’re a fine, perhaps great, writer with a dream. This is good. Dreams lubricate the writing journey, keep it going when in doubt, discouragement, disappointment, or plain old exhaustion threatens.  And it will.  So, don’t be shocked when it does. Just take your expectation down a notch or 10 and get back to writing.  You’ll get there. Your “baby” will come.

Your completed manuscript is as vulnerable as a newborn. Protect it from predators, those “publishing” companies who entice unaware and eager novice writers with slick promises. For a price, usually a big price, they will transform your doubled-typed manuscript into an actual book. You could possibly even make it onto the New York Times Best Seller list.

These people seem to smell your desperation and are as quick to find you as an advertisement finds your Facebook page. I do not call these companies publishers; I call them printers.  Printers print. They create a product. Publishers provide a service. They have a stake in your book.  If your book doesn’t sell, the publisher will  not make money. In fact, they will probably loose money.

Unfortunately, you will probably loose money, too. After selling books to your friends at work and your family members (your mother bought ten to save as Christmas gifts) your beautiful books are in boxes in the garage behind the the camping gear. Nobody is buying. Nobody is marketing your books. You’re left with an insane debt.

Reputable book printers exist, but it’s important to know what you’re getting, and not getting, from these companies.

I invite you to read this excerpt by Mark Coker’s book, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, page 14. You can find the entire book on Smashwords.com, my publishing platform, which I highly recommend to any writer with a dream to publish their work. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/145431#/download

“These services are criminal in my opinion. They’re in the business of selling over-priced services to authors. They’re not in the business of helping authors sell books. They prey upon novice
writers who don’t know better.

“Blogger Emily Suess has done a great job of exposing the unethical business practices of [some of these companies] on her blog at http://blog.emilysuess.com/tag/author-solutions/

Ebook self-publishing can be fast, free and easy if you do it
yourself” (Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords).


Brand Me!

What is My Brand?

I am not a horse or a cow, but as an author, as a wanna be successful author, I need a brand.  What does that mean, what does an author brand look like? Since Dave Lakhani commented on my latest book cover, I have been talking to my brand.  What is my brand? How can I know my author brand? If you’re a writer, do you know your brand?

Consider these points from an article written by a Writer’s Relief writer:

“What are the best ways to establish my author brand?
First, find your voice and be consistent in your writing. Book cover design is a great place to display your author branding. So is your author website. We all know social media is becoming more and more relevant in the publishing industry. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media sites are excellent tools for growing your fan base and solidifying your writer brand.

Remember: A clear, consistent author brand can make the difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a career.” (http://writersrelief.com).

Read this article in it’s entirety on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/writing-tips_n_5241199.html

So, what is my brand?

My brand is for the Body of Christ, against religion;  suffering saints and suffering sinners; for God, against evil. Is that too vague?

I love God but hate religion.

Thank you Dave Lakhani for stimulating this discussion.