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An Easter Gift

There are many occasions throughout the year for celebrations, and Easter is one of my favorites!

Actually, I try to celebrate every day, being thankful for all the blessings in my life. Still, there are certain days that feel extra special to me.

The reason for celebrating Easter is the gift given freely by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gift of salvation because of His great love for us, is very precious to many, including me.

I used to think that miracles like being raised from the dead only happened during the biblical times. Even after I became a believer and my faith began to grow, I never imagined that I would see a miracle. But that all changed in November of 2010.

When my youngest son, Christian, was killed in an accident and then brought back to life over 40 minutes later, I knew, along with many others, that it was a miracle! But the miracles didn’t stop there. As Christian began sharing his experiences of being in heaven, more miracles were beginning.

Our family began an unexpected journey, which later lead me to write a book. In my heart I knew, it was a story that I wanted to share with everyone. I did not write it to become rich or famous, but rather to give God the honor and glory that He alone deserves. I wrote the book to share with others the awesome power and love of Jesus, and what He did for us.

It has become sort of a tradition for me now, to give away the E-book “Faith, Hope & Miracles” during Easter weekend. It is my gift to anyone that may be searching, hoping, doubting, or just curious about whether or not modern day miracles exist. It is my way of sharing our blessings with others, and to give thanks and praise to God.

From today through midnight Sunday, April 20th, anyone can download the book for free from Amazon. And you don’t need a Kindle to read it. There is a free app for computers and i-pads to read it. I encourage everyone to share it with family and friends, as it is a message of hope. And please help me to spread the word! I really want for as many people as possible to have the chance to read it for free.

Just click here to get your free copy.

1 book cover

I pray that you all are blessed, and have a very thankful and happy Easter! – Amber

Today I have a guest post, written by my friend, Seumas Gallacher.

I’ve asked Seumas to share a little about his journey to becoming a writer because he’s had a great influence on me. His good-natured generosity and sense of humor has made it quite easy to like him.

Seumas started a strategy in social networking a while back called, “The Blog Scratchers Union”…a you scratch my back (or blog in this case), and I’ll scratch yours sort of thing. It has become quite popular in helping authors spread the word about each other’s works. I shared his idea in an earlier post. So now when you see the hashtag #TBSU, you’ll know where it came from.

So without further ado…meet Seumas Gallacher…

…what do YOU wanna be when you grow up?…

As much as I protest at the utter surprise at realizing I’m living well past the three-score years mark, my brain rejects anything other than a youthful mind-set.

Sure, it seems I can’t sprint from the armchair to the sofa in search of the television remote control as swiftly as I once could… and birthdays appear to be arriving in a concertina-ed time scale. But I believe I’ve arrived at a place of cerebral satisfaction… I’ve become a writer… never, ever labeling myself as an ‘aspiring writer’… but a ‘writer’… if you’re gonna be something, then be it totally.

However, it wasn’t ever so imbedded as it is now.

In my earlier youth, the preferred occupations ranged from ‘a drummer in a beat group’, followed bylead singer in the same beat group’ (note ‘beat group’, not ‘band’… kinda dates me a bit, doesn’t it?)… then it was to be a ‘back-street betting bookmaker’, short-lived when I learned that would require capital to get started. Brief skirmishes with the notion of being a ‘professional soccer goalkeeper’ lapsed as the need to get real and earn a living thrust me into the tentacles of Big Bad Banking. In that guise the world saw Master Gallacher over a period of four decades, tramping round the global greed centres of London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Manila, and now Abu Dhabi.

In retrospect, it dawns on me that all of that was merely to equip my grey cells with background material to indulge what I think has always been in my soul… writing… telling stories… entertaining people… enjoying the pleasure of word-smithing.

I didn’t complete my first crime thriller until about five years ago, and since then have become addicted to laptop-tapping constantly, in producing what has now become the Jack Calder series, with three titles on Amazon Kindle already, and a fourth Work-In-Progress…

Seumas 3 books covers

Available on Amazon at:

Savage Payback 

Vengeance Wears Black 

The Violin Man’s Legacy

Being the oldest self-confessed computer Jurassic on the planet, the advent of the social networks was beautifully timed. My incompetence has proved no barrier in a steep learning curve.

Marrying the eBook phenomenon with the proper business application of the various social networks has resulted in 75,000+ downloads/sales to date in eBook and hard copy … not bad for somebody who still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he (eventually) grows up. It still tickles and astonishes me that in this few short years I’ve become in some quarters, the darling of the self-publishing brigade. So much so, that many, many newbie and established author friends have exhorted me to tell how I did it. The result… the recent launch on Kindle of ‘Self-Publishing Steps To Successful Sales’…

Seumas book cover 1

 

Available on Amazon at ‘Self-Publishing Steps To Successful Sales’ 

…I welcome all and any contact regarding this wonderful world of quill-scraping and invite your interaction through:

Blog : http://www.seumasgallacher.com
Twitter : @seumasgallacher
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/seumasgallacher
Email : seumasgallacher@yahoo.com

 

Seumas Gallacher profile picSeumas Gallacher was born in Clydeside, Govan in Glasgow and spent his formative teens in the idyllic Scottish Hebridean island of Mull. His career as a banker took him from Scotland to London for ten years and thence on a further twenty-five year global odyssey through Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines in Asia. Along the way he metamorphed into a corporate troubleshooter and problem solver. He came to the United Arab Emirates for a month in 2004 and has remained in Abu Dhabi ever since.

A late discoverer of the joys of writing, his first two novels, The Violin Man’s Legacy and Vengeance Wears Black have sold more than 70,000 copies. The third in the Jack Calder series, Savage Payback was launched in late 2013.

Seumas has become a strong proponent of the use of the social networking channels to reach and engage with a global readership market in the new age of self-publishing and eBooks. Seumas is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on how to develop productive online relationships. He was voted Blogger of the Year 2013.

(* Don’t forget to drop Seumas a line, and help spread the word about #TBSU)

I have lived in the beautiful state of Alaska for over 25 years now, and from what I remember from history, Alaska was granted statehood on January 3, 1959. When I first moved to the valley I live in, there were no WalMarts, Sears, Targets, or other such nationwide chains of merchants.

The people of Alaska were a hardy, and mostly self-reliant breed, and most lived a very different lifestyle than what was considered to be normal in the lower 48 states. The railroad and shipping industries have played a vital part in the transporting of goods to and from Alaska, and even with the Alaska Highway being opened to the public in 1948, continue to play a major role in the transportation industry.

Transportation costs to and from Alaska remain high, whether by land, sea or air, which has always resulted in the costs of goods being higher than elsewhere in the United States. And this is at least somewhat understandable, if not likeable.

What I want to RANT about is the fact that even while we may be willing (or forced) to pay higher costs for shipping to Alaska, there are still many places that REFUSE TO SHIP TO ALASKA!

In the lower 48 (or contiguous) states, people can order anything they want. Places like Amazon, E-bay, WalMart, Sears, etc. will deliver items right to a person’s door or mailbox.

I felt like Alaska was finally being accepted into the “modern era” when we had our first WalMart built in our valley, followed shortly after by Sears. Then I discovered ordering online…YAY! But we cannot order from WalMart or Sears, or any other major chain for that matter. It doesn’t make sense to me, to be told, “We cannot ship this item to Alaska due to the cost”, when the companies are already shipping to their own stores, WHICH ARE LOCATED HERE IN ALASKA!

I thought I found a happy solution with Amazon and E-bay, even if it meant paying a higher shipping fee than anywhere else in the United States. A few years ago, I even joined “Amazon Prime” (for a fee of course), and was promised “free shipping on ANY qualifying item”.

In the few years since joining Prime, I’ve ordered several items, including a microwave-convection oven. Some items have been sent to my post office box, while some have been delivered right to my doorstep.

Yet in this past week, I tried to order a simple, small shop vacuum. There were several models available on Amazon, including 5 that were “qualified for Prime shipping”. When I placed the order, I received the message, “we’re sorry, we cannot ship to your location”. I tried every one of the models on Amazon, whether it was sold directly by Amazon, or a 3rd party, and received the same message from every single one of them!

I could order all the spare parts, hoses, bags, and filters I wanted. But I could not buy the shop vac itself! I finally gave up, discouraged. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with weight issues, because the microwave I ordered certainly weighed more. And I’ve known people that have received goods weighing over 500 lbs. So I don’t know why I couldn’t buy my shop vac, it is a mystery.

Today, I received a coupon for 15% off the price of a throw rug type item. We’re talking a rug measuring 35” x 26” and weighing less than 10 lbs. I decided to buy it, but as I was placing the order, I put in the zip code, and I got the same message, “We’re sorry. We don’t ship to that area”. I looked on the pull down menu where the states are listed, and Alaska wasn’t even on the list. Yet the company proudly displayed “Made in America” on their website.

Yes, it costs more to ship to Alaska. But the consumer (the one buying the item) is the one paying for it. So if we are willing to pay the higher shipping fees, why are we being discriminated against in buying the items we want to buy?

Sometimes, I just don’t feel like we Alaskans are included as a part of the United States. There are still some folks out there that seem to think we are in a different country.

Once when I was on a trip to the South, a man asked me, “What kind of money do you folks in Alaska use”? I just couldn’t help myself! I replied, “We don’t use money. We just dig up gold nuggets out of our back yards”.

Last week I wrote a post announcing the release of my friend, Pam Thorson’s new book, “Out from the Shadows”. She is celebrating with a launch party on Facebook on March 28, 2014 from 7 am to 7 pm and everyone is invited! There will be prizes given away each hour, but you must join the party to enter for a chance to win.

Let’s help Pam celebrate, and show our support by spreading the word.

Pam Thorson
Author Bio:
Pam Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, speaker, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. Her newest book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), pulls back the veil on the unique joys and challenges of caregiving. Pam resides with her family in the Northwest. Visit her here:

http://www.pamthorson.com

http://www.twitter.com/PamelaThorson

http://www.facebook.com/officialpamthorson

http://www.pinterest.com/pamthorson

Originally posted on Faith, Hope & Miracles:

Yesterday I shared a post about upcoming promotions, guest blogs and other events that will be going on over the next few weeks for some author friends of mine.

One such friend is Pam Thorson. I am very excited to share her upcoming book launch for her new book, “Out from the Shadows”! It is set to be released on March 28, 2014, and there will be a launch party. Please join me in supporting Pam’s new release by helping me spread the word!

Out from the Shadows

Synopsis:
No place is so dark, no shadow so deep, that God can’t find us.
Does the suffering you witness or experience seem pointless? Do you feel like your problems are endless? Do you wonder if God cares about you?

Caregivers live in the daily shadows of death, countless duties, and shattered dreams. But they don t have to exist in the shadows of…

View original 200 more words

What an author does

Writing is like giving birth, but the labor lasts much longer.

I have realized that the experience of becoming an author has been similar to giving birth. First, I was pregnant with the thoughts, feelings and ideas. They grew inside me like a new baby. I shared some of this with family and friends, the way a pregnant woman would let people rub her tummy to feel the baby kick.

I nourished my writing by reading and learning, and forming friendships with other authors. I began researching the writing industry and learning everything I could on the subject, along with information about publishing, marketing and promotion. In this way, it was similar to what is referred to as “nesting”, when a woman “prepares” for the coming arrival; cleaning and setting up the nursery, and getting all the necessary supplies on hand.

Then it was time to give birth.

The actual writing part came naturally enough, though there were some minor complications. I got stuck with my words several times. During the process, I ended up erasing entire pages, at times on purpose, and accidentally at times. There were times when I felt so frustrated and began to think that I might never finish my book. But just like being pregnant, you know the baby can’t stay in there forever.

Finally, my book was completed. Victory! And I felt very proud of this accomplishment. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and determination, but it had become a reality. I could hold it in my hands, my “baby”.

Then came the job of raising the baby, getting the word out and promoting it to the world. That was even harder than the giving birth! Naturally my new “baby” was eagerly accepted by my family and friends. But if that is the only audience to buy your book, you are going to need another job to support yourself.

Of course, several people in my inner circle spread the word about my new book to their family and friends. But let’s face it, I am no super-star with thousands of followers.

I needed some serious help in getting the word out, to promote myself and my book. As I had been reading and learning about the marketing industry, I learned about using social media and networking. It is much more than just posting a few ads on Facebook and Twitter and such. (I’ll be covering more on that later.)

Through social media I began to make new friendships, many of which were with seasoned authors. And to my surprise, quite a few were very willing to share tips of the trade and some much needed guidance on what to do next. Many of these fine and generous people even bought my book and promoted it to their own fans! And while my book may not be on the best-seller list in New York yet, I was quite honored to receive the mentions and lovely reviews.

One aspect I learned from all of this is about the concepts of “pay back” and “pay it forward”. The “pay back” is kind of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” sort of thing, where authors cross-promote each other’s works. The “pay it forward” is where someone helps out a new author, without any expectations of returning the favor. It is simply a way of giving a new author or new book some support, and perhaps opening a door to new avenues for them.

This brings me to the point of my post today.

It has been my privilege to make friends with a few Christian authors that are about to release their new books. As my way of saying “thank you for your friendship”, I will be doing a few guest posts, interviews and reviews with these authors over the next few weeks.

I am really excited about these new books and the adventures the authors are about to begin! As I said at the beginning of this post, “writing is like giving birth, but the labor lasts much longer”, and I am happy to be a small part of these new births.

I realize that my work alone will not make these books successful bestsellers, so I will be asking for the help of all of my readers to spread the word. It’s not easy being a new parent. And neither is becoming a best-selling author. But with a little help and determination, it can be achieved.

So please join me in welcoming these wonderful upcoming authors and help us in sharing their work, their babies, with the world!

And if you know of any new authors or works that you would like to see promoted, I would be happy to take a look and see what I can do. Just send me a link or a note.

Thank you in advance for your help and support. I look forward to hearing from you, and God bless! – Amber

 

I began writing many years ago, without having any college training or professional background. I just put down on paper what was in my heart and in my head. Several family members and close friends told me that my writing was very good and that I should consider becoming a writer. But that’s what family and friends always say. So I didn’t take it too seriously.

Then I joined a chat room and began joining in a few of the forums there. It was during a time of political debates and elections, and there was quite a bit of tension and heated arguments in many of the forums. So I began a discussion based on sharing humorous stories about my children and animals, as an attempt to cool things down.

Soon there were several hundred people joining in, leaving comments regarding my writing a book of these stories. Several of the comments were from professional writers, and they were encouraging me to become a writer. Me! A real writer?

I had no knowledge of the writing industry, but I asked questions. And to their credit, I found that these writers were more than willing to educate me. Through their kindness, I found some confidence and encouragement, and I began pondering the idea of becoming a writer.

Of course, the picture I painted in my mind was one of me, sitting at my computer, furiously typing out a best seller in a couple of days, while the phone was ringing with offers and pleas from several publishers. I pictured crowds surrounding me in public, asking for my autograph. And I pictured financial success. (Yes, I know that’s funny, but it’s MY picture, so don’t rain on my parade.)

I bought several books on writing, publishing, agents, and marketing guides. After I finished reading them, I think I was more confused than before I started. And I felt a sense of fear, realizing that I had no idea of what I was doing.

I lost contact with the writers I had met in the chat room when the site was suddenly closed for unknown reasons. And things were changing in my life circumstances that were beyond my control. So for a time, I didn’t give much more thought to writing for a living.

But I kept writing, and sharing stories with friends and family. And my biggest fan was always my mom.

Then a few years ago there was an incident which hospitalized my youngest son. There were many people wanting updates and to share loving prayers, but even texting was difficult. So one of the hospital volunteers arranged for me to get access to a computer and set up a webpage where I could post updates and people could leave messages for us. The site was similar to a blog, and I began posting once or twice a day.

The posts were similar to a journal style of writing, and I included my own thoughts and feelings about what was going on with my son. I was writing to share with our family and friends. But by the end of the first week, there were several hundred people that were following this journal, leaving messages of hope and prayers, and requesting that I continue the posts. There were hundreds of people that I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how they found the site. But it was being spread by word of mouth (or computer links) and it continued to grow.

I was a little overwhelmed when I realized that in a short time, there were almost 4,000 people following this journal. And many of them were thanking me for sharing our story, and repeatedly asking me to consider writing a book about our ordeal. My mom was among them.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote the book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”. And while I was writing it, I was also learning everything I could about the publishing industry. Without knowing any writers or having any contacts in the industry, I knew that it was not going to be an easy endeavor.

When I finished writing the manuscript, I sent it to my mother and asked her to review it and give an honest critique, along with editing. I knew she had taken a few English and writing courses in college, so I felt confident that she would spot any grammar mistakes and such.

When she called after reading the manuscript, her voice was soft and shaky as she said, “Hon, you are a very gifted writer, and you did an excellent job”. At first I thought her emotions were very strong because of the subject of the book surrounding her own grandson. But it was more than that. She told me of how proud she was of me for completing this work, and that she believed in my ability as a writer.

Even when I confided in her that I had no idea of how to go about getting the book published, she said she had faith in me and that she knew it would happen. And she told me to never give up.

After careful consideration, I had decided to self-publish that book. To accomplish that required learning even more about the publishing and marketing industry than I ever really wanted to know, but I was determined to do it. It was a bit overwhelming and even frightening in some ways, but when the book was finally available for sale, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. And I finally realized that writing was what I wanted to do with my life.

I must say that going about it the way I did to become a writer was probably the hardest way. I highly recommend that anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing start by taking writing and publishing courses, and earning some credentials. It is hard enough for a first book to be a success when you know what you’re doing. But when you are learning as you go, and no one knows anything about you, it’s even harder.

I sent a signed copy to my parents and several other family members and friends. But I’m pretty sure that no one was more proud than my mother. It was a little over 6 months later when I finally was able to go visit, and she had my book proudly on display on her living room coffee table, next to her bible.

On that visit, I shared a few ideas I had for a Christian fiction series, and my mother liked the ideas. She said she looked forward to reading the books, and I knew she would always be my biggest fan.

My mother passed away the day after I came home from that trip, one year ago today.

In this past year, I’ve written a few articles and worked on a couple of different blogs. But when it came to working on the series I had started, I seemed to have developed writer’s block.

I managed to scratch out a few paragraphs now and then, but I just couldn’t find the time to really go after it.

It wasn’t until this morning that I finally realized that I have been feeling an underlying depression. I know it’s perfectly normal to grieve after losing someone you love. And in this past year, I have often missed my mother very much, and I’ve cried. But what I didn’t realize was that somewhere in my mind, my writing was, in a way, connected to her.

It’s funny how our brains work, making associations and connections that we don’t even realize are there.

But I also realized something else this morning. I remembered back to when my son was in the hospital and I began keeping that online journal. I knew as events unfolded in that hospital that there was a miracle that needed to be told. I could feel it in my heart that God wanted for me to share it with others, and I felt compelled to do so. I also felt a sense of pride with my mother’s encouragement to continue writing. But in this past year, I have not been doing what I was led to do. I was not honoring my mother, or God, with my procrastination and lack of commitment.

This day has been hard, and I know there will still be more hard days ahead. I also know that my mother would never have wanted grieving for her to stop me from doing something that is dear to my heart, and something that she was so proud of.

In realizing the connection I feel between my mother and my writing, I know now that I can turn that into a strength. It can be the inspiration to keep writing, even when I can’t think of what to write about. It can be the motivation I need to stay committed to my work, even when I’m too tired. And it can be the strength I need, to pour out my heart on paper, the words of my stories. And it can be a way for me to continue to say, “I love you Mom. Thanks for believing in me”.

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