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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

Well Launch Day is just around the corner, and I am getting super excited! It’s been almost 90 days now since I started this project, and I have my author’s proof copy of the book sitting on my desk. (I already had the digital copy downloaded, but there’s just something more real to me, to actually feel the paper pages, to smell that ‘new book smell’…)

It may sound a little strange to some, but as I sat here holding the copy in my hand, thumbing through the pages, I felt a sense of warmth surrounding me, like a hug from Christian. It brought some tears, but they were mostly of joy.

I’ve been working with members of my launch team, planning the launch party since I started the 90 Day Challenge, jotting down ideas and goals in my journal. It’s going to be a live event co-hosted by my friend, Melissa Eversull, on Facebook next Saturday, from 2 PM to 5 PM, Alaska Standard Time, and all are welcome to join me in celebrating.

There will be fun and games, prizes, and open discussions, including a Q & A session. So, if there’s anything you would like to know about me, or the book, or writing, or share something about yourself, this will be a great opportunity for us to make that connection! (A big part of the reason I decided to do this event live on Facebook is the chance to get to know my audience a little better, and let them get to know me.)

I will also be posting links at the even to download the Kindle version of the book for free that day, along with giving away a few free signed copies of the print version. (There will also be a surprise bonus, announced during the event.)

I’ve never hosted a live event online before, so this will be a new adventure for me, one that I am really looking forward to. I hope you will stop by for a visit, and join me in celebrating this accomplishment!

To join the event, just click Amber’s Book Launch or you can copy & paste the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3095403733834644/ (Make sure to click on the ‘going’ button) And of course, feel free to invite your friends. I’d love to meet them too! (We’ll be using the hashtag #TheChosenOnes for the event.)

In the meantime, it’s back to work (I’m already sketching ideas for book #2) and finishing the final touches for the party. I hope to see you all Saturday! Have a blessed week! – Amber

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When My Heart Stopped

It’s been almost 3 years since I last posted anything here. I don’t know if anyone is still following this blog, but if there is, I just wanted to explain my absence, and share my story.

On February 6, 2016, my 13 year old son, Christian, passed away in a tragic accident, and life as I knew it ended. My heart was still beating and my lungs still took in breath, but my mind went numb and my soul seemed to leave me. I was no longer alive.

I saw a post on a grief support group that said, “I died that day too, but they forgot to bury me”.  I thought, “how true”.

The “me I was” no longer exists, because that “me” had hopes and dreams for a future, one that included Christian in every aspect, a future that will never be. And so, that life ended.

A long time ago I said that my words were seldom polished or rehearsed, that I didn’t follow any fancy writing style, but that my writing came from the heart. But when your heart is shredded into tiny particles, words and thoughts don’t make any sense. Neither does life. So, I stopped posting. I did some journaling from time to time, but it was full of darkness and pain, not the kind of words to encourage hope and faith. I was dead inside.

CPR for My Soul

I woke up each morning and did whatever needed doing that day, but it was like watching someone else through a misty veil living a life that didn’t make any sense.

The next winter my Dad passed away and I slipped even further into the empty darkness. In just a few short years I had lost so many family members, I was beginning to feel like Job from the bible. And I kept begging God to take me too, but He didn’t.

About a month after my Dad passed, my pastor’s Dad also passed away unexpectedly. Being a pastor, he upheld a face of dignity and faith, and on the surface he showed great strength. But when I looked into his eyes one evening shortly after his Dad’s funeral, there was a reflection of pain that I knew all too well. When Christian died my pastor had said he couldn’t even imagine what I was feeling. But that evening as we talked about his Dad, I knew he now understood, and a connection was made.

I felt compelled to try to offer a sense of comforting, but I had none to give. Or at least so I thought. My pastor is a man I have always looked up to and felt a deep respect and admiration for (and still do). So when he told me that evening that he felt inspired and hopeful because of the strength and faith I had shown, I felt a little awkward and insecure. But I listened, and we exchanged a few memories and stories.

Later, I saw 2 memes on Facebook that I knew I had to share with him. One said, “Someone had to go into the fire in order for Nebuchadnezzar to see God” and the second said, “God uses broken people like you and me to fix broken people like you and me”.

I understand now that every one of us goes through all kinds of struggles, trials, and pain throughout our lives. But we have a choice in how we react to it. We can allow it to consume and destroy us, or, we can allow it to be used to help someone else, even if only to listen and try to understand on some level.

Many times in the past few years I’ve asked God what He wants me to do. I don’t know how I got the idea that He would speak to me in a loud booming voice and give me step-by-step instructions on what to do (probably too much Hollywood and not enough Holy Bible), but that is not how He answered.

I kept finding myself coming to these bible verses, and it finally occurred to me that these are God’s instructions for me:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 KJV)

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 KJV)

Coming Back to Life

I have been broken by my grief and there are many pieces of my heart that are gone now. But it has opened my eyes to others that are hurting, and it has stirred compassion in a heart that I thought was dead. That spark of compassion led me back to writing, to share hope and encouragement in any way I can.

I know I will never be the same person I used to be. But in my heart and in my writing, I am coming back to life. It will not be easy, but the journeys that make good stories and testimonies never are.

My goal here is to make connections in sharing our journeys, to lift each other up with stories and prayers, to share hope and smiles where they are needed most.

Since I have forgotten practically everything about the functions on how to run this site, I appreciate your patience as I get reacquainted with the workings. I plan to begin posting a couple times a week and look forward to your feedback. As always, please feel free to share, leave any comments, questions, prayer requests, etc. I welcome the interaction!

God bless!

– Amber Lea

 

 

 

 

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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)

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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

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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

 

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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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Imagine you are at the end of your life. Today is your last day. What legacy will you leave behind?

It’s not exactly a cheerful thought, thinking about our own end. And for the young, it may seem a long way off. But then again, we never know when our time will come. So what do you want to be remembered for?

If today was your last day, what would you do with it?

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older (I’m not quite ancient yet, but…) I sometimes ponder these things. Perhaps it’s because I wonder what the future will be like for my children. I do not fear my own death, because I know where I’ll be going. But I sometimes wonder what my family and friends will remember of me. Have I made any difference to them?

I have never chased after fame and fortune, although a little more fortune in the financial area would be much appreciated. But when I look back over my life, I realize the majority of my time and efforts have been centered around relationships with others. But do those relationships matter? Will they be remembered? I hope so.

My family and friends have always been important to me. So after the loss of several members of my family over this past year, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on those relationships. I ask myself, “Did they know how much I loved them?” “Did I make them feel like they were important and treasured”?

I think about the people I will leave behind when I am gone. What imprint will I leave on their heart? And I ask myself, “What do I want them to remember about me?”

There are times when I look at the world around me and think about what I like or don’t like. I think about the things I would like to change. I would put an end to things like hate, oppression, poverty, and hunger. But how? I am only one person, what difference can I make?

I cannot change the world. But I can teach my children how to love others, by showing them my love. I can teach my children how to be just and fair, by how I treat them and those around us. I can teach my children how to be generous and giving, by my own examples. And I can teach them how to share hope and encouragement by sharing it myself.

The world doesn’t know my name, and I may be forgotten entirely in the years to come. But what I leave in the hearts of my children, my family and friends, will be remembered, at least for a while.

The memories I leave may not be a huge thing by themselves, but if they are shared, they can grow.

So if today is my last day, I will spend it loving my family and friends. I will help with whatever needs to be done. I will encourage love and hope in Jesus. These are the things I am spending my time on today. And tomorrow, if it comes.

There is a saying, to “Live each moment as if it were your last”. That is the way I want to live today. I want to give all of my energy, time and love to those around me. I want to make their lives more joyful in any way I can. I will love God with all my heart, and do my best to glorify Him.

Will the world remember me tomorrow? Probably not. But perhaps it will come to know my children, my family, or my friends.

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