Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking Forward ... And Back

Welcome 2019! Today is the first day of a brand-new year. We have 364 more days ahead of us to live, laugh, love, and maybe cry a little before this year is behind us. As I think about the days to come, I can't help but also look back.

2018 was a mostly good year. I had some not-so-wonderful moments both personally and professionally but many more wonderful ones that far out-weighed the less than wonderful days. This blog is focused on my writing journey so that is what I will talk about today as I let you know some of the highlights of 2018 and things to look forward to in 2019.

2018 was another good year for freelancing. I had numerous articles published in an assortment of magazines and sites and even taught a workshop on freelance writing in June at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. One highlight was getting my first acceptance in a regional magazine for an article that will not come out until late summer '19.

On the book front, 2018 saw the release of one book and re-release of another, both by PixNPens. The most recent release, Prayer Warrior Confessions is an anthology compiled (and partly written) by Shirley Crowder and me. It has been received well by readers, has just finished a blog tour, and is garnering many great reviews. Another book that has been quite successful this past year is Prayer: It's Not About You. This book remains my best-selling book, actually, partly because groups of 10 or more often buy it for group Bible studies. Last August, a men's small group studied it and the leader emailed and told me he intended to teach it in a Sunday School class he leads this spring.

What were the less-than-wonderful moments in my writing world? Well, I did receive a few rejections of submitted articles (which is the norm for freelancers but stings just the same) and I learned that SEEK magazine will be folding. It has published so many of my articles. Also, my husband and I had a couple of disappointments with large traditional publishing companies who gave us every indication they were going to publish our book, "A Stand for Truth" but in the end, they did not. One actually sent a contract but it differed greatly from what we had discussed with them and was not a contract we could sign.

So, I start 2019 with much hope and great expectancy. Here is what I know already about my writing journey in the year ahead:

I will be receiving contracts from both Focus on the Family and David C. Cook in January for articles to be published sometime in the coming year. I still have articles coming out in SEEK in Jan, Feb, April, and May before they close their door in August. And I know of other articles I wrote coming out in May in Purpose Magazine and in August or September in Blueridge Country magazine and devotions in both the winter and spring issues of The Secret Place.

My husband and I are moving ahead with the publishing of A Stand for Truth with the help of Gregg Bridgeman at Olivia Kimbrell Press (the press that worked with me on my novel, The Whisper of the Palms) We do not yet have a release date for A Stand for Truth. And speaking of my novel, it will be featured in a friend's blog in mid February and will go on sale at that time too.

My co-writer on many of my books, Shirley Crowder, and I have been and will stay quite busy again this year. We are in the process of writing the Glimpses of God series of devotional books; four in total--winter, spring, summer, and fall. We have winter all done and turned into our publisher. It will release next fall. (It will keep us busy in the summer when it hits the publisher's editing schedule.) We are putting the final touches on the spring book and hope to have that to our publisher in February and are just starting on the summer one which has a deadline of next August. So, while it may be winter outside, my thoughts for the next few months will be filled with summertime!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Merry Christmas to All and God Bless America!

Christmas is right around the corner. I love this time of year, although it keeps me quite busy putting up decorations, buying and wrapping gifts, and attending get-togethers. Still, as I hurry through the season, I love all the festivity that is seemingly everywhere with decorations up in stores, and Christmas music playing on the car radio and in stores.

Yesterday while substituting in a Missions class at the Christian school where I work, I saw a film published by Lifeway, about the persecuted church titled, The Insanity of God. How my heart was touched! I fought back tears many times. Along with making me more aware of what other Christians in other places around the world go through, it also made me greatly appreciate the privilege I have to worship my Lord freely! As I drove home from work yesterday and heard Christmas songs on the radio, and then walked into my decorated home with its brightly lit Christmas tree and nativities set out in a few places, I once again fought back tears. How blessed we are in the U.S!

I am a Christian writer. Almost everything I have ever written has a Christian focus--conveys a Biblical truth, or reflects on Christ or his followers in some way. To date, I have only written two pieces out of hundreds that are more secular in nature and only one of them has, or rather will, make it into print, thus far. (I sold a memoir of my high school's 1975 football championship run to a regional magazine last week--the first time I have crossed over into the secular market. I hope to do that more in the future, but Christian writing will always remain my passion and make up the bulk of my writing.)

Yesterday, as I watched the film, it resonated with me quite profoundly that I could be imprisoned. persecuted, and even killed for what I do if I lived somewhere else. So today I want to say, "Merry Christmas and my God increase religious freedom around the world and continue to bless America!”

Monday, November 12, 2018

Book News

Happy Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for this year including book-news on a couple of different fronts.

My books with Pix-N-Pens
Pix-N-Pens is the nonfiction arm of Write Integrity Press, a small press based out of Dallas Texas. We are about to undergo some changes which will result in a new name but we will still be an imprint of Write Integrity Press. There will be more updates on that coming sometime next year.

I have one book written by only me and three that I have co-written with Shirley Crowder under Pix-N-Pens. Shirley and I also have four more under contract that we are currently working on, that will be releasing over the next couple of years. The most recent release is Prayer Warrior Confessions which released on Nov. 6. It had a great release, hitting #2 in three categories of new releases. The kindle has been on sale but will soon go back to its regular price of $6.99. This is a book I am really excited about. It is a collection of true stories of prayer and lessons the writers learned through the experiences they share. This book literally made me cry and laugh while I was compiling and editing it and it will do the same to readers.

My books with Olivia Kimbrell Press
There is another small press I work with as well. Olivia Kimbrell Press is based here in KY. The editor-in-chief is Gregg Bridgeman. They publish many of his wife, best-selling author Hallee Bridgman's, books as well as other authors. OKP published my novel, The Whisper of the Palms and has agreed to publish A Stand for Truth, the book I co-wrote with my husband, John R. Michael about his time as a trustee at Southern Seminary.

A Stand for Truth has an interesting publishing history. P&R came very close to offering us a contract but in the end, they decided not to. Then the manuscript was picked up by Founders Press. However, the contract they sent us differed in some important ways with what we had discussed on the phone with them and we simply were not able to sign the contract terms that they offered. So, we pitched the book to Gregg Bridgeman and he agreed because as he said, "It's a story that needs to be told." He did a great job with my novel and we are so excited that this book is finally in the publishing stage! We don't have a release date yet but it should be sometime in 2019. I'll let you know more as I can. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Gift for You!

Everyone at Pix-N-Pens (my publisher) are so excited about the upcoming release of "Prayer Warrior Confessions." To celebrate, we are putting it on sale for just .99 on release day, November 6, and also giving away "Glimpses of Prayer" for free that day too! Don't miss it!

"Prayer Warrior Confessions" is a collection of nonfiction stories about prayer. The stories will literally make you laugh and cry. It is such a precious book. 

I think books are a bit like children. You love them all but sometimes one will particularly delight you. That's what this book feels like to me--like that adorable, somewhat unpredictable, delightful child who makes your heart feel like it's about to burst. 

I hope  your enjoy this book as much as I do. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Cover Reveal!

My friend, Shirley Crowder and I have another book coming out next month and today we are so excited to reveal its cover. The book is titled, "Prayer Warrior Confessions". It is a nonfiction anthology full of true stories about prayer that will make readers, laugh, cry, smile, sigh, and stand amazed. I am so excited about this book! Shirley and I wrote many of the stories but we also had numerous contributors who share their experiences with prayer too. After each story, the writer gives a "confession" which is really just something he or she has learned through the experience in prayer that they shared in their story.

Without further adieu, here's the cover:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Inside Story

I thought I'd share some information that mostly only book authors know. I'll give you an inside look at general things an author deals with and my writing life, specifically.

Author Central: If a person has books listed for sale on Amazon, he or she has access to a web page called Author Central. This page lists all books by the author and shows sales of the books (both paperback and ebook) via a graph. The author has some responsibility on setting this page up. For instance, she links all of her books to the page when she adds them to her public Amazon author page.

There are options on this page as to some books, such as anthologies to which  the author has contributed. I have contributed to three Chicken Soup for the Soul books but I do not choose to link them to my page. I have seen where other authors have. I have several reasons for not linking them: 1) their sales do not generate any additional revenue to me. (I was paid a one-time fee of $200 by Chicken Soup for the use of my story.) 2) I am one of 101 other writers in the books, and 3) I have a growing number of other books that I have either fully written or co-written with only one other author and I would rather direct traffic.

The Author Central page shows individual sales ranks of the various books, information that is also posted on the books themselves when people search for them on Amazon but it has an author rank, too, which only the author can see. For the past year I have averaged around the 200,000 rank out of millions of authors on Amazon. This rank goes up and down daily with sales or the lack of them. The highest I have ever hit was close to 15,000.

Reviews: Book Reviews posted on Amazon are so important to authors! The more reviews a book has the more exposure Amazon will give it. This is especially true if the book has 50 or more. I am always begging people to leave reviews of my books. It is such a simple thing to do but people seem to have a real resistance to it. There are ways to get reviews. Amazon does not allow a person to pay for a review but they do allow an author to pay for a blog tour where the bloggers signed up to participate agree to review the book. I have never participated in a blog tour but am scheduled for my first one in December after the prayer anthology is released. This is a book I am super excited about and am willing to pay for the blog tour in exchange for the exposure the tour will give it.

Social Media: There are numerous social media outlits that authors can participate in to help get exposure for their books. At this time, I have only a Facebook author page. My page currently has 387 "likes" but every one is what is known as an organic like, which means, again, I did not pay to get new likes on my page. Everyone who has liked it has chosen to like it. I probably will not pay to gain new likes because though it might look better to the public (as though my page is more popular than it really is) the people who really notice anything I put on that page will likely only be the organic "likes" anyway and the purpose of my page is not to impress, but to share with my readers.

And finally …
There are so many other writing related things I could share and may overtime, but to keep the blog post from being too long, I will stop with these except to tell you my best-selling book so far, a question I am often asked. Drum roll please …
My best-selling book, so far, is my first book, "Prayer: It's Not About You." This book has been sold in groups many times, however, when church groups and community groups choose to study it in their group Bible studies and I'm sure that helps in the over-all number that has been sold to date. My other books are also selling well, for which I am glad. Here's a link to my author page where my books can be found: Harriet;s Amazon Page

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Release Day!!!


\ couldn't be more excited!               Glimpses of the Savior: 50 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year by [Crowder, Shirley, Michael, Harriet E.]

It's release day for the 2nd edition of "Glimpses of Prayer" and I couldn't be more excited!

The book is an updated version of the first devotional my childhood friend, Shirley Crowder and I ever collaborated on. The original had 30 meditations in it and the updated on has 50 along with some new illustrations by my very talented daughter, Kristin Michael. It is a holiday devotional that centers around the fall and winter holidays of Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. To use the old, worn-out cliché: it's new and improved, The cliché may be old and worn-out but the truth of it still stands. I know you will enjoy this book!

Here's the link where you can purchase Glimpses of the Savior.