Blog Administration, personal

Can’t We Start Again, Please

This is a repost of my blog on my devotional page: Daily Enduring Truth. The devotionals I write daily, re-starting tomorrow, July 1, will appear there. I just wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned here, also.

The end is near! No, that’s not an apocalyptic statement, that’s a commentary on my self-granted three-month sabbatical. I stopped the daily devotional writing to do some self-reflection, to think about the process of writing the devotionals, and to think about their worth. What did I learn in three months?

The first thing I learned is that I need to write these devotionals every day to hold myself accountable for reading God’s word daily. There were many times in the last three months when I let my daily Bible reading slide because I got involved in doing other things. Usually, those things were non-productive. In the past week, I’ve played a lot of catch-up on my daily reading because of the number of times I’d let the day pass me by instead of giving God control of the day from the beginning. When I re-start tomorrow, it’s with the goal of making sure that I don’t fritter time away on unimportant stuff because I start each day by reading and reacting to God’s word.

I need to write these devotionals in the morning. I started off the year trying to write devotionals for the evening time – for people coming home from work. This brought about some of the same problems of letting things slide and then rushing to do a less than quality job, in my opinion. My character and writing style don’t suit an evening devotional (only) style. I may do research in coming months and years and try something like that again, but it would be an additional thought each day, not my only writing. While the idea excited me at the beginning of the year, it never succeeded in my mind because I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.

Part of what I was doing during this time was working on marketing. I did a few things to drive people to my books. I offered the July-August eBook version of the devotionals as a free giveaway on bookfunnel. I advertised. While I gave away a few free eBooks, and I sold a few more books than normal, I can tell you that three years ago when I retired, I thought I’d make enough to supplement my income in a small way. This is definitely not happening. To be honest, I’m not sure how to market devotional books. Someone asked me about doing an autograph and meet the author table and I told him I didn’t really see something like that. How do you autograph devotional books when the idea is to get people to focus on what God is or can be doing in their lives? I’ll put the bookfunnel link at the end of this post I case you need it.

One thing I started long ago was doing what I could to help other authors share links or comments about their books. I celebrated their successes and recommended books and/or authors through my social media. While I didn’t have anything for them to share at the time, I made a few comments about how I expected similar considerations in the future. Apparently, what I thought was a quid pro quo kind of marketing was more of a quid pro no situation. Perhaps these friends didn’t see my posts on social media, but for the most part, with a few exceptions, those I supported in the past were conspicuous by their lack of support for me. I understand that many of my author friends are not Christians, but they could have said something like, “If you’re a Christian, you may want to check out these devotional books by a friend of mine.” The lack of support and the lack of response from people I might expect to download a free book was disheartening. That being said, I’ll need to find better ways to spread the word about these books.

Why do I want to spread the word about these devotional books? One of the things I realized is that these books are my ministry. The call that I am answering through these books (the devotional series) and through my daily articles is to build up the body of Christ. I should have realized that at the beginning of the year in an exciting way. A pastor with great integrity contacted me and asked about using these devotionals for his church this year. He could easily have just put them up on his church site and I would never have been the wiser; instead, he contacted me and asked what it would cost to do that. In these days where lack of integrity runs rampant, I honored his integrity by giving him the rights to publish them on his website at no cost, because it would allow me to fulfill my ministry of building up the body of Christ. I take this ministry and this writing seriously, and I’m grateful for those who respect the work I do, hopefully under God’s guidance.

I’ve run into friends and people I’ve supported who haven’t seen this as a ministry. They’ve rejected my offers to speak about the need for spiritual growth. They’ve blown me off when I suggested that what I had to say might be important to the people that they work with. These are not strangers who’ve done this, these are friends: people that I’ve known and supported for years. One of my goals in the days and years to come is to help people understand that the work that I do as I write to build up the body of Christ is an important part of helping the body of Christ to grow.

What will devotionals look like starting tomorrow? I don’t know right now. I’m trying to find ways to be more succinct in my writing, but, as might be obvious, I tend to go on. All I know is that I will continue to share what God teaches me daily for anyone who wants to read. I may add a few wrinkles to the way I do things, but I will try to keep things substantive. If you still haven’t downloaded the July-August eBook version yet, you can download it without costing you a thing by going to this link:
https://dl.bookfunnel.com/4nw47oq9cd

 

 

Daily Work, personal

C’mon Baby Light My Fire

There is a spark! Over the last few months, while I’ve done some kind of writing or another, it felt like I was going through the motions. I’m in a writing challenge where I have to write four hundred words a day, and I was trying to find ways to get to four hundred. If I was writing part of a story and I hit four hundred, I’d finish my thought and stop rather than letting the writing flow. For those of you who read them, I stopped writing my devotionals. They were losing their freshness and I needed to step away from them for a time. I’ll explain what I’ve learned about myself in this time on the day before I return to writing them.

There was no life, no spark, to my writing. I wasn’t enjoying it and I did it because I had to. That’s not all bad, because there’s something to be said for perseverance in times like that. I have saved everything I’ve done during this dry period because one of my rules about writing is that there’s no such thing as good writing; there’s only good re-writing.

I got a chuckle out of seeing my books on that pirate site because, well, let’s face it – I’m not much of a marketer and my books haven’t sold many copies. That can be a bit discouraging. That’s another reason for the lack of emotion in my writing recently. Not only have sales been non-existant,  I just started this book funnel program and haven’t been able to give my book away. I’ve had two downloads so far – and one of them was me testing the process. The lack of sales can lead to a lot of self-doubt. The only one who seemed to enjoy the devotionals was my mom and, well, she’s my mom. When she died, I had no fans of the writing and no one encouraging me.

This isn’t meant to be a pity party, I’m just telling you where I am, rather where I was, on my writing. Today, though, I found a project that excites me. Someone described a common trope in writing and suggested a twist. I smiled as I thought about it. Then, as I thought more about it, I realized that the twist that got people excited had already been written before – in the Bible. As I enjoyed that revelation, I began thinking about how to revamp the story, it would be the Moses story, in a modern setting. As the ideas fell into place, I began plotting out the story. Let me repeat that: I began plotting out the story! If you’re wondering what makes that such a big deal, let me explain.

There are three approaches to writing novels: the plotter, the pantser, and the plantser. The plotter approach is to outline the story, usually in great detail. Characters ae fleshed out before the writing begins. Plot lines are developed. A good plotter could start writing the story at chapter three, or chapter ten with no problem because they already know the rest of the flow of the story. The pantser on the other hand has a vague idea of what he/she wants to write about. They may have a few character names. They may have a vague idea of how the story will end. The pantser writes things on the fly and will often learn about their characters during the story. This is how I tend to write. The plantser is a combination of the two other approaches. They may have an outline of where they’re going, but a character may surprise them and do something they didn’t expect. Sometimes plantsers make it through their outlines, sometimes they make it through the first chapter of their outline before everything blows up and they either go with the flow of their new story or they stop and re-outline.

The fact that I began plotting today is so out of character for me, but it happened because I fell in love with the concept. I know I haven’t told you much about the story, and I won’t just yet, but if I’m doing research, you have to know I’m excited about the story. I’ll probably share excerpts in days to come as I work on this story, but I finally have a spark to write again!

Blog Administration, Daily Work

January 13 – Where Does Sunday Go?

So today, there won’t be any bird pictures. If you came here looking for them, I apologize, but Sunday is a busy day. Last week I tried to get some pictures in, but right now, there aren’t enough birds flying around to make it worthwhile. What takes so much time on Sunday? We leave the house around 7:45 to go to church. I usually have duties at church that require me to be there from 8:00 AM (or earlier) until our second service lets out around noon. Of course, we talk to our church family until about 12:30 before we head out. Today, my duties included photography for a special commitment service. I used the church’s camera, so I don’t have any of those pictures to share.

When we got home, I fixed a quick lunch and did a few things before leaving again about 1:40 to go to a retirement center where I lead a Bible Study. I do that for half an hour, and then head back home where I have to do family things and write my devotional, except today, I had a rough time putting my thoughts together. Then, it’s time to prepare supper and at this time of year, it gets dark early enough that I can’t go out and take pictures.

My devotional, by the way, is called Daily Enduring Truth, and is available every day at the link in the text. I share one of the things that I learn from my personal Bible reading. This year, I’m doing something different by making the devotional an evening devotional with the idea of having people reflect on their day and see how they can learn and grow from the issues of their day. It’s a new concept for me, but I began thinking about this late last year when I thought about how the Bible describes a day. Each time, it begins in the evening. “It was evening and it was morning, the first day.” or “Evening, morning, and at noon will I pray.” My first set of devotional books is based on the same Bible readings, but meant for the morning. The possibility exists that thee will be a second set, but I have other writings to work on.

Now, one last bit of news. A short story I wrote has been accepted for a charity anthology. We will be supporting Alex’s lemonade stand. So, in addition to Bird Brain Chronicle posts showing up here, I’ll even be including some other bits and pieces of my writing and promoting the books that I have short stories in. I may even have some excerpts from the story of the journey my wife and I took as she battled breast cancer. Thanks for reading here and following here.

Daily Work

April 30 – It Was Monday, All Right

Mondays – when everything takes twice as long and you work three times as hard to get work done that you are 50% less satisfied with. Got my devotional and challenge writing done earlier than normal, but it was like pulling teeth today. Then had to run errands and on my last one, realized that I had just enough time to finish, get home and change, and then get to chess clubs. Did those and came home to an empty house. That problem I mentioned that my wife had at work, solved by making her work harder. But, there are other benefits, so she’s satisfied with the arrangements. I began editing the book I should have done two months ago but had glitches. I should get caught up and work on July August soon as well as my Time Travel story this month. June is gonna be crazy!

Today’s Devotional (575 Words) – April 30 – Giving: Attitude Beats Amount

Daily Work

April 8 – …And I Did Some Writing, Too

Today was Sunday. All day. I got my devotional written before we left because I needed to attend the first service if I was going to worship. Then, I had parking lot duty. We have men who take turns being on the parking lot as a presence to deter bad people from thinking cars in the lot are easy targets. I get a lot of good exercise on those days. After that, I counted money as part of the finance committee. And, as Sundays go, I came home, ate lunch and then left almost immediately to go to the nursing home for the Bible Study. Then, came home for a partial time of relaxation, in time to get ready to head back to the church for our Financial Peace University Class. I’m excited to have co-coordinators working with me…they’re good as they showed tonight! Then it was home to cook dinner, clean dishes, and try to write. I was trying to write the devotional for the day I was missing, but had a lot of distractions. I still have a bit more to write tomorrow. I’m hoping to finish that early, and then begin editing the April part of the book. I really want to get caught up on the editing so I can have the devotional books through the end of June out in order!

Today’s Devotional (513 Words) – April 8 – The Weapon of Hatred 

With this full of a day, no other reading (other than the Bible)