The Rocky Road to Book Promotion

My hair is turning grey. Why? Because I not only write books, but have to concentrate on publicity. Publicity? Yeah, I know, it’s a bad word—but a necessary one. Maybe there are those in book-land who love book promotion. Let it be known up front that I’m not one of them. But, BUT, it is necessary! So Riptide_h11210_300as my latest novel, Riptide came out, I bit the bullet and formulated a plan.

Anyway, here is what I’ve done which I present with the thought that it might help other reluctant authors-promoters.

First I appealed for some reviewers and encouraged them to put reviews up on my publisher’s site (Pelican Book Group), on Amazon, Indigo, and Barnes and Noble. The results were not only encouraging, but astounding. People actually liked, even loved my book!

Of course, I’d already updated my web site and talked about the book on Facebook and twitter.

I wrote a persuasive one page description of the book which included facts, cost, availability, reviews, etc. Along with a picture of the cover, I sent this to my email list encouraging previous readers of my fiction to order the book. Orders began to trickle in.

Captives cover 150dpi (388 x 600) - CopySince my home church has been supportive, I approached the pastor about making the book available on a Sunday. Some churches are sensitive about selling on Sunday. But since our church allows the sale of missionary books and music videos from visiting presenters, the pastor was positive. With a notice in the bulletin for a couple of weeks, the sales on the Sunday in question were good.

Next I wrote a one page News Release and presented this in person to the offices of local papers. Ours is a rural county with several small towns and a very active arts and writers’ community. The papers readily accept news releases and often use them almost verbatim. In my case, one of the widest disseminated free papers printed a very positive article. I was astonished when three different people contacted me directly as a result of the Country Win, front onlyarticle. This doesn’t often happen. I’m still waiting for two other papers to follow suit—especially when I approach them with specific dates for book readings, launches, and events.

Once one news article had circulated, it was time to approach local bookstores with whom I have maintained a relationship over the years. Fortunately, this personal approach paid dividends. All of the local bookstores have ordered copies from the distributor. Now I can direct inquiries to these stores. Even Indigo, Canada’s answer to Barnes & Noble, agreed to list it on their sites due to my relationship with some of their store managers. It is also available on Kindle, Kobo, and other e-readers.
The article also generated interest from libraries. So I took the time to personally approach the CEO of each of our local libraries with the suggestion they purchase copies. Most of them eagerly did so, purchasing copies directly from me. In each case, I offered to either run or participate in a literary evening of Lightning File Cover1readings and discussion. So far, our nearest library has reciprocated and scheduled an evening centred on reading from my three novels and discussion of the role of setting in fiction.

The summer is a great time to participate in fairs, arts and craft shows, and farmers’ markets. Most years I set up a table every Saturday at whatever event is taking place. Each of these cost money necessitating the pondering of whether or not sales will cover the cost of a booth. This year, due to some health problems, I’ve not been able to do this as often as I would like.

These same challenges have made it difficult to schedule a book launch evening at a local coffee shop, but this is being planned. A book launch where coffee and pastries are available is a great place to invite friends and writing colleagues. Usually, a couple of local authors get together to launch their books, give readings, and answer questions.
The period leading up to Christmas is an especially fruitful time to set up a book table at local fairs and Christmas craft shows. People come to these looking for gifts and what better gift could they buy than a book?

I’ve also found large bookstores welcome me as a local author offering to sign Down-a-country-road (1)books during periods that lead up to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas. These stores, however, need to know far in advance as their schedules are often full and they need to order books from a distributer.

Finally, service clubs and churches provide one of the most fulfilling venues to speak at as a writer. This is especially true if you have a book of local interest or can gear your talk to something that intrigues or educates an audience. Writers of non-fiction, particularly, have a ready-made topic on which they can speak. My book, Through A Country Window, describes the joys of country life in a general way but also focuses on fascinating facts about our area of the country. Concerning my book, Church–No Spectator Sport, I often speak about the discovery and development of spiritual gifts. From my book, Revolutionary Forgiveness, I can address many questions about how to deal with bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. I find that people are also fascinated by the whole idea of writing a book of fiction. How did you become a writer? Where do you get your ideas from? How do you get published? What advice do you have for new writers?

While we who are authors may not be ideal promoters, any effort we can expend will be yield sales and make our books known. With thousands upon thousands of titles entering the book business every year, we must do whatever we can to promote our book, unless we want it to sink into oblivion. (http://www.countrywindow.ca)

Lesson From A Misshapen Tomato

The tomato was misshapen so I passed it by. It was fat and red, but had a wart-like protrusion from one side. But later, when I picked it, carved off the protrusion, and cut two slices for a sandwich I wasn’t prepared for the taste. Wow! What an explosion of flavor.

Our supermarkets have trained us to expect uniform shapes in our tomatoes, cucumbers, apples and so on. As a result, we’re unprepared to discover flavor in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAveggies or fruit that isn’t a standard shape to fit packaging. The distance most of this produce is shipped dictates that things be picked when they are still unripe and hard enough to bear some rough handling. And so the taste is bland, unlike the French fruits and vegetables we hear about that are grown on smaller farms nearer their market. But that’s another story.

Many of us carry this propensity to evaluate produce by its appearance into all our value-judgments. Although we admit that judging a book by its cover is not fair to the writer, we do it anyway. We classify people by the colour and cut of their hair, the shape of their face, and the tint of their skin. Their ethnicity or origin. Their height and weight. Their accent or facility with our language. The car they drive. The house they live in. The clothes they wear. Their religion. Their marital status.

And yet none of these markers reveal the person behind the externals—the heart and soul and experience and passion of the person. Appearances deceive. I’ve been amazed again and again by how my perceptions of people change when I get to know them. When I listen to them. When I hear their story. That includes ???????????????????????????????Pakistanis among whom we spent sixteen years.

God warns us about this tendency. In choosing a king to succeed Saul, God instructed Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”(1 Sam. 16:7).

Jesus repeatedly broke cultural taboos by associating with tax collectors like Matthew, short people like Zachaeus, women in a male dominated society, Samaritans and other foreigners. He entrusted his revolutionary gospel not to those we would normally pick as leaders but to fishermen and misfits.

The apostle Paul warns about taking “pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart”(2 Cor. 5:12). He exhorts his readers not to look on “the surface of things”(2 Cor. 10:7).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to keep telling myself not to make superficial judgments about people. Don’t you? Like: all Jamaicans are…; all Americans are… ; all Chinese are… ; all Blacks are…; all Muslims are… all Canadians are… No they are not all the same. They are people like us; men and women, boys and girls, young and old, with hopes and dreams and problems. Their cultures may be different but God says; “Judge not that you be not judged.” “Don’t show favoritism.”

This is especially crucial in these days of racial and religious profiling.

Happy Coincidence or Providential Care?

An angel came by the other day to keep us from having a dangerous highway accident. An angel you ask, well not exactly—a very observant and thoughtful person.

We were enjoying a day trip to a wonderful farmers’ market in the Amish country of Southern Ontario. As we left, I noted a factory outlet mall where we stopped to shop. Mary Helen took some of our purchases to the car and spent a few minutes relaxing. At that very moment a couple walking by our car stopped, he tapped on the window, and asked Mary Helen if she would mind them pointing out something.

The man showed her a tiny bulge on our left rear tire and warned her about the Tiredanger of a blowout while driving on the highway. Wow! She thanked them profusely and when I returned she showed me the bulge.

Among all the scuffs and marks on the wall of the tire, I would have never noticed it. We drove home very carefully avoiding the main highway by using smaller roads through wonderful farmland. The next day I took the car to a service station where the mechanic examined the tire and pronounced it unrepairable. Although he didn’t have a replacement in stock, he was providentially able to secure one quickly from the warehouse even though it was a holiday weekend.

We are so thankful for the thoughtful man who pointed out the problem. Was it just a coincidence that he and his wife were walking by our car—at that moment? Was it a coincidence that we parked where we did? Was it a coincidence that Mary Helen took purchase back to the car at that specific time? Was it a coincidence that a man who could recognize a dangerous tire condition would see what to me looked like an insignificant mark on the tire? Was it a coincidence that the special tire needed was found on a holiday weekend?

RainbowNo, this whole episode is one more example of God’s providential care. “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.…He who watches over you will not slumber;…The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore”(Psalm 121:2,3,7,8).

Throughout our lives there have been hundreds, even thousands upon thousands of so-called coincidences that were really evidences of God’s providential care. Many of them we have not recognized.

Of course, events don’t always turn out in ways that seem good to us. Bad things happen too. And recently we have been somewhat overwhelmed by health challenges. This incident reminds us that God cares for us and watches over us and will overrule all apparently difficult things for our good and His glory. He does this to all who become his children through putting their faith in Jesus, his son.

Romans 8:28, as we were reminded recently by a wonderful sermon, doesn’t mean that nothing difficult or bad will ever happen to us. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose”(Rom. 8:28). In some inscrutable way all the things that happen to us, good or bad, God will work into his plan for us so we become conformed into the likeness of his son [vs 29]. That process will ultimately both glorify God and bless us.

We’ve got a long way to go to become like Christ. How God overrules everythingOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA for our good and his glory is beyond our understanding and responsibility. But as he reminded us in this incident, he loves us and he will take care of us.

What should we do then? “Cast all your anxiety [cares] on him because he cares for you”(1 Peter5:7).

[For descriptions of books by Eric E Wright, including Down a Country Road, a book of inspirational readings through the year, visit: http://www.countrywindow.ca )

Strolling Through God’s Garden and Mine

Our gardenOur garden often beckons me to come see. Fortunately, I’m at a time of life where it’s possible to heed its siren song, to take a leisurely stroll with much stopping to check out how things are growing. You know what I mean; what new flower is in bloom, which ones need dead-heading, where do the beds need weeding? I’ll take a minute or two to nod at the cheerful shasta daisies and smile at the vivacious fiesta flowers.

I don’t neglect the vegetable garden in my meanderings. Do the cucumber leaves hide any baby cukes? Any ripe tomatoes? Any bugs on the potatoes? Has the Swiss chard grown enough to yield another cutting?

On summer evenings, warm and fine,
when work is done and time is mine,
when sun glows rich on leaf and vine,
I wander round my garden. (Margaret Ingall)

After my jaunt, I return inside refreshed for the tasks I’ve left behind. My garden yields much more than bouquets of blooms and tasty veggies. It refreshes, revives, and recharges my spirit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery day the garden changes just a little. And that is as it should be, for it is full of growing things. Which reminds me that we also need to grow a little every day as we meander through God’s garden of verses—the Bible. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”(2 Peter3:18). There may be “respectable” sins we have not yet uncovered. Or, one or more of the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control—may be stunted or missing from our life.

We may need to take a leisurely stroll through the Psalms, sit still and imbibe the wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount, or ponder the parables. And as we stroll through God’s garden, we can pick thoughts to adorn our lives, truths to restore passion to our flagging spirits, promises to lift us from despair or doubt, Delphiniumguidance on how to be more fruitful.

Many have suggested the importance of systematically reading through the whole Bible, in a year or two. We would be very wise to have such a plan; perhaps daily reading a chapter or two from each Testament. I recently re-read Genesis in combination with Revelation and was astonished again at the stories of creation and covenant on the one hand and prophecies of the future, on the other. They brought me back to basics.

LupinscloseSometimes, however, we need to be more relaxed in our reading. To linger longer over a few verses or a single psalm; letting the Holy Spirit open a passage more deeply to our soul. The main thing we should keep in mind is that like Adam and Eve walking with God in the cool of the day, we need to daily walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit through His Garden of Revelation.

Our Love/Hate Relationship With Nature

???????????????????????????????Mary Helen champions the rights of squirrels. “Honey, just let them eat. They work so hard to get your bird seed.”

Unlike Mary Helen, I’m in constant conflict with our squirrels. Our aggressive squirrels, black and grey, repeatedly knock down the finch feeder, even though they’re not finches. Then there is the main feeder that I’d set up to feed our feathered friends: cardinals, nuthatches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, chickadees. The squirrels leapt from the deck the ten or twelve feet to the feeder where they proceeded to ???????????????????????????????empty it in spite of a circular squirrel baffle I’d installed so they couldn’t climb the pole. So I moved the pole three feet farther. No problem, the grey squirrels leapt the distance, knocking it to the ground and breaking the feeder.

This meant war. I went to the local hardware store and invested in a fancy squirrel proof feeder. True, the squirrels—so far—have not have not been able to get into the main storage area. But where I hung it from the eaves trough, they placidly clung to the wire grid and munched away. The store of seed quickly diminished. I decided to ???????????????????????????????go back to the drawing board.

So I designed what I thought was an ingenious way to keep the squirrels out of the seed: a pole with a round baffle to keep them from climbing and the feeder on a moveable arm so I could raise it high above the ground. After installation, I sat back and smiled at my ingenuity.

Lo and behold, within a few hours the grey squirrel found a way to leap onto the top of thiGrey squirrel on squirrel proof feeder?????????s new-fangled invention and munch away. How? I’ve no idea. Is it a magician?

And not satisfied to deplete the regular seed, both varieties of squirrels curl around the finch feeder and using their tiny tongues tease out the miniscule niger seed. I’ve obviously lost the war. Mary Helen tells me to give up and just admire their ingenuity and perseverance. “Doesn’t James say that the testing of your faith develops perseverance?” (James 1:3) Touche

What about chipmunks? Mary Helen loves them. “They’re so cute,” she says.???????????????????????????????

“But,” I reply, “They’re eating the coriander seed, the buds off flowers, and digging up the tulip bulbs. They also dig up peas and sunflower seeds as fast as I plant them. They even feast on half-ripe tomatoes!”

“But they’re so cute,” she repeats.

“True, they’re cute,” I admit. “But they do a lot more damage than garter snakes.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMary Helen’s attitude changes in an instant. “Snakes, I can’t stand snakes. You’ve got to kill them.”

“But they get rid of insects and other pests,” I reply. “And they’re harmless to us.”

“I don’t care. What if they come inside!”

Irrational, I think, but don’t say, as I admit defeat on all fronts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Need Wild Nature

Sugar MapleTall, mature trees almost completely encircle our property. Giant poplar, white pine, maple, oak, beech, hemlock and cedar. Purposely, we’ve left the underbrush beneath them to grow wild. Why? Partly, it’s a shortage of energy and resources to tame the wildness resident there. Mainly though, it’s a desire to live near something wild and natural.

True, our house is surrounded by lawn and gardens where we even have space to grow some vegetables. And, yes, I have made a pathway through the woods to the stream at the back of our property. So it’s not all wild. But it’s quiet, peaceful and private. The domain of squirrels and chipmunks and raccoons and wild turkeys and a host of birds. We have neighbours, but none are visible.

This year, as we lounge on our deck, we remark more than ever what a soothing??????????????????????????????? benediction it is to rest our eyes on the curtain of green that surrounds us. To listen to birds cavorting in and out of the branches. To let our eyes trace the trunk of an 80 foot tall white birch as it reaches for the sky. To watch the breeze make the trembling aspen dance. To hear the soft gurgle of our stream.

Most of us live in cities surrounded by concrete and skyscrapers or commute to and from suburbs filled with cookie-cutter houses crammed cheek by jowl. We’re busy rushing here and there. Our lives are scheduled to the max and full of noise. ??????????????????????We become captive to our computers and cell phones and gadgets. And it’s all good. It’s a convenient way to live and work.

But most of us feel the need from time to time to get away from it all. Summer is a great time to do that. To visit some place that is not imprisoned in concrete. To hike through meadows that have not surrendered to industrial farming. To sit on the shore of a lake and read a book. To climb a mountain. To hike a trail through wild forests. To dip our feet in the vast untamed ocean. To cruise down a great river.june-presquile-035

There is something rejuvenating about exposing ourselves to nature where it is relatively unspoiled by human schemes; closer to the way God created it. At least, that’s the way I see it.

In many ways, this has been a difficult year. We put our property up for sale last year. Fortunately, it didn’t sell. The Lord knew we needed a leafy sanctuary where we could see more clearly His creative hand and thus learn to trust him more.

???????????????????????????????So, why not use summer, or winter for that matter, to find a place where you can be more open to the message of God’s creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge”(Psalm 19:1,2). “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”(Romans 1:20).

 

 

 

 

 

This Beautiful World-And The Next

???????????????????????????????Mary Helen and I often comment about the beauty spread around us. A stunning sunset. The changing array of wildflowers. The soft green of tree leaves whispering in the breeze. The birds that inhabit our world. Each species of bird has a distinct personality and dress. The friendly black-capped chickadees keep us entertained all year as they flit from feeder to forest. The robins scold us whenever we come near their nest.

But this year, more than any, we’ve been blessed by the unusual variety of ???????????????????????????????beautiful birds visiting our bird feeders. By hanging out orange slices, we’ve enticed a pair of the Baltimore orioles to nest nearby. Although very skittish, their stunning orange dress catches our eye whenever they raid the hummingbird feeder. Their chatter echoes from the woods.

The bright blaze of scarlet on the rose-breasted grosbeak and the deep blue of the tiny indigo bunting also arrest our ???????????????????????????????attention. And who does not delight in the brilliant yellow of the goldfinch. Occasionally we catch sight of a red cardinal whistling for its mate or visiting the feeder.

The astounding acrobatics of the hummingbirds entertain us from spring to fall. I’m sure evolutionists can find some reason for the iridescent patch on the male, but I just enjoy the beauty.

We’re not even in the tropics where gorgeous parrots flit through the rain forest ???????????????????????????????and orchids hang from the trees, but even here in a temperate zone, God has touched everything with His artistry. His handiwork is evident in rock crystals, sea creatures, cloud formations, birds, insects and flowers. Such astounding diversity!

If God continues to spread beauty around, in spite of our world being marred by the fall, how much more amazing will be the new heaven and the new earth? A day is coming when this old world will be destroyed. “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness”(2 Peter 3:13). That which has marred our Blue Jayworld— sin, pollution, war, thoughtless progress— will be purged from the new universe God will create. Beauty will shine forth without being diminished.

According to Scripture, the most beautiful element of all, besides God, is the beauty of holiness. “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness”(Psalm 29:2). And so, as we look forward to heaven, and ultimately a renewed earth, we can prepare ourselves by donning the qualities of a holy life so that we may worship God acceptably. (See Gal. 5:22,23) Without holiness we are unable to fully recognize the beauty of God reflected in His creation.

Since He is the source of all this beauty, we should not be surprised when we read in the Scriptures that His God-followers long “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”(Psalm 27:4). They recognized, as we should, that God Himself must be??????????????????????????????? beautiful beyond measure. Daniel, Ezekiel, and John, among others, caught glimpses of God’s splendor that left them stunned and speechless.

The beauty spread out around us should inspire us to give glory and praise to the Creator, and move us to don the robes of holiness He provides through His Son. We should also look forward to the beauties of heaven.