Rob Carlisle: “You never can know what will happen to you in a day…”

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Cmdr. Rob Carlisle, (U.S. Navy – Ret.), author of “Defending Freedom” and a survivor of a gunman’s attack against the Washington Navy Yard on September 16, 2013. 

After the attacks of 9/11, September has become a month of remembrance.  Certainly the events of that day have affected most Americans in one way or another.  As for me personally, it would affect me for the next decade.  2001 was an interesting year.  In January, I had decided to leave the Navy and take up a job in corporate America. Later that spring, I also joined the Navy reserves to keep myself involved in an organization I loved while earning some extra money during the weekends while also planning ahead for a retirement with a military pension.

Then September 11 happened.  I didn’t know at the time how it would affect me; I just knew it would.  Then about a year later, because 9/11 impacted an already shaky economy, I lost my job with the technology company I had joined following my time in the Navy. Then just six months into a new job, I was called back up to active duty and found myself in Naples, Italy, at the outbreak of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For several months, I supported a crisis action team that coordinated military shipping traffic in the Mediterranean.  The operational

Carlisle wrote "Defending Freedom"  for his teenage sons.

Carlisle wrote “Defending Freedom” for his teenage sons.

tempo was intense and in the back of my head was always the thought of my wife and three young sons back in the States in a home we just barely moved into before I got the call. Fast forward several years later when I first got the idea to write my book Defending Freedom.  My main motivation was to leave a legacy for my now teenage sons; a book on life’s lessons if you will in which I could lay out my reasons for why I choose to follow Christ.

My idea centered on the tale of two midshipmen following their graduation from the Naval Academy against the backdrop of the world after 9/11. The Navy makes you grow up quickly because of the amount of responsibility immediately thrust upon the shoulders of young officers.  I wanted to share with my sons some of my own experiences while paying homage to the difficulties associated with military life.  What better setting than the Navy to illustrate how Christ can truly make a difference in your life?  My final manuscript was finished in the summer of 2013 and I began to look into publishing alternatives.

Carlisle with his sons Nathan, Kyle and Joel during a cross country road trip to California to celebrate Rob's dad's 80th birthday.

Rob Carlisle with his sons Nathan, Kyle and Joel during a cross country road trip to California to celebrate Rob’s dad’s 80th birthday.

Then on the morning of September 16, 2013, a young man decided to smuggle a shotgun into Building 197 at the Navy Yard and started firing at people on the fourth floor of that building.  When all was said and done, he and 12 innocent people had lost their lives.  Fortunately, I was not one of them, because I was standing right around the corner from the gunman when he started his rampage.  God’s angels were protecting me that morning as I was able to escape out a fire exit to safety.  Others were not so lucky and couldn’t make it out and were either victims or witnesses to this horror.  One year later, the memory of that day is very much ingrained in everyone present during this act of pure evil.

So on September 17, 2013 I decided to turn a negative into a positive and submitted my manuscript to WestBow Press.  WestBow Press had interested me because of their relationship with Thomas Nelson, a well-known and respected Christian publisher.  Looking back a year later, I realize now that this was a hasty decision based on a sense of urgency.  You never can know what will happen to you in a day!  But I have never regretted it.

WestBow Press guided me through the process and did a wonderful job with designing the cover and interior of my book.  And I have immensely enjoyed telling others about my book.  It has created many opportunities for me to share the gospel of Christ.  When you write a book, the first question everyone asks is “What is it about?”  And through my blog and my book’s Facebook page, I can routinely interact with hundreds of people I would never have met otherwise.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Wendy Cullum: Her book supports mission to raise youth self esteem

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their tips and strategies that have helped them achieve a successful self-publishing journey. The following are the words of Wendy Cullum, author of “Project Self Esteem: For Kids

Wendy Cullum, author of "Project Self Esteem: For Kids."

Wendy Cullum, author of “Project Self Esteem: For Kids.”

,” which supports her mission of raising self esteem and preventing bullying.

I have always loved children. When I was a teenager, I wrote in my journal that I would have ten kids, and I even wrote their names. I babysat every weekend. When I got married I was fortunate enough to have four beautiful children. My husband and I practiced attachment parenting, including co-sleeping, and I was their first pre-school teacher. Naturally when they started elementary school, I wanted to volunteer in any program available. One such program at the school intrigued me. It was called Project Self-Esteem. Of course I signed up to teach it in my child’s class. It was a program where a parent volunteer taught one lesson once a month in their child’s class. The lesson’s subjects introduced core values to the class.

I taught the program for 12 years. The program was good, but I felt that a few things were lacking. It seemed a little dated, so I started my search for more relevant and entertaining material to add. Three years ago the school decided to drop the program because the content of the lessons were stale. This was a program that I believed in and was having success on my own with more updated materials. I knew that its potential was great and I saw how it made an impact on the lives of the children who participated in it.

PSECoverI asked if I could rewrite the program and I was given the opportunity. It took me three years to perfect it. I would teach a lesson and test the content to see what worked well and kept the kids interested. The lesson subjects are wisdom, individuality, cooperation, compassion, self-discipline, honesty, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, uniqueness, respect, determination, joy, humility, courage and friendship. Each lesson has a discussion about the topic, story and object lesson.

On my journey collecting content for the object lesson on friendship, I met an interesting woman on an airplane. I told her I was writing a book and what it was about. She then relayed a story that I ended up adding to the book, and it has become one of my favorites. The lesson involves placing a large piece of butcher paper, cut out in the shape of one of your student’s silhouette, on the chalkboard. We call the Silhouette “Our friend Bob”. I tell the students that they are feeling bad about themselves, so they want to put down their friend Bob. Each student comes up to the front with a pencil and writes a mean put down somewhere on the silhouette.

They then tear off the portion where they wrote and take it back to their seat. When everyone has completed this task, there shouldn’t be much of Bob remaining. I ask the students, “How does Bob look now”? They literally tore him apart with their put downs. It is time to make amends, so each student erases their put down and writes a positive complement. They then bring back their piece of Bob to put him back together. In the end, Bob is whole again. But he doesn’t look the same anymore. I teach the students that although he is back in one piece, he has cuts or tears now. This represents how negative put downs can hurt a person deep inside. You can say you are sorry, but your harsh words will always leave a mark. They should always think before they say something unkind. Because it will have a lasting affect.

When kids have low self-esteem, they resort to treating others poorly. Topics like bullying and ways to deal with anger are discussed. 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school, and 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking or having eating disorders. Facts like these are and were astonishing to me, and are a major motivation for me in writing my book .

The parent volunteers that participate in teaching the lessons learn just as much as the students that they are teaching. One parent reported saying, “I taught the lesson for PSE on Joy. Thank you so much for a great lesson. I went to teach it to the kids and left the classroom so encouraged and full of joy because I couldn’t help but to understand the topic. The kids enjoyed all of the activities, and he had such a fun time. It just doesn’t impact the children, it was an amazing and timely reminder for me as well”.

The purpose of this journey is to reach the children with the message. Upon completion of one year, students often communicate their feelings back to their instructor. Here are a few examples of what they had to say. “I love PSE because it makes me want to be a better person”. “In PSE you taught me how to respect myself and others”. “The lesson I loved the most is humility. It taught me to be more humble”. “My favorite part of PSE was Spotlight”. My goal is to bring this program, Project Self-Esteem for kids, and it’s important message to all schools in America. If it just reaches one child, I have been successful.

- Wendy Cullum 8/28/14

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

 


Laurie Norlander: “One Year Later”

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their tips and strategies that have helped them achieve a successful self-publishing journey. The following are the words of Laurie Norlander, author of “Mirror Images.”

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Laurie Norlander meets with readers at the 2013 Women of Faith convention in Kansas City.

My self-publishing journey began atypically when I received an email announcing my novel, Mirror Images, had won the 2012 Women of Faith Writing Contest. The grand prize included a publishing package from WestBow Press, and on July 29, 2013, my first co
py arrived in the mail. The cover was beautiful, the interior design crisp and professional, and I felt like a “real author.” It was hard not to fantasize about meteoric book sales paving the way to a successful writing career …

I quickly planned a launch party, set up interviews, and shot an author video. I did bmirror imagesook signings, author chats, and attended reading group discussions. I opened a Facebook author page to interact with readers. My efforts seemed to pay dividends. Two retailers agreed to stock Mirror Images. Libraries in surrounding communities purchased copies and had readers on waiting lists. I even signed a contract to present at a book festival sponsored by UW-Eau Claire! Feedback began to trickle in. It was gratifying to hear people say they loved my characters and hoped I’d write a sequel.

My first royalty check arrived and positive reviews were posted on Amazon. I had to corral soaring expectations. In September, I attended the Women of Faith conference in Kansas City and had the privilege of distributing my book at the WestBow Press booth.  It was exhilarating to watch readers line up for autographed copies and to meet and talk with so many amazing women.

Despite initial interest, local sales gradually waned. Fourth quarter online numbers were modest. Reality set in. I was probably never going to see my name atop a best sellers’ list. Surprisingly, the thought was liberating. My journey took on deeper significance as I was reminded why I write. Sales are wonderful, but what truly matters is that I honor God with my talents and trust Him to use my efforts to further His Kingdom. I’m currently finishing work on The Jonah Complex, a suspense novel about a troubled psychiatrist overcoming chemical dependency to save a homeless man from a killer.

Lately, I’ve given away more books than I’ve sold—to a non-profit’s silent auction, a new pastor’s wife, a mentor hoping to spark a love for books in a teen. I still pray God will place my book in the hands of the right people, but I’m no longer thinking of agents or acquisition editors. I’m thinking of that at-risk teenager, the lady from church with pancreatic cancer, the agnostic friend whose husband has ALS, the young couple struggling with the loss of their newborn baby. If Mirror Images offers them encouragement, inspiration, or simply a few hours of relaxation, to God be the glory.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for spacewof redownload

 


Chris Shelton: “If anyone else can do it, YOU CAN TOO”

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their tips and strategies that have helped them achieve a successful self-publishing journey. The following are the words of William “Chris” Shelton, author of “It’s Okay, You’re With My Father.”

Working as an investigator in child protective services for over ten years I felt like a man walking along a river and seeing a child drowning… so I did what anyone would and pulled them to shore, but then another was drowning, and

Chris Shelton sits at Ernest Hemingway's desk during a book signing at the ASU Hemingway Center.

Chris Shelton sits at Ernest Hemingway’s desk during a book signing at the ASU Hemingway Center.

another until I was exhausted, but more children were still drowning… Suddenly, another person is running up the riverbank and I call for help, but they shout back, “Don’t stop me.  I’m trying to get upstream to stop the person throwing them in!”  Pulling people “out of the river” one person at a time is still noble, but exhausting and limited.

I spent hours in court waiting to testify and praying for these families when God put it on my heart to go to ministry school and then to write, “It’s Okay, You’re With My Father” (A Child Abuse Investigator’s Call to The Church).  I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was seeking was a “platform” to try and reach and influence more people.

I’m asked all the time when I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I think the real question is what is inside you that you need to share to make the world or even just one person’s life (even if it’s your own) better?  It doesn’t matter if it is a poem, an encouraging story, or how to do something better, writing is that platform.  Even if your platform is speaking only, you still have to write what you want to say first.

Shelton poses with host Arthlene Rippy after taping a about his book for CTN's "Homekeepers."

Shelton poses with host Arthlene Rippy after taping a segment about his book for CTN’s “Homekeepers.”

A lot of people think that the hard part is writing what you want to say, but sadly, many books that could have made a difference never get read, because the author didn’t know how to get the word out after it was written.  Even if you have the money to pay someone else to promote your work you should still make it your job to know enough that you aren’t wasting your money.

When people ask me for advice, on writing a book, getting it published, and then promoting it, I’ve found that the best advice I can give them is to get a copy of “Platform” by Michael Hyatt, read it and then actually DO what it says!  Years ago, an author could expect a publisher to do all the work, but times change and you have to as well or else go the way of the “buggy whip manufacturing companies”.  Having said that, I’d like to leave you with this encouragement, “If anyone else can do it, YOU CAN TOO (if you want to bad enough)” and I hope you will for the world’s sake and God bless!

William “Chris” Shelton

Shelton joined the army out of high school serving as an infantry squad leader.  He used his G.I. benefits to complete a degree in sociology and education before being recruited as a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent out of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area where he served another five years and was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal.  He resigned to marry and raise their son near grandparents in NE Arkansas where he served another ten years in child protective services.  He went to ministry school and wrote, “It’s Okay, You’re With My Father” (A Child Abuse Investigator’s Call to The Church) which has been described as a ride along with a Christian child abuse investigator.  With statistics (and his experience) showing 1 in 4 girls is abused before adulthood and 1 in 6 boys, Chris shares his message to churches and civic organizations to become involved and make a difference.  He has been featured in numerous news, magazine, and blogs and appeared on numerous TV and news programs.  Chris said an unexpected benefit of writing and sharing his book has been the friendships that he wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space

 

 


Chris Groff: Book Leads to a Bigger Mission

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their tips and strategies that have helped them achieve a successful self-publishing journey. The following are the words of Chris Groff, author of Parenting By Design.

When we started Parenting by Design, it was because we were learning a type of parenting paradigm that had theGroff potential to dramatically change the relational dynamic in our home, and we knew that there were many other families that were suffering under the same delusions about “successful” parenting that we were. Initially, our goal was just to pass along the information we were receiving to people in our social circles in Fort Worth. We felt God calling us to be transparent about our experiences and to tell our friends about this alternative to the performance-driven, achievement-based culture in which we were living.

We had no designs about starting a ministry, creating a curriculum, writing devotionals or authoring books, but we were available to be used and excited to find that God’s Word described His parenting philosophy. We found that we could study and compare God’s style of parenting to the worldly style we had absorbed from our culture, and that we needed to make some pretty significant changes to better emulate Him.

Groff BookAs we studied God’s parenting style we found that, like us, many Christians were confused about what it means to parent children in a truly biblical way. Sadly, it was difficult to find much difference between the goals of professing Christian parents and those with a secular mindset. Money, power, beauty, and fame kept popping up as the real (though veiled) desires of many seemingly devout followers of Christ for their children. Underneath the platitudes about loving and serving others, there was a furious competition for the most prestigious schools, highest paying jobs, upward social and professional mobility, most advantageous relationships, most attractive appearances, and awards and recognition. We were a big part of this culture until God tore it from our grasp.

Our family’s six-year struggle with addiction, business failure, and disease took us down a path I would not wish on anyone else, but that I would not trade for anything in the world. God wasn’t punishing us – He was saving us. His faithful, loving hand guided us through the storms and left us with a redeemed family. Our relationships with each other and with Him were transformed, as was our understanding of the meaning of “success.” We began to see that success is not dependent on the things the world values because the most successful person in the history of the world had none of those things! God defines success much differently (See Matt 20:26-28).

Our goal remains the same – to pass along the information we receive to people. It’s just become a larger circle of people than our initial group of friends. God has blessed us with a message for parents. The messengers are flawed and the message has been refined by fire, but we have found that, for many parents, our perspective makes the message more approachable. I pray that Parenting by Design will touch many families the way it touched ours.

Chris Groff

https://www.facebook.com/ParentingbyDesign

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space


Sandy Betgur: Tips for Using Trade Shows in Your Marketing Plan

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share their tips and strategies that have helped them achieve a successful self-publishing journey. The following are the words of Sandy Betgur, author of God’s Song: Psalms in Rhyming Meter

Being an exhibitor at a trade show, convention, seminar, or similar large gathering of your target audience can be an important component of your marketing plan. Here are some things I’ve discovered:

Value of Trade Show

Sandy Betgur is the author of “God’s Song: Psalms in Rhyming Meter.” Learn more at Gods-Song.com.

Unless you are a keynote speaker, you will probably not sell enough books to recover costs of exhibiting at an event. However, there are other inherent values:

* Publicity – You can publicize on your social media sites that you are exhibiting. Additionally, the trade show may promote your attendance on their website, in daily show newsletters, etc. After the event you can write a follow-up blog.

* Exposure – You reap the benefit of other exhibitors’ efforts to drive traffic to the event. Your limited circle of influence is expanded to include these exhibitors’ customers.

* Networking – You may meet industry professionals you had only known by name or reputation. Don’t underestimate the value of face-time. People know people who know people. This is your opportunity to make a memorable impression.

* Contacts – Although you may not sell books at the show, remember your goal is to gather contact information that could lead to future sales.

Strategy

Betgur cover* Get your business card or brochure into attendees’ hands. Don’t tie up your time by engaging in long conversations. They have a lot to see, and you have a lot of people to meet. Have them sign up for something like an online newsletter or facebook so you can follow-up after the show. Consider having them enter a daily drawing by filling out a contact form.

* Offer a simple give-away so that as attendees walk down the aisle you can invite them to your table. If people aren’t specifically looking for you, they will likely just walk on by without stopping to inquire about your product.

* Make your table inviting. Many exhibitors display a candy bowl. Offer more. If there is space, provide an extra chair for weary legs to sit. Leave space on the aisle side of your table for weary arms to place their bags while chatting. Provide a handy hand sanitizer, box of tissues, cup with pens or other necessities.

* Make your space beautiful. Fresh flowers, uncluttered signage, artistically arranged display, and something unique. Give attendees a reason to comment on your booth.

* Get noticed. Provide a Wow-Factor that compels them to stop for a moment. You are responsible for getting their attention. Some exhibitors bring in a personality (celebrity, magician, costumed character) or play soft music or project a fast-moving video. Some dress themselves in historical costumes, outrageous fashion, or stunning jewelry. Be willing to “put yourself out there” to catch people’s eye so you can then engage them in conversation.

* Call people by name. Get in the habit of noticing name tags. When you add the personal touch of repeating their name, they are more likely to look at your name tag and possibly remember you. So make sure your badge hasn’t flipped to a blank side. I wear a designer-jeweled name badge in addition to the convention supplied one (plus it is one more “something” they can comment on to begin conversation.)

As an attendee, what would draw your attention to an unknown exhibitor? As an exhibitor, what strategies do you use? 

Sandy Betgur’s “God’s Song: Psalms in Rhyming Meter,” was originally published as Psalm Poems by Thomas M. Seller, but that edition is now out of print.  After acquiring the late Mr. Seller’s copyright, Begur added devotional responses to these psalms and brought it back to the marketplace. Learn more at www.gods-song.com


Rebecca Halton: One Thing Better Than Success

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Rebecca Halton, author “Words from the Other Woman.”

As I wrote Words from the Other Woman in 2010, my mind filled with excited ideas of celebrity authordom.  I was convinced God was “in it,” so I thought success was imminent.  I believed it would be as effortless as success seemed for other authors.

How little did I know—and how much I had to learn!  Since my book’s release in 2011, I’ve realized my metrics for Haltonsuccess were rooted in worldly measurements.  And I’ve since learned that being an “overnight success” would have ruined me.

Imagine for a second that you haven’t gone running in … well, maybe ever.  Now imagine waking up tomorrow—less than twenty-four hours from now—and having to run a marathon (26.2 miles).

First of all, your body wouldn’t be conditioned for that kind of race.  You’d likely (and painfully) injure yourself.  And you’d probably resent your coach.  I thought I could handle the success that I wanted for my book; thankfully, God, my coach knew better.

Three years later, I’m more capable of handling longer distances.  But that didn’t happen overnight.  I also hadn’t yet proven worthy of certain opportunities.  We are entrusted with chances to impact people’s lives—we are not entitled to them!

Woman CoverThere’s one other reason I wouldn’t trade the past three years for fifteen minutes of fame: people like Rachel.  A couple years ago, I hosted a meet-and-greet at a local bookstore.  I was excited and exact in my planning—and expecting a great turnout.

Hardly anyone showed: not including my mom, and curious bookstore patrons.  But Rachel showed up—with a plate of homemade cookies and a big batch of belief in me.  And she wasn’t any less proud of me because there wasn’t a line out the door.

There was no way either of us could have guessed that a couple of years later, it would be my turn to come to her side.  Even as she lay in the hospital, she couldn’t have been prouder or more encouraging of my writing, of my calling—of me.

And I couldn’t be more grateful, for what she will continue to mean to me.  My dear friend did pass away, but my memory of that day in the bookstore endures.  Because it reminds me of the one thing that will always be better than success:

 

Love.

 

 

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space


Rob Wingerter: The inspiration behind my book

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Rob Wingerter, author “Regaining Your Spiritual Poise.”

In the normal flow of events, ideas are reduced to print and then action on the concepts embedded in the story Rob Wingerter Author Photooccurs, resulting in a tangible byproduct. Ideas have consequences. In the case of my new book, Regaining Your Spiritual Poise, this formula was turned on its head.

As told in the final chapter of my book, through a series of events that demonstrate God’s hand at work, my wife and I became the owners of a large home on a lake, without a concrete vision of what to do with it. We had a strong feeling that the house we named Mahseh (anglicized Hebrew word for “refuge”) was to be used for furthering God’s kingdom, but exactly how was to be a discovery process, unfolding over the next couple of years.

An integral part of this process was to start putting down on paper options and the pros and cons of each. We had always viewed Lake Bruce to be one of God’s “thin places,” where the gap between heaven and earth was just a little thinner than normal. The idea of opening a retreat center surfaced as a natural use for the home and its location. What exactly was entailed by the phrase “retreat center” and what activities were to be conducted was still somewhat of an unknown.

wingerter coverThe more I began to study the history and purpose of the practice of spiritual retreat and Christian spirituality, the more my eyes were opened to this rich tradition—one that appeared to be virtually ignored by the Protestant community at large. As I studied and thought on the subject, I began to write what I thought was going to be a “position paper” for the use of Mahseh. However, every time I thought I had reached a conclusion, the Lord moved me to explore another facet of this potential ministry.

By the time I had finished my first draft, the Lord had removed all concern and confusion. The direction was clear. Something about putting things down on paper had made the mission of Mahseh self-evident. It had also changed me. It had confirmed to me that God had a plan for both Mahseh and for me to spread the message of retreat to a Christian community that had allowed the hectic pace of modern culture to squeeze out any semblance of a concentrated time alone with our Creator.

In the end, a place resulted in a book that resulted in an idea and a mission. Ideas do have consequences.

You can contact Rob at rob@maseh.org and can view Mahseh and learn of the ministry at Mahseh.org

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Beverly D. Allen: God never wastes your life experiences, but will use them for his glory!

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Beverly D. Allen, author “Covenant Dating: The Biblical Path to Marriage.”

I have been a self-published author since 2003. It is still hard to believe when I look at the four books with my name on them.  I may be the writer, but the Holy Spirit is the inspiration for what I write. I could imagine how the holy men of God felt as they spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

I teach Scripture, even present the Gospel of Jesus Christ on various platforms, but the time came when there wascovenant dating cover such an unction in my spirit to write the vision and make it plain. That way, others could read and be encouraged, enlightened, and motivated to follow Christ and know that God’s plan is better than any they could ever design for themselves. He has factored in all our mistakes, failures, and poor choices, using them for His glory, if we will allow Him by obeying His voice.

Well, I obeyed and began to write and was led to self-publish the assignments He gave me. After searching for a self-publisher online, I used a Christian publishing company for the first three, having  had a good experience, but was led to find a new publisher for this new assignment, Covenant Dating, The Biblical Path to Marriage.  I learned of WestBow Press online, a company that had a great connection to Thomas Nelson Publishing—one of the best endorsements any publisher could have.  I, of course, went with them.

That experience is one I have not regretted. I received great encouragement and direction each step of the way.

Allen11(5x7)Investing in God’s vision to me is rewarding personally, because I know that obedience is always the road to travel and let God work out the results of what you do.

The steps to self-publish have opened up new doors I never thought of. As one example, I was contacted by a Christian radio station, KTLW and Worship on the Way Radio Network in Van Nuys, California, to do fifteen four-minute segments for a series on DOING DATING RIGHT. This series aired for the entire month of February 2014, and they want to run them again, possibly this summer.

Look at what one step of faith can do when you believe in the vision and self-publish!

Connect with Beverly through her website beverly-allen.com .

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Mark D. Eckel: I Just Need Time to Think! Reflective Study as Christian Practice

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Mark Eckel, author of “I Just Need Time to Think!” and Professor of Leadership, Education & Discipleship at Capital Seminary & Graduate School, Washington, D.C.

He sat across from me and uttered the famous phrase, “I just need time to think!”Eckel Cover

One of my students said what I often hear.  Life, and education, is moving too fast.

People who care to take their time to study hate to be rushed.

My motivation to write I Just Need Time to Think! is inspired by classes who love to ponder, meditate, contemplate, and deliberate over their studies.

Dr. Mark Eckel (ThM PhD) practices the craft of teaching-learning with students at Capital Seminary and Graduate School as well as other venues.

The book’s subtitle is just as important: Reflective Study as Christian Practice.  For years I have utilized the Hebraic concept of selah to encourage reflection with my students.  Selah is a word that appears often in the Psalms.  I wanted students to stop, think, and consider.

Instead of requiring hundreds of pages, students were asked to read forty, musing over ideas.   I wanted question, stimulation, tension, or compare-contrast.  I wanted students to agree or disagree with me.

  “I had never thought of that before” or “This idea bothered me” or “The page prompted me to write” were introductory clauses which made me smile.

What we reflect upon shows what is valuable to us.  I value time.  I want my students to take it as they study.  I want to give them an interlude. Pause for thought. Take a break.  Take a minute.  Take a breath.

My job as a professor is to help my students succeed.  Students succeed when they do well in their studies.  Doing well in studies takes time.  I believe time for reflection values my students, their time, and their study of God’s Word and His world.

The same student who wanted time to think gave me a Christmas present that year.  He created a metal sign with a phrase I repeat constantly.  But what he wrote on the back of the sign was most important.

“I enjoy not only your teaching style but the time you give us to learn.”

Class dismissed.

Connect with Mark on his website www.warpandwoof.org; and through Twitter (@MarkEckel) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/mark.eckel.92).

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


MOGDA WALKER: Write a book? I’ve been meaning to!

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Mogda Walker, author of “From Faith to Faith.”

Walker book

I’ve always been a voracious reader, so no one was surprised when I majored in English, although writing was a secret passion. While growing up in rural Michigan, I rarely had to look outside my large extended family for entertainment. My younger sister and I would frequently quip, “We’re putting that in our book.” She’s a hoot, and I really have to thank her for jump-starting my writing.  Six years ago, we tossed around topics for a book we planned to co-write and spent hours brainstorming ideas, even setting deadlines. A typical firstborn and total control freak, I finished long before the deadline and waited. And waited. And waited! She’s my baby sister. Need I say more? Smartly, I continued writing.

Three manuscripts later, my long-suffering husband of twenty-six years encouraged me to self-publish.  After doing an exhaustive Internet search for self-publishers, we contacted WestBow Press. A total publishing novice, my hand was gently held. I owe the WestBow Press staff a heartfelt thank-you and a double hand salute for making my dream an awesome reality.  The WestBow Press team of professionals helped me create a wonderful product that I’m honored to promote and share. Being encouraged to have my novel reviewed by KIRKUS REVIEWS and receiving third-party approval has only intensified my enthusiasm.

Mogda Walker (pen name M. Lynn Walker) at a book signing in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Mogda Walker (pen name M. Lyn Walker) at a book signing in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

My first novel, “From Faith to Faith,” arrived in early August and contains two novellas set in rural southwestern Michigan. In both stories, readers are introduced to characters dealing with sin, others seeking redemption, and those who’ve acknowledged God’s lordship in their lives. I have fond Midwestern memories, and in my youth, I attended a wonderful community church. The pastors are now deceased. Thus, I created Indigo Beach, a fictional town also located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and the fictional New Life Full Gospel Church, pastored by Deon Bradford. Working in lay ministry for many years, I’ve come to understand that God isn’t looking for perfection but rather obedience, which is far greater than sacrifice, as 1 Samuel 15:22 states. I have also come to realize that He does not call the qualified but rather qualifies the called. My spiritual journey is ever-changing.  And trust me, God has a keen sense of humor. On January 19, 2014, my husband and I are being ordained in ministry.  Never saw that one coming. Writing faith-based fiction is my ministry.  Look at God!

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


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