David R. Nelson: My First Real Book

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of David R. Nelson; author of “Who’s Your Daddy.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

I’m not a writer. How this book came into being is a mystery to me that only God knows. I was born in Northeast London to Jamaican parents. I don’t remember much of my childhood only to say I had blocked most of it from an early age. In my early teens my family moved to Jamaica in the late nineteen seventies and that was a culture shock.

nelsoncoverOne of the key areas that was a challenge to me growing up was not only to be a man, but by whose standards. Socially it was considered manly to
have as many women as possible. In my family it was considered manly to be as humanly strong as possible and church-wise it was considered manly to be the ultimate ‘know all’ and ‘be-all’ of men. It was tough trying to navigate through so many ideals. But thankfully, my best friend was the Lord.

Heeding His call I returned to the U.K.in the late two thousand. To get a job was tough. I didn’t understand it then, but what God was doing in my life was something like the children of Israel in the wilderness. Taking me through a transformational thinking process from thinking as an employee to becoming self-employed where your income came from what was inside you.

It was my last interview for a bookkeeping job I really thought I had. After being rejected so many times I thought this must be it. I was sitting on my bed waiting for the call, and then it hit me. You know when you get that sudden realization that what you hoped for wasn’t going to come. The penny dropped, so to speak.

I cried for about ten minutes, then went on my knees and prayed. “Lord, if you don’t want me to work then given me something … and Lord I need it now because one more day just will not do.” Then I heard a voice say “Get up”. I got up. Then He said “Now go to your computer.”
nelsonphoto
I went to the next room where my computer was then my instinct kicked in to turn it on and turn to a blank page. ‘Now what’ I thought to myself. Then the voice came back and said “Write what you see.” I closed my eyes and it was as if I was looking through the eyes of a boy maybe 10 or 12 years old. His hands and knees were bloody. Then I typed my first line. “My feet and knees were bleeding from the walk.”

Over the next two weeks stories flowed out of me and just when the last drop poured out to finish twelve stories, the window closed. Those I called ‘Sons’. A few months later I challenged myself to write again but this time I had to research and use notes. ‘Fathers’ was born. Being a ‘Christmas child’ the Nativity was my most fun work to do. My most challenging work was the Easter story.

As a first time writer, I believe the Lord led me to WestBow Press because I needed someone who not only I could trust but could understand my vision and goal. It has been a long and labouring road, but God is able. The whole team at WestBow have been wonderful.

The peace I had when I started with them continues now and I would recommend WestBow to anyone. Holding my first real book in my hand, seeing it come from a thought, a vision into reality is a blessing unspeakable by its self. I thank God and the team at WB.

 

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WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


William Thornton: An Act of Faith

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of previous Aspriring Author contest winner William Thornton; author of “Set Your Fields On Fire.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today

Writing a book is an act of faith.

Even before you put the first word on the page, you have to believe that what you’re writing will be worth reading, and worth the time it takes to fully flesh out a wisp of an idea into a concept, characters, scenes and dialogue. You have to believe that someone will be there at the other end of all that thought and panic and work to pick up your book and plop down their own money for it.

Thornton MugIt was back in October 2008 that I got the idea that eventually became my WestBow novel, “Set Your Fields on Fire.” I saw an article in The Wall Street Journal on “mystery worshippers” – the people who evaluate churches as “mystery shoppers” do for retail outlets. I immediately asked myself the question: “What if your job was to go to a church as a visitor and evaluate its worship experience? And what if you were REALLY committed to your job?”

From the beginning, I saw it as a comedy. Why? Maybe I thought people needed some laughs at the time. In that same moment, Wall Street was in a slow motion crash at the beginning of a long recession. A few months later, Bernie Madoff was arrested at the head of the biggest Ponzi scheme in financial history. So there was plenty for me to work into my book. But in my own life, my father had just died, my mother’s health was deteriorating due to Alzheimer’s Disease and my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer. My own story was changing, and it was changing me.

Still, it was hard writing at first. I abandoned the book about 20 pages in because I didn’t trust the ending that I had originally come up with. A year later, I got a little further, but I still had the same hang-up that made me put it aside. But I didn’t abandon it. I kept making notes on the side, still in love with the idea and unwilling to give it up. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2014 that I finally decided to get to work again, go with that stubborn ending I originally thought up, and see what happened. I finished the first draft a few months later.
Thornton Cover
I still needed somebody to have faith in what I had written. That came a few months later, when I happened to see a link on Twitter about WestBow’s
Aspiring Author Contest with the Parable Group. I emailed the manuscript in and promptly forgot about it. Then after the Fourth of July weekend, I had an email saying I had won the contest. Suddenly, somebody had faith in my story. The rest of 2015 was spent getting the manuscript into shape for publication, deciding on cover art with the help of friends, and praying that what showed up on the page, aside from the jokes, was something that would glorify God.

A few years ago, I was talking to another writer who was struggling with getting people to buy his work. His frustrations were very familiar to me. “Why does the Lord give me a story to tell,” he asked, “but no one seems to want to listen?“ I told my wife Donna this, and she said, “Maybe the Lord only wants you to tell the story because of what it will do to you.”

We walk by faith. We listen in faith. Writing a book is an act of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

The first chapter of William’s book can be read for free at http://brilliantdisguises.blogspot.com/2015/12/read-first-chapter-of-set-your-fields.html

-WBP-

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


5 Questions with Tracey Casciano, author of “Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light”

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  features guest posts and brief interviews with our authors about some aspect of their publishing journey. This week, we present 5 Questions with Tracey Casciano, author of “Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light,” — her memoir of overcoming an abusive childhood to live an inspiring life of Faith. To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

  • Tell us a little bit about your book. What inspired you to write it?

Tracey Casciano: My book is a memoir about my journey to faith and forgiveness after being abused as a child. I was inspired to write it after I began sharing my story and receiving positive feedback. I realized that it could raise awareness for the prevalence of child abuse as well as help others who have suffered a similar past.

  • What are 5 things you’ve learned about self-publishing?

TC:

  1. I learned to ask for help. I reached out to other published authors and found that they were eager to help a fellow writer.Casciano mug
  2. The other thing I learned was that being self- published means that you must do all the marketing yourself. The only way that people are going to know about your book is if you do the leg work.
  3. I’m also learning that self publishing can be expensive since you must do all the promoting yourself.
  4. Unfortunately, being self published does have some limitations regarding where your book will be placed as many distributors want a traditional publisher.
  5. Lastly, self publishing allows you the freedom to get your book out as you imagine it, not as someone else does.
  • What do you love most about self-publishing and would you recommend it to other authors?

TC: The part I love the most about self publishing is that you get to make all the decisions regarding your book.  I also love the fact that I didn’t have to wait to release my book based on someone else’s deadlines or timeline. When I was ready to press “submit,” I did!
Casciano cover

  • What’s your favorite social media outlet for marketing/promotions?

TC: I use Twitter and a Facebook author page to promote my book and have met lots of great people along the way!

 

  • What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

TC: If you feel called to write a book, do it. Don’t let the impossibility of getting an agent or a traditional publisher get in the way of getting your words into the hands of others. There are lots of books on the market today that are self published and are very successful!

– WBP –

Tracey shared more about her journey in a recent interview on the CWA Radio Network. A replay of that interview is available below.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


J.A. Ludwig: Fitting Together the Pieces of God’s Puzzle

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of J.A. Ludwig; author of “Come, Let Us Reason Together.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

Have you ever felt God’s gentle, guiding hand? I have. I’ve also felt the strong pull of His staff, when I’ve strayed too far from His direction. But I think one way to see His design, is to look back and see how all the pieces fit into place like a puzzle. When I was about seventeen or eighteen, I used to write down my devotions as I spent time with God,studying and praying. One day when I began to write, a short story came out instead. I called it, “A Prisoner By Choice.”
Ludwug coverSkipping ahead a few years, God had placed it in my heart to lead Bible study groups in my home. My pastor had also asked me on different occasions, to fill in for him when he was away. My church hadasked me to lead the adult Sunday school class and lead our youth group.

All of the messages God had laid on my heart were difficult to “settle down” and write, so I’d write cues and just trust God to bring all these to mind…and He always did. I knew my calling was to share God’s message and He was opening doors in my community to do so. However, when I was approached about writing a book with these studies, I couldn’t recall all the details of the messages to write.

Fast forwarding a few more years, life had brought me to a new town and a new church. I found that God’s call for me to share His message hadn’t left. I was surprised by the overwhelming burning in my chest that called me back to sharing. With a new town and a new church, I didn’t know where or how to begin…so I began an online group. The next time I was approached with the idea of putting all the lessons into a book, I then had thirty-eight completed lessons, all written down.

As I began to pray for God’s direction, I felt to send a sample into Zondervan to see if they’d be interested. Why Zondervan? I didn’t know at the time, but later came to understand it was a piece to the puzzle, affirming the timing. They were interested and sent a link for the completed work to be
submitted. By the time I took ten lessons and turned them into Bible studies, complete with a spiritual gifts test, I missed my opportunity. Disappointed, the finished book sat untouched for several months, perhaps over a year. One day, out of the blue, it hit me that I had a completed book that needed publishing; God’s gift that I had no right to hold back. Thomas Nelson was a name I’d heard of many times as a previous owner of a
Christian book store, so I approached them with my manuscript.

Ludwig Photo

Withing two days I had a phone call from WestBow Press, Thomas Nelson’s self-publishing division! I knew what I was going to do next, but I had no funding. Failed attempts to raise the money, delayed the book for another year. When I finally had the financing, I learned that Zondervan and Thomas Nelson had merged! I took this as God’s pre-established confirmation of this being the right time.

I’ve never published a book before, but the staff at WestBow walked me through every step and detail. They were patient with my questions and offered excellent guidance. I’ve learned that all things happen in God’s timing. I’ve also learned that a call of God on your life doesn’t change when we move. I love looking back and seeing how all the details worked together. God is awesome! I had to rewrite the final chapter in the book because I was never satisfied that the original was complete. As I rewrote it, God reminded me of the short story I wrote as a teenager. It fit perfectly. I have so much more to share and my prayer is that will be through at least two more books and perhaps the chance to share in person as well.

For publication of the books, I would definitely choose WestBow again. I hope their staff realize how important each of their roles is to us as authors. I thank WestBow for being such a tremendous instrument in sharing God’s message to the world we live in.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


Dan Salerno: Why Blog? Why Tweet?

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share tips and pointers for other authors. The following are the words of Dan Salerno; author of “20 Short Ones.”  Dan, who previously shared the story of his personal publishing journey last July, returns to contribute his perspectives on the importance of authors use social media and blogging to promote their books. To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today! 

Chances are you have already heard opinions about blogging and Twitter. I’m not going to give mine, but I am going to offer five solid reasons why you should consider both, coming from my own experience.

20ShortOnes

  1. Writers write.

It’s what we do. And it’s about the only thing we have in common. We write about different subjects in different ways using our unique style. Blogging gives you a wide open opportunity to practice your craft. It also provides a framework and a discipline to motivate you to write. I typically re-post my blog 3-4 different times during the day to draw more readers. Each time before posting, I edit my blog to make the post stronger. It’s second nature to me now to consider whatever I write a first draft, in need of revision.

  1. Blogging will help you define your audience.

Nobody writes to everyone. It’s impossible to be successful (build an audience) by trying to appeal to all readers. In the beginning, my blog
(www.lifesomethings.blogspot.com), had no target audience. I wrote about everything from snowfall to butterflies to shooting hoops (basketball). But after a year or more of blogging I realized that what I wanted to write about was faith and spirituality. I had discovered my target audience! And once I discovered that, the number of people who actually read my blogs has vastly improved.

  1. You will discover a community.

My blog is linked to a Twitter account that I set up about six months ago.salerno pic

At a writers’ get-together in May, 2015, one of the attending authors mentioned that she had learned a lot about writing via Twitter. Linking my blog to Twitter (www.twitter.com/dan_salerno_) in conjunction with defining my audience, has helped get more people to actually read what I’m writing. And it has provided a community of like-minded writers who use Twitter. We encourage each other. Yes, it’s true that Twitter confines you to 120 characters. That’s a great way to practice getting to the point.  (I mostly use Twitter to link my blog, to send along quotes that speak to me, and to “like” and “re-tweet” other stuff that writers Tweet. I am also exposed to a lot of good writing by reading what others Tweet (especially links to other blogs).

  1. No one writes in a vacuum.

This point is an off-shoot of #3, but it bears separate consideration.

If you define success as a writer as having others read your stuff, then, by necessity, you’ve just signed up to be part of a community. It can be a scary thing to share what you’ve written with a public audience. Especially if you’re an introvert. But, there is no getting around the inevitable decision to send out what you’ve written and see the response. That’s how writers develop and grow. In community.

In addition, both my blog host and Twitter track readership. That means you can take a look at how many folks read what you’ve written. You can go deeper and notice trends. You can find out which blogs attract more readers?  You can experiment with different headers (headlines) that attract reads. What works, what doesn’t?

  1. You will learn to deal with rejection.

No one writes without receiving criticism. Facebook friends can unfriend you. Twitter followers can decide to stop following. None of that means you are a “bad” writer. One of the most helpful reviews I ever received of my book, 20 Short Ones, was written by a guy who didn’t like the book. But within his review he gave some wonderful, constructive input!

For the longest time, one thing that kept me from publishing a book was the fear of rejection. I had grown up having articles I’d written published and worked as a freelance writer for a while, but that was completely different than book publication. I suspect that many other would-be writers also face this fear.

Blogging and Twitter have both helped me further overcome this fear.

So, what are you waiting for? Why not make a resolution that in 2016 you’ll begin to blog!

-WBP-

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


Margaret Payton: A Story Writing Journey with Starts and Stops

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Margaret Payton; author of “Searching Moments.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

I love stories! I like reading them, telling them and, more recently, writing them. For years I believe the Lord has given me illustrations to use when sharing my testimony, writing for the church newsletter, or giving a talk. It took some time for me to realize it is as though He speaks to me in parables. (Of course my favorite parables are those told by Jesus and recorded in the Bible.)

Margaret Payton

My book Searching Moments has the parable of The Lost Sheep as its background theme. In the book, the main character, Jacinda, travels to the Holy Land searching for her missing brother without realizing that God – in response to an intercessor’s prayer – is ‘searching’ for her. The background research journey was done before the idea for the story germinated. Several years ago, I went on a long-awaited trip to Jordan and Israel. A friend gave me a travel journal before I left which proved very useful.

The storywriting journey occurred in stops and starts over a period of time. I believe the Lord was guiding me through the process. Like a parable, Searching Moments has an engaging storyline – a discerning reader will also note some symbolism and deeper meaning in places. Prayer is an important facet of the plot.

The publishing journey has taken place in two stages. A family member suggested WestBow Press and the manuscript first came out as an e-book. This was a valuable learning curve that prepared me for later. Although I had some very positive feedback from readers, to be honest I found it difficult to market the book as an e-book.

Some months later, I revisited the manuscript and gave it a final polish. Through the generosity of another family member, I was in a position to self-publish the book in print format. I felt led to stay with WestBow Press even though I knew the current low exchange rate on the Australian dollar could be problematic.

The second stage of my publishing journey with WestBow Press has been a delight. The individuals assigned to me were an answer to prayer. ThePayton Cover publishing consultant was timely and helpful, (phone calls needed to take the time difference between Australia and the US into account). The check-in coordinator gave very wise advice concerning book size and number of pages. These matters helped keep the cost of the book down, and also made it a convenient size for postage. (An additional blessing, praise God.)

I had a picture in my mind’s eye for the front cover, and my publishing services associate, with patience and imagination, explained what was possible. I was very blessed by the cover designer (whose name I don’t know). He or she did an excellent job and I was delighted with the end product. Everyone who has seen the book has been impressed with the front cover. Thank you, WestBow team!

I have now embarked on the marketing part of the journey. The Lord told me to focus on ministering to the readers (although I do need sales!) I’m excited that two local bookshops have taken some books and my local library has a copy. It amazes me that, with the new print-on-demand technology, Searching Moments is available for purchase across the globe. I hope reading it entertains and blesses many.

-WBP-

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


David, el Dundore: The Untold Story Behind “Just Man, Enough”

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of David, el Dundore; author of “Just Man, Enough.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

During my first month of service in Iraq, in late 2006, there occurred a series of seemingly unrelated and wildly disparate events, and it would only be later that I could see the linkages tying them into a chain. Outside of my regular duties. I spent the first month savoring Cervantes’ masterful Don Quixote and loving it for its style, humor and craftsmanship. Around that same time I saw the movie Wedding Crashers from a borrowed collection and laughed out loud despite myself; and I also a read a review of the recently released movie The Nativity Story, which called it “wooden.” Finally, on the night of my birthday, I was read my rights by the commanding officer and confined to my quarters pending the outcome of an investigation based on allegations made against me by a suspected double agent.

Dundore coverI didn’t take it well, and anyone valuing his good name as I do mine would not. Sitting quite alone, in a solitary condition, unjustly accused, can make even the darkest, most difficult thoughts revolving around your device pistol seem reasonable. I sat in that funk of despair for a solid month, then finally shook it off to attend chapel on December 3. The chaplain focused on the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth, and I remember thinking that the trip would make a good story, and I would write it for Him. I set my limit at ten pages.

When I easily surpassed the ten-page mark I moved the new goal to twenty; then maybe to fifty, but I knew that I could finish in 100. When I got there I resignedly surrendered to the characters who had taken over the story, and decided I would just follow whereever they went, but around the time I passed 200 pages of hard composing I remember thinking, “I want this guy to die soon.” In the meantime, something or someone who wanted this book written had taken up occupancy with me in my room; He met me there, relieving my misery with delight.

Those days of writing are among the happiest of my life. In one setting, at another camp (my name by then restored), there behind my sandbagged windows in quite cramped quarters, I would stay up until one or two a.m. working, not wanting to sleep, and eagerly await the arrival of 5 or 6 when I could arise to continue. Why don’t people love the nativity story? Because it’s not relevant to contemporary life and it’s not fun. This one is.

The perspective I chose and the pious liberties I took with it allowed for interpolated stories, and provided me opportunities to subtly – or not so subtly – talk about everything from inbox spam to Hollywood personalities. And, like the Quixote and even (in a far different way) Wedding Crashers, it’s meant to entertain. The real reasons for its relevance, however, are not those things or even the baby but the people surrounding him: They are parents, neighbors, spouses and others trapped in world, like all of us, of neither our making nor, often, our understanding.

The author (left) with a pair of Iraqi interpreters.

The author (left) with a pair of Iraqi interpreters.

As a result of its influences and its unorthodox author, the work is neither fish nor fowl in the conventional sense of categorization. Too worldly for some to consider ‘Christian,’ yet too Christian to be secular, it finds itself alone having (to date) found a home in the breasts of only few appreciative readers who have recognized something special in it, even calling it life changing, and one of whom flattered me with most grateful letter, written from prison, that I have ever received or could hope to receive from anyone.

I knew that a cool reception was a possibility, and it had already been so received by various agents as I shopped it around in the usual way. Rejection. What was I to do? Finally, it found another home at Westbow Press, where even the unorthodox have a chance. This book – like yours, perhaps – wasn’t just a book but also a mission, and a mission implies a duty. I took the chance with Westbow, taking out a loan against my beloved Harley, because I want to say with Paul and the others, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” The walk of faith is often one of sheer endurance, marked by side trails and promising shortcuts, as I think Abraham would agree: They can lead you to the fleeting joy of Ishmael, but your legacy lies in Isaac.

-WBP-

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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.


David Waddell: Finding Similarities in Stories of Biblical Characters

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of David Waddell; author of “Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories,” and “Holiday Biblical Characters: Finding My Stories in the Stories of Christmas and Easter.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

I had written for church newsletters and Lifeway Christian Resources during my time in church work.  I don’t recall ever hearing how I blessed anyone in reading my material.  Three years ago, following some major heart difficulties, I wrote a “Top Ten List” commenting on why I was thankful I had heart trouble.  I wrote about the brevity of life and the need to forgive and let go of grudges.  I noted the number of people I met earlier in life that came to help me in ways I couldn’t have imagined years earlier.  I posted these on Facebook as a way of using humor to show thanks, but also to spread a message of how good God is.

WaddellCover1 WaddellCover2A friend of mine, a girl at Grace Bible church, asked if I could print the Top Ten List and put it in book form.  I inquired as to why she would want that and she insisted the items were well written.  I then began receiving other accolades about the Top Ten List as well as other Facebook posts. People began asking me when a book was going to be written.

I held an idea for some time that Joseph, the son of Jacob, is viewed as the poor, unfortunate brother being abused by Jacob’s other sons.  I knew, being the middle brother of three boys, that Joseph was indeed lucky his brothers didn’t kill him!  I started seeing myself in other biblical characters as well.  Abraham as he waits on a baby.  Peter as he spoke without knowing what to say.  David as he planned out his sin.

These led me to the writing of my first book “Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories.”  I followed the same theme using the stories and biblical characters that related to Christmas and Easter to create my second book, “Holiday Biblical Characters: Finding My Stories in the Stories of Christmas and Easter. 

David Waddell

David Waddell

The first section of Holiday Biblical Characters deals with the Christmas stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  Included are twenty-three stories about Christmas travels, sounds in the night on Christmas Eve, being outcasts like shepherds, waiting for something good like Simeon, Christmas pageantry, gift giving, and many more.  The message of the book is to see the connection we have with people in the Bible and how God used them despite them being just like us!

An author friend suggested I try the self-publishing approach to getting my work published.  I researched several companies and decided the best approach was to go with the name and reputation of a good Christian publishing company.  WestBow Press is the self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan.  The latter two names don’t require explanation in Christian publishing circles.  The folks at WestBow took me in as if I were family and guided me through the process.  I even contracted editing services with WestBow as I have been told my Missouri hillbilly English and proper English are entirely two different things.

Thank you WestBow Publishing for giving me the resources to see a dream come true in the publishing of my two books.

Merry Christmas!

-WBP-

David Waddell’s webpage is http://www.dwaddell7.com. Like “Characters of the Bible” on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/justlikebiblicalpeople. Follow David Waddell on Twitter @dwaddell77

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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, punctuation and length.


Lisa Williams: Christmas Miracle Inspires Author to Self-Publish The Christmas Hippo

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Lisa Williams; author of “The Christmas Hippo.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

It is hard to believe that a decade has passed since the actual Christmas Hippo story unfolded in real life.  I remember the year well as it was my daughter’s first year in a public school setting. The story began at her 3rd grade school Christmas party.  She was excited about the upcoming break, but sad that her friend would be moving.
Hippo 3

As only two nine year old girls could do, they begged and pleaded until I gave in to a sleepover the first night of Winter Break. My busy mom brain had forgotten that I had already made plans to go caroling with a group of friends that night. When I realized I had double-booked, I merely shrugged my shoulders and thought my daughter’s friend would simply have to join in on the caroling fun. Both girls were happy to sing and spread some Christmas cheer that cold winter night.

As we arrived at the last house, an older gentleman hugged my daughter’s friend and handed her a small item. On the way home, I was told that that man was her bus driver and that he had given her her sister’s stuffed hippo. When she told me that, I thought that that was pretty coincidental, and I should probably have known that it was no coincidence at all.

Hippo Cover

The following day, the little girl’s mom came by to pick her up and told me that she could not get over the fact that the stuffed animal had been returned. She explained that it was her younger daughter’s special lovey and that with the move, she was afraid it had been gone forever. She even added that it must have been Divine Intervention.

I nodded, wished them well and walked in to answer the phone. My friend, Benita, who had hosted the party ,called to share “the BEST God story” with me and went on to tell me  that her husband had seen the bus driver that morning. As the story goes, he had found the small hippo at the end of his run, attempted to deliver it to its owner, but came home discouraged that he was unsuccessful in locating the family, especially since he knew they were moving.

Benita said that in sharing his disappointment with his wife, she wisely suggested that they pray together and ask God to help them return the tiny toy to its owner. Imagine this man’s surprise when he opened his door that night to find the owner’s sister singing carols on his stoop!

The following Christmas season, I was remembering this wonderful story and thought it was merely too good to just keep to myself. I wanted to share this story with everyone in hopes that people would be reminded of exactly how much God cares about even the smallest situations in their lives. While I had dreams of writing a Christmas ballad that told the tale in song, my husband encouraged me to write a children’s book. Within minutes, the book was written. It was very clear that I had help. In fact, I often tell people that God wrote the story and that I was merely a scribe.

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Thanks to WestBow Press, I have been able to share The Christmas Hippo with many children of all ages. I have been asked to read the book in both private and public schools, community Chick-Fil-As, and was even interviewed on the local Christian radio station when the book launched. As a result of that interview, I was blessed with the opportunity to write devotions for the Christian radio station.  Although the story is a decade old, the message is one that transcends time; it is a reminder that the God who placed the stars in the sky cares about the little hippos in our lives.

– WBP –

Like “The Christmas Hippo” on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheChristmasHippo/.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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. 


April Hartmann: The Values of Saint Nicholas

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of April Hartmann; author of “The Cure for the Christmas Crazies.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

April Hartmann, author & illustrator of "The Cure for the Christmas Crazies."

April Hartmann, author & illustrator of “The Cure for the Christmas Crazies.”

Sunday, December 6th, is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, one of the most beloved saints around the world. In research for my children’s book, The Cure for the Christmas Crazies, I found several stories to be most notable. His wealthy parents died when he was young, and he devoted his inheritance to helping the sick and the poor. During a period of persecution of the faithful, he was imprisoned. There have been many stories told of Saint Nicholas coming to the rescue of children.

For centuries Saint Nicholas has been admired as the friend and protector of those in need. It truly breaks my heart to see the way retailers misrepresent his identity as Santa Claus, shown pushing a shopping cart through a Kmart commercial. But I also love all the wonder and excitement that Santa Claus brings to the season. I’ll even dare to say that it’s good for children to believe in him. Whenever I’m pondering what it means to have faith, my own childhood memories of Santa Claus actually help me to recall what it was like to innocently “accept like a child,” as stated in Mark 10:15.

“Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

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The generosity of Saint Nicholas became the basis for the modern Santa Claus.

That being said, how can we celebrate the birth of our Lord without letting Santa Claus steal the show? This is part of what inspired my book. Of course we need to keep Christ at the center of all our holiday activities, but in addition to that, I think another solution is to honor the original Saint Nicholas and all he stood for. I wrote The Cure for the Christmas Crazies to do just that, plus help Santa Claus maintain his Christian roots.

When it comes to talking about the history of Saint Nicholas with children, they automatically associate him with Santa Claus in our culture. My book includes a brief history of the life of Saint Nicholas and how he is celebrated around the world, but doesn’t mention anything that would conflict with the legend of Santa Claus.

The story that follows portrays Santa Claus with the same faithful heart and generous spirit of Saint Nicholas. It also makes the point that Santa is forgiving. We all know that even “nice” children are “naughty” sometimes, but Santa brings gifts anyway. That’s a lesson in forgiveness that kids can easily understand.
Hartmann cover
Letting kids see that Santa is forgiving doesn’t let them off the hook with their behavior, but rather helps
them appreciate and practice that same value. Just as being saved by grace doesn’t give us free reign to sin, but instead inspires us to let God’s goodness shine through us. I like this message much better than telling kids to be good to get lots of presents, which is basically teaching them to ask “what’s in it for me?”

As long as there is this association between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus in our culture, I think it’s only fitting that we teach our children to perceive Santa as a Christian. To neglect this would be a disservice to children and to the true role model who dedicated his life to serving our Lord. My hope is to help children perceive Santa Claus as a Christian, whether they encounter him later in a secular book, on TV or in person.

In my book The Cure for the Christmas Crazies, Santa Claus encourages children to offer kindness to others as gifts to the baby Jesus. He has lots of other positive messages to help kids enjoy our modern traditions while keeping Christ at the heart of everything. All in all, the story is about embracing the way we celebrate, yet offering each task, each gathering, each light on the tree, as a gesture of thanks for the great gift of Christmas.

-WBP-

April Hartmann’s webpage is: http://www.ahcreations.com/#!books/cmnl and her book is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/christmascrazies

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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.


Judy Walker: Giving Birth to Impossible Dreams

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press  publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Judy Walker; author of “Turkey Trouble.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today! 

I am a retired teacher and well past the age of giving birth. However, two years ago at the age of 65, with the help of WestBow Press, I gave birth to Pokey, Tillie, and a gaggle of terrible turkeys in my children’s book, “Turkey Trouble.”

Judy is a retired elementary school teacher living in California.

Judy is a retired elementary school teacher living in California.

Seventeen of my 32 years of teaching, were spent teaching 7th graders in my language arts classes how to write.  One of the assignments I gave my student’s was to write and illustrate a children’s book. It was amazing to read their creative and imaginative stories. I still connect with some of my former students who tell me they have the books they wrote in seventh grade and they read them to their own children. All the while my students were creating, I was busily teaching them, and as teachers know, there are never enough hours in the day for fulfilling your own dreams and desires.

After retiring from teaching, I decided it was time to live out my own dream. I had a story that had been gestating in my mind for 40 years. I knew it was time for the turkeys of Yummy Yummy Land to be born.

The conception of Pokey, Tillie, and the turkeys had begun 40 years ago in my first grade classroom in Council Bluffs, Iowa. My teaching partner and I did a puppet show each morning with the puppets, Pokey and Tillie. As they shared their fictional problems about issues at the King’s Royal Turkey Ranch, the children related their own problems and asked advice from the puppets. Many times the issues related to bullying.  Tillie and Pokey would give advice and examples from their fictional life on the King’s ranch.  Tillie, a sweet, scatterbrained turkey, and Pokey, a level headed, problem solving donkey, were endearing characters who the children considered their special friends.

My 32 years of teaching experience at grade levels one through seven, helped me recognize the problems that children face in growing up. Bullying is nothing new and I believe it finds its root cause in a lack of self esteem in the bully. The turkeys in “Turkey Trouble” learn that when they look their best, do their best, and be their best, they can be confident and love themselves. If they love themselves, they can love others just as the Golden Rule teaches. The book comes across with its anti-bullying message in a positive and fun filled story.

WalkercoverRetirement was the impetus I needed to write my children’s book.  I had had 40 years to reflect on all that working with children had taught me. My labor pains began at a Women of Faith conference in Anaheim, California, in 2013. I vividly remember walking past the WestBow Press exhibit. My mind instantly pulsated with this message…”It’s time, Judy, to step out in faith.” And I did.

The labor was long but oh, so worth it. At 65 years old I gave birth to my book! Just like a new mother has hopes and dreams for her new baby, I have hopes and dreams for my baby, Turkey Trouble. I hope it is entertaining and inspiring children to treat others with love and respect. I have high hopes for the difference love will make in many lives.

I gave birth to my dream.  God gave life and purpose to my dream because I stepped out in faith.

Like the Author Judy Walker Facebook page and follow Judy on Twitter @TurkeyTrouble. Judy also blogs at https://authorjudywalker.wordpress.com/

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, 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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