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.
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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.


John A. Mapp Jr.: “Fulfillment of a Thirty Year Dream”

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 John A. Mapp Jr.; author of “Decoding Bible Messages”  To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

Thirty years ago, when I was a young adult, the Christian faith of my childhood was in crisis.  Providentially, I stumbled upon an old book, published around 1900, about the types and shadows of Christ in the Old Testament.  I had never been taught about that subject before, and was absolutely astonished.  My faith was greatly strengthened as a result.
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I felt called to write a fresh, contemporary presentation of this neglected material, so I researched further, and started writing.  I wanted to present the subject in a way that practically anyone could understand.  I persevered, even though I didn’t know how, or even if, the manuscript would ever be published.

After finally finishing the first draft, I married and started a family.  I had to lay the manuscript aside due to the pressures of career and family, but I occasionally returned to it as a resource for teaching classes and Bible studies.  When I finally retired in early 2015, the dream was still alive.  I updated the work with some additional information I had collected over the years, and started searching for a publisher.

John shares his love of reading with his grandson.

John shares his love of reading with his grandson.

Providentially (again), the publishing landscape had changed radically over the preceding thirty years, with self-publishing now a viable and respectable option.  After I researched the alternatives, I chose WestBow Press.

WestBow’s wide selection of packages enabled me to select one that harmonized with my budget and objectives.  There was still work to be done, but WestBow provided a robust, structured template, changing the publication process from a conundrum into a methodical step-by-step operation.  WestBow often exceeded my expectations.

For example, I submitted a cover idea consisting of a hidden cross nested among four Old Testament images.  The WestBow cover design team took that idea and absolutely knocked it out of the park!  I was delighted with the result.

The book was published in September 2015, fulfilling a thirty year dream.  When I shared the culmination of my publishing journey with my family and friends, I was very heartened and encouraged to see them take a genuine interest in the book.  It was a great feeling.  My most basic goal of leaving a legacy for family and friends had been met.

Then began the daunting task of promoting my book to the general public.  There are many books out there, with new ones being added all the time, so book sales are not automatic,  especially for new authors.

Fortunately, WestBow offers a good selection of marketing services to lend a hand.  Since I had used WestBow’s professional editing service, I knew I had a good book; it was just a matter of promoting it effectively.  After discussions with a WestBow marketing consultant, I put together a combination of WestBow-sponsored marketing services and some initiatives of my own, including the use of social media, blogging, book reviews, and giving away some free copies.  Speaking engagements will likely follow.  I believe I am off to a good start.

The planting is complete, the watering is underway, and I am trusting God to provide the increase.

– 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. 


Bea Baldridge: “He will open the doors when they’re supposed to be opened.”

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 Bea Baldridge; author of “The Commandments in the New Testament Gospels.”  To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

I started on my journey as an author about four years ago. I had this subject on my heart that I really wanted to get out there: What are Christians commanded to do? Are we “under the law?” And what does that mean?

My husband and I had seen many people come to the Lord over the years, and then they would just kind of be lost in the shuffle and maybe never be taught the Bible and not learn how to study, etc. They’d just kind of drift through the Christian life, learning here and there, but never really a consistent teaching on how we are to live as believers. We also saw many people from cult-like denominations come into the Messianic movement. Talk about confusion!

The desire of my heart was to write a book that would make it clear that we are NOT “under the law,” butbaldridge cover explain what Yeshua/Jesus expected of us. What IS the heart of the Father concerning us? There was a saying back in the 70’s, “WWJD. What Would Jesus Do?” I took off from that with “What Would Jesus TELL US to do?”

So, I went through the four gospels and found at least 205 commandments directly to us as believers in Yeshua/Jesus. Are we under the 10 Commandments? Where are they written? Are they in the New Testament?

It was a very interesting and exciting journey for me. I couldn’t wait every day to get to the computer and glean out information about each of these commandments. I had commentaries piled around me and different Bible translations. I would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with me as I wrote.

Sometimes His presence was so powerful that I would have to just stop and sit there and praise Him for a while before I could go on. There was certainly no “writer’s block” with me! The information came pouring out and onto the pages.

When I pick up my book now, I think, “I didn’t write this. HE did!”

I promised myself when I wrote it that I would not let myself get discouraged when it came out and didn’t sell a million overnight. My book came out January 30, 2015, and I bought several copies, really expecting to sell them! However, God has a different plan sometimes and our little book mailing table remained with most of the books on it. I’ve sold some, gave away a lot, but never feared once that it wasn’t going to sell.

I took my book to our local Christian bookstore. The lady that owns it, Heather, took the hardcover copy and said she would get back to me, but she had three ahead of mine to read and approve for the store. I said okay. A month passed with no word from her. I called her and she said she had bought a house and was moving and didn’t have time to read the book. She still had the other three to read. I said okay. I prayed and told the Lord I would not get discouraged. I knew it was in HIS time.

Baldridge held a book signing at her local Christian bookstore on Oct. 23.

Baldridge at a book signing at her local Christian bookstore on Oct. 23.

I did get my book into Barnes & Noble here in Pueblo. The manager ordered one hardcover and two soft covers. Oh, well! At least it was in there. I checked back and one softcover had sold, he sent the hardcover back, and one is still in the store.

I held a book signing at a fair in Eyrie, Colorado. Sold one. Had banners made, posters, bookmarks, etc. Gave away one. But I got exposure of the book to hundreds of people who would walk by and look at my banner with a puzzled look. I’m sure they’ll never forget that cover and the Lord will bring it to their minds when the time comes.

I found my “little miner” that’s on the cover, after WestBow sent me the link to graphics I could use for the cover. I had in mind a person standing at a crossroads wondering which way to go: New Testament, Old Testament.  I found one that seemed perfect. It was colorful and seemed to be just what I was looking for.

Right before I told my contact person at WestBow that I had chosen that one, I thought I’d take another look. I typed in “crossroads” and started looking and found him. I love my little miner. He is standing at the crossroads, wondering which way to go with the signs saying, “Old Testament, New Testament.” He has his knapsack and bedroll on his back, his cup, compass, and walking stick in his hand. His left hand is up to his chin with a contemplative look on his face like “which direction should I take?” Every time I look at him, I smile.

Back to Heather at the bookstore. I hadn’t heard from her for a few months. I didn’t want to bother her. I figured she’d call me when she got the book read. I finally called her in September. She wasn’t at the store, but I left a message. She called me the next day all excited and left a message on my answering machine! She said something like, “Ms. Bea! I have read your book and I definitely want to stock it in the store! You won’t believe what’s happened!”

I called her back when I got the message. She said, “The Lord started dealing with me to learn Hebrew!” (I TEACH Hebrew!). Heather continued, “I thought, ‘This can’t be the Lord!’ ”

Then something happened in the store to make her see it WAS the Lord. They get shipments in every day at the store and sometimes a company will put a book in the shipment that they hadn’t ordered and they either send it back or the company will tell them to keep it. The next day, they got a shipment in, and in that shipment was a book, Biblical Hebrew!

She said she couldn’t believe it! She then picked up my book and finally started to read it. She said she found that I say the same thing in the book! Now she wants to learn Hebrew and wants me to have a class in the store basement! She said she loves the book and is amazed at the information in it. She said she not only wanted to stock it, but she wanted me to have a book signing! She said if she had tried to read my book last February, she would never have gotten through it. She just wasn’t ready for it.

Her comment was “It’s very ‘chewy,’ ” meaning it’s more than just a book to read through quickly, you have to stop and “chew” on the information. After all, it IS a commentary.

I had my book signing on October 23, 2015, and it was a fantastic experience. Many, many people came through the store and I sold a few, but the main point is getting exposure, getting it out there where people can see it.

I’ve had people come up to me at church and say, “We thought about using your book in our Bible Study, but we were at the end of our session and didn’t have time to cover it properly.” I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t even know they knew about it! One lady had bought a copy and shared it with the others.

What I want to say is, “Never give up. Never get discouraged. It’s God’s book, not yours.” He will open the doors when they’re supposed to be opened. You just have to keep persevering, try every outlet you can find, and leave the rest to Him.

Happy writing! Now, buy my book so I can get on with the sequel! The Commandments in the New Testament: Acts Through Revelation.

– 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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