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.


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