Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pen to the Page: The Launching Platform

 
 
 
Welcome back to Pen to the Page!  
Did they say platform?
I mean, really…a website, Facebook, Twitter? What, a BLOG? Have they lost their mind? What in the world is a platform? I’m not even published yet! I don’t need one of those, do I? I never thought I’d need to be a social butterfly just to write a book.
The minute I heard the word platform, I panicked. I’ve never even finished a manuscript! How was I going to afford one of those? What did one even entail? Overwhelmed, I almost threw in the towel then I thrust my chin out and said, “I’ll figure this out even if I have to teach myself.”
I checked the platforms of various authors, Christian and non-Christian alike. I discovered features common to the majority of authors and those consistent with Christian writers. I noted various characteristics I liked and disliked and incorporated some ideas. I also learned the positive and negative aspects of The Launching Platform along the way.
First things first, let’s look at the structure of the platform. (This is strictly my opinion, limited as it is.)
The platform’s base is the website. Free website services exist on the web as well as webmaster sites. Personally, I use a free service called Webnode and I design my own website. While this allows for control of the site and the cost is zero, it’s a lot of work. I incorporated features such as a blog, news, photos, excerpts, reviews, as well as a bio. The website is linked to all other tiers of my platform.
What other tiers, you ask?
Well, I mentioned a blog. If you’re reading this, you may already know I write a weekly blog which I post on my website and on Blogger. (Yes, in addition to writing my books and other postings on my website.) Blogger is free but other sources exist as well. Good news? Connection with other writers and readers! Bad news? You HAVE to write it every week. No slacking. Your readers expect it. Don’t let them down. (Even if you think they aren’t reading it. Check your statistics.) NOTE: Set a schedule and stick to it… weekly, monthly, whatever…just be faithful. A blog is a way that your readers can get to know you.
Facebook Author/Writer Page… not a profile. A profile requires a person to request to be your friend. A page doesn’t. A page is public, a profile generally is limited to friends unless you deem it to be public. A reader may ’Like’ your Facebook page and comment on it without obtaining your permission to be your friend. Good and bad? Facebook is a social network and an avenue to contact a lot of people. It’s also high maintenance. You get out of it what you put into it. If you have time to post a lot, you’ll get a lot of views and hence, a lot of responses. If you don’t, you won’t.
Twitter! Another social avenue to promote your website, blogs and keep in contact with readers and fellow writers. The difference with Twitter is that all posts are public. ‘Followers’ see my posts and those similar to their own. The key to Twitter is the almighty hashtag (#). After a post, a small topic word preceded by this powerful symbol links it to others in the category, spreading it throughout the Twitter universe. For example, I write a message with a link to my blog of the week and end it with #blog. My post is now linked to the all the blogs in the Twitter world! Pretty awesome, eh? Bad side of this coin? The same as Facebook. You don’t use it, you lose any potential benefits.
Other social media…Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Myspace, these other sites exist for the platform as well. In addition, Goodreads, and links to other important sites such ACFW may be something you wish to add. Show your reader what’s important to you and why.
What’s the key to a stable platform? One word…communication. Every tier should communicate with the others or at least point the reader back to them in some way. All links should lead to the base, your website. The website is your home and it should never be neglected. Take care of your home, clean house, paint the walls, hang new pictures every once in a while and let your readers know what you’re up to.
Well, do you have a platform? Why should you even care?
I think of my platform as my writing home. I choose which windows to open to let the readers, publishers, and agents see different slices of my soul.
My website, Renee’s Library, denotes my love for reading. Like the library, I’ve designed it as a resource for my readers. They can find my bio, blogs, reviews, pictures, news and events, and contact information. I strive to keep information on the site up-to-date and fresh. After all, I may be unpublished, but I’m still writing!   
My blog’s title is Renee’s Inspirational Moments and I discuss a topic that impacts a Christian’s life each week from the trenches, so to speak. This little tidbit is posted on Blogger and my website and reflects my spiritual walk with Christ. This faith is a vital part of my writing as well.
My links are important to the reader. Goodreads, ACFW, Facebook, Twitter… They show who I am and how I can be contacted.
So, I may not be published but I’m writing a book or two. I’m writing a blog and maintaining a website. Throw in a blogsite, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter! Sooner or later, someone may be able to take over and help me out but until then I’ll keep plugging away.
Until my launching platform can evolve…that is, until I can fly as a published author.
In Christ,
Renee


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!


 
 

Merry Christmas!
May the joy of the Lord fill your mind and spirit this beautiful day. Rejoice, again, I say, Rejoice and cheer! Do you hear the music? Do you see the glory? Look to the heavens, for the Son is here.
Yes, praise the Lord. It's Christmas, a time for gifts, food, and family. Everyone draws together to celebrate the season and, lo and behold, even get a day off! Well, some of them do, anyway.
Today is December 25th,Jesus Christ, our Savior's birthday. He was born in a barn amidst the animals of the land. God gave Him to two people, Mary and Joseph. What an awesome story! The star that led shepherds by night, the three wise men... Have you read it?
All because God loved us enough to send His only Son for us. Kind of amazing, huh?
So when you opened your presents this morning, did you thank God for the most amazing gift of all? Did you thank Him for His Son, Jesus Christ?
Thank You, Father!
Merry Christmas,
Renee

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pen to the Page: Figuring It Out

 
 
 
Welcome back to Pen to the Page.
 
Have you ever had a dream but no clue how to make it come true?
I have to admit I felt that way after someone read the first draft of my manuscript. Now what? Where did I go? What did I do to make it better? I was now a writer but I had a lot to figure out before I could be an author.
 
Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.”
 
Last week, I mentioned that I joined ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers. I did this almost the day I picked up my pen. I knew I needed support. No one can do it alone. This organization is packed full of wonderful Christian writers who have offered a great deal of help and guidance. I’m grateful for every bit of it.
From the edits to the critiques, ACFW is a source I can trust. It has writing contests and courses as well as many others assets for the Christian writer. I love the fact that I can ask my fellow writers for advice about my plot lines one day and ask for prayer the next.
They taught me more this last year than I could ever imagine. Take the acronyms. I thought the government was bad! After working amidst initials for over ten years, you’d think I’d be used to them. I had a whole new pack to decipher. POV, RUE, WIP to name a few. Point-of-view, Resist-the-Urge-to-Explain, Work-in-Progress for those who are scratching their heads in confusion.
Then I had all the new terms to learn. You know? Those blessed words like tighten, weasel, and head-hopping. Yep, a whole new vocabulary for a whole new world.
 My new friends highlighted and marked their way across my chapters to show me what was “acceptable” and what was not. Suggestions littered the margins especially those early days. My first draft eclipsed into my third then my fifth then…well, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve edited my manuscript now.
 
Romans 5:3 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.”
 
Throughout the process, the “experienced” ones have stressed something to me. Never lose my “voice.” I’ve taken their advice to heart. Even though I’ve learned and grown, my voice is my own. Yes, it may be a little young, after all, I am a new writer, but it’s definitely, my own.
I know I still have a lot to learn. Agents, editors, publishers... Yes, I’ve quite the journey to see my words on someone else’s page besides my own. But I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep learning. Soon, my dream will come true.
Meet me here next week as I share why a platform is beneficial to a fledgling writer in The Launching Platform on Pen to the Page.
In Christ,
Renee
 
ACFW website: http://www.acfw.com


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pen to the Page: Acute Inspiration

 
 
 
Welcome to the first installment of Pen to the Page.
For the next four weeks, I’ll discuss writing and its aspects from my perspective as an aspiring author. The Lord continues to offer His wisdom as I continue my journey to publication.
Next week, I’ll talk about learning the process with Figuring It Out. The third segment, The Launching Platform will cover the components of a platform and the benefits they can offer as well as their limitations. I’ll wrap up with a section that covers contests and critiques, An Author’s Examination. Contests are opportunities and critiques should be explored not abhorred. I’ll discuss both in the last installment of Pen to the Page.
So, get your pens out and let’s begin.
What motivates a person to write…anything? Two words… Acute inspiration.
Acute means now, otherwise who would have ever picked up the pen? Then a source inspires the dedication and strength to continue on to the goal (e.g. story, book, or poem).
I’m an aspiring author and I can remember the day I decided to pick up the pen like it was yesterday. Not to write a poem, I’ve done that for years. No, I can remember the day that I decided to write. It was an acute moment in time. That day changed my life forever.
The Lord used my husband to plant a seed, much like the seed of faith.
Matthew 13:23 “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
 
With just a few words of encouragement, writing became reality in my life. Now I could glorify the Lord! The stories and characters dancing around in my head could finally find their way to the page. I had so much to share. I didn’t know where to start.
 
The words flowed and before long, I had a bonafide manuscript on my hands but I didn’t know what to do with it. I looked at self-publishing but I didn’t want to risk putting my words into print if they weren’t ready yet.
 
My philosophy is simple. Anybody can write. I want to be a Christian author.
 
So, I joined the ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers, and started to learn. I learned about writing. I entered a contest, joined editing groups and critique groups, and then tackled the almighty platform. Just when I thought I’d figured it out, I discovered I didn’t know much and continued learning more.
 
Through it all, my husband stays by my side. Sometimes, all he sees is my head as it’s buried in my laptop as I update my blog or work on my current manuscript. Time management is a big issue and still proves to be quite the challenge. After all, balancing a full-time job, writing and editing, critiques, a weekly blog, book reviews, and social networking can keep a person hopping. Sad to say, family can sometimes be neglected if I’m not careful.
 
What motivates me to continue this demanding path? What’s my inspiration?
 
Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”
 
My song is my words. Whether they rest in a novel or a poem, they’ll praise the Lord. I’ll bring glory to the Almighty. He’s my strength and through Him, through His acute inspiration, I’ll find a page for my pen each and every day.
 
Join me next week on Pen to the Page as I talk about Figuring It Out.
 
In Christ,
 
Renee


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Season of Great Chaos


Shasta, the tigress
 
I love Christmas. Decorations are everywhere. The adorned tree stands in the corner, a village covers the table, and stockings hang from the mantle.  Baubles to bat, wires to chew, limbs to climb… Christmas cheer or feline calamity? That is the question.
 
Calamity One
From the bedroom, I hear a rustling sound in the living room. I peek around the corner and notice that the Christmas tree is shaking. I walk closer to spy my cat, Shasta, at the base of the tree, or at least one of her back paws. She’d attempted to climb into the densely decorated limbs. A pitiful meow sounds through the branches. Reaching under the tree, I snag her leg and pull her out then watch as she hisses and bounds away in a huff.
Not even a thank you!
Well, Calamity One averted at two a.m.
 
Calamity Two
“Don’t even think about it, cat.”
I turn at the sound of my son’s tense tones. He’s glaring at the tiger kitty poised to launch onto the table behind me. I suppress a smile and rise from the couch.
“Come here, Shasta.” I move quickly to scoop my cat under her belly, cradling her to my chest. Stroking her head, I can feel her low purr against my ribs and kiss her on the nose. “You know better than that.”
“She’s such a pain sometimes.” My son groans and rearranges some village pieces.
“Oh, she’s fine. Just a little confused right now. What would you do if temptation stared you in the face every day?”
Calamity Two averted just in time.
 
Calamity Three
I open the bedroom door and almost trip over my cat. “Shasta!”
She bucks and runs toward the hearth where she sits in front of her food bowl. Her yellow-green eyes watch me as I walk across the living room.
I shake my head and sit on the couch to put on my shoes. A pitiful yowl echoes throughout the house and my eyes roll. “Shasta, really? Give me a break.”
As my foot slides into the shoe, silence descends and I glance over at her. My eyes widen in shock. “Shasta, no!”
My cat has her teeth locked on the strands of lights hanging from the mantle. At my shout, she releases her grip, and arches her back, her tail bushing. With a growl, she leaps off the hearth and races into the kitchen.
I close my eyes and try to slow my pounding heart. Nothing like getting attention the hard way, eh?
Calamity Three averted again.
 
No matter how many disasters I may face, the decorations will continue because I love this time of year. I adore my Lord, Jesus and I love my kitty, Shasta.  She keeps the season interesting, to say the least. It’s a season of joy and, at times, chaos in this household.
Well, she’s beating at the window, I better go. May the Lord bless everyone! Merry Christmas.
In Christ,
 
Renee
 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The High Road

 
 
 


Isaiah 35:8 “A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray.”

 

How many times do we dig maps out on a trip? Or grab our phone or GPS to search for the best possible route? What kind of criteria do you use? Which ones determine the “best” way? Shortest, fastest, most convenient? Cheapest or less-traffic? What motives drive your decisions? What is your goal?

Not hard questions but to reach your destination, they must be addressed, unless you already know the way.

The Christian walk is reflected in much the same way. How do you prepare for the journey? What do you use to judge the best possible way to execute your life? How do your motivations impact your life and is the goal really that important? After all, Jesus already died for all of our sins, right?

Well, let’s look at it…

How does a person prepare for a Christian journey? Well, the most important factor is the Lord God. Are you saved?

Isaiah 35:4 “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

 

Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

 

You are? Great! He’s done the first part, now it’s time for you to do the next bit. You may notice soon that the things of this world just don’t fit anymore. Kind of like when you grow out of old clothes when you’re young. Things are the wrong style, or a little too tight. Whatever the case may be, you start to notice you need to change but can’t figure out exactly how. Where do you find the answers? Which way is the right direction?

2 Samuel 22:31As for God, His way is perfect; The Word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

 

Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

 

That’s right. The answers are in the Word, the Bible. It will give you what you need to answer all your questions. Read it, study it, meditate on it, and memorize it. Let the Lord reveal His will to you through the pages. If you haven’t already done so, find a study or discipleship group to further your Biblical and spiritual knowledge to help your walk grow. Get to know Him. Learn how to talk to Him and pray. After all, He loves you.

As a Christian matures, it’s amazing what propels them along the journey. In the beginning, it’s knowledge and joy. As the relationship with God progresses and hardships come, crossroads are approached, weaknesses challenged, and temptations faced. With the strength of the Lord, all can be conquered and the journey continued with learned lessons.

 

Psalm 37:39 “But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble.”

 

So, what’s the goal of the journey? I mean, the goal of any trip is to get to the destination right? In this case, Jesus has already paid the price for us so what should the goal for the Christian walk even be? Be good? Don’t sin? Why should we even bother?

 

Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

 

Take the journey on the high road and live the Life. Experience the joy of the Lord, the peace of His nature and the strength of His mighty hand. Learn to dwell in His Spirit even in the turbulent, rocky times and above all, spread the Word. Give someone in this world a fighting chance. He’s waiting.

 

In Christ,

 

Renee

 

 

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pardon Me, O Lord


 

Isaiah 55:7 “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
What is forsaking the wicked one’s way? Or an unrighteous thought? Why would I need mercy? Or God forbid, a pardon? Surely, I’m not that bad. I mean, really…I don’t even drink alcohol or smoke. Isaiah? This is OLD TESTAMENT stuff. The Old Testament doesn’t apply anymore, right? I’m a born-again Christian, so isn’t the New Testament more important?
 
Questions, questions, questions… Where, oh where, are the answers? Don’t worry. God may have high expectations from His children but He’ll never fail us. Our manual is His Word.
 
Here is a quick guide to the above questions and where to find the answers in the Manual (NKJV).

1: The Wicked Way:
Ezekiel 33:19
Ezekiel 3:18

2: Unrighteousness:
            John 7:18
            Romans 1:18
            1 Corinthians 6:9

3: Mercy:
            Psalm 37:21
            Psalm 85:7
            James 2:13
 
4: Pardon:
            Jeremiah 33:8
            Nehemiah 9:17
            Isaiah 55:7
            John 20:31

The answers can be found in various places throughout Scripture. As I’ve grown in my Christian walk, I’ve discovered one thing about God’s Word. It’s the same.
Now, I’m not talking about translations. NIV, NASB, KJV, NKJV… I can get lost in all the acronyms. Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic… No way, not me! I’m not a theologian, I’m a writer.
I’ve learned to read the Bible as a whole. If I hear something, I don’t run to a book on a shelf to confirm it. I refer to Scripture and yes, that means the Old Testament, too.  
The Old Testament proclaims God’s nature. Powerful, just, loving, pure, honest, and holy are a few traits on display throughout its pages. It also shows God’s wrath on occasion as well. Remember Jonah? What about Sodom and Gomorrah? Or the Great Flood?  
The Book of Matthew is the start of something new, though. At least, that’s what a lot of people think. After all, the new covenant usually means the old way is gone, right? Well, yes and no.
The New Testament is amazing! It’s the story of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Yes, the old way is no longer necessary because Christ was the atonement for all of our sins, past, present and future. Yes, we don’t need a high priest to make our petitions to the Father since the Holy Spirit is within us, whispering our needs to Him every minute. A person’s transformed and the things of this world seem rather small in comparison to the mighty wonders of God.
The New Testament isn’t a solo book. Without the Old Testament, the view of God’s nature is incomplete. God is loving. He wants to bring all to Him but a valuable lesson lies within the pages of the older book. One that must never be forgotten. God is holy, mankind isn’t. An enormous gap separates the two. This fact will never change. Not for fancy doctrine manipulation or wishful thinking.
Check the Manual out. It’ll give you the answers you need to figure out which way to go.
 
Galatians 2:20-21 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
 
In Christ,
 
Renee


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Veteran: Our Nation's Hero

 
 
He stands alone, his green jacket blowing in the wind. The crowd mills around him and he wonders if he will ever fit in again. He hasn’t slept since his return and his body aches with buried pain. Remembering his wife’s desperate expression the night before, he throws his shoulders back and moves toward the clinic entrance.
 
How many soldiers live through this same scenario upon their return from service? What about the ones that don’t make it this far?
 
World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan are just some areas of conflict that our men and women in uniform have served and sacrificed to preserve our liberty. Many others exist. When the call of duty is sounded, the response is immediate. They leave to serve, and return, so many times, broken.
 
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines: the force of the nation arises when needed. National Guard, Reserves, Coast Guard, and PHS Commissioned Corps stand ready to assist. This is the militia who volunteers and flexes America’s muscle around the world. These are our veterans, our heroes.
 
It’s November 11. Veteran’s Day.
 
Today is a day to remember. We recall the soldiers who fell in battle. The ones with no casket to drape a flag. The prisoners who suffered and died serving their country, never seeing their homeland. It is a day to remember the fallen veteran.
 
It’s a day to honor. Today, we praise the soldiers for their service, past and present. Even the ones with a few issues, here and there. Like the prisoner who suffered atrocity and still fights those same battles every single day. Or the soldier who hasn’t slept since he came back to country. It’s a day to honor the heroic veteran.
 
How do we do it? How do we remember our fallen heroes? How do we honor our men and women in uniform, past or present?
 
Have you ever heard of the VFW? It stands for Veterans of Foreign Wars. It’s a way to remember veterans and honor those lives through a very special organization. Find a charity of your choice! There are many memorials to the veterans around the nation. Find one and contribute.
 
How do you honor the veterans that you may see today? Or tomorrow? Have you thought of buying him or her a meal? Anonymously, just leave a thank you note. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Who knows, you may actually be serving one or two. Think outside the box. I know you’ll think of something.
 
Veteran’s Day is a special day. It is a day that should be written on our calendars and in our hearts to remember all year. After all, our freedom comes at a price and that price is paid by the veteran, our nation’s hero.
 
In Christ,
 
Renee
 
Psalm 56:13 “For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?”

Disclaimer: Characters and incidents depicted in this blog are products of the writer's imagination, or are used in a fictitious situation. Any resemblances to actual events, locations, organizations, incidents or persons, alive or dead, are coincidental.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Power in the Pen

 
 
The political season rages across the nation. After all, Election Day is tomorrow. You can’t turn on the television without being waylaid with a commentary or a poll. What does it all mean? In the end, does it even matter if you vote? I mean, if you DON’T live in Ohio? What does all this have to do with your Christian walk anyway?
For some, this year will be the first time they ever cast a ballot. For others, it may be the last. For many, 2012 is just another year of bickering politicians who fill their airwaves with rhetoric.
Tomorrow, the citizens of this great nation wield a great power. They walk into the voting booths across this nation. They don’t carry swords or guns but instead they’re armed with a pen.
The voter decides the next President and Vice-President. He keeps or replaces Congressional leaders with a mark. She selects her law enforcement, her judges, and impacts her children’s future. It all starts with the stroke of a pen.
As a Christian, I believe God calls his children to represent Him in every way. This country offers one powerful way to show the world who lies within us. That’s right! VOTE! Spread the Word!
This country is unique. The founding fathers fled religious persecution to establish a land exempt from religious tyranny. However, the roots of this great nation can still be found on our currency, in our Pledge of Allegiance, Oaths of Duty, and the refrains of our National Anthem.
Just as God’s name rings in America, so it should in the ear of every Christian on Election Day. As you walk into your booth, grip that pen as tight as you would a sword because the power it wields is amazing!
 
In Christ,
 
        
Renee
 
 
Isaiah 45:13 “I have raised him up in righteousness, And I will direct all his ways; He shall build My city And let My exiles go free, Not for price nor reward," Says the LORD of hosts.”
 


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Little Things



 
 
Are you on a quest? Have you searched everywhere? Does the cost seem too high? Don’t give up. Look around. It may be right in front of you.
Have you ever experienced the love of a puppy? Felt the adoration as he lathers your face with kisses when you walk in the door? Have you viewed the heartbroken stare as you leave for the day? A little love is an awesome thing.
 
What about the laugh of a child? How it can lighten your heart and make your troubles fade away? Have you seen the sparkle in her eyes while she dances in the living room? A little laughter is an amazing thing.
 
 
Then there’s always the wonder of a starlit night or the brilliance of the sea. How about the fragrance of the yellow rose? Even the shifting sands of the Sahara may offer something for the soul. A little beauty is a marvelous thing.
Keep watching. Remember, don’t give up. It may be right in front of you.
 
Proverb 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”
 
In Christ,
 
Renee