Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What If Christmas Returned...?

Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church...Image via Wikipedia
I've been thinking about the problems of church and state issues regarding Christmas. They create a mixed array of conflicting motives: business wants the "holiday" that is the most profitable of the year. Others want to argue about where creches may or may not be placed.

Yet, should Christmas be a holiday, as in a day off work and school, or as in a holy day? The day Christians celebrate and remember with thankfulness as the first Advent is a holy day, and we await the Second Advent, when Christ returns at a time only known by God, the Father.

Christians through the centuries have celebrated Jesus' birth. First, the others also born as Jews, honoring the word of God, worshiped daily, however, in the temple and synagogues with Jesus. After His resurrection, it was they who went forth into more of the Gentile world. They all gave gifts to the poor among them year 'round, and to others of any faith...anyone in need. Daily, they sang psalms and spiritual songs together to honor the Lord.

From the Gospel according to Luke
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 
“a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. 

When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,  
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
   you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
   and the glory of your people Israel.” 

Luke 2: 22-32*

*The New International Version of the Bible
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Self-Publishing...or Not?

1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Sixth Edition (1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers)Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, 16th Edition: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self Publishing Manual)
John Kremer's Self-Publishing Hall of FameTen years ago. The founder of SPAN was on the car radio. My husband rushed home to tell me. We were new to publishing, had one book to publish, available in the UK and ready for its first US edition. What next? How to publish it?

SPAN is about self-publishing, and in those days, the professional publishing world did not think well of self-publishing, called vanity publishing. That needed to change. 

We knew that the main problems was that self-published books too often had poor, unprofessional, editing. A change in that direction, for the better, was essential.

Since those years, a multimillion-dollar industry has grown, to capture the self-marketing writer or group. You will see ads everywhere offering to "publish your book." Is that a good thing? You need to find out.

Here are some key things to look for:
  • Does the offer include professional editing?
  • If the offer includes book formatting, does it also include professional marketing, including placement on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and other book-selling web sites? Most do this, by the way.
  • If the offer includes marketing, will it cost you too much to buy your own copies, for your own book signings and other public appearances?
  • If you seriously consider going this way, it is essential that you not rush into a decision with the first offer that looks spectacular. There are lots of "spectacular" offers. 
  • Three things to do, taking the time, before you decide: (1) Study the most appealing offer, and (2) compare all of it, line by line, with at least five other businesses offering similar services, and (3) see if recommendations from other offers include praise that their books are doing well, or only praise that their books look good and the service was excellent.
Your book was important enough that you spent time writing and rewriting it. Make sure your book gets the right help for sales!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Get Your Book Noticed"-KR

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. ...Image via Wikipedia
 Kirkus Reviews says, "Get Your Book Noticed"
Not so long ago, the traditional publishing and marketing world shrugged off (or worse)  self-published books. That has changed, and not just because John Grisham published the first edition of A Time to Kill, or that people learned why Charles Dickens self-published A Christmas Carol. His own publisher would not touch it-"not profitable; too short."

Today, more than ever, self-published authors trend toward a professional view, different from their predecessors even five or ten years ago. The smartest of them focus on improved writing, book production, marketing,the bottom line, and expectations. Yes, there remain schemers making money off writers not learning the self-publishing trade. And it is, friends, a demanding profession. There are still over-confident writers that imagine buyers rushing to their books by the thousands, or millions. But those types or stages you find in almost any profession or trade. Especially true of work meant to go public in a highly competitive market.

It is hard work (examine closely any claims to the contrary), and usually with slow, if any, remarkable money profits (ditto).

If you are an author, you can investigate Kirkus Reviews, one of the biggest book reviewers, as well as others. Learn how they propose to help books like yours. They want you to do it, and I'm glad to encourage investigation. Be wise about what they promise to do, and don't blame them if you don't do your part. What they want to do is this: Help. Authors. Promote. Their self-published books.

Self-publishing authors able to cooperate with the specifics behind the help and what is needed on their part, for that to work, need eyes wide open and willingness to try. That would be, I opine, a far, far better thing to do than to pay anyone to promote a book, or to take no special action to help one's own book. It's good there are those willing to help, depending on their own advertisers and not authors' money.

There are ways to shine a spotlight on outstanding, professional, and author-ready self-published books!
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Author Support Blog: Advent Writing

Author Support Blog: Advent Writing: "Writers, there is time to participate in poetry, articles, essays, or short dramas of Advent.

Advent Writing

Writers, there is time to participate in poetry, articles, essays, or short dramas of Advent. Today is the second Sunday of Advent. There are two more, before Christmas Sunday. Perhaps your first step will be to learn more. For example, how and when did Advent come to be a special time in many churches, Catholic and Protestant?

Fulfillment of Scripture prophecies of a Messiah to come began to unfold when Gabriel appeared to the father of John the Baptist and to Mary, a virgin of Nazareth. Later, when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to be dedicated in the temple, God rewarded the faith of Simeon, who had been looking for the coming of the Messiah for many years. (See Luke 2: 25-40.)
When the church began to incorporate this anticipation, it chose a Latin word, adventus, for it. Adventus means coming. Advent, the Coming of the Lord to dwell among us, to preach good tidings unto the meek, to bind up the brokenhearted, declare liberty to the captives and the opening of prisons to those who are bound, as written by Isaiah (60: 1-3) and fulfilled by the Lord in the synagogue when he stood to read Isaiah's words (Luke 4).

To begin study or writing along these lines, Aquinas & More website has information, some of which I share below. Thomas Aquinas of the 13th Century and Protestants and Catholics today share emphasis on salvation, or justification before God, "by faith alone," through Jesus Christ.  O, Come all ye faithful...O come, let us Adore Him.

What is Advent?

"...Advent is a preparatory season. It has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ's birth, and for the time when Christ will come again.

"As noted in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, during Advent, the faithful are asked:
  • to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
  • thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
  • thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

Origin and History of Advent

"The exact time when the season of Advent came to be celebrated is not precisely known. Of course, it was not in practice before the celebration of the Nativity and Christmastide began; the earliest evidence shows that the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was established within the later part of the 4th century. There are homilies from the 5th century that discuss preparation in a general sense, but do not indicate an official liturgical season....

"...it seems the liturgical season was established around the latter part of the 6th century and first half of the 7th century. For the next couple of centuries, Advent was celebrated for five Sundays; Pope Gregory VII, who was pope from 1073-85, reduced the number to four Sundays.

Advent Today

Since the latter 6th century or early 7th century  "...the themes and traditions of the Advent season have evolved....Today a penitential theme ... is blended with the theme of prayerful, spiritual preparation for the second and final coming of the Lord, as well as the joyful preparation for the annual festive remembrance of the Incarnation and Christ's birth.

Advent Traditions

"Advent celebration and traditions can vary from place to place, influenced by culture."
Source/Reference: http://www.aquinasandmore.com/catholic-articles/The-History-and-Meaning-of-Advent/article/173

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Prayer Team for These Writing Times

 "Intercessors for These Times" is part of the free Opinari Quarterly writers, publishing professionals, book lovers and reviewers newsletter. Nine committed intercessors pray without always knowing names, but always knowing requests sent by subscribers.
 Songs & Prayers from TaizeJesus taught us to pray faithfully and often. We carry on this faith and prayer connection to help others in Christ. Subscribers request anonymously or by name.

From the Bible/Philippians 1/NIV-as the apostle Paul wrote: "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.