Archive for the ‘Beyond the Manuscript’ Category

Today, We Salute You

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Veterans DayGiuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general and nationalist, said: “Soldiers, I am going out from Rome. Let those who wish to continue the war against the stranger, come with me. I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor provisions. I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles, and death. Let him who loves his country follow me.”

True sacrifice serves not for fame or benefits or glory, but from a heartfelt commitment to protecting those under your care despite personal cost. Today we stop to shine light on the current of gratitude that flows through our daily lives to those veterans who have shown true sacrifice and to their families and friends who join and support them. Your daily and lifelong sacrifice is seen, heard, recognized, and appreciated.

Veterans, every day, but especially today, we salute you.

Below is a selection of books written by veterans, for veterans, or by veteran spouses. Click on the cover to learn more about the author and book.

  Armorbearers  Michelle Keener Repurposed Faith: Breathing New Life into Your Quiet Time - Rosie Williams   Fate of the Watchman   Finding JoyA Biblicist View of Law and Gospel  

Eyes of Faith: A Letter from Our Publisher

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The month of October is filled with pumpkin spice flavored everything, the excitement of trick-or-treating, the anticipation of Halloween, the delicious taste of candy corns, the joy of choosing the perfect costume, and the exhilaration of getting to dress up as someone/something else! The once green leaves on the trees are changing to red, yellow, orange, and brown. Pumpkins can be found in abundance along with all things fall themed. It is almost as if fall is in the air.
      For many people around the world, dressing up is something fun to do; however, for missionary Amy Carmichael it was something completely different. Amy was a missionary to the children of India. Growing up, she had always been so disappointed that her eyes were brown instead of blue. But God had a plan for her, and her eyes helped her to dress up and blend in when she needed to most.

Author Derick Bingham describes Amy Carmichael’s life as a missionary to India in his book The Wild-Bird Child. Throughout the telling of her story, he uncovers God’s plan for her and how He used her dark eyes and a costume to help further His plan for Amy’s life.

“With a passion, Amy was determined that God would change the color of her eyes from brown to blue. Blue was her favorite color; and it is not without significance that most of her books were to be bound in blue cloth. Let her poetry tell the story:

Just a tiny little child,
Three years old,
And a mother with heart
All of gold.

Often did that mother say,
“Jesus hears us when we pray,
For He’s never far away;
And He always answers.”

Now, that tiny little child
Had brown eyes;
And she wanted blue instead,
Like blue skies.
For her mother’s eyes were blue,
Like forget-me-nots. She knew
All her mother said was true –
Jesus always answered.

So she prayed for two blue eyes,
Said “Good night,”
Went to sleep in deep content
And delight.
Woke up early, climbed a chair
By a mirror. Where, O where
Could the blue eyes be? Not there!
Jesus hadn’t answered.

Hadn’t answered her at all!
Never more
Could she pray – her eyes were brown
As before.
Did a little soft wind blow?
Came a whisper, soft and low,
“Jesus answered. He said ‘No.’
Isn’t ‘No’ an answer?”

During the Second World War, a Jewish rescue farm was set up near Millisle [Northern Ireland]. Those brown eyes of Amy Carmichael were to be one of her most useful attributes, when she would be led to rescue hundreds of brown-eyed children from unspeakable things and establish a faraway home for them.”

“Soon, Amy was glad that God had said “No” to her childhood prayer in Millisle for blue eyes. One night, she disguised herself by staining her hands and face with coffee and, dressed in a sari, she got right past the priests. Eventually, she got to the inner shrine and then entered a larger room where ten little girls, all aged between four and six, stood in line waiting. Dressed in silk saris and sparkling with jewels, they were perfumed and wore flowers in their hair, but their eyes were filled with fear. A door opened, weird music burst from behind the door, and a priest led them in. Amy did not need to be told what it was all about. But how was she to tell the world and the authorities that the horrors were real, and not imagined?”

“The broken-hearted Amy lifted her eyes away beyond her immediate circumstances to the vast sub-continent in which God had placed her; and the light of guidance was dawning upon her, that what she was doing had vast repercussions.
We have looked at some of the facts she collected regarding the Temple children; but here, in her own words, the seed-thought is expressed for what lay ahead:

‘We are hoping to gather facts concerning the Temple children matter during the next year, and then probably through the Missionary body of South India, approach Government upon the subject… if only the facts can be brought to light, something will surely be done. The difficulty is to get the facts: facts of the sort which will compel action on the part of the Government. The law as it stands is inadequate to cope with this trade in children. We realize that it will be difficult to frame the law, that its purpose cannot be evaded, but when one sees so many thoughtful men and women, some of them Government Officials, tackling the question, one feels as if the day when right will be done may not be so very far distant. I have begun with this because I want your prayers. The subject is National, not just Missionary, in its bearing.’

Amy, the missionary, was on her way to becoming a social reformer to the huge benefit of the nation she loved and of which she had become a part.” Amy Carmichael

“As Christmas 1930 approached, the experience of asking for blue eyes in Millisle, Co. Down sixty years before, was still fresh in her heart. In December 1930, she quotes the words of her famous poem about her childhood experience of asking for blue eyes: ‘I find the Dohnavur Letter goes to quite a number of people who have kept the heart of the child. And more than one of that sort here has found an answer to many a question in the last line of this song – the question that answers itself. As for the genuine child, it never tires of the nonsense of it. We have baby song evenings in my room sometimes, and Godfrey plays on his auto-harp and the children crowd round with their own little Baby Song M.S. books. What shall we sing? Blue Eyes! They cry all at once, and with emphasis – so just to share our nonsense as well as our sense, her it is….’ She includes not only the words of her poem but the music to sing it as a song.”

As we prepare for fall, as we decorate with pumpkins, and as we choose costumes and dress up as someone/something different, let us remember that we are each unique, let us embrace that we each have a unique call on our lives that only we can fulfill,  and let us love and accept ourselves the way God created us just as Amy Carmichael did.

To learn more about Bingham and The Wild-Bird Child, visit HERE.

#MilesApart

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This devotional is an excerpt from the free two-week devotional for couples by Hope N. Griffin available at www.HopeNGriffin.com.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”Hope Griffin
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[e] have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.”
And Joshua did so.
— Joshua 5:13-15

Do you remember the story of Jericho? The one where they marched around the city in silence for six days and on the seventh day they blew their trumpets and the walls fell-down? Whenever I hear this story I can’t help but see Veggie Tales and think of the green-peas throwing insults at the Israelites.

The Israelites are victorious. But there is a small story before they march that is rarely discussed. I don’t mean Rahab, but rather this man who suddenly appears in Joshua 5 standing before Joshua with sword drawn. Joshua upon seeing this stranger simply asks are you with us or with the enemy. In other words, are you a threat or are you falling in line with our agenda? The man answers simply, “I’m not with you or them. I’m with God.”

I wonder how many times in life we are faced with the same confrontation. We get so busy defending our ground and drawing lines in the sand without stepping back and first asking “but are we on God’s side.”

Joshua humbly recognized that this battle was not his but the Lords. He responded appropriately and fell facedown in reverence identifying himself as being on God’s side. If he were not a humble man willing to listen more than command would he have had the humility to march in silence? Would he have trusted that God’s way was the right way?

Are you trusting that God’s way is the right way?

To learn more about Hope N. Griffin and her book Finding Joy: The Year Apart that Made Me a Better Wife, visit HERE.

Publishing FAQs | Endorsements: The 6 Ws

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors as well as already-established authors who still need our assistance. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. This Publishing FAQ series covers questions Ambassador International receives regularly. Previously covered questions are:

 

Publishing FAQsEndorsements: The 6 Ws

What:

Merriam-Webster defines endorsing as “to approve openly” or “to recommend (something, such as a product or service).”  An endorsement for a book is not a review, it is a statement that openly approves or recommends your book to readers.

Why:

An endorsement lends credibility to a book. They are a no-cost marketing strategy that can be used in the promotion of your book.

When:

Now!

Whether you have signed a contract or not, it is never too early to begin seeking endorsements.Click To Tweet

Who:

In simplest terms, the more recognizable the endorser, the better, but also keep in mind that any endorsement is better than none. Endorsements can come from various sources – a recognized leader in the field, pastor, librarians, authors {award-winning authors are ideal but not required}

Where:

Endorsements will be used for your book, either on the cover or in the interior. They will also be used in marketing material.

How:

While Ambassador International can try and help authors acquire endorsements, we recommend you review your personal connections first and determine if you have any connections who would qualify as an endorser. And then all you have to do is ask them! It’s simple, really! If you don’t have personal connections, you can still seek out possible endorsers but you may have to try a little harder to get a yes. Endorsements are, or should be, offered for free, but we recommend that you offer and send the endorser a personally-signed copy of your book upon publication as a way of saying thank you.

 

We applaud you for doing your research to try and make your book the best version of itself it can be! Whether you have already signed a contract or still hope to in the future, you can begin the process now of trying to secure endorsements for your book. We recommend our authors try to have two or three good endorsements, but even if you get one, remember what we said earlier, any endorsement is better than no endorsement .

Author Forum: Does Reading Other People’s Work Influence Your Writing Style?

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This is the second of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block.

They say that copycatting is the highest praise because it means that the work is worth copying. Shakespeare’s storylines have been taken and reworked into countless new works, and Hemingway’s different writing style changed the literary world. So it raises the question if our authors are particularly influenced by other authors.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I don’t read other people’s work when I am writing other than looking up a quote I am searching for (I also don’t listen to other testimonies when I am writing).  I am afraid that I will copy their style. But don’t get me wrong. Reading what other people have written had everything to do with my writing. I read aloud to my children for 15 years before I began my book. I will forever be grateful to the excellent writers I met during those years whose detailed descriptions inspired me (a math girl, think of it!) to the point I knew I had to write! I agree with the Psalmist who said, “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue…” (Psalm 39:3)

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

I am a picky eater and I am a picky reader. I’ve noticed I tend to read authors with similar writing styles to each other. Anything outside of that realm, I have a hard time understanding or staying focused. So, yes, I would have to say I lean towards the writing style that I read, mainly because it keeps my attention. To those who like meatloaf, tuna, and chicken – expository, persuasive, and narrative, I admire you. But to me, I’m just a chicken girl – one meat, one writing style. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll acquire a taste for variety.

 

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Yes and no. I definitely feel like reading unique writing styles seems to open up the possibilities, break down limitations. Sometimes I try to write in different “voices” just to stretch my own technique. e.e. cummings taught me to use unexpected words to shake things up.  Harper Lee taught me to pay attention to the subplot, to the stories happening behind the center stage. Other authors such as Anne Lamotte, Donald Miller and Jen Hatmaker have all influenced me over recent years. They have very conversational writing styles, casual and funny.  This seems to be the style that feels most like my own voice, so their writing gives me confidence in my own style.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

Yes, so I don’t usually read much when I’m working on a manuscript. I feel it’s one or the other for me–either I’m reading or writing because I do a better job of listening to my writing voice when it’s the only one I hear.

 

Have a favorite author or unique writing style? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

 

Author Forum: How Do You Break Writer’s Block?

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This is the first of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors.

Anyone who writes, from poetry to novels, even a school paper, has experienced writer’s block at one point or another. Curious as to how to break writer’s block, we asked a few of our amazing authors here at Ambassador International for their methods of finding their inspiration again.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

“Some people suffer from writer’s block, but I consistently had to deal with the opposite problem. I had way too much content. As I wrote, story after story would unfold and the average reader doesn’t want to read a book over 400 pages! When my beloved mentor who was an excellent writer suggested that I write my story, she had it right immediately. Her name is Elisabeth Elliot. She said to me, “Juana, some people have the problem of irrigating the desert when they write; you will have the problem of chopping down the jungle.” She was spot on.

Even so, there was a few times I got “stuck.” I found the best thing to do was to put it away, and come back fresh on another day. On occasion I listened to an audio of my story told in front of a live audience. As I listened as if it was someone else’s story, I became re-motivated to go back to the spot where I got stuck and just tell it as if I was talking to one person in the room (and just one person will eventually read it when they hold it in their hand!)”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

When I hit my wall of writer’s block, I find myself putting the manuscript aside for a time. Thankfully, it is usually just a short time, one that I can fill running or playing with the kids for an afternoon. During those less frequent longer times, I push the story out of my head as best I can and live life away from the characters for days or even weeks. Other than normal living, I may read other books or watch movies, stories that show creativity and imagination. When I feel refreshed, I dive back in, headfirst.

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

I tend to write in spurts: I’ll let thoughts and ideas build for a while, and then spend a few days writing non-stop.  I’m not sure if this is “normal”; it seems to just depend on personality type.  I read several writers’ blogs who carve out a couple of hours each day to write, but I usually need a bigger block of time to really get much on a page.  I’m just not a fast writer, but the more I write, the faster I become.  Reading seems to be the best way to help me generate ideas and be inspired to write. The more I read, the more I seem to want to write.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I take breaks–but that means doing something else creative.  I find that reading, watching a movie, or listening to music  often inspire me so then I can return to my manuscript and  the words flow easier and better. I’ve never been stuck on  what to write about–writer’s block to me is more about not  being able to get the right words out or have the story flow in  the best direction.

 

Do you have your own tips for breaking writer’s block? Go and comment on our Facebook page with your methods!

 

Beyond the Manuscript: Engaging Media on a Local and National Level (week 6)

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Beyond the ManuscriptOver the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

Over the last 5 weeks I’ve really enjoyed sharing the Beyond the Manuscript blog series with you. For this final week I called upon our publicist Alison Storm to provide some practical tips for engaging media on a local and national level.

Engaging the Media

Local Media

For many authors local media will be the best resource for spreading the word about your book.

  • Highlight Local Ties: If you’re a Greenville, SC author getting a newspaper in Texas to care about your new novel is going to be a lot harder than getting the attention of the Greenville News. Think about what is going to make people care.

For Literal Lily, an Ambassador children’s book. The author’s mother-in-law illustrated the book. So rather than pitch the book itself, which doesn’t really have a news peg we pitched that it was a family affair and were able to book several interviews.

National Media

While booking a national show would be great, you may actually find that you sell more books after local media hits.

  • Think About News Angles: This is especially important for novels and children’s books. The author of Dancing From the Shadows has personal experience with autism and the novel revolves around the subject. So we used that as a hard news angle to pitch the media during National Autism Awareness Month.

Practical Tips For Contacting Media

Access Decision Makers: Find email addresses of decision makers. Do Google research and you should be able to find the person you need to contact. At newspapers this person is likely an editor. At a TV station it’s an assignment editor or producer. At a radio station it’s a programming director or producer.

Don’t Use Attachments: Copy and paste your news release into the body of the email. Many news outlets have spam filters and do not accept attachments.

Offer Free Review Copies: Offer to send the decision maker a free review copy. Don’t simply send a free review copy unless you’ve found someone who is interested. That’s just a waste of resources.

Time Your Email Correctly: Do not email your news release at the end of the day or it may get lost in the shuffle. TV stations especially have a lot going on just before show time and this is not when they will be most attentive to your pitch.

Follow Up in One Week: A week after you initially contact media outlets follow up. Include your original email in your follow up email and be very brief. Ask simply, can I send you a review copy or answer any questions? Alison says she almost always has the majority of her success after the follow up.

Don’t Get Discouraged: Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back. You may send out hundreds of pitches and only get one response. Don’t give up. Craft a new pitch. Use a new angle.

Once You Book an Interview

Prepare and Practice: Do not wing it. This is especially important for live interviews when time is limited. List out the main points you want to cover. Practice your sound bite answers. For TV appearances, wear solid colors and bring your book with you.

Don’t Say “My Book”: It is amazing how many authors will do an interview and never say the name of their book. It may feel awkward, but it’s extremely important that you work in the title of your book several times throughout the interview.

Smile and Get Excited: If you aren’t excited about your book, why would anyone watching your interview be moved to buy your book?

Don’t Expect Media to Sell Your Book: We’ve had authors appear on programs that we thought would result in huge sales boosts and the response was minimal. Media should be used as a tool in your arsenal, but it’s not the only thing that will help your book sell.

What experiences have you had with media?

I’ve really enjoyed sharing a lot of the basics with you. My hope is that you find these tips helpful on your journey to publication and marketing. If you’re just getting started talk with us, we’d love to learn more about your work and find out if we’re the right home for you and your title.

Beyond the Manuscript: How to organize a successful signing (week 5)

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Beyond the ManuscriptOver the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

 

For many authors a book signing is high moment in their career as a writer, they get to interact with family, friends and supporters and see the excitement and response first hand from those buying their book. With this in mind you want your signing event to be great!

Signing events are a big deal. If you have a good event managers will want you back and short list you for future events. The work you put in is invaluable.

Select a Time and Location

The first step is obvious, you will want to select a popular local retail store, preferably working with the manager and retail partner you’ve already connected with. When selecting dates keep your area in mind. Certain nights in certain regions or during certain times of year are not good. Think mid-week meetings, football season, local high school games. These are small details that can have a great impact on turnout.

 

Start Promoting

When a date is selected you want to start event promotion, there are many steps you can take to make your signing a success. Being strategic and paying attention to the detail are a big part of it.

  1. You will want to use the tools you have established. Create a Facebook event, invite all your followers. Make it open to public and encourage fans to share.
  2. Email your contact list, perhaps you already have a eNewsletter you send out, use this list and notify them of your event. If you don’t have an eNewsletter look into signing up for a service like MailChimp.This is a great service that allows you to professionally send and manage your email marketing and will avoid you’re email from being blacklisted or becoming associated with spam. Your eNewsletter is a great way to keep you front and center with your fans.
  3. Go old school and produce flyers or handouts, a good publisher will coordinate with you on this. Distribute them at church, among friends, leave copies at the bookstore. Some stores are open to using a quality flyer as a bag stuffer. Create an event poster, put them up at the store (with the manager’s permission), at coffee houses, church, give copies to friends and ask them to further distribute at the places they frequent.
  4. Reach out to your media list, see if the local paper will interview you and promote the event or perhaps you can get on a local breakfast show the day of your event. Use your well-developed pitch. Alternatively coordinate with your publisher to assist you in your media outreach efforts.
  5. While preparing the ground locally add your event to local event calendars. Many newspapers, cities and local news stations will have event calendars for free on their websites.

 

The Key to Success

We have put each of these elements into play for many events. As a case study lets take the title Healing Hearts. Earlier this year we had a major launch, we reached out to key regional magazines months in advance, we got an interview and it was circulated to 300,000 readers in a Dallas based publication. We held interviews with local affiliates of national stations. We created a Facebook event inviting hundred of followers. The author sent out emails and mailings to 500+ contacts and announced it among his contacts and at his church. Barnes and Noble advertised the signing on their website and in-store with posters. Our publicist was on the ground in Dallas to assist with media and sales. The event came around and we sold several hundred books and the event ran seven hours making it one of the largest events in this history of this specific Barnes and Noble store. Much work was put into this. The author worked extremely hard coordinating his personal promotional elements and we as a publishing house worked to tie the event and media together. Our efforts combine to make a great event. The volume of sales for this event may have been the exception rather than the rule however we have seen strong sales over and over when the above steps are put into action.

I share this to encourage you. Put in the hard work.

Also, don’t be afraid to be creative with your promotions.

 

Getting Creative with Promotion

Consider having a blog tour running up to the big event. Each blogger can post a review, link to the title and announce the event through their blog posts. You can then share each post daily through your social media in the run up to the event.

Ask the store (if an indie) to host a Google+ Hangout with you. This can be used to promote the event and store. For an indie store this can be a great way for them to get followers to their social media, they may even be willing to offer a gift card as a prize. Remember that stores are also looking for ways to get attention and if you show you care about getting them exposure they will appreciate it. A lead into a signing such as this also provides you with a media angel.

You also can be thinking of what kind of giveaway you can offer. It could be something as simple as giving away a handful of signed copies through your site in the run up to the signing or a free ebook for the first 10-25 sales at your event. This can be something to partner with your publisher on. Have the buyers email their book receipt from the event to the publisher and eReader type. The publisher could provide a download code.

 

Final Prep

With the big event about 10 days out, you’ll want to ensure stock is on hand. This seems like something you shouldn’t need to worry about however even the best stores can make a slip up and we find ourselves overnighting books. Avoid surprises, check up on the stock or have your publisher do this. It is also worthwhile having a plan in place seeing extra stock accessible should you sell out.

Finally, this is the one party you don’t want to be late for arrive 10-15 minutes early.

I’d love to hear about your first signing, what did you learn from it?