Rolling Along Through Breakdown and Blessing

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I attended a church Book Club meeting last night and one of the icebreaker questions was “If your life was a book, what would the title be?” The title of this blog post is the one I came up with. Many readers know hubby has been an over-the-road truck driver off and on since 1998. Employment has always been tough to find while we wait for fame and fortune as authors (ha ha!) so truck driving has always been his most successful source of income. I also had the opportunity to “ride shotgun” with him for the last eight years. God has provided “just enough” for us financially as we lived in the truck and traveled the lower 48 and Canada.

However, in January, truck #3’s engine blew. We paid for diagnostics and discovered needed repairs that exceeded the true value of the truck. Even people with cars can relate to that Catch-22. We tried to qualify for a loan but apparently paying off 3 trucks did not constitute enough credit history (nothing current), so we had to scrap the truck for $3500 and come to stay with daughter in Tulsa OK at her apartment. We pay half rent, but the future still seemed pretty uncertain. BTW our daughter Vicky has been such a help and encouragement to us through the years, and more so now, putting up with me fulltime and all the rest. God bless her as she goes through her own transitions.

I applied for local jobs and Michael investigated some options, including going for a PhD in History at OU. I am now a proud part-time employee at a Walmart I can walk to, and my muscles and joints are groaning in protest about all this activity.

The results of Michael’s GRE exams were a bit disappointing so he was not sure what to do next. He met online a small truck company owner based in the Dallas area. He was looking to expand and agreed to take Mike on as a driver. Unfortunately that job has not worked out for various reasons. He is going to take the GRE again but in the meantime, a trucker friend had recommended the company he works for, a very small (4 trucks) outfit based in Ohio. Michael finished his last load for the previous company this week and has made his way toward the orientation for the new job, leaving most of his equipment and other property here at the apartment.

We have been pretty discouraged these past few months. The truck was our home and our income, and we had the freedom to choose the best loads as well as to travel and most of the time get work done on our books. But we got a bit stalled with all these life happenings. It felt like we were back in Basics for Believers, at the 101 course level, saying, “God, what is Your will for our lives?”

But there has been some encouragement. I am making progress on Conflict of the Ages Five, the next module in our homeschool curriculum, with the editing, formatting, and questions and images that need to be added.

Now, back to the Book Club meeting. The books we will read were already chosen, and I was a little discouraged about not having an opportunity to maybe insert one of our books. But the lady leading the group did acknowledge me as a published author, and I got to tell them about a couple of our books. The lady who is in charge of women’s and children’s ministries at the church asked for a list of all our books. That was exciting.

Hubby arrived at the airport for his new job orientation this morning. Unfortunately his checked bag(s) did not. (Everybody knows checking bags is a bad idea, but he had to take some extra things in case he goes straight out onto the road for a week or two before coming back here.) When the driver arrived to pick him up, he agreed that waiting for the next flight, which the missing bags are supposed to be on, was the best idea, so he is doing that while the driver makes other runs. But the driver said he has read our books Antidisestablishmentarianism and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Readers’ and Writer’s Guide for Believers and is eager to talk to Michael about them. Wow! Plus I had a fan of the Alexander Legacy series ask on the blog when the fourth book in that series is coming out. Encouragement! These are both people we don’t know!

We hope people who follow this blog are sticking with us through these transitional times. we are certainly not giving up on writing, and we are making plans to get back into video production, too. Stick around, folks. We don’t know what’s ahead, but it’s pretty certain breakdowns and blessing will always come. We hope you’ll pray that through both we can extend our reach and be a blessing to others.

 

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Step by Step and — Published!

send a white rose 9 6 2015 ebook 25

I recently made a list of the steps involved for publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site. This was for a new author whose cover I designed and whose book I edited. I thought it might be helpful to others who don’t know it’s actually not that hard to publish your own book.

Pictured above is Send a White Rose, the one I think is my first book published. (It’s a tossup between this and Benny and the Bank Robber.) Helping this new author made me think back to my first time setting up our KDP account. If we can do it, you can too!

Remember, this author had her book professionally edited and formatted, and a professionally-designed cover. So don’t skip the outsourcing to make your baby the best, if you’re not a very good do-it-yourselfer. But to keep track of your sales and make updates to your book, you need your own Amazon KDP account. So here’s how to do that.

List of steps to upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing

1. Copy and paste this link into your internet browser window and hit enter to go to the site:
https://kdp.amazon.com/
2. If you already have an account at Amazon, you use the same user name and password to set up your author account. If not, set up an account by choosing a user name and a password. Be sure to write them down somewhere so you don’t lose access.
3. Once you are in the KDP account, you will see your “dashboard.” This is a screenshot of what the top looks like. Yours may be slightly different, since it will be a first-time publishing, and we have over 50 titles.
kdp dashboard screenshot 1
4. Click on the box that says, “Create New Title.”
5. Look at the screenshot below to see the beginning steps for uploading your book.

kdp select screenshot 2
The blue shaded box describes the KDP Select program. There are also lots of helps every step of the way and answers to most questions. If you wish, click the little box that says, “Enroll this Book in KDP Select.” There’s lots of information to be found about using KDP select during the 90 days a book is in the program so take advantage of as many of the features as you can!

6. Now you can start entering your book information and getting ready to upload it.
The first section tells you how to enter your title, author, and so on. If something does not apply, just skip it. (like the “series” part). If the publisher is the same as the author – just put in your name. The description is just that – about 300 words that will make people want to read your book, sort of a sales pitch that doesn’t give away too much but helps “sell” the book. If your book is a short work or novella, be sure to include that fact. People are sometimes disappointed by shorter works and you want to make it as clear as you can if it is not a full-length novel.

 

7. It’s okay if you have no ISBN for a Kindle book. You don’t really need one. Just skip that.
8. Here’s a screenshot of the next part of the form:
screenshot 3 kindle publish options
9. Click “this is not a public domain work” – because you wrote it.
10. “Add categories” will give you choices about how to tell people what kind of story it is. You’ll want to choose “fiction,” or “nonfiction” and then you will see a menu of sub-choices. Then you can add a second category.  You can skip the age range and grade range parts unless it applies.
11. “Search keywords” are words that computers read and store about your book, and that people can use to look up books by subject. Separate each search keyword with a comma. These can be more than one word, and there is a limit on total number of characters, but be as detailed as you can to help your book get found.
12. Next you’ll select “I am ready to release my book now.” Pre-order is something where people can buy the book before publication, usually at a discount. If you had other books that might be a good idea but since this is your first, I’d say wait for the future to do a pre-order.
13. Upload your full-sized cover. I give quarter-sized samples for approval before the final purchase, and some new authors get confused and try the small version. Amazon won’t take anything under 1000 pixels on the smallest side. Click “browse for image” find the cover file, click “open” and the cover will appear in the box that currently says “No Cover Available.”
14. Upload the book file – it can be word doc, mobi version, or even epub.
15. I suggest you choose “Do not enable digital rights management” because DRM can make it hard for some people to open or read your book, and they can’t move it from computer to kindle to phone – they can only have it on one device.
kdp screenshot next
16. Click “Save and continue” at the bottom of the first page to go on to the second page.
17. On page 2, select “Worldwide rights.”
18. I suggest you price very short works at 99 cents. That’s the lowest price KDP allows. As a first-time author, it can help you get noticed to price low. You may also get Amazon promotion in short stories and hot new release categories. Enter the price as 0.99. If it’s full-length, $2.99 or $3.99 still seem to be the best prices. You might even entroduce it at a sale price and raise it later.
19. The royalty for 99 cents is 35%. A book has to be at least $2.99 to qualify for 70% royalties. Check the little boxes beside each country in the blue shaded box area to be sure your book goes to all countries Amazon publishes in.

screenshot KDP publishing page 2
20. “Kindle Match Book” refers to having both a print and ebook version. You only have the kindle version, so ignore that one.
21. Allow lending means once people buy your book, they can let a friend “borrow” it for free. You want to check the box to allow it. Word of mouth is good publicity and letting people share your book means more people will read it. The borrow only lasts for 2 weeks and then the person who got it for free no longer has it on his/her kindle and the owner gets it back.
22. Click the little checkbox in the “save and publish” section first, so they know you understand all the KDP info, and then click the yellow “Save and publish” box to the right, also.

23. It can take 12 to 24 hours for your book to appear but usually it’s sooner. They will send you an email to the address you gave them when you set up your KDP account. IT will have a link where you can find your book.

24. To set up your account to get paid when people buy your book, click on the top right of the screen, in the blue band, where it will say, in your case, “Joan’s Account.” You will have to log in again, and it will take you to a page like this:

account screenshot

Yours will be blank, of course. Fill out your information. There are lots of helps along the right side to answer questions all through this process.
25. Next enter your bank account information. KDP pays royalties, no matter how small, about 60 days after the month in which you earned them.

bank account snip
This may seem difficult, but take your time and follow the steps and you’ll figure it out. Wherever you are in the publishing process, you can look for other posts here on our blog for suggestions about writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and promoting to get help making your book sell.

I wish you all the best!

 

 

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If Jesus Says You’re Okay, You’re Okay With Me

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Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was about the conversion of Saul, or the Apostle Paul. God had to convince Ananias to go and lay hands on him to restore his sight. Saul had a reputation for murder and mayhem among believers in Christ. But God said go and Ananias went.

Some people might interpret this as meaning we should forgive our enemies. I think it means that only God can forgive sin. Paul later said himself, “Christ died to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” This was not some attempt at being able to move on with your life and letting go of bitterness and desire for justice or revenge. This was a conversion. Paul completely changed who and what he was because he accepted Christ’s atonement. And God forgave him, as only God can forgive. We can’t make anyone repent. Only God can. So only God can truly forgive.

I had never been struck by the truth that Paul’s conversion happened right there on the Damascus road when confronted by the blinding truth that Jesus is Lord. I sort of thought maybe Ananias preached the Gospel to him when he came. But, no, repentance, faith, and forgiveness had already taken place when Ananias was sent. Jesus already vouched for him, already said Paul was “okay,” chief of sinners though he was. Forgiven. Cleansed. And unlike Moses, Ananias didn’t take five tries to convince. He went after one.

The lesson here for us is that the worst person we can imagine can be converted. Truly saved by grace, through repentance, and forgiven. You fill in the names, which probably isn’t hard with the state of things in our country and our political wranglings at present. Which one of the past “bad presidents” or present candidates, is beyond saving? None. And at that point maybe we will be the Ananias called upon to go to that person.

Will we be a Jonah and run the other way, or be angry that the person actually repented? Will we be a Moses, and make excuses until God is exasperated? Or will we be an Ananias, and at that point, say, if he or she is okay with Jesus, he’s okay with me? Because that chiefest of sinners in our minds could go on to do amazing things for God, like Paul did, and we would have a part in that ministry.

Image credit:
Nikolas Kornilievich Bodarevsky (1850–1921)
English: Trial of the Apostle Paul Transcarpathian Regional Art Museum Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

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“Adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Titus 2:10

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Red deer/hind loping away across the moor
Author Dr Richard Murray Wikimedia Commons

Last night I heard a speaker on the book of Titus call attention to this phrase, “adorn the doctrine of God.” I was trying to figure out how we as sinful men could do that. I also read portions of Habakkuk today and was deeply impressed by a familiar passage in chapter 3. The chapter is short so I’m sharing it all here.

Note that it’s a song. Imagine singing this in your church. Just imagine, in the middle of all that goes on in churches nowadays passing for worship songs, hearing this mixture of thoughts and impressions about our God.

 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.

God comes from Teman,
And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His splendor covers the heavens,
And the earth is full of His praise.
His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand,
And there is the hiding of His power.
Before Him goes pestilence,
And plague comes after Him.
He stood and surveyed the earth;
He looked and startled the nations.
Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered,
The ancient hills collapsed.
His ways are everlasting.
I saw the tents of Cushan under distress,
The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.

Did the Lord rage against the rivers,
Or was Your anger against the rivers,
Or was Your wrath against the sea,
That You rode on Your horses,
On Your chariots of salvation?
Your bow was made bare,
The rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah.
You cleaved the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw You and quaked;
The downpour of waters swept by.
The deep uttered forth its voice,
It lifted high its hands.
11 Sun and moon stood in their places;
They went away at the light of Your arrows,
At the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
12 In indignation You marched through the earth;
In anger You trampled the nations.
13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For the salvation of Your anointed.
You struck the head of the house of the evil
To lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.
14 You pierced with his own spears
The head of his throngs.
They stormed in to scatter us;
Their exultation was like those
Who devour the oppressed in secret.
15 You trampled on the sea with Your horses,
On the surge of many waters.

16 I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

I would say there’s quite a bit of doctrine here in this short passage. God is a God of both judgment and mercy. We fear Him but we are captivated by His splendor. He has fought for our salvation — And He will also turn back the weapons of evil ones against themselves.

This describes past and future events — God’s people have been judged for sin. So have those wicked ones who rose up as His instruments of judgment. They had no idea they were used by God or would face God’s wrath for their evil. This has happened more than once, and will happen again.

In our future, the Christ Who died for our salvation will come again to defeat evil once and for all. Those who right now suffer real persecution around the world have testified that they know God is holy, just, and merciful. They praise and worship him in the midst of suffering. They adorn the doctrine of God.

Habakkuk trembled and feared at the thought of coming judgment. He foresaw destruction, and famine, and great hardship. But he knew above all else that God is just and merciful and that what would happen was for God’s glory.

So that’s how we adorn God’s doctrine. We proclaim His holiness even as we see and experience suffering, starvation, and destruction. Because we see the whole God, both the just and the merciful aspects. We expect those hinds’ feet, and find ourselves able to run up the mountain to worship Him in all His glory.

Not after everything’s all better. Now. In the midst of whatever trouble we are going through. Now is the time to adorn God’s doctrine by letting everyone who’s still down below the high places see our worship, no matter what.

 

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You see that happy missionary family smiling out of the postcard on your fridge? Their marriage is probably hanging by a thread.

Excellent words! Ways to pray more intelligently for missionaries.

elsalvadormissionaryfellowship

 

sad couple

Anybody can smile long enough for an updated newsletter photo

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I winced as the lights suddenly cut off.

“Really? Three nights in a row?” I thought to myself as my wife rounded the corner on the verge of tears.

“I can’t do this…I can’t do another night of no sleep!” she moaned. She was sick of the heat and the lack of air circulation every time the power cut out. In that moment, I should have hugged her but I wasn’t in the mood for complaints.

I scornfully shot back, “You are lucky to have running water! Most of the people in El Salvador would love to be in the circumstances that you are complaining about!”

I knew it was wrong but I hoped she would feel guilty enough to just suck it up. As this thought crossed my mind, my daughter’s voice rang out from the bathroom…

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Findley Family Video Publications Sampler One: Historical Fiction

sampler 1 historical

Have you ever wanted to dip into our fourteen historical fiction books but couldn’t decide which is right for you? Now you can “taste and see” anything from Ice Age times to the New Mexico territory. Some have romance, some have political intrigue, all have life and death struggles for what’s right. Sample chapters from all our historical fiction works, only 99 cents!

Sneak a peek at historical fiction chapters spanning time from the Ice Age to the American frontier. 1. Even after he rescues a damsel in distress, Prince Tristan hasn’t quite arrived at happily ever after.  2. Widowed by the Civil War, northerner Carrie Wilkes needs to save her southern farm, but has she invited a traitor in as a hired man? 3. New Mexico Territorial judge Bart Durant can’t face both an assassin and a mail order mistake. 4. A marriage of convenience might painfully distract Ham Jessup, or give him just the information he needs to save Texas. 5-9. Meet the builder who met Abraham, the dragonslayer who sat while Sargon attacked, the warrior with a secret weapon and weakness, the rebellious wife who became an advocate for women, and the peacemaker who wonders how much it will cost him to save the Hittite Empire. 10. Seventeen-year-old Hope rebels against an arranged marriage in Medieval England but must trust a disgraced crusader when her family disappears and everyone thinks she’s mad. 11-14. Benny Richardson works his way west through loss, hardship, and mysteries that sometimes include murder as he fights for his family, his friends, and his future.

Please enjoy this free sampler by downloading the pdf file to your computer. You may put it on any reader device and share with friends.

Findley Family Video Publications Historical fiction Sampler pdf format

 

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He Is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

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Dr. Bobby Kelly’s portrait from the Oklahoma Baptist University website. www.okbu.edu

Yesterday Dr. Bobby Kelly of Oklahoma Baptist University preached at South Tulsa Baptist Church on John 21. He pointed out that after the extraordinary events of Chapter 20 — the Resurrection and all that surrounded it, Chapter 21 is such ordinary-sounding stuff. The disciples went fishing. Jesus made breakfast on the beach.

But, while Dr. Kelly pointed out the usual agape vs phileo love conversation between Peter and Jesus, he said the point about which word was used when was far less important than something else. Peter denied Jesus three times. He must have been so racked with guilt over that. Yet Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to express his love. Now Peter could get over his guilt and move on. Jesus offers us the same opportunity, to get rid of paralyzing guilt and move on into His service. We should take Him up on that.

stbc

South Tulsa Baptist Church www.southtulsabaptist.org/

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