Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Chinese Fortune

Blue Bay Asian Cafe - good food, invitingly priced and a lyrical name that breezily floats past your tongue. We eat there a lot. It's close. We can walk from our townhome, gorge ourselves on Asian delights, take home as much as we ate and still and call it exercise. My fortune cookie dispenses a lucky lottery number, a Mandarin word-of-the-day and sage advice like "I see a cookie in your future."

But recently my fortune cookie advised,
I saved that one.

Soon after, I received an email with bad news.  The Namibian government denied our application for permanent residency. We were shocked. We were sure we'd done enough to gain that coveted residency status. What now? My eyes wandered across my desk and spied the slip, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams."  That's what we're doing. We're applying for short-term business visas and will travel back to Namibia in a few weeks.  Then we'll apply for a renewal of our work permits.

Our African tale marches on. Shortly after the book ended, we received a two-year work permit and applied for permanent residency to stabilize our future. It seems God still loves trust more than stability.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Radio Chat with God

Steve Brown hijacked God's voice, or so it seems. His deep, calm, reassuring tones conjure up an image of how I want God to sound. I recently chatted with Steve on his radio talk show, Steve Brown etc.

Steve first read my book in manuscript form.  His exuberance over a bowl of oatmeal couldn't have come at a better time.  I'd been ignored by several publishers and snubbed by dozens of agents. I was discouraged.  But he loved the book and strongly urged me to continue my quest. His encouragement kept me moving forward.

Steve refers to himself as "the old white guy, a broadcaster,  and seminary professor who's sick of religion." He's a refreshing breeze in a desert of holy people who think too much of themselves. Chatting with him was a joy I'd like to share with you.

Here's the link.

I hope you enjoy the chat as much as I did.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Good Life

Good Life 45

A few days later I taped a TV interview with Channel 45, WTGL in Orlando for their show, The Good Life.  The host, Barbara Beck, even wore a zebra print in honor of my visit. It never ceases to amaze me how interested Americans are about African topics, especially about animals. I wanted to talk about the book and our ministry in Africa.  Barbara wanted to talk about cobras in our garden.  Still, it was good exposure for the book. You can view the video by clicking on the link below:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lemonade - 5 cents

Once again, I leapt into lion country without a whip or chair. I had a product, but how should I sell it? I needed a lemonade stand. I decided on a book signing at Northland Church. It's been my church home since 1978.  I've been an elder since 1984 and a pastor since 1990.  People know me and most even like me.  Even better the church asked me to preach at several services the week before the official launch. For anyone interested, click here to view the sermon I preached about God's view of the rich and the poor:

I set up my lemonade stand in the church foyer.  I had books, a pen and a PayPal Here gizmo for taking card payments.  What more could I ask for?  I preached and then sold books.  All told, I hosted 8 book signing events over a two-week period and sold hundreds of books.  I was off to a good start.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Delivery

My baby beat me by 15 minutes. When the publisher learned I was speaking in Orlando on March 9, he rushed me an advance shipment of books a week before the official book launch.  I came from Denver. My books came from Illinois. We met in Orlando on March 8, but I missed the delivery by just a few minutes. So I held my baby for the first time in a warehouse.

The camera failed to capture the moment.  It was several years from conception to birth. It had been a tumultuous, cancer-filled labor. Still the baby arrived safe and sound, and quite lovely in the father's humble opinion.

For the first time, I held the physical manifestation of my dream. Photos can't show the joy of a life-long dream coming true.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

2 Minutes till Showtime

"Let's print it." Those words came as a shock. It was time to show the world my up-till-then invisible dream. After years of thinking, shaping, stalling, writing, editing and polishing, it was showtime.

"Wait, wait, let me look it over one more time." I'd read the book a hundred times. Several others had edited it to the bone. Still, the thought of others reading an imperfect presentation urged me to read through it one more time. I was shocked to find 33 typographical errors.  How could that happen?  Worse, if I found that many mistakes, almost certainly other blemishes were hiding in plain sight.

But I took a leap and sent it to the printer anyway - with a nostalgic sigh, almost like releasing your child to her first day of school. You knew all along the day was coming, but you fearfully wonder if the rest of the world will love and care for her as you do.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Birth Announcement

The wait was over; birth was imminent. The printer would soon deliver 3000 books.  People need to know! Kudu Publishing would handle ads and press releases for the normal distribution channels, but I wanted to sell books directly through my own social and professional networks. But how?  How could readers buy directly from me?  I needed an online presence for taking orders and payments.  Should I hire someone to build a website? Should I outsource the sales to an established online bookseller?  Should I start a blog?  I had no idea, but I had to do something. Lots of options with lots of trade-offs. As you can see, I settled on a blog and began learning how to build one. Bloggone it, the first day was frustrating.

Pages?          Posts?         Templates?        Feeds?      Page Views?

Even the help pages and tutorials were filled with new jargon. The learning curve reminded me that my imagined brilliance was just that - imaginary.  Taking payments presented more options and more confusion:

ACH?   Merchant account?   Payment gateway?   PCI compliance?

But I persevered and sooner than I thought possible, my book's birth announcement was floating through cyberspace.  Now I needed to create a buzz to draw folks to my blog.

Name  -  The Leap: Living the Life you Dream About

Weight  - 12.2 ounces

Height  -  8.5 inches

Born  -  March 18, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birthing classes

I met Matt at IHOP.  What better place to discuss The Leap than a place with HOP in it's name. I felt like Dorothy standing before the Wizard.  She knew nothing of wizardry other than the wizard knew the way back to Kansas. I knew nothing about publishing but Matt and Kudu Publishing did. He held the key to ink. Matt was a regular guy. He patiently answered my questions and established credibility. I'd found a partner willing to co-publish The Leap.

Finding a publisher felt like birthing classes for me.  I'd been dreaming of having this baby for years, but the process was scary and potentially painful. Like birthing classes, Matt explained what was about to happen in a way that alleviated my apprehension. In the ensuing weeks, we dealt with contracts, costs, book covers, author biography, back cover text, type fonts, photos, textual corrections and a myriad of other publishing details occurring after the author thinks he's done.

My first peek at the book cover design was like a baby's first sonogram.  Until then, it was still a dream.  Seeing the cover breathed life into my manuscript. My decades-long dream was about to happen.  I loved the cover at first sight. It oozed Africa and at a glance, summed up the message of the book.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Cruise the Amazon

Amazon River Taxi
The Amazon's a great river.  It's an even better bookstore.  I love it. I shop there all the time. But please don't buy my book there.  At least not yet.  When you buy on Amazon, Amazon gets paid. The distribution house they buy from gets paid. The publisher gets paid. Several shipping companies get paid. Others I don't even know  get paid.  Many months later, I'll get something if there's any left. When you buy the book directly from me (in person or on-line), I get paid. You pay the same either way, but I'll get many times more if you buy direct.

I've personally foot the bill for the publishing costs. I cleaned out savings, checking and my cookie jar to help my book find ink. After Mom, family and my friends buy the book, I'll be delighted for strangers to buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and dozens of other retail book outlets.  But for now, please don't cruise the Amazon. Buy from me online.

Here's how.  Go to my blog. You're probably already there. There's a menu bar below the acacia tree.  No it doesn't serve drinks. Click on BUY. Click on the PayPal "Buy Now" button. It's that simple. If you aren't yet a PayPal member, you can sign up right there. It's easy and quick. As a PayPal user, you're much more secure as an online buyer.

I'm delighted Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores sell my book to those who don't know me. But you're my friends and I need to get my investment money back. Thanks for understanding and get ready for an African adventure. You want to read The Leap. I know you do. Right now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Down at the Waterhole

Now what? Was my book-writing dream just a pipe dream? Hardly. I'd told the story well and its message was significant and timely.  Once again, I went looking for advice.  Rob Andrescik fed me pig and suggested self-publishing. I'd need a book cover and interior proofs; I knew people who did that. I'd need an ISBN and eBook formats. The design person did that too. I'd need someone to help me find a printer and negotiate costs. I knew an excellent book broker. About that time I listened to Robert Young's story of self-publishing The Shack. He'd sold 6 million copies and the book was still climbing. Let's roll.

Months later, I was still stalled.  The people I needed weren't available. Once again, Rob's encouragement got me going.  Had I considered co-publishing?  Consider it? I didn't even know what it was.  He explained I'd still have to fund most of the production and printing costs, but the publisher would guide the process and help me market the book once printed.  It sounded fine since even traditional publishers rely heavily on the author to promote and sell his book anyway.

Rob sent me to Matt Green and Kudu Publishing. What could be better; an African antelope for an African tale. After many obstacles and delays, the path toward publication opened before me. Who knew.  I went thirsty to the waterhole and found a kudu.