A Christmas Gift

Delayed, but not defeated…

So, I didn’t make the deadline for producing book #2 in the Between Heaven and Hell series. In fact, I’m not finished writing it yet. But I’m not giving up! The projected publication is set for the end of January, barring any further health issues.

I have learned that sometimes despite my best efforts, things don’t go according to my plans and schedule. But being delayed does not mean defeat.

Patience may be a virtue, but it’s hard waiting for it…

I have often told my friends when I’m feeling frustrated over having to wait for something, that it is apparent that God is still teaching me about patience. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I became a writer. I can’t think of any other job I’ve ever had (except being a mother) that has required so much patience.

Just as with being a mother, there are rewards and blessings with writing, even when there’s no monetary gain.

I won’t lie, the financial aspect of selling my work is important (and necessary to put food on the table). But it is the ability to connect with other hearts and minds that gives me the greatest joy. When someone tells me that my words stirred something in their soul, I forget about all of the stress and money, and how hard it is to produce and publish. It renews my energy and spirit of sharing.

In the Spirit of Giving…

So, in the spirit of sharing (and since I didn’t get #2 finished in time), I am offering the Kindle version of book #1, The Chosen Ones at a special 50% discount for a limited time, beginning today, December 15.

In addition, since Christmas is about celebrating the miracle of God’s Gift to us, I am also offering the Kindle version of my first book, Faith, Hope & Miracles for free for a limited time, beginning December 17. It is a true story of a tragedy turned into a miracle that touched the lives and hearts of many.

And if you’re looking for a light-hearted read, you might enjoy the funny-but-true Crazy Critters #1, a collection of short stories about the hilarious antics and quirks of my furry and feathered friends.

As per Amazon’s policies, I won’t be able to offer any further discounts for 3 months, so I hope you will take advantage of these offers while they are available. (Kindle books make great gifts too, especially when you’re short on time, like I always seem to be. All it takes is just a few clicks to order, and your work is done. Amazon will do the rest. You can even schedule the delivery date, up to a year in advance.)

Well, it’s time to get back to making the Christmas cookies and fudge, (and putting the decorations that the cats pulled down back up. They are giving me a lot of content for Crazy Critters #2!)

Don’t forget to take advantage of the discounts while they last, and thanks in advance for helping me to spread the word by sharing. Just click on the covers below.

May your hearts and homes be filled with love and joy! – Amber

“Silent Night” by Thomas Kincaide

The Ol' Dirt Road

They say life is a highway. But I took the ol’ dirt road, and I’m glad I did.

Sure, it’s been full of bumps and potholes. There’s been plenty of mud-filled ruts, and even a few washouts along the way. And I’ve been stuck more than once.

But, oh, the views I’ve seen! And taking time for family and friends, making memories that have made this journey so sweet, would never have been possible on any highway.

I’ve realized that without the obstacles to slow me down and even stop me at times, I would have missed so much of the beauty along the way. So, yes, I’m glad I took the ol’ dirt road.

Even if you prefer the smoothness and speed of black-top highways, make sure to take a few dirt roads now and then. Appreciate the adventures and beauty they bring.

God bless. – Amber

World Kindness Day

Kindness is choice, and it is a lifestyle…

It is the practice or quality of being kind, considerate, or helpful, without expecting anything in return. It is a friendly behavior, showing compassion and mercy. Simply put, it is a state of being or lifestyle.

I was taught as a child that being kind was always the right thing to do. Back in those days (that seem so long ago), it was a common attribute of general society to be polite and considerate of others, and to be helpful.

It didn’t mean that I had to agree with everyone about everything. But even in differences of opinion, respect and civility could still be shown, and that is a kindness in itself.

Luke 6:31AMP says, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you”. That was considered the Golden rule. Other phrases such as, “what goes around, comes around”, and “reap what one sows” also come to mind.

But it’s really not about being rewarded in return for an act of kindness.

I have lived in loneliness, darkness, even despair. And I have experienced first-hand the impact that one simple act of kindness can give to a broken heart. There was no demand, nothing asked in return for the hand of hope, a kind word, a smile, a simple gesture. But the life that was breathed back into my soul was and is, an unfathomable treasure.

I’ve also learned that a kindness doesn’t have to be directed at me specifically to have an impact on me. Think of the stories and videos going viral that tell of how someone’s actions made a difference in the life of another, like rescues of a puppy or kitten, or buying a car for someone in need. It may be on a grand scale, like donating a kidney, or may be in a simple small way, like sending cards to a little girl in the hospital. But it makes a difference in my heart when I hear of these acts.

The ripple effect…

Today is called World Kindness Day, which should really be every day.

As I flipped through the world news this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the anger and animosity being spewed in the headlines. I noticed that some of the people doing the loudest screaming actually do have good ideas and intentions. But while appealing to the emotions of anger will always gain attention, it also creates more division and hatred, which never leads to any lasting good.

I remember once, someone was yelling at me, demanding that I conform to their wishes. My response was, “If you want me to do something, ask or discuss it in a congenial manner, and I will most likely do it, even if I don’t particularly want to. But if you scream at me in a harsh or threatening manner, I most definitely will not go along with you”. Being forced to comply with something is simply a form of slavery.

On the other hand, soft words and leading by example can have a ripple effect that reaches far, creating change based on a desire of heart.

For example, when I was a firefighter back in the 90’s, we were working on mopping up a wildfire just off the Kenai River. During our lunchtime the first day, I decided to take a walk along the river to enjoy the view. I noticed there were a lot of fishing lines, beer bottles, and other types of garbage all along the riverbanks. So, I took out a plastic bag from my backpack and began picking up the debris. Soon, another firefighter came over and joined me in the clean-up. Within about 5 minutes, all 16 people on our crew had joined in the effort. We didn’t scream and yell at the tourists passing by, demanding that they join us. But several of them did join us, including one man that provided his truck to haul the garbage off to the dump, which he paid the fee for. No one asked us to do it, and we weren’t getting paid to do it. We didn’t stand around waving signs, pointing fingers, or blaming anyone. We just did it because we believed it needed doing, and even after our crew had to return to the fire, there were still people cleaning up along the river.

My small act by itself barely made a dent in the amount of garbage there. But the act had a ripple effect that did make a difference. It is also one of the things that friends of my son Christian remember so fondly about him. He was always stopping to pick up garbage wherever he went and jumping in to help wherever he could.

That is how kindness works. It grows inside your heart and moves on to influence the hearts of others, sometimes in ways that you never even know about.

“Kindness, like grain, increases by sowing”. – H.G. Bohn

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. – Margaret Meade

It all starts with a choice, to be kind, or not. What will you choose?

Love to all. Now go out and Make A Difference. – Amber

Dealing with Delays and Setbacks

The best plans…

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it”. The saying is adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns, and it has been the story of my life for the past month.

After launching my book, The Chosen Ones, back in September, I announced that book #2 was scheduled to be released in early December. I knew I would be under pressure to write the book while still doing promotions for #1, but I was optimistic and felt sure that I could do it.

I am a planner, perhaps even a bit of a control-freak. I create a step-by-step blueprint of how I am going to achieve my goals, and then I endeavor to follow this plan each day until the task or project is completed.

However, life has a way of throwing a wrench into the most perfectly lined out plans.

When the unexpected happens…

In this past month, my dog Frodo, started having idiopathic epileptic seizures. He has had 4 to date, each of the grand mal (full-blown seizure) type. As of yet, I have been unable to detect any signs or warnings preceding an attack, though the last 2 occurred 12 hours apart and after a particularly stressful period. Afterwards, he becomes confused and unsettled, and clings to me like a shadow. My heart breaks, not being able to explain it to him, though I do my best to comfort and reassure him. The vet I talked to suggested using CBD oil and changing his diet to a raw natural one as the first course of treatment. If the seizures become worse or more frequent, then medications such as phenobarbital or potassium bromide may become necessary.

By his own nature, Frodo is rather protective of me and not exactly the friendliest dog. He is also somewhat stubborn in regard to obeying commands at this point, (something I am still working on), so I usually choose not to take him with me out in public. But since the seizures started, I don’t want to leave him alone. So, my self-imposed restrictions have prevented a major portion of my promotions, and in turn missed sales.

I have consoled myself of this setback with knowing that as my canine companion and friend, Frodo is worth doing what I have to in order to help him. I know there are those that would not agree with my sentiment here, and that is fine. It is just a part of who I am and will always be. We will work through this together.

Matters of the heart…

One of my closest friends described me as, “independent, stubborn, stoic, and determined”. For the most part, I consider these to be good character traits. I grew up with the mindset that, if something needs doing, I just do it. I don’t believe in putting my responsibilities off onto someone else, and I’ve never been great at asking for help when I need it. I have managed to improvise when necessary, finding creative ways of doing things on my own, instead of bothering others to do things for me.

However, with age (and pain), some wisdom has been gained.

A few years ago, I began having minor issues with chest pains and irregular heartbeat, though not enough to seek medical help. A combination of mistrust and fear of doctors tends to make me avoid them (no offense intended to the medical professionals out there). So, I waited.

Since then, the issues became more pronounced, and I realized there was something wrong. So, I finally faced the dragon and made an appointment.

With symptoms of pain in my chest, heart palpitations and a murmur, extreme fatigue, dizziness, and high blood pressure, the doctor ordered blood tests and an EKG. She then ordered an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart.

Last Thursday I went to the cardiologist for the consultation of the results. I expected a 15 to 20 minute visit to discuss the results, and being told to lose weight and change my diet, and maybe some medication and a few other lifestyle changes.

Instead, I was told that I had apparently already had at least 1 heart attack, and there was damage to the wall between the chambers of my heart, and that I have aortic stenosis, a condition where the main valve that pushes the blood out through the body does not work properly. The doctor said that he also heard a sound in my neck that shouldn’t be there.

He said there may be some blockages in my heart, and he wanted to do a heart catheterization to get a better look, and that if there were blockages, he would insert stents or that open heart surgery may be necessary.

After agreeing to the procedure, I waited for my prescriptions and started thinking about preparations and plans, making sure my critters were taken care of, and getting my legal papers in order and such.

Past experience led me to believe it would be at least a week before the procedure would be scheduled. So, I was a bit alarmed when the doctor returned and said he had rearranged his schedule and would be performing the procedure the following morning.

Between the discussion, prescriptions, another EKG, and blood tests, it was 3 ½ hours before I was on my way home, scrambling to get everything taken care of, not exactly how I had planned to spend my day. But I stayed focused and accomplished what I needed to do.

The doctor’s 1st choice for the procedure was to go through my right wrist, saying that would be the easiest. I was wide awake throughout the process, as the sedatives had very little effect on me, so I was able to watch and ask questions. At one point, my heart had some palpitations which could be clearly heard on the monitor. The doctor said, “Wow, that’s weird”, to which I replied, “That’s not what the lady on the table wants to hear from the doc”. He proceeded to say, “Well, you’re off rhythm now and we’re trying to get a good beat going”, while snapping his fingers.

I like the fact that the doctor has a good sense of humor, as it put me more at ease during the ordeal, having a more calming effect than the sedative did.

At last, the news that there were no blockages found was welcomed, though now it means further tests to find the cause of pain and other symptoms.

What was not welcomed was the instructions of aftercare that stated I was not to use my right hand at all for at least a week and not being allowed to lift anything over 5 pounds or any strenuous activity.

Have you ever tried to open a cheese wrapper with only 1 hand? Try opening a can of soup, or lifting logs and putting them in the woodstove one-handed. Even simple things like brushing my hair or getting dressed proved to be impossible for me. And don’t get me started on opening those child-proof pill bottles! I have a hard time with those using both hands.

I honestly tried very hard to follow the doctor’s instructions, but after 1 day, I had to cheat, at least a little. I found out that I am very right-handed, with little coordination in my left hand, plus my left shoulder is a bit out of whack and moving it is painful most of the time.

I did watch closely for any signs of bleeding or unusual pain and swelling, and I’m happy to report there have been none. The bruising and swelling have gone down, and the throbbing has almost stopped. I am taking it a bit easier and resting as much as I can, though it is a battle.

I have a follow-up appointment scheduled later this week which I’m not looking forward to, as I’m sure the doctor will probably fuss about me using my hand. But in all fairness, if I had been warned beforehand of the details of aftercare, I would have asked that he use an alternate means of access instead of my right wrist.

Some things I’ve learned…

“Doesn’t follow directions well” will probably be my epitaph, although I am earnestly trying to do better. But it’s not easy being told I can’t do something, especially when it’s something I’ve been doing for years, and even more so when it’s an essential part of living.

But because of the events of this past week, it’s made me take a closer look at some of the things I have been neglecting or taking for granted.

What stands out the most to me stemmed from the fact that I had so little time to let anyone know what was going on. I managed to call a few people, to make arrangements for my animals and house, but there were several calls that I didn’t get to make.

You hear about regrets people have of not sharing their thoughts and feelings when someone close to them dies. But seldom do we think about our own death and leaving things unsaid to those we leave behind.

That is what was on my mind going into the hospital. I questioned whether or not my loved ones really knew how precious they are to me, but at that point, I could only hope they did. I had managed to write a couple of short letters to my son and my sister, just in case, but the words I put on paper were so very inadequate.

I prayed hard that morning, that I would be given more time to share with my loved ones, to make sure they know how much I love them and appreciate them. And that prayer was answered.

I realized that I have been pushing so hard to succeed in my writing career and remodeling my home, and so many other little details, that I had been neglecting my most valuable possession…my heart. Not just the blood pump, but the spiritual one, the one that feeds my relationships.

I am resolved in taking better care of both.

So, while my writing is still important to me, and there are other aspects that have to be dealt with, my family and friends are my priority above all else, except God. He must remain #1 in my life, and living by His commandment to love others is exactly what I will be focusing my time and attention on.

At this point, not knowing how things will work out with more tests to find out what’s going on with my heart, I don’t know if I can give a deadline for when I will be able to release book #2. I am already behind the original schedule. But I will continue to work on it and give updates and perhaps excerpts as I can. If God be willing, I could still have it ready in time for Christmas, though I don’t want to make that a promise yet.

I apologize for the inconsistency in posting lately, and I hope you can understand. It was not intentional.

I will be changing my posting to Wednesdays only for a while, in order to allow more time in other matters.

Please bear with me, as I go through these changes. It was difficult hearing that I’ve already had a heart attack and didn’t know it. I guess I thought it would hurt more, or maybe I’ve just been too stoic and stubborn to pay attention. But I think I would like to stick around a bit longer to enjoy the folks (and critters) that I love so much.

As always, I appreciate your comments, and especially your prayers.

Love to all.  – Amber  

Avoiding Division on Social Media

I’d like to share an article written by my friend, Les Ey, regarding the rampant division, anger, and animosity being incited across social media and various news outlets.

Avoiding Division on Social Media by Les Ey

Since the rise of the internet and social medial, the political division has increased, and sadly, that is affecting Christians. Emotions are running high. Fear and anger are the dominant emotions instead of grace, forgiveness, and love. So how did it come to this?

One crucial factor is that social media companies and traditional news outlets are in the businesses of maximizing profit. In an interview, NBC spoke with three individuals that were involved with Tech giants.

From NBC nightly news,

“… and to keep them engaged, these three argue, Facebook has a financial incentive not to limit ads or misinformation as long as it’s getting clicks.” 1

Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook manager, said,

“The company just continuously prioritized user growth and making money over protecting users.” 1

Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor, and mentor to Mark Zuckerberg said,

“Making you angry, making you afraid, is really good for Facebook’s business …” 1

Facebook’s response was to the effect that they have tried to clamp down on fake news and misleading ads. To be fair, Facebook has prioritized posts from friends and family, but the point remains that making people angry or afraid results in more clicks, and that fact is not lost on news agencies.

News agencies needed to change to compete with social media. Clickbait and hot button news are what attracts readers, so the quality of fact-checking has suffered. News outlets aim to present content that suits the demographics of their readers/viewers, so they are becoming increasingly biased.

Jon McCray (Whaddo You Meme) recently posted a video on his YouTube channel where he talked about violence and division. 2  

He talks about

“… a psychological condition called splitting …”  and about how “social media and news outlets are designed to cater to the problem … and splitting is where you see someone or some group as all bad or all good without a middle ground.” 2

He makes the point that the more you talk to people you disagree with the more you can see them as humans who are just like you.  So, it is easy to demonize people you don’t engage with and justify hurting them, whether that be verbally or physically.

McCray quotes Martin Luther King Jr.,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 2

So, what should our response be? McCray said, “So, as Christ says, love one another and instead of hating your enemies, pray for them.” 2 and I totally agree. What I have started to do is to be more selective about what media I spend most of my time reading or listening to. For example, Christian news services tend to be less inflammatory than mainstream media. But even alternate news organizations can be divisive. I unsubscribed from a ministry focused on a single issue that I passionately agree with because of their tone. It was temping for me to hate individuals that they were writing about. I still get media reports on that issue from other sources, but those sources are more inclined to encourage respectful dialog and prayer. I’m not saying that we should not engage politically, far from it, we should stand up for important issues but do so with love and respect instead of hate, anger, and fear. It is essential to realize that both sides of politics have room for improvement. We shouldn’t let politics divide us. Both sides like to press our buttons because it motivates people to vote. Vote but don’t hate. Remember who our real enemy is.

Eph 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. NIV

Be respectful

Prov 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. NIV

Abby Johnson (whose story is told in the movie Unplanned) is just one example of what prayer, love, and respect can do. She was a Planned Parenthood director, but some Christians offered to be there for her without judging her. Is the person that we are reading about or interacting with potentially an Abby Johnson? Will we speak life or be manipulated by anger and fear? 

For more articles, interviews, and short stories by Les Ey, visit his website at https://les-ey.website/

References

[1] NBC, Jan 17, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvW5aRZSbgQ viewed on Oct 10, 2019

[2] McCray, J, Oct 1, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gexB2p13O5k viewed on Oct 10, 2019

NIV (New International Version) Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 Biblica

Thank you, Les, for sharing with us today!

A personal note…

In closing, let me share a secret I learned when I first began working in internet marketing: if you can make a connection to the strongest emotions of your target audience, you can manipulate their response and behavior. (Manipulate: to influence, control, direct, guide, conduct, negotiate, exploit, steer, maneuver, alter, distort, change. To control to one’s own advantage by artful or indirect means.)

Let that really sink in.

Of course, in marketing, this was intended to increase sales of whatever product or service you are pitching.

But it has also become a mainstream tactic in social and news media, as well as politics and religion, because emotions such as anger, hatred, and fear are powerful motivators that will stir us to action. However, love is also a strong emotion, as well as an action in itself.

I’d like to offer some food for thought today…

One of the most important aspects of the Christian life is to love one another. Are we really exemplifying that love with our words and actions…even when we disagree with another’s view or opinion?

#MakeADifference #StopTheHate #LoveOneAnother

Sharing Is Caring…

To pay…or not to pay…that is the question.

I think perhaps because folks are so bombarded with constant sales pitches and endless commercials, etc. we become immune to the tactics of paid advertisements, skimming by all the hype, largely unnoticed.

This brings me to the question: Are there any ‘paid’ promotion/marketing sites for authors that are effective in increasing sales? Perhaps.

I personally have been contacted by more than a few marketers claiming ‘high visibility’ and ‘loyal fan base’ for their paid services, though I have not found any verifiable references to support their claims.

I am sure that, as with most all businesses, there are legitimate sources, as well as numerable scams. But how does an author know which ones are good, and which are not?

For many new authors trying to build a reputation and increase their sales, the urge to find any means possible to promote their work can lead to much heartache and frustration, as well as the loss of money.

I have found that one of the main problems with the paid advertising methods for authors, such as Facebook ads, is that the message is broadcast to folks that really aren’t generally that interested. There may be hundreds of thousands that see the ad, but only a few individuals that even bother to look at it. Of those few, maybe one or two will actually buy the book.

So, what are the options for authors to promote their work?

Word-of-mouth warriors…

From an author’s perspective (along with seeing the ‘real life’ numbers and facts) I know the value of sharing our work through word-of-mouth, personal recommendations, and leaving reviews. These precious methods of ‘advertising’ do more to boost sales and reputations than any means of paid advertising. When someone we know (through whatever the means or association) gives a personal recommendation, we tend to pay closer attention, often deciding to purchase an item, or not, based on that recommendation or review.

This is particularly true of authors and books. I have talked to many successful authors that have stated their single most effective salesforce is the word-of-mouth sharing by their fans, and other authors.

One the first rules of successful authordom is to know who your readers are (your target audience), and to connect with them. This takes time and commitment to engage with your readers, building a form of friendship that in turn builds a loyal fanbase.

Another important rule, as my friend, Seumas Gallacher, pointed out in his guest post, is to write what you know about.

Most authors concentrate their efforts in writing to one or two niches or genres for 2 reasons.

The first reason is that it just makes good sense to write about topics that you know well. In a world of billions of available books competing for the readers attention, you have to make your work stand out from the rest. For example, non-fiction works on the topic of Wall Street Markets is not a subject that I would do well with, as I have little experience or knowledge in this area.

However, in ‘Faith, Hope & Miracles’, I shared a first-hand account of the tragedy, struggles, and triumphs that followed my son, Christian’s accident in 2010. The purpose of sharing that story was to let people know they are not alone in their suffering, and to encourage with hope and faith. And in my book, ‘Crazy Critters #1’, I wrote about funny, but true, stories of several of the animals I have shared my life with. The sole purpose of that book was to share some laughter with folks that have pets.

The second reason that authors tend to limit their categories is that for each niche or genre, your audience will likely be entirely different, and it takes a lot of time and work on your part to build and maintain those audiences. Over time, this is possible, though not recommended for those just beginning their writing career.

The business of writing is not an easy one.

Regardless of whether you write in non-fiction or fiction, once you have a top-quality book in your hands, well written, edited, formatted, and an eye-catching cover, you still need an audience of readers. And there is no short-cut to building that foundation.

Other avenues for promoting your work can include interviews on other websites, podcasts, radio, newspaper, and TV shows, although I don’t have time to discuss all the various details on these today. But they are definitely a viable means to help get the word out there.

In closing, I would like to suggest that you should always be genuine and sincere in your efforts to establish relationships with your readers and fellow authors. Treating each other with courtesy and respect can go a long way in helping to expand your potential audience and building your reputation as a professional.

That is why, when I come across a fellow author’s work that I admire in some fashion, I am happy to share and promote it.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more guest posts and author interviews. So, if you are an author and are interested in sharing your work on this site, please include a link to your website in the comments and I will give it a look.

Thanks, and God bless!  – Amber

“A Journey to myself – writing my autobiography”

Guest post by Seumas Gallacher

Today, I would like to introduce my dear friend and fellow author, Seumas Gallacher.

I first met Seumas about 7 years ago, through Twitter and blogging, just after he released his 2nd book of the Jack Caulder Crime Series.

Since then, I’ve come to know him as a friendly gentleman with a witty sense of humor, an outgoing and honest personality, who is skilled in a variety of backgrounds, including his talents as an author.

In the recent release of his autobiography, Seumas paints a living portrait from his humble beginnings in the slums of Docklands, Govan in Glasgow, Scotland, across 50 years and 3 continents. To say that he has lived an interesting and colorful life, though not without its pitfalls, merely scratches the surface of a life that most can only imagine.

Seumas has graciously agreed to do a guest post here today, to share some insight into his personal journey. Thank you, Seumas, for this contribution!

A Journey to myself – writing my autobiography

For authors, the old maxim is often quoted, ‘Write about what you know.’

I’ve been at this writing game properly for over a decade now, with a back list of five crime thrillers, a book of my poetry, a self-help marketing and promotional guide for authors, and almost 2,000 blog posts. Add to that a catalogue of half-a-dozen ghostwriting assignments for other people’s ‘autobiographies’, and it’s of little wonder that the thought occurred to put my own life story and experiences to print. ‘Write about what you know.’

What happened next was a sometime bewildering, sometime painful, sometime joyful, but always exhilarating, writing trip of discovery. I now understand more clearly than ever before just how much I am truly an amalgam of everything, everybody and everywhere with which and with whom I have ever been associated.

Were there regrets? Of course. Probably far too many to register. I doubt if more than a handful of people on this planet have led a flawless, blameless existence. But I do know that every single incident and experience, good, bad and indifferent, was necessary to bring me to this moment in my life. And I would not seek to change one second of it.

It is amazing how memories bring back not only the plain telling of the story, but for me, it also recalled the feelings and emotions that I had in most of them. I felt them again, and again, and again, some with laughter, but also many of them attended with a quiet tear.

I believe, at this age, finally, I am aware of who and what I am as a person. I like the man I see in the mirror each morning, although it was not always thus. I have acquired a tolerance of myself and my own shortcomings, but more importantly, I have learned to ‘live and let live’ in relation to others whom I meet day to day.

What surprises me, is that having published the book just a few weeks ago, I find that I am remembering many other things which could have been included in the memoir. I will resist the temptation to edit online the Amazon Kindle version, which is easy to do, on the same premise that once I finish writing my novels, I leave them finished.

To all my author friends and even those who have not yet caught the writing addiction, you may want to consider a similar project. It is a wondrous journey to yourself.

Here’s the book blurb:

Fact is often more incredible than fiction. 

Seumas Gallacher has survived long enough to savour places, characters and events for more than forty years in the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.

He started life in Scotland, travelled far and wide as a wannabe Trainee Master of the Universe, but the Universe had other plans for him.

From a career in banking, he escaped to become a corporate trouble-shooter.

He discovered the joy and torture of becoming a wordsmith, writing five best-selling crime novels, a book of poetry, and being hyper-active on social media.

‘Strangely, I’m Still Here’ is his story.

Amazon Kindle universal link:

mybook.to/StrangelyImStillHere

To see more books by Seumas Gallacher, just click on the pictures below:

You can also follow Seumas’ blog here: https://seumasgallacher.com/

And don’t forget, if you enjoy an author’s work, please leave them a review on Amazon (or wherever their work is sold).

Thanks for joining me today! – Amber

My Author’s Interview…

In my last post, I shared that I had been invited to do an interview with Les Ey about the book. I felt both humbled and blessed by the invitation, and I think Les did a wonderful job with it.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to share it with you. I also encourage you to check out the other posts he has on the site. There are some very informative articles worth the time to read there. (Thank you again, Les, for taking the time to interview me! I am quite honored.)

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

Interview: Amber Lea Leggette-Aldrich, author of Between Heaven & Hell series

Les:  Hi Amber, welcome. Please introduce yourself, how long have you been writing, and what kind of books have you written?

Amber: Hi Les. Thank you for inviting me! I’m Amber Leggette-Aldrich, an Authorpreneur.  Simply put, that means author and entrepreneur. Writing is my professional business, and as such, I wear many different titles, such as author, editor, marketer, and publisher, among others. I’ve been writing for 20 years, primarily non-fiction books, such as Faith, Hope & Miracles, and many freelance articles, though recently I have begun writing in fiction as well.   

Les: How do you find time to write?

Amber:  I write as a full-time job now, so I usually set a goal of 6 – 8 hours per day, sometimes more, depending on which phase I am in. But when I first began writing, I had a full-time job. So, I started getting up about 3 hours earlier to make time to write before going to work. It was pretty hard for the first few weeks. But following the same schedule every day quickly turned it into a habit. 

Les: Where do you write?

Amber:  Last year I had an addition built onto my cabin that included a small office, which I love. But before that, I had a desk set up in the front corner of the cabin. It worked well enough, though it allowed more distractions. I also try to keep a notebook handy for those moments of sudden ideas and inspiration when I’m away from my desk.  

Les: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? 

Amber:  I would have to say first, study and learn everything you can about the craft, as it is an art. And then practice every day. The more you study and practice, the better your writing will become. The second suggestion is to connect with other authors that write in similar genres that you are interested in. Study their work, follow their blogs or social media, and ask questions. The writing itself is often a lonely business, and it requires time and patience. But having fellowship with like-minded individuals not only adds to the learning and exposure, it also gives a sense of comradery and friendship that can help you through the difficult moments. 

Les: What is your passion?

Amber:  There are a few things that I feel passionate about, but my strongest desire is to help others through sharing hope and encouragement in faith. It is at the core of just about everything I do, whether it is sharing experiences in my writing, or involvement in community projects, or a simple conversation with a stranger in the store, it is what really drives me. There is a saying, “God uses broken people, like you and me, to help broken people like you and me”. I believe that in connecting with others and sharing our experiences, the struggles and trials… (To see the full interview, visit Les Ey’s Blog at: https://les-ey.website/f/interview-amber-lea-leggette-aldrich)

Between Heaven & Hell: The Chosen Ones Book Launch Was A Success!

I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that attended the live event on Facebook! I had a lot of fun, even in spite of the technical difficulties with the cameras. I hope your necks aren’t too sore from bending sideways to view the first part! (And thank you to Jimmy for notifying me of that fact.)

Glitches add flavor…

Since the built-in webcam on my desktop doesn’t have a very clear picture, I decided to do the broadcast from my iPhone. Unfortunately, as we went to sign into the event, there was some sort of glitch that would not allow my phone to stream live. At the last minute, we ended up using my co-host Melissa’s phone.

Another unplanned glitch was that since I don’t do “selfies”, I don’t own a selfie-stick. So, minutes before the event was set to start (I know, it was poor planning on my part), we fashioned a magnetic pole to attach the phone to, and duct-taped it to the wall behind my desk (yes, I am a BIG fan of red-neck ingenuity. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?) And it worked…although we did have to re-adjust during one of the breaks, as the tape started to droop a little, allowing the phone to slide down.

I have stated before that I am no expert when it comes to technology and all the gadgets, but I am determined (stubborn) enough to figure out a way to make things work.

Sharing Smiles (and tears)

The responses from the live event warmed my heart, bringing laughter and tears of joy at times. I fully enjoyed the interactions from the audience. Though I was nervous being in front of the camera to start with, thanks to the good-natured humor and welcomed support, I quickly overcame the nervousness and thoroughly enjoyed myself! (That’s the point of having a party after all.)

The closing of the event was broadcast from a local restaurant, The Noisy Goose Café. I chose it, not only because of the great food and atmosphere, but also because it was Christian’s favorite restaurant. It’s where he treated me to dinner to celebrate my first book, Faith, Hope & Miracles, and I had wanted to reciprocate for his book. So, Melissa and I enjoyed a meal of cheeseburgers, fries, and a chocolate malt milkshake, in honor of Christian.

The Numbers, Reviews, and Comments…

I would like to share a little of the success from the launch with you, not because I want to brag, but because I am so thrilled with the responses.

First, on Friday, the day before the launch, the book’s ranking on Amazon Kindle was #1209 in the Christian Fantasy Fiction category. By the end of the party, it had moved up to #16. Quite the jump in a very short period of time!

By Sunday morning, it hit #4 in its category, then #1 that afternoon…SUCCESS!!!

9/13/19
9/15/19

I won’t pretend to know or understand how Amazon’s algorithms work (they like to keep their secrets), but as an author, to see the book hit that sweet spot of #1, even if only briefly, put a big smile on my face…and my heart!

I also received the first review late Sunday evening (It was written before that, but apparently Amazon has a delay in their postings):

THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEW!!!

As if all that wasn’t enough to make my heart soar, on Friday morning I received an invitation to do an author interview for the book. (I’ll share a link to the site when it’s posted).

I can’t say that I know how everything works up in Heaven. But I know that if Christian could see all of this, he would be smiling. And that is the greatest success I could have!

So, I give you all my most sincere appreciation for the help and support in making this dream come true and keeping my promise to Christian. There are still 2 more books to finish the story, and I’ve already begun the process for #2, which will be scheduled for release in early December.

Thank you for your continued support and sharing this journey with me!  – Amber

You Are Invited!

Well Launch Day is just around the corner, and I am getting super excited! It’s been almost 90 days now since I started this project, and I have my author’s proof copy of the book sitting on my desk. (I already had the digital copy downloaded, but there’s just something more real to me, to actually feel the paper pages, to smell that ‘new book smell’…)

It may sound a little strange to some, but as I sat here holding the copy in my hand, thumbing through the pages, I felt a sense of warmth surrounding me, like a hug from Christian. It brought some tears, but they were mostly of joy.

I’ve been working with members of my launch team, planning the launch party since I started the 90 Day Challenge, jotting down ideas and goals in my journal. It’s going to be a live event co-hosted by my friend, Melissa Eversull, on Facebook next Saturday, from 2 PM to 5 PM, Alaska Standard Time, and all are welcome to join me in celebrating.

There will be fun and games, prizes, and open discussions, including a Q & A session. So, if there’s anything you would like to know about me, or the book, or writing, or share something about yourself, this will be a great opportunity for us to make that connection! (A big part of the reason I decided to do this event live on Facebook is the chance to get to know my audience a little better, and let them get to know me.)

I will also be posting links at the even to download the Kindle version of the book for free that day, along with giving away a few free signed copies of the print version. (There will also be a surprise bonus, announced during the event.)

I’ve never hosted a live event online before, so this will be a new adventure for me, one that I am really looking forward to. I hope you will stop by for a visit, and join me in celebrating this accomplishment!

To join the event, just click Amber’s Book Launch or you can copy & paste the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3095403733834644/ (Make sure to click on the ‘going’ button) And of course, feel free to invite your friends. I’d love to meet them too! (We’ll be using the hashtag #TheChosenOnes for the event.)

In the meantime, it’s back to work (I’m already sketching ideas for book #2) and finishing the final touches for the party. I hope to see you all Saturday! Have a blessed week! – Amber

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