If it's anything I'm thankful for, it's my family. I could give up everything else about my life to keep them near. We do everything as a family, and while they are still young enough to enjoy the simple things in life, I strive to make each holiday and important date something that they will remember as they grow older and then move on to start their own families.
What does a holiday with 7 people in our house look like?
To some, it may seem like a whole lot of chaos. But in our home, it's a whole lot of fun!
Thanksgiving week has finally come upon us and the excitement of Thanksgiving and the Christmas season is building with much anticipation. That means with the start of this new week is the start of our family traditions.
Now that the kids are older and need less supervision, each year brings new surprises and new jobs they can handle. This year, I'm planning on giving them the best start to the holiday season with new traditions, but without giving up the old.
As is every year, our neck of the country gifts us with one warm weekend exactly one week before Thanksgiving. We always, always, always reserve this time to get out and enjoy the fresh air by stringing up our Christmas lights. We live on quite a hilltop where two valleys surround us--this means the wind kicks up the valley and pounds at our front door. Hanging Christmas lights in this type of weather is nearly impossible (or at least, very frustrating), not to mention frigid! So we prefer the warmer temps for our outside light work.
I also take this week to dig out my storage boxes from the basement and extract my garland greenery for another year of use. We have a beautiful, deep front porch that runs the length of our house face. My outside garland swags across the front of my railings and banisters. To accent each tip of the swag, I add a large red or golden bow.
I think I missed my calling as a home designer, but that doesn't discourage me from reading home design and decorating blogs, fishing for photos to mimic or be inspired by, or just trying my own thing. Home design and decorating has become a passion of mine and my husband's. Because we love our home so much, I aim to keep it up to my high standards of clean, comfortable, richly decorated. Christmas is a big deal at our house, so I deck-the-halls as best as I can.
This week starts the real decorating party. All my Christmas storage boxes will make their way up the basement steps and land in my living room. Bing Crosby and Martina McBride will serenade us with their lovely voices and Christmas carols, and the fragrance of cinnamon, cookies, and mulled apple cider will tickle our noses while we work (if you can call Christmas decorating work).
In addition to pulling out our fun and lively decor, the kids will be giddy over the special Thanksgiving dishes I have planned for this week. This morning's breakfast table was lively with chatter and guesses as to what "Mom" was going to make this week--is it going to be their favorite peanut butter drop cookies? Sugar Cookies? Chocolate Truffles? Pumpkin roll? They will have to wait and see come tomorrow morning! Check back each day for updates, photos, and recipes from our favorite time of the year and our Muller family traditions. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!
It's all about the details!
We've talked about the planning, the preparation, now let's talk about the details. Because, let's face it, people notice the details.
A few years back I was given advice to purchase badge lanyards and print up my own author's badge. Wear them to each book signing or author event you attend. This helps readers to pick you out easily and also makes you appear more professional. I went ahead and created several badges as sometimes my family or friends will help me out at signings and events. I give them a lanyard to wear that way readers also know that they are my personnel and are able to take payment.
I was also given a best sellers pin. I attached my best sellers pin to my lanyard, that way readers can see for themselves that I've been on the list.
There you have it. These are your tips to holding a successful book signing. Did you find these posts helpful? If so, please comment below. The comments help me to see what readers and authors find helpful and inspirational.
No one wants to look at an empty book signing table...empty of books + empty of small details + empty of enthusiasm = empty of readers. Holding a book signing event where no one shows up or no books are sold is completely devastating and feared by all authors. Hopefully, I can give you some tips on how to avoid the feared possibilities.
Just when you think you've thought of everything, you haven't. I know because I've been there. Even this past weekend I noticed a few things other authors were doing that I hadn't even thought of before. *forehead palm* So yes, you can be fully prepared and still not completely prepared. Let's look at some ways you can be as prepared as possible...
I created this 3X5 price card on picMonkey. I used the FREE version to add an elegant border, then shopped their selection of fonts. I made sure to add my series title, book titles, my name, and the price (including tax).
Sometimes if I'm chatting with a reader and another customer comes to the table, it's always nice to have a small sign that will answer some of their questions while I'm finishing up with another reader. That's why it's also a good idea to keep bookmarks and SWAG on the table as well. Allow the readers to browse while you kindly wrap up speaking with another individual. This price card is also helpful if you have a collection of books at differing prices.
Many services are now available to help small businesses boost revenue by using the credit card option. Before you jump into this, be sure to read over each company's agreement and terms. There are some companies whose sites are not secure. This had led to some horror stories of small business owners. If you rather err on the side of caution, check into your local bank. Many banks are now offering their own card readers in which case your revenue is automatically deposited into a checking account. And...in most cases, the bank will stand behind their product, taking all liability off you as the business owner.
Thanks for stopping by and reading part II. Tomorrow I'll share the final tips in holding a successful book signing. Here's a hint: "It's all about the small details."
September seems to rush in with a flurry of author activity--book signings, author expos, Christmas releases, and even writers' retreats. 2016 has shoved my author's skills passed their limits, causing me some discomfort and much anxiety. However, what I've accomplished in 2016 are goals that I would have never tested or even given a chance, let a lone come out feeling strengthened.
And that's what happened this past weekend.
I hadn't really considered the experience I've accrued since breaking into the writing industry 5 years ago...until I met a newbie of an author who had lots of questions for me. I thought I'd share some of my answers to her questions and some tips for authors on how to hold a successful book signing. I'll be going in depth, so I am breaking this post down into a series of blog articles.
1. Plan and Advertise
These days, advertisements are everywhere, making us groan every time we open Facebook and start scrolling passed sponsored ads and shared links. But there are ways to make your book signing advertisement fun.
Follow these simple steps. It will take you several days, maybe even weeks to plan out your event. Don't skimp on the details. Details mean everything and readers will notice.
Come back tomorrow for part II. Thanks for stopping by!
Have you ever experienced a heart so full that it made you want to do something for someone? The sensation can be quite overwhelming, especially when your motives are pure and your thoughts are genuine.
Well, I have.
One of my love languages is giving. I love gifting people with unexpected packages and seeing the look of surprise on their faces. I don't believe that gift giving should be set aside for just certain holidays...I mean those are expected, right? Small acts of kindness go a long way...it can brighten someone's day, or be that one thing he or she needed at that exact time.
The closer we get to Thanksgiving the more I start to reflect on the year past. It always amazes me, in retrospect, how quickly each year seems to fly by. If I could catch time by its wings and hold there for a bit longer to slow down the passing of days, I would totally do it.
But I can't.
As a mom of 5 and one of those kids a toddler, I see everyday how quickly time passes us by. I wish I could slow it down even a tad, but I can't. I've even started waking up two hours earlier every morning just so I can keep on top of things and have a few minutes quiet time to myself and indulge in my Bible reading. And those few extra minutes fill up as well.
It's no secret that our house is a busy home. With 5 kids underfoot, 4 of them homeschooled, my husband working full time and over an hour away from home, my writing sessions, speaking engagements, and the task of keeping up the house, time has become our most valuable possession. It's also no secret to anyone who knows us that we also place immeasurable value on our family time. We grab hold of our family time any way we can. And as we sit down to our weekly pizza night on Friday evenings with a family movie, we are seeing that our kids are growing right before our eyes. At times we can hardly believe we will be encountering the "teenage" years in just a few short months!
With such a busy schedule our kids help out a lot--A LOT! They have been such an incredible help to us, especially with a busy toddler running around! So to slow time down in a way I can only figure, I started the routine of doing something special for my kids. In many ways, and maybe to many people, it may seem insignificant, but to our kids it means the world to them, because hey, with a large family, the "special" things don't come around too often.
As part of my wake-up routine, (on Mondays and Fridays), I decided my kids needed to wake up to something nice too. I mean, they help so much that there has got to be some way to show them my appreciation and how much I love them. So I cleared off some space on my counter tops and I created a Hot Chocolate Bar--just for them. I brew hot water and pour it into my carafe, then I set it out on the counter next to four mugs (I bought just for them). I also leave out 4 individual spoons and 4 packets of hot chocolate. The finishing touch is a small vinegaret bottle filled with cold milk. And it's all sitting out there, ready for them when they come pitter-pattering down the stairs.
I'll never forget the look of surprise on their faces the first time I did that. They thanked me a hundred times over that day. It made me look forward to the next day I would do it for them. It also helped me to see that as parents, we need to value our kids as much as we can. They are a God-given gift and we shouldn't take that lightly.
I've been blessed with 5 outstanding children. They bring me joy and so much happiness each day. We have our down times too, like all parents, but we work through those rough patches and take one day at a time. Because I know that all too soon, one day we'll wake up and they'll be grown adults ready to start their own lives. I can only hope and pray that when that times comes, we'll have equipped them with all the necessary tools to embark on their life journeys ahead.
The room is dark. The house is quiet. Only faint cricket cries emanate from outside the window. The sun hasn’t awaken yet, but I have. It takes a few minutes for my brain to kick into fully functioning mode so for the first few minutes I check my phone notifications, answer emails, text messages, and Facebook messages. Then it’s time to dress for the day and head downstairs.
The slightest hint of light peeks over the tree-lined horizon with the prettiest shade of aqua blue. The air is cool, crisp. I can’t help but become drawn to each and every sunrise because of its beauty. These morning moments are precious to me because the lifespan of a sunrise is merely that---moments.
In the wake of each new morning I feel as though my alone time with God also has the same lifespan. Moments. This year has brought on a whole new dimension of crazy to our lives. We’ve added a new little life to our family, we’ve proceeded with another year of homeschooling, I’ve put out a brand new book, and the speaking engagements are suddenly pouring in. That does not include the busy cleaning schedule of keeping house and feeding the tribe.
Life has become so busy that it seems like God gets pushed further and further out of the picture. I spend more time with everything else and less and less time in the Word.
Sometimes I feel like this is what has contributed to my stressed out mood—I’m trying so hard to fulfill everything else in life that I forget to fill my empty tank with Jesus and replenish everything I’ve exhausted.
And trust me, I’ve been running on “E” for far too long!
Thank the Lord for godly friends and amazing Christian reads that have helped me fall back on track!
This year, I admit, I truly got lost in the game of “Life” and found it difficult to find my way out of the woods. Suddenly, Bible reading didn’t make sense anymore. I would read the passages, but I wasn’t getting anything out of it.
Then I realized that I was being selfish.
And I’d done a lot of “being selfish” this year.
I was looking at what I could get out of reading my Bible instead of looking at it from the perspective of just spending time with God. Listening to what HE has to say. How differently the picture looked when I changed my point of view. Suddenly, the desire to learn more overwhelmed me. Then I did something that I have rarely ever done. I started looking up books by non-fiction authors. My searches found several beautiful Christian reads that helped to replenish and rejuvenate my tired soul.
I’m still working my way through them (and I will post my reviews when I’ve read them in full), but I have found so much insight and relation to the issues and stories I’ve read where I can say, “Hey, that’s me! I’ve gone through that!” But the confirmation comes when these women add the appropriate Bible passages to the situation. Sometimes, mentally, my muse screams, “SCORE!” when I find a new passage of Scripture to add to my memory bank. Tools to use, is how I like to think of them. Because when I’m feeling down and depleted of my earthly and spiritual requirements, I’ll reach down into that mental tool bag and grasp those tools (or scriptures) to ward off the devil’s attacks.
So now as I rise with each new morning, I can awake feeling ready for the day ahead. And for the last two months I have made it a priority to take those few, precious, quiet, early morning moments to just sit and watch the sunrise and reflect on, and marvel at, the beauty of what God has done. Those are my still moments where I don’t have to feel guilty about sitting down and where I can replenish my strength for a full day or week ahead.
Little Free Libraries are popping up around the country. So I was quite pleased when I read a newspaper article saying one had been planted in our town by a local church a little over a year ago.
I had been planning to donate a few of my books to this newly organized library, however, due to the difficulties of my pregnancy last year, it was nearly impossible to get there.
But that's okay. God had other plans, and I was able to donate in a big way!
June 6th is a very special anniversary...
An anniversary that is starting to lose its significance with each passing year.
I refuse to let that happen!
72 years ago, Allied forces joined together in what was to be the largest invasion in our history! Approx 158,000 servicemen crossed the English Channel one daring night and into the next morning.
Many would not return.
Losing was not an option and victory was won amid chaos, spraying bullets, and death.
We owe so much (if not everything) to those brave men who stormed Normandy beaches in France. Known as Operation Overlord, the Normandy Invasion was the beginning of the end to the war in Europe.
So, in memory of those veterans, and in honor of the 29th Infantry (so many of which were from our small town) I donated my World War II Historical, based on the Normandy Invasion, LETTERS FROM GRACE, to our Little Free Library in the city of Westminster.
To all our servicemen and women, I applaud and thank you for the service you so freely and selflessly give to our country....past and present.
Want more information on Little Free Libraries? Or are you wondering if there's one in your town? Check out this link for more info. Little Free Libraries Org
When I made that giant leap into publishing, the question most frequently asked was, "Why did you decide to go with independent publishing?" For a long time I hummed and hawed, and honestly felt a little irritated, over that inquiry. Mostly, it was because I refused to allow myself to fully embrace the chapter in my career I was venturing into.
And that's when God nudged me and placed people in my life to guide me into unknown territory. It may have looked dark and bleak from the outside, but I would have never known the beauty of HIS plan until I walked through those open doors. Two friends reached out to me, urging me to go ahead and publish those books I had already written. It was one of the most terrifying things I had ever done. For the first time, people would be reading my works. My inner thoughts. It would all be laid out for the world to judge, criticize, and ultimately enjoy.
The market had closed its doors to new World War II era authors. I may have been disappointed, but this made it a little easier for me to make the decision to go Indie. If no one else was willing to take a chance on me, then I would take a chance on myself. Besides, how could I go wrong with God leading me in that direction anyhow?
Lots of prayers made their way to Heaven as my husband and I (and many of my friends and family) prayed for direction, peace, and success in this endeavor. I honestly couldn't have had the courage to do this without them.
Now that I've been in the trade for nearly three years, I've gained so much knowledge in the field. I have not by any means "arrived" yet, but each day I am shown new things in writing, marketing, and publishing.
I realize that this post may appeal more to the aspiring writer, so here are a few tips and reasons why I chose, and have come to love, Independent Publishing:
1. I work on MY time
2. I ultimately decide on the content on my book (*note: As authors, none of us are perfect and our works will have flaws, so I do highly recommend Indie authors find editors, critique partners, and beta readers to find those errors)
3. The publication time is far less than contracting with a publishing house
4. Royalties are much higher than any trade royalty
5. You track your sales and earnings from the comfort of your home. No middle man
6. The stress factor is WAY down!
What are some of the cons, you may ask?
1. Expect to fork over the cash for your own book cover and editing fees
2. You are now not only the author, but the public relations person, marketing director, and editor for your work. Expect your time in writing to be limited by the extra work load.
3. If that wasn't enough, you'll need to manage all your social media accounts on your own
4. Getting your book into a book store is going to have its difficulty
5. Expect the highs and lows of becoming an author. Some days you'll be flying high above the clouds and the next you'll be ready to throw in the towel. But keep your head high, those bad days do end.
Does it sound as if the cons outweigh the pros? That all depends on how much effort you're willing to put into your career. Ultimately, the more support you have from friends and family will have its affect on your writing journey. I am fortunate enough to have an incredible support group surrounding me.
Each writer has their own individual path that they are to walk down. For some, they will become traditionally published. Others will choose to go Independent. Either way, as long as you are walking in the will of God, you can't go wrong.
If you're an author just starting out, don't waste any time building your platform. Start a blog. Start a Facebook Author Page. Put samples of your work out there for people to read. Find a writer's group to get involved in. Find free writing contests to enter that puts your name out there. And always ask questions.
Rachel is the author of the best-selling series, Love & War. Book one, Letters from Grace was a finalist in Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write Contest (2012) and semi-finalist in American Christian Fiction Writer's Genesis Contest.
She is currently a member of Maryland Christian Writers.
Look for the release of her 3rd novel, Phillip's War, coming soon!
Saved by grace through endless faith, I write powerful stories of trial and triumph. Inspired by personal experiences and people of great faith, I weave hope into the pages every novel I write because I believe anyone can overcome adversity if they hold fast to Jesus' precious name.