Single Mom by Choice

single mom by choice

[Guest Post by Krista Pettiford – We met each other through the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild. She is a gifted and talented writer, and I am absolutely thrilled to have Krista share her story about her family. If you know of any broken families who might need encouragement, please pass this one along!]

I was married and had four children when I became a Christian.

Before that, I was very worldly. Though I had been raised by religious parents and even went to Catholic school for my early education I never had a real example of godly living.

When I met my husband I was an unwed mother of two young children. Though he wasn’t a born-again Christian, we both believed in Jesus–and he loved and accepted me and my children. We began living together, and had two more children before we got married. We had what seemed like a wonderful life.

He is very well off and gave me everything a worldly woman could wish for, nice houses, fancy cars, vacations and shopping trips, plus a nanny and a house keeper. We did lots of things as a family, and just the two of us. But then his aunt invited me to church and everything changed.

I became a born-again Christian and went eagerly after the things of God, but we began to walk down two very different paths.

Instead of things getting better and being able to experience my new life in Christ with my family–we began falling apart. My husband was not ready to accept the changes in me, nor was he ready to change. I was young in the Lord with zeal and passion, but lacked wisdom.

I tried to win him to the Lord with much talking but that just pushed him further away. We became unequally yoked. Our marriage did not survive the change. We separated three years after I became a born-again Christian and eventually divorced.

Once again I was a single mother, only this time I was a Christian.

However, I didn’t blame God, He was my refuge; instead I blamed myself. Because of the life I lived before I became a Christian guilt and regret weighed on me heavily. The thought of not having the opportunity to be a Christian family with my husband was overwhelmingly difficult to face.

During the time of our separation I prayed for my husband to come back. We dated, spent holidays together and still did things as a family, but he didn’t move back in. Instead we had an open door policy which meant we had keys to each other’s places but he still wouldn’t commit. When we finally divorced, he continued to pursue me–but wouldn’t commit.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was in an unhealthy relationship of compromise without boundaries.

I lived this way for several years.

The hope of things coming back together fogged my judgment.

As for dating other men, I chose not to for my children’s sake. I decided to become a single mom by choice. I figured they had been through enough being first a blended, then a broken family. Looking back, I believe not dating other men was the right thing to do but I don’t believe dating my ex-husband without any boundaries was right. It left me and my children hanging on for years until he finally moved on.

He eventually stopped seeing my children that weren’t his, and their hearts we broken.

Through it, all somehow the joy of Lord was my strength.

When he moved on–it pushed me to move forward. Our lives had been held hostage by putting my hope in him. When I finally let go, instead of falling into the pit of nothingness and hopelessness that I imagined was waiting for me I found a freedom that is truly indescribable.

Moving on allowed me to start dreaming again and was also healthy for my children.

All four of my children, now ages 23, 19, 17 and 15 were affected by our unhealthy choices in some way or another. Though children are resilient, some things only God can heal–and He has, in many areas. We’ve moved on as a new kind of family and have learned to accept who we are and cherish each other.

Though I understand that no story is the same, many people are going through similar situations. The fruit of what my children and I went through is being able to sharing our story truthfully with others so they can make better choices.

Krista PettifordWorshiper and follower of Christ, Krista Pettiford is the mother of four children in a beautifully blended family, the women’s ministry leader and a prayer leader in her local church. She is an author, and an IT manager by day with degrees in Information Technology and Biblical Studies. She once lived like Martha, Mary’s busy sister. She longed to live a balanced life but it seemed to escape me for many years until she finally found the key–living like Mary, at Jesus’ feet first. Now she enjoys sharing the steps to create a life of surrendered balance and how to have Mary Moments™ at Jesus’ feet first, with other busy women at kristapettiford.com.

[Photo: Krista and her four children]

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Forgiveness: The F Word

the f word

[Guest Post by Nicole Reyes – I can’t wait for you to hear her later this month as one of the speakers for Quarter Life Conference. She is an advocate for the local church, and I can’t wait for you to hear why. In the mean time, read her powerful story about forgiveness.]

Forgiveness, also known as the F word, can be a hard pill to swallow.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu knows what he’s talking about. He said, “Without forgiveness, there’s no future.”

Many of you are thinking…

“Well, you don’t know the pain I’ve been through.”

I don’t know your past pain, but I do know what’s even worse than the pain of our past is what happens to us when we allow that pain to plague our present and sabotage our futures.

Unforgiveness is a trap.

It keeps us chained to bitterness and disappointment.

It keeps us unable to freely embrace the abundant life that Jesus offers.

I will never forget hearing a woman speak at church years ago. I was 19 years old, and fiercely loyal to the idea of never forgiving my father for what I had experienced growing up in an alcoholic home. I was completely bitter and determined to keep as much distance between my father and me.

But that all changed as I sat listening to this courageous woman share the story of abuse she had been exposed to in her home as a child. She shared about how a relationship with Jesus had brought healing and hope to her life. She described this healing journey as a process, and said an important step in that process was FORGIVENESS.

I thought, “I am never going to forgive my dad!  He should be asking me for forgiveness!”

But no matter how hard I tried to fight it, by the time church had ended, I knew God was asking me to forgive.

I kicked and screamed in my heart.

I cried and prayed all the way home that night. I prayed, “This is too hard, God. How am I supposed to forgive him?  Why would You ask me to do something this hard? Don’t You love me?”

I truly believe this was our Heavenly Father’s response: “I do love you. It’s because I love you that I want you to forgive. I want you free, and you won’t be free without forgiveness.”

That night I called my father.

I clenched the phone in my hand so tightly that my knuckles turned white. I struggled to control my voice as it cracked under the weight of confined tears.

And to my dismay, and by God’s grace, I said, “Papi, I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry. I want to ask for your forgiveness, because for so long I have been angry and bitter towards you. I want you to know that I love you, and I am deeply sorry my love has been in question.”

Then came a silence that seemed to last forever.

My father finally spoke.   could hear the tears in his shaking voice as he told me that he loved me, and that he was sorry for all that had taken place.

It wasn’t a long conversation that night. 

But some things don’t have to be everlasting to be eternal.

My relationship with my father wasn’t repaired in one conversation.

It took years for the brokenness to be formed, and it would take years for it to fully mend. But a bridge of reconciliation was built that day over the act of FORGIVENESS.

Perhaps even more miraculous was the shift that had taken place in my heart. 

It was as if a chain wrapped around me had burst open.

Forgiveness unlocks purpose and destiny.

It allows us to run freely toward our future.  It replaces skepticism with hope, and bitterness with love.

Forgiveness is not an emotion.

No, forgiveness is a choice. 

It’s a choice we have to make over and over again.

Jesus addressed this very point with His disciples:

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)

(It is worth noting that forgiveness is not an invitation to allow someone to harm us. You may need to seek the advice and support of your pastor or another Christian leader to help you navigate a particular situation. Remember, forgiveness is something we freely give, but trust is something that is earned.)

Whether or not relationships are made new, our perspective on life certainly is.

Forgiveness unleashes the God-given potential for greatness that lies within each of us. My prayer is that you have the courage to embrace the type of freedom only accessible through FORGIVENESS.

You were made for far more than a life confined by past hurts.
 

Nicole ReyesNicole Reyes is intent on people everywhere discovering and living out a deeper, more dynamic relationship with Christ. A gifted speaker and leader, one of Nicole’s passions is for people around the globe to learn from the generations that have gone before and to extend a loving hand to the generations that follow. By doing so, Nicole believes everyone can live a vibrant, God-filled life. She also has a strong desire to see the local church make global impact by helping bring solution to social injustice around the world.  Nicole serves as Director of Ministries at Oasis Church in Los Angeles, California under Lead Pastors Philip and Holly Wagner and is part of the Teaching, Pastoral, and Executive Teams, as well as the Oasis women’s ministry team, GodChicks.

[Photo credit: bayat via photopin cc]

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If I Told You How I Felt

If I Told You How I Felt

If I told you how I felt–you might not forgive me.

This month’s new theme is on forgiving others. And recently, I’ve felt lousy. I even posted this on Facebook last week:

“If you’re afraid to say how you really feel for fear of losing the friendship, maybe (gulp) they were never a true friend to begin with!”

I felt I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Thankfully, when I woke up early one morning I came across this life changing post from Donald Miller. He admitted to being too careful. He wrote,

“The sad thing is when we’re careful, we are actually being affected by fear. People are careful when there is a risk. But nobody respects somebody who is too careful. People love writers who give us permission to be ourselves and to express our feelings. Sure, they may fail every once in awhile, but we admire their freedom all the same.”

I am a risk taker, which is the reason why I started writing and blogging in the first place.

I knew if I didn’t take the risk of spending time in the Word daily and journaling out my frustrations–I might be tempted to commit suicide. I desperately needed to forgive others including myself for all the suffering that had, was, and would still take place.

In Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me I share two personal stories.The first is a story of a friend whom I hurt. I did everything I possibly could to ask for her forgiveness according to Matthew 5:23-24. Because she wouldn’t see or talk to me, I brought a dozen white roses by her work place to show her how sorry I was.

The second story is about a friend who hurt me. Instead of forgiving her right away I decided to let her have it. My emotions got the best of me and I totally cussed her out on the phone and to her face.

Honestly, I thought the roses would do the trick and my friend whom I lashed out at would choose not to forgive me. But in fact, the opposite was true.

That’s the thing with forgiveness–you just never know who will accept your apology and who won’t.

But that’s not up to us, that’s between them and God.

We only have control over our actions.

We are the ones commanded to forgive, even when the other person decides not too.

Maybe your friend does forgive you at first, but ends up going back on her (or his) word. I know I have before. I’m definitely far from perfect. Forgiveness can be both a scary and exciting process. Thankfully we have Jesus as our guide.

I’m glad I can say with confidence (yay!) that I’m in a healthy place in my life where I can finally be honest with my past sufferings. I have been holding on to so much past hurt, future fear, and present worry that it feels good to finally come clean (double yay!).

When we are in the midst of suffering it seems easier withhold forgiveness than to tell the person who hurt us how we really feel.

Because we’re scared.

I know–I’ve been there.

Looking back, I’m g-l-a-d Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me is releasing this August. I started writing it when I was 19, and now that I’m turning 31 this month (June 24)–I’m finally ready. I cannot wait for you to read it, and not just because I get to share my whole story!

There’s always a reason or three why God forces us to wait.

Maybe He waits years to reveal His will because we’re not ready.

Maybe He waits until we’re fully healed so we can handle the truth.

Or maybe things never end up making sense for whatever reason–either way God loves us and wants the best for us. That will never EVER change.

If you’re currently struggling to tell a friend, boss, family member, or whomever how you really feel for fear he or she might leave, fire you, disown you, or worse–I encourage you to speak up. Ask God to help you forgive. After all, we are all imperfect.

Even if you end up risking the relationship–at least you’ll no longer be afraid!

To me that’s worth more than a dozen white roses. 

I believe a true friend will forgive you for speaking your mind–even if you are wrong.

[Photo: Shabby Chic, Creative Commons]

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My Relationship Idols

relationship idols

[Guest Post by Alyx Vergara – I’m pretty sure we met for five seconds at my former roommate bridal shower years ago, but have stayed connected via Facebook ever since. It’s been fun to watch her journey over to Hawaii and become the person God wants her to be. Today, if you’re struggling to let go of any relationship idols, be encouraged by Alyx’s story.]

My name is Alyx, I am 22 and I live in Hawaii. My journey here started with heartbreak.

Three months before my first semester of Bible college, my world was turned upside down when my best friend/ex-boyfriend decided to move on without me.

Living without him seemed impossible.

The first few months were painful and eye opening but exciting. I realized that I had put so many idols in the way of the Lord that He had no other choice but to destroy them.

My life was looking similar to Jacob’s family in Genesis 35, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.” Similar to the Hebrew children, God had called me away from my “Egypt” and into the wilderness. Here, in a safari tent in Kauai grasslands He spoke comfort to me (Hosea 2:14).

A new romance began, with new trials, but something was different with this one.

Reluctant to open my heart up ever again to someone else, I listened carefully to the voice of the Lord. He led me to love another, to show him grace when he fell and to not give up on him, no matter what. In it, He demonstrated what He had done for me (1 John 3:1).

The price He paid for me was something that I could have never paid myself. It’s a gift of grace that needs to be demonstrated in real life. I had asked for grace to do whatever He had for me, and He gave me the perfect opportunity to learn.

The new love came to an abrupt end over summer and I was completely broken.

But, the hope and peace I had concerning it–was not.

Hope still lives and surpasses any attempt I have at figuring it out.

Instead, God is giving me time to devote to Him. He is healing me in ways I thought I never knew existed. I have learned that He wants me, all of me, every deep, hidden and uncovered parts of me.

While my desire for marriage and a future is not wrong, seeking those things above Him is. Matthew 6:33 has become my new mantra and what encouraged me to write this. I never thought I would be “kingdom minded”; I thought that was for super-Christians.

Yet as He has removed and revealed to my relationship idols I put up, that truth has hit hard.

I had willingly put people and ideas above God, His plans and His ideas.

It wasn’t pretty or easy, but He rid those high places from my life and pointed out when I tried to reclaim them. It is still a journey, one that will not end until the day I come face to face with our Creator and King. I am in this place where I realize that God is sovereign and can do anything He wants with me.

He can use my pain to bring forth joy and ultimately glorify Himself.

 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25).

This small life of mine is going to be more than I can fathom, because He wants to use it. My heartbreak ends when I allow eternity to become greater than my pain.

Now life without people is possible, but life without God is not.

Alyx VergaraHi, my name is Alyx Vergara. I live in Southern California and attend Kauai Bible College in
Hawaii. I love makeup and I hope to use that as an avenue to minister to women in the
sex industry. I love the Lord and His, mostly difficult, painful and beautiful plan for my
life. I really, really love cats.

[Photo: ndbutter, Creative Commons]

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Couples Therapy

couples therapy

[Guest Post by Angela McNeil – I have had the privilege of getting together with her a few times. She’s taken our family portraits, headshots of mine, and of course her daily dose of sarcasm on her Facebook status’. What I appreciate most about my friend Angela, is she’s never afraid to be honest about her past. If you have ever been in an abusive relationship, I hope you will be encouraged by her story.]

You mean not all relationships are like this?

When I was in High School 1993-1994 my father worked for a software company that was on the Online community craze, like AOL chat rooms and IMing. This was when you used a phone line for internet connection. I met a ton of people through this software, being a teenage girl, which meant tons of boys.

It wasn’t long that I met a boy (for protection purposes I will refer to him as “Johnny”).

He was a guy that was so quick to promise me the world. I didn’t have that great of a home life and was ready to have someone to rescue me from my life. Through the chatroom, email, and phone conversations our love started to develop. Johnny lived in Washington while I lived in California. His mom came to California for a convention, and met me and my parents.

It was shortly after my parents agreed for me to go to Washington to meet Johnny. We were instantly “in love”.

It was about a year of a long distant relationship that we convinced my mom to let Johnny to move in to my parent’s house. We set up a room for him in the living room. He worked at a local pizza place and I went to college and worked a full time job. About six months later, we talked of getting married and decided to move into our own apartment.

Once we made our apartment our own, is when it all started.

I would come home later than expected either because of OT at work or a late study group for school and Johnny would be really angry. He would yell at me for not telling him that dinner wouldn’t be ready. Then the accusations started.

“You are cheating on me.”

“Were you out with your other boyfriend?”

I spent most of my time trying to convince Johnny how much I loved him and that I would never cheat on him.

Then the comments started, “You need to lose weight you are embarrassing to be with” this was when I was at my thinnest 5’5” and 150lbs I looked like a skeleton. Or if I ate something sweet Johnny would say “Are you sure you want to eat that? Its going to make you fat.”

He would make fun of me in front of our friends about my weight, intelligence, and very demeaning. He would take out the wedding rings that we purchased together and he would say,

“You will get this engagement ring when you earn it.”

Johnny worked in the same mall as me and one day I went upstairs to visit him on my lunch break and I saw him sitting with another girl. That night I confronted him about the girl and that is when he blew up. He twisted my words to make me think I was crazy.

I was never one to keep my thoughts to myself, so I would fight back.

Once I started to fight back is when things got even worst. He grabbed a candle holder and threw it at me. It became a nightly thing where Johnny would punch, kick, throw me against the walls of our apartment. I even went to a self-defense class to protect myself.

Most of the time I would try to convince myself that I was at fault, that I brought it upon myself. Most of all–Johnny manipulated me so much that I felt as though I deserved to be treated this way.

I thought this was a normal relationship.

That it was my fault that I wasn’t giving enough, saying the right things, or I didn’t love him enough.

By the end of our relationship, I had no friends and was distant from my family.

My mom offered to send me to therapy. I remember sitting in the therapists office asking for couples therapy. I still remember it so clearly–she looked me in the eye and asked me,

“Why do you feel like you deserve a jerk like Johnny? Don’t you think you deserve better?”

It was then I decided I deserved better. I knew Johnny and I knew that I would have to move out and break it off. I had to make him think it was HIS idea. He decided to move back to Idaho to live with his dad. In the last weeks of him moving and I back in with my parents, I found out that he was cheating on me multiple times. Thank God that he protected me from STDs and other things I could have gotten in that situation.

Through therapy I learned that I was deserving of a man that would treat me well.

A man who would be respectful of my independence.

A man to be strong by stepping back and allowing me to be strong as well.

God blessed me with a man like that–my husband Ray of almost 14 years. I would have never believed I deserved someone to treat me well otherwise. I don’t regret my relationship with Johnny, because I learned SO much.

God makes miracles out of messes, and he sure did that with me and this life experience.

angelamcneilAccountant, Photographer, Dachshund lover, health-nut, and woman of faith. Lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and her two wiener dogs. Here to share my life successes, struggles, and experiences with weight loss and the Lord at http://www.weightedfaith.com.

[Photo: GummyPiglet, Flickr]

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Just Thank God and Move On

move on

[Guest Post by Brett Wilson – I met her through our mutual friend Sarah Martin. She is a fun, single lady who writes fairy tales of faith, single-hood, and coffee. If you have recently gone through a breakup, I hope her story will encourage you to thank God and move on.]

“Hey, baby! Wanna be our guest?”

I snapped my head to see where the voices were calling from. I was at a stoplight on a citrus-sunny road somewhere between Virginia Beach and North Carolina. There, simultaneously stopped on my left was a group of baseball-capped men in a dirty white pickup truck.

“Really, Lord?” I thought as I tried to keep my eyes on the dusty, beige road ahead.

This is all that my love life has come to?

The light turned green, and the pick up truck bounced along, leaving behind a cloud of smog. They had every right to taunt, I suppose. I was, after all, cranking my Beauty and the Beast soundtrack pretty loudly.

But, I didn’t care. I had made up my mind: No Adele. Not today. I was already feeling sorry enough for myself without hearing cadences about her old beau finding a girl and being married now.

The man I had been dating the last few months, the one who was responsible for my ditching work and hitting the road to meet my family where they were spending their spring break, had broken up with me just the night before.

I was heartbroken. And I needed a hug from my Mom.

He had held all of the qualities on my potential-soul mate checklist:

+ He loved God.

+ He was smart, funny, handsome, played the guitar.

+ And he had a beard.

The only problem was, he was about to finish his graduate work and move back home, halfway across the country.

I desperately still wanted to make things work.

And I really thought I loved him enough to pack up my life’s boxes in a moving van. Believe me, I tried. But, he would have nothing of it.

“We need to talk,” he said with his solemnly darkened face.

“Sure,” I said meekly, already feeling heat and tears beginning to swell in my eyes. “But, first can I get you some water?” It was my last chance, Hail-Mary-Pass at showing him what a good, selfless wife I would have been to him.

See, now aren’t you sorry? I thought. Here you are, breaking up with me and stuff, and I bring you a glass of water.

That basically makes me the Proverbs 31 woman.

He wasn’t as righteously moved by my offer of water as I was, apparently. Because, after three exhausting hours of him explaining why he couldn’t ask me to follow him–that he didn’t quite love me, he left.

I explained all of this as calmly as I could to my mom the next day when I arrived at the beach cottage. She very patiently waited for me to finish sniffling through my hysteric “It isn’t fair!” and “No one is every going to want to marry me!” claims before she spoke.

She told me he wasn’t the one for me. God had closed a door. Life with this man wasn’t a door that I was meant to walk through.

“Sometimes, you just have to thank God and move on,” said Mom.

She was absolutely right. I have since relinquished up all adolescent stubbornness that wants to claim otherwise.

I don’t know where I would be right now if I had packed up my things and happily followed my bearded boyfriend across several state lines. But, I’m certainly glad I stayed put.

When I think about the sort of woman I want to be for my husband–the real, genuine, Proverbs 31 woman–I believe I learned that day what it means to “laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25).

My mom’s simple words, and prayers, helped me realize that no disappointment or heartbreak could break me from God’s plan.

And maybe one day, I’ll be able to listen to Adele again.

Maybe I will find someone like him.

Better yet, maybe he’ll find me.

But for now, I’m cranking up the show tunes. I’m letting the bass line rattle my rearview mirror for a spell. I’m learning to be joyful in my current struggles, and laughing at the struggles that are sure to come.

I’m thanking God for my heart break, and I’m moving on.

Brett WilsonBrett Wilson is a Christ-loving, single, curly-haired, left-handed coffee-addict. She is a public relations writer in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She lives with her best friend and a Boston Terrier named Regis. Connect with on her blog.

 

[Photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc]

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How to Write an eBook

how to write an ebook

I’ve received more than a few requests over the past weeks on how to write an eBook.

The printing and publishing business is changing–and fast! Yesterday as I was watching the movie The Help, I was reminded just how far our culture has come with putting words on a page.

Not only are we allowed to write about all things including race or sex, but we have religious freedoms as well. As a Christian and as a writer I believe we have a responsibility to seek and speak the truth. Clearly one is much harder than the other.

My favorite verse (pertaining to writing) in the Bible is from 1 Chronicles 16:24 and Psalm 96:3 that says,

“Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (NLT)

Since I recently self published my own eBook, I thought I’d share 8 tips on how to write an eBook and get it published.

Tip #1 – Start With an Outline. Open Microsoft Word and start typing your ideas for chapter titles. This will get the juices flowing. Over time you can expand and actually start writing certain chapters, or copy and paste them where you think they’d fit better. An outline is supposed to be messy. Sometimes I sit on a book title and/or outline of a book for a year (sometimes even years) before I get the inspiration and courage to follow through.

Tip #2 – Follow Through. If you say you’re going to do something then you need to do it. Write and keep writing. Write until you get sick to your stomach or feel weak in the fingers. Write until you break a pencil and your heart. Write until the words don’t stop flowing and you feel at peace. Write when you know your schedule is too busy and write when you’re procrastinating. Write when you’re wanting everything to be perfect and write when everything is a mess. The writing process, as ugly (or clean) as it may be, is part of the fun. You have to start somewhere. Never despise small beginnings.

Tip #3 – Search Amazon. Most eBooks are sold on Amazon. Start searching titles to see if yours is unique or if there are over hundreds with the same title. Keep keyword searches in mind. For instance, if you want to write about relationships like I did, keep your title relevant to keywords or phrases regarding relationships. This makes it easier for people who have never heard of you to search and find your new book.

Tip #4 – Set a Budget. There are plenty of people who are willing to take your money. Want to know how much I paid to self publish my eBook? I paid $269. Not $2,699 or $20 but $269. I paid $200 for editing and $69 for graphic design including the picture I bought off Shutterstock.com. This is not the time to start skimping or refuse to hire a professional. If you want to sell many copies than it needs to act and mimic other books that are professional (see: not self published). Let’s face it–there are many ugly and hideously cheap looking covers and words out there just waiting to bombard you. Make sure yours stands out. Take the time to get it right the first time. You only have one chance for your book cover to make a first impression. Also the first few sentences of the first paragraph of the first chapter are very important, and so on and so forth!

Tip #5 – Don’t Do it all Yourself. I want like to clarify that I did not upload Loves Me Not, my eBook, to Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble. Since MagGregor Literary Agency represents me, and this is a service they provide for their authors–I went for it! This is also one of the reasons why I switched agents and literary agencies because as an author I want to make sure I am staying current with the trends. I also know my limits when it comes to formatting and technology and this is definitely something I did not want to attempt myself. That said, maybe you are gifted and maybe you don’t have an agency who will do it for you. Ask around. Hire someone if need be–otherwise here are the uploading and formatting requirements for Amazon and Smashwords. If that doesn’t help you can always Wiki the answer.

Tip #6 – Pricing Matters. You don’t want to price your book too high or too low. Did you know that Amazon takes 65% of books sold between $0.99-$1.99 and 30% between $2.99-$9.99? If you’ve never published with a traditional publisher you might not know how many pages would equal a certain dollar amount. I wouldn’t recommend self publishing an eBook for more than $4.99. An eBook is meant to be easily accessible, downloadable, and purchasable. You want to add value to your name, brand, website, etc–not ask for too much from people. See below for pricing and word count suggestions:

+ $0.99 – 5,000 words or less (for instance a Chapter, a teaser, a booklet, or a giveaway for your blog/website)

+ $1.99 – 5,000-10,000 words

+ $2.99 – 10,000-20,000 words

+ $3.99 – 20-000-30,000 words

+ $4.99 – 30,000-40,000 (plus) words

51Fo+owhoyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-52,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Tip #7 – Marketing Matters. Just because there are lots of crappy eBooks out there doesn’t mean if you follow these tips and make the most presentable, most professional eBook known to man are you guaranteed to sell a ton of copies. The great thing with eBooks is they never go out of print! Times have changed and sometimes it can take a book a while to catch on. With traditional publishing, they have sales reps who sell mass quantities (wholesale), that juice up your stats. When my first book, Faithbook of Jesus, released on March 8, 2010 the entire print run of 5,000 copies had already sold out. This is not the same with eBooks. There are no “limited” quantities or numbers of print runs. Please don’t be discouraged if your book doesn’t sell well in the first week or weeks. My literary agent, Amanda Luedeke just released her first eBook, The Extroverted Writer and in it she gives all sorts of amazing tips on how to market yourself (not just for eBook only authors, but for all authors). I suggest you buy a copy for yourself. She also said if you sell 400-500 copies in a month or the first few months you’re doing alright.

Tip #8 – Celebrate with friends, family, and food. It can be so easy to get caught up in the lonely life of a writer. Don’t neglect your family and friends. When you take the time, money, and effort to get that eBook out there–it’s time to celebrate and never look back! You can market all you want, but at the end of the day the people you’re living with mean (and should matter) the most. Even if that means sacrificing some key marketing time or writing one last article. If you’re a writer who wants to be around for the long haul you’ll quickly learn that it’s a marathon not a sprint. I tried that and got burnt out. Don’t get burnt out! Have fun and remember to enjoy the process and smell an iPad 🙂

[Photo: ktoth(.), Flickr]

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My Heart is Torn

my heart is torn

As I sit here writing this, I am literally tearing my hair out.

Every time I write a book my life seems to go through a major transition. First there was Faithbook of Jesus. When I was writing my first book I realized how much my heart couldn’t handle serving two masters. I made the extremely difficult decision to quit my dream job to move back with my parents and write full time.

Then there was Not Another Dating Book. It came as such a surprise. My second book had just been canceled the day I finished writing it. I wasn’t confident in my writing abilities or the direction of my life. When Harvest House decided to sign me, I was elated.

Then I met Marc and my world changed again. By the time the book released, I was married and healthy–not to mention happy.

I would be lying if I said it was easy to write for singles as a newlywed.

After Marc and I were married, I suddenly realized how unhealthy my life was. Not that I was living in sin, but it was all the little things that were affecting me.

The over eating.

The bitterness.

The lack of exercise.

The wrong choice of friends.

It took the presence of my sweet husband to open my eyes to see God’s love in fresh and new ways, which is why I ultimately decided to write Loves Me Not. I wanted others to find healing from their heartbreak in God–not in food, not in manipulative relationships, not in (fill in the blank).

And yet, as I sit here pulling my hair out–I wasn’t expecting another transition to hit me so soon. My heart is torn.

Instantly after Loves Me Not released I had extreme anxiety. The kind I thought I was healing from. Over the past year I’ve been taking care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I’ve made new friends, gone back to the gym, and lost 17 pounds.

So why anxiety now?

After taking some time off to spend with God and goof off with my husband this past weekend, I realized that just because I was making strides to become healthy didn’t mean that I can or should say “yes” to everything. My weekly responsibilities since getting married, starting a new job at the church, releasing a new book, launching a new conference, and now joining the Guild–it hit me! I’m serving two masters again.

No wonder why people are getting tired of what I have to say (well, maybe you aren’t, but I am)!

I’m so glad I recognized how stressful my life has become because I’m getting ready, once again, to make a new transition.

My next book, Forgiving Others Forgiving Me, releases this summer–and it’s my first book for a general audience. No longer am I writing for just 20-somethings or singles–no! I am writing for all ages and both sexes.

I am so excited!

So what does this mean for my day to day routine?

Starting next week, I have decided to scale back the number of posts from 4 times a week to 2 or 3. Plus, the topic of breakups, broken relationships, and forgiveness is much deeper. I don’t want to just gloss over it. I want to really not be afraid to face it and move forward in faith. If I can’t even lead the way, why would I expect you to read my book?

I hope you’ll grow with me as I find freedom in the journey from pain to purpose.

In my book, Loves Me Not, I write, “You never know when an incident—whether bad or good—is going to happen to change the entire course of your life. That’s why it’s important to stay in the Word and in prayer, so that you are able to stand firm against heartbreak when the trials come (Ephesians 6:13).”

I did a “heart” word search in the Bible and came up with a list of twenty-seven ways to heal from heartbreak. Since heartbreak is experienced by all–not just singles–I decided to make it available online for free instead of making you pay for the whole book! If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing a torn heart, I hope you will share this lis.

27 Ways to Heal from Heartbreak

1. Do you have a praying heart? ~ Genesis 24:45
2. Do you have a hardened heart? ~ Exodus 7:3, 9:35
3. Do you have a fiery heart? ~ Deuteronomy 5:4, 24
4. Do you have a judgmental heart? ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
5. Do you have a wise and understanding heart? ~ 1 Kings 3:12, Proverbs 2:10
6. Do you have a whole heart? ~ 1 Chronicles 28:9, 29:17
7. Do you have a faithful and undivided heart? ~ 2 Chronicles 15:17, 16:9b
8. Do you have a faint heart? ~ Job 23:16
9. Do you have a lustful heart? ~ Job 31:7, Matthew 5:28
10. Do you have an examined heart? ~ Psalm 17:3
11. Do you have a pure heart? ~ Psalm 24:4, 2 Timothy 2:22
12. Do you have a sad heart? ~ Psalm 42:5, 42:11, 43:5
13. Do you have a broken and repentant heart? ~ Psalm 51:17
14. Do you have a hidden heart? ~ Psalm 119:11
15. Do you have a guarded heart? ~ Proverbs 4:23, Philippians 4:7
16. Do you have a happy or heavy heart? ~ Proverbs 14:13, 30; 15:13
17. Do you have a captured heart? ~ Song of Solomon 4:9
18. Do you have a deceitful heart? ~ Jeremiah 17:9
19. Do you have a single heart? ~ Ezekiel 11:19
20. Do you have a new heart? ~ Ezekiel 36:26
21. Do you have a torn heart? ~ Joel 2:13
22. Do you have a treasured heart? ~ Matthew 6:21
23. Do you have a good or evil heart? ~ Matthew 12:35
24. Do you have an anxious heart? ~ Luke 21:34
25. Do you have a taken heart? ~ John 16:33
26. Do you have a holy heart? ~ 2 Corinthians 1:22
27. Do you have a thankful heart? ~ Colossians 3:16, 4:2

“After reading through this list, I hope you have a better understanding of what it looks like to have a whole heart—one that rests safely in the arms of Jesus. There should be no more doubts that a healed heart can happen. It is possible!

Maybe it takes time.

Maybe it takes lots of time.

The healing process is different for each person, and each relationship is different as well.” If you would like to continue reading more from my book, Loves Me Not, please download your copy for only $2.99 from Amazon or Smashwords.

[Photo credit: Alfonsina Blyde » via photopin cc]

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New eBook Loves Me Not

Fisher COVER - Loves Me Not

I wrote a new eBook entitled Loves Me Not: Heartbreak & Healing God’s Way that released on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords on May 6th for only 2.99!

If you’ve read Not Another Dating Book, you’ll notice I don’t talk about my story. That’s because it wasn’t until after I submitted my manuscript to Harvest House that I met my husband Marc.

That’s why I’m excited to release my follow up with features including:

+ Why Guarding Your Heart Isn’t Enough
+ Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?
+ Desperate Singles
+ Breaking Up With “The One”
+ Why Changing Your Significant Other Won’t Work
+ The Right Way To Breakup
+ How To Handle A Breakup
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person
+ Why Breakups Are Hard
+ He (Jesus) Loves You!
+ How I Met My Husband Marc

Thanks to those who let me guest post or wrote a review of their own. Please feel free to read my articles and others reviews on Loves Me Not below:

+ Where’s the ‘up’ in breaking up? ~ Laura Anderson Kirk
+ Guarding Your Heart Isn’t Enough ~ Ronel Sidney
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person ~ Church 4 Chicks
+ Loves Me Not: Heartbreak and Healing God’s Way {A Book Review} ~ Brenda Rogers
+ Love Me Not ~ Pam Farrel
+ Healing From Heartbreak ~ iBelieve
+ He (Jesus) Loves You ~ Jenny LaBahn
+ Loves Me Not (Review) ~ Sarah Francis Martin
A Letter to My Former Self ~ Rebekah Snyder
Can boys and girls be just friends? ~ Laura L. Smith
+ Five reasons to read Loves Me Not ~ Arleen Spenceley
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person ~ Emily McFarlan Miller
+ He (Jesus) Loves You ~ Krista Back
Why Breakups Really Hurt ~ Angela McNeil
+ Doing Relationships God’s Way ~ Rachel L. Berry

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The Little Things

the little things

“Our relationships are a blessing from God—something we should take very seriously—even when it comes to the little things.

I believe God wants to bless you and your relationships.

In life, it’s easy to judge other couples based on how they appear on the outside, instead of taking the time to get to know what’s going on inside their lives and their home.

Every relationship takes work, and by God’s design every couple is afforded the same grace. Instead of wishing you were like this couple, or thanking God you’re not like that couple—take some time to do inventory on your own relationships.

If you’re married, pray for your spouse. Set up some time to talk, really talk about things that are important and matter.

If you’re single, pray for your future spouse that he or she would stand strong and not give in to temptation.

Please read the rest of my article on iBelieve called When The Honeymoon Ends. I’d love for you to read more about how the foxes (the little things) can ruin your relationships (Solomon 2:15).

[Photo: Scott Joshua Dere, Flickr]

Be encouraged,

Renee

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