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Go Fast or Go Slow

Should you go fast or go slow? Obviously, the answer to this question depends on what the activity or business is that you are talking about. I am asking this question as an author.

For transparency, I am also asking this as a Christian. Sometimes people get upset when I write from a Christian viewpoint, but I make no apologies. A person’s faith never operates apart from their social and business lives. Our true faith is demonstrated in how we live, work, and play. To think otherwise is to fool yourselves.

More about this on the other side of this break.

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Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

One could say that I learned the craft of writing by going through the school of hard knocks. When I started out as a young man in his twenties, I knew little about writing other that I loved to read, had a great imagination, and not much else. While I am sure there were courses out there that were available, they were expensive.

But I was able to take one for a short time until I got laid off from work and had to cancel the course. But it did whet my appetite for writing. I discovered I had some talent, so my dream of being an author was galvanized.

But that was a time when I first answered the question of whether to go fast or go slow. I wasn’t a Christian. So, praying for guidance was not a factor. I went fast and seized the opportunity. While it fizzled out, I did learn some basics and was encouraged.

It wasn’t until I got saved, that is I received Christ as my Savior, that I began seeking His guidance. But God had some cleaning up to do in my life, so I continued to run in to writing roadblocks. But in 2000 it changed!

First, you need to understand that I have a Do It Yourself (DIY) personality. That doesn’t always work out for the best. In the field of writing, I had to learn a great deal about writing. This learning came about through failures.

I would begin writing a story, get about three to five chapters in and suddenly hit a wall. I didn’t know how to handle that obstacle and it invariably led to my dropping the book. But then in 2000, I was doing my morning devotions in the Book of Genesis and reading about Noah and the Flood.

I love history, so reading the historical account of the Flood triggered my imagination. And I suddenly realized that the Biblical account was all I needed for my understanding of man’s sin, and God’s judgment. But I also realized that there were individual stories only hinted at. And thus was born my first book, Refuge: The Genesis Chronicles, which later was united with another book to form the basis for Perished: The World That Was.

Up until I wrote Refuge, I was ‘going slow’. But upon publishing my first novel in 2003, I opted to ‘go fast’. And I began pursuing greater knowledge and learning the art of being a DIYer.

With my first novel, I entered the world of DIY editing. Most professionals advise against editing your own work. A large part of their opinion is based on the fact that as the writer of the book, you know what you wrote, and it is quite easy to gloss over errors. I don’t mean you let them slide, but rather you don’t see them. Your mind tricks you into believing you wrote the right word or had the right punctuation and thereby you miss the error. If you want to be a success at editing your own publications, then you need to know the 1st Principle.

1st Principle : If you are going to go DIY, then know that it will be hard, very hard!

One of the reasons I chose to edit my own work, is that I didn’t trust the self-publisher I was using. I love the King James Bible and regard it as not only the best and most accurate Bible, but the only Bible for English speaking people. I was afraid they would change the verses that I used. (I integrated the King James Version verses into the book and the language of the book.)

Thus, I was now saddled with editing the entire book. And I quickly discovered that it was not easy. But I have never looked back at that decision and regretted it. Instead, my writing improved and so did my editing.

2nd Principle : Even professional editors make mistakes.

Over the years I have read some highly successful books. Books that are considered classics. And everyone had mistakes in them. What was the difference between their mistakes and mine? Mostly, the number of mistakes made. Professionals go over the book thoroughly and if you are going to do your own editing, you must do the same thing! This is a case of ‘going slow’.

In 2014 my wife and I formed T&R Independent Books and we became Indie Publishers. This started out as ‘going fast’, but in that same year and only about a month afterward, I had a heart attack. Needless to say, I had to slow down a lot!

But learning to be a master at writing, editing, proofing, and publishing at the same time was itself a slow process. But a necessary one.

3rd Principle : The hard work was worth it!

I have learned some professional traits along the way. But I also fell into a well-laid trap. We live in a world where making big money consumes most Americans. And that included me!

So, I became focused on the end result of making a lot of money. I read and listened to just about anyone that seemed to have success. I learned about funnels, give-a-ways, relationship selling, email lists, and much more. And yes, these did not always agree with one another.

I was now ‘going fast’, too fast! And I had so much knowledge that I was confused as to what to do. Think of a race car spinning its wheels and going nowhere.

But just as God used my heart attack to slow me down, He also allowed me to see how that my focus was on the wrong thing. I saw that my reason for writing was not to make a ton of money, but to write a quality book that people would enjoy.

I slowed down and began to review my goals. I got a mentor who began changing my way of thinking. I learned to keep the knowledge that was more in tune with my reason for writing and tossed much of the rest.

Don’t get me wrong. As a Christian one of my motives is to spread the gospel. And that requires money. But instead of money just for myself, it was now money to achieve a godly goal.

Many changes have begun taking shape under the influence of my mentor, my own growth as a Christian, and my growth as a writer. Just yesterday, I got in my car and headed for a local bookstore to talk to the owner. I wanted to get her perspective on marketing my latest book, World of Joseph.

But I had forgotten that the bookstore was closed on Mondays. On the way home, God spoke to my heart. He had let me go there with the purpose of reminding me to ‘go slow’. Or better yet, to ‘wait upon the Lord’!

Oh, that is hard. I try to be a patient man, but it doesn’t always work out that way. God reminded me that it is always best ‘to wait upon the Lord’.

4th Principle : Listen to God. If you are born again, having received Christ and have the Indwelling Holy Spirit within you, then you have all you really need. God has your best interests at heart.

Should you go fast or go slow? The fact is that all of us need to go at God’s speed. He has the fast speed for some, slow speed for others, and still others are told to wait.

There’s a verse for that. In Isaiah 40:31, it says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Wait on God’s leading, follow the pace He sets for you, and true success will come according to His timetable.

All three formats of World of Joseph are available at Amazon. But the paperback and hardcover are available at TR Independent Bookstore where all our books are always discounted. Now that the special discount of World of Joseph of 20% ended at midnight of the 19th, both formats are still discounted the same as all our books. So, you still have great bargains!

Speaking of reviews, why not review one of my books. Next month I plan on submitting more books to be reviewed on Booksprout, but you don’t have to wait. If you buy one of our books from Amazon, you can post a review. Or you can try Goodreads where I am listed as R. Riddle.

We are proud to be able to offer you the best possible experience at TR Independent Bookstore. Whether you are living in Southwest Florida or elsewhere in the United States, we want to be your local bookstore. We are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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Being Wise

A wise man will hear, and increase in learning…”

In Proverbs 1:5 we are told to be wise, to increase in learning and be a man of understanding. We have all probably heard sermons on this, but this blog is aimed at authors so what does this mean for the Christian author?

Actually this verse is related to Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” Taking these two verses together and applying them to us as Christian authors is a very impactful action.

The very first thing that must be done to gain wisdom is to worship God. More specifically we need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which occurs when we invite Him to save us. This is what we call being Born Again. This term is misused today to mean something like a fresh start. But it actually means a new relationship, of becoming a child of God (which only occurs when we are saved not when born in the flesh).

But what does wisdom mean to me as a writer?

I have stated this previously but it is worth restating. There is plenty of advice on and off the internet about writing, publishing, and marketing your books. The question is not do I listen but how do I discern good and bad advice. The answer is the Bible. God has laid out principles for us to follow. A wise writer takes those principles and used them as a filter for understanding and applying the wisdom.

Not only should a Christian writer use a biblically sound filter, but they need to apply the wisdom gained. So what are some of these principles?

Principles:

  1. Romans 11:29 : “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” We usually apply this to spiritual gifts, but God also gave us other gifts which we are expected to use. The ability to write is a gift. Has He given you that ability? If yes, then use it.
  2. Joshua 1:8: “…meditate therein day and night...” Whether your book is based on the Bible or not keep your focus on the Scriptures. He has promised to bless you!
  3. I Thess. 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” Pray about your writing, publishing, and marketing.
  4. Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart…” Trust Him, He knows what is best and will provide.
  5. Proverbs 12:24 : “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule.” Be diligent in your writing, apply yourself. You may say your story wrote itself, but it still requires you to do the typing, editing, proofing, etc.
  6. Colossians 3:23: ‘…do it heartily, as to the Lord…” Put your heart into it, be proactive.

These are but a few principles. They are like nuggets of gold. The Bible is full of principles, so search for them and apply them. I believe that if you base your career upon the sure Word of God that God will bless you.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

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Are You A Real Author? Part I

This four part blog asks you four questions and addresses each. Here is the first question:

Do you have a clear message?

Let me start at the beginning. When you write you should be writing with your reader in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I write books that I, the author, enjoy and so should you. But you also need to write for others.

Everyone of my books are written for people who enjoy Christian fiction and historical fiction. That said, what is your message?

Are you just relating a story or do you have something to offer? I believe that one reason it took so long before I published my first novel in 2003 is that every story I wrote had no message. But when I wrote Refuge: The Genesis Chronicles, I wrote with the idea of bringing the Biblical facts to life and giving people insights into the Biblical story.

Ever since then that or something similar has been my message: Bringing the facts to life. I would say that is one of the unique things I do. According to one reviewer I brought the people, places, and events alive giving her a deeper, wider understanding to the Biblical events.

The title of today’s blog is: Are you a Real Author. In other words, does your story jump off the pages? Do people like certain characters? Do they identify with them?

That is what the craft of writing is all about. Namely, to get the reader to use his/her imagination and be able to picture the unfolding story. If you can accomplish that you have become a real author!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

His eBook Perished: The World That Was can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.

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Keeping Your Focus Part II

In Part I the topic centered on how health can distract from our focus. Today I wish to explore how finances can impact us.

Finances can have either positive or negative impacts on our business. But whether it’s positive or negative, finances can be a major distraction.

For example, one of my titles in T&R Independent Books is Vice President of Finance. This means that I am involved with the daily budgets, check writing, credit card balances, etc. It can be very involved and can easily distract from my writing.

Speaking as a man involved in financial work for over twenty-two years, I know firsthand how time consuming and frustrating money management can be. It is demanding of both time and energy.

So, how do you balance the needs of finance with the needs of marketing?

One answer is “FREE” marketing tools. And there is an abundance of free tools available. Not all will work for you, or for me. But they are there for your perusal.

The key to using free tools or the equally abundant marketing ideas is ‘not to jump from horse to horse.’ It can be very tempting every time you run across a new idea to abandon what you are currently doing and jump to this new idea. I have had to fight this temptation throughout my career.

For example, I may come across a marketer promoting his/her marketing approach. A free video, course, or seminar may be offered to promote the idea to you. Now, you might think I’ll say stay away, it can mislead you. On the contrary, check them out!

But after you’ve sample the ‘free’ stuff, step away and take a deep breath. Does this marketing solution really fit with who you are? Will it work with your book marketing?

It all comes down to a principle a friend once taught me. He liked to visit Florida, especially the Orlando area. He would come across offers to travel free to Orlando and to stay free for x number of days at a nice hotel. The only catch was that he had to attend a seminar on real estate. He would jump at it every time! Why? That’s where the principle comes in.

The only obligation was to listen to the presentation. No requirement to buy. So here it is: Although he was committed to the seminar there was no commitment to buy anything. For an hour or more of listening to the presentation he got all the benefits of the offer.

In marketing you can do the same thing, but instead of lodging you are getting valuable information that you may use; all for free by simply giving your email address and reading/listening to a presentation!

So how does that impact your marketing focus?

Well, you:

  • Get a fast track education on new techniques
  • Save money
  • Actually get information that may make your marketing more effective.
  • get the above while maintaining focus on your writing.

I don’t believe I’ll ever stop using free or inexpensive informational tools. If I get one new idea that benefits me it is well worth the small investment in time. I am then able to focus on putting that information to work in my marketing plan. In fact, the longer I am in this business the smarter I become and am able to refine my own marketing efforts.

In the above case I am able to focus on both marketing and financing. But if I jumped on the follow-up offer I could easily get bogged down and find myself entangled in a frustrating situation that deprives me of the energy needed to write.

If I was advising a new author I would say the following:

“Writing is your primary focus, so learn how to minimize your marketing and financial efforts. By so doing you can stay fresh and keep your focus on writing.”

In short, investigate new strategies, but be wise.

One tool that can help you is budgeting your time. This is a lot more difficult than it first appears and is different with each person. You must determine your priorities, such as where do you want to concentrate your focus? I would suggest you keep a short listed of priorities. And don’t be afraid to revise that list when needed.

Budgeting your time is only one way of keeping your marketing and financing under control. You may know of other tools. Tell us about them.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. His latest novel is a rewrite of Perished: The World That Was published by T&R Independent Books.

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Keeping Your Focus Part I

Ever since I wrote my first novel I have had to work at keeping my focus. You might think that it gets easier with each succeeding book. It doesn’t.

There are many interruptions that can affect one’s focus. In this blog I will cover several. Today it will be health.

Your health affects your ability to focus.

In 2014 I had a major heart attack. While I recovered quickly mental focus has been slow to come back. I need to take a rest periodically. It’s an ongoing struggle that I am slowly winning.

Prior to my heart attack I could stay on the computer virtually all day without interruption, but now I often need to take a short nap at least once during the day. I get mentally tired and find it difficult to concentrate on the work being done.

So, like I said, health affects your ability to focus.

So what do I mean by focus?

Here is my definition: Focus is the ability to concentrate on both the problem and the solutions. In marketing, it requires a high degree of study to determine the best course of action.

When I wrote my first book I quickly learned that most marketing was going to be by me. Over the years I have learned that there are a multitude of marketing ideas. So one part of focus is sorting the ideas out and determining which one is best for me.

This requires study and concentration. It is not easy. Especially since many of these ideas are well defined and presented.

So how do I focus?

Remember my definition? I’ll repeat it: Focus is the ability to concentrate on both the problem and the solutions. In marketing, it requires a high degree of study to determine the best course of action.

As can be seen, it can be tiring, exhausting.

Each one of us have different make ups. Different things disrupt our lives. But all of us need to focus on our work whether writing, publishing, or marketing.

So if necessary, take that nap. Do whatever you must to keep your ability to concentrate at a high level.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.