Bind them continually upon thine heart

Bind them continually upon thine heart

“Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” Prov. 6:21

This verse is referencing the Word of God as the Father’s commandments. Today I want to apply it specifically to authors.

Perhaps because I am an author I am slightly biased. Since we deal with communicating to people, albeit through fiction, I think we need God’s wisdom to a very high degree.

Thousands of books are published every week and tens of thousands every year. All authors are trying to sell their books to the widest audience possible. I am no exception. And we need God’s wisdom if we are to succeed.

I’ve talked before about the principles of God’s Word and I don’t want to be merely repeating myself. So instead of talking about marketing advice seen through the lens of the Bible, I want to talk about God’s wisdom and how it helps us write better.

Every book I’ve written has been bathed in prayer. It is not enough to merely follow principles, whether they are secular or spiritual. Writing is more than that. It involves the plot of the work, the characters involved, and the cohesiveness of the story. For that to happen requires a great deal of skill. But it also demands more.

People talk about inspiration being required. I’ve talked about being inspired, but it goes beyond simply being inspired to write. We need God’s guiding hand as we write every scene and develop every character.

It can be taxing, but when we have God in our corner it makes things much easier. Whether writing Perished, or World of Noah and the Ark, or even the current writing of World of Shem I have needed God’s guidance. I seek God’s guidance. I’m not talking about formal prayer, which I do, but of communicating to God throughout the process.

This involves talking to Him about every scene, indeed every word. I approach my writing in the spirit of open prayer. Sometimes it is unconscious praying and sometimes I actually ask Him directly. I ask questions like,

  • How do I write this scene?
  • Is this scene too suggestive?
  • Is this character believable?

Sometimes I have typed several words or entire sentences and upon further evaluation have erased them. We’ve all done this, but the question is was God involved in the process.

How do I involve God?

That’s not a hard question to answer. If you are a Christian, having received Christ as your Savior and you have been called to write, then you can expect His involvement. He doesn’t call and then abandon.

On the other hand, He doesn’t force His Will upon us. According to Psalm 32:8 He will guide us. That is a two-fold promise. On the one hand, God promises to guide us, but on the other hand we are responsible to listen to Him and obey.

What a great feeling it is when we have written a story and can say that God helped us all along the way! Whatever genre you write in you can count on His help as long as you are doing it His way. And that is a source of a huge sense of confidence and peace.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. 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.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me…” Psalm 3:3

Today we live in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. They mock us and, in some cases, try to harm us. But no matter what they do we have a God who is our shield. Nothing can be done to us without His knowledge and permission. So even if they kill us, God protects our soul and we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.

But how do I apply this to my writing career?

As a Christian you have standards – Bible based standards. And when you take a stand on those standards the world attacks you. This can come in the form of writing ‘experts,’ editors, publishers, and marketeers, or just well-meaning friends.

When this happens remember that God is your shield. Look to Him for guidance and reassurance. If your stand is Biblical then He will “have your back.”

For example, let’s say that you been searching for an agent to help you get a publisher. You finally found one you like. When he reads your book he says, “Your book is too bland. You need to spice it up. Your characters need to be more realistic.” Usually a statement like that means you need to have more sex, violence, and vulgarity than what you’re conscience permits. That’s assuming of course that your characters are well developed.

Don’t get me wrong. Sex and violence are part of life. But as Christian writers we are not to exploit sex and violence. There is a big difference from inferring sex and actually describing it. As for violence we don’t need to be overly graphic. In both of these areas our understanding of Biblical standards governs what we write.

Back to the agent. The agent has given you his advice and has made it clear that unless you change things as he has described, he won’t represent you. Complicating the matter is the fact that you have not been able to find another agent. What do you do?

You stick with your Biblical principles. You need to remind yourself that God is your shield. And since God knows everything from before Creation, He already has prepared for you a safety net. That net could be the sudden appearance of an agent who will represent your work without compromises. Or God could lead you to go the self-publishing route. Or He may provide something altogether different.

The point is that if we trust God and do things His way He will work it out to be for our good (see Roman’s 8:28). And chances are you may even be surprised by how He does it!

One last comment: As a Christian writer you don’t measure success the same way the world does. The world uses sales, royalties, etc. as the measuring stick. While you certainly shouldn’t ignore such data, your real success must come from a Biblical perspective. Does God approve? Not that you’re going to hear a verbal “good job” from Him, but your Christian conscience will let you know and He may well give you a great sense of peace. And no matter the sales, God takes care of His own!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. 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.

Why do the heathen rage?

Why do the heathen rage?

“Why do the heathen rage…”

Psalm 2:1-5 shows the futility of man’s pride.

Men and women rise to power and all too often forget that it was God who enabled them to rise to their position. While the psalm is speaking of kings and rulers the truth is that all of us are subject to pride. And pride is the underlying force behind man’s rage against God. Yes, the love of money is the root of all evil, but pride is often the source of our rejection of God’s will for us.

We writers, yes Christian writers, have the same battles, the same temptation of pride. In fact, the more successful a person is the more vulnerable to the sin of pride. When we wrote that first book we were humble and thankful for whatever success it commanded. But as our careers ascend to greater heights it becomes so easy to forget.

But the truth is that success is not built upon sales. You can have tremendous sales and yet not be a success in God’s eyes. One reason that we are so vulnerable to pride is that our livelihood is firmly attached to sales. So we can’t ignore sales. And today writers have to do much of their own marketing. So again it is easy to start thinking “I did that.”

This is a sin that athletes are prone to fall into. They work and play hard, they develop their game, and put their best effort out there. And when success comes they say, “It wasn’t God that did this; I did it.” And when we hear of this we condemn their shortsightedness. But we do the same thing with our writing careers.

So how do we avoid the temptation of pride?

I don’t pretend to be a theologian. But I have been a Christian for awhile and a student of God’s Word. I have found that humility doesn’t just happen. If I want to be humble before my Lord, I have to realize that He is in charge. It is a daily challenge to submit to God and give Him all the glory.

It is easy to say, “I always do.” But that is often an expression of pride. No one is always humble. For that matter no one is always obedient. We have that pesky humanity that seeks to glorify itself. Thus we have to daily read God’s Word, meditate upon it, and apply it to our lives. And when I go to God in prayer I like to start out by acknowledging that He is Lord and I am a sinner saved by grace.

Someone once wrote that Christians should not identify themselves as sinners saved by grace. The idea being that we are saved, have a new heart and the indwelling Holy Spirit. While that is true, we still have our old nature which desires to rebel against God. And when we get careless or over-confident in our lives, we can be tripped up by our old nature and get proud.

So fellow Christian I encourage you to spend time with our Lord and in His Word. Facing a problem, take it to the Lord. Experiencing success, take it to the Lord. Needing advice about how to write, publish, or market your book, take it to the Lord. It sounds too easy, I know. But He is stronger, wiser, and more capable than any of us!

Speaking of marketing our books, I am finding inspiration in the Bible. You can’t do a google search and find any scripture speaking on how to market products, especially books. But there are a lot of scriptures that deal with the attitudes and principles that govern how we influence others and how we run our business.

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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. 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.

Blessed is the man Part I

Blessed is the man Part I

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”

Psalm 1:1 has been read and memorized by countless Christians. It is a verse that gives us an outline, if you will, of the source for happiness. I have divided this verse into three parts and will comment on each part in separate blogs.

In this first part we are warned not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. But what does that mean? And what does it mean for the struggling author?

Have you ever noticed the abundance of advice out in the world? The world is full of it for any topic you want to discuss. They have advice on how to work, how to live, how to make money, and how to market products.

This last, the marketing of products, really concerns those of us that are authors. As Christians who are also authors this is especially difficult. It’s not like there are a great number of teachers who announce they teach from a Christian perspective how to market books. Yes, there those who teach writing, but marketing is an altogether different animal. So if you actually find such a person that is a great help. But even then you need to be cautious.

So where does that leave Christian authors. Well, we still need information, so we need to find the best information we can. But, and this is important, we must run all this information through our Bible filter. In other words, does the advice violate scripture? Is the advice the type that you as a Christian follow in good conscience?

While an easy question to state it is not so easy to answer. The truth is that none of the advice comes with warning tags, such as “Not for Bible believers” or “Warning, this advice is bad for your Christian conscience.” So you have to be diligent. Read the advice, compare it to the scriptures and decide whether there is a conflict or not. And remember, other Christian authors may differ on what is right or wrong. Don’t worry about them. Be faithful to God and study His Word. Let Him guide your understanding of scripture and its application.

Admittedly this will not be easy, but it is necessary.
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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. 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.

What a Week!

What a Week!

Have you noticed that you haven’t seen my blog in over a week? Well, it wasn’t planned that way.

A week ago last Wednesday my wife and I were on the way to church when our car suddenly shifted in to neutral (or at least seemed to).  The engine was racing, but the car was coming to a stop. After stopping I turned the car off, then a few moments later turned it on again, and shifted into drive. The car was working again!

We arrived at church and I immediately sought out two friends who have been or are car mechanics. After church service, they checked the car out and took it for a test drive. Their verdict: Transmission.

Not something I wanted to hear, but I knew they were right. The next day I took the car to the dealership where I bought the car. Fortunately the car had an extended warranty on the transmission (by manufacturer).

However, while I waited for the car to be repaired I was without personal transportation. So Teresa’s sister stepped forward and provided it.

But that was not the only thing that happened.

Enter the Charlotte Crud. That is the name we in Port Charlotte call a disease that hits about this time each year. It is not always the same, but seems like a really bad cold. You lose your energy and do a lot of coughing. It doesn’t last only a day or even two days. It can last weeks. In my case it lasted at least a week. Being the loving husband, I shared it with my wife and hers’ lasted about a week.

The result of these two situations was that I got very little accomplished. I was able to get enough energy to publish my second book of The World That Was series, Noah and the Ark. It is now available on Amazon and will soon be published by Smashwords (after I do the necessary preparation).

However, most tasks that I normally perform didn’t get done and that includes this blog. But now I am back.

I am really thankful that the Lord God watched over us throughout these days keeping us safe from harm on the road and healing us from sickness. I also am thankful that he provided Teresa’s sister to chauffeur us around. That was a blessing.

By the way, the series The World That Was is now available on Amazon with two books, Perished and Noah and the Ark. If you know someone who loves reading historical fiction these books would make an excellent Christmas gift. Take advantage of this season as next year the prices may go up. Best way to get these is to visit my website and go directly to the Amazon page. Just click here.

 Your comments are welcome. Just make a comment below.

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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.

Are you a Real Author? Part II

Are you a Real Author? Part II

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

DO YOU HAVE A PLATFORM?

Different people have different ideas about what a platform is. Here is my definition: A platform is a website, a blog, and social media.

A Website

I’ve talked about this before, but it cannot be overstated. An author needs to have a website. And not just any old website. An author needs to own a website.

Now this can have different connotations, so let me be specific. An author should have an website that reflects who they are. This can mean:

  • A website that reflects the book you’ve written
  • A website that reflects your name or alias
  • A website that reflects the you as an independent author.

For example, a website that reflects your book’s name will work if you have written only one book and won’t be writing new books. But if you write more than one book, such a website would be poor. Instead, you will want the website to reflect you as an author. By reflecting I mean both the domain name and the content would emphasize you as an author. I have used RFrederickRiddle.com as my website name.

However, when we founded T&R Independent Books and I decided to set up a new website, I created a typical publisher’s website where the author has his or her own pages. My former website RFrederickRiddle.com redirects to my author’s pages on the publisher website.

The important thing is that you want critical information within the domain name. In my former website it included my name and my new pages also include my name. This is a very important consideration, so if you have not done so yet, seriously consider it.

For more indepth wisdom check out my blog article, Hosting Your Website.

A Blog

As you know my blog’s url is RFrederickRiddleBlog.com. It tells the potential reader who I am and that it is a blog.

Your blog does not have to be about writing, but it should be about something you know and can be passionate about. And it should interest readers.

Social Media

You need to have a social media presence. While you don’t need to use everything that’s available, you should certainly be on at least two social media platforms. I use Twitter and Facebook, plus Goodreads and Bublish. Some authors also like LinkedIn, although that is primarily aimed at business to business.

It is not necessary to spend every minute of the day on your social media, but you should be active.

Why Is Having A Platform So Important?

Because people want to know about you and your book(s). And you want people to know about you and your books. Social Media provides excellent opportunities to self promote both yourself and your book.

Take a moment or two and tell us about your platform.

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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 (Volume 1) can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.

Are You A Real Author? Part I

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.

Hooked on Writing

Those of you that are familiar with me know I published my first novel in 2003 at the age of 60. But you may not know that I got the bug to write as a teenager.

You may ask why the large gap in years? Even as a child I had an active imagination and came up with stories that were adventurous and exciting. And, of course, I was often the hero. When I entered my teen years this ability to conceive stories (never told to anyone) led me to desire to write. English became one of my favorite classes.

But choosing a writing career doesn’t guarantee you actually start writing and publishing books. To achieve this requires a commitment. Thus the reason for the title ‘Hooked on Writing.’

You are likely going to run into roadblocks that either frustrate or cause you to stop. You are tempted to quit. Being hooked on writing is all about persevering. You press forward.

As a teenager I wanted to write, but I knew precious little about writing a book. In my early twenties I served in the Navy and got out in 1968 at the age of 25. You might consider this my first roadblock. But at worst it was a delay.

I shortly afterward signed up for a course on writing. About the time I was making progress I ran out of money. This was my second roadblock. And it effectively stopped me in my tracks.

In 1973 I received Christ as my Savior. This motivated me to want to write Christian fiction. But I still knew little about the subject. Frustrated in this effort I turned to poetry. I liked (still do) rhyming poetry. I began writing poems. In addition, I began writing computer programs for my own use. Neither of these furthered my career, although the poetry played a role in winning the heart of my future wife.

I continued trying to write stories. However, most stories lasted only a chapter or two while one actually went much further before being abandoned. In every case, I was unable to relate to the characters I developed or the plot itself.

But in 2001 I had a breakthrough. I was reading my Bible for my daily devotions. I was in Genesis, chapter 6 where you read of Noah and the Flood. Sudden inspiration struck! While the facts of the event are laid out for everyone to see, there is a story behind the story never told. I set out to tell that story.

Since then I have written several novels and am completing a rewrite of my novel Perished: The World That Was. It will be available soon.

Are you tempted to quit? To throw in the towel? Are you frustrated by some roadblock such as: lack of money, uncooperative characters, or a plot going nowhere?

The question for you to answer is: Are you hooked on writing?

If so, don’t give up. There are things you can do:

  1.  Write something other than fiction
  2. Read other authors in your genre
  3. Be open to ideas
  4. Take a course
  5. Pray

Praying is important because if you are a Christian you should want God’s blessing. He will answer that prayer, but maybe not as fast as you like. Be patient.

Meanwhile consider taking a course. There are many out there including Authors Academy which we offer. This inexpensive course will get you started. Click here and begin your new career.

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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.

Your #1 Writing Problem!

As you may know my blog So You Want To Write? deals with the how of writing. Today I am giving you the opportunity to voice your opinion about YOUR problems when writing. What are they? How do you handle them? What is your greatest need? What topics would you like covered in the future?

When responding please include your name and email address.

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So You Want To Write? is a blog written by R. Frederick Riddle – author, editor, instructor. He is co-founder of T&R Independent Books, instructor at Authors Academy and the author of several books.

For more information you can contact him at information@rfrederickriddle.com. Please indicate question in subject line.

Book Marketing: Blogging

Obviously I believe in blogging. But how about blogging as a marketing tool?

There are several reasons for blogging:

  1. For the fun of it.
  2. To be helpful to others.
  3. To market a product or service.
  4. To promote an event.

While I do enjoy blogging I am not in it for the fun of it. However, I do want to be helpful, I do want to market myself, and sometimes I do want to promote an event.

All of these are legitimate reasons for blogging. When I first started blogging the primary reason was to market myself, but that is no longer the case.

Over the years I have learned a thing or two about writing, publishing, and marketing. I have not only learned, but I have formed strong opinions. And I want to help other writers learn the same skills I learned without the same hard work.

Blogging enables me to communicate truths, techniques, and ideas to you for your benefit. This information is free to you because I believe it is necessary for every writer to know.

As for marketing, yes blogging is still a valid marketing tool. Through blogging I make people aware of the Authors Academy where they can study at a low cost (currently at a reduced price of a one-time fee of $7.00).

I can also blog about my books. I genuinely believe that my novels bring historical characters, especially Biblical characters, alive and perhaps give the reader insights they may not have known.

Do you blog? If so, what is your purpose?

Mine, of course, is writing, publishing, and marketing. Although I may at times stray from that theme, it dominates the blog. When I first knew I wanted to write I sought instruction. But it was not widely available. I did find one source that was helpful, but it wasn’t free. It was a low cost monthy subscription.

But when hard financial times struck I could no longer afford the monthly cost and had to drop out. This meant that it took me a lot longer to learn my craft. It was for that reason that Authors Academy eventually was started: to provide a good solid foundation for anyone desiring to write a book.

I recommend you blog. Find a subject that you know and focus on it. Get a blog host (I use Word Press). Then start blogging!

It will take a while to build a following, but it is worth it. But try to establish a pattern. The more often you blog and the more you blog each week will eventually draw followers.

Your comments are welcome. Just go to my Facebook page and leave a comment about this article.

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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.