Caravan Sonnet: July 2015


The Blue Hues of Lake Champlain

Happy July 31st y'all! This past month has been absolutely gorgeous. If we are connected on instagram then you have seen some of the absolute beautiful skies and lake days that we have been experiencing. There are so many different blue hues that we have seen on Lake Champlain this summer:

(1) There is the rainy sky "blue" that we have witnessed on and off this summer. We have joked that everyone should start closing everything up around 3 o'clock everyday as the storms seem to roll in around that time right on cue.

(2) There is the "blue" that beautifully glimmers with sun drops as it gently crashes on the rocks on the shore.

(3) There is the lovely blue that highlights the dark green needles from the white and red pine trees.

(4) There is the "blue" of the sky and clouds reflecting on the lake on sweet summer days.

(5) Finally, there is the midnight "blue" that illuminates a beautiful moon as it did last night and seems to say "goodnight" to the lovely long summer days.
What about for y'all? Where do you see blue in your days?


Would You Do Me the Honor?

As I shared last week, I am so honored to have opened my boutique at Chloe & Isabel! And guess what?!? Through tomorrow is the Semi-Annual Sale!! Click HERE to go to my boutique and shop amazing low prices!! (All proceeds go to help pay for my medical treatment and costs!) Thanks so much y'all!

Thursday Health Thoughts: The Benefits of Acupuncture

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}
picture found on internet, altered by Caravan Sonnet
When I was a teenager my grandmother started experiencing some arthritic joint pain. Even though she was in her late 70s this woman was in prime health as she took dance classes all year long, swam three times a week, walked approximately 20 miles each week, and even went tubing with us in the summer. She didn't want to be slowed down and so she started seeing an acupuncturist for her arthritic joint pain. She found great relief and so when I first started to suffer from Endometriosis I (being extremely skeptical) started to see her acupuncturist. I was amazed at how much this helped my pain and as the years continued I would see an acupuncturist off and on for various things. 

When I was diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease and Cancer I started to see him regularly and I am so incredibly grateful for all of the help that he has provided on this health journey.  Many of you may be curious about what the benefits are for seeing an acupuncturist and so today I wanted to share just a few of the powerful benefits that are found in acupuncture: 

(1) Acupuncture relieves stress. A well-known and beneficial side effect of acupuncture is that it relieves stress. Not just "stress" as we think about life, but stress that is within in the body, helping the chi flow.

(2) Acupuncture helps with nausea and vomiting. For those who are under a very strict medical treatment acupuncture can help with the side effects of chemotherapy and other medical treatment that causes extreme nausea and vomiting. 

(3) Acupuncture helps with headaches and migraines. Dr. Kalus Linde who is a complementary-medicine researcher at Technical University Munich in Germany states that having consistent acupuncture treatments can help reduce the amount of headaches and migraines that people get each month. In a recent study he did he found that half of the patients in the study reported a 50% decrease of headaches each month. 

(4) Acupuncture helps reduce allergy symptoms. For those that suffer from seasonal allergies acupuncture can help decrease these symptoms. 

(5) Acupuncture can help with depression symptoms. Getting regular acupuncture treatments can help treat depression symptoms as acupuncture can help equalize neurotransmitters in the brain. Specifically Dr. Cheng explains that when needles enter your earlobes, hands, or feet your brain releases neurotransmitters and other chemicals that affect stress and mood helping to ease depression symptoms. 

(6) Acupuncture can help boost the immune system. Having regular acupuncture treatments can help boost your immune system by activating the cells in your body that help beat disease and infection.

(7) Acupuncture can help increase energy.

(8)Acupuncture can help stop insomnia. 

(9) Acupuncture can help with gastrointestinal problems. Dr. Tony Chon from Mayo Clinic states that acupuncture has been used for centuries to help with relief and treatment of gastrointestinal problems. In a 2007 University of Arizona study people who had chronic heartburn and were not responding to over the counter antacids underwent acupuncture twice a week for several months. Every participant reported at least an 82% reduction in pain and in their symptoms!

(10) Acupuncture can help decrease menstrual cramps and PMS.

(11) Acupuncture can help decrease pain and muscle aches. A recent study that was completed at the University of Michigan shared that researchers found that acupuncture seems to help pain receptors in the brain bind more easily to opioids such as endorphins, which is the body's natural painkiller. 

(12) Acupuncture can help with weight loss. 

(13) Acupuncture can help ease anxiety. A recent study that was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine found that patients who were suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks can benefit greatly from acupuncture. 

If you want to give acupuncture a try I recommend looking for a licensed or medical acupuncturist. If you search for these types of acupuncturists many times they certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. You can find search the database ( to find acupuncturists who have graduated from an accredited school and passed their exam. I stress this simply because there are the horror stories of acupuncture and you want to find an amazing and qualified one! Believe me I adore my acupuncturist and you will too!! Let me know if y'all have any questions! I would be happy to answer them! Happy Thursday friends!


What's Up Wednesday (July Edition)

Happy Wednesday friends! I am excited to link up with MelShaeffer, and Shay for the "What's Up Wednesday" Link up! I have so enjoyed reading these ladies posts and am excited to join in! It was so fun last month to connect with so many other ladies who are doing this! 

What We're Eating this Week... 
Every morning I indulge in a delicious fruit smoothie. Honestly, the meds for treatment change taste and wipe my appetite but this still tastes good. SO yummy! So far my favorite fruits to combine are bananas, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. What are your favorite fruit smoothie combinations?

What I'm Reminiscing About... 

What I'm Loving... 
Time down on the lake. For the past few years I have been to sick to make it down to the beach and it has been incredibly difficult. Being able to spend time down on the beach, floating in the water, and resting has been a wonderful part of healing. 

What I've Been Up To...
If you follow me on instagram than you know that this month has continued the intense summer of fighting for my health in new ways. Starting on June 8th we added in intense antibiotics, shots, new supplements, and new IV's. It's intense and every hour of the day is taken up doing something for my health but I am determined to beat Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease. 

What I'm Dreading... 
Let's be honest here... I hate receiving shot #1 and giving myself shot #2 each morning.

What I'm Working on... 
final edits for my book, December Caravan, and a devotional for Lyme Disease patients. 

What I'm Excited About... 
I realized this past weekend that it is only 9 weeks till the cruise with my best friend! I LOVE how the Lord works out details and had already planned this long before we knew what this summer would bring! It will be a wonderful celebration of finishing this round of treatment! (p.s.- Words can't begin to express my gratitude to the kind friends who have paid for this opportunity and wish to remain annonymous. You are a blessing to my little heart in so many ways!)

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
As I shared last week I am so excited to be a new merchandiser for Chloe & Isabel! Right now I am busily reading how to do this job well and LOVING everything in their catalogue! Interested in checking out my boutique? Click HERE! (All proceeds are going to help pay for my medical treatment!)

What I'm Listening to... 
Honestly, the same songs from the last two months are still on repeat this month. These past few weeks they have grown even more dear to my little heart. I have talked about the one, Isaiah 40, in this post HERE, and love the music by the Wissmann Family, especially this CD HERE, and cry through Aaron Keyes song "Sovereign Over Us" almost every single day. Each one of these is such a blessing!

What I'm Wearing... 
So as I mentioned a couple of months ago that I LOVE joules clothing and products. The hat shown here in this picture is from them and y'all I have been wearing it ALL.THE.TIME. I love how comfortable it is, love the style, and love how much protection it offers in the sun. (And of course, yes, I love it because it is from England. *smiles*)

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
Next month we will officially hit the end of three out of the four months of this round of treatment. This treatment is.... extremely rough. I would continue to covet prayers for this treatment round as I am not feeling so great and am fighting as hard as I possibly can. Thank you so much friends!!

I would love to know your answers to these questions friends! Share your thoughts below in the comments!! *smiles* Happy Wednesday!


Everything You Need to Know about ISBN for Your Independently Published Book (or E-book)

Some of the questions that I receive the most in regards to writing and publishing are about ISBNs for independently published books (and e-books). I get asked if it is important, why someone should purchase one, what are the pros and cons to this important decision, and everything in between! I hope today's post will help those of y'all that are at this stage of writing!

What is an ISBN?
An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number is an assigned "ID" book number in the book world. This 13 numeral digit clearly identifies not only the title, but the edition, binding, and publisher of the work that it is assigned to. 

ISBN originated in the United Kingdom but is now used world-wide. In the "pre-internet age" it was incredibly difficult to find any particular book and the ISBN helped answer this problem. Because book titles are not copyrighted ISBN makes it easy and accessible to not only find the correct edition of a book, but the exact format of a particular book.

Do I need an ISBN if I want my Independently Published Book in Bookstores?
Yes. If you plan to try to market your book to any bookstore that you will need to have an ISBN. In "book world" distributors, libraries, bookstores, and even wholesalers keep track of books simply by an ISBN.

Do I need an ISBN if I want my Independently Published Book to sell online (like Amazon)?
Yes. For the exact same reasons as the previous question you will need an ISBN if you plan to sell your book on Amazon.

Do I need to have a Publisher to have an ISBN?
If you are independently (or self-publishing) your book or E-book then technically "you" are the publisher so you would want to have an ISBN.

My POD (print on demand) Publisher Services company states that it doesn't matter if I use their assigned ISBN or obtain my own. Is this true?
Unfortunately no. The POD will try to tell you that it really doesn't matter whether or not you use their ISBN or if you go and purchase one of your own. (In fact some POD's will make it very enticing to not spend the money on purchasing your own ISBN. Unfortunately though this can cause a lot of issues. Whoever owns the ISBN will be the publisher of the book. Why does that matter? In essence you will have little rights over your own work. If in the future you ever want to move your book to a different publishing company then you will need to own the ISBN. If you are seriously wanting to be known as a published author, develop a reputation for writing, etc. then you will want to purchase your own ISBN instead of using your POD Publisher Services company. 

Does everyone really need an ISBN? Are there any situations that an ISBN is not needed?
If you plan to sell your book through any retail channel than you will need to purchase an ISBN. At the same time though there are certain situations where an ISBN is not needed. For example, my uncle who is a family counselor self-published a small book solely for his private practice and his clients. He wrote this book solely as a help for his clients and has no desire to put this out into "mainstream". Other examples of books that would not need an ISBN would be:

*company training manuals
*family history (for a family reunion)
*books used as an incentive or for a giveaway
*recipe collections (or church recipe collections)
*books for private use
*workbooks for seminars/conferences

** Another area of debate is if you need an ISBN for kindle publishing services only. I would strongly encourage you to do research in this area! At this point in time you technically do not need an ISBN number for kindle only. You will have an ASIN instead. The debate though is regarding the thought that in the future this might change.**

BUT if you have any thoughts of possibly converting your publication into commercial use then you might even consider an ISBN for these type of projects!

How do I purchase an ISBN?
To purchase an ISBN I recommend going to the website which is run by Bowker, which is the only legitimate company authorized to administer the ISBN program in the US. Be careful about a whole lot of scams out there and simply use this website! 

How many ISBN's can I purchase?
When you go to you will see that when you click on "ISBN identifiers" you have the option to purchase 1, 10, 100, or even 1000 ISBNs. 

How much does an ISBN cost?
A single ISBN costs $125. When you purchase 10 ISBNs the cost is $295. If you choose to purchase 100 ISBNs then the cost raises to $575. If you choose to purchase 1000 ISBNs then the cost is $1000. As it states on the website above you will note that the price then per ISBN drops from $125 to $29.50 to $5.75 to $1. 

This is important to note, especially because as I shared in last weeks post, 20 Tips for Successfully Self-Publishing Your Book or E-Book, "success" for independently published books is often a margin of 100-150 books sold. So lets look at the math on this. If you self-publish your book for $5.99 you will see royalties of approximately $1.14. If you sell 150 books at this price then you will have made $171. But if you purchase the ISBN for $125 you really only have profited $46. 

I state all of that to say that it is important to really think through the investment that you are wanting to make and the investment that you can make. Maybe you only desire to self-publish one book in your lifetime. Then purchasing only one ISBN would be the best choice for you. But if you desire to continue to self-publish throughout your life maybe you want to look at purchasing a higher number of ISBNs.

The Price of the ISBN is extremely expensive. Can I "re-use" the ISBN in the future?
I receive this question a lot and it sometimes makes me giggle because I feel ya! I wish that this was a possibility but it is simply not. Once an ISBN is assigned to a book you can't ever re-use it. The best way that I think of this is that an ISBN for a book is like a social security number for a person. They are each unique and can only be used once. 

One suggestion that I have to help with financial costs is to share my post 10 Ways to Support Your Friends who have Independently Published Books. In this post I list several ways that your friends and family can support you, including giving the gift of an ISBN.

How long does it take to receive an ISBN?
You can receive your ISBN immediately after your purchase from

Do I need a different ISBN if the book is translated into a different language?
Yes. You will need to have a different ISBN if you decide to translate your book into a different language. As I mentioned in last weeks post, 20 Tips for Successfully Self-Publishing Your Book or E-Book you should decide your goals with each of your books. For example, I decided to just give the rights and allow a doctor and pastor in Poland to translate my book, "Praying through Lyme Disease" as my goal is to encourage Lyme Disease patients around the world. My goal is not to make money as much as it is to be an encouragement and support during a difficult time. If you have a different goal of your book and want to see your book translated into different languages then you will need to consider that you will need different ISBNs for each language. 


Announcing My New Online Boutique (at Chloe and Isabel) AND a giveaway!!

I am so very excited to share with y'all an exciting new adventure that I am starting on! For over a year I have been praying about how I could do some work from my home and have been exploring various different options. I am continuing to speak and write and continue December Caravan (my Etsy shop) but was also looking for additional income that will help pay for my treatment, would provide me an opportunity to continue to support the charities that I am involved in, and finally would be a creative outlet (preferably with something with fashion or jewelry - two loves that I haven't gotten to explore much in the last couple of years!). 

Through blogging I received several offers that for various reasons were just not good fits for me. There were a couple that I felt might be good opportunities but as I explored them I didn't feel complete peace about something in regards to the offer or opportunity. I continued to pray and continued to research. 

About a year ago I was introduced to the company, Chloe and Isabel. While some may say that Chloe and Isabel is just a jewelry company, it truly is more than that. 
As I continued to research more and more about the company and discovered the time and quality that they put into each unique piece of jewelry I was impressed. I started the application last year to become a Merchandiser, but with my health where it was at I knew that it was not the best time for me to embark on that opportunity. I explained my situation to one of the ladies whom I was speaking with and she was incredibly kind, very compassionate, and urged me to consider the opportunity in the future. 

In the last couple of months I kept returning to the company website, praying about this potential opportunity, and was excited to start pursuing this job again. I realized that it was more than the opportunity to work for a creative company that produced one of a kind and unique jewelry (that comes with a LIFETIME guarantee!!) but an opportunity that the Lord was placing in front of me. 
One of the things that is unique about Chloe and Isabel is that they are very selective in choosing Merchandisers so that they can build into each person and help them develop their personal goals. I love that they state that their mission is "to help tackle the financial needs of the modern woman and to provide the training and tools to accomplish her goals, whatever they may be," Obviously one of my goals is to pay for my treatment costs!

So on Tuesday I officially accepted the position of becoming a Merchandiser for Chloe & Isabel. I am so excited to announce that my online boutique is now open!! You can find it HERE!

AND guess what??! I am giving away one piece of jewelry (winner's choice)!


 To Enter simply:

* Go to my online boutique and pick out your favorite piece and share it in the comments below!
*Like THIS picture on Instagram
*Tag a friend (or more!) on THIS picture on Instagram

(You can choose to do one or all of the following! The more you do the more entries you will gain!)

Winner will be chosen at 9pm EST on Sunday, July 26th! 

Happy Friday Friends!! 


An Exciting Praise!

I shared on my instagram account and facebook account yesterday that I am so excited to share a huge praise! We received word this week that my blood work is the best it has been in YEARS and that for the FIRST time in this entire journey I am not remaining stable but am starting the slow process of healing!!! There is a long road still ahead but we have cried joyful and thankful tears in abundance over here!! *smiles* 

I continue to ask for prayers that all of the financial resources would come in to be able to continue this entire first round of treatment and to be able to do everything that is helping so much. Some of you have emailed me and asked how you can help in this way. I created a "go fund me page" which you can find below (or on the left hand side of the blog). Thank you so much for your sweet support in this area. 
Most of all thank you so much for all of your prayers, support, and rejoicing with us in this exciting news friends!

Thursday Health Thoughts: The Benefits of Massage

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}

picture found on internet, altered by Caravan Sonnet
(While originally posted over two years ago, this post has remained one of my most popular posts. I wanted to update it and share it with y'all again!)

I first heard of massage when I was a college student. There were a couple of girls on campus that always looked particularly relaxed and one day I asked them their secret. I will never forget how one of them told me that she got a massage two times a week. This sounded lovely to me but I had the false impression that I had to be rich to have this "luxury". It wasn't until several years later when I was reading a health magazine that I heard that there were many benefits to massage that had nothing to do with pure luxury. 

Now, as I am walking this health journey with Lyme Disease and Cancer and have done additional research I am even more amazed at the health benefits that come with having a regular massage. So what are all of the health benefits that massage brings? Check out these 11 amazing benefits!

1. Massage can help reduce levels of cortisol and also can help boost serotonin and dopamine which helps decrease anxiety and depression.

2. Studies have shown that massage helps lower pain throughout the body when done on a consistent basis.

3. There are numerous reports that show that massage can help you sleep better.

4. Massage helps your immune system and helps increase your white blood cells (which are your bodies disease fighting cells). There are several reports about this that can be found here.

5. Massage can help with PMS symptoms!

6. Massage can help your skin to shine as it relieves toxins and lymphatic build up (similar to dry brushing).

7. In addition to helping in the above ways, massage can help those struggling with serious and chronic illnesses by relieving side effects to medication.

8. Some studies have shown that massage can help you recuperate from surgery.

9. A very interesting study shows that while all different types of massage are beneficial, there is nothing that states that one type of massage is better than another.

10. Studies show that the power of massage rests in the power of touch and in the lymph movement that massage brings.

11. Mayo Clinic has said that massage therapy can help the following conditions:

*digestive disorders
*insomnia related to stress
*myofascial pain syndrome
*parathesias and nerve pain
*soft tissue strains or injuries
*sports injuries
*temporomandibular joint pain

As always you should consult with a physician before beginning any type of alternative therapy. I am curious: do you get regular massages? Have you found any benefits to having massages?


20 Tips for Successfully Self-Publishing Your Book (or E-book)

One of the most asked questions that I receive is about publishing a book. So today I wanted to share some thoughts on successfully self-publishing your book (or e-book). I will be sharing more thoughts on getting a book contract in the coming weeks. As most of y'all know I have actually done both traditional publishing (accepting a contract from a book publishing company) and have also independently published my book using Amazon's CreateSpace website. I hope that these tips will help y'all as you embark on this exciting adventure!

(1) Take time to decide who you are going to publish your book (or e-book) with. There are so many different ways to self publish your book/e-book and you want to pick the self-publishing option that works best for you. As I mentioned above I chose CreateSpace because I felt that it was the best fit for me currently. For an upcoming book that I am independently publishing I am still exploring all different options. Really take the time to read through all of your different options. To be honest I probably spent over six months deciding and debating the pros and cons before I picked CreateSpace and am so happy that I took the time to do that. (You can read my post, 10 Tips for Successfully Choosing a Publishing Company, HERE!)

(2) Take time to make your book look professional. In a day and age when even well-known authors are independently publishing you want to make sure that your book looks as professional (or more professional!) then your competitors. Gone are the days when you are a lonely island self-publishing your work. In today's market it is wise to build a team that will help make your book the success that you want it to be.

(3) Clarify what your goals are for your book. I can't even begin to count how many emails that I receive from people who "want help and direction" with getting a book published but haven't even thought through what their goals of their book are. Understanding what your goals are will change the course of every step you take. For example: are you hoping to self-publish to ultimately become a full-time writer (and hopefully get noticed by a traditional publishing company)? Or are you hoping that your book will have a huge impact on a certain group of people? Has it simply been your dream to have a book published and you don't plan to write another one? Or are you hoping to hit the New York Times Best Seller List?

You may want to do all of these things, one of these things, or a combination, but you must spend the time to really consider what your goals are with your writing. In doing this you will then have a clear picture of not only the publishing direction you want to go in but will be able to easily decide the type of investment you want to make in your project. Having clear goals will help you make the thousands of decisions that you are going to encounter as you head down this road.

(4) While independently publishing your book is easy, making it successful is a lot of work.  One of the things I hear the most from readers is, "I am just going to self-publish because it is so much easier than getting a book contract" I hate to say this but in some ways you are right and some ways you are very wrong. I think it really depends on your goals for your book. If you are simply hoping to see your name on a book that is published then it is incredibly easy. Even easier and cheaper is publishing an e-book. BUT if you have goals that are beyond just seeing your name on a book then you are going to have to put lots and lots of time into your project.

(5) Because self-publishing is easy everyone is doing it and you will need to work ten times harder to get your book noticed. One of the important things to keep in mind is that because it is "easy to publish" everyone and their mother is publishing a book. If you are looking to build a reputation for writing, create a writing portfolio, etc. you are going to want to spend the time to make sure that your book is unique, has an interesting view point, and looks professional. You will need to work ten times as hard to make sure that your book is getting noticed. The reality is that leaders in the industry say that less than 5% of self-published books are "decent" and less than 1% are actually "good". This is an incredibly low number and you want to make sure that you are working towards hitting this number.

(6) Selling 100-150 copies of your self-published book is considered successful in the industry. When I first heard this number my mouth dropped open and thought to myself, "I won't be one of those people" but the reality is that to get my books beyond this number has taken a lot of work behind the scenes. Without having a marketing team you are responsible for marketing your book, getting it into bookstores (which can be extremely difficult), and getting the word out.

A shocking reality for a number of you sweet readers was when I shared in a post  "10 ways to support your friends who have independently published books" that you should encourage your friends to buy your book. Many people were shocked I would actually say that. I am going to share some hard truth. For both of my self-published books over 98% of my book sales are from people I don't know. Yes, my sweet parents, sister, and best friends bought the book but beyond that I know of 8 facebook friends who purchased one of them. This isn't to "bash" anyone, but to simply share the reality that it takes a lot of work to get your self-published book to sell. I was so glad when a successful author told me before I published my first book, "Pray and decide what success is to you for your book". Having thought, prayed, and decided this ahead of time allows me to know that my success is not based on the number of books I have sold. Take the time to consider of how you will think of your book as being successful or not. It will be worth the time!

(7) Understand that even if your book is amazing, it might not sell. Because your book is independently published you will be doing all of the marketing yourself (unless you hire a team which can be incredibly expensive). Understanding this shouldn't be a discouragement but a fact that you can face and decide how you can work hard to get your book noticed and selling. A lot of people say this as a word of warning but if you love writing and believe in your book you can put the extra work in to get your book noticed. Yes, it takes a ton of time. Full disclosure? I spend approximately 15-25 hours on each of my books on marketing each week. LOTS of time. LOTS of rejections, but also a lot of rewards when I see that the books continue to sell.

(8) Understand the royalty system and your price point. As a new author (or a relatively unknown author *smiles*) you will want to price your book at an affordable market price. Unfortunately this means that if you are looking to "get rich" with your writing then you may want to adjust your expectations. Self-publishing companies that you work with all have different royalties so you will want to make sure that you understand carefully the royalty system. In a spirit of full disclosure I make approximately (after taxes) less then a dollar per book on my sales. Yes, I know some of you are shocked, but it is the truth. *smiles*

Again, you want to remember what your goal is with your book, I am so thankful for each and every sale because it does help me pay for my treatment right now but the reality is that this is not enough for me to have as an income each month because I am not selling thousands of books each month. BUT because my goals with my two books, particularly, "Praying through Lyme Disease" was meant to be an encouragement I am very peaceful about this. My goal was to simply encourage Lyme patients in some of the darkest days of their lives. Many patients struggle to pay for treatment and can't even afford the book so I am often sending this book out free of charge. A couple of months ago I was contacted by a Polish doctor and pastor who wanted to translate the book into Polish for Lyme Disease patients. I simply handed him permission to do so without paying for the translation. Again, my objectives and goals with my books are clear so these are easy decisions for me. But understanding what kind of money you will actually make, how to set the price for your book, and how you will handle the royalty system are very important parts of this journey.

(9) Reviews, Reviews, Reviews. Getting reviews is very important for your independently published book. You will want your reviews to be from those outside of your family (*smiles*) and you will want to have honest reviews that can help convince potential readers that your book is worth reading, even if you are unknown as an author.

As a disclaimer though be aware that not all reviews will be profitable. Several months ago after my second book, "Prayers for the Single Journey" was released I mentioned in a bloggy group that I am apart of that I was looking for people to review my book. I heard back from 7 people, I shipped my book out (even sending one overseas) and then never heard anything again. I had discussed with each of these ladies beforehand that I was looking for a review on their blog and also on Amazon but never heard a response. After contacting each of them several times with no response I finally realized that I had fallen prey to the "free book club" (as it is nicknamed in writing world). Understand that reviews are incredibly important but learn from my experience and pick those that are going to review your book very carefully.

On the flip side of the experience that I just shared I think it is definitely worth your time to send your self-published book out to those that you hope will review it that are in your field. These are people who fit your industry and have a voice in your industry. Sending your book for a review to these people is worth the risk!

(10) Build a platform. If you are going to be successful in independently publishing your book, you will need to build a platform. This can be done in a myriad of different ways (writing a blog, creating a social media presence, answering questions on the internet about your subject area, speaking events, etc.) but it will need to be done. Don't turn down any small opportunity to build your platform and mention your book. You have no idea how important building your platform is and how important this is to the success of your independent book. Take risks, put yourself out there, and start building a platform.

(11) Write. Write. Write. I once read a famous author say that he was always writing and doing three things in his field all at the same time: he was promoting his book that was just released, he was editing his next book, and he was writing a current book. Honestly, this has stuck with me and after having a couple of books out I completely understand this. I am always writing. I hear a lot of times from readers who say they want to be writers. I often email back encouragement and then say, "so what are you writing?" I am not exaggerating when I say that 9 out of 10 of them say, "oh nothing yet". It can be overwhelming at the beginning but spend time everyday writing a little. Practice writing and as you do it everyday you will improve.

(12) Read. Read. Read. As much time as you spend writing, spend time reading other authors. Don't just pick authors that you like, pick authors that challenge you and use this as a way to improve on your language, your spelling, your content, and your grammar.

(13) Purchase your own ISBN number.  I shared a whole post on this which you can find HERE!

(14) Pick your cover design carefully. Your cover will be just as important as your book title to many people. We are such a visual society that often times the cover design is equally as important as the book title. Choose this very carefully. I was incredibly blessed by my sweet friend Amanda for her willingness to let me use her beautiful photo for my book, "Prayers for the Single Journey". It was the perfect "feel" for the book and I have received so many emails complimenting how much the cover drew them into purchasing the book. In the same manner, I chose the cover for my book "Praying through Lyme Disease" very carefully as I wanted it to invoke the feeling of walking a long path through a woods. Think about what you want people to feel as they look at your book and carefully spend time choosing your cover design.

(15) Choose your title carefully. 

(16) Hire an editor for your book. This is extremely important to help your independently published book become successful. If you can't afford to hire a professional editor consider contacting your local university or college's English department to see if they have any graduate students who are looking for editorial work for their resume. This can help cut the cost for you and also help a graduate student out who is looking to build their resume.

(17) Create an Audio Book. I haven't done this yet, but am currently working on this. Interestingly enough, experts in the field agree that having an audio book helps make your book more "credible".

(18) Develop a Marketing Plan for your Book. Take the time to develop a marketing plan for your book. This is extremely important. I am going to share a whole post about this in the future also but start thinking about your marketing plan now!

(19) Create your Author Central Page on Amazon. This should be one of the first things that you do if you are selling your book on Amazon (which you should also do!) Create your Author Central Page and connect it to your social media (and your blog if you have one!). I am honestly shocked at how few self-published authors have done this. This is a FREE resource so you want to take advantage of it!

(20) Foreword. If possible try to get someone in your field who will write a foreword for you. This might take some time and it might take you a few books but try and find someone who will do this. This can be an incredible marketing tool for your book!

I hope these 20 tips are helpful y'all! What about you? Do you have an tips for successfully self-publishing your book (or e-book)? I would love to hear them! 


Forgiveness in the Single Journey

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
-Mark 11:25-

One of the real aspects of the single journey (or in anyone's life!) is the aspect of forgiveness. Unfortunately though, as I grow older in this single journey I see more and more single women who have grown bitter overtime and hold onto pain and anger at those who they believe "got away" or at boys or men who have hurt them someway in the past. Often times I have listened with sadness as I have heard these women say something to the affect of, "all of that unforgiveness will go away when I meet someone new". Sadly this is just not the case. While it is unfortunate that we live in a world where heartbreak and hurt happen, it is our responsibility to handle those situations with forgiveness with the Lord's help. 

Scripture clearly states that we are to forgive others. Ephesians 4:31-32 states that we should get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

I know that all of us do not want to be women who hold onto unforgiveness. We want to be free to love anyone who comes into our path and live in freedom as we forgive like God has forgiven us. (Colossians 3:13) I truly believe that forgiveness is extremely difficult. When I hear of tragedies that have happened in the world or hear stories of those who have been hurt in past relationships that are walking in forgiveness I know that these women (and men) have truly walked the road of forgiveness. It is a daily sacrificing and placing any and all injustices that have happened in the Lord's hands. 

Years ago a documentary movie called, "As We Forgive" was released and it is one of the most profound movies ever made on this tender subject of forgiveness. When I was teaching High School History I used to show this film to my students. The premise of the movie is "could you forgive a person who murdered your family?" The website describes the movie by the following:

"This is the question faced by the subjects of As We Forgive, a documentary about Rosaria and Chantal- two Rwandan women coming face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide. The subjects of As We Forgive speak for a nation that is still wracked by the grief of a genocide that killed one in eight Rwandans in 1994. Overwhelmed by an enormous backlog of court cases, the government has returned over 50,000 genocide perpetrators back to the very communities they helped to destroy. Without the hope of full justice, Rwanda has turned to a new solution: Reconciliation. But can it be done? Can survivors truly forgive the killers who destroyed their families? Can the government expect this from its people? And can the church, which failed at moral leadership during the genocide, fit into the process of reconciliation today? In As We Forgive, director Laura Waters Hinson and narrator Mia Farrow explore these topics through the lives of four neighbors once caught in opposite tides of a genocidal bloodbath, and their extraordinary journey from death to life through forgiveness." 

I can't encourage y'all enough to watch this movie (or at least spend two minutes and watch the trailer which you can find here.) It will truly change your perspective on the idea of forgiveness. If you are also looking for a book to read on this subject I can't recommend enough the book, "One Light Still Shines". You can read my review of it here if you are interested in learning more, but the book shows the incredible impact forgiveness plays not only ourselves but on our community. Finally, a book entitled, Total Forgiveness, by R.T. Kendall is a challenging and helpful book on this tender subject.

Forgiveness, as I mentioned is not easy but forgiveness does free us to live fully in the grace that God offers and allows us to freely love the people that the Lord brings into our lives. There is no expectation then placed on someone coming into our lives that they will help us "move past" unforgiveness but instead that we will be able to fully love them for who they are. Only God, not a person can help us with forgiving others. 

If you are struggling through unforgiveness in any area in your life I encourage you to find a loving friend or counselor to help you work through this area. I am praying for you sweet friends that you will find comfort, encouragement, and freedom as you walk through this area! In my book, "Prayers for the Single Journey" I have the following prayer to help us work through any unforgiveness in our hearts. I have put it here to help as a starting point. May you be blessed sweet friends. 

 I want to take time Lord to ask your help in forgiving (name the person specifically) for the hurts that they have caused in past relationships. I want to forgive (name the person specifically) for the damage to my feelings and to my heart for the way that they ended our relationship. I want to forgive (name the person specifically) them completely and fully Lord and turn that relationship over to you. I want to leave this in the past and to learn from it in a healthy way but not so that it affects any future relationships in a negative way. I don’t want to hold onto anything that might detriment my relationship with you or my future relationship with my husband Lord, including unforgiveness. Please help me to forgive those who have hurt me and help me to place them in your care Lord. Please forgive me for the times that I have hurt others, even unintentionally. Thank you Lord for the freedom that forgiveness brings. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness in my life Lord. It is amazing how you have forgiven me. Your love shouts of great love that I can share with others through forgiveness. Thank you Lord. Amen