Friday, June 27, 2014

Lisa Lickel: Learning To Say Yes, No, And Possibly

Everyone's Story is happy to once again host author Lisa Lickel. Every wannabe writer dreams of selling that first book. And every first-time published author that I know prays, wonders, and sometimes frets whether their 2nd, 3rd, or all future books will do well. Wouldn't it be more efficient if the author invests time in marketing and growing her career? Lisa addresses that subject, offering insight to what and what didn't work for her. Also, check out her Giveaway novel, THE LAST DETAIL and enjoy an excerpt . She looks forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering one copy, either e or print version, of her novel THE LAST DETAIL to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 4th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

To celebrate Everyone's Story's reaching 100,000 viewers, a randomly chosen 2nd commenter will win an Amazon $15 Gift Card.

Here's an excerpt from THE LAST DETAIL:

From THE LAST DETAIL by Lisa J. Lickel, chapter 22

Amalia’s secret plan for Merit’s other groomsman hit a snarl of red tape. Marianne Friese helped all she could. Amalia stayed in constant touch with the mission board and the Nehrangesi embassy, and things were progressing slowly, but surely. The look on Merit’s face would be worth all the trouble if she could pull this off.
As pastor, Merit worked his way through the membership, trying to learn about the congregants and meeting with as many of them as he could. Amalia enjoyed hosting two or three families a week for dinner. There were a number of people she did not know well, herself, so she enjoyed this opportunity to make new acquaintances.
One evening shortly before their big day, Merit lit a fire and they relaxed, mesmerized by the flames. He broke the companionable silence. “Amalia, will you do something for me? I want us to say our first vows alone—just the two of us. Would you meet me on top of the rock, early in the morning before the ceremony?”
She wound her fingers through his. “I like that idea. It’s a date.”
On the morning of the wedding, Amalia hurried along the trail up Starved Rock through the last of the patchy mist to find Merit waiting. She went quickly into his arms, burying her face against his shoulder, breathing hard from her climb and the excitement of being with him. Tears threatened.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m so happy, so excited. And maybe just a little afraid.”
Merit held her away to peer steadfastly into her eyes. He smiled, a brief twist of lips. “Me, too.” Amalia moved close again and felt his breath in her hair. Then he tugged at her arm. “Here, come. I want to share communion with our vows.”
Amalia felt the tears again. She hoped she wouldn’t weep buckets during the ceremony later. She had a hard enough time controlling herself now.
“Come.” Merit led her toward the fence where he had set a basket. Patches of snow on the side of the trail and in the bare trees made a clean, fresh background for the brilliant cardinals just waking up to flit and serenade. With a steady hand Merit poured two small cups of juice and broke a small loaf of bread.
“The body of Christ, broken for you.” He offered her the loaf and she followed his example for him. They shared the cup in the same way. “The blood of Christ, shed for you.” Amalia’s tears dried. The beauty of the simple exchange of promises in the crispness of the early morning invoked a sense of majesty.
Merit grasped her hands in his. “I take you, Amalia, as my wife. I promise I will honor you and care for you as Christ loved the church all of my days.”
“Merit, I take you for my husband. I promise to love and care for you, honor and respect you always, all of my life.”
Merit closed his eyes and lifted his face. “Thank you, thank you, Lord, thank you.”
Amalia could think of no other words she could add to Merit’s prayer.

Deadlines and Deadheads by Lisa Lickel

In my third year in a row of being a profitable writer, and after signing my fourth book contract, I took two years off to learn marketing. Really, really bad idea, by the way. I was like a fig tree I’d read about—you know, the one Jesus cursed? For the past forty years I’d been mad at him for cursing that poor little harmless tree until I suddenly understood what was going on. My ears heard.

I received my first couple of contracts and had two novels release while believing that getting a book on the market meant automatic sales and invitations to share the story of your success! I was worse than naïve. I was every bad joke rolled into one canapé popped in the mouth of Meryl Streep’s character in the Devil Wears Prada

I was the fig tree all leafed out when it wasn’t the time for figs. I had the show, but not the sustenance. I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t prepared. So I went about the business backward, severely overcompensating with busy-ness. My life for the next two years was made up of deadlines as I strove mightily to get my name “out there.” Write a column? Sure, no problem…times six. Interview you? Absolutely, can you interview me? Invitations to join every group sent my way were accepted. Teach a class? Sure. Oh, wow—look they want an editor! I know desktop publishing! I can do that…times two. I mean, how many blogs are there to visit and comment on? Online magazines and newsletters to sign up for and read? Book clubs to join? Books to review? Groups to pay dues to? Conferences to attend? Writers to help? How can you say no to mentoring a potential groupie?

I know, Jesus cursed that tree and it shriveled and died. No one ever ate figs from it again. But I am also a grafted person, as Romans 11 says. That fig was out of line, but my graft is still attached to the Root that nourishes me. Discipline says I must prune that which is ineffective or causes me to stumble. I wrote a list of all the groups I joined (although I’m sure I didn’t get them all), all the columns I write and the other business I attend to as a fulltime writer. I am deadheading, or pruning the ones I simply can’t handle, keeping the bits I justify for business’s sake and a couple for fun. I am learning to say, sorry I can’t do that; and I’m learning to adjust the expectations I have of myself by saying, yes I can, but not until later.

I’m really organized, less frantic, and adjusting to the seasons in a much more fruitful way. Most of the time. Learning to manage our schedule is one of the best thing anyone – author, parent, professional – can do. How about you? What do you do to keep yourself together?

Lisa's previous guest appearances on Everyone's Story:

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Lisa Lickel: reveals one of the best things an author can do. (Tweet This)

Visit with Lisa Lickel on Everyone’s Story: How can a multi-pub author clog up her growth? (Tweet This)

Win #BookGiveaway of THE LAST DETAIL by Lisa Lickel and Amazon Gift Card. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor.

Places to connect with Lisa:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ian Acheson: Should We Make The Writing Happen?

Everyone's Story takes great pleasure in welcoming back author Ian Acheson, who is now an award-winning author. To say that I always learn valuable lessons and am uplifted in encouragement by my guests is an understatement, and that is one of the reasons I'm glad Ian has accepted my invitation to visit with us once again. Please say a hello to Ian, check out his BookGiveaway, the blurb on his novel ANGLEGUARD, and his special message. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Ian is offering one copy of his novel ANGELGUARD to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, June 27th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

And to entice you more, here's a blurb to ANGELGUARD that was recently awarded a 2014 Selah Award in the Speculative Fiction category:

Within a period of weeks, three horrific bomb blasts devastate areas of London, Los Angeles and Sydney. No explanation is offered, no victory claimed for these acts of terror. Yet behind the scenes a Machiavellian European businessman is planning to bring the G8 nations to their knees for his own larcenous purposes, aided by the dark forces to whom he has sold his soul. Jack Haines, an Australian academic, is grieving the loss of wife and children in the Sydney blast. Against his will he finds himself thrown into a war that transcends the physical world, a conflict in which angelic guards have a special mission for him. This is a gripping novel of the unseen forces that throng our world.

Read an excerpt of ANGELGUARD on Amazon

Isn't Independence A Good Thing? 
by Ian Acheson

Learning to Surrender

I learnt independence at an early age. I got myself around by walking and catching public transport (as early as 10 years old), and entertained myself in my own worlds of sports and stories.

“Many people view dependence as a despicable condition, so they strive to be as self-sufficient as possible.”1

Yep, that’s me. I’ve prided myself on my self-sufficiency.

It reminded me of some other words Sarah Young wrote in “Jesus Calling”:

“In the world, dependence is seen as immaturity. But in My kingdom, dependence on Me is a prime measure of maturity”2

As is so common with matters of God, He turns upside down what the world accepts as reasonable.

Self-sufficiency has become habitual for me. And that’s a problem. I’ve been grappling writing the follow-up to Angelguard. When I wrote Angelguard the fundamental story just fell out of me. My major struggle was with the “craft” which often kept me at the editing table. Even the re-writes prompted by my editor came relatively smoothly without too much teeth grinding.

But Wrestling with Shadows has been a different story. I’ve worked through many different outlines, raced down many tracks expectant that the story would gel, only to find I’d found myself at a dead end once again. 

Photo courtesy of
“Do you want to be a writer or just somebody who wrote a book once?” (Tim Grahl)

The discouragement continued to grow and I found myself troubled by thoughts similar to Tim’s above.

The Easy Yoke

So what did I do? I went seeking answers, to solve the problem myself. Do more research, study new writing methods, you name it.

But none of that worked.

A common belief amongst we authors is that God has called us to this vocation, irrespective of whether it becomes a career.

Dallas Willard in reflecting on one’s calling in respect to Jesus statement, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30 NIV) says the following:

“ … the great temptation is to try to make it happen, whatever it is. We don’t make it happen. We turn it loose. Whatever we are doing for the Lord, we let Him carry through with it. We do our best, but we don’t trust our best. When you start trusting your best you think the solution is to work harder, and that is never the solution.”3

My independence has always been a way I’ve stayed in control. Letting go has been difficult for me in many aspects of my life. But that’s not living the “easy yoke” lifestyle. Jesus wants us to live a lifestyle based on surrender. He demonstrated this for us when He lived as a human all those years ago.

“This is not My way for you! I designed you to need Me continually – and to delight in that neediness.”4

So what did I do with the manuscript?

I put it down for a little while as I cleared my mind. But it wasn’t long before the Lord nudged me to pick it back up and start involving Him more in the process.

I soon identified some fundamental flaws in the story’s structure (“Of course that’s why that ended in a dead end. Why didn’t I see it before?”)

Have I got my groove back? Not fully but I’m now trying not to stress about it and give it over continually to the Lord. I believe God loves the collaborative process. If we’re writing for Him, then He’s joined us in the process. If we’re depending on our own abilities, we might achieve our goal, but the outcome within our hearts isn’t going to be nearly as significant.

What do you do when you get stuck with something you’re writing? How do you keep yourself in a dependent state?

Notes: 1. “Jesus Today” Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson 2012, p 212. 2. “Jesus Calling” Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson 2004, p183. 3.“Living in Christ’s Presence”, Dallas Willard, Formatio, 2013, pp39-40. 4. “Jesus Today” p212

Ian's previous guest appearances on Everyone's Story:

An Author Prompted By God-Moments

An Author's and Character's Take On Spiritual Warfare

Ian's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Speculative fiction author Ian Acheson: is self-sufficiency good for the writer? (Tweet This)

Ian Acheson on Everyone’s Story: whose ability are we relying on with our stories? (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of award-winning #SpeculativeFiction author Ian Acheson’s ANGELGUARD. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wanda Winters-Gutierrez: In Finding Her Brother She Found Herself

Everyone's Story welcomes back author Wanda Winters-Gutierrez. Wanda is here this week to speak about the loss of her brother Harvey, also known as The Mountain Man. Wanda speaks of two types of loss: the first when a loved one drifts away from family and friends and the second when God calls them home. It's the first one--when a family member estranges him or herself from the rest of the family that first caught my attention to Wanda. I devoured her book, THE MOUNTAIN MAN and booked her for this blog. I hope she offers you peace and uplifting as she did for me. We both look forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Wanda is offering to one randomly chosen commenter one copy of THE MOUNTAIN MAN and to a second commenter one copy of THE SEARCH FOR PEACE. The winners will be announced here on Friday, June 20th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be eligible, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Excerpt from THE MOUNTAIN MAN:

THE MOUNTAIN MAN by Wanda Winters-Gutierrez

 JUST FOR A MOMENT IMAGINE you have come to visit Harvey on his mountain. You may have read about him, heard stories, or met him somewhere on his travels.

 To get there you have followed highway 70 up from historic Rogersville, Tennessee. It is early morning and for most of the 17 miles you find yourself driving through a cloud. A misty fog hovered over the mountain during the night and settled gently into the valleys. Occasionally, when a window in the mist clears, you glimpse the Great Smokies spilling away into the horizon; it is hard to tell where the mountains end and the heavens begin.

Eventually you emerge from the winding switch back curves of the highway and begin to pass roads, hollows, creeks, and com-munities with names such as Frog Level, Little Pumpkin Valley, Turkey Creek, Copper Ridge, and a church named Compromise.

 You turn at Gravely Valley Road and follow it until you find a certain mail box. The entry into Harvey’s land grew over long ago from lack of use, so you park your car beside the road. You were told it is okay enter the neighbor's gate; you will walk the rest of the way.

The neighbor's property is cleared farmland surrounded by forest; his house is barely visible behind a stand of pines far-ther up the drive. To the left, along the woods, a logging com-pany ripped a narrow road into the mountain. It is all uphill and you will have to climb it.

 Depending on who you ask, Harvey's cabin is two or three miles farther on. When you step out of the car the mountain wraps your senses. You hear the creek rushing over rocks as it fol-lows its century old path around the lower border of the moun-tain. The air is crisp. Somewhere over on the next farm a roos-ter crows. Nearby a blue jay calls out a welcome... or a warning.

 You start walking. Twenty minutes later you stop to catch your breath and look back at your car a half-mile away; it is the last symbol of civilization you will see for a while. Walking on, still uphill, you remember to check your cell phone... no bars. You are now officially separated from the outside world.

You are on the lookout for a big rock where you will turn left and cross onto Harvey's land. Another 15 minutes, past a bend or two in the road an outcropping of layered sandstone appears it looks as if it may hover over the entrance to a buried cave.

To the left of the rock a barbed wire fence stretches on up the mountain and defines the north boundary line of the sixty acres. Hanging on a fence post a carved wooden sign reads, “Road Closed: No Motorized Vehicles Allowed.”

Welcome to Harvey's world.
 CLIMBING OVER THE FENCE, you follow the path through the damp woods of pine, oak, poplar; their branches create a laced canopy above your head. Jewel-like dewdrops glisten on the delicate tips of grasses and pine needles.

The trail is quiet except for the soft crackle of twigs under your feet and an occasional chattering of a squirrel. As you walk farther into the mountain the world shrinks to the path before you. Moss, rocks, ferns, leaves take on exquisite de-tails you would have missed on other walks in wide-open spaces.

The pervading silence of the mountain brings with it a solitude humans rarely experience. Alone? Not really, forest eyes are wondering at the stranger who has suddenly appeared in their kingdom. Standing still for a moment you see a whitetail deer no farther than a stones throw away. She solemnly stares at you with unblinking eyes then melts off into the morning mist.

Moving on at a gentler pace you vaguely wonder what it is like to live this close to God's creatures and yet not see another human being for weeks at a time?

You have heard that before settling here Harvey traversed the length and breath of the country with only a backpack. What kind of person does that? What kind of person would choose to endure heat and cold, rain and snowstorms, loneli-ness and uncomfortable beds, or no bed, and danger...for what? A sunset? Another mountain... new people... freedom... solitude? There has to be a story behind the Mountain Man. Somehow you feel deep within that he may have answers that will help you live your own life in a more authentic way.

That is why you made this journey.
THE SCENT OF BURNING WOOD causes you to pause and look around. Faintly through the trees, you see a cabin nestled in a dip of the mountain. As you get closer you notice a hazy trail of smoke rising from a pipe in the roof and floating off toward the creek. The window glows with the warmth of a coal oil lamp... this has to be the place.

RIGHT ABOUT HERE is where you start second-guessing your decision to come. Now what? Just how does one make an un-announced visit to a hermit? You have heard he is friendly, but he obviously lives alone for a reason. What if he doesn't like company? Wonder if he has a gun? Didn't someone tell you that everybody in Tennessee has a gun?

Still not sure you finally just move past the questions and walk down the hill calling out! “Hello! Anybody home?”

He steps around the corner of the cabin, a short stocky man dressed in a faded flannel shirt and worn jeans. His kind, yet intensely blue eyes gaze at you from behind wired rimmed glas-ses above a Grizzly Adams beard. As you step into the clearing he says, “Welcome friend...” and extends his hand. He asks your name and where you are from, then with old-school gracious-ness he invites you into his home.

 STEPPING INSIDE THE FIRST thing you encounter is possi-bly the largest collection of books you have ever seen outside a public library. Books are everywhere. Floor to ceiling they line the walls, the shelves, the rafters. They are stacked on tables, chairs, windowsills, and on the floor. A library of this magni-tude is the last thing you ever expected to find on the side of a mountain in the middle of no-where.

On closer inspection you will find they are categorized by sub-ject... poetry, novels, history, medicine, law, how-to, self help, biographies, science, nature, art, religion, theology, mysteries, politics, and literally every other subject from anthropology to zoology. Homer's Iliad rest beside Thoreau, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Emerson, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain. James Patter-son and other modern day writers find their place near an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica, which Harvey explains, were given to him by the Britannica Company when he did a story telling event for them.

 OVERWHELMED BY THE SHEAR NUMBERS your unspoken questions tumble over themselves... “How many are there? Has he read them all? How did he get them up here?” Later, when you get to know him better, you ask and he answers with a chuckle, “Not real sure how many... lost count years ago... may-be about 10,000 here and more in the other cabin. Yes, I've read most of them... some numerous times, and I backpacked them in.”

 It is evident your host is totally at ease with his surroundings. Offering no apology for the simplicity of his lifestyle, and with all the dignity of a well-to-do Victorian gentleman showing you into his parlor, he invites you to have a seat at the oilcloth-covered table. More than likely you will be sitting in a chair he made from a tree on the property. The books and warm hospitality have already knocked many of your preconceived ideas of a mountain man in the head, but more surprises await.

HE IS SOFT SPOKEN, possesses a quick wit, a ready laughter, and a delightful sense of humor. His disarming way of laying out the most profound statement wrapped in a smile can be intrigu-ing. For instance, when you inquire about his decision to live outside-the-box he replies, “It just came to me one day that a human's life must have purpose, at least to the person living it."  While you are digesting that nugget he adds a few pieces of wood to the stove, throws a strange looking root into a pot of water and asked if you have ever had sassafras tea?

 AS THE MORNING PROGRESSES the range of subjects cover everything from the origin and nesting habits of the songbird singing a heartfelt melody outside the window, to quantum phy-sics verses Einstein's theory of relativity. Obviously behind his deceptive simplicity is a well educated man. When you ask him what University he studied at, he grins and motions toward the bookshelves saying simply, “I read.”

A natural storyteller in the old Appalachian tradition you could listen for hours as he shares mountain stories and songs he learned from his grandpa, as well as the accounts of his adven-tures during the decade he hopped freights, hitchhiked, and walked through thirty-eight states and two countries. He ad-mits he has a few bad experiences, but mostly met some good people and made many friends.

Before your visit is over you will be fully convinced that the old ways are best... freight trains really are an interesting way to travel... living in the woods by yourself is exactly what you want to do... and taking the hardships you encounter in life and using them for stepping stones makes perfect sense.

You will be ready to do as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested, and Harvey did, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Writing... The Mountain Man: Memories of a Free Spirit
by Wanda Winters-Gutierrez 
My brother was a hermit and when he passed I was the only member of our immediate family living. He left behind a treasure trove consisting of a forty-year collection of journals, poems, photographs, newspaper clippings, and the copies of all the letters he had written to family and friends since the 1960's. Before settling on his mountain Harvey had traversed the length and breath of the country alone with only a backpack. His writings covered his many fun and dangerous adventures, as well as his battle with the depression that separated him from the family he loved and who loved him...and yet woven into the fabric of his thoughts and experiences was his undeniable faith in God, which was forged in the fire of his own experience and inner healing. I knew there was a book here.
Writing a family member’s life story is always a challenge, especially if the subject of the book is gone. Unaccountably, as I worked on my brother's life story my own story became clearer. I understood more deeply why each of us must follow our own path and live life on our own terms. It is said that one's life is incomplete until one has been to the mountain, stood at its summit, and breathed the same air as the Creator. My brother's mountain in East Tennessee did that for him...writing this book did that for me. Reading it has done it for others 

The book has been out for a couple of years now, and selling very well around the world. Much to my surprise my little brother, The Mountain Man, has become a 'folk icon' of sorts. Somehow readers feel he has answers that will help them live their own lives in a more authentic way, and he does...BUT be forewarned...after meeting Harvey you may be convinced that the old ways are best...freight trains are really an interesting way to in the woods by yourself is exactly what you want to do...and taking the hardships you encounter in life and using them for stepping stones makes perfect sense. 

 One reader shared..."It's a funny thing since I finished reading the book sometimes throughout my day I'll think about some part of it and when I get a chance I sit down and read that chapter or paragraph again. And then more often than not I'll think to myself, "I wonder what Harvey would do?”
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said "Many people die with their music still in them.” My brother was not one of them, he heard his music and he danced. The Mountain Man: Memories of a Free Spirit it is a spiritual sharing of a life by one who lived it and a sister who knew his heart. I pray it will enable you to find the wisdom to live with what is, and move forward from there into a life that brings you peace. I pray that when your life is over and people are going through your things (as I did Harvey's) they will find years of daily journals that end with..."It was a good day."

You can see Wanda's first Everyone's Story's appearance here.

Wanda's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Wanda Winters-Gutierrez on Everyone’s Story: finding her lost brother. #BrokenFamilies (Tweet This)

Have an estranged loved one who has been missing for years? Wanda Winters-Gutierrez offers comfort. (Tweet This)

Help for broken families: Win a Wanda Winters-Gutierrez #BookGiveaway(Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Wanda G. (Wanda Winters-Gutierrez) authors books specializing in creative non-fiction, inspiration, and memoirs. 

She is known as a writer with a unique ability to draw the reader into the emotion of the moment. Because of her insight and spiritual understanding she is able to touch the hearts and souls of wounded people all... over the world.
Her various endeavors are all geared toward setting people free from the unresolved issues of their past and empowering them to go beyond to a lovely future.

Her books are being used in prisons, halfway houses, shelters for abused women, book clubs as well as study guides in assorted woman's organizations.

Places to connect with Wanda:

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