Monday, October 31, 2011

Marketing: The Goliath of an Author's Life

We're pleased to welcome Staci Stallings to the blog today. She shares about an awesome new program she's started - be sure to check it out.

Marketing the Goliath of an Author's Life

by Staci Stallings

Courtesy svilen001
Let's face it. Most of us authors did not take marketing in college. Many have no background in technology or social media. Almost no one has a full publicity team behind them to do promotions for them while they sit back and write their next blockbuster.

No. Good or bad, most of us have to do at least some of our own promotions--especially online.

So what's our solution?  We do what we hear about. We set up a blog, try to post interesting articles hoping like Kevin Costner that if we build it, they will come. When they don't, we're not sure what to do next. Sometimes we tweak our content. Sometimes we branch out into Twitter or Facebook, Google+ or Christian Chirp.

Only to find the learning curve for each one is steep and bending upward.
About the time we learn one, there are another five waiting there like temptations saying, "You can have it all if you just learn to do me!"

However, none of us have time to learn everything and do everything, and keep up with everything. It just doesn't work. Worse, we're on our own to learn these things with no one to ask and no one to show us how.

Can I get an "Amen"?

If you're like me, you've tried many things to market and promote your work--whether that's books or your blog. Unless you are a natural (or really have taken classes), you're probably frustrated that no matter what you do, they don't seem to be coming.

I feel your pain, so after years of living with this makeshift marketing "strategy," God showed me a new way. It's called "Grace & Faith Author Connection." In this all-Christian group, members agree to help promote others' work on Twitter, Facebook, and across the social media spectrum. 

No longer are you tweeting to your 500 followers. Now, three other authors can see your post and retweet it to their followers as well! Then that 500 becomes 2,000. But maybe it's not just three who see it but five or 10 or 20. We have over 60 members, so who knows how far that message will go.

Plus, when you join G&F, you're not alone trying to figure all of this stuff out. We have tutorials to help you learn to do Twitter posts. Mondays on our blog help you make the most of promotions. No longer are you at the mercy of a social media Goliath.

Through the simple stones we show you, you can vanquish this Goliath once and for all--and all in the presence of people who believe and trust in God and His wisdom and strength as much as you do.

So if you're ready to go from haphazard to happily ever after, check us out. We might be just what you've been praying for!

Staci Stallings is the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. To join the group, send your Name, Email Address, Twitter handle (if you have one), and/or Facebook page to staci_stallings at hotmail dot com (altogether!) with the subject:  G&F New Member, and Staci will let you know what your next step is. I hope you will join us for this new and exciting marketing adventure!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Exploring the Constitution (Part 3) - The Senate

Last week, we looked at Section 2 of Article 1 of the Constitution, which established the House of Representatives. This week, we'll look at Section 3, which establishes the Senate. My comments are [in brackets] like these.

Section 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

[These Classes, established for election purposes, are not something taught very often in school. They prevent the Senate from ever being totally "new" coming into office. That method has its pros and cons, doesn't it? Another example of checks and balances.]

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Tracy here: Do you know who your elected officials are? Do you know anything about them? Do you follow the bills being introduced and voted upon? 

Here are some great websites to help:

United States Senate - up in the top right corner of this page, you'll see a drop down menu for Find Your Senators. Select your state, and your senators will be listed. Most, if not all, of them have individual web pages that you can visit, learn more about the senator, and contact them if you have any questions or concerns. Senators need, and most of them actually appreciate, hearing from their constituents back home, so take the time to send a letter on matters that are important to you.

Bill Search - this site shows what's currently being discussed, and bills coming up for a vote. There are links to pages that show how each Senator voted on every issue (or whether they voted at all). 

If you've just joined us in this exploration of the Constitution, be sure to check out the previous posts on:

The Preamble (Exploring the Constitution - Part 1)
House of Representatives (Exploring the Constitution - Part 2) - I've also added links to the House of Representatives so you can find your own, and a link to learn what's happening on the House floor.

Any questions or comments? Is there anything in this section of the Constitution  that surprised you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Are Policemen Made Of?

I am attending a Citizens' Police Academy, and this week, we studied the Uniform Patrol Division. Our instructor handed out an article written by the beloved Paul Harvey, and I intended to post it here when I got home. But when I looked it up online - to check on copyright issues - I discovered someone had put his actual broadcast to a video, so I decided I'd share it with you this way.

If you see a policeman or policewoman anytime in the near future, thank them for their service. It's a thankless job, but we should all be incredibly grateful for men and women, like the ones I've met the last six weeks, who serve in law enforcement.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Exploring the Constitution (Part 2)

Last week, we examined the Preamble, and today, we'll begin to explore the rest of the Constitution, one small chunk at a time. Article I consists of nine sections. We'll look at the first two sections today. My comments are in [square brackets like the ones surrounding these words.]

*This Constitution is reprinted from the original, with the spellings and word choices remaining as originally written.

Article I

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

[This first section, simple and short as it is, establishes our Congress, and defines its members as the Senate and House of Representatives. This division was similar to British parliament, but in the U.S. our Congress is comprised of individuals elected to office, while in the UK, the members of their House of Lords are nobility and clergy.

The second section spells out the details about the House of Representatives - term limits, qualifications, etc.]

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

We'll pick up the next section on Monday. 

Any questions? Comments? Opinions? Please share with us.

One of our readers provided a great resource last time - be sure to check out Hillsdale College's Introduction to the Constitution Course. It's a free series of courses, and well worth your time. Thanks for the information, Jennifer!

UPDATE: I was on a brutal deadline as I wrote this post, so now that it's over, here are some additional links. Do you know who your Representatives are? How they vote? What they stand for?

United States House of Representatives - in the upper right corner of this page, type in your zip code, and a map of your district and the name of your representative will appear. Click on the link of your representative's name, and you'll be directed to a page about him/her. You'll also find contact information there, too.

Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives - this site provides information about actual proceedings and the bills being discussed and voted upon. Each bill listed is provided as a clickable link that takes you to the actual text of the bill.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Exploring the Constitution (Part 1)

Last week at the Citizens' Police Academy, we discussed the Constitution of the United States. The detective leading the course has such passion and such conviction about this document I was inspired to explore and study it on my own. He said, "Don't let ANYONE tell you what is in the Constitution. Read it for yourself, study it, learn it, and interpret it to the best of your best ability. It doesn't take a law degree to do it, and if you are a citizen of this country, YOU need to know what it says."

So we're going to do that here every Monday. Section by section, we'll read the document in its original wording and spelling, then research it and discuss it. I encourage you to join in the discussion, but please, play nice.

The Preamble

When I was a child, we had a decoupage copy of the Constitution hanging in our house. It was a replica of the original document, and difficult to read past the first three words. But at some point in school, we were taught the introduction, also known unofficially as the Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Let's break it down.

We the People ... - the founding fathers most likely could not imagine the scope that these three words would eventually encompass. Women and slaves were not involved in the drafting of this document, yet, in its brilliance, it is inclusive after all these years. It's also important to note that they did not write "We the Government" or "We the office of the King" or "We the States" or other such limitations. The people - you and I - are the key to the success, or the failure, of our government.

... of the United States, ... - early drafts of the Constitution actually listed all thirteen original states individually, but Gouverneur Morris was chief draftsman and suggested a rewrite to be all inclusive.

... in order to form a more perfect Union, ... - the founding fathers wanted a better, stronger government than the Articles of Confederation established. The Articles gave most of the power to the states, but power given to the federal government was weak.

... establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, ... - this is the heart of the Preamble and of the Constitution as a whole - the thesis statement, so to speak. The founding fathers laid out the purpose of the Constitution in this succinct segment, and everything that follows points back to these principles. It also provides a roadmap for future generations with the phrase "and our Posterity."

... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. - The founding fathers established with this document a government that has, thus far, lasted longer than any other government ever formed.

We'll tackle Article 1 next Monday, so I hope you'll come back and join the discussion.

Reference List and For Further Reading:

Charters of Freedom
The People's Guide to the United States Constitution
The Words We Live By

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