Monday, August 25, 2014

National Encourage an Author Week!

Okay,  I confess: There's no such thing as National Encourage an Author Week. However, over the past weekend I received such an uplifting note from a reader that the thought struck me, "All authors should get such encouraging fan mail."

Here is what that reader sent me. You'll understand why it made my day:

Rick, I don't know if you remember me, but I met and talked with you at the Cincinnati homeschool convention in 2013. You sold me a copy of your book, Gunners Run. I read it today on my plane flight to Atlanta. What a great story! From a fellow historian, and guy who likes the Air Force, this was a good story. I work at Wright Patterson Air Force Base; we talked about the museum there for a while.

I am going to give the book to a coworker here in Atlanta who has two teenage sons. They love all things Air Force and history, and I am guessing they also will like the book. I just wanted to tell you thanks again and that I thought you did a good job. Kind regards, ____________ .

Of course, devoted readers love good books. They talk about stories they enjoy. They recommend some titles to friends. Perhaps they mention them on sites such as But how often does the average reader taken time to Google an author's name, find that person's email or website, and then leave a positive comment or two? Probably not often--which is a shame, since writing any book demands countless hours of toiling alone at a keyboard. 

So, why not encourage an author this week? Even a simple note can uplift a writer struggling with a plot twist or sheer loneliness. One rule, though: Do not send your note to me. I've already received my uplift for this week. Choose another author whose work you enjoyed and let him or her know. I guarantee you will be an encouragement!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Interviewed by Adam Blumer

Today I am interviewed on the blog of suspense writer Adam Blumer. Drop by for a chance to win one of my novels for free!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Are You Wasting Your Platform?

          Platform. That's what the publishing world calls an author's combination of connections with other human beings who might be interested in buying his book. If you write a regular newspaper column, host a radio show, or happen to be a TV celebrity, you've got a fantastic platform!
          Lesser mortals construct their platforms in other ways. For instance, building a following through tweeting on Twitter works for some. Others attempt to build a Facebook family of connections. However you do it, the underlying idea is that publishers look for authors with a tribe of followers. Those followers represent potential sales, so the bigger the platform, the greater the number of possible book sales.
          But is the goal of selling books the ultimate goal of one's platform?
          I know a missionary couple in Western Asia. These Christians living among Muslims constantly look for ways to meet new people in their city. To this end, they get involved in civic organizations as well as frequent social gatherings right in their neighborhood. In a sense, these missionaries are doing what authors do: They are building their platform. They are broadening their base of contacts.
          However, my missionary friends aren't authors, and they aren't trying to sell books. They simply realize that if they expect anyone to listen to their message about Jesus, then they must first meet them. Getting to know people one on one then opens doors for conversation about THE Book, the Bible.
          Each time I read a monthly update in which my friends express joy that they "got to meet new people," I smile and rejoice with them. They seek to make acquaintances and friendships, not in hopes that those people will buy something they wrote, but in order to give those people what they  need most -- the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Seems to me that the Apostle Paul's journeys in the Book of Acts served that same goal.
          Friend, let me ask you the same question I ask myself: Why are you enlarging your personal "platform"? So that people will buy your books or in some other way benefit you? Or do you seek to connect with others in order to help and bless them? If Option #1 is your primary goal, you just might be wasting the platform God is giving you!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Are Goblins Spamming Your Blog Posts?

For months I experienced a daily nuisance. Maybe you have, too--spam comments on blog posts. And not the more recent posts. The goblins' comments always targeted my first couple of  posts of 2014.  But how to block them?

The spam messages might have been less irksome if they at least stated something connected to my post. Instead, I received pointless comments stating, for instance:

When most gamers found out about the i – OS App Store (along with the various other stores for mobile devices), many of them thought the games on the store would never amount to anything substantial.

Other comments arrived in horrendous English:

"Hi mates, how is everything, and what you wish for to say concerning this article, in my view its actually remarkable designed for me. Here is my blog post...."

Yes, I had taken security precautions, and Blogger never actually allowed these junk messages to appear. Yet, it sent me daily email copies of each new message, giving me the option of manually moderating and permitting the message, if I so chose.

Friends offered suggestions. One said her solution is passive resignation, which wasn't good enough for me. Another author explained that she chose to moderate ALL comments, which an additional chore for her, and which slowed the posting of comments by readers.

But my kudos go to author Sarah Sundin for sharing a simple solution. Sarah said, "Blogger actually makes it easy. If they're targeting one particular post, edit that post and click on the box to not allow comments." I had forgotten that Blogger offers that option right on the page where you compose blog posts. Here's what it looks like for an existing post:

Reader comments

So, I clicked the option to keep the previous comments but to block all further comments on my two targeted victims. Sure enough, no more spam.

If you have a blog and have been receiving spam, maybe this option will work for you, too. If the goblins have not noticed your blog yet, beware! You could need these solutions sooner than you think.

Perhaps you have additional insights on blog spam? If so, please share below. I promise not to block you!