Archive

Monthly Archives: September 2015


christmas angel

A number of years ago on television, there was a popular show called Touched by an Angel.  In the show, two angels helping people find direction.  In Hebrews 1:14, it says that all angels are ministering spirits sent to minister to those who are heirs of salvation. Angels are among us to minister to us even if we are unaware of their presence (Hebrews 13:2).

I believe that most of the time that I am ministered to by angels, I am not aware of them, but there is one time in particular where, I believe, an angel helped me.

A number of years ago (1979) I decided that I wanted to go to California to pursue my writing career. I didn’t think that I was likely to be able to write as I wanted if I stayed where I lived so I decided to go to California. I quit my job at the factory and took what little money I had in savings and took off by bus.

There is a lot more to this story, but I will stick to the highlights. I arrived in California at 2 am in the morning at the down town LA bus station. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know where I was going from that point. (I was very young and naive so I hadn’t thought things out). I was about ready to turn around and get a ticket back home when I met another young girl who said that she was looking for her sister. We got to talking and she agreed to show me around the area. She taught me about the bus system, and she helped me get a room near the Santa Monica Pier. That night I took her out to dinner at a decent restaurant and she left early the next morning. I stayed in California another day and returned to Pennsylvania. I don’t remember this angel’s name, but I am grateful for the help she gave this young rural girl who ventured into LA alone early that morning. I am even more grateful to our creator who sent her.

The Angels Marvel

Powerful as they are, angels marvel at what God has given us. According to Hebrews 2, God made the angels witness of signs and wonders, different kinds of miracles and gifts from the Holy Spirit. They are also in charge of the world to come. They are at awe of the place that God has offered to mankind. They watched God put man in charge over all of the earth. They watched man fall to a place where they were lower than angels. They watched as God sent His own Son to die on the cross for us as an offering of His Grace toward us.  They marveled that Christ did not seek the nature of the angels, but the nature of the seed of Abraham. In so doing, Jesus became the High Priest and Apostle for all mankind. It says in John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have ever lasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

The privilege of salvation did not come to the angels. Rather, God gave the gift of salvation to us. I am grateful for this privilege.

A General Uneasiness

Angels protect us and make war with unseen forces that we are often not aware exist, other times they are letting us know to be on guard. This past week was a rough one for me. I had problems come up, seemingly minor ones that at first I just gave over to God and let them go. I had an unusual number of people who, the best way to describe it is that they were not acting competently and frustrated everything that I was trying to do. I won’t go into details, but there were several and they took several extra hours of my time. After one in particular, I started feeling really anxious and had to fight it off through prayer, but still the “feeling” was there and I couldn’t shake it.
I didn’t want to be around people. I just wanted to be alone. I went to the mission church on Tuesday and actually felt worse after attending, so I stayed home the rest of the week and read my Bible and prayed. I didn’t want this melancholy rubbing off on anyone.
The Ball Dropped
At work I felt fine, and talked about my writing goals with my co-workers and they were excited for me. It was an overall good week at work. Plus Friday I went out and sold some more books. I didn’t feel any anxiety then either. But still there was this underlying anxious feeling that I couldn’t shake.
Last night, my boss called me and told me that because of certain issues that were beyond my control, she was letting me go. I had been hoping to write full time in maybe six months but here I was now without a job! Panic set in! What was I going to do for money? I don’t have anyone to support me! I asked God what was I going to do. I tried to call a friend. She didn’t answer her phone or call me back. I called my older son. He said I needed to get another job. (Obviously, but what was I going to do for money in the meantime?) I went to Facebook and well-meaning friends started throwing scriptures at me and telling me things like “when on door closes, another one opens”.

What Did Help

Then I got a message on messenger from the young man who stole my debit card. He said a lot of things, but probably the most important thing that he said was that when he stole my credit card, I did more to help him than anyone else. I told him that I just did what was right. I told him that I knew that if I didn’t forgive him that God couldn’t forgive me. I told him that what he had done disappointed me because I knew he was better than that and he agreed.
This morning I was talking to a mature Christian and we were talking about spiritual things and it felt good to discuss things with someone who understood where my anxiety actually originated. We discussed how life here isn’t meant to be easy, but it is a testing ground for our faith.
The word angel means messenger, and in these cases, God sent me angels not from the spiritual realm, but from right here where I live. As I have been going about my daily chores, I have found that my heart has lightened and God’s peace has returned, at least, for now.

IMG_8330 final copy

 

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


 

IMG_1077Even when you have an accountant, it is important that you have a working relationship with your financial information. I recently read a book called Grow Your Own Business by Kari Chapin and it has taught me a lot about why I need a business plan and how it helps me focus on what is important in my business. One crucial aspect of the business plan revolves around financial information.

Managing your business finances is a lot like managing your personal finances.  Business finances just have a few more components.

In your personal finances, you have an income and living expenses and if you’re smart you budget your income to cover the living expenses along with other things that you want to do with your money. It’s the same with your writing business. The goal in your business is to make a profit.  Profit means that there is money left over after the expenses.

Keeping Track of Expenses

In business, there allowable expenses for tax purposes, and I need to know what these allowable expenses are. Talk with your bookkeeping expert or accountant to better understand your own allowable business expenses. Any expenses that are not allowable expenses could be considered personal income (salary expense subject to personal income taxes) or considered a personal loan from the business.

Recently I opened my business checking account that is separate from my personal checking account. This way I can first show the IRS that I look at my book sales as a business and not a hobby. Also, I can keep track of the expenses all in one place. when I get my statements, I have a record of what bills and  income from my  business. As my business grows, I will move into a Quicken program and then to hiring an accountant,  but for now my checking account and a general ledger is enough to get me started. .

Fixed Expenses versus Variable Expenses

Fixed expenses are expenses that stay the same. Fixed expenses include things like rent and insurance premiums. IN other words, these expenses do not change from month to month over several months to several years.

Variable expenses change from month to month. These include utility expenses, production expenses, and postage among others.

Keeping Track of Income

Keeping track of specific products and how well each is selling helps you understand how valuable that product is to your business. If your business depends upon one particular product, it might be good idea to determine how you can diversify your product line. That is why as a writer, I should continue to write more books and promote more books even though only one of my books is successful.  If something was to happen to that book’s profit, I will still have other books providing income.

Creating a Budget

Creating a budget may not be fun, but since I want to eventually make my living writing books and marketing them, it is necessary that I produce one so that I can create momentum in my business.

As I have to do with my personal finances, I also have to create a budget for my business. Right now my business is not providing me an income that I use , but currently I am using it as a place to invest money in which I hope to have a future return as well as reinvesting sales back into my business. Because money is limited,, I have to carefully budget what I do with that money to make the most of that investment.

Not only do I need to budget the income that I currently have, but I have to determine how much of an income I anticipate having in the future and how it will need to be spent. For instance, right now it is festival season in our area where I can sell my books. Because October ,November, and December are the months leading up to Christmas, I have been taking advantage of the season by having book signings. In January and February, I anticipate a slow down in print book sales and perhaps an increase in e-book sales. In the late winter and early spring I anticipate an upsurge in sales of my nonfiction gardening book Simply Vegetable Gardening. In April I anticipate the launch of my next book and a flurry of activity and book sales of that book.

Based on the above mentioned activity, I will determine what I anticipate in sales,  income, production costs, anticipated expenses, cash flow, etc. This may seem like overkill in a publishing business my size, but it is practice for my business as it grows. With more finances comes more responsibility and I intend to be up to the challenge.

 

 

 

 

Depreciation

As just stated, an asset is something that you own.  Over time the value of that item becomes less valuable so that item is said to have depreciated. Your bookkeeping advisor can help you determine your depreciation schedule for any assets in your business.

This information is by no means all there is to having a financial plan in business. this just gives you some idea of what is involved in finances. Be sure to discuss any questions you have with a financial adviser or tax consultant of some kind. The Small Business Administration can also help.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


What should I do now?

What should I do now?

Since my book launch, I have been doing a lot of book marketing of my paperback version of my books in the local market place. This however, is not the only way that I market my books. In order to use the best ways of marketing my books, I use a marketing plan.

Why I Need a Marketing Plan

On my marketing plan, I take predetermined intentions and goals and apply marketing strategies to them. I then determine tasks that I need to do to apply these strategies.

Here is an example:

Intention: Earn enough money writing to quit my job.

Goal: Sell 1000 books per month.

Strategy: Include books in independent book stores  locally, regionally, and then nationally.

Tasks: Daily contact bookstores, talk to the decision maker about adding my books to the store’s inventory.

Using Multiple Strategies for Better Results

Of course, just getting my books into stores does not sell my books. Books on a shelf in a book store often just sits there as easily as they just sit in my closet. In addition to getting my books into the bookstores, I would also find ways of helping that bookstore sell my books.  Other strategies have to come into play such as book signings, radio interviews, events, social media posts and the like.

The more focused I make my strategies, the better. Let’s say I get my books into a bookstore (strategy #1) and I decide to do a book signing (strategy #2), I then send a press release to the local newspaper announcing that I will have a book signing at that particular bookstore (strategy #3). In addition, I let book fans on various Facebook pages aware that I will be doing the book signing at that bookstore (strategy #5).  I also invite individual fans who live nearby to the book signing (strategy #6). Finally, I can go on twitter or Instagram and the like and announce up to the minute updates about the book signing (strategy #7). If the bookstore also puts ads in various places that I am having a book signing, that is yet another strategy used to market my books (strategy #8).

Knowing What Works and What Doesn’t

Having a marketing plan in place in my business plan is necessary to show me what strategies for marketing works and which ones do not. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I don’t keep track of the strategies that I am using and how effective they are. As it is often said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. The same is true with not having a strategic marketing plan and expecting great results. It won’t happen in a million years.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


Will you live forever with the one who died to save you?

Will you live forever with the one who died to save you?

The book of Hebrews opens with the writer telling us how God relates to people. He says that in times past, God related to us through the prophets, but now He relates to us through His Son who He has made heir of everything and through Him God made the world.

The writer then describes the Son. He looks just like God the Father. He has his glory and power. His power is in His Word. He is the one who purges us of our sins. He is now sitting at the right hand of The Father in Heaven. He is much higher in status than the angels (including Lucifer) and has a more excellent name than they have.

More than Just a Name

The word used for name in this passage and most passages in the New Testament is the Greek word onoma which is translated name, but is more than just ‘name’ the word includes the individual’s character and authority.

In old times, if someone were to go somewhere and say, “I have come in the name of the king”, this person means that they represent the character of the king and they have that kings authority.

More Than Just Believing In the Existence of God

It says in Acts 2:21 that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This means more than believing in his existence. In James 2:19 it says that the devils believe that there is one God and tremble, but simply believing in his existence did not save them. The key word in Acts 2:21 is not in the believing, but in the word “name”.  In order to be saved from eternal death, we must believe Christ’s authority and power as the Son of God and through his perfect saving work upon the cross. Hebrews 11:6 says, “without this faith, it is impossible to please God. For he that comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” It is our faith in his saving power and our seeking to seek his will in our lives that we are able to please God.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


My most recent novel has its own product page!

My most recent novel has its own product page!

For each book that I have written, I have a product information page. This page has the name of the book, plus a picture of the front cover of the book. On this page I also include information regarding what formats that I have the book in. In addition, I include the  ISBN number (print book) as well as the ASIN number (Kindle) (and is there one for other e-book formats?

Product Information in One Convenient Location

One purpose for all of this information is so that I have all of the product information all in one place. Because I want to have all information about this product one location, I add all documentation regarding this book on this page including descriptions from back cover as well as from Amazon or any other site that I use a product description.

Another thing I do is I document here locations where I have marketed this book and categorize the locations by local, regional, national, international, and online. I also include financial documentation of this particular book.

I also document the reviews each book has and who reviewed it.  I then summarize the number of reviews that I have of the book and the overall impression that people have of that book.

Keeping Track of the Numbers

Although as a solopreneur of print and e-books I may not keep up to the moment track of every product, I try to keep for each product information that states how much I made last year on that particular book and how much I have made to date up to a specific time this year. This kind of information I would try to update about once per month.

What Product Information Page Does For My Business

With this information, I can see how well each particular book is doing.  If, for instance, the book is not doing well, I figure out why it isn’t. Perhaps the book isn’t as good as it should be and needs major editing (like happened with my first novel: When God Turned His Head). Perhaps I don’t have the book in enough markets yet. Perhaps I haven’t been marketing this book into the right markets. Perhaps I need to include paid ads. Perhaps I have not been promoting the book online, perhaps I have saturated the whole English speaking world with this book and need to translate it into other languages in order to make sales, or perhaps it’s time to stop focusing on that book all together. Two reasons exist in why a book should be removed from circulation permanently. First is that it is no longer relevant or I’ve totally saturated the market. Since I have not yet saturated the world with any of my books to date, that last option naturally does not come into play.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


 

What should I do now?

What should I do now?

As we saw a recentt post,, knowing where we have been historically is important because it helps us understand whether or not we are congruent with our mission statement as well as our goals and intentions. Another area where this is useful is in the area of writing biographies in our various communications and about pages. Having our biographies displayed in our working business plan will make it easier to know what we have on our various documentations, both online and in any physical documentation that we have out there. It also helps us synchronize our information throughout our media presence. Here are some examples of various biographies that I have out there right now.

 BIOGRAPHIES FROM VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Here are some places where I need to be sure to have congruency in my biographies:

Press Biography:  Whenever I deal with the press or traditional media in general, it is important that I maintain the same information throughout and thereby building my brand through my information. In written and oral communication (articles, radio or television), I remind myself to be sure to include the who, what, why, where, and how. I also try to include my contact information as part of my press biography. Depending on the circumstances, I may include address and phone number, but usually, I limit it to just my website which gives further instructions on how to contact me.

Website Biography: My website biography is written on my about page. Here I include my overall profile of who we I am and what my work is all about. In addition to my story, I include my contact information as well as links to my social media sites.

My Third Person Biography

Here is an example of my biography written in third person. I base much of my press biographies on this third person biography.

Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing was started when the first book of The Locket Saga: When God Turned His Head was published in 2010 which Donna Brown under the pseudonym Cygnet Brown self-published. Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues was written in 2012. In 2013, Cygnet Brown’s first nonfiction book Simply Vegetable Gardening was published. The most recent title, A Coward’s Solace was published in August 2015. Cygnet Brown has been featured in newspapers and interviewed on radio.

My First Person Biography

Sometimes rather than using a more professional sounding third person biography, I write a more casual, personal sounding first person biography. Here is the example of a first person biography.

I am Donna Brown, publisher and Cygnet Brown Author at Cygnet of the Ozarks Publishing. I started this company when I learned the advantages of self-publishing over traditional publishing contracts. I liked the idea of the freedom that self-publishing offers.  I write publish books for my readers. I have a hands-on, face-to-face relationship with my readers. I first wrote When God Turned His Head of the Locket Saga in 2010 followed by Soldiers Don’t Cry in 2012 and A Coward’s Solace in 2015. I also wrote a nonfiction gardening book called Simply Vegetable Gardening in 2013. I have been featured in newspapers and interviewed on online radio.

Social Media Biography

Short Biography-This biography I use at the end of every blog post that I write. This biography can also be called a signature line and can be used at the end of all e-mail correspondence as well.

Long Biography A long biography includes everything included in a short social media biography, but this also includes more details about the history of my writing career and publishing business. It goes not only into what happened, but why it happened. The long biography can be as long or as short as I want it. It could even be as indepth as a daily journal. It all depends upon how much work I can devote to it.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


 

noahsark

After a long busy day, I was exhausted and went to bed only to find that my husband was on my heart. I prayed for a little while and then tried to go back to sleep, but I was did not have peace, so I felt prompted to read Hebrews chapters 3 and 4.

In these chapters of Hebrews in the Bible, the writer talks about how the children of God in the wilderness did not enter into his rest because of their unbelief and that we can only enter into God’s rest (which includes, but is not limited to salvation from the wrath of His final judgement) if we believe God’s Word until the end of our journey through this life.

My estranged husband (we are still legally married and I have no desire to change that) used to claim to believe, He often seemed to have many insights into God’s Word, but I know of his struggles to believe. One of the doctrines that he is hung up on is predestination. He has listened to a lot of Calvinist teaching which says that God and God alone determines whether or not we are destined to live eternity with him. That teaching is as extreme as what many Baptists teach on the opposite extreme that it is all free will, all you have to do is confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and you will be saved. Both extremes leave out one crucial ingredient to salvation and that is that we must choose to believe in our hearts (in our spirit, not just our minds) and God will reward our belief (Hebrews 11:6).

Another way that my husband fell into the idea of predestination is that he believes in astrology. He believes that the stars dictate who he is and what he can expect from this life. The biggest danger of all of this is that as he continues to follow the stars he is failing to follow the creator of those stars.

The night the movie War Room came out, I went to see it with one of the church groups I fellowship with and the following weekend, I went with another group of friends. The movie shows how we are to become prayer warriors and to pray for those around us. As I was watching the movie, I felt the love that I still had for my own husband and how I knew that God loved him too. Even though my husband is living in sin with a woman who is an atheist (he knows what he is doing is wrong in his heart, but he doesn’t want to face his sin so he is running from God), I am praying for reconciliation with God and then with me. I know that it seems impossible and my husband would likely to scoff at what I have just written if he reads it, but I am reminded of the verse Matthew 19:29 where Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Intercession is a Duty

Intercession Is a Duty

I have to believe for this to come to pass and I also have to pray.

I need to pray not only for my husband, but I need to learn to have Christ’s compassion to pray for everyone who needs to know Christ. In Hebrews it talks about Jesus being the High Priest, but in Revelation 1:6, it says that he makes us kings and priests. As priests we are to intercede for others just as Christ as our High Priest intercedes for us.  It is our duty as believers to pray and plead for others because it is God’s will for us.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

%d bloggers like this: