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Monthly Archives: June 2016


You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar

A number of Years ago I went to an event where I was getting a reward and I naively did not realize that I would be asked to speak at this event. Fortunately I was not the only person who was getting awards that day and I had time to think of what I was going to say as each of the other two recipients of the awards spoke of their accomplishments leading up to the award. As I took the podium, I realized that I stood there to receive the award because  of the efforts of the members of the audience. In my speech, I told of where I had been before the efforts that the members of the audience offered. I then stated what the audience had done for me to bring me to the place where I was as I stood there on the podium. It was as much their efforts that had brought me to that podium and that award as it was my efforts.

The audience wanted to know that what they were doing made a difference in someone else’s life and I was telling them that they were making a difference in mine. I not only made them feel good about their work, but I inspired the newspaper reporter covering the event. When the news hit the papers, the other two recipients were simply noted as having stated their accomplishments. I, on the other hand, was quoted. Even though my speech was impromptu, it made a bigger difference than the ones who probably spent hours polishing their speeches all because I considered the audience that I was addressing and made my speech not about me but about them. I gave both the audience and the newspaper reporter what they wanted. They wanted appreciation and inspiration. I gave them both. I didn’t realize that what I was doing was offering them a benefit rather than a feature of their work.

 

Features Versus Benefits in Nonfiction

As I am writing my nonfiction books, I am always lookig at what features my book is offering. Each chapter of my gardening and natural living books demonstrate features. that matter concerning that piece of nonfiction. What is the difference between features and benefits? A feature is what something is or does. A benefit relates to feelings created in the individual related to that feature. For instance, in both books–Simply Vegetable Gardening and Help From Kelp–one of the features that I demonstrate is how useful kelp is in preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes. The benefit would be a big juicy red tomato freshly picked from the backyard garden, sliced and added to a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich. Are you salivating? is your mouth watering? Can you almost taste the tomato on the sandwich as you bite into it? Would having home grown tomatoes from your garden made into a sandwich be satisfying to you? (Of course, if you’re not a fan of fresh tomatoes, you might not feel this way about them, but you get the idea.)

You can also capitalize on the fact that by growing your own food, it benefits you by lowering your food costs with the added benefit of serving healthier, chemical free food to your family. As you get deeper into these benefits, you’re no longer simply selling a book, you are offering a better life for the reader who applies the priciples (features) of the book.

 

Features Versus Benefits in Fiction

It is much easier to understand the features versus the benefits in nonfiction, but can this principle be applied to fiction?

Yes, it can and should. By knowing what the benefits of your book are, you will be able to better utilize your features.

So what are the features of your book? Some people might say that the fact that it is in print or is available through digital access is a feature and it is. Too often our marketing doesn’t go beyond this point. Buy my book, you say, based on the blurbs on the cover. These blurbs again usually whet the appetite for the reader, but these are still features rather than benefits. So what are the benefits?

One of the first benefits that I came up with in my search for the benefits in my ficiton was in seeing what a person does when he or she gets a book. I picture a person (woman usually) sitting in front of a fireplace in an overstuffed chair with a throw across her lap reading a book while to her left I see the rain pelting on the window, but that still does not go far enough. Any book of fiction offers a chance to get away from the humdrum of ordinary life for a while.

Often clues to the benefits of our books can be found in the genre that includes our books. Look at some of the categories–mystery, suspense, romance, adventure. All of these give the reader a certain feeling about your book. Again, there are a lot of books in these categories that can relate these same feelings. So how can we further show benefit of our fiction?

The benefit that you are offering as a fiction writer must dig deeper than simply being a book that you are selling or a book of a certain genre. Your book and the blurb about your book must offer a unique reading experience. You want to get your potential readers sucked in so that your book is a must read for them. Your description must evoke femotional responses in the reader and most of the time one of those feelings must be empathy for the protagonist.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a 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, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


cross

If you have read any of my recent blogs, you know that I was on a working vacation up in Corry, Pennsylvania to visit family and to participate in several events including Corry Fest and a book signing at the Corry Public Library. I had a great time. Everyone treated me like a celebrity. Most of the way home I was basking in the afterglow of the good time that I had there, however, shortly after I crossed into Missouri, at the 18-mile marker on Hwy 57, the rear driver’s side tire blew. The tire blew in front of the weigh station and I pulled the truck off the side of the road to inspect the damage. The tire was in ribbons. I would have to have the tire changed, but after about 12 hours of driving I was too tired to change the tire myself.

In the past I might have panicked, but not this time. I knew that God had everything under control so I did the first thing that came to my mind. I called a friend where I live. I was still 3 hours for home, but calling him seemed to be the right thing to do. After discussing my options we agreed that the best thing that I could do was call 911 (Incidentally, I later learned that I would have had a quicker response if I would have dialed *55 which has access to the highway patrol.) After a couple of calls, I talked to the highway patrol which said that they were sending someone to come help me. Before the highway patrol arrived, however, the inspector from the weigh station came out to help me with the tire. He was trying to loosen the first lug nut when he broke the tire iron. We had no choice but to call for roadside assistance.

I Saw Good in the Situation Immediately

You would think that at this point I would be panicking, but I looked at the bright side of the situation and saw God’s hand in the events. The tire blew in front of the weigh station so I was able to pull off on the shoulder where the off ramp of the weigh station was. The inspector called and asked that the weigh station be closed while my truck was there so I had room to maneuver around the truck as did anyone helping me.

About this time a highway patrol officer arrived and let me sit in his car in the air conditioning while we waited for the road side assistance. The inspector was off duty so he went home. When the truck offering the roadside assistance arrived, we learned that the problem was more than just a blown tire. I discovered that the bearings and the axle were the real problem. He said that the extreme wabble of the wheel caused the tire to blow. (I had to have the front passenger bearings replaced recently, so I knew that he was telling me the truth.) My truck would need to be towed into their garage if I were to get my truck back on the road.

About a half hour later the tow truck arrived and my truck was loaded on the flatbed trailer and taken to their shop. They said that they could have it done by the next mornig so it was in my best interest to spend the night at a motel.

The Silver Lining

In this situation, I found favor all the way and I could see God’s hand in all of it. Everyone who tried to help me were extremely kind. I made it a point to thank the highway patrol officer for helping me because I knew that his was a thankless job. His response was that he was just doing his job. My response to him was that I knew that he didn’t get thanked like he should for his job and that I wanted to make it a point to thank him for his work. He said that he appreciated it.

The people at the garage helped me not only find a motel in which to stay, but also drove me to the motel and brought my truck to me. In addition, rather than charging me extra for anything, they actually shaved expenses for me so that my bill wouldn’t be too outrageous.

In addition, God provided more than enough to pay for everything that they did for me at the garage.

When I finally got back on the road to travel my final three hours home, I was smiling. I was elated as I thought about God’s provision in this situation. Again, God had my back.

God’s Favorites

The following morning, I woke up and as I was thinking about what God had done the day before, I sensed that God was telling me that I am his favorite. He then told me not to put too much ego into that statement because anyone who believes that God is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him are all his favorites. (Hebrews 11:6).  I asked him how he could have so many favorites and it was as though he laughed, “I can have all the favorites I want, because I am God. I can do anything.”

 

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a 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, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


Remember How Stella Got Her Groove Back? This post is about the process I am using to get my groove back. What process do you use to get your groove back after a vacation or break from your day-to-day operations?

Remember How Stella Got Her Groove Back? This post is about the process I am using to get my groove back. What process do you use to get your groove back after a vacation or break from your day-to-day operations?

I had a wonderful visit back home in Corry, Pennsylvania! I talked to friends old and new as well as was able to spend time with relatives that I had not seen in a long time. I got to get to know nieces and nephews that I had never met before. My youngest brother has four children that I had mostly only seen in pictures. Now they know that their Aunt Donna really is the tyrant that their Dad said that I was. All good things have to come to an end, so here I am back at my desk determining what needs to be done now and what I can put off for a few days.

Today I am doing something that I almost never do. I say this even though last week I did the same thing. I waited until the last minute to write the post for this blog. Usually, my posts are at least a week ahead, but because of the working vacation that I just finished and the yard sale that we had here at the church, I didn’t have enough posts ahead to stay ahead so I am working right up to the last minute trying to get this post ready for publication. I had thought about not even writing one at all but decided that it was important to talk about the process that I am going through to get myself back on track.

Now that I am back at home, I am better able to focus on my priorities going forward. I wrote down everything that I know I have to accomplish, not just today, but throughout the upcoming week. In addition, because it is the end of the quarter as well as the end of the first half of the year, there are things that I need to accomplish now that will catapult me toward a successful end of the year. I will share more about my plans for the next quarter in a future blog post.

Today, however, I am not ready to do that. I have a number of things that are pressing right now. The first thing that I did was get them all written down in a list. One of my big projects that I need to finish before the end of the month in three days is to finish the edits on Sailing Under the Black Flag. Another is to finish this week’s posts. There are a few things that I am cutting back on. For instance, I am cutting back on how much time I spend on social media over the next few days. I have some things that I am going to not do all together. I am not going to go to a meeting with other pastors this morning that is planned for every Tuesday morning. I have already missed two sessions and I will easily be able to catch up next week. More of a priority is the prayer time that I am obligated to participate in one time per month on the radio. That is tomorrow morning so that is on my to-do list for this week. I have the monthly, quarterly and semi-annual reports to fill out.

Continuing to Care for the Body, Mind and Spirit

During this time of extreme busyness, I have to continue to remember that there are areas where I don’t want to skimp. For instance, I need to continue to care for my body, mind, and spirit on a daily basis. For my body, I eat well and have created an exercise program for myself that utilizes breaks in writing . This re-energizes me so that I can go back to work after the short breaks that I take. The language learning program Duolingo helps me improve my mind. Every day I do at least one new lesson in a language and currently that language is French. I should be dong more than just the one lesson in French and I should also be reviewing the Spanish that I am already doing, and I will be working on that again soon. For now I am on a minimal maintenance plan. Once I get past this mid-year hump, I will work on that as well. My spirit is renewed daily as well. A friend of mine shared what she does every morning and I have started using that same program to connect with God every morning. I have started meditating on the five truths every mornig while I am doing my first physical exercise of the morning so that I am not only physically energized but spiritually energized as well. In addition, my physical exercise is done to uplifting Christian music. Sometimes I try to sing with the music while I am meditating and exercising. These simple hacks provide me the energy to finish what I need to finish right now without losing sleep over it.

How I am Getting my Groove Back

  1. I have a list of things that I do and determine what I need to accomplish each day, what can wait, what I can delegate, and what I can eliminate,
  2. Provide the energy that I need to get these things done by providing the fuel needed to feed my body healthy foods and exercise, feed my mind by learning something new every day (studying a language), Feed my spirit by using the five truths to seek God’s guidance and meditate on his word.
  3. Taking action on the things that I know are most important.
  4. Making a plan and scheduling for the next ninety days so that they are more fruitful and productive than any previous quarter.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a 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, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


For most people around the country, their summer gardens are in and gardening chores now consist of weeding, watering, harvesting, and fighting off diseases and insect damage. The following gardening articles offer tips on how to improve your gardening experience through natural methods.

The Hottest Tips for Growing Hot Peppers

hot peppers

Imagine going out to your garden and picking fresh hot peppers to use in your favorite spicy dishes. If you like hot peppers, they are easier to grow in your vegetable garden than sweet peppers because pests stay clear of them. In addition

Turnips, Parsnips, and Rutabagas in the Garden

Many of us love getting fresh vegetables from our garden, but these three vegetables can help extend fresh food harvests well into the winter and into early spring so that you can have vegetables all year long. Order seeds now to plant later this summer to grow these three root crops Click Here

 

Okay, so this one is not about gardening, but it is certainly one of my favorites. Have you ever wondered where we got the term buck started meaning dollar? A number of years ago I came across this tidbit when I was researching Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Back When A Male Deer Was Currency

Where did we get the term "buck" meaning "dollar"?

Where did we get the term “buck” meaning “dollar”?

Back before there ever was a United States.when the American Colonies were still under the flag of Great Britain, the buck was already the main currency of the trading posts, such as MORE of How the Buck Became a Dollar

Today’s video Relates to Problems that you may be having with your tomato plants

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a 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, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

 

During the past several weeks we have been talking about customer service as it relates to book marketing and sales. When Sam Walton started Walmart, customer service was at the top of his requirements. I live in Missouri not far from where many of his earlier stores are located. He often hired older people to stand in front of the store as greeters. He also made sure employees ready to assist you no matter who they thought you were.

Sam Walton had a policy of going into one of his stores dressed in old overalls. He was an old man, and dressed in the overalls, he looked like one of the locals (especially in this part of Missouri). He would walk in, unannounced and walk around the store. If any of the employees treated him as though he were anything but the owner of the company, the management heard about it. He wanted EVERY customer treated as though they were the owner of the business.

Since Sam Walton’s death, as the company has grown into the multi-billion dollar enterprise that it has become, customer service is not as important to the company as it once was and sales have not had the steep climb that they once had. Some people blame this on saturation, but could the decline in personalized customer service be part of the problem?

Readers Are People Too

I love the personal touch that I can give as a self-published author. I am starting to see each new reader that I get as a face, a personality, a relationship I am developing with every event and every piece of online content. During this past week, this realization has solidified as I have met a number of people in person, some of which I had known in the past, but others I am actually meeting for the first time. Some of these had only met online. Others I met without social media connection.

Readers are not mindless followers. They are people who have a huge demand on their time. I am learning to be grateful that these individuals are willing to invest a few dollars and the time to read my books. I am determined to offer my readers the best product, the best “novel” experience that they can receive. If I am at an event, I choose to smile and let them know that I really care about them. If someone comments on my blog, I will answer them graciously, even when the comments are from disrespectful and obnoxious trolls. (Other readers will see through them, and take them for what they are. The troll will be seen as a troll and you will have the other readers’ respect). I also respect my readers by not feeding them a lot of advertising and promotion but offer them value for their time.

 

Live events remind us that readers, ike  the writer, are people too. Like the Walmart greeter and the Late Sam Walton, we need to ensure that our readers know that we care about them, not just as someone who buys our books, but as real people who are worth caring about.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a 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, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 

 


 

Last Thuold-carrsday I thought I was going to a writer’s club meeting, but instead it turned out to be a book club meeting. The speech I had prepared was about my writing process. Therefore, that writer’s group speech was not exactly the best presentation for a book club. However, I should have been a Boy Scout because I had already prepared a speech to present to a book club so I went with that speech instead. The meeting went well and I made a bunch of new friends.

Grandpa and the Big Car

Early in the last century, Grandpa was just locking the gate after putting the cows across the road when a huge car with mirrors extended out from body of the car came barreling down the road and in the process the mirror extension caught the strap of grandpa’s bib overalls, and the car dragged him seventy-five feet before coming to a stop.

Grandpa wasn’t hurt. While grandpa unhooked his overalls from the mirror, the driver of the car got out and rushed over to the passenger side of the car. After unhooking his bibs, grandpa started brushing road dust from the side of his pants.

The man whose car hit him was frantic. He asked, “Are you okay? Are you okay?”

“I am alright,” Grandpa replied.

“Is there anything I can do? Can I take you some place?”

Grandpa stopped brushing the dirt from his pants and stood up straight and looked the guy in the eye and said, “No thank you. I have driven far enough with you already.”

It’s the Story, Stupid

The most important aspect of writing fiction has to be—telling a story. We can get so caught up in the mechanics of the writing process that we forget that with fiction telling story is the most important aspect of fiction writing.  We forget that storytelling is an ancient art that precedes writing. Each generation had stories to share with the next generation, just like my grandfather’s story about getting dragged by the big car and they were passed down from generation to generation.

I write historical fiction which for me is relating those stories to future generations.  I discover in old historical accounts that I want to share and write about them in a way that people find interesting. One of my most memorable accounts of this trip will be when a boy of about ten came to my book table and started asking me about my books. As I told him my stories, his eyes lit up and he asked me a number of questions. His last question was if I could make a children’s chapter book with pictures so that someone his age could enjoy them. It is certainly something to think about—developing a new audience for my stories.

Another account of this trip that has been memorable was when I went to a nursing home and an older lady there was excited because some of my characters’ names were her husband’s family name “McCray”. McCray is a name I used because it was also the name of my great-grandmother whose ancestors had come into the area about the same time as my characters are doing.

Seek Another Perspective

Another part of my speech involved the editing process and how after I was done editing, then I gave my book to someone else and they edited it more. I showed them my galley proof of my book where the editor went through and recommended changes to the story as well as point out proofing errors.

I then planned to tell about how it wasn’t the fact that I was a poor editor that I couldn’t do the final edits on my own work. I told about how when I was doing my edits on one of my books I was also ready The Pelican Briefs by John Grisham. In casual reading, I found two mistakes in that book. All of this then reminded me of a poem that Dad had written when I was a young girl called “Faults”. Although it wasn’t written about the editing process, it certainly fits.

When it comes to faults in others,

We use our eyes, tis true,

But to the faults which are our own,

We use our eyelids too.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a 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, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 

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