What’s He Dreaming About?

I’ve been to Australia more times than I can count, starting with my first mission trip in 1991. Although I’ve been back for a family vacation and also to teach an all-day seminar at a computer users symposium, most of my trips have been mission-related. I’ve spent most of my time in the Sydney area, but have also visited Melbourne, Toowoomba, Port Douglas, and Hervey Bay. Plus a few places I’ve forgotten the names of.

My closest Australian friends lived in or near Sydney, however, and I always managed to visit them for a day or two no matter where I’d spent most of my time. And I always enjoyed two special activities–visiting the harbor and the Opera House and walking around Featherdale Wildlife Park.

I never tired of seeing and even getting to pet koalas. Because of those VERY sharp claws, I was limited to contact with one that was safely situated on a fence or in the crook of a low tree branch. Once I held a toy koala that the real one was safely holding onto.

That fur isn’t soft the way you might expect, by the way. Very disappointing.

But koalas themselves aren’t disappointing. Not unless you expect them to DO something. Even though I once got a video of a koala jumping from one tree to another and running around on the ground, most of the ones I saw were perched soundly in a eucalyptus tree, like this one pictured in the poster hanging on my living room wall.

  

This particular picture has always been one of my favorites. Why would I hang it in the living room, otherwise?

It’s fun to look at him (could be a her; I don’t know) and speculate. Is he asleep? If so, is he dreaming about something nice and quiet? Or is he actually thinking…to whatever degree koalas are capable of thought?

No way to be sure, of course, but I’ve always looked at the fellow from a different perspective. That’s why I call this picture “Praying Koala.”

Okay, so maybe koalas don’t have the same relationship with God we Christians do, but they’re just as much God’s creations as we humans are. So who’s to say he’s not praying?

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

 

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Best regards,
Roger

A Publishing God-Thing

I’m not inclined to believe in coincidences. I DO believe God sometimes works circumstances out in ways that may SEEM coincidental, however.

First a little back story. On February 17, I received a letter from Barbour Publishing. Barbour was the company that had published my first two books, FOUND IN TRANSLATION and LOST IN DREAMS. Wonderful folks to deal with. I had (and have) nothing but good to say about them.

Nonetheless, they were writing to tell me that not only were those books officially out-of-print, but they were reverting the rights to them back to me. I was free to do anything I wanted with them, including finding a publisher who’d be willing be re-release them.

None of that was bad news in and of itself. But it was HORRIBLE timing. I was just a month or so away from releasing my self-published ROSA NO-NAME, which I’d written ten years earlier as a prequel to FOUND IN TRANSLATION, and I’d been counting on ROSA and FOUND to promote one another. Although either book can be read first, each one is apt to make the reader interested in reading the other one.

Amazon still had a few print copies, but Barbour had Amazon remove the Kindle versions almost immediately. What was going to happen to my mutual promotion plans? Yes, I could self-publish those books, but I didn’t have any money left for professional cover design or editing after having those things done for ROSA. And preparing for ROSA’s release would’ve made it impossible for me to do that any time soon anyhow.

A VERY short time later, I responded to something I’d read on an email loop I belong to. Although my response had nothing to do with my out-of-print books, I “just happened” to mention my situation to the lady I was responding to. When she responded, she recommended her small publisher, Take Me Away Books.

Wow! Godsend idea or what? But I didn’t have time to get in touch with that publisher. I intended to when I had more time, however.

Just a few weeks later I was emailing this same author. But I had forgotten about telling her my problem. Whether she forgot about recommending her publisher earlier or not, I can’t say, but she recommended Take Me Away books all over again.

Okay, Lord! You don’t need to hit me in the head with a Bible.  I’m paying attention now. This is Your idea. It’s NOT a coincidence.

So on April 2 I emailed the owner of the publishing company–at least I think she’s the owner–and on April 5 she offered me a contract not only to republish FOUND IN TRANSLATION and LOST IN DREAMS, but also OVERSHADOWED, my intended third book in the Altered Hearts series that had been completed but not published and THE FLOWERS OF HIS FIELD (tentative title), the still-unwritten final book in the series.

After praying with my wife about it, we felt this was God’s answer. How could we question the “coincidence” of the twin recommendations of this publisher, the coincidence that wasn’t one?

My publisher works uber-fast. By the end of last week, FOUND IN TRANSLATION was available on Kindle again with a different cover, one Kathleen and I found and recommended as a really suitable cover image. Just a few days later, LOST IN DREAMS, which we’d requested to be renamed as A SEASON OF PEBBLES, was available on Kindle.

I’m currently editing and revising OVERSHADOWED with the intention of having it to her by the end of this week. That means it’ll be available on Kindle within a few days of the following week. (Print versions of these books will be available, too, but not as quickly.)

Some things in life may appear to be coincidences, but this whole story was a “Publishing God-Thing” and NOT a coincidence for sure.

Has anything happened in your life that might seem coincidental to others but you attribute to God’s working? How about sharing a comment?

 


         

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Best regards,
Roger

Rosa’s Facebook Release Party

Non-writers aren’t apt to realize that most of the marketing of a book falls on its author. Even the largest traditional publishers don’t do much marketing for their authors. Uh, except for the really big money makers. The 20% who’ll pay for the 80% of authors who don’t sell sufficiently well to justify helping. Unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.

And there are no guaranteed marketing strategies. What works for one person or one book will fail miserably for another. If there was one sure-fire way to guarantee book sales, everyone would hop on it and everyone would have a bestselling book. Hmm. Life doesn’t work that way.

I’ve mentioned–probably too often–that I’ve self-published Rosa No-Name, the prequel to Found in Translation. That means I don’t have a publisher to provide even a minimum amount of marketing.

So, like every other author, I’ve been trying to do everything I can to promote Rosa.  During the next month, Rosa is being featured on five different blog interviews or other promotions. And that’s good. At least additional people will learn about my book and perhaps even feel motivated to visit Amazon and check it out more closely.

But there’s one tradition I both love and dread: doing a Facebook release party. It’s easy enough to set up an event, in this case from my “Roger Bruner (author)” page. Since my wife, Kathleen, was helping, we both started inviting all of our Facebook friends. Between the two of us, we had a fairly large number. So I was about halfway through my friends list when Facebook told me I could only invite 500 people. There’s no limit on how many people can attend, but I could only specifically invite 500.

Okay. We’d both shared the news about the party on our individual Facebook pages. Hopefully enough people would see it. We knew only a small number of our friends and family would actually attend. People forget. Or they have something more important come up. Or they’re non-readers. Or they aren’t good enough friends to be supportive. Maybe some of them have attended a Facebook release party before and know how confusing they can be.

Planning a Facebook party sounds like it should be uber-simple. Buy a few items to offer as giveaways and hold drawings to, uh, give them away. Oh, but a release party should take longer than five minutes. The host/hostess needs to stay right in the middle of things, asking questions, making comments, and providing interesting information. Anything to keep the party in motion.

At least a Facebook party doesn’t require real food.

Kathleen and I did my release party this past Thursday night.  Several days earlier, she spent no telling how long writing a suggested script for the evening and sent it to me. One of the many wonderful things about Kathleen is I can edit and add to her suggestions without offending her. She’d made a GREAT start, but I had additional ideas that took about two-and-a-half hours to put into a Word document.

Then we hashed through it together at lunchtime, and I made a few additional changes. We were as ready as we were going to be.

Who would come? Only God knew. Would we retain our sanity while trying to inspire and entertain party goers? Only God knew that, too.

I’m happy to say we survived the party and enjoyed “talking” with our six attendees–four other authors and two “civilians.” We gave away four prizes. Fortunately, the non-authors both won something as well as two of the authors.

Was it worth it? Hard to say. Will we do a party for the next book? Probably.

Jesus may not have been talking about book sales when He said, “You don’t have what you want because you haven’t asked God for it” (Bruner translation of the Bible). Nonetheless, we’re praying with as much faith as we can muster, “We want Rosa No-Name to bless as many lives as possible. We’re asking You to help sell thousands of copies. We’ll do whatever marketing You want us to do, but we’re depending on You for the results. P.S. Not our will, but Yours be done.”

Have you ever attended a Facebook event? What did you think of it? How about leaving a comment?

 

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Best regards,
Roger

Am I Really Aging Gracelessly?

Whenever I look at myself in the mirror–that’s impossible to avoid doing when shaving or brushing my teeth–I see an ever-aging man looking back at me. Although it seems like only yesterday when my hair–I had more of it then, although it’s never been as thick as some men’s–was brown. Dark brown. And when those hearing aids weren’t as necessary as they are now. And when I don’t look older in a million and one other ways.

Looking older wouldn’t be so horrible if feeling older didn’t go along with it. How many times have I heard people say, “You’re only as old as you feel” and felt like responding with a nasty “Easy for you to say; I FEEL older”?

Yep. I don’t sleep as well as I used to. And I have a mystery pain that isn’t bothering my sleep as much as it used to, but it still affects my standing and my walking. Uh, I didn’t say it keeps me from walking. Even reasonably fast. But it does hurt. Of course, my sense of balance seems to have come unbalanced; I don’t need a cane, but I often feel more comfortable with a walking stick in my hand. Especially going up steps.

And I’ve given up my desire for a top quality guitar because I can tell that my playing has deteriorated during the past couple of years. So far the problem is more in my wrists than my fingers, but I don’t expect my playing to start improving again.

I don’t know what’s going on in that head of mine, but I can’t believe all the things I have trouble remembering now. Perhaps most troubling are the names of people I’ve known for a number of years. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t forgotten the names permanently; just at specific times when I’ve really wanted or needed to remember them.

What complicates matters somewhat is the fact that my wife is a little over ten years younger than me. So I can’t help noticing how much younger she looks and seems to feel than I do. Yet even she’s getting gray hair and occasionally complaining about her knees.

Doggone you, Adam and Eve! If you hadn’t sinned and gotten kicked out of the Garden of Eden, we’d all be living in Utopia. Agelessly.

Okay, so somebody else would’ve sinned and started mankind’s downfall if Adam and Eve hadn’t, but the point is….uh, what’s the point? I’ve forgotten.

I may not like the negative aspects of aging, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for life. Or that I’m not enjoying it.

I thank God daily that I’m still alive and doing as well as I am. And I ask Him to please keep me around as long as He has something worthwhile for me to accomplish. Preferably to write more novels and maybe even a few more songs. But He’s going to have to give me more drive. I’ve never been good at pushing to do things, and that’s not getting any better. Lord, I could use more pep.

Hmm. So am I “aging gracelessly”? No matter what I’ve complained about today, I don’t think I am. Aging, yes. But gracelessly, no. Not as long as my eyes are on God and I sense His Spirit living within me. And leading and strengthening me just enough to function the way He intends.

What about you? Are you aware of your own aging? How do you feel about it? How about leaving a comment?



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Roger

On Judging a Book by its Cover

There’s something to be said for the old cliche, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It would be impossible to determine or even just  guess how many excellent books have the least appealing covers or how many of the absolutely worst books have covers that not only gain a potential purchaser’s second look, but are largely responsible for their ultimate purchase.

I suspect we’ve all avoided at least one excellent book and settled for one of the worst instead. Not that we’re apt to admit it, of course.

The longer I’m in my post-retirement career as a novelist, the more I’ve come to appreciate how important the cover is. And I’ve changed a lot in how I evaluate a cover.

I admit it. I want to see some kind of resemblance between the cover and what the book is about. But it doesn’t always work that way.

I was allowed to give input for my three traditionally published novels, and I had very specific ideas. What I didn’t realize at the time is that publishers have various sources they check for stock photos and use a model only as a last reserve. Undoubtedly a more expensive move for them.

My wife and I really liked the covers Barbour Publishing came up with for Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams. The Kim Hartlinger depicted on the first book is appropriately shown with a suitcase.  But Kim in the book was petite and looked almost Latina. Not so on the cover. It was still a good cover, though. One readers could connect with it, and that was the important thing.

Barbour very intelligently used the same girl on the cover of Lost in Dreams.  That in and of itself was appealing, and it helped to tie those two books together. Kim’s wistful look was perfect for a story that started out extremely seriously.

Although the way LPC depicted Gus on the original cover of The Devil and Pastor Gus was whimsical and clever–I can just hear Gus thinking, “Is this plan to defeat the Devil going to work?”–the cartoon-ish depiction of a stereotypical devil on the upper right not only didn’t fit the book’s depiction of B.L.ZeBubb, we know of people who were afraid to buy the book because of the cover. Not good.

LPC realized the need to try again, and the new cover is immensely more satisfactory. Although I’m not sure exactly what this night-time view of the church represents, it’s intriguing without being scary,  and I’m satisfied. I think the addition of those two lines of text at the top helps.

For Rosa No-Name, the prequel to Found in Translation, a novel I’m independently publishing, I knew I would need a professional cover. Not something I could do myself. So I got in touch with graphic artist Ken Raney, who’s done a number of excellent book covers, including some of his wife’s (popular women’s lit novelist Deb Raney).

My wife and I sent him a list of very specific suggestions. Although Ken couldn’t fit those ideas to any stock photos he could find, he sent us four or five photos to consider. We fell in love with two of them. Picking the right one was tough.

But since Rosa No-Name is a fictitious memoir about Rosa from age sixteen to twenty-nine, we thought the more mature Rosa would be the better choice. She looks like she’s actually thinking about her past, and we love that.

Everyone we’ve talked to loves Ken’s cover . We hope it will make people take a second look and hopefully read the description. And then buy it if it appeals to them. We want them to judge Rosa No-Name–initially at least–by its cover.

How do you feel about book covers? Do they make a difference in your buying…or at least in your considering buying? How about leaving a comment?

By the way, please note the form below you can use to sign up for my quarterly newsletters. I’d love to have you as a subscriber.

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Best regards,
Roger

Which One Is Your Favorite Child?

So, those of you who have children, which one is your favorite?

Wow! What a loaded question…and a ridiculous one. Obviously asked by someone like me who has a single child, one who by default will always be my favorite without regard to any of her wonderful qualities or even of her less desirable ones.

But I do have eyes and ears, and I’m apt to have my favorites among the offspring of families who have multiple kids. Maybe it’s because one always speaks pleasantly to me whereas another doesn’t seem to notice me, even when I speak to him. Or maybe one has a talent I especially admire and enjoy, but the abilities of her siblings don’t t hold any special interest to me.

Maybe I even prefer one child over another because she’s safely made it through the worst part of adolescence and the other kids are either still just children or younger teens I’d be willing to loan the parents a cage for.  And I’ll admit it: a cute kid warms my heart more easily than an average-looking one.

I don’t see anything wrong with my having preferences among other people’s kids. The important thing is I recognize that most parents either don’t like one of their own kids better than another or wouldn’t admit it even under oath.

Believe it or not, I CAN relate to that fact. Especially if I change the question to this:

Roger, of the books and songs you’ve written, which is your favorite?

Hmm. My favorite of the over two hundred songs I’ve written during the last fifty-some years?  And the favorite of my twelve novels, four of which have been or are about to be published?

Wait! Those are my children you’re talking about! How can you expect me to have a favorite? Each one was my favorite–or at least the most important one–at the time of its “birth.”

Sure, I keep a separate binder of the songs I don’t have any interest in anymore but don’t want to forget about totally. And several of my novel manuscripts just don’t seem to be what publishers are currently looking for; so I can pretend to forget about them.

But they’re still my children. All of them.

My wife knits and crochets.  A friend makes the most amazing things out of wood. Could they name the one project they would be willing to label their absolute, all-time favorite? I seriously doubt it.

And what about you? If you have a creative skill, would you be able to say that one particular creation was not just your favorite, but will probably always be your favorite? How about leaving a comment?

Oh, and I promised last week to give the answer this week about what those little gadgets I was writing about are called:

Plastic Toggle Spring Stop Single Hole String Cord Locks

At least that’s what some of the ones on Amazon were called. My wife and I were shopping at Hobby Lobby yesterday and found a package of them totally unexpectedly. And the package was labeled more simply:  Cord Stop Plastic. What a hoot!

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

rosagus

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

A Little Thing that Seemed Big

If you’re like me, you often take little things for granted. But this little tale–do you believe I’m capable of posting something short?–is about about something small that proved to be both elusive and fascinating. What you’ll think of it remains to be seen.

My wife knits and crochets, and she’s made three sweaters for me and two vests. All of them are really super.

But the vests didn’t have anything to connect them in front, and my tummy was getting chilly. So she bought some frogs. Not the green hoppity kind, but the kind that makes the  join my vests needed. She sewed them on.

Great! Wonderful. Uh, except the loop sometimes slipped off.

So we went to Michael’s. I knew just what I needed, but neither of us knew what they’re called. It didn’t matter. They didn’t have any. So we bought a bag of beads, since a bead could slide over one part of the frog and usually hold it shut. Of course, it could slip off while hanging in the closet.

That worked pretty well, but I hated to give up on what I really wanted–a spring-loaded mechanism you push the end button down on while moving it where it needs to go. When you release the button, the spring holds the mechanism in place. Does that sound familiar?

As hard as I tried to find it on Amazon, I couldn’t come up with the right words for a match. Fortunately, my wonderful son-in-law responded to my Facebook request for help. He’d not only found the name, he posted an Amazon link for a package of them. Less than $3.00, if I recall correctly.

I was elated. But when I went to that link, I found other products of the same kind. And one was not only under $1.50, it had good reviews and came with free shipping. So I went with that one.

Interesting how long it takes something like that to arrive from China!  The gadgets were just what I’d expected, though. Very sturdy so far.

This was one little thing that meant a lot to me, no matter how insignificant it would be to most normal people.

What are these things called? Ha! It wasn’t a simple name, and–frankly–I can’t remember it. Why don’t you tell me what YOU think they’re called.  I’ll post the answer next week. All comments are gratefully accepted.


 

 

Still available:                   Coming soon:   kindle-cover

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NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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Best regards,
Roger