27 February 2012

Relishing THIS Moment

The late Whitney Houston sang a song, ONE MOMENT IN TIME, the opening lyrics of which are: 

Each day I live, I want to be, A day to give, The best of me.  I'm only one, But not alone, My finest day, Is yet unknown.

EARLY this morning, I was talking to a dear friend (and self-appointed President of my fan club - yeah, he's a little special) and was telling him about how overwhelmed I was by all the love, support, encouragement and tangible marketing ideas I have received from my friends since I announced the release of the book.  Things like offers for "Meet the Author" sessions at homes, leads on TV spotlights, book signings at churchs that I am and am not affiliated with directly ... the list goes on and on and on - and it's a little surreal ... to me.  To him, it is manifestation of the "pay it forward" theory that I say I believe in.  He told me, "For years, you have fed into the lives of your friends and now they want to feed into yours.  There have been many times you have felt unloved and unappreciated.  Now is the time when the tables have turned and the love and appreciation is pouring your way.  Stop, enjoy it and relish the moment."

Relish the moment.  Good advice to hear.  Harder for me to implement.  One of the lessons I am learning as I move through this journey God is taking me through is that I am more of a "giver" than a "receiver".  There are things I do "just because" that are second nature, don't even think about it, type things  Acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions with a card, addressed, stamped and mailed is a no-brainer.  Calling someone when I find out that they are sick or have suffered a loss - again, do it without thinking because it is the "right" thing to do.  But, to have the focus turned back to me (unless it's November 14th), always makes me nervous, uncomfortable and ready to deflect the attention or praise to something or someone else.

According to my fan club President, I'ma have to get over that.  He is convinced that the spotlight is gonna be shining - and shining brightly - on me for a long while to come.  IF that is God's plan, I guess I will have to get used to it.  But I am holding all of YOU accountable for making sure I don't get the "big head."  If you ever hear me say, "yeah, I didn't book that engagement because they would not separate my M&Ms by color", I truly expect you to bop me upside my head in love.

Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite Bible text is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  I don't know what God's plan is ... for me, for the book, for anything ... but I am trusting and praying that I am worthy of whatever He sends my way.  So, I'm gonna take a deep breath, put on a smile and try my best to relish this moment.  Won't you relish it with me?

Thank you and God bless!

26 February 2012

I'm Back!

So....it's been a while, but I've been a little bit busy.  Since August 2011, I have been immersed in the process of transforming this blog - well, ok, the BEST of this blog - into a hold-in-your-hand, turn the page book and as of 2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2012, this dream became a reality!!!  Yep, you can count yours truly among those who can say they are a published author, with a book that has an ISBN number and everything.  It is an amazing, overwhelming, humbling experience to have a dream realized in such a fashion.

It all started with an email from my now former attorney/employer/friend stating that he had written a novel and wanted me to support him.  Well, of course that was a no-brainer.  I am a big believer in supporting the dreams of my friends.  I didn't even know that he had any desire to be an author, so all of this was a surprise to me.  I ordered his book (FRAUDULENT INTENTIONS by Scott P. Hilsen, in case you like legal mysteries), read it and started thinking, "Hey.  If Scott can write a book, I can write a book."  So, I called him up and asked him for information about the process he went through to self-publish.  I went online and did some research at his publishing company, but will admit, wasn't quite ready to make the commitment (or investment) in the dream of my own book.

In August 2011, it was time for my annual evaluation at work.  I'd heard rumors that a lot of the secretaries in the firm were getting bonus checks (as opposed to raises) as compensation for jobs well done.  Well, this was alright with me because my take was:  my budget is set as it is and a large check (even if it is taxed like a bonus and Uncle Sam is gonna get his share first) would be a lot better than the $20-$30 a paycheck that you never really see and never really impacts your bank account.  When my supervisor told me that I was eligible for a bonus check, she was surprised at the "woot woot yeah" response I gave her.  Initially I was gonna do the usual "responsible" thing with the money - pay down some bills, make the downpayment on a much-needed and well-deserved vacation, go shoe shopping - but, I kept getting pulled back to the whole "write your book" idea.  Would you believe, after taxes, my bonus check was almost penny for penny, the cost of the publishing package I wanted to get from Author House (my publisher)?  I keep telling y'all - God has a funny sense of humor when it comes to dealing with His Favorite Child.

I won't bore you with all the mundane details of the process of picking out the "best of", the editing, the categorization, the editing, the revamping of the blogs to make them timeless, current and polished, the editing, choosing pictures for the interior of the book, the editing, writing the "about the author" section, the editing, soliciting endorsements from my friends for the back of the book, and did I mention, the editing?  It took me going away, over the Christmas holiday, to the North Georgia mountains where there was no Internet, no cell phone service, no nothing but me and my computer to get over the final hurdles of the editing process.

In early January, I submitted my first draft of the book to the publishers.  Now, I was told it would take 2-3 weeks for the publishers to get the book formatted into a "galley" (or first proof) of the book.  Yeah, it took them less than a week!  Because of the information Scott gave me, I took my time going through the galley of the book, and it was another month of re-reading, tweaking and editing before I was satisfied with the product.  I submitted it again.  Was again told "2-3 weeks".  And again, one week later, the second version of the galley was in my inbox for review.  This time, I only checked to make sure they'd made the changes I suggested.  They had.  I signed the approval and on Friday, February 10, 2012, my book went "live" on the publisher's website, as well as on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  WHAT!!!  Talk about being floored!

And since then, God has just continued to show up and show out.  I could write pages and pages about how He is already opening doors for book signings and "meet the authors" events that my friends, all across the country, are willing to set up for me.  I could tell you about the 13 year old daughter of a friend who told her mother, "Wow, if Miss Kristina can write a book, that means one day I can write one."  I could tell you about how God had me reconnect with a college friend after 20+ years who is now a part of the Alumni relations team at my alma mater, Georgia State University, and how she is recommending me to be an "Alumni Profile" for the college's annual magazine that goes out to over 20,000 alumni!  WHAT!?  And all of this is coming my way WITHOUT me asking or soliciting for it.  I'm telling you - put your dreams in God's hands, do your part to make it happen and He WILL bless you, if it is within His plan for your life.

All praise, honor and glory for anything I do with this tremendous gift and opportunity He has given me all goes to Him.  I could not have done this without the support of my mother who, like me, has read every incarnation of this book since I started this process and acted each time like she was reading it for the first time.  I thank my proofreaders:  Alice, Julie, Debbie, Robin and Jacquie - who read, commented and supported me out of love and the promise of a free book.  And my friends near and far who told me throughout the process that they couldn't wait for their copies and have already stepped up to the plate with book orders and social networking word of mouth support. 

Last story and then I'ma let you go back to your normal life:  When the publishers sent me notification that the book was done and my author copies were being shipped to me, I made the comment that I hoped the book would arrive to my house on either a Friday or Sabbath because I knew that if it arrived on a day when I was scheduled to work (Mon-Thurs), I would be too frazzled, overwhelmed, whatever to go into work and concentrate.  I got a shipping notice that my book shipped UPS Ground from Indiana on Thursday, February 23.  I thought, "Well, it will probably arrive on Monday.  I'll just deal with my emotions then."  [Go back and read the first paragraph of this blog].  God hears and answers even our "smallest" prayers.

The book is available as an ebook as well as paperback and hardback copies.  If you are interested in purchasing the book, the website for the book is http://www.godsfavoritechild.com/.  The book is also available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.  If you are an e-book fanatic, go to http://www.authorhouse.com/ to get the ebook.  Thank you in advance for any and all support.

Now, as I said in the final lines of the dedication of the book:  "Now that the book is done, I can get back to blogging."  I got LOTS to say! 

God bless!