10 Steps to Decluttering Your Life

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Clutter can take over our lives if we let it. Clutter causes stress and makes it difficult to find things. But fear not. Here are ten easy steps to declutter you life.

1. Start at the front door of your house.

2. Go in a clockwise circle around the room and organize.

3. Keep four boxes and trashcan with you.

The first box is labeled “Put Away”. This is for stuff that you need to put away or find a place for.

The second box is labeled “Give Away” or “Sell”. These are items that have some value but that you don’t need. After you’re done decluttering, sell this stuff on e-bay or at a garage sale and make some money, or take it to the Salvation Army or AmVets.

The third box is for storage. These are items you need but not that often. Christmas decorations would fall in this category. Label each storage box with what is in that box for easy reference later.

The fourth box is for keepsakes and memorials that mean a great deal to you. This box is not for the pencil your nine year old took to school his first day of Kindergarten. These keepsakes should be important and irreplaceable. Things like your wedding certificate and your children’s first teeth might go here.

The trashcan is for everything else. You might also want to have a recycle bag for items you can take to the recycle plant later. See, you are helping the environment by decluttering.

5. Evaluate your stuff. Have you used it in the last year? Do you intend to use it within a month? Does it have great sentimental value? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can keep it. Otherwise get rid of it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can get rid of by getting rid of your stuff.

6. Repeat in every room.

7. Go through the keepsakes again. Consider how you can display them, or start a scrapbook or memory box for each of your children. If you have too many keepsakes to fill one memory box for each child and to display your treasure, go through them again, and try to cut them down by half.

Organize Puzzle Shows Arranging Or Organizing8. Find a place for all your put away items. At this point, you may have to get rid of some of them. You don’t need 53 pens and 7 pairs of scissors. The first time I went through this process, I found out I had seven 99 cent turkey basters. My husband convinced me to keep two so I had a back-up, but nobody needs seven turkey basters. Get rid of excess items.

9. Find a place for your storage boxes. They should be easily accessible but not take up prime space in your home. A storage closet, shelves in the garage, the attic, or the basement work well for storage boxes.

10. Find a place for your garage sale or e-bay stuff and label the boxes with the date. If you don’t sell them within a year, take them to the Salvation Army. You never will get to selling them if your haven’t within a year.

Repeat process at least once a year and enjoy the peace that comes from a clutter free house.

Chance to Win $25 Amazon Card

Today and tomorrow are your last chances to sign up to win a $25 Amazon Card from Celebrate Lit. All you have to do is visit these sites, read the great reviews for Alice’s Notions, and sign-up to win. It’s that simple.

Blog Stops

May 11: Genesis 5020

May 11: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

May 12:  Inklings and notions

May 13: Carpe Diem

May 14: Christian Bookaholic

May 15: A Reader’s Brain

May 16: History, Mystery & Faith

May 17: A Bakers Perspective

May 18: Have A Wonderful Day

May 19: Reading Is My SuperPower

May 19: Jami’s Words

May 20: Mary Hake

May 21: Daysong Reflections

May 22: Vicky Sluiter

May 23: Bigreadersite

May 24: His Grace Is Sufficient

Click here to purchase your copy.

 

This Week in History Update

This Week in History will no longer be a feature on Word Sharpeners. Instead, a new site is starting called Today in HisStory: Today in history from a Christian Perspective. All posts for This Week in History will be available until Today in HisStory is a year old.

 

Today in HisStory

One Thing Every Writer Needs

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Habakkuk 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

A Christian Writing Site asked the question, “What do you feel is the most difficult aspect of writing?” Although writers answer this question in different way, I believe the most difficult and most important virtue a writer needs is patience. Patience is what makes or breaks a writer. The writing process take years to learn, and if you go the traditional route, the publishing business is so slow, that grass grows faster.

Perfecting Your Writing: The best authors have applied years of patience to perfect their writing. Editing is an ongoing process for a successful writer, and most writers I know have critique groups or editors to help them improve. Studying writing books and blogs and similar books to yours are also important steps writers in a hurry may miss. If you’re going the traditional route, publishable novels and unpublishable novels sometimes only have a fractional difference in quality accomplished by years of perfecting. If you go the self-published route, don’t make the mistake many make of publishing before you are ready. It’s easy to believe you’re ready before you are. The truth is you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re unsure whether you are ready to be published, have a published author read you book and ask that author to be brutally honest, or enter it into a writing contest. Whichever route you take, authors who have gone through the process of perfecting their writing before being published are the ones who “make” it in the business.

Write More Books: Some writers spend so much time trying to get their first book published, that they never write any other books. They lack the patience needed to start the next book and the next until something happens. A friend of mine wrote seven novels while waiting for a contract. After she was published, they wanted everything she had written. The average traditionally published author writes 3-7 manuscripts before one is accepted. If you self-publish, consider writing a number of books before publishing the first one. Writing more than one books gives valuable experiance and helps you perfect your skill. Another advantage is that agents and publishers like to sign authors who have written more than one book. It shows the author is serious about his career and his craft.

Right Agent/Publisher: If you haven’t given up yet, you’ll earn your patience stripes trying to find the the right agent or publisher – a very slow process. There’s a lot of work involved in this. You have to learn how to write a good proposal and query and research agents taking your type of book. And timing is everything. Many times, it will take three to six months to receive a reply from an agent. And if that reply is no, you have to start all over again. You know you’re making progress when you receive letters from the agent telling you why she didn’t accept it instead of the standard form letter. Then when you do find the right agent, or if you decide to forget the agent and try small publishing companies that accept submissions, you have to wait until you or the agent finds the right publisher. Sometimes, the agent’s contacts won’t work for you, and you’ll have to find another agent.

If an agent or you find a publisher to look at your manuscript, first the publisher will want a full read. You might be elated about this, but pace yourself. Aquisition editors at publishing companies are even slower than agents. Once the editor reads it, she might suggest changes instead of accepting or rejecting the manuscript immediately. Even if she does accept it, in many cases, it will go to committee and might be rejected there because they already have a similar novel or because that type of novel isn’t selling that year. Again timing is everything.

After the First Book is Published: You may think you have it made when your first book is published, but there’s still work that requires patience. Traditional publishers take up to two years to publish a book. Then they expect you to do most of the marketing. Marketing is also a skill that takes time to learn. With each book, you’ll gain more information about what works and what doesn’t. If also takes time to build a fan base. All these require fortitude and constant attention. Once you have this down, your next book might be a flop, and you’ll have to start all over again.

Many give up before all of that happens, but those who wait will reap the reward of becoming a successfully published author.

WW2 Christian Fiction Facebook Party with $50 Amazon Card/7 Novels Giveaway

Banner

Christian Fiction honors World War II Vets with WW2 era novels at this link.

Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Card

Runner Up Prize: 7 WW2 Novels

To enter:
• Click that you will attend the party at this link.
• Share the party on your timeline.
• Comment on one of each author’s posts during the party.

All 7 of these authors will be at the party and will give out additional prizes.
5:30 – 6:00 – Billie Houston
6:00 – 6:30 – Gail Kittleson
6:30 – 7:00 – Carole Brown
7:00 – 7:30 – Johnnie Alexander
7:30 – 8:00 – Joan Leotta
8:00 – 8:30 – Naomi Musch
8:30 – 9:00 – Tamera Lynn Kraft

This Week in History 5/15 – 5/21

This Week in History

May 15:

  • Billy Graham launches a crusade that draws 18,000 people to Madison Square Garden (1957)
  • WW2: Birth of Women’s Army Corp (1942)
  • National Woman Suffrage Association forms in New York, founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1869)
  • Gordon Cooper is launched into space aboard Faith 7 on the longest American space mission to that date (1963)
  • President John Adams orders the federal government to pack up and leave Philadelphia and set up shop in the nation’s new capital in Washington, D.C. (1800)
  • McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California (1940)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada founded (1905)
  • WW1: The first officer’s training camp is opened in the US, as the country prepares for war (1917)
  • In an attempted coup d’état, the Japanese Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi is killed (1932)
  • Mickey Mouse made his first ever appearance in silent film Plane Crazy (1928)
  • Gigi, directed by Vincent Minnelli and starring Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier, premieres (1958)
  • Johannes Kepler discovers harmonics law (1618)
  • Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1817)
  • Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, ordained by John the Baptist according to Joseph Smith (1829)
  • US Department of Agriculture created (1862)
  • Pope Innocent IV issues the papal bull ad exstirpanda, which authorizes, but also limits, the torture of heretics in the Medieval Inquisition (1252)
  • Anne Boleyn & brother George, Lord Rochford, accused of adultery and incest (1536)

May 16:

  • Republican Convention in Chicago selects Abraham Lincoln as candidate (1860)
  • WW1: The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress making criticism of the government an imprisonable offense (1918)
  • Dirk Willem, an Anabaptist, while fleeing arrest for being baptized as an adult and allowing secret church meetings in his home, stopped to rescue his pursuer when frozen ice broke beneath him, then was arrested and burned at the stake (1569)
  • Chaim Weizmann elected first president of Israel (1948)
  • WW2: First of 180,000 plus Hungarian Jews reach Auschwitz (1940)
  • Human stem cells are successfully cloned (2013)
  • By one vote, US Senate fails to impeach President Andrew Johnson (1868)
  • Supreme Court ruled bootleggers must pay income tax (1927)
  • US Congress authorizes the nickel 5 cent piece (1866)
  • First Academy Awards (1929)
  • Joan of Arc canonized a saint (1920)
  • WW2: Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto ends after 30 days of fighting (1943)
  • WW2: In Operation Chastise, No. 617 Squadron RAF begins the famous Dambusters Raid, bombing the Möhne and Eder dams in the Ruhr valley with bouncing bombs (1943)
  • George A. Hormel & Co introduces Spam (1891)

May 17:

  • Castro offers to exchange Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers (1961)
  • Lewis & Clark begin exploration of Louisiana Purchase (1804)
  • 24 merchants form New York Stock Exchange at 70 Wall Street (1792)
  • Revised version of New Testament is published (1881)
  • Buffalo Bill Cody’s first wild west show premieres in Omaha (1883)
  • American Revolutionary War: the Continental Congress bans trade with Canada (1775)
  • John Hawkins & Richard French patent the Reaping Machine (1803)
  • John Flynn establishes  the world’s first civilian flying doctor service in the Australian Outback (1928)
  • Louis Joliet & Jacques Marquette begin exploring Mississippi (1673)
  • During the Boxer Rebellion in China, three villages within 100 miles of Peking are burned by Boxers and 60 Chinese Christians killed (1900)
  • French and Indian War: Britain declares war on France (1756)
  • The International Telegraph Union is established (1865)
  • Alaska becomes a US territory (1884)
  • Brown vs. Board of Education ends public school segregation (1954)
  • The Conservative Baptist Association of America was formally established as a breakaway movement from within the American Baptist Convention. (1947)
  • Pánfilo de Narváez departs Spain to explore Florida with 600 men, only 6 survive (1527)
  • Liberius, champion of Nicene orthodoxy, was elected as the 36th pope of the early church (352 AD)
  • Senate Watergate Committee begins its hearings (1973)

May 18:

  • John Winthrop is elected 1st Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when Puritans are granted voting rights (1631)
  • Mount St Helen erupted in Washington State killing 60 (1980)
  • Congress approves “Lindbergh Act” making kidnapping a capital offense (1934)
  • TWA began commercial service (1934)
  • General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony decreed that anyone in a political position must be a church member (1631)
  • Rhode Island enacts first law declaring slavery illegal (1652)
  • US Supreme court affirms legitimacy of racial separation in Plessy v Ferguson (1896)
  • WW1: US Congress passes Selective Service Act, authorizing the federal government to raise a national army for the American entry into the war through compulsory enlistment (1917)
  • Acre, the last territory in Palestine taken by the first Crusaders, fell to invading Muslim armies (1291)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor of France by the French Senate (1804)
  • Popular evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappeared while on a beach outing, and turned up five weeks later claiming to have been kidnapped and held prisoner before escaping from her abductors (1925)
  • Gene Roddenberry suggests 16 names including Kirk for Star Trek Captain (1965)
  • Massachusetts rules all school-age children must attend school (1852)
  • A mass panic on Khodynka Field, Moscow, during the festivities of the coronation of Russian Tsar Nicholas II, results in the deaths of 1,389 people (1896)
  • US Supreme Court rules states could not force mentally unstable criminal defendants to take anti-psychotic drugs (1992)
  • The Church of the United Brethren in Christ was organized in Lancaster, PA (1766)
  • Beatles’ last released LP, “Let It Be” (1970)
  • “Dracula”, by Irish author Bram Stoker is published by Archibald Constable and Company in London (1897)

May 19:

  • About midday, near-total darkness descends on New England, now known to be caused by forest fires in Canada (1780)
  • US Post Office authorizes use of postcards (1898)
  • First department store opens (1848)
  • Mexican America War: Mexico gives Texas to US, ending the war (1848)
  • English colony Massachusetts Bay grants Puritans voting rights (1631)
  • Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut & New Harbor form United Colonies of New England (1643)
  • Lawrence of Arabia dies as a retired Royal Air Force mechanic living under an assumed name (1935)
  • England is declared a Commonwealth by an act of the Long Parliament making England a republic for the next 11 years (1649)
  • King George II of England grants the Ohio Company a charter of several hundred thousand acres of land around the forks of the Ohio River (1749)
  • The complete Old and New Testament English Revised Version (EV or ERV) of the Bible was first published (1885)
  • US Homestead Act becomes law – providing cheap land for settlement of the American West (1862)
  • Ann of Boleyn, 2nd wife of English King Henry VIII, is beheaded at the Tower of London on charges of adultery, incest and treason (1536)
  • England’s King Charles II approved a bill requiring all ministers to assent publicly to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1662)
  • First mass production of shoes (1885)
  • The musical Godspell, based on the book of Matthew, first opened (1971)
  • Alcuin of York, Middle Ages theologian who promoted education, died (804 AD)

May 20: 

  • American aviator Charles A. Lindbergh takes off on the world’s first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean (1927)
  • Jesse Overholtzer founded Child Evangelism Fellowship in Chicago (1937)
  • US Homestead Act becomes law which provides cheap land for the settlement of the American West (1862)
  • US Civil War: Kentucky proclaims its neutrality in Civil War (1861)
  • US Civil War: North Carolina becomes 11th & last state to secede from Union (1861)
  • Shakespeare’s Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe (1609)
  • Shoes were made for both right & left feet (1310)
  • Ameilia Earhart becomes first woman to fly solo across Atlantic (1932)
  • George Gordon and his wife, missionaries to Erromanga island, were martyred by the chief of the island (1861)
  • The first public display of Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope to members of the National Federation of Women’s Club (1891)
  • Hubble Space Telescope sends its first photographs from space (1990)
  • Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive patent for blue jeans (1873)
  • Homestead Act provides cheap land for settlement of West (1862)
  • Columbia University in New York City was chartered as King’s College under sponsorship of the Episcopal Church (1754)
  • Death of John Eliot, colonial missionary to the American Indians of Maryland (1690)
  • Shakespeare’s Sonnets are first published in London (1609)
  • First Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor (320 AD)
  • Columbia University in New York City was chartered as King’s College (1754)
  • Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India becoming the first European to reach India by sea (1498)

May 21:

  • Lindbergh lands in Paris ending first solo flight across Atlantic (1927)
  • Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was born (1821)
  • Charles Wesley credits this as the day he received the witness of the Holy Spirit that he was saved (1738)
  • Lewis & Clark Expedition begins (1804)
  • US Civil War: Richmond, Va, is designated Confederate Capital (1861)
  • Lawrence, Kansas is captured and sacked by pro-slavery forces (1856)
  • American Red Cross founded by Clara Barton (1881)
  • First Democratic Party Convention (1832)
  • Pierre Poiret, founder of the Pietistic movement which attempted to give Christian life more feeling and make it less formal, died (1719)
  • First bicycles, swift walkers, in US introduced in New York City (1819)
  • Connecticut enacts first speed-limit law of 12 miles per hour (1901)
  • WW2: Nazis kill “unfit” people in East Prussia (1940)
  • Mount Unzen on Japan’s Shimabara Peninsula, erupts creating a tsumasi, killing about 15,000; Japan’s deadliest volcanic eruption (1792)
  • The General Assembly of Geneva, Switzerland officially embraced Protestantism by accepting the evangelical faith of the Swiss reformers (1536)
  • Stanislav Petrov awarded World Citizen Award for averting a potential nuclear war in 1983 after correctly guessing Russian early warning system at fault (2004)
  • All My Children star Susan Lucci finally wins a Daytime Emmy after being nominated 19 times, the longest period of unsuccessful nominations in television history (1999)

Do Book Promotions Really Work? Part II

by Carole Brownbook

Yes!

There are two ways to look at promoting books.

  • Discoverability
  • Sales

Both are valuable. Both are necessary to progress as a writer. Only you, as a writer, can determine which you’ll need/want at different times in your promotional periods.

Best ideas to gaining readers and buyers:

  • Capture readers’ attention with your blog posts. Quirky, Eye-catching titles, opening sentences/paragraphs, follow-through information guarantees interest. Some of my posts has experienced the attention, and I do believe the titles have much to do with it. If I follow through with the rest it cinches the interest.
  • Spark interest w/attention-grabbing memes and videos. Nowadays, the attention span of readers wanders if they hit boring information. BUT they love these visual instruments that are well developed and interesting. That draws the eyes. 
  • Well targeted and planned ads that inform and engage with as wide an audience as possible. Always study what marketers are saying. Study others ads. Are they doing well? Sometimes it’s necessary to experiment. Don’t get discouraged if your first one fails to deliver outstanding sales. There’s a learning curve so keep at it until you’ve hit on the right way, the right place, and the best way to ad for YOU.

I want to say here: some will say they have no money for advertising. That’s okay. I’ve been there. But I’ve also learned that if I can’t catch the fish (so to speak) in one way, then I’m determined to do what I CAN do. Remember YOU and your book needs to be discoverable.

  1. Join writing groups. No I don’t participate all the time, and sometimes no time. But they can be valuable to keep your name and your books in front of readers’ eyes. Don’t scorn at the thought. Being discoverable is very important to your books sale-ability.
  2. Participate in Facebook author parties. I’ve been on at least two so far this year and planning one more this month with six other author friends to promote my WWII Spies series book one: With Music in Their Hearts. Remember, you don’t always have to giveaway tons of books. Other items that pertain to your book are fabulous gifts that readers love. For With Music in Their Hearts’ first promotion, I used an older “diamond” studded pin, puzzles, sweetheart chests, etc. as gifts. I had a lot of people attend and lots of interest going around! Also, plan ahead what you’re going to say. I like to have a prepared document w/many items ready to copy and paste. Toward the end share your social and book information too.
  3. website freeOn your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., share tidbits of your book, your progress in writing it, why you wrote it, a recipe or pattern or something else that will catch attention. Offer small rewards off and on. Don’t throw “buy my book” comments outward too often. Let them get a feel of your book, show them what they’re missing, and they won’t be able to resist! 

More on how to make your books discoverable on the next point. 

  • Invest the time in making your books discoverable on book retailer sites. Play around with keywords, descriptions and price for your books on Amazon and other retail sites. What words are used with other books in your genre? What makes them stand out? Make sure you have a beautiful (and I don’t mean just romantically) and interesting cover. That’s the first thing readers will see. Some check the back covers to read the book blurb. Write the best you can, get help, critics to look over yours before it goes to print. The first chapter needs to draw in your reader, so hone that baby till it’s as perfect as you can make it. Add videos. Encourage people to follow you so they will be notified when you have a new book out. 
  • Invest money in online promotion. (Again, even inexpensive ones give you some exposure).  
  1. Keep track of what works for you and what doesn’t, and remember, that sometimes you might have to try a certain promotion or ad more than once to see results or realize it’s not working at this time. 
  2. Hopefully, before your book’s published, you will be a member of your chosennewsletter free social media sites. Start your newsletter, decide how often you’ll put it out, and even though your book may not be out yet, give subscribers a glimpse of your writing life, how the writing is going, tidbits of your book, and when the cover is ready, a preview of it. Ask for opinions, offer rewards for being a subscriber, and encourage them to stay with you by keeping them up-to-date on your progress.
  3. Find what avenues of advertising that you can afford and use as many as you can. I suggest once a month do something special for your book, or if you have many, alternate between books. It’s ALWAYS profitable! In different ways, but still profitable. 
  4. Study and keep track of what others use as promotional means. Sometimes, many of them will offer promotions at a discount. Even if you can’t use it now, and it’s allowed, sign up and plan on the date when you can use it. Good author stewardship.

Okay, Now I’m going to share a few places I’ve used and maybe a very few I haven’t tried yet, but plan to in the future. Remember, it’s not always easy to get accepted into their promotional services, so follow their rules and be as pliable as you can. Here goes:

  1. Bookbub. Yes, it’s VERY expensive. Most writers I’ve heard, say they get their investment back and profit from it, lots of downloads, and good results. But do your homework. Realize the costs. Calculate all you need to do to try to get accepted by Bookbub.
  2. Ryan Zee. I definitely plan to use this soon.
  3. ENT. That’s E-Reader News Today. They are great and considerably cheaper. But, again, you don’t always get accepted. 
  4. Ask David is a Twitter service that’s fairly cheap, but seems to produce good results. Check it out.
  5. I’ve heard good things about Book Funnel, but haven’t tried them or even checked them out yet.
  6. Amazon ads and promotion. Supposedly a good thing. Again, I haven’t used them yet, but plan to in the near future as soon as I have time.
  7. Keiki Hendrix (Vessel Project), Paige Boggs (google) and Celebrate Lit (Check out Facebook) are good avenues to use for advertising and promotions. 
  8. Free Kindle Books and Tips (Michael Gallagher) is a good one to try. He has some requirements so check them out.
  9. Books Butterfly, Books Daily (but keep your eye on it to make sure it’s what you want and that you realize additional costs for extra items), Robin Reads. There are tons more, some that give more results. 
  10. Don’t ignore your fellow writers. They can be valuable sources of spreading the word about your book(s). Interviews, blog posts, and simple promotional times help. Endorsements from those YOU’ve helped give an extra touch of sale-ability to them too.

I’vbook notes lists etce done a lot of promoting and studying on the different methods of promoting and haven’t touched some avenues yet. I’ve mentioned only a small portion of possibilities. I’ve tried to keep lists of every method I’ve heard of. It’s a good way to pick and choose what you want to try. You’ll soon find what works best for you and your books.

Do Book Promotions work? Yes,

Why? Because once you have these ideas set up, you can count on them to work 24/7 for you, without you doing much else.

Happy Promoting!