Why Networking is Marketing (And It’s a Lot of Fun, Too)

My #1 piece of marketing advice?  Network.  And, by network, I don’t mean friend 10,000 people on Facebook and spend all day on Twitter and LinkedIn, but really work hard to get to know people in a real way. Now that I read back what I just wrote, I realize that it sounds kind of shallow to talk about getting to know people in a real way as a tool to market your book.  But that’s not what I mean.  I mean that by working as a partner with other authors, speakers and bloggers, you can build relationships that are mutually beneficial and market your book in the process. For me, I had to start small.  When I got my book contract, I wasn’t some big-shot reality TV star, multi-contracted author or well-known blogger who had automatic name recognition.  I’m just a stay-at-home mom from Texas.  And as of a year ago, I had no blog, no Facebook page, no Twitter account and no following whatsoever.  So I had to start from ground zero—which is a daunting place to start when you have a book hitting the shelves within a few months. But as I started to feel my way around the interwebs—reading other author’s blogs and making friends on Twitter—I was surprised to find this amazing network of authors, writers, speakers and bloggers who work together to support eachother’s work, encourage each other, offer advice and even market for each other.  And as I got to know the people in this network—through reading their blogs and following up via email and Twitter—I realized that this relational network was...

Healthy Jello Salad–Really!

My kids love Jello.  I hate it.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I love the stuff… it’s all jiggly and wiggly and delicious.  But I hate the fact that its completely PACKED full of sugar and artificial color and artificial sweeteners and all sorts of stuff with absolutely zero nutritive value.  So I never make it for my kids… But, since my kids were begging, I decided to create healthy Jello salad… and after a few trials and errors, we had success!  So, here it is… my completely artificial-coloring-free, sugar-free, artificial-sweetener-free, all-natural Jello salad recipe Watermelon Gelatin Salad * 1 personal-sized seedless watermelon, cut into chunks * 1 1/2 cups juice (100% juice white grape, apple, cranberry or grape) * 2 packages Knox gelatin * 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit, cut into chunks (I used peaches, plums, strawberries and blueberries) 1. Fill your blender with watermelon chunks (about 4 cups, loosely packed). Blend 1 minute until you have a thick liquid. Strain juice into a small saucepan (you’ll have about 2 cups of juice). (Throw away the pulp) 2. Sprinkle gelatin on watermelon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. 3. Heat watermelon mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes until gelatin is dissolved. 4.  Stir in juice. 5.  Pour half of the mixture into a small 9X9 glass pan and put in the fridge for 90 mins. Leave remaining mixture on the counter at room temp. 6.  Take out of fridge, sprinkle with fresh fruit, then cover with the remaining watermelon mixture. 7.  Put back in fridge and allow to set for 2-3 more hours (or overnight) That’s...

Married with Children

Last night while I was feeding Will, I picked up my Kindle and started reading a mushy-love-story of a novel–one of those where the hero and heroine love each other so much that they literally cannot survive being apart from each other–and instead of making me feel all romantic, it made me sad. Sad because my husband and I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes alone together since the baby was born. Sad because that must-spend-time together romance disappeared about 12 seconds after our firstborn was born. Sad because there was a time when we were that hero and heroine back in the day when we were 21 and had no responsibilities aside from going to work and hanging out with each other. So much has changed. And I’m not sure how to get the old “us” back– but I know we have to somehow, someway.  Because the truth is that I can’t stand the thought of my kids growing up in a home where their example of marriage is what they’re seeing right now:  Two people who do love each other but never quite have time to make that love grow.  Two people who are so focused on just surviving that they never focus on each other. Two people who once had that mushy-love-story type of love, but lost it along the way. Does anyone have any...

No Crying Over Spilled Milk

My plan for the morning:  Load my oh-so-sweet kids in the car for an early grocery shopping trip before the store got too busy.  I’d stock my pantry with healthy meal options, pick up diapers for the baby, grab a birthday card for my friend.  Then, I’d head home and put the groceries away just in time for my kid’s to watch Dora and me to get a little down-time to savor a cup of coffee, read my bible, pray and write a little before I met my friend at the park.  Easy, relaxing, productive. What really happened:  The baby started crying before we even got to the store and by the time we made it to the produce department, I grabbed two apples and a bag of grapes and called it good.  I forgot to get diapers.  I forgot the birthday card.  Right as we got on the freeway on the way home, my five-year-old decided to give the milk “a hug” (because, you know, milk needs hugs).  He dropped it.  And, the entire gallon of milk went glugging out onto the floor of the backseat.  And, did I mention that I live in Texas and it’s 105 degrees out today?  The baby was still screaming when we got home.  I set the baby in his swing and pulled out the shop vac to try to vacuum up some of the milk in the backseat… but my three-year-old had to go to the bathroom right that minute.  She peed her pants.  And while I was cleaning up the pee, my five-year-old decided to help me with the vacuuming,...

God’s Plan

All things work together for good according to God’s plan.  All things. It’s easy for me to see God’s plan when life is looking up.  When my job is going well, when my marriage is strong, when my kids are healthy.  And, in those times, it’s easy for me to show my kids who all things work together for good for those who love God. But what about when you’re facing trials?  How do I show my kids—and myself—that God’s plan is always good, always right and always perfect when life seems anything but? This weekend, my sister and her husband lost a precious, much awaited baby girl.   Her birth mom had made the heart-wrenching choice to give her up for adoption—and my sister’s family was chosen as the adoptive family.  We couldn’t have been more thrilled—and spent months anxiously awaiting her arrival. The sweet baby girl was born last Thursday night, healthy, vibrant and beautiful.  Our family rejoiced, thrilled for our new addition.  But our joy was short lived—less than 24 hours after the baby was born, the birth mom decided to tear up the adoption papers.  She changed her mind.  And my sweet new niece was no longer ours. I’m struggling with my own emotions in this.  How could this be in God’s plan—when we all felt so certain that Ali was meant to be in our family?  How can God’s plan involve this much heartbreak?  This much sorrow? My kids are also devastated.  They were so excited about their new cousin and can’t quite comprehend how one day she was ours and the next day...
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