Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Just Shut Up and Be Still Already

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like everything is spinning out of control? You shell into yourself, just giving those around you enough to think everything is going perfectly fine, when on the inside, you're actually a total mess? And why do these days always seem to come when you're least expecting it? Everything is going so smoothly, like you're sailing the calmest sea with the prettiest sky you've ever seen, and the next thing you know, it's like the days of Columbus and you've reached the end of a flat planet, sailing right over the edge. What's your first reaction?

Well, I can tell you what mine is. It's pride and stubbornness and the urge to fight back. I absolutely hate admitting when I'm wrong, or when I've made a mistake, or even when I've unintentionally allowed a mistake to happen! I want to get defensive and whine about how it's not my fault! But guess what. That's my flesh reacting, not my spirit.

Galatians 5:16-17
New International Version (NIV)
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want.

So, basically, my flesh doesn't want to admit that I messed up. It wants to whine and throw a pity party and pretend like the entire world is against it. My spirit, on the other hand, says, "Whoa, hold up! You have a testimony and an example to lead. You don't have the right to overreact, or as it says above in Galatians, the right to do 'whatever you want'".

God can turn any situation, no matter how good or bad, into a learning experience. Recently, I've been learning that when things begin to fall apart, the absolute worst thing I can do is to let my flesh win and react on my emotions. I know what I need to do. I've read the scripture.

Psalm 46:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

See, it doesn't matter how rocky things get in our lives. God is God and there is absolutely nothing that is going to change that. Just because things seem completely chaotic in our lives doesn't mean that He has left us or that He has changed in any way. He's still there with us, ready to guide, guard, and direct, but we have to get out of His way and let Him do it. Sometimes, we just have to shut up and be still.

Anyway, that's my vent session. I feel better. How about you? What helps you calm down when you've had a crazy day?

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Readers Are Amazing!!

Well, here I am. I haven't posted in a long time due to work schedules and grad school schedules and, simply, life in general, but I'm posting now.

I wrote a post previously to give some information on my success with the KDP program. Last week, I took advantage of two more free days to get people talking about Redemption Song again. It was a huge success. Thanks to websites like,

Kindle News: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002Y27P3M/?tag=discounter-20
Free Read Feed: http://www.freereadfeed.com/
FreeKindleBook1  on twitter @FreeKindleBook1
A blogger: http://www.creativemadnessmama.com/
The WLC team: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/
Tracey Spiteri: http://youngadultbookaddict.blogspot.com.au/
Book Lender: http://booklending.com/
Tori Chase: http://www.kvictoriachase.com/
Young Adult Book Lover: http://theluvofbooksya.blogspot.com/
Free Kindle eBooks: on twitter @Free_UK_eBooks
Free Ebooks Daily: http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/

All of these guys posted about Redemption Song during its free days and it paid off. At the end of the promotion, between Amazon.com. Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.co.de, Redemption Song had 18,000 downloads!! That's so huge!

But what has overwhelmed me even more than the massive number of people who downloaded the book is the awesome readers who have contacted me since to tell me how much they love the book!

You have reached me by email, blog comments, facebook, and twitter. You guys have absolutely made my week and I am thrilled that you enjoyed the book!

For the future, to make it easier on readers that want to know more about Redemption Song or other upcoming titles, or to drop me a note and hang out, I have created a central location.

http://www.melodiemurray.com/

Stop by and visit with me. I'd love to meet each of you. Also, if you are an author, I have embedded a section for author interviews so that my readers can get to know you, as well! Click on the Writer's Corner tab and send me your info. I'll post your interview as time allows.

Once again, thanks to everyone who has shown so much love for my work in the past week. You guys are amazing!

Lots of love,

~Melodie Murray~

Colossians 3:23

New International Version (NIV)
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

REDEMPTION SONG IS FREE TODAY AND TOMORROW!!

That's right folks. This is Amazon's KDP Program in action! Today and tomorrow you can add Redemption Song, normally $3.99, to your Kindle absolutely FREE. I hope you enjoy and thank you so much for your interest and support!

Book Description:
When seventeen-year-old pop sensation, Ethan Carter, drives drunk and almost kills a man, his livid mother pulls the plug on all things celebrity. Banished to his granny’s house on the Alabama coastline, Ethan is subjected to an extreme dose of normal.

Ethan views normal as a synonym for boring, but things take a turn when he meets Alaina, the spunky Christian from Granny’s church. With her brutal honesty and complete disregard for his rock-star status, Alaina is beautifully different, and for the first time, Ethan is finding it very difficult to get what he wants.

The closer Ethan and Alaina become, the more obstacles seem to come between them. And as Ethan’s punishment draws to a close, he knows that a decision is inevitable. He can return to the life of his dreams, or he can leave it all behind for Alaina. Maybe normal's not so boring, after all . . .


Find Redemption Song at
http://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Song-ebook/dp/B006WVI6V6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331365935&sr=8-1

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why Would I Pay If I Can Do It Myself?

We all know that marketing and presentation is crucial when presenting a product that we actually expect people to buy. That's why I decided that I wanted a book trailer to accompany my new novel, Redemption Song. I thought, why not? When I'm looking for a book to read, I prefer one with a trailer because there's just something about that extra visual that entices me to read the book. It gives me a visual memory to associate with the book. Why would other readers not feel the same way?
So I started looking into services that would create a book trailer for me. WOW. What a waste of time. I found one service that would create a two minute trailer for the small fee of $5,000. Granted, these videos are probably awesome, but still, $5,000 for something that will last approximately ninety seconds?Yeah, right. Then I found another one that would create a trailer for around $250, but it uses still photos and you only get three photos for that price range. For a measly two hundred more dollars they would graciously add two more photos. Okay, at this point, my starving author dreams of having an awesome book trailer are fluttering out the window.

But I'm smart, too, right? I mean, how hard can it really be to throw some pictures together with a little music? Well, in the beginning, it was a little daunting. But after I played with it for a while, it wasn't too bad. Below, I have listed some sites and resources I used to create my own book trailer.

1) You Need a Program.

There are ump-teen different sites and types of software out there that will make mini movies, but the one I chose was Windows  Live Movie Maker. The website to download this completely FREE software is http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/movie-maker. I have read a complaint that this program only allows you to save in certain formats, but I saved mine as a Windows Media file and it's worked great for everything I've used it for so far.

2) You Need Pictures and Music

The number one thing to remember here is that you CANNOT just search Google Images and pick and choose from all of the amazing photos. And please, oh pretty please, do not go pick up an illegal download and put it in your video. Remember, this thing is going Very public. Anything that you are making available for commercial purposes must be bought from a royalty free provider. The good news is you can get some really great photos and musical compositions for a small price. Here's my two favorite sites:

         a) iStock:  http://www.istockphoto.com/
             You can search here for photos, illustrations, audio, and video. They offer a Standard License and an Extended License. For the Standard, you just purchase some credits and then buy stuff until you use all of the credits. Please review the Terms of Service policy for full details on where and when these materials can be used.

         b) Shutterstock: www.shutterstock.com
             You can search here for photos and footage only. They do not offer audio. Shutterstock offers subscription plans for frequent customers, or a pay as you go service for those of us who only need a few photos.

There are many other websites out there. These are my favorites. A simple Google search will lead to where you want to go.

3) You Need a Little Time and a Little Patience
Now you get to play. Open your program, insert your new stuff, find where you can add some text, and then play around with the animations. I suggest that if you choose to use music, that you add it in at the end, or every time you preview, you're going to have to listen to it. Trust me, you will preview A LOT.

Below you will find my finished product. It's not perfect, but it's my creation, and it only cost about $50!


Melodie Murray
http://www.amazon.com/author/melodiemurray

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Heard of Multitasking; How About Multi-Achieving?

Have you read my bio section yet? If not, it says that I teach Math. I am also currently in the graduate program at Arkansas State University working on a Master's in, you guessed it, Math. So what in the world am I doing with a blog meant to connect authors, tweeting about literacy, and promoting a novel? Well, I have theory.

"If God blesses us with multiple talents, why not use them all?" -me

Yeah, that's my quote. I'm pretty proud of it.

I can still remember the first "book" I ever wrote. No, it wasn't a school assignment. No, my mom didn't make me do it. In fact, I can't even remember what the little masterpiece was about, but it was my book. I remember the empowerment of plotting and character creating. Writing until my 4th-grade little hand hurt. But now I am all grown up, and writing has suddenly become an English thing.

Now, obviously, there are MANY authors who do not come from a literary background. Who have never taken a college Creative Writing course. (That's me--unless you count the papers I wrote for my mom's class when she was too busy and had an assignment due. That's a whole other story.) But people are categorized. Working in the public school system it's the Math Department, the English Department, the Science Department, so on and so forth. We are the "Math people" and they are the "English people".

Now, what is the point of this ramble? It took me a long time and two books under my belt (one of which I will never-ever publish) to convince myself that I wasn't just a "math person". I believe that we have a loving God who created us with a purpose and a plan, and we are capable of whatever he has gifted us to do. So why was I buried in equations and Greek symbolism (loving every minute of it), but still dreaming up stories like that 4th grade little girl? Because God blesses us with multiple talents.

My advice, for whatever that's worth, is to find your dream. And then find your other dream. And go for both of them! Don't let stereotypes and stigmas stop you from doing what you were called, as a child of God, to do because He knew it would make you happy.

So, if your dream is building a rocket, finding a mummy, climbing up the Eiffel Tower, or even locating Frankenstein's brain--my three-year-old watches a LOT of Phineas and Ferb--I say go for it! But along with that, we must be realistic.

Learn the craft you aspire to do.

When I was ten, I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, but that wasn't going to happen till I got my little butt in the gym. Then I sprained my wrist and got a new dream. The point is that if you expect to do something, and do it well, you have to learn about it. There are free ebooks all over the Internet offering instructions and guidance for just about anything. There are blogs and websites and tweets. If you have a dream, quit telling yourself that you can't do it just because that's the easier option. Get out. Get bold. Learn your craft, and go for it. You never know what God has in store for your life. Don't limit Him.

Melodie Murray

Check out a free sample of my book, REDEMPTION SONG. Soon to hit Kindle, Nook, and Apple Bookstore.
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119654

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WOW WoMEN's Lit Cafe

First, before I write another word, THANKS to Melissa Foster, founder of WoMEN's Lit Cafe.

I was directed to the cafe through the tweet of someone I was following. The tweet stated that I could get my book mentioned on the WoMEN's Lit Cafe website. So I clicked the link and checked it out. This website offers so much more than just book mentions. Here are the three most valuable features I have found, and I'm sure there are many more.

Community:
There are forums for both writers and readers with discussion specific titles so that you don't get mixed up in a conversation that has nothing to do with your interests.

Promotion:
Authors can submit links to where their books are being sold (sometimes with a small fee) and their book will be displayed on the website for a certain amount of time under that month's new releases. $45 for a large thumbnail and $25 for a small. The way it's set up is very nice. There are only about ten to twenty books mentioned, so your book cover doesn't get lost in a sea of other photos. There are also community based promotions that you can sign up for, pending approval.

Marketing:
This one was huge for me, and what led me to writing this post. For the last week, I have been attempting to understand Twitter-talk. I am completely new to Twitter, but I'm fairly certain that if my teenage sister can master it, then I should be able to, as well. I was following people with my same interests. I was retweeting and replying. I was posting links. But in four days, I had 6 people following me. Something was wrong. I thought, there has to be some secret that I'm just not cool enough to know.

It felt very similar to my seventh-grade year. Switching to a new school where I didn't know anybody, but they had all known each other since birth. Yeah, Twitter can feel that way in the beginning. That's where the Lit Cafe comes in. They have a link that specifically says, "Get More Twitter Followers". Yea!! I need that! So I clicked it. Within about ten minutes of following directions, I had three new followers (keep in mind this was around midnight). When I woke up, my count was up to 26! And three of those didn't come from the Cafe. Finally, I am getting a following!

Here's the link. I highly recommend becoming a member if you're serious about promoting your book and finding people smarter than you in your field to learn from. And to all of my new followers, I look very forward to your tweets. http://womensliterarycafe.com/

Melodie Murray
Author of REDEMPTION SONG
Available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Song-ebook/dp/B006WVI6V6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326761537&sr=8-1

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Scary/Useful Experience with Smashwords

As I stated in my previous post, I have recently jumped into the world of self-publishing. As always, with anything new, I tend to make mistakes (sometimes, lots) and learn from them fairly quickly. But when putting a product out for the world to view with your name attached to it, mistakes are a very bad idea. However, because I am me, mistakes are inevitable burdens that I've simply learned to cope with over the years.

So what was my mistake? Well, let me tell you, it was a doozey. I had proofread my manuscript about a dozen times, and had others edit it, as well, and was confident that I was producing a professional piece of literature. Little did I know that after downloading the novel to the Kindle App on my phone, that the errors I'd missed would jump out from everywhere!

Hence, a piece of advice for anyone who is also trying to master this madness. Find a way to edit your manuscript from several DIFFERENT viewpoints. Use your computer screen. Print it out on paper.  Download it to your Ereader of choice. I was amazed at the errors I looked over simply because I had seen them SO many times.  I was inserting the corrections in my mind without even realizing I was doing it.

Okay, so what now? I have a book published online and, for all intents and purposes, it's a pile of poo. Did I want to crawl under my bed and hope that no literary competent person would ever realize that was my book? Yeah, maybe for a minute. But then I remembered one of the features of Smashwords that I had found most enticing when deciding who to publish with. The "Upload New Version" option.

I'm saved! Well, after two more days of editing, anyway.

So the moral of this somewhat pathetic story is
#1: Don't click submit until you are entirely certain the manuscript is as perfect as you can possibly make it.
#2: If mistakes happen, and they always will, take a moment to breathe and remember Jeremiah 29:11.
       "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
      See, there's no need to fear because we're not in control anyway.
#3: If you are a habitual mistake maker like me and still choose to self publish, find a publisher that provides an "Update" button for just such occurrences.


Melodie Murray