2 Must Have Tools to Self Publish

self publishing how to

So you have an idea and you want to write a book. It can seem like a scary process but with a few tools, you can get it done! That is if you can push past the actual act of sitting down and writing the book in the first place!

The first tool you’ll need before you can go to print is Grammarly. You are going to want to get it grammar checked, poor grammar in a book is more than just a little annoying. People forgive a lot in a blog post because they expect it to be conversational, but in a book, you’ve got to tighten your game and Grammarly can help you do that.

https://www.grammarly.com/

Now you’ve got a written and grammar checked document, and you are ready to go to print. Your next step is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). They have made the book creation process super simple and easy. They’ve got a host of tools you can use to create and design your cover, even if you aren’t design savvy. The only tool you need is a digital document. I use Google Drive for on the go editing and creation because it syncs up with all my devices, but you can use whatever word processing program you want.

As you are getting ready KDP will give you several different book sizes to choose from. For me, I like the 6x9in paperback. Once you have picked out your size return to your finished document and under the file, menu go to “page set-up” and adjust the size of the page on your document. Don’t want to bother with all that? Download my free 6x9 template and add your content for a simple formatted book.

Want to learn the tools we use to create our covers? Read the article about our top four free resources for creating an amazing book cover on your next week. 

Here are some other really great resources to help you out on the journey of self-publishing and launching a book.

Carey Nieuwhof did some recent interviews with Drew Dyck and Margret Feinberg that have some great content in them for aspiring authors and those getting ready to enter the publishing arena.

18 Years Later

In high school, I was a class clown. I enjoyed - and still do - making people laugh especially with my totally nerdy raps about whatever the teacher was lecturing on. That’s right all y’all high school friends some of you know the only reason you passed biology (the 3rd time you took it, yeah you know who you are) was because of my catchy songs about osmosis! I’ll also admit to being a pretty fast learner and being completely board in school most days and not really taking any of it seriously. I had 100% in most classes higher in some because the teachers forced me to do the extra credit to keep me busy, that was all that mattered… a big fat A!

The one exception to this was Astronomy class. I was quite determined that I wanted to be an experimental particle physicist and this class, and the internships and independent studies I knew the teacher could get me, were all very serious. I had no time for distractions, no room for fun!

When I walked into class the first day and discovered the normal teacher was on maternity leave and we would have a sub for the first 4 weeks I was quite upset. I didn’t want to lose valuable time with a real teacher and the connections she had at the local observatories - and their relationships with international observatories. I had my eye on Budapest and Switzerland, I was focused!

The sub called us all to gather around for a very rudimentary experiment in physics, I took my spot in the circle with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. The sub attempted her experiment, but she wasn’t impressing anyone else either, but she wouldn’t let us move on until she finished. Normally I probably would have been at the lead of the trouble-making jokesters, but like I said chip on my shoulder and serious about the class… So that is why I got extra irritated at the short kid across the circle from me who wouldn’t stop messing around. I knew of him, he was the grade above me and my friend had once had a crush on him in middle school, but I didn’t remember his name.

At last, I couldn’t take it anymore so I called across the circle to him, “Shut up short stack let’s get this experiment over with.”

 

In that moment I had no clue that 4 years later I would marry that kid - who was nearly a foot shorter than me at the time, and 18 years later we would have 5 kids together. It’s crazy sometimes to think how far we’ve come! More than half of my life has been spent crushing on and loving that “short stack” from Astronomy class.

 

An Honest Update on Chores

helpinghands result

I recently posted about how we manage chores with our big family (click here to read that article), but as I work on restoring the house after the summer break I felt like there were a few things I needed to add. I wrote this last week but haven’t had time to post it, so here it is; an honest update to my chore post.

Having kids help is not always helpful. Having the kids clean sometimes results in a bigger mess. I don’t want anyone out there thinking that my sweet wonderful helpful kids do all the cleaning in my house or that I have it easy. I really do think my approach is the harder approach. It would be much easier for me to do all the cleaning myself, but it would not yield the same fruit. The fruit I am looking for is not that of a clean house. I am looking to establish an attitude and a desire to help.

Yes my children as young as 18 months old help with dishes and laundry, but I certainly don’t criticize them for doing it wrong. That seems obvious in a child that young, but it might not be so obvious in a 6-year-old. You may be tempted to demand a level of finesse or perfection that they might honestly be capable of. But if you are focused on perfection and ability you will most likely lose sight of what matters in the long run, and that is the attitude. The attitude is always far more important than the task being done!

Who your child is becoming is more important than what they do today!

-Northpoint Ministries

Physical capabilities to clean and attain perfection are honestly a given unless your child has a physical disability. This also happens to be one of my major criticisms of the current educational system. Children are going to learn and the speed with which they learn is not nearly as important as the attitude they have towards learning. A child with a high IQ but an unteachable attitude and lack of curiosity will ultimately learn less than a lower IQ child with a healthy curiosity and a good attitude. You cannot stop a child from learning if the desire is there.

Likewise, you cannot stop a child from becoming a helpful adult if they have a teachable heart and a desire to help.

I am sitting here on the floor of my laundry room as I write this. My 3-year-old was helping with the laundry when I heard the 11-month-old crying in her room next door. I went to get her out of her crib and change her diaper and in that time he loaded the washer with all the clean clothes that had just come out of the drier leaving the dirty hamper still full of dirty clothes. I walked in and he proudly proclaimed “I help look I did it!” At that moment I had a choice I could get irritated by the fact that clean laundry is getting cleaned again (my pet peeve) or praise him for his desire to help. I am not saying it was an easy choice I had to die to myself and my own desire to be caught up on laundry. I thanked him and gave him a huge high five and now I’m sitting here on the floor letting go of my need to have things perfect while he proudly crumples up towels in an attempt to fold them and the littlest one is flopping socks around.

Dying to yourself looks different than I thought it would when I first read these sentiments penned by the apostle Paul. It isn’t always grand and noble-looking. It doesn’t result in revival and mass baptisms on the river. Sometimes it is a quiet moment in a laundry room with a hope that your efforts will yield lasting fruit in growing hearts.

My Testimony - Part 4

I’m spending a little time sharing my testimony on my blog right now. It is a 4 part series. This is the fourth installment if you want to start at the beginning click here. In the first installment, I give a background on what my home life was like spiritually for the first 12 years of my life. In the second installment, I tell the story of how I came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. In the third installment, I tell you about how I came to accept Jesus Christ as my savior.

I endured my mom and stepdad for only a few more months after that faithful Christmas Eve.My mom's moods started shifting and that awful man wasn’t fulling her as she had expected and she was ready to move on to the next thing that promised to bring her happiness and fulfillment.

Things rapidly spiraled out of control starting in March. I had gone on a trip with my dad and stepmom to-be for Spring Break and while I was gone my mom had spent time with her high school bestie, who happened to be a functioning drug addict. From her, my mom got validation that if this man wasn’t making her happy she should move on to what made her happy.

At this time my stepdad underwent a change of heart and conviction of his actions towards me. He and my mom had a winter home in a city about 3 hours away. He spent the entire winter there for the most part while my mom traveled back and forth because her company was still in our hometown. On his trip back up to our home town for the spring season, he had spent the entire 3 hours thinking of a way to make me cry when he arrived.

At this point, I had settled into an acceptance of the situation and was enduring them with a degree of peace. I had Jesus and I would be graduating high school the following year. I was no longer insulted and offended by my stepdad’s hatred of me. I was no longer shocked at my mom’s indifference. I had found contentment within the situation. I was the queen of my own little kingdom.

My stepdad pulled the horse trailer in the back fence and I met him there to help him unload all of his horses. The first words out of his mouth were the words he had planned and rehearsed for 3 hours “You can no longer park your car in the garage under the apartment, you have to park it over there.” He pointed at the corner of the land furthest from the garage apartment.

“Do you want me to move it now or shall I move it after we are done unloading the horses?” was my response. I could tell that it disarmed him and he looked shocked. He mumbled something about it not needing to be done today and maybe it was okay to leave my car where it was. He unhitched the truck from the trailer and drove off leaving me to unload the horses and unpack the tack room myself.

The next day I received an invitation from him to dinner at the main house. This wasn’t entirely unusual, but it often meant that they were not in the mood to cook and wanted me to make the dinner for them. I walked in prepared to make Taco salad, their favorite meal, but my stepdad had already cooked dinner. I sat down watching him and trying to gauge his mood and figure out what was going on.

At last, he spoke. In a frenzy of words, he confessed to having spent 3 hours the previous day thinking of ways to make me cry. He admitted to intentionally spent the last 5 years trying to make my life as miserable as he possibly could. He apologized, he repented, he explained, and at last, he asked for forgiveness - not that day, but eventually. He said my non-reaction the day before had convicted him and that he had left straight away to go to the pastor of the church and confess everything which he had just said to me and to enroll in counseling and therapy.

I was stunned. I was silent. My mom, however, broke the silence. She exclaimed that she knew it all the whole time and that he was despicable and would be filing for divorce. My mouth dropped open and I looked at her for a long time with so many emotions boiling up inside, but I said nothing. Over the next few months, she dismantled our life with him. Everything I had valued, my horse, my privacy, my freedom, my future dreams, my little kingdom I had built for myself - they were all taken away.

I spiraled into a depression. I started running to numb the pain and thoughts that were warring inside of me. I ran when I woke up, I ran mid-afternoon, and I ran after dinner. I did sit up and crunches in between. I eventually worked my way into running 7 miles a day and 15 miles on, particularly bad days. I was nauseous from my emotions so I stopped eating, though not intentionally. I lost 50 pounds in two months.

I moved in with my dad temporarily while my mom sorted things out and found a new place to live. I was happier there and wanted to stay but I wasn’t 18 and she threatened to get the police involved if I didn’t come live with her. I was defeated and moved back in with her. She was also a mess, but I was unable to take care of her and be there for her as I had when she and my dad had gotten a divorce. 

She sat on the couch for hours every day watching TV and my hatred of her grew. She wanted all of my attention and I wanted to give her nothing. I continued on at church, not the same church, but a church my friends attended. She hated that my attention was given there and forbid me to go and insisted that all the Christian books be disposed of and removed from the house. For the first time ever I outright and deliberately disobeyed her and I didn’t care. I hid the books in my car and continued to go to church with my friends. The most remarkable thing I did in rebellion though was, at last, I opened my bible and I read it for myself.

I started at the very beginning and worked my way to the end. Of course, most of it was over my head. I was in the violence of emotions when I read and I couldn’t take it all in, but it opened the door to me. I could read the bible and not somehow suddenly and accidentally start worshipping the devil.

I turned 18 and I tried to stay with my mom, I felt she needed me, but we were no good together. The contempt on my part and the codependency on her part made for a sick and disgusting relationship, so I moved out. She moved across the country as a result of my moving out. My need to run away and escape faded with her leaving our home town. I was temporarily at peace, and convinced that everything was now okay. Jason and I started dating a few weeks after she left, and our romance was whirlwind having been friends for so long before we dated.

Jason and I got married and moved across the country. I didn’t realize it then, but I was still stuck in my depression. Life was better and I wasn’t running, but I still was very unhappy. I had suffered and it was all for nothing, and I couldn’t make sense of it. I stewed in anger and I hated people. There were a few people I tolerated but mostly I preferred animals to people.

The thing is, my life was so vastly better and different than it had been, at last, there was light when before all I had known was darkness. I couldn’t see that there was still darkness because it was not as dark as it was. I say I was unhappy, and yet I was the happiest I had ever been.

A few years later M was born and at that moment that I saw her sweet little face, I started to soften. I realized that people weren’t as bad as I had thought and that while I loved animals, no pet would ever be as important to me as that little girl. 

I started doing Bible studies with other women instead of my own haphazard reading. I learned about Jesus in deeper ways than you can ever learn from Sunday sermons alone. 

For a time Jason and I attended a church that was very heavy into the idea of prayer. I wouldn’t say they were “name it and claim it”, but without proper follow up and study on my own part I began to buy into this idea that if I had enough faith God would do whatever I prayed. I don’t think at the time I would have identified that in myself, but I was positive that if I asked with enough faith He would move a mountain. I never had reason to pray for a mountain to move so alas all the mountains of the world are still in their God-ordained place.

I believed Jesus was the son of God, I accepted him as my Savior, but I was learning to see him as Lord. You see God was at the beck and call of my prayer whim and His answering was based on my own degree of faith and had nothing to do with His majesty. God’s will was submitted to my level of faith. Oh how differently I would have prayed had I only realized all of this sooner.

As I was working through my anger issues (you can click here to read more about that) I started realizing that all of my anger was coming from things not being as I wanted them to be. My sweet 4th child was a doozy and life was tough with him during his first year. When he was 10 months old I had a moment with a group of women when it all made sense (you can click here to read about it). At last, I submitted to Jesus as my Lord. I learned to bring my hopes and dreams, emotions and fears - all of me - under his Will and not my own.

Do I have everything all figured out? Heck no! It is a daily thing, seeking out Jesus. I’m still on a journey with him - in fact, right now He’s showing me a lot about Faith, Will, and Submission. I hope to be able to blog about that soon, but for now, I’m content learning at His pace.

Read more: My Testimony - Part 4

My Testimony - Part 3

The Crazy Night

Accepting

I’m spending a little time sharing my testimony on my blog right now. It is a 4 part series. This is the third installment if you want to start at the beginning click here. In the first installment, I give a background on what my home life was like spiritually for the first 12 years of my life. In the second installment, I tell the story of how I came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

My mom and that boyfriend of her’s eventually got married. His dislike of me did not fade or soften with familiarity, in fact, I’m pretty sure in this case familiarity bred contempt. He and my mother dated for 3 years before they got married, and the length of that courtship was probably so long because he tried to negotiate me out of the deal. Unfortunately due to my parents' divorce agreement and my dad working the night shift I was unavoidable baggage my mom had to take along with her - at least that is what the man-made me feel every single day.

When they married my mom sold her house and we moved into his place. He had more acreage than we had and his land backed up to Forest Service so it was for the horses we had. His property also had an apartment over the garage. While he couldn’t ditch me entirely he could force me to live in this apartment. I was told I was not to come to the main house unless I had a direct invitation from him or my mother.

He was the first Christian that I had really got to meet outside of our neighbors so many years before and he was quite the specimen. It’s not the purpose of this story for me to detail the abuse that occurred leading up to the wedding and the years they were married, I will only say that it was awful, and at times unbearable and that my mother was fully aware of everything that was going on.

A bitterness grew in me towards Christians and the church. I had my stepfather and his abuse, and my mother blindly turning and eye or yelling at me for being hurt by it all. They became my stereotype for what Christians were like. I loved God but I hated his followers!

The town in which I grew up was heavily influenced by the new age movement and Universalism was at every turn. I began to wonder if perhaps the Christian path wasn’t the only path. Now I had never read the bible for myself nor had anyone read to me Jesus’s declaration that He is the way the truth and the life and that none could get to the Father without Him. I believed Jesus was the son of God, but I began to question if He was the only way to get to God.

How could a loving God, which I truly believed Him to be, have such awful followers? Maybe this wasn’t the true path. Maybe this wasn’t the purest form of worshipping the divine. Perhaps if God was as loving as I thought He was, He could be better found with followers who were also loving.

I have an aunt who claims to be a pagan priestess of the holy mother goddess. She was so accepting and loving of everyone including those who were different from her. I watched her. I watched the people who orbited around her, it seemed like a community I could be a part of - minus the weird tendency toward nudity. If it weren’t for my aversion to this I probably would have drunk the Koolaid. 

This nudity and sexual promiscuity gave me pause to question if her way was, in fact, the right way. You see I was a good kid. I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t have sex, I got all A’s - other than my irritating tendency towards self-assuredness and arrogance I was a model teenager! I was 99% sure that my aunt smoked pot on the regular, this was obviously back when it was illegal in AZ. I didn’t want to associate with anything that was illegal.

Doubt raged just below the surface for some time. Then Christmas Eve happened in 2002. I had gotten a job as a waitress at a local Chinese restaurant. My dad had been the food delivery guy there since I was 3 years old so the family was long-time friends of ours. The place had become a refuge for me. My stepdad loved Chinese, but he hated that place so I was always guaranteed a break from him and my mom while I was there.

That was until that particular Christmas Eve. My step-dad had been particularly bad, and my mom had done nothing. I went to bed that night with nothing left of me. They had robbed me of everything and my strong will was at last broken. I was brewing in bitterness and anger as I lay awake curled up in a ball on my bed. 

They could take away everything. They could control everything about my life. They had all the power and I had none.

There was only one thing left that they could never control or take away and that was my heart and my mind. I wanted to make them pay. I wanted to disgrace them and expose them for the frauds that they were. They were well respected within our church and having a daughter who was a pagan would be the worst thing I could do to them, they couldn’t force me into being a Christian.

The wrestling and doubt had finally reached its pinnacle. Before I went to sleep I prayed “God I don’t know who you are or which path is the right path to you. I want you and only you. I don’t want any of this anymore. I hate them and I don’t want their way anymore. If all gods really do lead to one I want to pick a different way. I want you, but I want a different way. If it’s ok I’m going to take this other path, I’m going to become a pagan and dance to the divine in the moonlight.”

I drifted off to sleep with these thoughts and in utter turmoil. I was surprised to wake up in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what woke me, but I was fully awake and alert, considering the wretchedness in which I fell asleep I felt remarkably well. There was no tension in my limbs that I could feel, everything felt wonderful. I turned to look at the clock and I caught my own eye. There I was laying on the bed, I looked so peaceful while I slept, so beautiful. These were my thoughts for a moment or two before utter panic washed over me, I should not be looking at myself sleeping.

Then I saw it. There was a creature lurking over at my bedside. It reached forward and grabbed my left arm and searing pain ripped through my whole being. At that moment I heard a quiet whisper deep inside my soul “Who you are going to call for help matters, choose wisely.”

I forced myself to shout the only thing that made sense at that moment - Jesus Christ!

With a giant gasp of air, I was suddenly back in my own body and struggling to sit upright in bed. I spent the rest of the night in prayer. That was the night that I came to understand and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Read more: My Testimony - Part 3

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