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As a writer, I’ve written five Inspirational novels and am writing my sixth now. I also have a few resources for homeschoolers.
As a virtual assistant, I have nine clients who use me on a daily or weekly basis and seven who use me on occasion when they have special projects.
As a speaker, I make myself available for whatever doors God opens up. Entertaining people is probably one of my favorite pastimes other than writing, but public speaking isn’t where my efforts are most focused on at this stage in my life. But I’m always open. 😉
The fourth wheel to this crazy work-from-home life I live involves helping others who are both ahead and behind me in this journey. Sometimes I’m off the clock and sometimes I’m on it, but I find myself many times helping authors and speakers process their next step.
I’m most blessed when it comes to my method of earning an income. Yes, my job. I just hate to call it that because it doesn’t always feel like WORK. I love my clients, and I love the things I do. So I kind of feel guilty sometimes when I think about my little pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.
95% of my work is done from home. That doesn’t mean I’m all sad and lonely in an isolated room. I have meetings via Skype or GoToMeeting. I’ve met almost all of my clients either in person or via video chat, and I feel like I have family all over the United States.
I’m blessed because I can take my work on the road and go wherever I need to go. This has come in handy when I’ve traveled or when I’ve had to sit in waiting rooms while a family member had a medical procedure. Everything I need is in my computer or my client folders (yes, I’m still old school sometimes and I use file folders).
I felt it was time to share some of the things that can help you get started in your own business, either a work-from-home set up or a freelance career.
There is a difference. Some work requires us to get outside of our little nests and interact with people, but we can still be our own bosses.
Here’s what I feel are some of the important How-To’s for starting, running, and making your business work.
You may be self-employed, but you need clients (or customers) or your job will end as quickly as it started. So while you may hold the reins, without your clients, there wouldn’t be any fields to plow. This means that you need to respect, value, appreciate, and affirm your clients as often as possible.
That’s right! Before you can work for yourself in any capacity, you have to know what you know how to do.
My first client came to me by accident. She is an author who had a new book release. I interviewed her here on my blog. Then she asked me to be a guest blogger twice a month on her blog. Eventually, her hectic life created a need for an assistant, and she asked me to be it. I began by uploading posts to her blog, scheduling them, and then sharing them on social media. All of this was new to me, but I learned it. And I enjoyed it. More importantly, I added these skills to my know-how list.
This client introduced me to my second client, who has introduced me to several more. With each new client, I have brought more to the table than I had before they came into my life. Now, when someone new inquires, I can hand them a list of things I know how to do and things I know how but DON’T do.
If you don’t know what you know how to do, then your clients or customers won’t have confidence in you that you can do the job well.
While the tasks for my clients vary greatly from blog admin to payroll to managing their inboxes, handling their events, and more, some of what I do for them, I didn’t know how to do when this all began. I watched what they did. I figured things out on my own. I asked a lot of questions. I was willing to do something in a new and different way. I was and still am trying to be on a daily basis TEACHABLE.
This is huge! Unless you come from a family who has handed you a trust fund or you’ve won the lottery and saved well, this life requires work. And you know what? I’m glad it does. If it didn’t, I think my brain would be a big pile of mush by now. I enjoy working and learning. It helps me be a well-rounded person. It helps me see the world outside of my narrow view. How?
Because when you have to please clients and customers and that requires you to get up off the couch and leave your television behind, your world opens up. You see all the possibilities that are out there. You see the struggles other people go through. You see that this life isn’t all about you.
You also become way less entitled. You begin to value the dollar.
I’m far less likely to blow money on frivolous things when I think about how hard I had to work to earn it. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a night out for dinner and a movie. But when I consider the fact that I just spent three hours of earnings on that night, I’m much more discerning next time around.
While being willing to work is a big part of working for yourself, you also have to set boundaries. I generally tell inquiring clients that I work Monday-Thursday and save the weekends for my family, church and writing. I have clients on the West Coast and the East Coast so that can get tricky sometimes with timezone differences, but overall, it works nicely for me because I have set boundaries. Very rarely do I let a client’s lack of preparation constitute an emergency on my part. I’m always here to help, but a client might have to wait in line behind another client. Boundaries. They are good for all things in life.
When someone teaches you, turn around and teach someone else who is coming along behind you. When someone gives you their time, give of your time to someone else. The same goes for your resources.
One of my clients gifted me a writers conference this summer. There’s no way I could have worked it out this year to go, but she wanted me there. So she made it happen. It was God, really. I told her that I didn’t know how I’d ever repay her. She said to keep my eyes open for someone that I could help one day. And then to be ready to help. How awesome is that?
My first two novels were published by a small publisher. After several years, I decided to regain my rights and publish them and their sequels on Amazon. That process took a lot of brain power, but I eventually learned how to do everything. I had a lot of help from friends who had walked that path before me. Since then, I’ve been able to help many of my clients with everything from editing, formatting, and even publishing their books. I believe that if God gives us the opportunity to learn something, we should pass that knowledge along to others when they need it.
Photo credit: Bigstock Photos
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won five writing competitions and finaled in two other competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.
How did you come up with the idea for this book and what made you want to write this particular story?
While working with a few other authors on some novella collection ideas, I came up with the idea of three adult siblings who reunite after being separated by adoption in their youth. This story and the two that follow it are the result of that idea—three strong siblings devoted to law and justice, each in their own way.
What does winning the Olympia Award mean to you?
It is such an honor! I love the Olympia since the first round is judged by readers. That is probably the truest group of judges one can have. And I know the competition is always stiff in contests, so just to final is quite humbling. To win is indescribable (and I’m an author, so that says a lot. I’m speechless. LOL)
How can people find you online/contact you?
I can be found in the following places:
A little over two weeks ago, I started my first ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference experience. I’d decided to fly from Atlanta to Nashville instead of driving because I had a ticket that needed to be used and because hotel parking was so expensive. So off I went. This was my first time flying without a companion. My trip included a stop off at Raleigh-Durham and a plane change, which wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t been delayed in Atlanta because of storms. If you want to hear all about the adventurous travels I had, check out my video on my Facebook Author Page.
Now onto the conference. I’m an extrovert. I love people. I love talking. I rarely find people who I can’t strike up a conversation with. And if said person doesn’t talk back, I’ll do all the talking. But for some reason, I was very nervous about going to the conference alone. Even though I had friends that would be there, I was afraid I’d never find them. I was rooming with two friends, and I didn’t want them to have to babysit me all day every day, but I didn’t want to be a lone wolf either. One of my dearest friends who I’m in writers group with told me I was being so silly. She said I would be the belle of the ball. I didn’t believe her.
One thing I did believe was that I was supposed to go. God had worked out all the details in such a way that people who don’t even know me well knew I was supposed to go. I told my husband that I figured one of two things would happen to me while I was there.
I am happy to say that number two happened! Well, I can’t say for sure that I was a huge encouragement to people, but I didn’t make anyone cry and run to their rooms in shame, so I think I at least wasn’t a discouragement.
From the moment I walked into the newcomer’s orientation at the conference, I saw people I’ve been friends with for years on Facebook and received welcoming hugs around the neck. Instantly, my nerves settled and I was ready to own this experience.
The first night’s dinner was a genre dinner, in which you dressed in character, if you wanted to. I had planned to wear a costume I fashioned out of curtains complete with a hat decorated in full Victorian style, but since I was coming to conference as a Romantic Suspense writer, I decided not to dress in costume. Plus, one of my roommates said that the last time I wore the costume at a writers retreat, my costume didn’t quite cover all the necessary areas and I flashed her. I guess my wraparound skirt didn’t wrap around quite far enough. So….
Friday and Saturday were jam packed with classes, continuing education, agent panels, and publisher spotlight sessions. Short fifteen minute breaks between each didn’t leave much time for catching your breath or journaling your experiences, but that’s okay. That could be done later.
We had great worship in each general session and our keynote speaker was Ted Dekker. So I was in heaven!
I attended a spotlight session for a publisher I wanted to know more about and learned about all the things they look for in a manuscript, what immediately puts it in the slush pile, and what causes it to jump to the top. I took a class on the “antagonistic setting” which basically showed how to cause extra trouble for your characters. You know, throw a spider in the car, a fire in the kitchen, a shark in the ocean, a tornado or a hurricane into their plans. Good stuff. I learned how to be more creative and how to conquer fear, discouragement, stress and all the things that zap a writer’s energy and keep her from writing.
On Friday, I had my agent and publisher appointments. Now I have to admit, my nerves were getting the best of me. But I had people praying for me and I was praying for me, too, and when I walked out of those appointments, I wasn’t walking. I was floating. I floated down the hall. I floated down the escalator. And I floated back to class. I had survived what can be the equivalent of a job interview (I haven’t interviewed for a job in YEARS) without losing my lunch, and I felt even better about my story than I did when I entered the room. I received the coveted request for my full manuscript in both appointments.
What I had hoped to hear, I’d heard. And I was thanking God even more than before for paying my way and paving my way to the conference.
Saturday night’s dinner was the BEST! It was the gala and award ceremony. We all dressed up nice and fancy, posed for pics with our peeps (I didn’t take many because I’m just too caught up in the moment usually), cheered our fellow writers along as they were nominated for and won awards, and felt like Cinderella for just one night.
Now that I’m back home and I’ve recovered from my travels and the pile of work that waited for me, I’m working feverishly on this book. I’ve set a 2,000 word a day goal (this blog just used up 1,000 of them for today, haha!) and hope to have it finished by the first of October. Then I can edit and have my test readers go through it. Prayers would be much appreciated.
If you’re contemplating going to a writers conference or retreat, I can now say that I highly recommend it. There’s lots to learn, lots of opportunity to grow, and lots of chances to make friends (which is probably the best part of all).
Fight for Liberty by Theresa Linden
Prompted by the inner voice that has guided her for years, Liberty is compelled to bring the freedom she now possesses to others suppressed by the all-controlling government. While unsure of how to carry out this mission, she is willing to risk all to accomplish it.
An Elegant Facade by Krisit Ann Hunter
Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season; with money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. As their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.
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by Justine Johnston Hemmestad
In 1990 my car was broadsided by a speeding city bus as I turned out of a parking lot – I was in a coma and had sustained a severe brain injury. I was paralyzed when I woke up from my coma, though I worked hard to walk again within a few months, and to relearn how to perform the basic functions of life.
I began to write when I was carrying my first child Megan, less than two years after my accident, as tool or a way to cope with feeling so alone in my disability and misunderstood. Writing, throughout the darkest part of my recovery—when everyone looked down on me and I had no one to talk to or relate with me—helped me to get my thoughts in focus, to learn new things, and to remember what was important to me. I felt bullied, my thoughts and perception were skewed, and I felt emotionally alone, isolated by my personal lacking (my speech was slurred; my reactions were slow, etc.).
But writing was my Savior. When I was so afraid and so filled with guilt for being disabled, writing offered me a safe and comforting place to go, where I could cry and feel loved. Writing was my confidante and gave me hope when the world was crushing me. Writing even helped me find out who I was, since everything about “me” seemed to have melted away with my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Writing helped me find my words to speak again. Writing was my purpose, and writing was my healing.
My novella, Truth be Told, is essentially the story of my recovery wrapped up in fictional characters in a different time and place. Everything is symbolic in my novella because symbolism itself taught me how to travel deep inside my thoughts and search until I found the answers. Symbolism aided my memory by the weight of its meaning.
The old man in my novella is symbolic of God, prayer, love of my children, and the inner truth I found when I dug deep, the challenges that stretched my mind and that I knew I had to face when I wanted to give up on life completely.
The Lady is the aspect of my recovery in which I felt lost, even to myself—I didn’t know who I was—but in prayer and meditation I learned to focus my mind, calm my thoughts (which were drowning in the guilt I felt for being disabled) and listen to God’s answer…what defines me?
The knight is the aspect of my recovery that was assaulted by PTSD. Not only was I recovering, but I was recovering amidst a torrent of fear, pain, and false persecution. He represents the survivor’s guilt I had for living as brain-injured, and the part of myself that felt I deserved the lies that people told about me simply because it was easy to lie about me. I illuminated my purpose— the purpose that any recovering person needs to be able to climb out of the darkness—symbolically as Jesus. When people lied about me, writing defended me and made the truth immortal. My purpose, as writing, was the well within me; writing saved me and gave me direction in life (even when I no longer had any sense of direction due to my TBI). There were people who tried to point me in the wrong direction, but my prayer, and written prayer, was always brimming with truth.
My purpose in writing raised me out of the darkness and set me on a new path. As my characters in Truth be Told founded one of the first Universities in Europe, my purpose led me to enter into college, to study tirelessly, and to set goals and reach them. For a person with a TBI, these things stretched my mind to the breaking point. And yet my savior, writing, was always there, so much that my purpose and my goals became intertwined. Every class I’ve had brought me new challenges; every professor’s pushing has helped me more than they were ever aware.
My husband and I now have seven children and I’m still writing, for both have truly been essential to my recovery. I’ve also earned a BLS through The University of Iowa and am now working toward a Master’s Degree in Literature through Northern Arizona University. I’m grateful to have written a book that I felt so strongly, all along, could be of help to survivors, for them to recognize themselves in the characters and to know that they’re not alone. I would have recognized myself in this story and it would have given me hope. My mission now is to give other survivors hope.
Authors get stories from so many different places and experiences. It’s always interesting to discover where the inspiration comes from. Today, we’ll hear from debut author, Annette O’Hare. Her historical romance, Northern Light has already garnered some terrific reviews!
From the first sentence to the book’s stunning conclusion, Annette O’Hare’s brilliant first novel Northern Light captured my heart. O’Hare’s storytelling is flawless and her grasp of Texas history is spot on. This tenth generation Texan heartily approves! Do yourself a favor and savor this meeting of North and South on the Bolivar peninsula. I promise it will be the best book you’ll read in a very long time! —Kathleen Y’Barbo, best-selling author of over 40 titles
My Inspiration For Writing Northern Light
By: Annette O’Hare
There’s a wonderful phrase known to authors that says, write what you know. This simple idiom by Twain, or was it Faulkner, no…I think it might have been Thurber, no it was definitely Twain who said it. Whoever it was knew what they were talking about and that’s why I wrote Northern Light. The setting for my debut novel is the lighthouse on the Bolivar Peninsula on the Texas coast; a place near and dear to my heart. A place I know very well.
When I was a child growing up in Houston, Texas in the 1970’s, my family visited Bolivar every summer for fishing, swimming, and shell hunting. My father would drive our family of five to Galveston, and then onto a short ferry ride connecting Galveston Island with the Bolivar Peninsula.
The ferry ride was a favorite part of the vacation. We made playful bets concerning which ferry we would ride. Would it be the Cone Johnson, the E.H. Thornton Jr., the R.S. Sterling, or the Gibb Gilchrist? We knew each boat by name. My two older brothers and I would save back French fries and pinches of bread from our fast food meals. After the boat was loaded and the captain gave the safety speech, we would bolt for the back of the boat to feed the seagulls and dolphins.
I always knew the exact place the ferry would dock at the peninsula because Daddy told me to look for the landmark. It was hard to find at first, but the closer the ferry came to Bolivar, the bigger it became. By the time the boat landed, the Bolivar Point Lighthouse was as big as a skyscraper in this little girl’s eyes.
Once off the boat we drove past the iron lighthouse. Her light extinguished, she no longer lit the way for ships coming in or going out of Galveston Bay. Daddy always pointed out the two, abandoned keeper’s houses beside the lighthouse. He showed how one of the house’s nameplates read Boyt and the other, Maxwell. I didn’t understand the significance then, but later I realized the connection. Daddy’s aunt, my great aunt, was married to a Boyt, and she and her sister, my grandmother, were born with the surname Maxwell.
You’re probably wondering if my daddy’s family were the lighthouse keepers. No, the truth is that Mr. Boyt, my great-uncle, bought the lighthouse and property at an auction and it has been owned by that family ever since.
The original Bolivar Point Lighthouse dates back prior to the Civil War. In fact, it was during that war that the Confederates completely dismantled the lighthouse. Some accounts say it was so the Union wouldn’t use the light to
their advantage. Others say the Confederate army used the iron for weapons and artillery. Nevertheless, the lighthouse was rebuilt shortly after the war. The great conical tower has seen over 150 years of United States history and it still stands tall on the Bolivar Peninsula to this day.
Visit Annette at AnnetteOHare.com
About Northern Light
Civil War has robbed Margaret Logan of all she holds dear, including her beloved New Orleans home and her fiancé. When her family moves to the desolate Bolivar Peninsula to manage a lighthouse that is no longer there, all her hopes for a normal future are dashed. Her world is rocked once again when a wounded Yankee soldier washes ashore needing her help. Despite her contempt for the North, Margaret falls in love with Thomas Murphy. As their love blooms, Margaret’s sister is overcome with neurosis, and her mind slowly slips away. Bitterness, psychosis and depression yield a decision fueled by contempt. Will one fatal choice cause Margaret to lose the man she loves and condemn Thomas to death?
Purchase Northern Light in e-book or paperback
This week, we’re pleased to feature the winner of the July Clash of the Titles competition. Susan Page Davis is the author of more than sixty published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and also a winner of the Carol Award, the Will Rogers Medallion, and was a finalist in the WILLA Awards and the More Than Magic Contest.
A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Her historical romance The Outlaw Takes a Bride is a finalist in the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Awards.
Her latest accomplishment is having her brand new June release, River Rest, be chosen as the July Clash of the Titles victor.
We asked Susan to tell us a little about writing River Rest. Here’s what she had to say.
CBA: What made you choose the setting for your story?
SPD: My great-aunt left a journal she wrote in the 1920s and ’30s. It gave such a vivid picture of life in rural Maine that I wanted to write a story in that setting. I decided to push it back to 1918, near the end of World War I, because of the added tension and also because my grandfather (Aunt Belle’s brother-in-law) served in WWI. He was drafted close to the end of the war, and I adapted some details of his story to fit in for my heroine, Judith’s brother. River Rest is purely fiction, but many of the events in it were inspired by things that really happened in my family.
CBA: Do your characters have anything in common with real people?
SPD: In real life, my grandmother (Aunt Belle’s sister) was a schoolteacher before she married my grandfather. Judith has a lot in common with both my Nana and Aunt Belle. She loves her bird feeder, she learns to make quilts, and she cooks many of the same things my Nana served. Her life on the farm is a lot like theirs was. I love Judith because she keeps on, even when she is tempted to fall into depression as her father did. She knows people are depending on her, so she perseveres.
CBA: You mention your story was inspired by your great-aunt’s journal. What’s the best thing you learned from reading what she wrote?
SPD: My Great-aunt Belle, who wrote the journal, died in 1939, long before I was born. She was 55, and she died from complications of appendicitis. I never got the chance to know her, and I would love to be able to sit down with her for a cup of tea. As a side note, I had acute appendicitis myself in 1985, and it was no fun then, with modern medicine to help me out. Aunt Belle noted so many cultural things in her diary—who she voted for, the famous boxers of the day, the way the neighboring farm boys were building tractors out of truck chassis, and all the community events and gossip. She never had children of her own, but she doted on her nieces and nephews. I think I would have loved her.
Thanks to Susan for her insights. You may visit her at her website at: www.susanpagedavis.com .
River Rest sounds like an interesting read. Here’s more about the book:
Judith Chadbourne gave up her teaching job after her mother’s death to help her father with her five siblings. But when her father sinks into deep depression and her brother Joel is drafted, the household chores and farm work may overwhelm her. Neighbor Ben Thayer offers to buy their farm, shocking Judith and angering her father. An outsider from New York, Ben seems rich and mysterious, but his heart aches from his own loss. Judith accidentally breaks the antique crystal Christmas ornament her mother loved. The splintering star echoes her family’s shattering. Ben’s efforts to help make Judith suspicious, but when Joel falls critically ill at the army camp, Ben’s aid brings the beginnings of trust. After the armistice, and the community and family start to recover from the strain of the war, but Judith learns independence is lonely. When Ben is injured, she is the only one who can help him. Can love take her beyond the frozen Maine winter?
If you’re into period romances, be sure to check this one out! A plethora of people voted this into their TBR pile. You might want to join them!