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When is it appropriate to use your trauma, personal drama, family emergency – or other catastrophe to sell books? Some might say, “Never!” —but then only presenting the rosy, perfect, polished side of life isn’t very authentic.

Recently, my husband’s brush with death in a traffic accident, a ministry friend’s early step into heaven and a leader’s home fire all caused me to ponder, “When is it good or a part of God’s will to post on tragedy and turmoil?”

Here are a few questions to ask before your post (especially if sharing a story will result in a profit of any kind, including books sales, it is best to double -check your heart):

Is this my story to tell?

Post unto others as you would have posted unto you paraphrases the Golden Rule of Christ’s words in Matthew 7:12.  If this is not your life, recount the facts and feelings in a way that you would like someone to do for you. Share your own personal feelings, how God is speaking to you, what you learned while keeping the details of the story private to protect another already going through a challenging time.  If it is your story, as was the case with my side of the story (of the near tragedy of my husband Bill’s truck being hit and hurled into a concrete highway divider by a speeding teen driver), then I was free to share my point of view, my feelings, and I did link to our marriage books. Because the principles in those books would help another couple in a comparable situation, we both wanted to use this pivotal moment to teach and train. (Read the full story )

Have I asked permission?

“…serve one another in love…” (Gal. 15:13 )

Even though I had plenty to share from my point of view, because someone else was also in the story, after our emotions settled and the crisis handled, I felt it necessary to ask Bill, if and when he might be comfortable with me sharing the account.  I penciled out what I thought was appropriate at this juncture and ran the text by him for approval. One never wants to add to another’s pain and drama when they are already experiencing pain and drama!

Is this the right time?

“it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time… “ (Proverbs 15:23 )

There might be a need or a desire to share an announcement or a statement. In these cases, if the ministry or the person themselves has shared, it is best to directly quote their testimonial.  Ask yourself “Will sharing the information lessen a person’s trauma, help meet his or her need or help reach or inform the audience he or she is trying to reach?”  For example, when a ministry leader was killed overseas and his ministry was wanting to get the word out so people could pray for his wife, family and his ministry, I instantly shared the post because it was clear that was the result wanted. In my post, I did inform my audience a little more of the bio, including a few of his books, so people would recognize and know whom I was talking about.

What is my motive?

“Search me God and know my heart…” (Psalms 139:23 )

Sometimes people rush to be the bearers of shocking news simply because they gain attention because they might have an insider’s view or a seat behind the scenes. Nothing hurts someone already going through a private tragedy in public view more than having friends divulge information he or she might have wanted to keep private. Ask yourself, “Would the person at the center see the sharing of this information as a betrayal?” Also ask yourself if you are the best person to share the news, or if there is someone better suited, better prepared, better equipped or better at handling these emotionally charged events.  Many professions are well trained in handling these kind of raw life moments: pastors, doctors, politicians, law enforcement or military leaders all have as part of their training elements of crisis management.   It might be God will ask you to be the silent servant behind the scenes that helps a family member or leader as he or she interacts with the public.

What is the desired outcome?

“Set your affections on the things above…” (Col. 3:2)

If you sense a green light on all the above questions, then before God ask, “Lord, what do you want to see happen in the lives of others who might read these words or hear this video?”  Is God wanting people to come to know Him personally and be prepared for eternity? Is he asking you to rally help or aid? Does the person or family in crisis have an economic need that they have asked you to share? It there a moral or Biblical truth that needs highlighted?  Before you write, before you speak—pray.

 

Pam Farrel is the very grateful to God wife of Bill, who was at the center of this story – and whose tale has a happy ending. (Fortunately, miraculously, my husband survived).  Together the Farrels write, speak and travel the world encouraging, equipping and inspiring people to live “Love-Wise.” They are the authors of 45 books including the newly revised, updated and expanded version of their best seller, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti.

 

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God calls us to bless those who bless us, and even shepherd our Shepherds:

Gal. 6:6 says, “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.”

Hebrews 6:10 reminds, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Proverbs 11:25: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

We are all clearly called to reach out to build and bless those that build and bless us.clergy-couples-collage-2016

Recently, our ministry held a Ministry-Minded Marriage/ Clergy Couples Date Night to honor and bless those who serve so faithfully.  Bill and I have spent our entire married life in some form of ministry. Around the world are selfless clergy couples who run to the side of others in need to give God’s love, so here are three things you can do to LUV your pastor or the clergy couples of your church (or parachurch) staff:

Listen—then take action: Tune in and get your eyes off yourself and ask honest questions to see if you really know what your pastor and his wife are dealing with personally. Some common struggles of clergy couples are economic distress or pressure;  creating uninterrupted time together ; keeping a positive attitude in the middle of handling negative situations , or  same stressors as anyone else: a strong willed or special needs child, a prodigal teen, health issues, or life stage drama like mid-life crisis. Be one of the people that surround the shepherd of your flock and offer a listening ear and tangible help. Your empathy and  words of kindness and affirmation will also go a long way in helping easy this burden. (Read the Farrel’s Blog on How to Bless and Build Your Pastor’s Marriage)

Underwrite: Be generous. Give funding to the pastor(s) to for the kind of things that keep a marriage healthy. Send gift cards for dates, pay for a weekend away in a nice hotel or loan out your cabin.    Often Christian conference centers offer free housing to clergy couples, so even a small church can raise money for the gas and a couple meals and partner with the local Christian Camp to give your clergy couple some time alone together. (Our book Red Hot Monogamy has 200 ideas to keep passion in the parsonage!)  In the church budget should also be funds for an annual marriage conference for the clergy couples to attend. Also, if there are clergy denominational meetings or conferences, add in a little extra to sponsor the spouse to attend too. Ministry minded marriages that have peers and mentors who they can be authentic with will have people to turn to in times of stress or crisis and this will strengthen the ministry marriage. (Our book A Coured_hot_monogamyples’ Journey with God can help ministry minded couples learn from some of what we experienced)

Volunteer: If you have a strong marriage, offer to help head up the marriage ministry at your church, or at least part of it: offer to run a small group for married couples; chair a marriage retreat committee, be the point person for a couples, date night, or write a blog on marriage for the church website or weekly bulletin. If your marriage has survived and overcome a particular challenge, offer to the pastor to meet with other couples who might come to him for the same issue.  If your pastor has young children, volunteer to babysit (or arrange the childcare)  so they can have a weekly date night. Also offer to be part of a prayer team for the clergy couple or offer to pay for counseling, or the cost of getting them to a ministry minded intensive (At Love-Wise we have a “Marriage On the Rocks?” resource list of multiple options to rescue and rebuild a relationship).

With a little bit of LUV we can show care for those who care so much for others.  In showing these leaders and gatekeepers LUV and goodwill, they will often, in turn show you as an author, speaker, bookstore owner, or leader favor as well.

69Pam and Bill Farrel have been a clergy couple nearly all of their 37 years of marriage. First in youth ministry, then Bill as a Lead Pastor for 15 years and Pam was a Director of Women’s Ministry; and then Bill as a Small Groups Pastor at Shadow Mountain Church under the leadership Dr David Jeremiah. Now the Farrels are international speakers, relationship specialists, and authors of 40 books. The Farrels are focused on helping individuals and couples become Love-Wise. (www.love-wise.com)

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This is a hard to swallow quote for those of us who write and sell words. But it was someone just like us who, allegedly,  first uttered this

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now timeless catchy phrase. In 1927, newspaper journalist Fred R. Barnard, shared this quote to express the need for a photo to accompany important articles and ads. And the principle has never been more vital than in today’s digitally cluttered cyberspace.

I asked one friend of mine, author, Linda Goldfarb, if I could share a few of her personality-packed photos to give all of us authors, speakers, bookstore owners, a fresh way to reframe our mission, our platform, our brand and perhaps even the way we present the gospel.

As you plan your own photo shoot, ask three simple questions:

Who is my audience? Be as specific as you can, then go in search of examples of images that this audience has responded to. What has gone viral? Whose Instagram images are the most followed?  Linda is popular with those who vlinda goldfarb profile series pixalue a balance of the Biblical wisdom mixed with authentic transparency, humor and the hope of overcoming whatever obstacle life
might send their way. This series of photos capture all these priorities .  (On her website these images rotate automatically!)

 

Who am I? What do I want conveyed to my audience? Do my images match who I am in person? Do they match my personality? Do Linda goldfarb and hubby Samthey represent my calling?  Am I approachable  and easy to relate to in this image?  This image of Linda and her husband captures the wide variety of who they are as a couple.  Linda explains, “// // <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/photo.php?fbid=10154635213594505&set=pb.636924504.-2207520000.1471478617.&type=3&size=960%2C960&_fb_noscript=1″ /> Sam and I are known as the Trans-Parent-Farbs!”

In our ministry, this image of Bill kissing me has had huge emotional impact, especially when linked to our Red Hot Monogamy or Red Hot Romance Tips for Women books. This photo captures that more than success in writing or speaking, it is success in our marriage that really matters to us. (And is is what we hope and pray our Love-Wise ministry helps as many couples as possible achieve.[am bill beach kiss rebecca

What is my mission? Ask yourself, “How can I get others to feel about my calling, passion and mission, the same way I feel about it?” Or “List images you have seen that helped you feel called into the ministry you have today. For example, Bill and I are “marriage missionaries”, much in part to the chaotic, and anger-filled homes we grew up in. So images of couples in conflict will always catch my eye—and cause me to want to take action to give those in the photo a better, happier life!That is why when I saw this photo of Linda and her husband, it caught my heart, and my eye, and inspired this blog!

Linda goldfarb gender wars

Take some time and think through then talk through your ideas for images that will best represent you, your mission and reach your audience. It will be worth the time to create the image that will be “picture perfect!”

(photo of Pam and Bill  and signature photo of the Farrels are by Rebecca Friedlander)

69

 

Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship experts, authors of 45 books, including Men Are Like Waffle, Women Are Like Spaghetti , and co-directors of Love-Wise.com

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Marketing in today’s world takes a team—a well- oiled machine of wisdom–  or at least a circle of friends committed to share each other’s PR and “street team” nuggets so everyone moves their ministry and business forward.  This year at ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) the CAN Author Bootcamp was just that– a WEALTH OF CBA CAN auhtor boot camp pamWISDOM!~ ! In a wonderful “meeting of the minds” CBA (Christian Bookstore Association, CAN and Harvest House Publishers sponsored a very informative morning. I had the joy of kicking off the morning with a keynote on 7 Simple Skills to Success in Publishing where I shared  the God-empowered story of how Bill and I have survived and thrived for three decades in Christian publishing. (watch here (video thanks to Linda Goldfarb)

I have always loved passing right along any wisdom, connections, links, advice others have shared with me because this world is so dark that it takes ALL OF US holding up God’s light of love and truth to piece the darkness. Because of the world’s great need, we cannot, not should not, be selfish with the information we have gleaned or the advice others have passed on to us. That is what I love about CAN! Each person helping encourage and equip the other for greater success.

cba author bootcamp cba presI had the joy of hearing from so manty BRILLIANT leaders at the author bootcamp. Here is a quick list and my grateful THANKS! Because my husband and I learned SO MUCH TOO ) :

The Seinfeld Secret by Anita Agers Brooks

Websites and Plugins by Angela Breidenbach

15-Minute Writer by Dena Dyer

Marketing With Memes by Linda Kozar

Organizing Your Writing Life by Susan G. Mathis

Professional Organizations for Authors by Ava Pennington

CAN Your Marketing Movie by Maureen Pratt

Know Your Audience by Cynthia Ruchti

Reaching Reader Groups by Karen Whiting

Connect With Sponsors by Lynda T. Young

Ava Pennington shared a long list of organizations, affiliations, and networks that authors can join. Other than CAN, let me share four others that have been a source of encouragement, equipping and inspiration to me in this past year.

(Handouts from these mini seminars  available here)

cba author bootcamp Can bar harvest hosue

AWSA: Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. This group, started by author, Linda Shepherd, in 2011, is compromised of the top 10% of women Christian authors. AWSA hosts an annual summer conference the few days pam carol kent linda shepherd icrs 2013leading up to ICRS. In addition, they offer MasterMind groups for the more serious entrepreneur author; and a daily online “loop” filled with encouragement, equipping and positive support for the group’s members.

Bridge Builders: This is a new group to  most, but it’s founder, Maria Keckler is a long term friend of ours. We first met Maria when she and my husband, Bill, were both working for Dr David Jeremiah at Shadow Mountain Church in San Diego . Everything Maria has ever done is EXCELLENT A+ quality! I had the joy of being a cheerleader to her as she penned her first book, Be a Bridge Builder. She has gone on to create a power-packed online pam maria arlene at m hayattprogram for entrepreneurs’: Business Breakthrough University (of all kinds of businesses including writers/ speakers) . She is brave, bold, and Biblical and she has the ability to synthesize information gleaned from some of the world’s most successful business minds into a use to access, easy to implement format. Maria is a brilliant encourager and equipper who can take a person’s hopes and dreams and help turn them into a successful reality.

CWEN: Christian Women Entrepreneurs’ Network is a local (San Diego) networking group founded by Rebecca Garcia. These women, pam rebecca cwenfrom a wide variety of businesses, are joining together to equip one another, support one another but mostly grow in Christ so as they work their businesses they each reflect Jesus and glorify the God who gave them their talent, dream and platform.  If  you do a little research in your city or community,  you may have a similar network of Christians in Business.  I have three of four other local networking groups I speak for and am a member of– nothing like home town friends who you can hug, pray with and can pray for you!  If you can’t find one, maybe God is calling you to start one!

 

pam bill happy hug sail lightenedPam Farrel is the author of 45 books including best-selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. She and her husband, Bill, are Co-Directors of Love-Wise.com. When they are not writing, or speaking some place around the world, you will likely find them walking the beach or sailing.

 

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This week, I signed a contract with Harvest House Publishers for my 45th book.  This one is a wonderful collaboration between myself and a wonderful Bible study teacher, Jean Jones and a very talented artist in Karla Dornacher  (see Karla on Etsy). We each bring our strengths to the book and we also pull our platforms together for greater reach and influence.

hope in pslams collage of writers higher rez

I have had the joy of co-authoring with some amazing people:jill saveage hearts pic

Jill Savage,  the founder and President of Hearts at Home  for Got Teens?  (Harvest House)

Doreen Hanna, the founder and President of Modern Day Princess ministry for Raising a Modern Day PrincePam and doreen pix princess party nov 2010 ass (for parents and leaders) and Becoming a Modern Day Princess for tween and teen girls (Focus on the Family/Tyndale)

Dawn Wilson, popular blogger at Upgrade with Dawn and founder of Heart Choices ministry for pam and dawn and LOl top of dial atlantaLOL with God: Messages of Hope and Help for Women

Stephen Aurterburn, Founder of New Life, Women of Faith and popular author of numerous titles for Devotions for Women on the Go ( and my steve Aurterburnhusband, Bill,  co-authored Devotions for Men on the Go Tyndale Publishers)

Chad Eastham teamed with us to reach the next generation with Guys are Waffles, Girls are like Spaghetti (Thomas Nelson)

And most importantly, my husband, Bill and I regularly co-author marriage and parenting books (to date   approximately half of our books are co-authored together) . A few of our most popular, bestselling titles are Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti; Red Hot Monogamy; 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make and 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make.

We actually started our publishing career with a co-authored book, where we teamed with our mentors, Jim and Sally Conway and jim conway and bill miwrite: Pure Pleasure Making Your Marriage a Great Affair.

“Two are better than one” is a phrase often heard at weddings, but that concept can be extended to ministry and business relationships:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor (Eccl 4:9)

The upside reasons to co-author:

Greater Flexibility: It may or may not be less time writing—because the time you save on sharing writing will be taken up with conversations, but it is less time in front of the screen and at the keyboard – typically. This team-player approach maybe helpful if you have a full plate of speaking engagements or a day job because you often “take turns” doing pieces of the book so your work time can be a little more diversified in the various tasks—not just mainly in front of the screen.

Greater Audience Reach: books that are co-authored or collaborations bring  each author’s sphere of influence into the circle come launch time. It could also mean a varied platform as one of you might be terrific at Instagram Book wall 1while the other rocks facebook. One might have a radio show or podcast while the other has a powerful online video presence. A co author might also have a reach into an audience you don’t have. For example, when we teamed with youth speaker of women of Faith’s  Revolve tour, Chad Eastham, so he could translate our “Waffles & Spaghetti” material to the net generation.

Greater  Trust: Often in a co-authoring situation, a reader will see two trusted or three trusted names and the power of so many quality people in one book is appealing so it can move a persons to buy the book.

Greater Balance: Sometimes co-authoring will help you gain those few extra hours to sleep, work out, or spend with your spouse of family.

Greater Veracity: With many voices, you must have agreement of theology. You are less likely to go off track spiritually with greater accountability.

Greater Friendships: All our co-authors have become dear friends because of the honest conversations and numerous hours spent connecting over deep, important ideas. We have also remained friends because up front we talk over co-author details so everyone if unified and pulling in one direction. We always have an agreed upon mediator, and to date we have never had to use that person/company.

Greater Synergy: Having varied ideas, styles, voices, passions is electric!  You may just enjoy the energy and excitement of a team project.

Co-authoring isn’t for everyone—but it could be for you.

Pam and Bill Farrel are the co- Directors of Love-Wise.com. Their newest co-authored book is A Couple’s Journey with God

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