Categories
Encouragement

How to Have a Better Life in 2020

 

It’s almost time for a New Year—and a new decade! How will your life be better in 2020 and beyond? What choices will you make to do things differently?

Most New Year’s resolutions come and go like snowflakes on hot sand. They don’t seem to last. Instead, why not take time to reflect on and reevaluate your life so you can make better choices next year? Here are some ideas to get started:

Reflect. Review the past year. What went right? What do you want to improve?

Pray. Take time to get away by yourself to think and pray for a bit. Ask God what is on His heart for this new year and the future. Take time to be still and listen. This will be foundational and time well spent for the months ahead.

Plan. Think about the various areas of your life. Jot some notes about what you’d really like to do in 2020. Even one or two things in each category can be a start. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Here are some ideas.

Spiritual Life – I want to find (or lead) a small group or Bible study. I want to pray bolder prayers.

Relationships – I want to spend more quality time with my close friends. I want to really listen to my spouse and kids.

Health and fitness – I want to walk every day for at least 15 minutes. I want to find recipes that are easy to make and healthy.

Emotional life – I want to be more joyful. I want to let go of the past. I want to live a life of gratitude.

Finances – I want to get out of debt. I want to start saving or saving more. I want to be a generous giver.

Writing life – I want to finish the book proposal and sample chapters I’ve been working on and submit them to my agent by March 1. I want to attend at least one writer’s conference.

Believe. Lastly, believe that things really can be better. That God has a good plan for your life, not just everyone else’s. He knows and loves you so, and wants His best for you.

My prayer is that 2020 will be a positively amazing year for you. Here’s to believing for the best!

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson

Jackie M. Johnson an author, blogger and freelance writer who inspires readers worldwide to grow a better life with hope-filled, encouraging content. Her books include, Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery guide When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie blogs for singles at “Living Single” on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website and at the “Growing a Better Life” blog on her website, www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com. “Goals 2020” photo credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. 

 

 

 

Categories
Devotional Encouragement

Feeling Defeated? It’s Time for a “Resurrection”

Are you having a bad day? A bad decade? If you’re struggling to find peace, if you feel a certain emptiness, or you’ve misplaced your faith, there is hope.

In the midst of your mess, take heart and remember anew that the power of the resurrection is available in your life today.

Recently, Christians around the world celebrated Easter. We remember each year the true story of Jesus Christ dying on a Cross and rising from the dead—alive and victorious! He said He would and He did! Christ defeated death so we could live forgiven and free, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The good news is that we can live alive and victorious, too.

What was true thousands of years ago is still true: the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is available to us today—and every day. (Check out Ephesians 1:19-20)

While things may seem dead or dormant in your life, the power of our living and loving God can resurrect and bring to life again. He has the power—the strength and ability fueled by love—to make real and lasting changes in your life.

He brings wholeness from brokenness.

He creates order from chaos.

He brings prodigals home.

He heals our infirmities.

He frees us from the grip of sin and temptation.

He resurrects dreams and desires.

He helps us to love again.

And so much more.

Just as an expectant gardener tills the soil, plants seeds, and waters the ground, surrender your hopes and dreams and brokenness in the soil of faith. Keep it well-watered by reading God’s Word, talking with God in prayer, praising Him and thanking Him for all He has done. Expect God to grow new life in you and your circumstances.

It’s time for a resurrection.

 

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson
Praying With Power When Life Gets Tough by Jackie M Johnson
Praying With Power When Life Gets Tough by Jackie M Johnson

Jackie M. Johnson is an author, blogger, and freelance writer who inspires readers worldwide to grow a better life. She’s the author of the popular Power Prayers for Women; the breakup recovery resource When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty; and the inspiring Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

 

 

Categories
Humor

A Starry-eyed Kid

One day, my friend, Kim, was teaching her toddler about the American flag. She pointed to the stars on the flag, and told the little girl that each star was for one of the 50 states in our nation—like Arizona, Texas,California, Ohio, Wisconsin, and so on, until she listed all of the states.

When Kim finished, her little girl looked up and with wide-eyed innocence said, “Which star is for Baby Jesus?”

Thank  you, Jackie M. Johnson, for sending us this and sharing it with us!


Jackie M. Johnson is an author and blogger. Her books include Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery resource When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie also blogs for singles at Living Single on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website.

 www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com

Categories
Encouragement

Trusting God

By Jackie M. Johnson

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Life is full of challenges. You want to lose weight but the pounds stick to you like super glue.

A friend needs a new job or is having marital problems. Your niece is wondering if she will ever get married. Our country is divided on political issues. And on it goes.

As believers, we are taught early to “trust in the Lord.” But what does that really mean and how do we do it?

Trust means letting God be God. Not freaking out when the bills pile up like snow in the Rocky Mountains. Not striving to make things happen on our own. Trust is releasing worry and surrendering stress. It’s letting go of the problem and believing that the One who loves us most will take care of our situation.

So when you submit a book proposal, you don’t keep calling your agent every few days to see how it’s going. Or, if you don’t have the money for rent or the mortgage, you don’t worry incessantly. You pray and take action, and trust God will provide instead of trying to control outcomes and letting the stress keep you awake at night.

As you pray, God acts. He may ask you to do something or he may direct you to wait and be still. Either way, you learn to lean, not on your own understanding of how things should be, but on the strong shoulders of Jesus Christ. He has the wisdom to know what to do, even when the next step seems unclear. He has the strength and power to make real and lasting changes. And, he acts out of ultimate love for his daughters and sons.

God will do what is best, in His way and in His timing. On that we can rely.

Trust in His goodness. Rest in His love.

Jackie M. Johnson is the author of the popular Power Prayers for Women, the helpful breakup recovery resource When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. She also writes a blog for single and single again readers, Living Single, on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website. Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

 

Categories
Writing Business

Tips from the Pros: Jackie M. Johnson

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

Hello from Kevin Thompson in the abnormally warm south! A temperature of 81 in January is hot, even by Floridian standards. Something about high pressure blocking cold fronts from getting here…. Yay! The mosquitoes will be spared!

Ugh.

Well, it’s time for another edition of Tips from the Pros! And this go ’round, let’s welcome Jackie M. Johnson to the front porch.

Hi, Jackie! Glad you could make it. So, tell us, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson

As an author and blogger, I write books and blog posts (mostly for women) that offer hope and encouragement to readers worldwide. Women today seem more stressed and discouraged, overworked and overwhelmed than ever. I want to offer godly wisdom and biblical advice—in a way that’s easy to understand and apply to everyday life. My books include:

  • Power Prayers for Women (a topical book with practical, biblical inspiration and prayers for every area of a woman’s life)
  • When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty (a helpful resource for healing a relationship breakup)
  • Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough – releases January 17, 2017 (a topical book with hope-filled, encouraging stories and dynamic prayers when life is hard)

You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

Praying With Power When Life Gets Tough by Jackie M Johnson
Praying With Power When Life Gets Tough by Jackie M Johnson

The writing life can be rewarding, but it’s not always easy. You need to have tenacity and perseverance—and a lot of passion for your writing. You will get tired and discouraged at times, but passion will fuel you with the energy you need to complete that next chapter or get that next book proposal out to your agent.

I’ve also learned how interactive the writing life can be since social media allows authors two-way communication to convey a message to an audience, grow that audience and receive feedback from readers in unprecedented ways.

What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?

Know your audience. Target your audience. Interact with your audience. Find out how to promote your books and author brand. There are a lot of resources out there. Being a member of CAN has been a helpful resource. Try different media and see what works most effectively for your readers. Bottom line: You are not only an author you are also a marketing person. So you need to learn how to promote your books or hire someone to do that for you.

What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?

For my readers, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have proved to be the most popular social media outlets. I’ve discovered that Facebook ads are great and low cost way to grow your audience.

What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?

Years, ago I sent postcards to bookstores (with a cover of the book on one side and promotional text on the other side). I didn’t have much success with that promotional effort at the time.

What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?

Mostly, I connect with readers through my author Facebook page or on Twitter. I know a lot of people talk about building an email list, but I have not yet done that. One thing that keeps me from doing so is that I get so many emails from other companies and I don’t want to annoy others with emails I send. I think if it’s done right, and you don’t “bombard” people with email, it can be effective.

Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?

Yes. When my first book was released in 2007, the publisher had some wonderful distribution opportunities for Power Prayers for Women with Walmart and with Choice Books (who distribute to airports, grocery stores and other places). I had friends from around the country—many of whom I had not heard from for years—call to let me know that they had seen my new book in a Walmart in Michigan, or a store in Pennsylvania, or at an airport bookstore in Tampa or at a grocery store in Colorado. As a new author, I was so amazed that my first book had national appeal—and then I discovered that I also had an international audience.

I began to get letters, emails, Facebook messages and tweets from readers around the world—India, Brazil, England, Australia and other places.

I was very excited when I learned that my books would be translated into other languages. Some of them are available in Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and soon Spanish.  It is a blessing and a joy to know that men and women all over our planet can find hope and encouragement through the books I’ve written.

What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?

Start early. Don’t wait until your book is published before starting to build your author platform. Consider your author brand. How do you want to be perceived as an author? Create a website. Build social media and interact regularly. Tell your website and social media audience that you have a new book “Coming Soon” (include the book cover image once you have it). Ask your publisher’s publicity staff about their plan is for promoting your book. Do a book blog tour. Guest post on blogs related to your book’s topic. Attend conferences for writers since they’re a great place to learn about marketing and promoting your book. Have a book release party in your home, at a friend’s home or a local coffeehouse. It’s a great way let your close friends, family and others be a part of the celebration (and become “word of mouth” ambassadors for your book).

Jackie, thank you so much for stopping by and telling your story.

If you wish to connect with Jackie, you can find her here:

 

Take care and keep writing!

Kevin

Categories
Marketing

Marketing for Authors: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson

Greetings from Jackie M. Johnson!

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on your marketing efforts over the past year and prepare for the year ahead. Here’s what I like to do. First, I look over my content marketing and social media. I review the analytics on my website, blog and Facebook page and note the pages that were most accessed and the posts that received the most views and “likes.” What worked well? What didn’t?

Categories
Marketing

6 Social Media Trends for Authors and Speakers

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson

Greetings from Jackie M. Johnson!

Keeping up to date with the latest social media trends isn’t always easy for busy writers and speakers. Things change quickly in the digital world, and we don’t always make time to read the most recent tech blogs or social media news.

Yet, authors are required to “grow our platforms” so we can build our brand, market our books, build community and connect with readers and potential readers—and much of that is accomplished online.

So I’ve culled 6 social media trends that may be helpful in your social media strategy.

Categories
Writing craft

6 Essentials for a Better Working Relationship with Your Publisher

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson

Greetings from Jackie M. Johnson!

Most first time authors seem to focus on the fundamentals: What is a query letter? How can I improve my book proposal? Or, is my manuscript well-written? When your goal is to get published, all of these are important and timely questions to ask. Both new and advanced authors need to hone their skills and produce exceptional content.

But that is just the start.

Categories
Writing Business

Working with a Literary Agent: 6 Essentials

Jackie M. Johnson
Jackie M. Johnson

Greetings from Jackie M. Johnson!

Are you working with a literary agent for the first time? Or, are you looking for ways to improve the working relationship you have with your current agent? If so, here are six essential things you need to know.

As an author, it is vital to know what your agent does—and what he or she does not do. Knowing this information can help alleviate misunderstandings and create a sense of realistic expectations.

 

Categories
Inspiration for Writers

Finding Time to Write: It’s About Choices

"Jackie

Greetings from Jackie M. Johnson!

What do Olympic athletes and contestants on reality music competition shows have in common?

They both practice their craft intensely. Knowing that swimmers, runners and artists who sing their hearts out practice for hours each day, humbles me; it gives me pause to think about my own dedication to the writing craft.

Over the years I’ve written books, articles, blog posts, marketing collateral and other material. Like those athletes and artists, I’ve have to make hard choices.

When I am writing a book, I judiciously guard my time. If I didn’t remove distractions and focus, I wouldn’t meet my deadlines. But, it helps to keep in mind that it’s only for a “season.”

Whether you write professionally or on a freelance basis (either full-time or part-time)—or, you’re a writer wanna-be—it is essential to choose to make time for your writing. Easier said than done, right? Life happens. I get it. Despite our best intentions, we get busy with family, friends, church activities, sports, hobbies, work, travel and more.

How do you find time to write even when life is full? Here are some ideas to consider:

Schedule time to write. Yes, you may have heard this before. But, don’t freak yourself out. The key here is to start small and build momentum. Whether it’s a block of one hour or ten minutes, put something on the calendar for writing time.Then, just start. And, as you do, you will find yourself writing more and increasing your time working with words.

Some writers I know block out entire writing days or weeks. Others don’t have that luxury. No matter what your life looks like, schedule a few hours a week on your calendar. They could be all at once, or one per day, or whatever works for you.

Here’s the thing. Some people find their efforts stalling, like a car on the freeway, when they attempt to write and edit at the same time. Instead, just write—no matter how good or bad it is—then return to the piece later and edit what you’ve written.   

Find “pockets” of time. I am notorious for jotting down ideas on a napkin at a restaurant or on the smallest possible scrap of paper because I don’t want to lose a good idea. Keep pen and paper (or electronic device) in your purse, in your car, near your bed, in your kitchen to capture your thoughts before they fleet away.

Create a writing place. Some writers set up a desk and deem that their “writing place.” Others write on their laptop or other portable device while sitting on the couch or lingering at a coffee shop. Find what works for you so when you get there, it signals, “Time to write.”

Deal with procrastination. Recently, I heard a good phrase that is supposed to help people do something they don’t want to do: Do it anyways. The key to getting things done, in my opinion, is to break the task into smaller pieces. I mean smaller pieces. Go buy a few reams of paper. Turn your PC or MAC on. Sit in the chair. Write something, anything, just to get warmed up. Baby steps can be helpful for people who just need to begin.

Make your writing a priority. If you want to write and you never seem to get around to it, then your writing is a back burner item. It’s an afterthought, and you need to make it a priority. Put it on the front burner of your life, like a pot of soup that’s bubbling over. You need to attend to it now!

Limit your social media. This may be hard for some people, but if you’re going to make your writing a priority—and your life is already full of activity—then cutting down on social media can shave minutes (or hours) from your jam-packed schedule and free up time to do what you say you want to do: write. Set a timer (like the one on your kitchen stove or smartphone) for a set number of minutes. Engage in your social media, and then stop. Don’t keep checking your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop or other device. It’s time to focus.

Create a prayer team for your writing life. We need the power of God to work in us and through us to be efficient and effective, even when life pulls us in myriad directions. A number of writers I know have created a prayer team for their writing life—or for a specific project (like while you are writing a book). I do this too.

Ask a few friends if they would be willing to pray for you and your projects on a daily or weekly basis. Send email to update them on your progress and your prayer needs. You may want to ask for specific prayer items (such as time, energy, creative ideas, and for God to order your steps) or keep it general; it’s up to you.

Before the busy fall starts, decide when you will write. Set appointments with yourself. Make it a priority.

It all adds up to this: If you want to write and you’re too busy, then you’re too busy. Something’s got to give. You’ve got to want it. Add to your passion for writing the other steps of planning, prayer and perseverance.

It’s about choices. Choose wisely, and watch your writing life come alive!

 

Jackie M. Johnson is an author, freelance writer and book publishing consultant. Visit her blog, A New Day Cafe, or website for more information.