National Authors in Grocery Stores Program

Are your sales on Amazon flat? Do you feel like you’re shouting into a void when you promote your book?

If only I had access to the general public on a regular basis where I could sell my books.

Have you ever thought that? Indie authors, traditionally published writers, or hybrids—we’re all looking for reliable, effective means of getting our work out into the world.

Well, I have a solution for you! It’s called “National Authors in Grocery Stores Program.”

This program partners with various grocery stores. It started in Texas, but now stores in the following states have joined the program: Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

Authors pay a yearly membership fee of $75.00. You then pay $25 for each book title. This gets your book entered into the grocery store’s vendor program. Once you have registered your title, it’s a done deal. You pay only once per each book ISBN.

Authors set up a table inside the store and sell to passing shoppers. You retain 62% of the sale.

December is the perfect time to enroll in the program. It takes about thirty days to get everything into the system, so you’ll be ready to sell in January. This will give you a full twelve months of usage from your $75 membership fee. If you enroll in April, your renewal will be due in January, regardless of whether you got a full twelve months out of your membership fee.

How it works:

You pack in what you need. Table, chair, decorations, books, etc. You set up. You pack back out when you’re done.

You can make a copy of your book’s back cover where the ISBN number is located and give interested shoppers a copy of the cover which they use to buy the book at the register. The cashier scans the bar code, the shopper pays, then she brings her receipt back to your table and you hand over a book. Or you can hand them the book. Some authors worry shoppers will steal the book, hence the back cover copy idea. However, in my experience, after you chat with the reader and sign their book for them, you’ve developed a relationship. I have had no books go missing.

You can set up shop any day of the week, but the most popular are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Prime times are 3:00 – 7:00 on Fridays, and 10:00 – 3:00 on weekends. However, you can set up whatever day works best with your schedule. If you’re having a booming sales day, you may stay longer than you scheduled. If your sales are flat, you’re free to pack up and head home for the day. They arrange the schedule so only one author is there at a time.

Two of my friends in ACFW DFW Ready Writers have taken advantage of this opportunity, and they’ve both sold books by the hundreds. It requires a time commitment, but marketing our books is a continual hustle, and this one pays off. In four month’s time, I sold 75 copies of my books.

Interested? Contact Ray Depew at 845-699-6664 or at Ray is not affiliated with the grocery stores. He is an author, like the rest of us, but has put this program together to make the unending job of marketing a little bit easier.

So, get out there and promote yourself. Good luck and may the sales force be with you.

Click to download the official regulations.

Book launch for Texas Heirloom Ornament

We’re only two weeks away! Several of you have responded. I believe this is going to be a fun night out. Painting With a Twist sent me our registration link, so you can go online now and reserve a spot.

We won’t be the only group there, so register early to ensure you get a seat. Remember, there will be two raffle prizes. Send me those photos of you reading the book (or your receipt from Amazon if it hasn’t arrived yet). You may win a cool frame for your painting, or a free registration.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Courage to Stand Out

As a writer, it’s helpful that I have a family member who edits Christian publications for a living. I have my own, personal, built-in networking machine. (Thanks, Lori!) I recently enjoyed the opportunity to share an article with the magazine, The Journal: A Resource for Ministry Spouses.

I wrote the story, Courage to Stand Out, from an event that occurred almost a year ago. Now that I’m not teaching, I miss my chances of spending time with fun teenagers. A fellow church member, Linda Nowlin, asked me to drive our church van to Cleburne, Texas, to deliver gifts. Linda volunteers with CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate), as do I. Linda has also accompanied me to Mexico with my mission team, so we’ve worked with each other on multiple occasions. (More networking!) Our youth had collected several presents to donate to children in foster care.

This story is what came to me after listening to the girls chatter on the way home. My takeaway? Never be afraid to be different. God made each of us exactly the way we are, so embrace your difference. Check it out on page 16.

Texas Heirloom Ornament launch party!

Save the date. More details to follow as soon as Painting With a Twist confirms the availability of the artwork we’ve chosen. When they give me a thumbs up, I’ll pass along a link so you can register.

To make it more exciting, I’m doing a raffle. We’ll have two lucky winners. One will win a frame for their lovely painting, and the other will have their registration paid for. To be entered in the drawing, send me a) a photo of yourself holding (or even better, reading!) a copy of Texas Heirloom Ornament or b) your Amazon receipt from buying it (if it didn’t arrive in time for the party).

Seating is limited, so sign up soon! I hope to see you there.

It Takes a Village

One thing the Bible teaches us is God made us to live in community. The writing community is no different. We have author friends who have already walked the path we’re now on ourselves, and they are more than willing to lend a helping hand. That support is both crucial and encouraging.

Toni Shiloh is one such author. She speaks to writing groups to help bring along new and learning authors. She spoke to our DFW chapter this month about writing with diversity. Her topic is something we all need to learn and honor.

Toni also posts each Friday on her blog, Toni Shiloh – Soulfully Romantic, where she promotes new publications. She included both of my Christmas anthologies on this week’s post, along with others. You can read it here.

Feel free to browse! There are several to choose from. You may find something that piques your interest, and may also find some Christmas gifts. Enjoy. And, thanks, Toni!

I Need Your Help!

I am planning a launch party for my second Christmas anthology book (available October 12 on Amazon). I was invited to take part in the collection with Texas authors Jessica White and Sara Meg Seese. We titled the book Texas Heirloom Ornament, and it chronicles the stories of three generations of Texas women. Each story takes place around Christmas.

The first one, In Small Things Liberty, is set in 1923. Following is In Large Things Unity, which takes place in 1972. The collection wraps up with the third novella, In All Things Charity, in 2015. An heirloom Christmas ornament connects the three women in the stories as they pass it down from generation to generation. There is also just the slightest thread of feminism as each heroine deals with challenges from her particular era.

We are organizing a Painting With a Twist party, but they offer several options. Please tell me your top three choices of the following paintings. Also, let me know if you’d be interested in an invitation!

Thank you for your help, and I hope to see you there!

Option 1 – Bulbs of the Season
Option 2 – Christmas Love
Option 3 – Christmas Once More
Option 4 – Christmas Tree
Option 5 – Enchanted Christmas Tree
Option 6 – Holiday Shine
Option 7 – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Option 8 – Rustic Merry and Bright
Option 9 – Simple Christmas
Option 10 – Snow Bird
Option 11 – Trim the Tree
Option 12 – Whimsical Winter

This word you keep saying …

I’m a writer and I belong to a critique group. We meet once a week to share our works-in-progress. We listen to each other read and then offer suggestions about how to correct mistakes, or barring that, simply fine tune the craft. It’s the most helpful thing a new author can do for herself. Every writer should join a crit group.

Three months ago, one of my co-authors made a comment about my submission, and I cannot get it out of my mind.

The lady took umbrage at my use of a term she didn’t know. The word in question? Discomposed. She told me she’d never heard it, which is fine. There are lots of words I don’t know. But she went on to say she didn’t think my readers would understand it either. She suggested I change the phrase.

I declined her recommendation, but the idea behind her discontent has bothered me ever since.

I understand her reasoning. I totally get it. The biggest mistake a writer can make, apparently, is to pen something so distracting it “takes the reader out of the story.” The fear is, if this unpardonable sin occurs, the dear reader might decide never to return. There are a lot of easily available distractions in our world today.

But I disagree with part of that train of thought. I think reading can (and should be) a means of learning new things, of broadening our vocabularies. Any time you hear someone mispronounce a word, rest assured, they learned it from reading it. That’s a good thing! I can remember reading 101 Dalmatians as a 10-year-old and being puzzled by the differences in British English vs. American English, although I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time.

Words like “bachelor flat,” and “trousseau,” and “stacked plates on a lift.”

I was ten. I saw the words “bachelor flat” and my imagination produced something very thin. Trousseau? How do you even pronounce that? A lift? I learned what a dumbwaiter was by reading Harriet the Spy.

When I read The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver, I kept my phone by my side with my Google Translate app open, waiting to type in the Spanish words I didn’t know. I finished the book, by the way.

So, if you want to use a word that pushes your reader to learn something new, go for it. If your writing is entertaining enough, enticing enough, the reader will come back to the story after puzzling over the meaning of the unknown.

Seems like that’s my job as the author. Write a book they can’t put down, and none of this matters.

Follow me on TikTok to hear about the words I run into each day that were previously unknown to me. Share your words with me. We can laugh about how badly we pronounce them.

But at the end of the day, we’ll be smarter than we were at the beginning. And that’s a good thing, too.

Oh, by the way … check out my new book. I am one of five authors who contributed to a Christmas anthology titled Christmas Love Through the Ages. The book is full of sweet, wholesome, Christmas-y stories that will get you in the mood for the holidays. Enjoy!

Friends with benefits

I have a lot of new friends, now that I’m a writer. And those friends come with benefits.


Lots and lots of books. Books of all shapes and sizes, all genres. And my new friends want me to read their books. Because authors need reviews, and most people won’t take the time to leave them.

But because we, as fellow writers, know how important they are, we do it for each other. And the nice thing for you? You get to hear about books! Lots and lots of them.

So, we start with my good Twitter friend, Cheryl Burman, who wrote Keepers. Such a beautiful story. I highly recommend you take a trip to Australia and fall in love. With Teddy? Or Alph? Hmm. Choices.

Keepers by Cheryl Burman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gorgeous prose, heart-rending love story, keeps you guessing till the end. This book tells the story of Raine and her brave struggle to survive … survive the war, survive her father’s illness, survive when her husband leaves. She has two wildly different men who love her, one she can depend on, one who at one time made her heart soar. Burman keeps you guessing till the very last chapter what Raine does for herself. It is a lovely story of courage, perseverance, and filled with beautiful descriptions of Australia.

View all my reviews

Gracias a Dios

How to describe the feelings when something unexpected but wonderful happens?

Shock. Disbelief. Excitement. Gratitude.

On Father’s Day Sunday, June 20, 2021, I opened my spam email folder, checking one last time for a missing notification from a businessperson who wasn’t doing his job to suit me. I was preparing to make a phone call in which I had rehearsed my indignant argument. No, scratch that. I’ll be honest. I was preparing to bite someone’s head off. But before I did that, I wanted to be sure the “missing” email wasn’t in my spam folder.

It wasn’t. But something else was!

It was an invitation to join the Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. family. I had a contract hiding in my junk file.

My annoyance vanished without a second thought. I was home alone and had no one to share my news with. I pummeled my feet on the ground and shouted. Both dogs came running, ears perked, tails wagging uncertainly. Were we under attack?

I started writing Protected six years ago. I did everything wrong that was conceivable to do. My Christian fiction, historical romance topped off at 145,000 words. I later learned industry average is 75,000 – 85,000. Oops.

I had point of view issues. My characters’ thoughts head-hopped. I misused dialogue tags. Had no idea what an action beat was. Dangling participles, echos, passive writing, over-explaining. My novel was a train wreck.

But God directed me to ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) through a contact on Twitter (a mostly God-less place, so that was a minor miracle in itself). At an ACFW meeting, I met Lena Nelson Dooley and invited myself to her weekly critique group meeting, which she graciously allowed.

The patient ladies at Lena’s – Nancy Lavo, Sara Meg Seese, Rachael Acree, Lisa Crane, Kelly Daniels – slowly and gently guided me through my first foray into editing. Each week, they showed me a different mistake I had made. Each week, they helped me learn how to write better.

I attended several online workshops, events I wouldn’t have known about or been able to attend if not for Covid forcing us all to learn to use Zoom. I read book after book on the craft of writing. Other books in my genre piled up on my nightstand, so I could learn what the market wanted.

I turned again and again to my sounding boards, who helped me formulate better ideas for my stories. Ronda Elston, John Peckham, Kathy Severe. They got me over many a hump when the idea pipeline clogged up.

Nineteen months and several rejection letters later, I found myself in a Zoom meeting at the Mt. Zion Ridge conference, in a breakout room I hadn’t signed up for and wasn’t supposed to be in, but somehow was, talking with Deb Haggerty, owner and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing.

And that, as they say, was all it took.

That’s all. Six years of writing. Nineteen months of revising. Several attempts to make contact with someone in the publishing industry. And week after week of meeting with friends who wanted nothing but to help me as we all worked together to improve our skills.

And now, I have a contract with a publishing house to send my book out into the world. I feel validated. Seen. Valued.

Was I all those things before Father’s Day? Yes. God sees me. He values me. He validates me. And as I move forward down this new and exciting path, I pray thanks to God, gracias a Dios, and I ask for his guidance to help me produce work that glorifies him.

Thank you all for your support through the years. I hope you enjoy what comes from this effort as much as I have enjoyed producing it.