With fewer and fewer publishers, producing fewer and fewer books, by fewer and fewer authors, books are extremely hard to break into. But here’s my list I’m sharing at the Maranatha Christian Writers Conference of 25 markets you may not have considered. These allow you to get your message out—without the pain and suffering of writing book proposals and receiving rejection slips:

Letters
1. Family and friends
2. Those away from home
3. Political leaders
4. Church leaders, pastors
5. Members of church
6. God

Local church
7. Sermons, talks
8. Direct mail
9. Grants
10. Bulletin material
11. Job descriptions, policies
12. History of church
13. Plays, seasonal programs
14. Curriculum
15. Annual reports

Local papers
16. Letters to the editor
17. Church news

Denominational publications
18. Letters to the editor
19. News releases

Your own publishing company
20. Email newsletters
21. Facebook ‘notes’
22. Website, blog
23. YouTube
24. E-books
25. Print books

Related sites
Hope and humor for writers: a ream of resources on agents, conferences, editorial services, publishing houses, independent publishing and the writer’s life.
So, you want to write a book

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God as ‘comedy’ writer

September 17th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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I’m teaching a humor-writing class based on Writing with Banana Peels at the Maranatha Christian Writers Conference. God is the ultimate “comedy” writer as you’ll see in this post from a few years ago:

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai” (Esther 7:10a NIV).

Ancient theater was divided into two categories: Comedies and tragedies. In “comic” plays the “good guys” won and lived happily ever after. The “bad guys” got what was coming to them. In “tragic” plays, however, the heroes usually ended up dead—or at least defeated.
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We see this in more modern tragedies: Romeo and Juliet didn’t live happily ever after, the faithful dog “Ole Yeller” was shot by the very boy he rescued, and “Doomsday” sent Superman to the super-hero here-after.

The story of Esther, however, is a classic comedy. The evil Haman, a government papyrus pusher, plots to have all the Hebrews killed because Mordecai, a Jew, wouldn’t bow down to him. Haman even builds a gallows for Mordecai. But Queen Esther, unknown to King Xerxes, is a Jew—and the cousin of Mordecai. To make a long story short, the queen reveals her nationality, the Hebrews are saved and Haman is forced to honor Mordecai for an old political favor and eventually swings from his own gallows. It’s a great ancient comedy!

The Christian life is also a comedy. Even though tragic events come upon believers and unbelievers alike—cancer, auto accidents, natural disasters, rape, murder, etc. etc.—Christians know that in the end they will “live happily ever after.” And evil will be dealt with in the final act.

So, while the Christian life may not be one laugh after another, we can be assured that “eternal life” is the final punch line!

“Humor is the not opposite of seriousness. Humor is the opposite of despair.” Conrad Hyers

Copyright © James N. Watkins

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LakeMichigan

I’m loving being at the Maranatha Christian Writers Conference. (Can’t wait to spend some time on the Lake Michigan beach!)

So, I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten great things about being an author.

10. No heavy lifting. Since no physical skill or strength is required to be a word jock, your career isn’t over by age 30 like most major league athletes.

9. It’s cheaper than collecting antique cars. For the price of a ream of paper ($3.95 at Office Depot) you can write an epic novel or two nonfiction books. (Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an old envelope.)

8. It’s one of the few occupations you can perform in your underwear without the vice squad breaking down your door.

7. You can get your picture in the paper without the vice squad breaking down your door.

6. A chance to speak your mind long after you’re dead. All those authors from American and English Literature class had met their final deadlines long before you read them (or scanned the Cliff’s Notes).

5. It’s a great soapbox. Instead of annoying just your family and friends with your rants and raves, you can annoy thousands of people with your rants and raves.

4. On election day, you can vote more than once—legally. An editorial, a letter to the editor, even an email note, can sway readers’ votes, so get out and vote—repeatedly.

3. You can receive notes like this email from last week: “I am a 38 year old mother of four: two teenagers and two under the age of nine. I am writing to let you know how much your writing has lifted my spirits.”

2. It’s the closest thing to God’s “creatio ex nihilo—creating something out of nothing; using words to bring order out of chaos.

1. Writers have their very own holidays. Yep, we actually have three major holidays in the fall!

National Day on Writing October 20

National Authors Day November 1

National Novel Writing Month November 1-30

You can find a ream of resources right here at Hope and Humor for Writers. You’ll find articles and links about agents, conferences, editorial services, publishing houses, independent publishing and the writer’s life.

Copyright © 2002, 2014 James N. Watkins

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Remembering 9/11

September 11th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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Two small numbers—9/11—have become shorthand for an infinite number of emotions: the shock and disbelief of watching the terrorist attack on live TV, the horror of watching the twin towers collapse upon themselves, the national grief as the number of confirmed casualties grew to over 2,800, the growing realization that we are no longer beyond the reach of terrorist attacks, and perhaps most of all, the fact that those who remember where they were on that date, will never, ever be the same.

Here are some of my thoughts posted within hours of the original attack and throughout the subsequent years. I trust they’re helpful in dealing with the shock, anger and grief of that day and continuing attacks.

Reacting
Dealing with death and grief
“bin Laden, kiss my pass!” (September 10, 2003)
Talking to your children about terrorism

Reasoning
Hope amid horror (September 11, 2006)
What motivates terrorists?
Taking the terror out of terrorism

Responding
Can war on terrorism be won? (September 11, 2005)
How can we overcome evil with good?
We are strong! We will survive! (September 17, 2001)
What we haven’t learned from 9/11 (September 9, 2002)
Candle-lighting ceremony following terrorist attacks (September 11, 2001)

Copyright © James N. Watkins

What are your thoughts on the anniversary of 9/11? Please leave a comment below.

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JimLoisGrad74

“The first girl you meet when you return to Marion College will become your wife.”

No, this wasn’t the prediction of a fortune teller or a 900-number “psychic friend.” My pastor’s wife was trying to console me after a break-up of an engagement and the feeling that I’d never, ever find true love.

“I just feel that’s what the Lord is telling me.” I was skeptical, but I did go back to school with fear that the “Bride of Frankenstein” would be waiting for me.

To quickly make my point, the first girl I met that year at college was Lois Farra—definitely no Bride of Frankenstein. (That’s her and me in the pic above.) Two and a half years later she changed her last name to “Watkins.” A coincidence, perhaps. I would rather think of it as one of my friends calls them: God-incidences.

Throughout life, God is orchestrating His will for our lives with “as it turned out” and “just so happened” incidences. Lois just “happened to be” the first female I met on campus. When our car broke down several miles from home, a neighbor “just happened” to have had to work late and “just happened” to notice us beside the road. When Lois and a friend from out of town missed an appointment with each other at the hospital where both needed to call on parishioners, Lois decided to pick up some supplies at a Christian bookstore several miles from the hospital. “As it turned out” her friend “just happened” to be at the very same store!

Throughout my life, the Lord has used God-incidences to have me meet the right people for marriage, employment, writing assignments and other ministry opportunities.

      We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverb 16:9).

      The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives (Psalm 37:23).

      And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28).

Yep, I believe in God-incidences!

Copyright © James N. Watkins

What God-incidences have you experienced? Please share below.

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VampiresTwilight

What keywords bring people to my website? Here, from my google analytics’ report for the past 30 days, are some of the more—shall we say interesting—keywords that I do address and many I don’t or won’t address:

Keywords that I actually do address
aliens rule the world
are vampires and werewolves real
biagra
christian insults
is jim watkins gay
jesus a superhero
nostradamus powerball prediction
sex cures colds
sports haters
what can you not say in an airport

Keywords that I don’t address
banana humor [I do have a book called, Writing with Banana Peels, but nothing on actual “banana humor.”]
how to cope in the 1800’s [I didn’t realize I had Amish followers!]
kahuna psychic power
wife coughing attack sex comedian
would jesus eat dark chocolate [Again, I do address those topics—just not together!]

Keywords that I won’t address
how do werewolves deal with death of loved ones
can a child marry their parent [Well, I sort of address that here.]
car sex [Dude, you need a girlfriend!]
hitman five thousand dollars kill wife [Sorry, this is not Craig’s List!]
james having sex in bed
oral sex the holy spirit [Again, I do address those topics—just not together!]
watkins dna [Again, not Craig’s List!]

Well, I do address a lot of topics here. Use the search box above to see if I address your favorite topic.

Let me know if there’s a subject on which you’d like me to write. Please use the comment box below.

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I recently received this email:

      Here’s my dilemma: I’m trying to figure out how to determine whether the decisions I’m making are based on my own “inner voice” or whether God is directing things. Some of these decisions haven’t worked out very well, and I find myself saying, “Okay, that was me deciding and not God”, or, sometimes, “Okay, God wanted me to do this, and now He wants me to do that“. See the problem? Sometimes I think I’m doing what God wants (because of the way things seem to have fallen into place) but then I just don’t know. Any advice for the lost and confused? I sure would appreciate it.)

I’m very much in the same situation: trying to follow God and yet things don’t seem to be working out right now. I joked on Facebook, “I feel like King Gidas. Everything I touch turns to mold.”

I’ve tried to live out Proverbs 3:5-6:

      Trust in the LORD with all your heart
           and lean not on your own understanding;
      in all your ways submit to him,
           and he will make your paths straight.

However, I’m not always sure I’m on the “right” path. So, here are a couple thoughts:

First, “God’s will” is all about loving Him and others. It certainly sounds like you’ve done that by your email. I think we get too concerned if we’re on the right “path” when God simply wants us to love Him and others. Everything else is secondary.

Second, I’ve tried to follow this PAT answer:

      What are my passions?
      What are my affirmations?
      What are my talents?

When my passions, affirmations, and talents all align, that’s probably where I’m living out the purpose for which I was created.

So, many times, there’s no one path. Notice Proverbs 3:6 says “He will guide your paths.” Plural!

As long as you’re loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and spirit, and your neighbor as yourself, you’re right where God wants you to be. So, God would be pleased with either choice you’re facing.

© Copyright 2011 James N. Watkins

Related page:
Finding life’s direction issue (five posts)

If you found this post helpful, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

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Happy Labor Day! Here in the States, we’re celebrating labor by taking the day off!

However, not everyone loves his or her job, so I have in my right hand, direct from CareerCast.com, today’s category: Ten top worst jobs in America. The company took a look at 200 jobs and ranked them based on a variety of criteria, including “income, outlook, environmental factors, stress and physical demands.” (Of course, my first question was “Am I on the list?” And second, “Where does “survey-taker” rank on the list?”)

So, here are the results:

      10. Flight attendant
      9. Roofer
      8. Mail carrier
      7. Meter reader
      6. Dairy farmer
      5. Oil rig worker
      4. Actor
      3. Enlisted military personnel
      2. Lumber jack

And the worst job in America:

      1. Newspaper reporter

What?! I spent 15 years as a freelance reporter and columnist for a newspaper company (three papers). There was always something brand new to report or comment upon, and I absolutely loved it!. (I would have thought number 1 would have been a proctologist, sewer worker or the highway worker who spends the day scooping up road kill.)

Okay, so the top ten jobs have some negatives: Rude, drunken passengers. Nasty weather and vicious dogs. The paparazzi. Separation from family. And, of course, being shot at (That would be a deal-breaker for me!). But CareerCast noted that newspaper reporters may have the worst job ever “but most still love what they do. They don’t care. They got into the business for a reason.”

I was encouraged, though, by another report at myplan.com: Top 300 Careers With The Highest Job Satisfaction Ratings. (Singers top the list with a 91.7 percent job satisfaction.)

I teach “Freelance Writing,” “Editing” and “Humor Writing at Taylor University. So, I was thrilled that College Professors: Communications ranked number 5 with 79.2 percent job satisfaction.

However, I drop to number 73 as an Author with a 61.8 percent job satisfaction. Huh?! I was shocked to learn that’s significantly lower than Bus Drivers: School at number 32 with a 67.2 satisfaction rate. (There is no way I would want to maneuver a thirty-foot vehicle through traffic with 50 school-aged sociopaths in the back!) Even Middle School Teachers soundly beat authors at number 75 with a 61.6 percent satisfaction. (If you’re a teacher, you have my undying respect!)

I was also encouraged to learn that even though Editors rank 145 with 55.4 percent satisfaction, that’s well above Surgeons who ranked 263 with only 45 percent satisfaction.

It appears that rather than salary and prestige (a surgeon at 263 makes a thousand times more than a college professor at number 5), job satisfaction is much more important. So, here’s my point—actually three.

1. Choose a job that fits your passions and talents. If you’re still exploring your career options, visit Which path is the “right” path?!.

2. Your “job satisfaction” is far more important than some silly list—even if you have what others may consider the “worst” job. I loved having the worst job in America!

3. And do have a wonderful “labor day” doing no labor! What you do is important, so do it to the best of your ability.

© Copyright 2013 James N. Watkins

Related post: Work less, accomplish more
Here are some tips on becoming more productive by—well, you’ll have to listen to find out how! (If you don’t have time for a 30-minute talks, here are the Cliff’s Notes: Managing your time—and sanity.)

What do you love about your job? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Top ten posts from August 2014

September 1st, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten posts from August 2014 (July’s rank)

10. (4) Ancient prophet warns of conspiracies

9. (—) Fifty shades of beige “Reel” sex is not real sex.

8. (6) God is never late, but he sure is slow

7. (8) Three secrets for xxx-ceptional sex

6. (3) Children who marry their parents: the psychology of courtship

5. (6) Help for suicidal thoughts

4. (2) Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

3. (7) The cure for the common cold: sex!

2. (—) Another gay Christian “comes out”

And, the number one post for August 2014:

1. (1) “It Is Well with My Soul” The rest of the stories

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Who, me walk on water?

August 27th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

jimandloisjerusalem

Today’s guest poster is my very favorite writer, Lois Farra Watkins.

During our trip to Israel, we found ourselves boarding a replica of a first-century fishing boat for a trip on the Sea of Galilee. While at sea, a CD of Christian praise choruses played. Hearing songs, such as “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” “Shout to the Lord” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord,” was one of my highlights. It was as if I could see Jesus and sense his presence. Perhaps Jesus and the disciples sang praises as they went from one side to the other.

A fun-loving, fatherly-type man teased, “Are you going to get out of the boat and walk on water?” I replied, “I do not see Jesus telling me to come.” He came back with, “But you have the Holy Spirit in you.” So to end the banter, I assured him, “If the Holy Spirit prompts me to get out of the boat, I will. What about you?”

There were no Spirit promptings to get out of the boat, and we had a calm sea to our destination. Yet, I couldn’t help but think of Peter’s adventure on the stormy sea. What do we remember most about Peter walking on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33)? Do we remember that Peter took the initiative to get out of the boat? That he walked on water? Or that he sank only to be rescued by Jesus? Or that Jesus scolded him for doubting? Most seem to focus his failure.

The challenge is to hear the voice of God—and take the risk. There are two kinds of people:

Risk-taking minority

Peter was assertive, impulsive, didn’t consider the risks and didn’t have a Plan B. We may momentarily honor him for trying. Perhaps we even secretly envy his adventurous experience. But we quickly criticize him for looking at the wind, being fearful, doubting, faltering and facing disgrace among the other eleven.

Play-it-safe majority

Then, there are the eleven disciples who never even considered the possibility of walking on water in a raging storm, much less risking an attempt. The eleven, who from the safety of the boat, could emphatically proclaim Jesus as the Son of God after he calmed the storm. But the eleven didn’t have enough faith in the Son of God to risk getting their feet wet. Yet, Jesus does not scold them for not trying. They played it safe with no ill-effects. No doubt they felt pretty smug as a soaking-wet Peter dragged himself back into the boat.

Any risk-taker needs to be prepared for one of two scenarios. 1. Success will lead to being immortalized as a progressive hero. 2. Trying and failing will lead to infamy: a reputation of disgrace and dishonor. The majority will murmur: “Who do they think they are?” “Why weren’t all the risks considered first?” “If they would have only listened to me!”

Is it any wonder so few risks are taken? If success was guaranteed, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But the essence of trial and error is the risk of error. And some of the most successful people faced failure and humiliation:

Beethoven’s music teacher once told him that as a composer, he was hopeless. Walt Disney was fired by an editor of a newspaper because he, Disney, had no creative ideas. When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. Henry Ford’s first two automobile businesses failed. Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 (but he also hit 714 home runs).

Here are some words of wisdom from Thomas Alva Edison:

      Results! Why man, I have lots of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.

B.F. Skinner wrote, “A failure is not always a mistake; it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” Or to quote John Piper’s book title: If You’re Going to Walk on Water, You Have to Get out of the Boat.

So, this week go out there and feel free to get soaking wet! Learn and rise again to again risk greatly! And to the smug eleven, please withhold the label of failure. Today’s failure may simply be one step closer to success.

Copyright © 2006 Lois Farra Watkins

Lois Farra Watkins is a licensed life coach who can help you navigate life’s rough waters.

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