What’s Your Story’s Purpose?




I watched a television talk show this week, featuring a man who was exonerated of three murders for which he had been convicted nearly thirty years ago. Having been on death row for over 27 of those years, he has now written a book about his ordeal.

Hopefully, you and I will never experience an injustice like that, but we still have stories to tell—ours, or someone else’s.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, we can still make sure our books send a message to our readers. Messages of hope, love, forgiveness…

The written word is a vital force. It has power to move readers in a new direction, to change their viewpoints, to solidify their beliefs.

Before we begin to write—before we even put that first word on paper—we must decide what our book’s purpose will be and let that purpose guide us each day as we put pen to paper.

I find it helpful to print out my book’s purpose and post it near my computer. I read those few sentences each day before I begin to work, letting it guide my writing so that when I finally type, THE END, I can rest assured that it will be THE BEGINNING for someone else…




Having been out of the teenage and young adult categories for years, now, I find I don’t buy music like I once did.

Oh, I still enjoy listening to good vocalists and great music, especially Jazz. It’s just that I don’t purchase it.

However, last week I received an email offer for a free CD. It was music I knew I’d like, so I claimed it.

I wasn’t as though I had been “shopping” for it, but it tempted me—because it was FREE.

Now, my point is this:  often times a reader isn’t looking for your book—maybe not even for something to read from your genre—but they can be lured by a free offer (and may even leave a stellar review).

If your books are on Amazon, you have an easy option of doing an out-and-out Giveaway or take advantage of running a Countdown Deal. Book Bub and Goodreads have similar promotions.

On your own website or Facebook page, you can offer free copies of your book or something else free. (I “won” a box of beautiful handmade greeting cards as a giveaway prize from another author a couple of years ago.)

The point is: people like getting something for free AND it may get you noticed which, as all new authors know, is HUGE.

Freebies—just another way to promote yourself, your brand and your message.


The Message in the Dream

Few people dream their dreams to the “end.”



Most of us awake some time before the conclusion. It could be in the middle or near the end, but seldom do dreamers feel that they have experienced 100% of the dream. This is a relief for those having nightmares, although for some it may be frustrating.

A few people say they are able to go back to sleep and “pick up where they left off.” (This sounds wonderful if the dream was an especially good one…) Still others report they cannot remember their dreams.

For years, I had a recurring dream (fairly common, I am told) about a young boy. It was a very short dream, really.  In the light of a full moon, he would close the door of a dilapidated cabin, and start down the dark path toward the river.  I could see his breath in the cold air and the frightened expression on his face. He shivered, wearing only a thin T-shirt and no shoes.

I sensed he was running away. I didn’t know his name or the circumstances causing him to flee, but I was drawn to him—my heart broke for him. I was more than curious—obsessed to a point—to find out how this dream intersected with my own life. It was as if there was an important message in the dream that I was supposed to pass on to others.

Growing up, I loved to read and write, so it was only natural that I would someday attempt to use my writing skills to unfold the meaning of this dream. When I retired from my years of teaching and counseling, I sat down at the computer and closed my eyes. I let the familiar dream play out in my mind’s eye and then just started typing…and typing…and typing…

Two years later, after much editing, rewriting and input from my critique group and Beta readers, Runaways, The Long Journey Home was published. The story of unconditional love and forgiveness—that message that I just knew I had to share with others—is front and central.

I no longer dream about Jake and his circumstances.  The dream has run its course and the message has been shared. I pray that it is a blessing to those meant to hear it.

Speak Up!

A friend of mine at church has been after me to join Toastmasters. He knows that I struggle with public speaking and how that hinders some of my involvement in church. He also is aware of something that I hadn’t thought about until very recently: in order to be a recognized name in the field of writing, one also must be a decent public speaker.

Self-promotion is the name of the game. Yes, even though we writers may say it is about the message in our writing (which, of course, it is) no one will “get it” if they don’t hear about us.

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter—these are certainly tools to accomplish the same thing. But none of these, alone, will accomplish what “in person”, face-to-face contact will do. Whether it is speaking at a critique group, local writing club or writing conference, our spoken words are powerful ways to connect to others.

There’s just nothing like seeing—and hearing—a confident speaker in person. It starts with the self-confidence from within. That self-confidence is built by years of experience in snatching up speaking opportunities wherever, and whenever, they come along. If we don’t, we may very well be giving up our opportunity to be heard via our writing, also.

So, we have to get over our insecurities and fear of public speaking by building our confidence in doing exactly the very thing we are most afraid of. If a public speaking group like Toastmasters can help, then I’m going to give it a try. Go out on a limb. Push myself to my most uncomfortable limit.

The problem is, even while I write these words, I can feel my heart rate escalating. I feel the all-too-familiar hives creeping up toward my neck—and I haven’t even left the house, yet!

In one of my earlier blogs I stated that this fear of public speaking could be circumvented by writing, instead. That was so naive on my part. You can run, but you can’t hide. You can avoid it for years, but if we are honest with ourselves, it can actually feel good to face our fears. I suggest we get out there and do something about it.

There’s a Toastmaster’s group that meets twice a month at our community clubhouse. I know this because I jotted down the place and time on my desk calendar a few months ago. My note to myself to contact them stares me in the face each time I sit down at the computer. I want to call, but…

There are opportunities to speak at schools, public libraries, even bookstores. I am missing out on them because I haven’t taken the first step toward facing my fear of public speaking. I need to get started by taking the first step, in a series of steps, and call the number I scribbled down months ago.

I can start. So can you. We cannot make a difference in the world if we are not able to articulate our message, both in written and spoken speech.

We’ve come too far to quit, now. We still have so much to say!

Let’s blurt it out—shout it out!

This time, don’t pick up the pen. Grab your telephone, instead, and dial the number for a public speaking self-help group in your area. After that, send a comment sharing what you’ve found helpful in your own life.