The land of mastering

This week I’ve been attending Chandler Bolt’s online Self Publishing Success Summit, with 37 speakers on the topics of writing, marketing, and publishing your book. It has been excellent training, and I’m learning so much. I have only been able to catch a few of the replays, but the ones I’ve watched are so inspiring.

Some takeaways I’ve had with self-publishing your book/eBook on Kindle for Amazon (some of these I already knew):

  • Know your audience and what they really want-you can find this out by asking your subscribers in your ezine, through a survey, or by studying Facebook analytics;
  • Offer value, such as a permafree ebook or your reader lead (freebie at your website in exchange for their name and email address) and valuable content with your ezine;
  • Create a series on Amazon, because series do great and Amazon begins promoting them for you if the book does well;
  • What are your competitors offering on Amazon and at what price;
  • Make all you do align with your mission;
  • Have a specific, laid out marketing plan;
  • Get beta readers for reviews before your book launches (reviews and endorsements from influencers are great);
  • Think outside the box and offer something unique;
  • Create Facebook targeted ads (even $5 a day ads) to get the word out and to build your subscriber list;
  • Repurpose your content into videos, podcasts, webinars, teleseminars, self-study courses-think beyond the book (It’s a business, not a book!);
  • Make your larger eBook into smaller Kindle eBooks;
  • Love what you do;
  • and much more.

I believe that we should be life-long learners, learning something new every day. I personally find learning FUN. Some of the guests that Chandler has interviewed have included speakers/authors/entrepreneurs I already follow, such as Best Selling Author Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn (I don’t read her fiction books, but she has a lot of wisdom about being a successful author), and Entrepreneur on Fire podcaster John Lee Dumas.

Storm Tossed ecover Copyright 2015 Beth Jones
Storm Tossed ecover
Copyright 2015 Beth Jones

The summit is timely, as I just released my first ever fiction book, Storm Tossed, which became an Amazon Best Seller the first day in its category and sub-categories. I’ve been surprised and so encouraged to see 5-star and 4-star reviews about it. You can check it out for your Kindle at Amazon here.  The price right now is just $2.99.

Our daughter Leah and I are reading a great book right now called Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff. In today’s reading, Jon shares about starting out his public speaking career by speaking to only 12 people at a rehab center (not, as Jon says, the place someone typically aspires to speak at, to those who are in one of the worst seasons of their lives, and having to speak for free), and by joining finance whiz Dave Ramsey‘s team versus being on his own.

Why did he speak at the rehab center? Why does he want to learn from Dave Ramsey?

“Because I want to be led. I want to learn from a master. I want to admit time and time again, “I don’t know the best way to do this. Will you teach me?”

Jon encourages you and me: “Be led. Be taught. Remain a learner.”

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

I desire for God to lead me in this exciting, and unpredictable and challenging, journey called life. I want Jesus and other smart, successful people to teach me what I need to know. I want to learn new things. 

What about you? What are you learning lately? Leave your comments below.





What’s your diamond?

Diamond and Sapphire Engagement RingOur daughter Leah and I are reading through Jon Acuff’s book, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work That Matters. It’s a great book if you feel stalled in your personal or professional life. Since graduating from our homeschool, Leah isn’t sure what she wants to do regarding a job, career or ministry, so I ordered this book which is part of Dave Ramsey’s Graduate’s Survival Guide. Today’s reading was about rocks versus diamonds. Jon writes that you have to decide what in your life is going to be a diamond and what’s going to be a rock.

Jon writes that while he traveled with his family during their annual trip to see their in-laws, they went gem mining in a small mountain community in Boone, North Carolina. A geologist, who was getting his degree in geology at a local university and was very knowledgeable, taught them how the forces of nature inside the earth create each type of stone.

Using a small flashlight and shining it into a rock, he revealed the green hue of an emerald hidden inside. Washing crusted dust off rock, he showed the amethyst hiding below the surface.

Jon writes: “The rocks were beautiful, with explosions of color and light that seemed to rival that of more expensive stones like rubies and diamonds. But at the end of the day, they were just rocks. So he placed them in an old plastic bag, wrote my daughter’s name on the outside with a Sharpie, and handed it back to her. As we drove home, I started to wonder, Why do some rocks get to be rocks and some rocks get to be diamonds?”

Jon’s conclusion is that somebody decided that’s how it works: its value is assigned to it by society. You get to decide what is a “diamond” (of high value) in your life and what is a “rock” (of low value).

For me, it’s God, family, health, my spiritual gifts/talents/dreams/purpose, friends, traveling, books, nature, music..and sometimes eating out Mexican. 🙂 

The way you tell what your most important priorities are in life is through your most valuable currency-your time (and I’d add to that, your attention and your money).

God views YOU as His precious diamond. He loved you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die and rise again for you, to save you. “See, I have written your name on the palms of My hands.”  – Isaiah 49:16, NLT

What are your diamonds? What are your rocks? Leave your comments below.


Punch the voices of fear and doubt in the face


Our youngest daughter Leah graduated from our homeschool over two years ago, and she still isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. I’m like the racehorse Secretariat, rarin’ to go out of the starting gate. As people say, opposites attract, so my husband Ray is more like a turtle. He never makes fast decisions. Usually he needs several weeks’ time (or longer) to “think about it” and a 100 confirmations that this is what God really wants him to do.

PYATIGORSK, RUSSIA  - JULY 18: The race for the prize of the "Asuan";The jockey Hatkov and Smirnov. July 18; 2010 in Pyatigorsk; Caucasus; Russia.
Pyatigorksk, Russia horse race- Asuan

I, on the other hand, make snap decisions. I know exactly what I want and I go for the jugular and just do it. (This occasionally results in disasters, but as my anointed, fast-action friend Diane Cunningham says, “If you fail faster, you can get back up faster.”)

Not Ray. One time I gave Ray a present when he was taking forever to make an important decision. I wrote him a note that read, “This little gift is a true symbol of how you & God are moving right now (y’all’s pace.) You are God are both driving me up the wall! I will NEVER forget this time in our lives! Love, Beth.” Below is a picture of what I bought him ~ a ceramic turtle. He laughed.

Ray's ceramic turtle
Ray’s ceramic turtle

Leah is like Ray. She doesn’t make fast decisions. She’s very methodical and logical in her thinking. She likes some kind of plan ahead of time (although she can be spontaneous and flexible). She answers many questions, including, “Where do you want to go out to eat?”, “What’s something fun you want to do?”, and “What do you want to do with your life?” with, “I don’t know.” This drives me crazy.

Since Leah graduated, she still hasn’t enrolled in college and doesn’t have a job yet.  This is actually not uncommon today for 20 somethings, according to the New York Times on an article about “emerging adulthood” and “late bloomers.”

Many 20-somethings feel ambivalent and uncertain about the future due to seeing adults with dreary, dead-end jobs, the bitter marriages and/or divorces of their parents, their disappointing and disrespectful children, etc.

Who would want that for a future? They are thinking about their lives and what they really want much more carefully.

One in five people 18 to 24 years old are living in poverty because they are living on their own and can’t make it financially. So they are not as fast to “grow up,” move out, marry, go to college, etc.

I believe there’s several reasons for Leah constantly saying, “I don’t know.”

  • She’s a phlegmatic type personality.
  • She really doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. Most people in their 20’s and 30’s don’t, the Y generation, constantly asking “Why?” Why work? Why go to college? Why get  a car and go anywhere, when you can just text friends or connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Many of us don’t figure out what we really want to do until the 40’s, 50’s, or later. (Only about 27% of college graduates get jobs related to their major.) Some people never figure out what they want to do, going from job to job, place to place, relationship to relationship, living a spiritual gypsy-like life.
  • Leah is battling perfectionism and fear. She doesn’t want to get a job, screw up, and then get fired. Guess where she gets the perfectionism from? (Ray and me both! As my friend Shelley Valasek says, I’m a recovering perfectionist.) Also, I’ve battled fear my whole life, so I’m encouraging Leah to push past it by taking “baby steps” of action. Fear and perfectionism will trip you up and keep you from living an intentional, fulfilling life. God doesn’t want you to be afraid, but to “be strong and of good courage.” (Joshua 1:9) It is the enemy Satan who wants to make us fear.

Leah is still taking Suzuki violin lessons from her amazing instructor Emily. Leah plays classical music, hymns, Irish jigs, Christmas songs, and much more.

Leah with violin
Leah with violin

This past week Leah went with her sister Heather to see Lindsey Stirling in concert in Kansas City, whose hip hop violin music inspired Leah to begin playing the violin. They said it was amazing. Leah is now learning to play one of Lindsey’s songs. So cool!

Emily is encouraging Leah to listen to Itzhak Perlman, who played the theme song for the movie Schindler’s List. The conductor is John Williams.) Emily also encouraged her to listen to Joshua Bell.

Leah's violin instructor & Leah
Leah’s violin instructor Emily & Leah

Leah works daily on her graphic art. This year she started playing with watercolor paint. I’m trying to encourage her to sell her art on Etsy. This is another area where she needs to punch fear and doubt in the face. I see greatness in her and want to draw it out of her.

She drew the picture on the right of the moon with her graphic art tablet. I hung the picture in her bedroom.

Leah's moon
Leah’s moon

Leah is also babysitting her sister Heather’s daughters part-time this summer, Annabelle and Violet, while Heather works. She’s providing Leah’s food, giving her gas money, and paying her some to do this.

This will save Heather on expensive summer camp costs and teach Leah more responsibility, so I think it’s a good idea (although Ray and I are still strongly encouraging Leah to enroll in college art classes in fall 2015).

Violet and Annabelle
Leah’s nieces, Violet and Annabelle

Leah is also taking Ray’s EMT class that he’s teaching this summer at his work. Ray believes this course will give Leah a useful, practical skill she can add to her resume, be beneficially socially to make new friends, and will prepare her for college tests if she decides to enroll in college.

I just ordered Dave Ramsey’s Graduate’s Survival Guide. The book included was Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff. Leah and I are reading through this each day to encourage and motivate her to take the next step.

Counselor Al Andrews asked Jon what his inner voices told him – voices inside our heads that we think are our friends, but are really our enemy. Things like we’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, you’re stupid, ugly, a failure, you have to be perfect, etc. They are the voices of fear and doubt.


Doubt and fear are like muscles, getting stronger and louder over time. He writes that if you don’t kill your voices, they will kill you. Jon gives 2 wise tips to beat these voices:

1. Write them down in a notebook. Lies hate the light of day and this exposes them. Jon says not to ask, “Is this a voice?” before you write them down, but just do it.

Scribble them down and them refute them with truth. I encourage you to find a Bible verse that addresses the topic.

For example, if you are struggling with thinking, “I’ll never get that job,” remember Philippians 4:13 NLV, “I can do all things because Christ gives me the strength” or Psalm 5:12, ESV, “For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

2. Talk to other people. Fear wants to isolate you and put you on an island. As long as you keep fear to yourself, no one can tell you the truth. Share your doubts and fears with family, a friend, or a counselor.

You don’t have to do this alone. And remember that God is always with you and will never leave you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)


Fear is actually a compass, Jon writes. As Steven Pressfield says, it can “point to true North…that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.” Just start. Take the next step of action in faith, trusting God.