By Kathy Joy
There it sat.
Large. Impossible. Taunting me with its arrogant presence—that thing I had to overcome. A project I’d been putting off, putting off, trying so hard to avoid.
The beastly thing had a large tag attached that hollered, “DEADLINE”.
My project had become an ugly frog.
I had to eat it right away.
It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing it’s probably the worst thing that’s going to happen to you all day.
Eating the frog: this is a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of the day — the one you are most likely to put off, but usually the one that might have the greatest positive impact on your progress.
Eat the ugly frog first. Down the hatch. Be a brave soldier, staring down that deadline, that cleaning project, whatever it is—and go for it. Just pinch your nose, grab that wiggly critter, and swallow it whole. After this, you can move on to the other frogs, the smaller ones that aren’t quite so daunting.
I know you think I’m talking about actual frogs here, but really, I’m talking about time management and doing the hard thing first; it’s just more playful to use the frog analogy.
Do I ever remember meals as a child! Remember yours? Many of them had frogs on the plate. I had to learn to eat the frogs first before the rest of my meal could be enjoyed.
Eating the frog means to ‘just do it, otherwise, the frog will eat you,’ meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating the whole day. Once that one task is done, the rest of the day feels like a freebie. Besides, you will feel proud of your accomplishment.
As Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
At the end of each day, whether you’re at the office or at home, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day. Then, select your most important task (the ugliest frog). Clear the workspace around it so you have this one thing, sort of a big warty frog, sitting on your desk.
It will be waiting for you in the morning.
Staring you in the face, you realize Twain was correct. Either it eats you or you eat it.
Do this every day until it becomes a habit. In due time you will find you are more productive through the entire day, having spent the early surge of your energy eating the wartiest frog.
If absolutely necessary, make Frog Jell-O. This is the art of mixing in enough humor, coffee, and perspective to make the frog taste better.
When a co-worker or family member offers you a donut or a sweet roll, tell them you’ve already had the breakfast of champions. Haven’t you, though? Then politely excuse yourself and go on to the next item, um—frog, on your list.
I HAVE NEWS!
The book launch is this week for the children’s picture book,
Will You Hold My Story?
Tired of carrying her heavy story all by herself, Meggie Beth finds a step upon which to sit.
As she rests, the street carries a variety of people to her, all of them lost in their own thoughts. Everyone seems too laden with his or her own stories to stop and hear hers.
When a lovely, lonely dog becomes friendly with little Meggie Beth, we are reminded that youngsters need pets, and that pets are excellent listening buddies.
After the work is accepted, then edited and published, any author can tell you that it is a great reward for a new book to be accompanied by early endorsements and reviews.
The first is by a second grade teacher who says, “Richly celebrating the trait of perseverance in finding the support of other people, or a gentle dog, as the case may be.”– T. Palmer, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
The second was a genuine surprise to me, coming from one of Christendom’s best widow bloggers who pitched it to her fans on social media and alerted me that she believes the story is “Wonderful and meaningful for all ages.” Laura Warfel, More Than a Widow blogger
The third is from a fellow author, Charmayne Hafen, a writer of children’s books (middle age) who wrote one of my first Amazon reviews. She said,
Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2021
Do you ever feel like a neglected house plant? I do.
I do, right now: yellowing leaves, a bit droopy, and terribly parched.
There’s this Dracaena plant quietly occupying a windowsill in my spare room. Even during this sheltering-at-home phase, in a state of being hyper-alert about everything, I’d forgotten it. The poor thing was so brittle, so needy – like us.
House Plants and People
I wondered if it could be restored.
Setting to work, I couldn’t help thinking we all need a bit of repotting, some fresh water … some TLC.
I’ve seen lots of tough-girl and tough-guy books around. It seems critics in the new media don’t like a character to show or feel anything soft or vulnerable. They will issue a dogging review if the young man or girl cries or flounders for an answer. They will call it “immature”.
Everyone has needs. Humans thrive on community and teamwork. Each of us needs a little attention. In fact, I can’t seem to think of one stage in life when a person doesn’t need some attention and care. We share this life.
Like a house plant, we need some tending-to these days.
Our root system is aching to not work so hard, to have a thriving life surrounding us that we may do what we are meant to do in peace and confidence.
Our leaves are yellow – we need a careful touch to pull them away.
Our soil is dry – we need an organic compost of compassion.
Nutrients should be mixed in, things like good humor, a phone call, a letter, a song.
Ridding of Leaves that No Longer Serve
Leaves that no longer serve us or others around us should be pruned. Bitter leaves, all. Cut away dry petals of memories that cause arrogance, envy, self-pity, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness.
Do you feel very bare naked without those leaves flourishing around you? Trust the process. After a stressful season or a severe pruning, either one, your roots will soon flourish.
Like the little struggling plant, we need recovery time. During a time of lacking sunlight and waiting for the regularity of better times, we will need a clear vision of hope to absorb some fresh, good nutrients. Share and be shared with.
Take care of your plants, yes.
Take care of yourself, too: hunker down in a larger pot, giving yourself extra space to expand and thrive.
It might be nice to aerate the soil to help our roots grow deeply; to enable a stronger, more vigorous life. Break up the old soil, infuse it with good nutrients.
Dig roots into richer soil.
A Prayer of St. Patrick comes to mind. In part, here you go:
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul-
Take care of the tops and the bottoms of your plants. Help them reach upward and trust.
- Trash the bitter leaves.
- Give the roots nutrients and space
- Add water and light.
Drink, absorb life, and drink some more.
Place yourself in the environment you need, one with plenty of light and love.
I’m pleased to tell you my house plant is coming along nicely, showing some gumption, reaching toward the light. I’ve named her “Endurance” because she is making a comeback after a drought of neglect.
Kathy Joy, a Lunch Jab, with content editor, Laura Bartnick. Find a list of books edited here.
©2020 Capture Books and its authors are happily represented by the publicity of Books for Bonding Hearts where you will find novels, memoirs, gift books, and several children’s books of high literary quality.
At the Capture Books retreat (fall, 2020), the question was posed in open session, “What kind of money do you actually make when you speak on an author platform?”
Trying to filter the pointedness of this question, I diverted the authors to talk about the variety of benefits they have received through public speaking. And, there are many– were many prior to Covid-19 state rules and restrictions.
After many of these benefits were discussed, including the fact that authors have continued to make appearances even through the pandemic this past summer, the question was posed again, and to my surprise, authors in the room rose to the challenge, opening up about their choices and experiences in forms of payment for speaking engagements.
Taken aback at the variety of models used, I was impressed by the author’s willingness to discuss individual finances.
Because the models were so varied, the opportunity to cover them for an article on publicity seemed like an appropriate topic, and an important one, to offer for exploration.
Books sold at events can represent the best money an author earns apart from being underwritten by a name brand.
Since an author rarely makes more than two dollars on each book sold through a store or book selling distribution service, an author’s presentation at public events can help sway not only market sales of one’s books, without a middleman, but also provides authors with an opportunity to address topics of personal importance to them.
Authors are influencers, after all.
But, how does an newer author get booked?
One author, a media library specialist, said she was regularly offered a pretty decent flat fee for public speaking in relation to her specialty. Her presentations were given to audiences of educators, other librarians, and media-industry professionals. Being employed by a school system helps.
To this end, it may be worth it for an author to get a three year substitute certification or license in order to speak as a teacher’s substitute.
Why is this? A school system has pre-tested their employees, thus an employee asked to present at an event is regarded to be free of liability silt, overcoming the first bar of recommendations.
Additionally, a substitute teacher has already proven an ability to organize under pressure and has some ability to manage time, a message or presentation, and is able to hold the interest of an audience.
Any teacher who has learned to use hooks and gimmicks can grab the attention of an audience. A great teacher keeps a prop or two hidden up his or her sleeve in order to entertain. So, an author who also happens to be a teacher has a distinct advantage in the field of speaking at educational events.
Another author, a ministry founder, said that since she regularly spoke to women in retreat settings, she often requests that an honorarium or love offering be taken. She also asks that she be allowed to sell books from a book table.
Since she views each of her speaking opportunities as a ministry event, she doesn’t want an awkward conversation about payment to delay or burden the relationships. Mixing business and ministry outside of traditional employment can cause unnecessary speculation. She doesn’t want any of this to get in the way of her greater goal. She does, however, ask for the travel expenses to be covered and the hotel accommodation if she has to stay overnight.
The point is not to go broke
When asked how this model works out financially, she said that most often, the offerings have been generous and they have covered her expenses and time. Because the woman asking for a reasonable model of payment was known to have small children, this author then added to her experience telling about a time when Capture Books had booked an name branded author for one of their retreats. This name branded author had small children. In the author’s contract, there had been a childcare line item, and it had happily been paid.
Another author who writes and sells gift books said that she often approaches gift and novelty shops as well as libraries for book signing events. These venues are in addition to local festivals and church events.
Since she often brings supplies for workshops such as making vision boards and life maps, her contract request includes the price of one of her books with the cost of art supplies. We call this wrapping the cost of a book into the price of her author appearance.
Bonus: In addition, she also offers a clever and quick gift wrap option for books for tips.
One author said that she felt a certain freedom and joy when she presented educational workshops on her unique process of creativity.
She speaks to creative writing classes as a substitute teacher, and group therapy counselor. In the course of her presentation, she can ask the students to look up her book on Amazon and bookmark it for purchase if they are interested. She divulged that it is mostly the booking of these opportunities that has been difficult for her.
The group discussed the possibilities of approaching the receptionist with the conversation to present for a counseling group, state run health associations, and charter schools or colleges.
With or without a hired publicist, this off-topic conversation drifted into using the contact lists provided by Capture Books to woo speaking opportunities through well-edited emails with great opening lines, a couple of endorsements, and then following up an email with a phone call to the receptionist.
During stay-at-home seasons, Zoom or Skype conferences work well for joining a classroom already set up by the teacher and school system.
At this juncture, a brainstorming process took place about who is hiring for speaker events, and included the convenience that many of these groups have a set fee with the option of hosting a book table. An author shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask about a set fee or a book table.
Square and PayPal were the main forms of receiving payments preferred besides cash. But, many customers do not carry cash or exact change, even when they are shopping at holiday bazaars.
Why is the productivity so much higher when an author speaks at an event?
When speaking authors sell their own stock of books at events, the middle man fee is eliminated because they don’t have to pay the brick and mortar store their hefty fifty percent cut. [Though, when speaking at a book chainstore, the store’s retail policy will demand that the books are purchased through Ingram or Amazon. sold according to the list price guaranteeing their cut.]
Otherwise, the author can choose to offer the audience a discount, or they can sell the book for what it is valued at, or they can simply wrap up the price of the book with the cost of their presentation and offer each person who comes an autographed copy.
Some authors give their books away in order to woo someone to their business or product.
Authors make money and choose to work in a variety of ways because every author is uniquely gifted and embodies unique aims for having written their book(s).
In addition to the models mentioned above, an author can find partnerships in:
- alma maters
- athletics organizations
- youth organizations
- senior organizations
- sales organizations
- hobbie organizations
- missions events
- religious denominations
- and corporate causes.
In the beginning, and continuing for some authors throughout their writing career since they do not have a national platform for their book topics, they must be able to borrow a platform.
Take a moment to investigate online one of the above potential partner platforms for drafting an author email to and a follow-up telephone script. Reflect on your good relationships with an organization from your past and follow the trail to where it might lead. Then, repeat and file your emails into a computer file or desk file. Begin working methodically through these contact lists.
Remember that power of familiarity
When you find an intersection of interest between yourself and a possible event partner, make sure that you put them on your email opt-in list so that your author name, press releases, and recommendations come regularly to their inbox.
Books are still sold at charitable auctions and fundraisers. One of the Capture Books authors sold her humorous housewarming book, Before Long, Let’s Move!, in a picnic basket at a State-wide realtor’s conference last year.
Authors can look at speaking events as a way to broaden their unique voice and ministry, a way to raise awareness for a cause, and as a way to offer their talents to an educational system or charity for fundraising or a church or corporation for special events.
At the very least, when an presentation is booked, the author’s book is highlighted in pre-presentation materials and in the introduction when welcoming the author to the stage.
If you want to sell books, get yourself booked!
©Laura Bartnick, 2020, is the managing partner of Capture Books, a boutique publishing group.
Do you ever have a day that feels like a never-ending loop of knots to be untied? You have to solve one problem in order to gain entrance to the real problem – find an outlet, silence your phone, then assist a client all comes before you can see your way clear to untangling your own problems.
I had an hour of work that turned into two weeks of work because I had to back up and do the math, then I had to learn how to complete a new task that was part of the finished product. Then, I had to get permission to buy a software program in order to implement the answer.
It was a lot easier when all I had to do was give the ball of knots to my dad to untangle.
You may hear from a doctor that self-care is the act of providing yourself a sacred space in which to quiet your jangled nerves. It’s important, yes, to schedule peace in an overwhelming world.
To this end, I’ve found some simple things will sustain you – things such as:
- Giving yourself time to untangle a problem
- Sharing hopes and dreams with somebody safe
- pausing during a busy moment for a nudge of encouragement
Take a Step Against the Flow
Take a step against the flow and look at the surroundings for a different perspective.
Life is too short to go with the flow. Have fun and be different.”Bianca Schlappa, Everyday Matters
Look further afield.
Look over a detail up close.
Sometimes, the masses have it mostly right but the right way just needs tweaking, and that is something that a different perspective can provide.
Use Your Humor, Wry Humor Acceptable
What’s the use of feeling sorry for yourself when you just get tangled into more knots? Even the wise and wonderful Oz got himself tangled up for a time behind a curtain far outside of Kansas and his usual County Fairs. Someone came along and discovered his need.
He was a little ashamed, but he laughed at his way of bumbling things up, and that helped. A lot. Someone came along and helped him find his way back home.
Laugh at yourself as you consider the past.
Open your hand to future options.
Celebrate Even a Partial Loosening of Knot Strands.
It heartens me in a way to know my knots are not all born from my individual situation or my personal inadequacy. It seems to be a community problem: “Humanity is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” This wit, from a friend of Job’s (Job 5:7). We are all just making our way through the challenging phases of life.
Help will arrive.
Ask for help.
Laugh a little.
Be willing to accept truth.
Choose as wisely as possible.
This article is co-written by good friends: author, Kathy Joy and editor, Laura Bartnick.
©Capture Books, 2020
Ask about booking KATHY JOY, or any of our authors for a zoom session with your book club or with your employees. We specialize in creative strand untangling.
Kathy Joy writes for Coffee with Kathy, and Pennsylvania’s Daily Jab.