About Jennie K Atkins

Jennie writes contemporary romance from her home outside of Carson City, Nevada. During the day she manages a team of software engineers. When not attached to her computer, Jennie loves to garden, sew, or go four-wheeling with her husband of almost forty years. Jennie has four children and three grandchildren.

Marketing—It’s Not Rocket Science

Business slogans on a road and street signsWriting isn’t rocket science, except for when it comes to my stymied brain.

Yes, I program software systems that run multi-million businesses and some consider me a computer geek. But creating an online presence using Facebook or Twitter, or starting my own blog for marketing purposes, scared me to death! What if I did it wrong? What if I put all this work into it, and no one made a comment? Plus, how does having a blog on gardening bring in possible sales for an inspirational romance novel that had little or nothing to do with gardening? Except, perhaps, for the garden scenes I built into my story world.

I read books on marketing. I looked online and even talked to others who explained it in very simple terms, but I still didn’t get it. Or maybe I didn’t want to. I’ve seen the bad side of marketing where authors inundated Facebook and Twitter with post after post, vying for a reader’s attention. Although having an online presence is the way marketing works, and yes, you must be visible, I knew that type of strategy wasn’t for me.

I wanted a marketing plan that was as subtle as the Energizer bunny. Do you remember those ads? A commercial starts, there is a woman turning on the water preparing to take a bath, bubbles rise from the water’s surface. Then out of nowhere comes the Energizer bunny, marching across the screen, beating his drum. From that point on, every commercial aired made the viewer wonder (unconsciously at least) . . . was this going to be a legitimate commercial or an Energizer bunny moment? The marketing scheme was perfect. Other than their original series of commercials, not one dollar was paid to other companies, yet because of the subtle intrusion into the normal commercial venue, you were thinking about their batteries every time a new commercial aired! Even if the company sold soap, tires, or lawn furniture.

So, in my effort to understand the process, I pulled out the big guns…my son, who had to market himself to raise funds for his trip to Portugal when he represented the US in the International Six Days Enduro off-road motorcycle event.

I showed him my blog and my FB page. We talked about me joining gardening groups, letting people see my name and my posts. (I’ll interject here, my knowledge of FB was v-e-r-y limited.) He showed me how getting my name out there as a reliable source of gardening information would make my name “recognizable.”

Another concern I had was I didn’t want to be the “dumb” commercial. I refuse to insult the intelligence of my tribe—or would-be tribe in this case. Just doing a blog on miscellaneous information (how I started), or on useless information, may get you some readers, but the key is to pull them in. Give them a reason for wanting to come back. People don’t have time to read something that will be of no help to them. Especially when there is a plethora of more useful blogs out there to read.

So what is marketing? It’s that sweet spot of taking something you are interested in and sharing it with others. As more people find that you are a valuable resource, your name becomes commonplace to them. Then when you have a product to sell—voila! You make a sale on your name alone. Because of your diligence, you will start with a small group willing to take a chance on you because they’ve learned to depend on the information you provide. As your name earns recognition, your influence broadens.

For any of you who were baffled by the need for expanding into the world of marketing, as I was, I hope this helped!

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Freedom

American flagAll around the country this week, people are celebrating our country’s independence. Some are enjoying picnics on the beach with their blankets spread across the white sand, others are watching fireworks burst into a neon display over their local community center, and many are cooking burgers and dogs over a pit, the woodsy scent of hickory and charcoal permeating their back yards.

Despite our political views, we all enjoy the freedoms this country offers. As writers we can put pen to paper and say whatever we want because we have freedom of speech, as Christians we can worship in the church of our choice because our constitution gives us freedom of religion, and as citizens, we have the right to bear arms.

The freedoms we enjoy as Americans are indeed precious, but there is one far greater than we can ever imagine—the freedom Christ gave us when he died on the cross.

John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” By turning our lives over to Christ, we are free men and women. There are no political boundaries, it cannot be rescinded by human standards, and there is no cost. He has taken our sins away and lifted the burden of our actions from our shoulders.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” God’s freedom is for the asking. We don’t have to walk into the crosshairs of the enemy and fight for it—Jesus did that for us. The Lord has paid our debt in full. We only have to step into the outstretched arms of our heavenly Father. And there, in his presence, we will find eternal peace.

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is the best part of all. Once God has taken away our sins, He will never make us accountable for them—ever again. They are gone. Out of sight. He will never come back and remind us of all we’ve done in the past. We are free!
Freedom is a gift. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it. Yet, it is real and incredibly tangible. And it is the very essence of who we are as Americans, but more so—who we are as Christians.

God Bless America. God Bless you!

Hearing What You Can’t Read

woman listeningI am always fascinated by our five senses—touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing. I love the warmth of my husband’s hand when he clasps mine, the fragrant scent of a rose caught up on the morning breeze, or the tart pucker of a Granny Smith apple.

As writers, we know that adding the senses into our books makes the world our characters live in more real to the reader. But that’s not where I’m going with this post. My question to you is, when was the last time you listened to a book? I don’t mean just for pleasure, but to get into the depth of the story by using more than your eyes.

I have a Kindle that offers a “text to speech” option, which I’ve found to be available on many books. (I believe this is up to the author and/or publisher if they offer this choice and I’m sure it’s available on other readers as well.) It has a computer generated voice, which for me is fine, but you can go through this exercise with an audio book as well.

The trick is to listen to the words, but not become caught up in the story. It’s amazing what you can hear.

Rhythm: Did you know words and sentences have rhythm? When you listen to a story you can hear it. A good writer will create a steady beat with their words to slow the pace of the story. Or, speed it up to raise the tension as needed.

Choice of words: I’m a big proponent of not using the same word over and over again. I’m not advocating pulling out a thesaurus and running the gamut of possible choices, but just having an acute awareness of word choices. It makes the work more appealing. Fresh. You can “hear” the repeated words more than “read” them.

Story world: Has the author “painted” the world the character is in vividly enough that when you close your eyes while listening to a scene you can almost imagine yourself right in the middle? This aspect is hard to do when you need your eyes to read!

Emotions: Much like the story world, can you picture the characters’ actions? Feel their pain? Or laugh with them? This follows the line of showing instead of telling. When you listen to a book, you can “see” their reaction, like a movie screen playing on the backside of your eyelids.

I go through this exercise with many of my favorite authors. I take the time to learn from their writing style by listening to it. Then try to apply the concepts to my own writing.

So what do I do then? I always listen to what I’ve written. I email the Word doc to Amazon and it goes right to my Kindle. Then I go through the same exercise. Have I set the proper rhythm for the scene? Do I have words repeating that should be changed? Have I created a memorable scene mixed with real-life emotions?

Try it some time. You might be surprised what you hear that your eyes would have never seen.

Standing on God’s Promises.

ImageHow many times have you questioned God’s plan for your life? How many times have you asked, “God, are you sure this is what you wanted me to do?” Then you wait . . . and wait for God’s plan to unfold, only it doesn’t. At least, it doesn’t according to the time schedule we have set for our lives.

Imagine Abraham, or Abram, at the time of God’s promise. He was seventy-five years old when he received God’s call, along with a promise to bless him and make him the father of a great nation. (Genesis 12:2) The Bible says Abram immediately set out for the land of Canaan hundreds of miles away. I’m sure that was no easy journey. Still, Abram pressed on, trusting God every step of the way.

For writers, the road to publication is not an easy one. It’s filled with rejection letters and a lot of hard work. We strive to make everything right and in frustration sometimes question the gift of storytelling God has blessed us with. Abram also questioned God. Eight years after God’s initial promise, Abram, who was now eighty-three, wondered how he’d be the father of a great nation when he had no children of his own. That’s when God showed him the stars, promising him an equal number of offspring.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think I would have been skeptical. I would have pointed out my age, the fact that my wife was beyond childbearing years, or at least walked away scratching my head. Not Abram, the Bible says. He believed the Lord. He stood on God’s promise.

It took twenty-five years of waiting before both Abraham and Sarah started to doubt, to the point of laughing at the thought of Sarah conceiving a son. But it occurred, just as God had promised, in God’s perfect timing.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Can we be as patient as Abraham? Do we stand strong on his promise or hold on with a white-knuckled grip in hopes of it occurring? If God has given us the gift of writing (or anything else), are we willing to wait twenty-five years for His promise to come to fruition?  Are we strong enough to wait through the myriad of rejections for “the call”? Are we able to trust in God’s perfect timing?

I leave you with one of my favorite scriptures. I pray it reminds you that whatever trial you are going through, whatever promise you are waiting for, God is with you every step of the way. When we wait on God, everything will fall into place, perfectly.

Isaiah 40: 29-31

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.