I accepted the document, two sweaty palms reaching, tentative, unprepared. I scanned the words, reading them aloud. “I've got this deep wrestling within my dark soul. A hunger for the oppressed. An almighty beckoning for the broken and bent, a writhing which cannot be tamed by silence. No; the silence, the hush, the hustle cannot squelch the fire to share light for those trembling in the depths. I cannot stop giving of myself for my mission, for to stop is to suffocate. To quit, impossible. To surrender, unattainable. My wrestling therefore occurs not in the loss, but the gain. Loss no longer exists. All movement, all attempts, fulfill the mission. My mission.
For I have been redeemed, and I defeat the darkness within me by each lent hand and rescued soul whom I reach. I am Alliance. I defend freedom, defy injustice, and deepen creative productivity to enhance mankind’s survival. In living victory, I bear my burden, a warrior for my objective: Be powerful. Be consistent. Never quit. Finish the mission.”
My eyes glanced up from the words to my father, then back down, reading, re-reading. Recoiling. Rerouting. “I guess with this kind of mission statement, there’s no room for fear.”
“There’s no need for fear. It’s not part of the mission.”
“I am Alliance. I like it.”
“I am Alliance.”
That was an excerpt from EARTHSHINE, the fifth and final book recounting the tales of my Alliance buddies. In the past four years I’ve put in a lot of work, not only writing, researching, and editing, but in learning marketing, networking strategies, and social media communications. You know what I’ve learned? I’m one person. Just as I thought before I signed any book contracts with Clean Reads, I knew I wanted a publisher who would help me market my books. You know what else I’ve learned? My publisher doesn’t do any of that, and I’m still one lil’ ol' person with a big dream of encouraging the broken-hearted.
I recently received the royalty statement from last quarter’s books. I sold 44 copies of HERE BE DRAGONS and earned $.08.
Eight. Cents. Eight digital pennies. Woo! Super exciting. I’ve also decided I want my words to be used for good, no matter what. Regardless of what it takes to get these books to readers, I’m doing my best to follow my heart’s calling. My heart’s hunger.
So, I’m planning a party.
I’m putting together a team of people who like to encourage and who need encouragement, and I’m inviting you to the team. #TeamMessyBun. Oh, yes. Regardless of your reading any of my past writing, I’m inviting you onto Team Messy Bun because I saw potential in you. You are someone who cares about others and who invests in them. You are an encourager, a lifter, a beacon of hope to those around you. And I want you on my team.
In the world of publishing, they recommend small press authors use a “street team,” (I cannot stand the term!) to help market your books. I have hesitated doing this, because I don’t want to obligate anyone to my passions. So I do not consider this a “street team.” However, I DO want to celebrate with my friends. The journey of writing these INSURRECTION books has been years in the making, and it’s finally at fruition. I’ve celebrated the past releases somewhat alone, and I’m over it. Five books and almost five years of work deserves a party, yo! I’m no longer looking at stats or rankings or ratings or royalty statements. I’ve learned a lot, both about practical application and about digging in when the ground’s quaking. I’m simply encouraging others to pursue their passions and giving them helpful tools to do so. And I’d love for you to join me.
It’s time to employ OPERATION MESSY BUN.
In fact, I’m so pumped that I’ve begun work on this even before the book’s in the final stages of being ready. Team Messy Bun truly is a passion project of mine, more than a group of people posting about a book release. I want to equip and empower you do to great things. Let’s get to it. From here on out, you here in this group are my Alliance.
So what are the expectations of “being on Team Messy Bun”?
There’s a give and take, and hopefully, you wouldn’t mind passing along a few posts on social media or in real life to help spread the word about the EARTHSHINE release in October. In return for your sharing, I’m all about rewarding and making it totally fun in the process.
My requests for anyone on Team Messy Bun would be:
1) Join the Facebook group – it’s closed and ONLY to be used for posting encouraging thoughts to help you achieve your goals and providing you with tools to spur you on to doing the amazing things you’re passionate about. It will be our main communication tool. [Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1863146427281089/ ]
2) During Release Week (sometime in October. Waiting on release dates.) you would do a total of five challenges on social media or in real life. All would pertain to EARTHSHINE’s release, as well as bringing light and life to the world. These challenges will be something like sharing a Kadee Carder Ink post or two, taking a picture of yourself reading the free copy I provide to you, posting a review, and other fun things like that. With each of these “challenges” you will be put in a drawing to win free things like gift certificates, coffee, movies, gift paraphernalia, and a grand prize drawing at the end of the week.
3) Basically, join the party and play along. And win stuff. Be my party guest. Let’s celebrate doing hard things.
What do you get in return for being on Team Messy Bun?
Throughout the summer and until October, you will receive:
1) A free ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of EARTHSHINE in PDF form.
2) A free ALLIANCE MILITARY GUARD TRAINING GUIDE – containing 10 free metabolic workouts from Fit By Faith. All workouts can be done in about 20 minutes, at home or in the gym.
3) A free FUEL YOUR LIFE cookbook containing 12 recipes pertaining to the INSURRECTION series. Most will be paleo, keto, or fat-loss friendly to get those boots on the ground and pumping.
4) A free digital copy of THE LEGACY PYRAMID, a brief non-fiction guide to building your purpose and creating your unique legacy.
5) A free digital copy of IGNITE, a 60-page guide to dealing with challenges and encouragement for the weary. Find your sparkle. Keep walking.
6) Each day that you participate in the EARTHSHINE release week party, you’ll be entered into a daily drawing for gift certificates to coffee, movies, online retailers, and more. There will be a grand prize drawing at the end of the party that will include merchandise and most likely a PHYSICAL COPY of EARTHSHINE. Probably a Team Messy Bun t-shirt!
7) Encouragement here in the Facebook group to build your purpose, live courageously, and to build your own Alliance. Hoo-rah!
If you aren’t interested in posting about a book release, I totally get that. If you aren’t interested in joining ANOTHER GROUP on Facebook, I totally get that, too. If you aren’t interested in posting about a book release, I totally get that. Zero spam. Zero pressure. Zero obligation. I will not be posting any "buy my awesome book" posts. This group will be 100% enthusiasm and support. 100% dream-weaving. 100% applicable tools. Yes, that’s 300%. Go big or go home. We roll hard. Especially if there’s coffee involved.
Oh, yeah, here’s the blurb for EARTHSHINE, in case you’re interested, before making up your mind:
Saylor spent two years recovering after she single-handedly saved the world from a devastating solar flare...and it killed her. Now her father's Alliance Military Guard must track down pirated tech, missing ships, and a rogue member of the board. And Alliance needs her help.
Tucker spent a year training the rookie recruits with Alliance. They call themselves Dragons. He calls them hot-headed. Dispatched across the ocean on a mission to go unearth Alliance's bootlegged tech, he rallies Saylor to overcome her fears and return to the field by his side.
Determined to change their destinies, the two wrangle missing ghosts, brunt force betrayal, and the swagger of power--utilizing awesome tech, of course, inundated with sizzling romance along the way.
EARTHSHINE is the final book following the McConnell clan and Alliance Military Guard, a standalone for the seeker of YA Sci Fi Action Adventures.
No need to comment or respond if you aren’t interested. Again, I’m not here to pressure you to do allthethings.
However, if you feel stuck, if you feel discouraged, if you feel frustrated or left out, or alone, or unsure of what your purpose is on this blue sphere….I hope you’ll sweep that hair up on top of your head and shift gears with me. If you’re pumped about life and confident in the direction you’re going, then yes, please, come on in! Go Team Messy Bun. I’m available for any and all questions if you got ‘em.
If you’re interested on any level, especially regarding the EARTHSHINE project, just add yo-self to the FB group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1863146427281089/
Then reply to this/comment with some kind of “Yes, I want to be Team Messy Bun!” and please email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get you the free documents as they become available.
Sparkle on, seekers. #teammessybun
Kristin Hernandez may be considered a first-year teacher, but she’s spent years preparing for such a time as this. Nominated for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year award by her superiors, this teacher has a colorful story of hope and courage. She not only instructs her students in using their numbers and letters, she lives as an example of defying the odds and overcoming obstacles with some elbow grease and a hearty spirit. Kids need more than numbers and letters; they need examples of grit.
Hernandez attended Howard Payne University as a full-time student while working multiple jobs to pay her own way, and support herself through four years of fees, tuition, bills, groceries, and rent. Crushing tunes in the music labs and studying within the education department’s paneled walls by day, she spent her nights cleaning with a janitorial company, volunteering at church, studying, and other miscellaneous tasks to earn the occasional dollar here or there. Nights were short, days were long, but her intrepid nature commanded the years. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a Music Minor.
Immediately after graduation she applied to East Elementary, where she was hired as a Computer Lab Aid. While the position offered the opportunity to connect with teachers and students inside the walls of the school, the full-time hours provided part-time salary. Regardless of the restrictions this placed on her, Hernandez maintained a positive environment within her computer lab, assisting in multiple tasks and projects in addition to her required duties, all with colorful posters on the lab walls reminding her students of all their possibilities. She began the process of testing for state mandated certifications. The following year she moved into the classroom as a Third Grade Teacher’s Assistant, where she worked one-on-one with students, particularly when the teacher required maternity leave in the second half of the year. In her third year at East Elementary, in a buzz of gumption and gusto, Hernandez finally finished the state-mandated certifications and was hired for the shiny position of Third Grade Teacher. Ever since, she’s been filling the role like a champion.
Anybody who stumbles across Hernandez receives an authentic, heartfelt hello, and focused attention. “I teach for them,” Hernandez said. “I teach because I get to watch them discover things and grow. Some of them need all the love I have, some of them need the knowledge, and some of them just need the structure.” Students, current and previous, run up to her whenever and wherever, and offer a genuine hug. “They make me feel alive, and I end up loving every single one of them as they walk into my room.”
She not only offers honest, straight-forward instruction but unique, applicable tools for her students. “It’s so satisfying to see them years later, to see them grow into their own talents, and still remember I was a huge part of their lives for that one year. I get to receive the love back that has been poured into them. I get to see some special moments parents don’t, and that is so valuable to me. I get to see them overcome their biggest struggles, to watch them choose to be kind instead of mean, to watch them laugh, to watch them gather new perspectives on life, to decide who they want to be that day. I teach so they know all of those things they may or may not get at home, and enjoy it with them. The group of people I love grows every year, and it’s more rewarding than anything else.”
Even amidst the required mounds of roll calls, testing, paperwork and form-filing, she finds time to encourage her students. She shows them to pursue their education and how to tenaciously tackle life’s challenges. She lives it every day right before their eyes. And that’s some of the best education possible.
Want to make a difference in someone’s day? Vote right now for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year. One simple click provides a vote. Here’s your opportunity to support a hard-working teacher who truly deserves this award. Simply click here and select the dot beside Kristin Hernandez – Brownwood East Elementary.
"Who invited the mom that runs?" She said it partially in jest, but the hint of insecurity and chastisement were what I heard. Did she really disapprove of the parents who chose to join their kids on the track of the running club? Wasn't the point to get people moving?
No, I think she had a moment where she felt inadequate or jealous and let that win. There's space for every mom. Some moms stand on the sidelines cheering on their kids, some moms drop off the kids and drive to work, and some moms get on the track. I'm glad this mom said her piece, because it inspired me.
The first day of running club, I wasn't sure whether to join my daughter on the track. It was technically FOR the kids, so could parents run too? I stood on the sidelines that first morning, unsure if I could use that twenty minutes to get my own blood pumping.
Then The Mom Who Runs showed up with her kids and took the track with them. She was the only one. The second day? I wore my running shoes and joined the fun.
Don't be afraid or insecure if you want to get on the track. Maybe there's a place for helicopter parenting but I'd also venture there's a place for being an example. I want my kids to see that they can be physically fit at any age, and I want them to be encouraged in their striving. I want them to know they are capable of doing more than they imagine, that it's okay to be courageous, and it's okay to be different.
Time to toss the fear, the insecurities, the jealousy, the inability. You are needed on the field. You're wanted on the field. You're capable of filling the space that needs to be filled. Lace up those running shoes. Take that first step and get on the track. The children are watching. So are the other moms.
I have some fabulous conversations with my college besties. Here's a transcript from a conversation we had the other day about accomplishing goals and realizing dreams. Hope you'll read through and be encouraged.
Part of me sometimes wishes I hadn’t started the journey of my book writing, because I feel like I can’t get anywhere near the level that I want to be, which is just having the book in my hand. It’s so far away. Most people around here don’t even understand that they’re published. They ask me, “When are you going to get those books published?” And I say, “They are published.” But then they say, “No, but when are they going to be published?” They don’t know what an ebook is, or they don’t read ebooks.
If I had not done all this book stuff, if I had not gone forward in pursuing what I really wanted to do—and I honestly cannot say “I felt God calling me to do it,”—it was just something I really wanted to do. It was this NEED, like this need to eat, I had this need to write this story out.
Truthfully? I wouldn’t ever go back, honestly. The biggest frustration is that I can’t get them in print, and that’s my biggest frustration, internally. But getting to where I am now, that has changed me completely from inside to outside. I’ve had to face some of my darkest demons, and I’m not even on the other side of it, but I’m in there. It’s given me such empathy and sympathy for the people who are in the trenches of doing hard things, and even just struggling to be alive. It’s opened my eyes to crushing heartbreak. And I had known it before in high school, when my cousin was murdered, I mean it’s not like I’ve been completely sheltered all my life. I’ve seen really hard things. So even going through this has been this whole new eye-opening experience.
Explore the things you are most afraid of. Explore what you really want to do.
What if God did not have one thing in particular for you to do? What if he had a whole bunch of things open for you? And what if he says, “Pick any of them.” And many of them may not lead to success, but they’ll make you better in your pursuit of them. Usually you will find those jobs in the things you are afraid of. So where you hesitate, I say pursue it.
What other people think about you should not influence the things you do. If you have a passion and a desire, then you follow that. Because God has given you that. He allows you to have fears so you will come alive once you embrace them. Now I’m not saying go crazy and do anything illegal or dangerous, but even if it is dangerous, it could be something life-changing. Like sky diving. Wear that parachute though.
What I have found in exploring all-of-the-things with my books, the fears that I used to have, the fear of failure, of being laughed at, of being a joke, it never looks like you think it’s gonna look in the middle of it and on the other side of it. And you truly can do more than you imagine. And it will always look different than you think.
Branch out. Try something new, something hard. It’s super uncomfortable, and totally worth it.
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