Why Book Signings are So Important

Many authors, especially the more famous ones, avoid book signings. They feel that the amount of work required to put into a book signing doesn’t equal the sales returned. The ROI doesn’t calculate in favor of the author.

But I disagree. Book signings are some of my favorite events.book sign - 2nd book

With my most recent book signing, I was billed as a native of Enid, Oklahoma. The Hastings store in my home town hosted the signing and helped me advertise it.

What makes a successful book signing? Some authors believe selling 10-50 copies constitutes a success. But for me, the success of the event centers around the people who attend.

For example, in Enid, the following people visited my table:

• A prayer partner – a woman who faithfully prays for my ministry as writer, life coach and program director at GateWay of Hope. She also prays for my personal concerns and the cares of my family.

• My former piano teacher – the woman who taught me how to follow the notes but also how to play with my soul. She is still teaching me because every time we visit, I am awed and inspired by her gracious personality and her godly character.

• A high school and college friend – this woman has taught me about the importance of faith, especially when life unravels in different directions. She encourages me through social media and by attending the events that are important to me. She is an example of the believers in the Hebrews’ Hall of Faith.

• The sister of another high school friend – she came to buy each of the books so that she could read them and then send them on to her sister. Every time I see her at church, I am struck by the peace of God that rests on her, and I feel blessed.

• A friend of our family who continues to meet weekly with my mother, walks around the mall with her and drives her to Braum’s so they can have biscuits and gravy together. I have known her all my life and appreciated her kindness to our family.

• My own sister who buys books for six of her friends, filling her Christmas list early and encouraging me in the process. She interrupts her own schedule to fill my needs.

• A pastor and his wife who show loyalty to the family of their parishioners and continue to encourage me in my writing journey.

All these people uplifted me because they took the time on a busy Saturday to drive across town and buy one or more of my books. I know they will read the books and probably tell someone else about them. They will pray for me and that will build up my coverage in heaven for this wordsmithing I do.

But then – just as I began to pack my remaining books away – another person approached the table, picked up a book and asked, “What’s it about?”

“A woman minister,” I said, “who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She lives in assisted living and meets a whole group of interesting characters.”

“Perfect,” she said. “My mother’s best friend just went to live in assisted living. Mom doesn’t know what to do to help her, and she misses her so much – the things they used to do together.”

We talked for a while about how life changes so rapidly and how difficult Alzheimer’s and dementia can be for the caregivers. She bought the first book, “The Unraveling of Reverend G” and slipped a bookmark for the second book, “Intermission for Reverend G” into her purse. She picked up a business card, “So I can follow you online,” she said, “and buy the second book on Amazon.”

Then she moved toward the register, and I continued to pack up my books, grateful that I waited a few more minutes so that I could share hope with this lovely woman.

All my book signings have been successful – that is – I’ve sold more than 10 books. But the best part of the entire process is that I get to meet face to face the people who read the words God has given me. I get to thank them for coming and hopefully bless them with a hug or a handshake.

I meet people who will be encouraged by the story of this brave little minister with Alzheimer’s Disease, people who are caregivers, who experience the 36-hour day and know firsthand how it feels to live with a loved one who sometimes forgets.

Book signings are another way to share the message that no matter how dire life gets – God is still good and he never stops loving us.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Saturday Sisters

SAMSUNGWe’ve done life together, these five women and I. Once part of the same church fellowship, we became a team. They interceded for me and supported me when I served as  international minister at KU. They continue to intercede and support me in my ministries as writer and life coach.

We’ve laughed together and cried together as women do so well. All it takes is a phone call or an email to bring us together either physically or in prayer.

They are warriors, each and every one, ready to fight for each other, provide intervention when needed and encouragement when we don’t even know that’s what we need.

With this group of women, I can be real. I talk about my fears and my troubles without having to wrap them around Bible verses or a mask of faith.

My Saturday sisters understand. We share some of the same aches and pains yet we explore hope together, knowing we are headed for a better life in eternity.

Once a month we meet, on a Saturday. We put together a spontaneous pot luck, reconnect, hug and record prayer requests. We nurture each other as we check up on our needs and our joys. We bring special recipes and understand when one or more of us just can’t think of a single thing to cook. We keep each other accountable in faith and in the realities of life.

These Saturday sisters live out authenticity and know how to be real.

Two of us struggled through mid life divorce while the other four have lived many years with the same husband. We’ve prayed each other through those situations, too – through perseverance and heartache, joy and frustration.

Three of us know the pain of dealing with a parent who has Alzheimer’s. They tell me their stories so I can learn and include new passages in my books. We hope and pray that we won’t have to face the same battle ourselves.

We have prayed for each others’ children and grandchildren for they, too, have been underlined on our prayer lists. It feels as if we have raised six families together and indeed, we have needed each others’ village.

Some day I may write a book about my Saturday sisters and honor each of them in chapters that speak of their gifts and our bond of friendship.

I love them each, and I love them all together. Every time we meet, I consider it a blessing to peer into their pure hearts. And I respect how they love me back, just for who I am.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Reverend G’s Christmas

Some of my readers have wondered what Reverend G does for Christmas. So I asked her, and she said:

“Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, and even with my Alzheimer’s I remember so many past memories. My beloved Jacob in his Lone Ranger pajamas, tearing into his presents and so excited to find a toy replica of Silver. He ran all over the house shouting, “Hi- ho, Silver…Away.” The neighbors probably wondered how a minister raised such a wild kid.

The orange slices I piled into Jacob’s stocking, knowing that in a couple of months we would visit Mort, the town dentist and hear him say, “Reverend G, I’ll bet this boy of yours has been eatin’ more of them orange slices. Worst dang things for teeth.”

Of course, as a minister, my first priority was to make sure my parishioners understood the beauty and meaning behind Christmas. I worked for weeks on those sermons, and always surprised my congregation with a message about some of the more unknown characters. One year, I preached about the shepherds.

‘Did you know, folks, that these same shepherds watched over the flock of sheep that were used in the temple sacrifices? Imagine that! These men and probably some of their sons heard the angels in heaven proclaim the news about Jesus. These shepherds, who guarded the sacrificial lambs, were the first to come and worship the Lamb of God.’

But as sweet as those memories, the present Christmas with my loved ones may prove to be one of the best. I still know all their faces and names as we sit in my living room, exchanging gifts and listening to Bing Crosby sing ‘White Christmas’ once again.

In the years to come, this stupid Alzheimer’s will steal my loved ones away from me. Christmas will be just another day on the calendar as I wait to die.

Oh God, oh God. Help me enjoy my loved ones now. Cache every memory of their faces, their smells, their voices into the deepest caverns of my soul. My brain might fail me, but let my heart always carry love for Jacob, Jessie, Chris and my blessed grandchild.

We watched ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Chris and I danced around the living room while the TV George and Mary jigged the Charleston in the high school gym. Jessie cried when George Bailey found his way home and embraced his children after that infernal newel post came loose again.

Jacob sat on the sofa and petted Gabriel. Jacob is more into ‘The Grinch Stole Christmas.’ He doesn’t like sentimental movies, although I’ve seen his eyes mist over when Cindy Lou Who peeks around the corner at the Santa Grinch.

Thankfully, Gabriel stayed in my apartment during Christmas week. Nobody transferred to heaven, so he didn’t have to work. You know, of course, about Gabriel and his special gift if you’ve read the book. You have read the book, right? ‘The Unraveling of Reverend G?’

Anyway, Jacob and Jessie gave me a new angel ornament to hang on my tree, the little tree that Chris and I decorated one afternoon. Then Chris and I put the nativity characters together while Jacob set up the little hand-made stable. I think one of my parishioners made that for me years ago. Can’t remember which one, but that doesn’t matter now. God knows who it was, and someday He’ll make sure that person receives a special thank you.

nativity sceneThe funniest thing, though. Gabriel really loves the ceramic Baby Jesus. He leaves all the other characters alone, but he keeps carting off Baby Jesus. I walked into the living room and there were the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph – all staring into an empty manger. Gabriel scarfed the baby again.

So I searched under the sofa, under my bed, even in the litter box (gross!). Usually I find Baby Jesus in some of Gabriel’s favorite places – in a corner of the sofa, on the window seat where the sun is warmest, even next to Gabriel’s water dish. I guess he wants Baby Jesus to stay close to him and share his favorite parts of life.

Maybe that’s what we all need to do at Christmas and throughout the year. Let Jesus share in the favorite parts of our lives. We seem to always invite Him to share our sorrows, because it makes us feel better to have Him with us.

But I think He likes to laugh with us, enjoy a warm beam of sunshine or a soft corner on the sofa. I think Jesus just wants to hang out with us.”

“God Knows What He is Doing” by Kat Crawford – guest blog

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

While in Nebraska, a doctor diagnosed Pastor Gene with dementia and suggested he leave the ministry. His wife wanted to live closer to family and preferred California, near their oldest son. When a church in that area heard that Pastor Gene was moving to their community they asked him to consider being their minister.

“I’m too forgetful,” Gene said.

“We all forget things; we want you to come,” each board member assured him.

For three more years, Gene served as minister. He remembered God’s Word well and the congregation appreciated his messages. He also visited shut-ins, presided over the board and put out the usual fires between musicians.

One Christmas, the changes in the platform, the added tree and decorations, confused him. He had no idea what to do. Von, Gene’s wife, whispered directions to him, “Stand up…preach now…pray a closing prayer.” That night Gene cried.

“Von, I didn’t know where I was.” They made arrangements for retirement, but Gene continued to drive his car.

One day, I answered the phone and heard the panic in Von’s voice. “Kat, pray. Gene is lost. We have an APB out on him.”

For the next 23 hours, police and neighboring communities searched for Gene. Von called, “A policeman found him on the freeway. He drove until the car ran out of gas. The police took him to a hospital. He’s fine –  physically.”

A couple days later I called and Gene answered the phone. I tried to sound cheerful. “Sounds like you had a great trip, Gene.”

“Yes, I did. I left home with $3.00 in my pocket and when I came home, I had $3.00 in my pocket. I was having a good time and didn’t even know it.” He sounded like the old teasing Gene I’d known for years. “You should see the picture they put out for me. It’s pretty good. I should smile more often,” he said.

Later that week, Gene gave Von the car keys. “You can’t believe what a relief that was,” Von told me. “I dreaded telling him he couldn’t drive.”

That incident convinced Gene he should never drive again. It was such a blessing for the family and helped them avoid the drama of taking his keys. “God knows what He is doing,” Von said.

I wonder how many Alzheimer and dementia caregivers question that phrase, “God knows what He is doing.” The journey with Gene stretched Von’s faith, yet she knows God walked beside her, every step of the way.