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The MacGregor Legacy 3-book series

From Scotland to the colonial Carolinas a family's faith is tested as they find grace

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

"Propels...into a realm of storytelling once dominated by Michael Crichton." ~ Robert Liparulo, author of Germ, The 13th Tribe and The Judgment Stone

Awakened Redemption by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Inspirational Regency Romance
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The Heart Remembers by Michele Huey

A tale of enduring love & faithfulness.
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"The Messiah's Sign" by Amber Schamel

Vol 2, of the Days of the Messiah

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"The Messiah's Sign" by Amber Schamel

The Messiah’s Sign, Volume Two from the Days of Messiah series is now available. The story brings the Bible to life in a riveting tale of redemption and reconciliation. Amber Schamel carefully weaves Scriptural accounts in her story giving it a unique flare her readers call "Historical fiction at its finest.

“Fresh, unusual, beautiful... just, different than the ordinary Christian novels market.”

"The stories in the Days of Messiah Series seem real and not Christian Fiction at all. Amber Schamel knows how to pull her readers into her stories and makes her readers feel the characters heartaches and pains. I waited forever to get the next book in the series, and The Messiah's Sign was well worth the wait!"

"I loved how she acknowledged God first and foremost, how she chose the perfect names for the characters and how she draws you into a biblical world of a time gone by."

The ebook will be available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play & B&N. Paperbacks are available on the Helping Hands Press store for $9.99. For a limited time, Amber is running the Name-A-Character Giveaway on her website. Enter for a chance to pick the name of a main character in Amber's upcoming book The Christmas Pardon. Terms and conditions apply.

Q. Amber, why did you write this book?
A. Book one of the Days of Messiah Series started as a short story, but a lot of people told me I should expand it. I picked it up and began thinking about what the entire story would be like, and that's when the Lord drew back the curtain to show me not only Aaliyah's story at the leper colony, but also the story of her husband and son. Tyrus—as the heartless husband that banishes Aaliyah to the leper colony—is the villain of book one, so I wanted to show readers his side of the story. In book two, we see Tyrus' story and join him in his struggles which are, believe it or not, worse than Aaliyah's.

About the Book
Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise their son alone and protect him from a merciless outlaw. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?


About the Author
Bestselling author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at 21, she continues to hone her craft and is now the author of over half a dozen books. Between ministry, family and working in family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog and major social media sites. 

www.amberschamel.com

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Timing Your Blog Posts for Success

If you are like many #bloggers and #email marketers, you finish writing your masterpiece and hit “publish” as soon as you’re done. But have you ever stopped to consider that those moments may not be the best time to reach the most readership for your blog? Timing your post can have a huge impact on who will read your blog and who may never see it.

How time zones affects blog readers

Since the American west coast is 3 hours behind the east, it’s safe to assume that posting a blog early morning on the east coast would mean that the people on the west are still sleeping. People are more likely to delete a blog post in their inbox early in the morning because their inboxes are full and they are in a hurry to get to work, drop the kids off to school or at the bus stop, and are thinking ahead to their morning meetings.

Another reason inboxes are cluttered in the morning, is because almost 40% of ALL email messages are sent between 6 AM and noon. By afternoon, most people are starting to wind down from the day, have ciphered through their emails, and have more time to read a blog post.

Timing posts for international readership is even more complicated and would be another post all by itself. Therefore, since most of our readership is located in America and Canada, we will concentrate on those areas.

Besides location, another consideration is the industry of your target audience. For instance, if you’re sending out an email to a list of child care professionals, the worst time to send it would be early morning between 6-8 AM or late afternoon between 4-6 PM when most parents are dropping off or picking up their kids. An industry of employees who work 2nd or 3rd shift may be best to reach when it is least appropriate for everyone else. Remember the demographics of the majority of your target audience and schedule your blog posts accordingly.

What do the stats say?


Statistics show that close to 24% of all emails are opened during the first hour of being received, but open rates rapidly decline over the next 23 hours after that. Subscribers’ highest open rate is between 8 – 10 AM, which contributes to cluttered inboxes in the morning. If that is when most people open and read email, then that is when businesses will want to send email. The second highest open rate time is between 3 – 4 PM.

The problem with hitting these timing slots, is the risk of being sandwiched between hundreds of other emails in overly cluttered inboxes. While the open rates are highest during this time, the number of deletes are elevated as well, resulting in subscribers receiving and opening a lot of emails—to glance at them, barely scanning through them, and then hitting the delete button. It is much harder to gain their attention when all your subscribers want to do is clear out their inbox so they will feel more in control of their lives. This leaves the option of sending your email at another high open rate time, to avoid some of the highest clutter. Therefore, consider early afternoon.

If you have subscribers from all over the globe, then you might want to try the Time Travel feature that GetResponse provides or Time Warp through MailChimp. They allow you to set the same time delivery for all your subscribers based on their specific time zone regardless of where they are located. Check with your current email provider to find out if they offer something similar. Most of these features are only available through a paid service.

A/B Testing

This is an email testing service that allows you to break up your subscribers into different groups. You can choose different subject lines and headers, as well as different times to send out your emails. It will allow you to figure out which settings work for your particular subscribers. What works for other businesses will not necessarily be the best fit for you, so it is a great way to test your subscribers without actually having to poll and survey them.

What other timing solutions have you tried?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Build a Platform Without Steroidal Fluff


#blogging #platform #social media
Building a platform often includes creating a blog. First time bloggers are usually overwhelmed and have no clue where to start. Let’s take a look at a few ideas that will get you successfully started on building your platform.
First, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
  • Do you have time to create a blog?
  • Are you committed to maintaining a blog?
  • Will you bring something new to an already over-saturated market?
  • Can you adapt to market trend changes?
  • Do you see blogging as a burden?

Social media is booming and everyone feels like they need a platform. Blogs and podcasts are all over the web and it seems like everyone is concerned with content. People think beyond words when it comes to blogging. Content includes videos, images, and podcasts. In order for your blog to attract interest, you must provide information that people want. Merely creating steroidal fluff will get you criticized and ignored.

Your blogging content needs:
Valued Information – Share content that you have learned and are knowledgeable. Teach others what you know. Try not to sound like everyone else. This will help establish credibility, trust and likability.

Creative Mixture – Your blog must keep visitors interested and entertained. Utilize images, photos and videos to get your points across in an exciting and creative way.

Distinction – Separate yourself from others by approaching your topic from different angles. Don’t be afraid to allow other knowledgeable colleagues to guest post on your blog. This will help you gain access to new patrons that might not otherwise visit your blog.

Consistency – Blogging once a month is unacceptable as readers will forget about you or lose interest. Most readers have a reading schedule, so post a schedule for your blog and stick to it. Blogging 2 to 3 times a week should be sufficient.

Organization – Readers who find your blog for the first time will want additional information similar to what initially landed them on your blog. Creating static web pages with your best posts in various categories is an excellent way to organize an archived system. Have a search feature in the sidebar to make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – While it is important to get your pages ranked higher on a web search, steroidal fluff stuffed with multiple keywords in your titles and posts could backfire on you. Google may drop your site in the rankings and you and your site could be labeled unreliable and untrustworthy. The best SEO is creating original content that is relevant and helpful with a few select keywords.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Photoshop Tutorial - Using the Color Variation Tool to Restore Old Photos

You might have many reasons to change the color tint of a photo. In this Photoshop tutorial, I show you how to use the color variation tool to give an old photo a vintage look. This image is of one of my ancestors in the late 1800's. It's of poor quality, black and white, and has frayed edges. To clean up the white spots and frayed edges, I used the brush tool to give it a smooth background and cropped the edges. I used the color variation tool to give it a brown, faded color.


 

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