The day of my book release party, one of the elders at my home congregation very generously bought several books and told me to give them to those who could benefit from the book but couldn’t afford one, etc. I was so touched by his generosity and wanted to make sure I honored his request to the best of my ability.
Most of the people that I know in the area have bought copies of the book already. Some have even bought copies of the book for people they know couldn’t afford it. I had to be creative to think of the best way to get these gifts into the right hands.
I’d always intended to do a few giveaways, but I hadn’t yet decided how to do it. Being gifted with these books reminded me of an idea I’d had for a giveaway early on, before I’d even approved the book for publication. Now that I’ve got a few books to give away and a good way to decide who gets a free copy of Altered before the Altar, it’s time to introduce the Alter Me Contest!
To enter, simply post why you feel like you should receive a copy of Altered before the Altar. You can talk about changes you want to make to your relationships or spiritual life or anything else you feel reflects how winning a copy of Altered before the Altar will alter you for the better. You can enter on behalf of someone you know who would benefit from the book as well, but be sure to have their first and last name as well as their mailing address should you win a copy for them.
Here are the rules:
To win a physical copy of the book, you must live in the United States. I can send a kindle copy as a gift to readers in Canada, England, etc.
Each winner must be at least 13 years of age.
Each entry must be shared on social media with the hashtag #AlterMe2014 or #Alteredbeforethealtar. Please tag me as well so I can see your entry. Note: whatever social media you choose should be able to be viewed others–I cannot see or accept entries from protected or locked accounts.
After months of slaving away, I finally had my book release party for Altered before the Altar on Saturday, November 15, 2014! Even though I had to push it back and every detail didn’t always go according to plan, I have to say that the party came together and received a great deal of support from the ladies who were able to help with it. Warning, this post has lots of pictures and highlights.
The picture to the left is of my signing table. That lace tablecloth over the table belonged to my great aunt, who wasn’t able to come due to recovering from a full knee replacement. Also on the table are copes of Altered before the Altar and the study guide, my business cards, and a wonderful book centerpiece that Sister Peggy Macon came up with. Speaking of centerpieces…
These are the centerpieces that ran the length of the table. Each main centerpiece was flanked by two smaller ones. The center columns each had a white dove, blue and gold ribbon and a blue bow. The smaller pieces are small mirrors, votive candles in jars with ribbon, and pearl and diamond pieces scattered around the center jar. Sister Macon did an awesome job on these as well. Everything looked wonderful.
Sister Yvetta Ammons did a ton of decorating as well. She provided the chair covers, table cloths, and gold runner that went down the center of the table. She also used gold ribbon to decorate the chairs. Both sisters manned the kitchen, plating all of the food cooked and donated by other sisters to make sure the guests were able to gnosh on fruit, veggie, and cheese trays, along with deviled eggs, bbq meatballs, pinwheel sandwiches, chips, dip, pretzels, and desserts like almond pound cake, lemon pound cake, and banana nut bread.
I arrived at the church early to finish getting the items ready for the guest bags, the door prizes, and the giveaways.
Each guest signed my homemade guest book and received a name badge as they entered. Once they had signed in, the door greeters gave them they gift bag…
Gift bags were color-coded for the icebreaker game. There were red, yellow, green, blue, and orange bags. Each bag had a sticker with the book cover on it and contained the following: A lip balm with a custome label (label included book cover, website, and a bible verse), a business card, a personalized book mark (designed by my lovely critique buddy, Christina Yother!), a notebook customized with a sticker with the book cover on it, a pin, bubbles, and a pack of m&ms.
I made seven door prizes to give away during the event.
Six of the Door Prizes contained a 2015 calendar (generously provided by my aunt, Louise Taplin), a small shower gel, shampoo, and lotion, a manicure set, a candle, a compact mirror, and a gold pencil. The seventh went to the oldest woman attending, and contained a premium manicure/pedicure set, bubble bath, bath salts, a compact, a pencil and a calendar.
Finally, I had two big giveaways. These included the following:
A large two toned tote bag with the book cover on it, a small personalized tote with either “A good thing in the making. ABTA” or “Throw Rice, Not Shade. -ABTA” on it, A personalized journal with the book cover and tagline, a copy of Altered before the Altar, and a copy of the Altered before the Altar Devotional Study Guide.
Nearly thirty people attended the book release party. I’m so thankful to each and every one of them for coming out. Co-workers as well as church members came out to celebrate with me.
I was able to sell quite a few books and mingle with some great friends. I could not have pulled this event off without the help of several people: Sister Macon and Sister Ammons, who helped decorate and serve food; Sister Brenda Calloway and Sister Juanita Saintelian, who helped put the guest bags together (Sister Calloway also did a wonderful job at the welcome table), my co-worker, Marcia Potts, who loaned me the display stands for the part and picked out/bought my party dress, Sister Tonya Drummer, who has been helping to spread the word about the book and “drum” up sales (pun intended), to all the Sisters who pitched in with the food–Sister Pearl McFarland, Sister Zelda Jones, Sister Brenda Calloway, Sister Princess Ortiz, Sister Linda McSwain, Sister Yvetta Ammons, Sister Peggy Macon, my aunt, Louise Taplin, Sister Marilyn Adams, and others I may be forgetting–Sister Jenny Bullard, who helped me to plan the entire thing but was unable to attend, Sister Andreana Jules, who helped spread the word on UCF’s campus and came straight from work to be at the party, and every single lady that attended or prayed for the event. A special thank you to Desmond Alvies for being a Jack of all trades, at times manning the welcome table and stepping behind the camera as needed. And a special thank you to my co-worker’s son, Kenny, who braved an event with only one other male attendee without breaking a sweat!
If anyone is interested in how I pulled off the book release party, I can write a post about the planning. I have been asked to consider a few more upcoming events, and as soon as those are finalized, I will add them to the engagements tab. I’m so thankful for all the support the book has gotten thus far, and I pray that it is touching lives.
If you want to have an Altered before the Altar party in your neck of the woods, want to place a bulk order of books or study guides, or want to let me know how you felt about the book, please send an email to inquiries[at]aseriousseason[dot]com or email me directly at mz[dot]zeyzey2[at]gmail[dot]com.
*This image is from an article on the Daily Mail site from 2010. You can read the article here.
November marked the beginning of one of the busiest seasons of the year–the holiday season. It seems like every week until New Year’s there’s something to celebrate and somewhere to go. There are many things I love about this season: seeing family and friends, giving gifts, everyone concentrating on what they have to be thankful for and all those who celebrate the savior’s birth. It’s a great time to be social and connect with others.
But it’s also the start of another season, one that can be less fun for women like myself. Sometime around Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day is “engagement season.” Unlike hunting season, you can’t just go out, wait in a tree, shoot a man, put him on the roof of your car and take him home; they arrest women for those sorts of activities here. It’s also not about the weather changing and isn’t marked by things growing or dying–unless it’s patience or relationships. As much as I may want to be social during this time of year, a part of me hates the spectre of “the question” hanging around on the fringes of everything. As happy as I am for friends and relatives getting engaged or tying the knot, I know I will be made to feel uncomfortable when well meaning loved ones seek to offer me comfort and encouragement on my single status.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had some less than stellar Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays the last several years because I let myself get all bent out of shape by nosy relatives poking and prodding into my romantic life. At some points I’ve even gotten bitter about not being engaged or married myself. But this post is supposed to be encouraging (and not that “cheer up; it’ll be your turn soon” kind of encouragement that can really grind your gears), so let’s hop on over to the point.
Being single is not a sentence to be served out with as much dignity as possible. Singleness is not a sickness to be survived or a second place settlement. Singleness is a sacred time in your life where you can give God your undivided attention. I’ve experienced so much growth and peace in my single years! Getting engaged and married is exciting, and when you experience those things you should enjoy them. But don’t minimize the wonderful gift that singleness is, and don’t let anyone else minimize it, either.
Being content single doesn’t mean that you’ve given up on having a spouse. It doesn’t mean that you are putting a brave face on the fact you couldn’t buy a man with all Solomon’s fortune. It doesn’t need sympathy. It should be praised! Praise God that you aren’t so lonely that you get involved with people that pull you off the path God has placed your feet on! Isn’t it wonderful that you have learned how to want what God wants for your life? Isn’t it a real blessing not to be tossed about like waves, chasing after people’s approval of your life and relationships? What a fabulous opportunity to become the type of woman you are proud to be without the added stress of being the wife your husband wants.
It may be difficult to say all of this in a respectful manner to all those well-meaning folks who populate your life, but pray that God gives you the words to do so. Don’t waste “the most wonderful time of the year” dreading what others will say or feeling bitter about where you are. Give those thoughts over to God and realize He cares for you. Keep your cheer, sister.
This image of Kermit the frog sipping Lipton brand tea has become the graphic of many memes where Kermit is saying something “messy” and follows it by “but that’s none of my business.” This weekend I came across an episode of the sketch comedy show “In Living Color” where the Kim Wayans plays Benita Butrell, a woman who tells everyone’s business then says “But I ain’t one to gossip, so you didn’t hear that from me.” It seemed that all weekend long I kept running into representations of gossip. It got me thinking about the event I am speaking at in January that my aunt is throwing. She gave me the opportunity to choose the theme of the event, and I think I have a good idea what would best suit.
The event is going to be a Southern Tea, and two distinct images came to mind when I thought about this: kermit and his messy memes, and an episode of Preachers of L.A. where the ladies had a “Sip and See.” Disclaimer: I don’t watch Preachers of L.A. because I have all types of problems with the people on the show and the “christianity” they claim to portray, but that’s a subject for another day. I was clicking through the channels and saw an episode where one of the women had a tea party to show off her new baby. Needless to say, a lot of drama unfolded. I started thinking about how such a feminine, elegant thing like tea has been made synonymous with gossip and drama, and my subject for the event was born.
I love New Year’s Day. People get all bent out of shape about New Year’s resolutions and how excited everyone is to begin working on goals they’ll forget about in a few months (if not weeks), but to me there’s just something about taking stock in your life and deciding on a course of action moving forward that is powerful. I do much more often than once a year, but I like the thought of everyone else doing it with me. So the fact that I’m speaking at an event in January to women is very humbling. I may be setting the tone for the entire year for some of these women. So what things do I want to leave on their minds? I want to get them out of this mindset that what they say isn’t as important as what they do. I want to admonish and encourage women to take charge of their tongues and harnass the power of their words. I want them to take responsibility for the things that they say and the effects their words have on those around them. And I want to give Kermit and tea parties a little of their dignity back.
I address the tongue in Altered before the Altar, but I wanted to go deeper with it. There were so many scriptures on the tongue that I couldn’t possibly address them all. Not to mention God is still dealing with me about my tongue. It’s a proven fact that women talk more than men. It is imperative for us to learn what God has to say about the tongue and apply it to our lives as Christian women. Our salvation may hang in the balance.
If you can come out to Avon Park, FL in January, I would love to see you. I will release more details as things are finalized. I will also try to make sure that my speech is recorded so that those who weren’t able to attend can see it. I’m intensely studying all of my notes from my studies on the tongue and finding so many principles and gems to share. What interesting things have you learned about the tongue?
Altered before the Altar: Allowing God to Make You Meet to be Met is available on Amazon, Createspace, and at the events I attend in paperback and kindle formats. The Altered before the Altar Devotional Study Guide is also available through Amazon, Createspace and at events. Both deal with digging deeply into the issues that affect Christian women regardless of marital status, including reputation, the tongue, submission, contentment, manipulation, appearance, attitudes towards others in the body of Christ, dealing with temptation, repentence, confession, forgiveness, and more. It makes a great gift for any teenage or young adult women, especially those who desire to be married or are engaged.
It’s been a long month! Between the day job, working on my newest project, entering So You Think You Can Write, and coordinating everything for the book release this Saturday, I have been exhausted. There have been a few bumps in the road with the party–my cover model can’t come to the release, and neither can my co-planner :-(–and it’s been difficult for an introvert like me to get into the marketing side of book production.
There have been some days since I published that have been more full of doubt than when I pressed published. There have been days where I have thought, “OK, God, I did what You asked; now what do I do?” There have been days I haven’t felt the book has gotten anywhere or reached anyone. There have been more than a few days I wondered how I’m going to pull off this book launch, let alone sell books in other ways.
Writing can be such a solitary endeavor that you don’t realize all of the people your hours in your writing closet can effect. If you’re a Christian author like me, you can wonder sometimes if you heard God right when you stepped out and published. Maybe I wanted to do this for myself. Maybe it’s not doing so well because it wasn’t something I was meant to do.
But the greatest thing about God is that God doesn’t leave us to wonder if He is a part of what we are doing. I’ve received the most wonderful confirmations that this is the right thing at the right time, from Bible study discussions and sermons to the overwhelming support from my local congregation.
The part that I’ve enjoyed the most is the reader response. People are really getting something out of the book! They are telling me how they are better understanding concepts or looking at them in a new way. They are expressing how it’s helping them to study God’s word and draw closer to Him. God is getting glory out of this thing! That’s the best part of my day to hear that. I especially love when someone tells me that they needed to hear something in Altered before the Altar. When I was writing, that’s one of the thoughts that kept nudging me on, that someone needed the knowledge I was struggling to share. So it means a lot when people read the book and share that with me.
On Sunday, we had a fellowship with other area churches where I was able to sell my largest one day total of books thus far, many to people I didn’t know previously. I was able to explain what the book was about and snag their interest. I received some interest in having me participate in Ladies’ Days and youth events. People have expressed an interest in me teaching the book as a class. I’m super excited about these opportunities, not just as a means to sell copies, but an opportunity to change the way young women are thinking about love, marriage, God and themselves.
If you are someone who is trying to do what you feel God is leading you to do, and you are acting according to His holy and divine word, stay encouraged. You may not impact the people you set out to impact or be as successful as you thought you would be (especially initially), but God will use what you are doing to draw the right people at the right time to Him. I really wanted to reach young, single, Christian women. I’ve sold the most books to their parents and other married people. I’ve even sold quite a few books to young men who are telling me that they are really learning things they can apply to their lives. There’s no telling who God will reach through you. I’ve learned to go along for the ride and let God do the driving.
Usually when you don’t see a post from me in a while, it means I am working on something special. In this case, that’s a true assumption. I can’t share what I’m working on yet, but I will say that the particular section I spent this morning on has to do with being naked. I’ve been looking at different ways to express the idea of nakedness as well as looking at phrases and terms that utilize the concept of nakedness, and let me tell you, it is eye opening.
One of the phrases I’ve come across is naked power. Naked power is power over someone or something that is unrelated to an interest in the well-being or continuation of that person or thing. For example, a neutral third party who has no interest in the outcome but has the power to determine that outcome. I find myself extremely glad that God doesn’t exert naked power over us. God is interested in my well-being and concerned with how things turn out for me! That’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it?
Aside from this top secret project, I’m finalizing details for my book release party. I can finally share that my book release party will be on October 25, 2014 at the Westmoreland Drive Church of Christ in Orlando, FL from 3-5 pm. There will be a discussion forum, a panel, food, games and giveaways as well as a book signing. I hope to be able to reveal my super secret project at this time and have a surprise or two for attendees. I’m so excited to celebrate this release with those who are just as excited about the work this book is going to do in young lives. If you want to attend, please let me know. I will be sure to capture it on film so that I can upload it to the Altered before the Altar YouTube channel (more details on the channel to come) so that even my friends far away can join in the celebration.
I am still working on a few more events going into 2015 that I’m really excited about. As soon as the details are finalized, I will be adding them to a Speaking Engagements section of the site so that you all can see where I’ll be and support if you can.
It is my goal going forward to have a new blog post up at least once a week. If there are any questions you have or topics you want me to address, feel free to email me at inquiries [at] aseriousseason [dot] com.
The past week has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me. I lost an uncle on Wednesday morning. My uncle, Elry “Rabbit” Hearns, Jr. was a great businessman and uncle, a man of few words who nevertheless made a big impact on me and our family as a whole. For the past 5 years, almost as long as I spent working on this book, I’ve lost a lot of close family members. I seem to be at that stage of life where everyone that I grew up looking up to is starting to pass away, some off them at very young ages. It’s something you just never get used to.
In the midst of dealing with this, I’ve got to celebrate 2 new births, 2 pregnancy announcements, a wedding and an engagement through the magic of social media (most of the new came from those back home in Michigan, or those who have moved with jobs to places near and far). This is my 5th or 6th wave of “life events” among my friends and family, at least. It seems like it’s feast or famine in that department–either everyone is graduating, engaged, getting married, having children, getting jobs, getting promoted, traveling overseas, or dealing with bereavement, or no one is. Again, that’s the power of social media; it makes everyone’s life into a highlight reel.
What I’ve learned through all of these life’s changes is what it really means to rejoice when others rejoice and to mourn when they mourn. It means that we are investedin those around us. We genuinely care what happens to them. We are earnestly praying for them. We take on their cares, concerns and triumphs as our own. All of this is true and wonderful, but what I’ve experienced since I began to share more of my journey of writing my book is that beyond boosting the person we are commiserating with, our investment encourages and pushes us to continue to strive in our own lives, not from a sense of competition, but from a place of motivation.
I tried not to post too much on my social media about writing my book initially. I didn’t want to be “that person” that floods people’s timelines with updates about something they really don’t care about. But then I would go to church and people would ask me about my progress on the book or tell me that they had always wanted to write a book and my posts have inspired them to start back on those projects. People started to contact me and ask me to help them with their book projects. A community of Christian Women writers is starting to form around me just sharing the joys and sorrows of my self-publication journey through social media. I’m suggesting people and services to others and receiving encouragement to continue on with my own book. Thisis the essence of why we should invest in others and have close personal relationships where we take on their victories and setbacks as our own–it helps to foster that sense of community, of family that is so integral to recognizing who we are in Christ, and who God is to us. It’s an encouragement to us as much as to the person we are rejoicing or mourning with.
During this last week, I’ve felt the tug of envy, the urge to compare, and all the other negative responses I could have to all of the good news in light of the bad news that I received, but being able to live in someone else’s happiness instead of in my own sadness has been such a blessing to me. Those who have called, texted, and spent time with me this week have kept me in good spirits. It’s been a week of growth, encouragement and motivation for me. Living this altered life means getting close with other believers, and has benefits that I never imagined.