The Santa Papers by Wally Metts


I loved this book. It is 40 pages of an excellent reminder of who Nicholas actually was. It would be a great story to read to your kids. It is easy to read, and perfect for kids 4th grade up to read by themselves.

I highly recommend this for and Christian family to read because it is always good to remember the why, how, and who in legends. I give it 5 of 5 stars. You can purchase this book here.


Santa, of course, is a commercial icon. But it is good to remember that the original version was a real pastor remembered for his kindness to children and to strangers 1700 years ago.

It is good for kids to know there was such a person and it is good for adults to be such a person.

To the degree The Santa Papers helps you think about an ancient pastor when you think of Santa, it will be a success.


Wally Metts is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, MI. He and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees on a farm south of campus. His grandchildren call him Santa. He blogs on faith and culture at


Marketing from Randy Ingermanson's newsletter

4) Marketing: Measuring Your Marketing

Marketing your work is crucial in today's publishing environment. If you aren't out there marketing yourself, then your publisher probably won't be either.

You might take a cynical attitude and decide to do a lousy job marketing, just to get your publisher to do something.

Or you might take a naive attitude and blindly throw yourself into marketing without asking whether what you're doing actually works.

But I believe that if you're going to market yourself, you should do your best to do it well.

That means that you need to measure what you're doing. If you don't measure anything, then you have no way of knowing whether you're doing a good job or a bad one.

How do you measure your marketing?

Marketing has three major steps:
* Attract
* Engage
* Convert

I owe these terms to Michael Alvear's recent book MAKE A KILLING ON KINDLE. However, he uses these words in a slightly different way than I do.

Michael is talking in his book about short-term marketing. This is marketing where the attraction, engagement, and conversion phases all happen on the same day. Somebody is attracted to your Amazon page, is engaged by your product description, and buys the book.
This typically happens in a few minutes.

Short-term marketing is fine, but I believe that long-term marketing earns you more money in the long run. Long-term marketing for an author means that you attract new potential readers, engage them in a long-term relationship, and then sell them every book
that you ever publish during your long career. It may take months or years from the time you attract your audience to the day they finally buy a book.

Here is how I define these terms for long-term marketing:

"Attract" means that you somehow get the attention of your target audience, at least for an instant.

"Engage" means that you actually interest your target audience in what you have to say, enough so that they give you permission to continue the conversation.

"Convert" means that you make a sale to your target audience.

You must attract before you can engage. You must engage before you convert.

Let's look at a few examples of each of these steps and see which of them we can measure and which we can't.

Some examples of the attraction phase:

* Somebody visits your web site. You can measure this by looking at your web site statistics. The numbers to look at are the "page views" and the "visitors". (Only
amateurs look at "hits", which are not a meaningful statistic.)

* Somebody visits an entry in your blog. You can measure this by looking at your blog statistics. Again, you care about page views and visitors.

* Somebody receives a forwarded copy of your email newsletter. I don't know of any way to measure this.

* Somebody views your Facebook fan page. You can measure this using Facebook Insights. The number to look at is the Total Tab Views.

* Somebody sees a retweet of something you posted on Twitter or hears about your Twitter name in some other way. I don't know how to measure this.

In each of these examples, somehow or other, a member of your target audience was exposed to your ideas. It may have lasted a few seconds. It may have lasted hours. Many of those exposures had no result.

The ones you care about are those that led to engagement and eventually to conversion.

As I noted earlier, you can either think short-term or long-term. In short-term marketing, the engagement and conversion  either happen right away or they don't happen at all. Let's look at some examples of that first, and then we'll look at some examples of long-term engagement and conversion.

Some examples of short-term engagement/conversion:

* Somebody who has never heard of you reads an article on your web site or blog and finds it so interesting and useful that they get interested in you and your writing. They notice an ad for your books on your page, click through to the product description, and buy a book.

* Somebody who has never heard of you sees a post on Facebook or Twitter about your  book, clicks the link to the product description, and buys the book.

In either of these cases, if you want to measure the process, you need to be able to measure clicks to the product description and then measure sales.

You can measure clicks by using link-shortener tools that include statistics. For example, or Then you can look at the statistics to see how many people actually clicked the link and when.

You can measure sales by signing up as an affiliate for the various online retailers. Then your link to their sales pages can include your affiliate code. You'll get a report of all sales made, so you'll know if all those clicks are actually selling anything. As a bonus, you'll earn money for each sale.

There is nothing wrong with short-term marketing, but it's basically a one-shot deal. You either make the sale or you don't. Making the sale has a low probability. If you don't, you've lost the potential customer and may never make a sale to her.

This is why long-term marketing is important. It gives you more time to engage your target audience and build a relationship before making a sale.

Some examples of the engagement phase in long-term marketing:

* Somebody reads an article on your web site and finds it so useful and interesting that they subscribe to your email newsletter. You can measure this by looking at your new email subscriptions.

* Somebody reads an article on your blog and finds it so useful and interesting that they subscribe to the RSS feed on your blog. You can measure this by looking at your new blog subscriptions.

* Somebody reads a forwarded copy of your email newsletter and comes to your web site. I don't know of any way to measure this.

* Somebody Likes your Facebook fan page. You can measure this by looking at your new Likes.

* Somebody finds your Twitter feed interesting enough that they follow you on Twitter. You can measure this by looking at your new Twitter followers.

Some examples of the conversion phase in long-term marketing:

* A potential customer has been following you for some time. They may have been subscribing to your email newsletter, reading your blog, following you on Facebook or Twitter. One day, you mention one of your books and this person decides to check it out. They click through the link to your product description and buy the book.

* A potential customer has been following you for some time. You have a new book that is launching and you've created a number of incentives for anyone who buys during your launch period. You send out a notification via email, your blog, your Facebook fan page, or
Twitter. Your potential customers know you, know that they want your book, and want the incentives, so they click through to the sales page and buy it.

You can measure the clicks and the sales exactly as I described above for short-term marketing.

Notice that with long-term marketing, you have many chances to make a sale. For as long as your potential customer stays engaged with you, you have an opportunity to keep selling. You should not abuse this by being a pest, nor should you waste the opportunity completely. Find the right balance.

Why should you measure your marketing efforts?

Because when you measure your marketing, you know if it's working. And when you make a change, you can tell if you've improved things or disimproved them.

If you don't measure your marketing, then you're flying blind.

Knowledge is power. Marketing measurements give you marketing power. You know the drill -- with great power comes great responsibility, so be a good citizen.

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 32,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit


Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

I just loved the beginning of this book. What a great way to draw a reader in! This is superb as a teen read. I think every teen would enjoy it, probably 10-17 range. It's got everything you could possibly want in a suspense, Christian fiction for teens. I did think it got a bit too sassy in tone at times, but then most teens are sassy, so it is true to life.

The character development is excellent. The descriptions are on target -- not too involved and not to light. The characters are believable and relationships have that real, human feel to where you almost feel the bike rolling in the potholes, and the sweat beading on the forehead.

I really wish this guy would delve into the problems and tensions in an adult realm.

Book Description

"You probably want to hear about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and—oh yeah—the weird murder . . . you're definitely going to want to hear about that."
Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with a bad crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it’s only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.
But one day, Sam sees them harassing an eccentric schoolmate of his named Jennifer. When Sam finds the courage to face the bullies down, he loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.
Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons and the devil and death. And here’s the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies—prophecies of something terrible that’s going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.
With no one to believe him, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters compiled by James Stuart Bell

I have never enjoyed a missive so much as I have with this book. The stories are exquisite and you can tell straight from the heart. So many of them made me cry. I can identify with several experiences, and I think we Christians miss a lot of miracles just because we do not look for them to savor or to use them as witness to others.

The first story captures the essence of the book. God had promised eleven year old Derek that he could say goodbye to his pawpaw. The way God allowed it was so precious. I've told that story several times because it answers the question, how can we know God pays attention? It's all in the details, I'm thinking, and what truly unique details are revealed in each story. I'm going to treasure this book for years to come. It would be excellent for any Sunday school teacher to illustrate God's promises. Excellent for a daily devotion. Excellent for encouragement, or for a daily dose of something good for the soul. Purchase this book right now! You will be so very glad you did.

There's more going on in the world than meets the eye.

There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it. Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters offers a fascinating look at the supernatural world. It includes more than forty true stories of miraculous provision, encounters with angels and demons, near-death experiences, and incredible rescues.
You'll marvel at how God and His angels are working behind the scenes to protect and guide us. And you'll be comforted by glimpses of the peace that awaits us in heaven. The God who pulled back the curtain for a moment in the lives of these writers is the same God who works all things together for our good.
Whether you're simply curious about the supernatural world or longing for a fresh experience of God's presence, these amazing stories will touch your heart and strengthen your faith in the God of miracles.

 James Stuart Bell is a Christian publishing veteran and the owner of Whitestone Communications, a literary development agency. He is the editor of many story collections, including the Cup of Comfort, Life Savors, and God Encounters series, and the coauthor of numerous books in the Complete Idiot's Guide series. He and his family live in West Chicago, Illinois. Read the first chapter... Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters
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