Are You Stuck? Here’s the Antidote!

Stymied. Stuck. Stalled. Stopped.

Ever feel this way? Maybe you have run out of steam or ideas. Or maybe you are just discouraged. Or maybe you just aren’t sure what the next best course of action is.

You are not alone.

In John 21, the disciples know that Jesus is alive after his crucifixion. They have seen him twice. Yet, they are not sure what they should do. Jesus has not given them any specific instructions and they are no longer “traveling” with him.

Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” The other disciples tell him, “We’re coming with you.”

They all don’t know what to do next. Peter has an idea. It sounds good. They know how to fish. It’s comfortable. So fishing they go.

Then Jesus shows up. He gives Peter instructions. Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep.”

The same can be true for you.

Are you unsure of what to do next? Wondering which marketing endeavor you should undertake? Unsure of which book you should write or publish next?

Here is an old poem that addresses this issue. It is titled “Do the Next Thing”  and Elisabeth Elliot re-popularized years ago.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

Today, just do the next thing that is before you. Trust that God will show up. He will either tell you to do something else or confirm what you are doing.

By the way, today, April 26, is Poem in My Pocket Day!

Related Posts:
Poetry: A Difficult Genre to Sell
Do You Have a Poem in Your Pocket?
What’s Holding You Back?

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Poetry: A Difficult Genre to Sell

The other day I had a conversation with an author who was looking to produce an ebook of an existing print book. In an attempt to rejuvenate interest in her book and increase sale, she was thinking about introducing a digital version of the book.


This author’s questions for me revolved around marketing an ebook. She wanted to understand the differences in marketing an ebook versus a print book, so she could come up with a plan.

I told this author that marketing an ebook is very similar to marketing a print book. All the same elements are important in both types of book promotion campaigns. These include:

  • Distribution
  • Endorsements
  • Reviews
  • Connecting with readers
  • Conveying the need your book meets for readers
  • Repeated exposure

Selling any book is hard work. Whether you are promoting an ebook or a print book, just because you write and publish a book does not mean that it will sell. Authors must find their target market, connect with these readers in a way that engages and hooks their interest, and then, convince them to invest their time and money in the book.

As we talked, this author told me that her book was a book of poems. I really felt for this author because selling a self-published book is hard work. Selling poetry is even more difficult.

I do not have much experience with selling poetry books. Don’t get me wrong, there is an audience for poetry. After all, the United States has a national Poet Laureate, poetry is taught in schools, a poem is read at every presidential inauguration, and many bookstores do host a small poetry section.

However, poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. Christian poetry is even a smaller niche audience.

When I talk with authors of Christian poetry books, I usually refer them to an organization called Utmost Christian Writers. Utmost Christian Writers is based in Canada. However, they provide a valuable service to Christian poets. The group hosts an annual poetry contest, hosts reviews of poetry books on their website, and provides additional resources to Christian poets. If you write poetry, I encourage you to check this group out.

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Poem in My Pocket

Today, Thursday, April 29, is Poem in My Pocket Day, a part of April’s National Poetry Month.

To celebrate and honor Poem in My Pocket, I decided to deviate from my usual posts and share with you, my readers, two poems written by my lovely elementary-aged children.

Have You Ever Had a Friend?
By Rachel Bolme

Have you ever had a friend that was supposed to

Talk with you,

Laugh with you,

Cry with you, and

Play with you,

But instead, she goes and does all that with your little brother?

The Waves
By Talon Bolme

The waves are big,

The waves are strong,

They push me in the water,

And tumble me along.

There you are. I have shared with you two poems in honor of Poem in My Pocket Day.

I invite you to share a poem with me as well as others in your life today!

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Do You Have a Poem in Your Pocket?

April is National Poetry Month. Inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets (, National Poetry Month is when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

Just like Small Press Month, National Poetry Month offers great opportunities for authors to promote their works. Where you have a full book of poetry or just a poem included in your book, you can take advantage of the opportunities this month presents for you to promote your book.

Authors can join poetry readings, offer to read a poem and teach children how to write a poem at a local school, host a poetry event at a local bookstore or library, or volunteer to read one of your poems during your church’s worship service this month.

This month also offers the opportunity for Christian poets to enter a new unpublished poem in the free poetry contest sponsored by Utmost Christian Writers at in honor of National Poetry Month. pocket_logo

One of the events that is part of National Poetry Month this year is “Poem in Your Pocket Day” on Thursday, April 30, 2009. For this day, people are encouraged to write a poem and carry it in their pocket to share with co-workers, family, and friends.

I think “Poem in Your Pocket Day” offers wonderful potential for promoting books. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Offer a discount on your book on April 30, 2009 to anyone who emails you a poem.
  2. Hold a contest for a free give-a-way of your book on April 30, 2009 to the person who sends you the best poem (you be the judge).
  3. Organize a poetry reading for April 30, 2009. Place your name and book information on the marketing material as the sponsor for the event.
  4. Post a poem on your social networking sites on “Poem in Your Pocket Day” as a way to promote your book.
  5. Twitter the first two lines of a poem to generate more interest in your book and poetry. It’s acceptable for “Poem in Your Pocket Day.”

I am not a poet. However, in honor of National Poetry Month I will share with you a poem by my eight-year-old daughter, Rachel.

Now That I Know

Now that I know I am going to die,

Please take my soul up into the sky.

Lord, you know me and I know thee,

So up to heaven please take me.

If you have additional ideas for using “Poem in Your Pocket Day” to promote a book, please share them in the comments section.