op-ed

Nonnie’s Insider View on Being Traditionally Published (reblog)

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/51219838/posts/16718 (rebogged)

You all are begging me to write this post, aren’t you? Yes, you really are! If I see one more bio or tweet that says #TraditionallyPublishedAuthor, I am literally going to scream!

Seriously? Is that what you fell for? Ha! Well, they fooled you, honey, so please wipe that silly look off your face; and close your mouth. What exactly does that mean anyway? What are you trying to tell us? Does that mean that your books are better than #IndiePublished books?

Here are the facts…

*They say that being traditionally published brings prestige.
Well, maybe 15-20 years ago it did. Listen, saying to me that you’re traditionally published, is going to get you the same reaction as one of those Sunday-only Christians telling me they live in church all week. (FYI, I watch my purse closer in church than I would if I frequented a smoke-filled bar 5 days a week.) In either scenario, I am equally unimpressed. I’m pretty sure there was a time when most of us believed that to be traditionally published you had to be a really good writer! I know it’s what I believed. That is, until I became an author myself and started reading some of those awesome Indie published books and wondering, “Hey, why aren’t they traditionally published?” – then comparing them to some of the traditionally published books I’d read, and wondering, “Hey, why are they traditionally published?” Well, I got real clear, real fast on this falsehood.

In 2010, I read an article about a self-published author in my hometown who became a NY Times Bestselling author almost overnight. I reached out to her, we had a phone conversation, and she basically told me how she did it. “My mom told her friends, my friends told their moms, my sister told the people on her job, the people on her job told their cousins, their cousins told friends and family, friends and family threw a block party barbecue…. and the rest is history!” She said that so many people were buying her book that she was soon picked up by a traditional publisher.

I was so excited for her, especially since she was local, that I hurried out to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of her book that very day. I typically flip through books before I purchase them, but when I sat down with my coffee and began looking through hers, unfortunately, it ended up back on the bookshelf instead of being purchased. To my chagrin, the book was riddled with so many typos, that when I walked out of the Barnes and Noble, my mouth was left behind on the floor of the Starbucks inside. Not only that, the beginning of the story was so muddled with confusion, I couldn’t imagine subjecting my mind to the rest of the read. To say that I was shocked by what I found between the covers of that NY Times bestselling book, is an understatement. Yet, it/she was traditionally published.

This is when I knew, without a shadow of any doubt, that I’d been fed a bunch of baloney. This is also when I stopped trusting the #NewYorkTimes Bestselling Author label unless it was a book I’d read myself. And because of this very incident, this was the reason that when I joined Twitter my bio read: “GOAL: To become a bestselling author based on the writing, not the numbers.” I didn’t (and still don’t) want to become a bestseller because ALL my family and friends are buying up my books. Absolutely NO! I want to become a bestseller because the general public (not all my mom’s friends and my cousins) think that the writing is phenomenal, and they are telling their friends, and those friends are telling their friends, and they’re all reading my books and feeling the very same way. (As a matter of habit, I don’t even share with my friends and family what I’m writing. I also don’t want them leaving reviews on my books because I know they’ll be extremely biased. Not one review left on any of my books is from anyone who knows me personally. Not one!)

*Traditionally published authors have extremely limited creative control over their work. Please tell me why someone would toil with the weight of carrying a baby for 9 months, only to give birth to it, then give it away for someone else to raise and enjoy? Now, we’re not talking adoption here, so let’s stay focused. Why would you pour your heart, your blood, sweat and tears into a project, only to have someone else dictate what you could and could not do with it?

You like this title for your book – nope, they like that one.
You like the cover you imagined – nope, you can’t use it.
You like the way you wrote that paragraph in your manuscript – nope, they don’t like it that way, so they’re going to edit it to their liking.
You want to run a promotion and reduce the cost of your book on Amazon – no can do… well, unless you “ask” someone else first; and even then, they still might say NO.

So, I ask again, why would anyone give away THEIR rights to THEIR work? Is it just so that they can say, “I have a publisher,” or, “I’m traditionally published?”

It leaves me scratching my head, asking “What… Does… The… Nanny… Do?” (I’m sorry, if you’re not a fan of #SisterWives you won’t get that last part, so let’s move on). My point is, YOU created and birthed that baby, so YOU should be the one to control and have the final say over what happens to it. Stop believing the hype that it’s better to be traditionally published than Indie published. Long gone are the days when people frowned upon self-publishing. Some of the absolute best, and most well-written stories I have ever read, were written and published by Indie authors.

*Traditionally published books are always edited better. Now this always, always, always, almost makes me pee my pants! Have you read any traditionally published books – I mean like, EVER? Don’t you, as long as you’re human, ever let anyone know that you’ve bought into that crap. And crap it is! Honestly, I’ve found more typos and other editing issues in more traditionally published books than I have in all the many Indie books I’ve read; and I read a LOT of books. But why do you think that is? It’s because Indie authors have heard all the jokes; they know what some of those in the traditionally published world think and are sometimes bold enough to say. So, while some of those in the traditionally published arena are mocking all things Indie, and sitting back allowing others (their publishers) to control their work, Indie authors are personally overseeing and ensuring that what is published with their names on the cover, is ONLY the very best… they’re ensuring that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted.

*Publishing contracts are a bit intimidating…
and they include a ton of jargon you might not even understand; and, they will most often favor the publisher, not you. If you don’t have a good legal beagle working with you to go through your contract with a fine toothed comb, stay away from these contracts. In the end, that document will control you and your work.

*Indie authors have to work hard to promote their own work,
and so do you, if you are traditionally published. This is the part that really fries my chicken. If I… well, no, we won’t even use me as an example here, because I’d never give anyone control of my work, so, let’s use Jane in this example. If traditionally published Jane has to work just as hard as proud, Indie published, Nonnie, why would Jane want to give someone else control of her work? Make it make sense, people. Please!

*Traditionally published authors get their books into bookstores.
So do Indie published authors. I’m speaking from a place of fact. One of my first books, an Indie published title, of course, sat on the (physical) shelves of several B&N stores. A publisher didn’t make that happen for me – Indie-author-me, made that happen for me – and if you work hard enough, Indie-author-you can make it happen for you, too. Also keep in mind, Barnes and Noble is not the only bookstore in the world.

*Traditionally published royalties are less than Indie published royalties.
Some may counter this is so because Indie published authors need to account for all that they must pay for on their own. But listen, if you don’t mind putting your learning cap back on, you can handle some of your own publishing tasks. If you don’t want to bother with it all, there are also reputable and cost effective literary services out there, as well. But isn’t the hard work worth it to not have to be told what you can and cannot do with your own creations? It is to me.

I said all this to say to those who are traditionally published and are walking around with “the big head,” let out some of that air, because your struggles are the same as ours, although when everything is laid out the way it is above, it looks as if Indie authors are getting the better deal anyway.

Unless you can snag a $500,000 advance on a deal, then Indie publishing is the way to go. And from what I hear, that’s only happening if you’re an athlete, actor, well-known/well-established author, or some other person with a modicum of fame. Let’s face it, without a huge advance from a “major” publisher, the advantages of being an Indie published author greatly outweigh any so-called disadvantages. And if you’re viewing this through my lenses, there are no disadvantages. When you self-publish, YOU get to make all the decisions regarding YOUR books, and only YOU will own the rights to YOUR work – not someone who didn’t even contribute one bead of sweat to it.

Isn’t that the way it should be anyway?

It’s time some of you stop touting that you’re traditionally published. For those of us who know better, that label doesn’t carry any more weight than the Indie published label does. I’m glad that I now know better. It’s time some of you accept the reality of it, too.

Seriously, all we need to know is that you’re a good writer. Telling us how you’re published, gives us absolutely no indication of that at all.

By the way, I’m Author, Nonnie Jules, and I don’t need to preface my introduction with a label. I’ll let my writing tell you all you need to know.

Read more of Nonnie’s opinions at RaveReviewsbyNJ https://nonniewrites.wordpress.com/

breath of joy, Change of view, Faith, featured, Friendship, grief, inspirational, Kathy Joy

Irrepressible Leaning Tree

by Kathy Joy

Our Towers came down in September of 2001.

Something shifted on the global axis. and personally, in my world. Our national sense of security was forever shaken.

In October 2001, a severely damaged tree was discovered at Ground Zero, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

From the charred and broken tree, signs of life and hope emerged. Under the watchcare of the crew, the Callery Pear Tree began to thrive. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the irrepressible tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010.

New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible distinction between the tree’s past and present.
Today, the Survivor Tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival, and rebirth.

A few years ago, on the cusp of becoming an author, I visited the New York Memorial for 9/11 with my editor. We walked by the tree and celebrated its survival; two stunned strangers in a strange landscape igniting a friendship beside the signs of unnatural life.

When did your towers fall?

What signs of life are emerging from the debris? M
ake a list, and inventory of the new branches, new leaves?

So many upheavals lately.

And yet.

And still.

That hushed and tranquil tree stands in Manhattan.


In the spring, it’s the first to bud and
the last to lose its leaves in the fall.


Your root system is stronger than you think.

The network of support all around you is a social maze of amazingness.

A rich tapestry of connection.
A matrix of life.

We, like that tree, are a living narrative of joyous entanglement.

Lean into that.

Honoring Beautiful Feet
captive audiences, children's literature, featured, fourteen year old girl, G.K. Johnson, inspirational, Lynn Byk, Olympic Runners, poetic, Tonya Jewel Blessing, Writing

Blood and Butterflies

By Lynn Byk, Capture Books author

Protecting Body’s Strength To Offer Body Strength

Bodies, are strong, aren’t they? But, like all armor, they have their weaknesses. It’s what’s inside that matters. Simone Biles’ personal struggle reminded the world of this at the 2020 Olympics.

We protect life at all costs and with all instincts when it is our own. Our defenses become skilled, honed, bolted on. But, I think that is what the irony of the Biblical message is, “How beautiful are the feet of them that bring good news” – because reaching out to help others in need is foot bloodying, callus making, dehydrating, painstaking.

Bringing Good NewsAny Olympian knows those gnarled feet are not that beautiful after the long run. It is the message carried in the soul, or in the outstretched hand, in the much-needed funds or supplies, in the scroll or in the book which is so beautifully life-giving.

When there were no postal services, there were the human runners. To greet such a message bearer at the door, to receive the message or item and offer to wash and bandage those feet, is to tend to them with joy and tears. 

Judging fourteen-year-old Quan Hongschen with consistent tens blew the Olympic diving record out of the water today. She didn’t do this so much for herself as for her mother’s life. For her chronically ill mother, the achievement brings crucial medication by allowing Quan to afford to fund her mother’s care in China.

Heart and Motivation Run Hand-in-Hand

Heart and motivation run hand-in-hand.

The Men’s 110 trials of Jamaica’s Hansel Parchment and USA’s Grant Holloway, brought Jamaica distinct honor in hurdles.

Athing Mu raced like a gazelle to the gold in women’s middle-distance running. She is a record-breaker, a testament to the value of refugees who build America.

It is usually only the recipient of the good news who says, “How beautiful these feet!” “What a sight for sore eyes!” “What a savior, you are!” “Such an answer to prayer!” “Your value is a work of art – apples of gold in settings of silver!” “You have saved my life!”

Beautiful Feet Because of the Beautiful Feat

Honoring Beautiful FeetWhen the servant at the door loves the master as much as the servant arriving with the message, these are the words of one servant to another.  “Let me bring you water.  Sit here.  Lie down. Oh, your wretched feet!  They are so beautiful.”

Words are so powerful, and so are the illustrations of the expression. How many times have I put together a piece of furniture or used a piece of software, or read a book that I would not comprehend but for the illustrations? Maybe this is why I love children’s picture books.  Maybe this is why I love to include those few pertinent illustrations in the books we publish at Capture Books.

The irony is lying ill from the wildfires permeating the air we must breathe, and opening a bottle of medicine you can take because someone thought to prepare you with it.

The irony is watching an arrow sink into the opening of someone’s armor, and watching words of life pour out, like butterflies from the soul. Blood – butterflies – words – illustrations – help – honor.

 

Mister B: Living With a 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist
The Indefatigable Mister B

Heroes of Appalachia

The Zealots, history for men and boys.
Being Creative drives to the core of creative strength

Building a well-rounded history of faith

adaption, Advice, BEING CREATIVE, biblical history, Change of view, Expectations, Faith, featured, op-ed

Building an Author’s Career is Like Building a Passage

During worship, our church sang, BE THOU MY VISION by the 8th Century lyricist, Dallan Forgail. The subject of the message was worshipping God in our daily work.

The words hit me like they never had before. Goading me from the perspective of a fairly unknown author and editor in today’s market, struggling to find the needed footholds, the lyrics of this ancient hymn reminded me of my priorities and of the substantial rewards offered by the Lord.

To show you how almost every phrase or thought in the song became animated for my soul, I’ll highlight the phrases for you.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Pow’r of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

So, I’ll ask you, writer, or new author without a “platform,” how do you see your writing?

Is writing your passion, like a spiritual enigma?

Is writing a hobby?

Or, is writing your life’s work, your career?

Frank Viola advises that a writer who is not willing to invest in marketing and publicity to boost their products to the intended audience is only a hobbiest. But, even a hobbiest seeks out models and YouTube how-to videos for patterns and best practices.

People do invest in hobbies. They buy tools, a table, the supplies, and sometimes we invest to see where the market lies for their products. But, a hobbiest doesn’t really expect to see a profit from doing something that passes the time in interesting and enjoyable ways.  A hobbiest, though, can also leave a legacy of the things made for others.

Some people also invest in a career if they are entrepreneurs or just good and loyal servants of a company.  College diplomas are earned so that a person can prepare for the prerequisites of work and learn the elements of a career.

But, sometimes a passion is a thing we give ourselves to without any expectation of reward. We call this attitude altruistic or philanthropic.

Insert Foot In the Comedy Door

I have a friend who needs to pay for her property and way of life, suddenly, after divorce.  She doesn’t have office skills or a college degree.  She has some acting and comedy skills, and she had been writing and practicing her schtick.

She invited me to listen to a staged comedy routine she was required to perform as a final assignment for her comedy class and provide feedback.  She was preceded by six people whose routines were so vulgar that I wondered whether I could continue to watch and wait for her turn. The atmosphere caused me to pray for her strength and buoyancy.

When it was her turn, she spoke from her own life and perspective without bitterness. She displayed a flowy hand movement and there was an elegance about her. She did not cuss or use sex, genitalia, or potty jokes like the others had. She was dignified in her storytelling. Her jokes were original. I called her on her way home to congratulate her and give her my perspective. Her courage. Her persona offered something unique to build on.

She was crying behind the wheel.  “I don’t know why I’m crying,” she said. “I had fun, I felt like I was funny and people laughed, but when it was over, I was alone.  The rest of the performers were eating and drinking together, and I was alone, so I came home.  But, you know what?  I want to be righteous. And, I think the Lord was honored.”

My heart lept for her. I am confident that God will make a way in or outside of this wilderness called comedy clubs.

Drinking from an Empty Well?

I want my writing and my business of publishing to be a big part of my legacy.  Sometimes, I’m willing to sacrifice income by putting my books down to .99 cents while investing in a promotion. But I don’t like to devalue my books by leaving them at that price or by giving them away for free.  Others are willing to hand out their books or booklets for free. They post their writings freely on social media hoping to minister to someone that day.

Sometimes I struggle with the idea of regular writing for business or even part-time income when the present costs and sacrifices are more than I want to give. Oftentimes, the costs are far more than I have to give. If I try to drink from an empty well, the hope is futile. In that case, there is no decision to be made.

Sometimes I struggle with the idea of writing for spirituality because my own spiritual practices are non-quantifiable. They may be very different than others’ ideas and practices.

Then, when my work is ignored or rejected or marginalized, I wonder if I have the spine to withstand these disappointments. They return my goodwill and investment like a bucket of dust from an empty well.

From Whom Do We Seek a Reward?

There are earthly rewards promised in Scripture to those who do certain things.

We can read about the rewards of faithfulness, and the rewards of self-denial, and the rewards of integrity.

Some rewards are miraculous like when God comes through for a King who is faithful and obeys the Lord beyond reason or by denying other’s ungodly counsel.

I read about Ezra’s situation today in the book named for him.  Ezra was leading back the remnant of God’s people to Jerusalem to build the city and the temple. King Darius had ordered that he be given everything he needed to finish the work. In the course of their correspondence, Ezra proclaimed, “The hand of the Lord will protect us.”

George Zeller from www.middletownbiblechurch.org puts the story this way:

The journey for Ezra and his people was monumental. They had to travel about 900 miles, a trip that would last three or four months. The journey was extremely perilous. Travelers in Bible times would often meet with robbers, and Ezra’s group carried with them large amounts of gold, silver, and valuable vessels (Ezra 8:25-30). Ezra realized how helpful it would be to have a royal escort of soldiers and horsemen to protect his vulnerable people on their arduous journey. No doubt, the kind King would have granted such a request, even as Nehemiah later enjoyed the benefits of a royal escort from this very same monarch (Neh. 2:9). And yet, Ezra was too ashamed and embarrassed to make such a request (Ezra 8:22). Why the hesitancy? It was because God’s Name was at stake. Ezra had already told the King that the hand of God was upon them and that God would take care of them (Ezra 8:22). To ask for help at this point might send a message to the King that they did not really believe that God could protect them. So instead of asking the King, Ezra proclaimed a fast and asked the King of kings to protect them (Ezra 8:21,23). God wonderfully answered: “The hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and of such as lay in wait by the way(Ezra 8:31). They safely arrived in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:32).

The Blessing of Keeping a Holy Vision

Christian authors and writers write to present themselves and their material in such a way that the name of the Lord is not dishonored. Sometimes, they are unsure of how to go about this and make mistakes, but as God did for Ezra, who ran to Him with a petition for provision and protection, the Lord will continue to be faithful to His children today.

  • He will provide.
  • He will see us through.
  • Though the journey may be perilous, God’s hand covers us.

Whether we appeal to a king or appeal to an audience, when we appeal to the Lord, He is faithful.

Honoring our Maker and our Redemer is always the priority and over-arching goal. Even when we write about perilous times and situations.

Moses authored Psalm 90.  His prayer is “May Your work be shown to Your servants and Your splendor to their children.” It is when our intentions make it into our handiwork and products produced that things begin to happen. When writers are writing to display God’s handiwork, Moses’ continues:

  • New International Version
    “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.
  • New Living Translation
    “And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!

The Lord does see you thinking, processing, writing, editing, publishing, and He sees you closing that circle by pursuing the need of others to see, read, or hear what you have written. He is actively ordering your steps and delighting in your journey. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man are ordered by the LORD Who takes delight in his journey.

May the blessing of Moses give you a great heart for the journey.

May the prayer of Ezra remind you to dedicate your embarrassments to the Lord for His redemption and honor.

May the lyric of Dallan Forgail, create a deep stream from which you will dip your refreshment. No matter what, may the Lord be your inheritance, now and always.  May He be your dignity and your delight. May He be your shelter, your high tower, and your undergirding power. May He be your wisdom and your true word.

BEING CREATIVE (Bartnick) is available on Amazon, The Nook, Faithful Reads, and Capture Books
Advice, assessment, featured, Fruits of the Spirit, leadership, op-ed, Questions, quiz assessment

A Rare Leadership Assessment Outline

By author Tonya Blessing

I am currently reading the book Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder.

Because I am still praying and processing the information contained in Rare Leadership, I am hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend all the material. There is, however, a portion of the book that includes maturity assessments.  I was reading one of the assessments and feeling proud that I had the items discussed in check.  Then, I realized that the assessment was for child-level maturity.

Tonya sells pillows and gift cards with Appalachian folk sayings on them.

The older I get, which also means the longer I am in ministry, I realize more and more that ministries are only as healthy as the people who lead them. It is a trickle-down effect. As a leader, if I am unhealthy emotionally, my teammates and those I lead and teach will be affected by my lack of emotional maturity.

Proverbs tells us that spiritual zealousness without maturity can be dangerous.

According to Warner and Wilder, there are four qualities of emotional maturity that can be used as a guide to assess our own maturity and also the maturity of others with whom we engage.

Remaining Relational

  • Do you avoid conflict?
  • Do you avoid people who upset you?
  • Do you use negative emotions (shame, anger, fear, disgust) to control people and outcomes?
  • When conflict arises do you make people choose sides or do you reach out to those who oppose you?

Acting Like Yourself

  • Do people walk on eggshells around you?
  • Do they feel safe disagreeing with you?
  • Do people share honest opinions with you?
  • Do people avoid bringing their problems to you?
  • Can people expect a tender response to their weaknesses?
  • Do you reveal your own weaknesses and ask for help?
  • Do you fear people discovering what you are really thinking and feeling?
  • Do you present yourself stronger than you really feel?

Returning to Joy

  • Do you know how to quiet yourself when you’re upset?
  • Do you isolate yourself during upsetting emotions?
  • Do you reestablish connections quickly after upset emotions?
  • Do you help others return to authentic relationships quickly from their unpleasant emotions?
  • Do you see moments of upset as opportunities to strengthen relationships?
  • Do you stay annoyed with people who trigger your emotions?
  • Do you ignore people when their emotions are not in sync with yours?
  • Do you help your group maintain an identity that is resilient in the face of difficulty?

Enduring Hardship Well

  • How much stress does it take for you to avoid relationships?
  • How much pressure can you handle before you snap and turn into a different person?
  • How much can you handle before you disappear and turn to your cravings for comfort?

I know that I am sharing a great deal of information.  Some of the questions included above could have pages of discussion written just about one item.  My goal in sharing about emotional maturity is not to cover things completely but to build a platform for us to evaluate on a basic level, and then pray and discuss with others how we can grow emotionally.

Here’s to emotional health and well-being!

Tonya is the co-founder/director of Strong Cross Ministries (SCM). She and her husband currently reside in South Africa, where they assist local leaders in helping their communities. She is also an author of two novels and the co-author of a resource book for women in Christian leadership. Tonya is a national and international speaker. She is especially passionate about helping women grow in Christ.

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