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.

What is Your Next Must-Read?

Advice, Appalachian love, Be mine, Big Creek Appalachia, books recommended by librarians, chapter excerpt, Expectations, featured, getting the leftovers, Historic Fiction Novel Publicity, Marriage Issues, Melody of the Mulberries, op-ed, recommended by librarians, ritualistic firsts, Tonya Jewel Blessing, Valentine

Excerpt from a Shotgun Proposal

Advice, book review, children's literature, featured, How To, ingenuity, inspirational

Eating the Frog

By Kathy Joy

There it sat.

Large. Impossible. Taunting me with its arrogant presence—that thing I had to overcome. A project I’d been putting off, putting off, trying so hard to avoid.

The beastly thing had a large tag attached that hollered, “DEADLINE”.

My project had become an ugly frog.

I had to eat it right away.

It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing it’s probably the worst thing that’s going to happen to you all day.

Eating the frog: this is a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of the day — the one you are most likely to put off, but usually the one that might have the greatest positive impact on your progress.

My advice?

Eat the ugly frog first. Down the hatch. Be a brave soldier, staring down that deadline, that cleaning project, whatever it is—and go for it. Just pinch your nose, grab that wiggly critter, and swallow it whole. After this, you can move on to the other frogs, the smaller ones that aren’t quite so daunting.

I know you think I’m talking about actual frogs here, but really, I’m talking about time management and doing the hard thing first; it’s just more playful to use the frog analogy.

Do I ever remember meals as a child!  Remember yours? Many of them had frogs on the plate. I had to learn to eat the frogs first before the rest of my meal could be enjoyed.

Eating the frog means to ‘just do it, otherwise, the frog will eat you,’ meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating the whole day. Once that one task is done, the rest of the day feels like a freebie. Besides, you will feel proud of your accomplishment.

As Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Try this.

At the end of each day, whether you’re at the office or at home, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day. Then, select your most important task (the ugliest frog). Clear the workspace around it so you have this one thing, sort of a big warty frog, sitting on your desk.

It will be waiting for you in the morning.

Staring you in the face, you realize Twain was correct. Either it eats you or you eat it.

Do this every day until it becomes a habit. In due time you will find you are more productive through the entire day, having spent the early surge of your energy eating the wartiest frog.

If absolutely necessary, make Frog Jell-O. This is the art of mixing in enough humor, coffee, and perspective to make the frog taste better.

When a co-worker or family member offers you a donut or a sweet roll, tell them you’ve already had the breakfast of champions. Haven’t you, though? Then politely excuse yourself and go on to the next item, um—frog, on your list.

Kathy Joy writes for BooksforBondingHearts.com and  CoffeeWithKathy.cafe.

I HAVE NEWS!

The book launch is this week for the children’s picture book,

Will You Hold My Story?

Tired of carrying her heavy story all by herself, Meggie Beth finds a step upon which to sit.

As she rests, the street carries a variety of people to her, all of them lost in their own thoughts. Everyone seems too laden with his or her own stories to stop and hear hers.

When a lovely, lonely dog becomes friendly with little Meggie Beth, we are reminded that youngsters need pets, and that pets are excellent listening buddies.

After the work is accepted, then edited and published, any author can tell you that it is a great reward for a new book to be accompanied by early endorsements and reviews.

The first is by a second grade teacher who says, Richly celebrating the trait of perseverance in finding the support of other people, or a gentle dog, as the case may be.” T. Palmer, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

The second was a genuine surprise to me, coming from one of Christendom’s best widow bloggers who pitched it to her fans on social media and alerted me that she believes the story is “Wonderful and meaningful for all ages.” Laura Warfel, More Than a Widow blogger

The third is from a fellow author, Charmayne Hafen, a writer of children’s books (middle age) who wrote one of my first Amazon reviews. She said,

A delightful read for children , a great tool for parents and therapists working with children.

Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2021

Verified Purchase