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Where a Creative’s Journey Begins

By Jenny Fulton

It begins deep within the heart of the artist.

There is a whisper, an idea; it stems from the spiritual depth of a being.

It is a voice yearning to be expressed.

-Jenny Fulton

For as long as I can remember, storytelling has been a part of me. When I was no more than four-years-old, I would draw pictures that had very detailed storylines.

“Come hewoo, Mommy,” I’d say. “Look at my pictoow. Look at what’s happening!”

A Child’s Story

Mommy would come, pencil in hand, ready to patiently dictate the story she knew I was about to tell her.

“The smoke is puffing up. The lightening is flashing. A tornado came up and make the smoke even higher. A flash of lightening filled the sky. The little girl was in her playhouse. She was frightened. Then she benembold [remembered] that Jesus was taking care of her. She knew that Jesus was by her even though she could not see Him. Then the storm went away because Jesus, said, ‘Quiet down storm, the little girl is frightened.’ So the storm quieted down and so the little girl smiled. The little girl’s name was Jenny.”

My head was full of words and stories that couldn’t seem to be contained, whether that release came by means of paper and pencil, or through playing pretend.

I certainly wasn’t the only creative in our house.

Some form of cross-stitch would usually be lying within reach of my mom’s hand. Sometimes she’d get out her autoharp and sing. She taught us to sing and harmonize with her.

My dad would often be working on some craft or other. Sometimes it was a piece of wood or leather that he chiseled and worked designs into. Sometimes it was beadwork or jewelry that took shape under his artisan hands. My favorite times were when he’d get out his banjo or guitar and play away in answer to some melody that danced through his heart and flowed out through his spirit by means of the notes played upon strings.

I loved those times of singing or listening to the music, loved how my soul seemed to soar and connect in joy with God.

As I grew older, my love for both music and writing grew. I learned how to play the guitar so I could sing and enjoy its sound anytime I wanted.

I wrote because, I couldn’t keep from doing so.

Thoughts unknown

Words unspoken

A universe waiting to be explored but lacking a vehicle to take me there

Until my fingers picked up the pen and unlocked my unspoken soul

I was known, throughout my school days, as the quiet one.  Parent-teacher conferences would generally include some version of, “Jenny is a great student, but I just wish she would speak up more in class.”

At some point, I realized that I didn’t want to speak up unless I knew exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to say it.  Socially, I was the same way.  My mind would play out a million options for the conversation and analyze each possibility, along with the potential outcomes.  By the time it settled on one it deemed “safe,” the real conversation had already moved on.

Everything was different when I was alone and could pick up a beautiful, blank sheet of paper.  My fingers would reach down, pick up the pen, and say for me on paper what I could never seem to say in person.  Thoughts that were too numerous and too complicated to understand suddenly came pouring out through my fingers.   Things that didn’t make sense in my brain suddenly made sense on paper.  My spirit was given full, unhindered access as it raced through the pen and revealed itself in visible words.

In these moments, I was free.

My thoughts were known.

My spirit was given a voice.

I have believed in and followed God since I was very young – at least 5-years-old, if not younger, if my early stories are any indication. As I grew, I did the things good Christians are told to do: I prayed and read my Bible regularly. While those practices are good and they helped me grow in my relationship with and knowledge of God, it was those moments of immersing myself in music or writing that made me feel the most connected to Him.

As Laura Bartnick writes in her book, Welcome to the Shivoo,

In the beginning, God revealed Himself by creating. Apparently, this was His heart’s desire.

When I create, when we create from a Heart that loved us, we connect to this Heart in a strong, almost tangible way, as two beings whose camaraderie is strengthened by partaking in the joy of creation. We call this creativity, this similar activity. And, God’s Word says He created humanity in His own image. We are creatives because He is the Creative.

Like all other creatives, this is where my journey as a creative began. In the beginning, created in the image of God.

Little did I know where or how God would use my gifts in the future.

Psalm 45:1

My heart overflows with a good theme;

I address my verses to the King;

My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.[1]

 

Psalm 33:1-2

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;

Praise is becoming to the upright.

Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;

Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.[2

Indian woman an angel and a child
Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, children’s book

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 45:1.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 33:1–2.

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Building Publishing Credits

Brittany Nicole Lewis

Why are building publishing credits important? 

Building publishing credits is more common for traditionally published authors than it is for independent or hybrid authors, but it is something that is extremely important. Why? Because it helps establish and grow your brand. It puts you in front of people. Not just people that might want to buy your books, but people that might want to interview you on blogs, podcasts, or (gasp!) TV. It can help put you in front of school administrators that might decide to invite you to do a presentation. There are many reasons why building publishing credits are equally as important as building your platform (which I’ll talk about in another article). 

But what are publishing credits? 

An author earns publishing credits by having their work published. There are different ways you can do this. A nonfiction author can pitch to blogs, magazines, and journals that have to do with the topic they write about. A fiction author can submit to literary journals. There are different kinds of literary journals, some accept fiction, flash fiction, short stories, and poetry. Another great way to build up publishing credits is to enter writing contests. This is a simple way to build up your credits, and could help you win some neat prizes at the same time. 

Some examples of magazines that accept fiction writing are Boulevard Magazine, The Sun Magazine, and SubTropics. These magazines accept fiction, poetry and essays. Boulevard Magazine pays $300 for prose of no more than 8,000 words, and $250 for poetry of no more than 200 lines. The Sun Magazine pays anywhere between $300 and $2,000 upon publication of between 500 and 7,000 words, and SubTropics pays $1,000 for stories and essays and $100 for poems upon publication. Articles written for SubTropics should be no more than 500 words, and novellas can be up to 15,000 words.  

Some examples of magazines that accept non-fiction pieces are The Southern Review, Black Warrior Review, and AGNI. The Southern Review pays $200 for essays under 8,000 words. Black Warrior Review would like submissions that are less than 7,000 words. Their pay is unspecified. AGNI has no word limits for their submissions, and they pay $300 for essays upon publication. 

There are several different writer’s associations you could become a member of also, such as the International Association for Professional Writers and Editors, and the Evangelical Press Association. There are roughly two-hundred different denominational newspapers, magazines and other outlets that can be found through the Evangelical Press Association that say they are welcoming new writers with thought-provoking content. 

Keeping a List

One place that you can find a list of potential faith-based publications to write for is The Write Life. This book, Christian Writers Market Guide, also with its online resource, has been helpful to some looking for content writing resources.

A 2021 resource is the book, Where to Submit Christian Writing: Freelance Opportunities.

Always review the writing guidelines for any place you submit. Here is one example of writing guidelines. Notice that these guidelines for Discipled magazine indicate that the article itself should be an end in itself not a way to promote your other books or interests.

  • Keep a list of what the writing guidelines require from your submission.
  • Keep a list of places you have submitted material.
  • Keep a list of these magazines, journals, association emails, and blog sites on which you have appeared as a guest or expert writer. A ready list makes it easy to include these subjects as part of your topics of presentation and build your publishing credits up.

Publishing credits are something many editors look for when reviewing your book proposals. 

The more publishing credits you have, the more your brand will grow. It gets your name out there, establishes your credibility, and helps drive more traffic to your website.

Here is a list of curated most visible Christian publishing sites to write for. Credit goes to Jake Doberenz at Theophany Media for the list.

10 Christian Sites with a High Domain Authority

This is obviously not an exhaustive list but this list is one that openly accepts guest posts, which easily allow you to get a link on their site.
  • Washington Post (Score: 93) – The “Religion” category accepts pitches that are related to the news. Pitches were closed in 2020 but hopefully will be open for 2021. They should pay.
  • Christianity Today (Score: 81) – They accept pitches for articles on a variety of topics, mostly related to current events. Sometimes paying.
  • Patheos (Score: 81) – Patheos host blogs under categories that include Christian perspectives like General Christian, Evangelical, Progressive Christian, and Catholic. You have to find the individual blogs of categories and talk to their editors individually to discuss writing for the blogs. But it’s all built on this high domain authority site.
  • Focus on the Family (Score: 80) – This big Christian media company has a few different open pitches related to family and Christian living. They pay for certain articles.
  • Relevant Magazine (Score: 76) – The generally target millennials with information relevant to current events and culture. Their blog does not pay.
  • Guideposts (Score: 72) – This publication mostly seeks personal stories related to a variety of topics. You must send the full article. They do pay.
  • The Christian Century (Score: 71) – A publication for progressive Christians. They accept blog posts on faith in the public square and human rights issues. Pay is unclear.
  • Busted Halo (Score: 69) – A Catholic site that seeks to be fun and accessible. Pitches preferred. No payment listed.
  • Plough Quarterly (Score: 64) – Lots of different topics accepted, including poetry and short stories. Might pay.
  • Red Letter Christians (Score 61) – An organization dealing with social justice issues. No pay.
Brittany Nicole Lewis

So grab a pen, fill up your coffee mug, and get writing!

Brittany Nicole Lewis is an associate publicist and author. Find out more about her writing at https://booksbybrittanynicolelewis.com.

Find out more about becoming a successful author here.

©2020 Capture Books and its authors are happily represented by the publicity of Books for Bonding Hearts where you will find novels, memoirs, gift books, and several children’s books of high literary quality.

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Repeating Life

By Wordsmith, Kathy Joy

I don’t know why I get this in my inbox, the “wacky, bizarre and unique holidays” calendar. I don’t know from whence it come, touting some mundane calendrical events, most days, comical.

For instance, in June there is a – “Repeat Day”. Repeat Day? The idea of it reminds me of the movie, Groundhog Day. Have you seen it?

I wonder if the calendrical messages are phishing, selling, or spying on my latest horse racing bets, but I enjoy these prompts for writing, and so I don’t complain. I’m somewhat of a human calendarist myself. I’ve been given the task of writing calendaric inspirations for my associates at work now sequestered at home.

A financial coach, Lauren Rilling, enjoys a synesthetic experience with calendars. Synesthesia is where your brain mixes two senses together. You’re seeing music and hearing something visual. There are lots of types of synesthesia. She says, “For me, I see time in my mind’s eye–almost like having a calendar in my head of how the days of the week, months of the year, even years and decades are arranged.” I’m sure that helps her tremendously with her client coaching goals.

For the rest of us, any day, including the June Repeat Day, is a good day to remember the importance of repeating life-giving phrases to each other, and to ourselves too.

Like washing your hands and face, brightening your mind to the unique purpose of why you have landed on this day in this place will start out a seemingly repetitive day better.

WHAT YOU TELL YOURSELF

Repeating your purpose for being where you are can make all the difference in the color, texture, and music of your day. See your hands? They are working through the everyday stitches of life as though they are stitching a warm sweater, a scarf, or a wall tapestry. See your feet repeating the same steps in similar spirals around work? As you look down at your feet, what you tell yourself can be more important than the feedback you receive from others.

If you believe you add value to your world, you will be happier – and it’s more likely that after all, you will do amazing things.

Doing good things bolsters your belief in purpose and the spiral of life will turn upward.

However, if you spend most of your time being an Eeyore, you won’t feel fulfilled. It’s as simple as that, and the repetition will become less synthesized with purpose and more and more of a puzzle of missing pieces to you and to everyone around you.

REMIND YOURSELF ALOUD

“Wash your hands” is society’s repetitive mantra these days. Who knew that would become a thing? Yes, go to the bathroom sink, wash your hands, but, also look in the mirror. I think we might take this idea of repetitive cleansing to a new level.

Today may not be one of those days in which you feel either necessary or essential. Want to wash those feelings away? In the routine, you may feel silly — depending on who is in the room – but saying these personal phrases aloud really helps to center yourself in how and why you are needed:

If You Don’t Like The Story You Are Telling Yourself, Tell Yourself a Different Story – Matthew Kent
  • in what you do,
  • how you think,
  • how you relate,
  • why you were hired
  • how your priorities are needed,
  • the things you offer to others in your way

Making the effort to say these things aloud can lather up and rinse away the doubt. It’s almost like you need to hear these reminders, but you are no longer a child. No-one wants to wash your hands for you. You can’t rely on anyone else to say these things consistently to you.

This is true whether you live alone, work alone, live with a crowd, and work in a factory.

REMEMBER THE WONDER OF THOSE WHO LOVE YOU

It can help to remind yourself–out loud–that you have people who care about you. Pick a person each day to say a mental thank you to for being “your person” when you needed one.

It also helps to think back to a time when you really leaned on friends and family or felt strongly connected to a community. Isn’t it happening again, sometimes under-the radar during our New Normal? Certain relationships are being given priority to lift each other up as “necessary”, “essential”.

Yes, in the repeat of the ordinary and mundane, it’s up to you to synthesize your life.

Be your own best repetition coach. Try repeating these statements out loud each day; tape them to your bathroom mirror, if necessary.

1. “My time is important.”

Let’s be real: managing our time off-site is challenging and comes with unique situations depending on the day. Your contribution to the agency is unique and important. Honor your own needs to match the day by planning your list and prioritizing it. Reward yourself along the way. Small rewards can boost your energy for all the challenges you face today; things like taking a walk, calling a friend, honoring your breaks and lunch, and keeping a stash of really good chocolate nearby.

2. “I’m uniquely gifted for this set of tasks.”

You are valued and you were hired because of your skillset. You have your own brand of approaching the tasks at hand. No one else has quite your blend of personality, education, training, problem-solving or perseverance. Avoid the trap of thinking you duplicate what someone else is doing. Remind yourself on a daily basis how your influence matters because it can only come from you.

3. “I’m not alone.”

You have a team around you, even now – when your team may not be gathered in one physical space. It’s easy to feel like the walls of isolation are closing in. They’re not.

Remember: Repetition and structures have purposes in your life and are for your good. Lather, Rinse, REPEAT. Observing the habits of cleaning your hands, face, and mind for each calendar day will launch you upward and onward in your own special way!

Kathy Joy, Author of the Breath of Joy calendarial gift books

Kathy Joy Hoffner writes these Lunch Jabs for her co-workers at the bequest of her superiors. She is an author at Capture Books and is considered a wordsmith for life.

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Standard Questions from Strangers

By Novelist, Tonya Jewel Blessing

I recently read an internet article from “The California Globetrotter” written by an American expat, Lady Lola, living in Germany.

“No matter where I go and who I meet, there are always the standard questions everyone wants to know about America, and they ask me because I’m an American.

https://www.caliglobetrotter.com/15-questions-im-asked-as-an-american-living-abroad/

“Sometimes I feel like a monkey behind a cage, everyone looking inside wanting to look at it and ask questions about why it’s doing what it’s doing. But I remind myself, everyone is just curious about the American culture and people, and they want to hear it straight from the source.”

Some of the common questions Lady Lola receives as are follows: Did you vote for President Trump? Is there really so much gun violence in America? Is racism still a problem? Do you really drive everywhere? Why are Americans so loud? Have you actually met a famous person? Why do Americans smile all the time? And, Why do Americans put bacon on everything?

Questions often present an opportunity for growth

Recently, I feel plagued by questions where the answers are not readily available.  In some cases, I have kept concerns to myself. I am worried about being judged for my personal beliefs or even misunderstood in what I am saying or refrain from saying. Questions often present an opportunity for growth.

There is an interesting question-filled story in the Bible in the Book of Judges chapter 13. There, a woman, who is unable to have children, experiences an angelic visitation. The messenger tells her that she is going to have a son and gives instructions about how to parent this unusual boy. The woman then tells her husband, Manoah. The Bible says in verse 8 that Manoah prays to the Lord asking for answers to specific questions. God is not offended by Manoah’s inquiry and, in fact, responds with the needed information.

Have you been asking heartfelt questions lately? Maybe you have voiced some of those questions, or maybe you have felt intimidated to make inquiries. Rest assured that God wants to hear your concerns. He wants to help you and to bring clarification to your queries.

Manoah and his barren wife sacrifice a ram to the angel of the Lord (above); Manoah’s wife wears a wimple in Eustache Le Sueur‘s The Sacrifice of Manoah, 1640-1650.
Tonya Jewel Blessing

Tonya Jewel Blessing and her husband, Chris, manage their ministry in South Africa, Strong Cross Ministries. They have been hunkered down with a variety of hospitable family members through the Covid-19 world-wide crises, and separated from those they long to be helping. Tonya, having grown up partially in West Virginia, the Appalachian hills and hollers, is the author of unique fables: The Whispering of the Willows, and sequel, The Melody of the Mulberries. Those who have read the first two installments are hounding Tonya for her third book in the series.

Readers' Favorite Novel ISBN-13: 978-0997162547
This is Capture Books’ best-selling American-gothic novel by a Golden Writer.

A sequel is coming soon!

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Emie Ashby has been raised by an angry and repressed father since the end of WWI. Her mother cannot take the risk of defending her children. Instead, she turns a blind eye. In this way, she becomes part and parcel of the abuse of her daughters. Emie enters into trouble times as Aunt Grace provides a way to possibly survive it. How does Emie navigate the road that lies before her with so many threats nipping at her heels?

Subscribe here.

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The Metaphor Bridge

By Tonya Jewel Blessing


A bridge is a meeting place, a possibility, a metaphor

Jeanette Winterson

Last Sunday, Chris and I, along with my sister and brother-in-law, toured the covered bridges in Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio. The region borders Pennsylvania. We viewed approximately ten bridges located almost exclusively on hard-to-find backcountry roads. The weather was delightful, and the homemade fried pies we found at a roadside stand delicious.

The quote by Jeannette Winterson is a new favorite of mine. As an author, I am also looking for a meeting place with other authors and readers; a possibility of sharing my books on numerous platforms; and direction, even in the form of a metaphor, about how to engage people with my writing.

Most of the bridges we viewed were old and worn, yet sturdy in form and function. Since my novels are set in the late 1920s, I understand the old and worn. I enjoy writing about legends, history, folklore, and people of the past. As an author, with the help of wonderful editors, I stick with writing form and function as much as possible. I do, however, lack form and function when it comes to marketing. I am constantly and consistently looking for new platforms to promote my books. Capture Books, a publishing house, has been extremely instrumental in helping me and has thankfully spurred me onward. Laura Bartnick is my representative. Her innovative ideas keep me on my toes.

This month, I am pleased to say that some new bridges have been crossed. An organization that promotes books that feature minority characters, Diversity Between the Pages, wrote an amazing blog about my latest novel. I have a podcast interview set up for next week. I am in the processing of writing an article for a Christian magazine, and I am excited about an virtual book tour with Prism Book Tours, on June 22-26.

Whether you are a writer, singer, teacher, leader, or dreamer remember to engage in bridge meetings, entertain possibilities, and examine metaphors.

Tonya Jewel Blessing

Tonya Blessing is an international speaker and author. You can plan to book her today through her agent, https://booksforbondinghearts.com/contact/.