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Collaborating in His Gifts

Jenny Fulton, author of PRINCESS LILLIAN AND GRANDPA’S GOODBYE

But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:18-20, NASB)

Have you ever come across those people who seem to be great at everything?

  • What about the individual who is working a full-time job, doing ministry after work, and can still find time to work on some DIY project? Of course, the house always smells like freshly baked goods.
  • How about a married woman with kids who stays at home, homeschools, runs a successful business and keeps her house in immaculate shape?
  • And then, there is this married man with kids who works all day, does chores and spends time with his family after work, fixes everything in the house himself, and studies late into the night?

Yes, these people appear to do it all; they seem to have it all together.

I am definitely not one of these people.  

My floors are littered with toys and goldfish, my walls covered in crayon. I struggle to get through a full day’s schoolwork with my second grader and write in the mornings or whenever I can squeeze it in.

I can’t do everything well, and according to scripture, that’s okay.

According to 1 Corinthians, God actually created members of a community to complete and complement each other’s efforts. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter three, he describes the different roles he and another preacher, Apollos, played.

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s bfield, God’s building.”  (1 Corinthians 3:7-9, NASB)

The big picture cannot be completed alone.

While the Christians in Corinth argued over which human leader they show follow, Paul redirected their attention to the bigger picture. Neither he nor Apollos were meant to be or provide everything the church needed. They’d each been given a role, a single task in the big picture of God’s work. Paul had been used to plant the seeds of the faith; Apollos had been brought to water and nourish it to the next step. Both had been used by God for a specific purpose. Neither was meant to do it all.

Later in the book, in chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul describes a group of believers as connected digits and limbs of a physical body. Each part has been given a unique ability to be used in a specific role. These limitations in our individual abilities force us to need each other, inspire us to come together, appreciate one another, depend on one another. Our strengths enable us to help others while our weaknesses encourage us to receive help in return.

I’ve seen these principles of collaboration play out in my writing journey.

While some writers successfully go the self-publishing route and learn how to do every step of the process on their own, I soon realized I wasn’t able, and didn’t desire, to follow that path. I don’t have time to learn how to do everything and to get good at it. This means I must seek out others in the industry to do what I can’t.

After I wrote my picture books, I found other writers to help me develop the ideas and identify any errors my familiarity with the text may have skipped over.

I joined online writing groups to learn and connect with others in the industry.

The bulk of the work, and the most challenging part of the collaboration, came when my first picture book, Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, was accepted for publication by Capture Books. In some ways, this was the perfect partnership, for it would fill so many of the gaps I had in my knowledge and experience. They would take care of the illustrations, formatting, and uploading, help me with marketing.

However, collaborating also means giving up control. It means recognizing when the piece God gave you has ended and trusting the input and vision God gave others to carry the book forward.

At first, I was hesitant when my development editor, Laura Bartnick, first presented her vision for the illustrations, for I couldn’t envision the final result. Since God hadn’t given me that piece, it was like staring into a void while someone else described a vivid and scenic view on the other side. Saying yes to her ideas and agreeing to work with the illustrator she recommended was like stepping out into complete darkness with no guarantee that my foot would touch solid ground.

Every uncertain step brought light to the words I’d written. As the process went on, as the illustrations came in, my eyes opened to an incredible panorama filled with yellows, blues, reds, and greens. The end product was so much more beautiful than I could have imagined. Trusting is rarely easy, but the eventual destination is worth it.

God didn’t create us to live and do everything on our own.

I am now in the position to celebrate the strengths of collaboration on my book.

He made us to live in community, to need one another.

Part of living and working together means acknowledging that we can’t do it all, and that’s okay. And the truth is, even though some people appear to be the exception to this, they also have weaknesses and struggles. They have props and crutches and a support system that looks different to mine. Even the most put-together looking person needs others to come alongside to help and encourage them in their weaknesses.

Alone, we can’t do it all. Together with God and each other, anything is possible.

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Book Blurb for Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye

Can two worlds exist at the same time?

Little Princess Lillian learns the spiritual world can interact with the physical. Imaginary is used to explain a reality, how heaven reaches down to earth as a young girl observes her grandpa awaiting his entrance into his eternal home.

How do you explain death and heaven to a child?

Led through a long hall in a hospital, Princess Lillian holds her mom’s hand as an angel whispers comforting words.

Incorporating bits of Native American and Christian tradition, an intimate celebration of a loved one’s passing occurs as a family says good-bye to a man eager to meet his best friend, the King Above All Nations.

Purchase the Book

COME ON DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE!

Discover these blog partners who offered Guest Content to help Out with the PRINCESS LILLIAN BOOK LAUNCH

Kristin Thinks A Little Too Much

The Power of Story

The Gospel and Cultural Diversity – Naomi Musch Blogspot

The June Foster Blog: Seasons of Writing

A Writer’s Brain – “What If’s” – and Other Questions – Jenny Fulton (guest) Catherine Castle

Mark Redmond Blog

Jennifer Heeron – Perspectives on Death

 

Personal Bio

Jenny Fulton, author

Jenny Fulton is a wife, mother, children’s book author, YA fantasy author, blogger, and freelance writer with a B.S. in Bible, a B.S. in elementary education, and an endorsement in K-12 ESL. After graduating from Grace University in 2007, Jenny worked as a teacher in a variety of cultural and educational settings, both abroad and in the United States. She is a storyteller, a follower of Christ, and a seeker of truth.

An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Jenny grew up hearing stories from her dad about the supernatural workings on the Navajo Reservation. Her days are now mostly spent raising her three young daughters (homeschooling two of them) and writing as much as time and opportunity allows.

Jenny is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Faithwriters.com, and is an author with Capture Books.

Connect with Jenny:

Website: https://heart-soul-mind.org/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JennyFultonWriter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennyannfulton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorFulton

 

Indian woman an angel and a child
Author tools and hacks, Book Launch, Bridges, captive audiences, children's literature, Expectations, featured, heaven, ingenuity, inspirational, Jenny Fulton, Laura Bartnick, learning, National Children's Grief Awareness Day, patterns, Press Release, resurrection, ritualistic firsts, Writing

Sharing Creativity is to Grow in His Gifts

By Jenny Fulton, author of Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye

Has God ever asked you to make a personal gifting or a private hobby public?

In many ways, this is a terrifying transition for a creative person. Before, creating something provided an inner joy; the only critic was yourself or the Gift Giver.

Princess Lillian’s Book Launch Activities! Find them here: https://www.facebook.com/events/274521184047823/?active_tab=discussion

I have numerous journals, each of which are personal and private. How could I bridge the gap between my writing for private process and writing for what others wanted?

To share a talent with others is to expose yourself – to open your vulnerability to another’s criticism, to discover how much you still need to learn and grow in your abilities.

It’s far easier to hoard such giftings in isolation. Yet, more often than not, God won’t allow us to keep them shut away indefinitely.

I was teaching in China when God asked, urged, and encouraged me to start writing for more than myself. His first prodding came through a friend.

She speaks softly and listens loudly

Lara was another American teacher at the school. She possesses a quiet and gentle spirit, a trustworthy one, a daydreaming one.  We formed an instant connection; I somehow knew she was a creative before she verified it with words. Our time together included playing our guitars, engaging in deep conversations, and talking about writing.

She was one of the first people with whom I shared the fulness of my passion for this art.

One day, we were sitting in her apartment, talking about our secret hobbies. “You know,” she said, “I was just reading this book, The Soul Tells a Story, by Vinita Hampton Wright. She talks about writing and creativity going hand-in-hand with spirituality and encourages people to say, ‘yes’ to their God-given gifts. You can read it when I’m finished.”

I did. As I read, a long-held dream crept from its world of silence and impossibility into the realm of light and reality.

What if my desire to write wasn’t temporary?

What if it wasn’t meant to remain a side-hobby or a means by which to communicate newsletters, but was given to me by God to be used for Him to His glory?

What if my dreams to write and be published didn’t just belong to me, but were a reflection of His dreams for me?

It’s been quite a winding journey from that time to the present where my book, Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye is now offered in audiobook for your listening pleasure.

Faith writing

Soon after this conversation, Lara introduced me to Faithwriters.com, an online writing site for Christians. For the first time, I put my heart and stories on display to be read and critiqued by strangers who had no knowledge or context for the person behind the words. I didn’t know where it would lead or how God would use it; I only knew I must obey – I could no longer ignore the desperate call within me.

In 2008, I submitted my first fictional story, Chang Chang’s Hope, to the lowest level of the Faithwriters weekly writing challenge. Then I waited in terrified expectation for people to post their comments.

People really liked it! The judges liked it and gave it a 2nd place ranking in its level.

My next entry, More Than a Yearly Journey, was an autobiographical one. It caught the attention of the site managers who featured it on the Front-Page Showcase.

While I certainly seemed to be off to a good start, I knew my skills needed to develop. But maybe, with time, instruction, and practice, I could really do this writing thing.

These initial successes persuaded me to be more intentional about learning the craft. To this end, I read the highest-ranked stories and tried to pinpoint what made them so good. I studied writing lessons on the site and tried to incorporate those skills into my entries.

Sometimes my pieces connected well with the readers. Other times they didn’t

Regardless of whether my writing connected well with others, I was learning, improving, and gaining insight into where my strengths and weaknesses lay.

After several months of sharing online, I gathered my courage and tentatively offered to write the devotionals for an upcoming youth retreat. Offering, writing, and sharing God’s gifting to me in this form was far scarier than posting online. Exposing my heart to strangers was one thing; revealing it to those I knew was another.

Although the devotionals were presented as anonymous, I was able to gain some encouraging feedback.

These occasions to share made a few things very clear.

  1. My desire to write wasn’t temporary.
  2. The enjoyment and ability to write had been given to me by God to be used for Him to His glory.
  3. My dreams to write and be published were a reflection of God’s dreams for me.

“Lord,” I prayed. “I entrust this writing, this interest and ability, to You as something You want me to continue to develop and use for Your glory. I’m not sure to what extent, but I do know that I will follow Your lead in this and seek any opportunities You may have for me. For whatever reason, and to whatever extent, You have, among other things, made me a writer. To You belong the details.”

Life Happens in The Details

I continued posting short stories online for the next five years. Life changed drastically in that time, but the commitment to write held steady. In 2010, I moved back to the U. S. Two years later, I was married, and a year after that, I gave birth to my first daughter.

In 2014, when my daughter was a year old, I left teaching to become a stay-at-home mom.

The dream and dedication to writing continued. With my husband’s encouragement, I pursued a few freelance writing jobs. One of them landed me a contact as a ghostwriter for a young adult fantasy novel. That book was published in 2016.

This past year, in July 2020, I came across Laura Bartnick with Capture Books. After a few months of communicating back and forth about a couple of writing projects, she offered me a contract to publish my first picture book. Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye was released on March 10, 2021, with paperback and hardback versions as well as ebook versions.

Timing for this release thrills me because the book is now available for comfort and hope around the Easter holiday because the theme of Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye is eternal life after death.

Encouragement from the Word

In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks much about the giftings of the Holy Spirit. Although writing or other artistic endeavors aren’t specifically mentioned, the manifestation of the Spirit is. “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.[1]” The expression of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is meant for the common good.

Many times, God’s gifts aren’t given for the benefit of the receiver alone and aren’t meant solely for personal use and gratification. Instead, He often grants us skills and abilities so that we may use them to help others.

Matthew 5:16 (NASB) says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” God’s light is expressed through how we live our lives, in our physical work, in what we say and do. This includes artistic endeavors.

May the dreams, skill, and abilities God has given us shine before others in such a way that they might glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Although it’s scary to publicly share our gifts, I’ve discovered the value of opening my heart in creative writing. It’s definitely worth it.

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Co 12:7.

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Ingenuity Colors a Wall

By Laura Bartnick
Managing Partner, Capture Books

During the holidays, I had the opportunity to host the inventor of a well-received artists’ pastel, the Terry Ludwig Pastels and his lovely wife in my home.  I learned how his creative need for widening a small array of pastel colors to vastly more colors begat an ingenuity to create them himself.

For Terry, learning how to mix and shape these new pastels for personal use led to bulk mixes of the pastel shaped chalks and also to the business of selling them to other artists. Soon, the success he received outgrew his ability to paint and to run the pastel business. Fortunately, in retirement, Terry’s son, Geoff, continues to run the family business.

INGENUITY COLORS THIS WALL

Soon after, another company came to my attention, an innovative and ingenious company that actually grew in lean times when other companies gave way to the competition.

Braun Brush Company is one of America’s oldest family-owned industrial brush manufacturers. From the start, Emanuel Braun, a German immigrant, implemented handmade, quality manufacturing techniques to produce brushes as effective household tools. They became popular.  Who doesn’t need a variety of brushes, right?

However, at the turn of the century when the industrial revolution started, the factory, like most small manufacturing businesses, fell on hard times. Mass production by machine, whether inferior in quality or not, overwhelmed them. Authors and publishers might relate to the phenomenon as they experienced the mass marketing of self-published books took over the marketplace.

Again in the 50s, when China began mass production of common household items to America, Braun, could have given up production of his homemade brushes.

pexels-photo-45059
Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

Instead, Braun began identifying a person at a time needing one unique brush. He could still fill that market of one each time he designed a unique brush making his mark up, because the machines were making multiples for the masses, not unique needs. Finding one-of-a-kind niches, inventing brushes for commercial institutions such as NASA and nuclear plants for cleaning silos, sustained Braun’s brush business.

Braun cylinder brushREINVENTING THE WHEEL – A GOOD INVESTMENT?

Artisans and business people are often warned not to waste time or resources in trying to reinvent the wheel. In this instance,  I’ve learned the opposite is true. It helps to be willing to reinvent the wheel for different purposes and vehicles.  Thinking about this, it may be common sense that the same wheel would not suit all purposes, nor does the same brush.

Braun understood that not all designs were for all people, so he turned the tables and specialized. Ingenious. Sometimes it isn’t the quantities, but the value of rarity. Due to the improvisation and determination of the family owners and managers, Braun continues to design, craft, and sell brushes in new markets.

I have discovered, time and time again, that one person may be a visionary while others must get on board with the business sense, varieties of production needs, or sales in order to make the business succeed. Each person must use ingenuity to succeed in creating a full picture from the puzzle pieces.

NOT EVERY CREATED THING IS PRODUCED FOR ALL

Some people mass-produce their art for those who decorate personal spaces with reproduced poster art printed on less quality paper, sold, and appreciated en mass, ie. think the paperback novel or Kindle readers.

Some people want to see their own work up on the wall, ie. think the vantage press hardcovers or those who use their books for establishing a legacy.

Some only want to produce enough work to give gifts to friends, club members, and business associates.  Others need to make a living and are able to gain the aid of professionals to either become a classic household name in a genre or form.

In readers as in the art world, there are those who collect, those who invest in local artists and masters.  You understand, if you have an original signed and dated piece from a local artist, author, or a master in any era, it is safe to say that only those who come into your space will likely see it.

Like showing off a beloved library, an original art piece may be the dictating factor for how the rest of the space is decorated and furnished.

KEEP UP WITH HUMAN APPETITES

Finding and selling to the markets basically means that the creator has discovered a way to feed someone’s appetite. It comes down to that.

It’s great to create new stories and new things, but there are some things that are universal patterns and needs requiring  some pattern of format or reformatting. This is true in writing a widely read book.

A novice author dreams of seeing his or her book mass-produced. For me, when the self-publishing phenomenon happened, when all manner of marketing and social networking advice overwhelmed me, I floundered and moved into low gear. The transformation of the bookselling industry was about to spit out the hobbyists from the author-entrepreneurs. And, I wasn’t ready to give up.  In digging in my heels, I had a lot to learn.

One of the things I learned related to finding a niche of readers, and describing my book as the answer to their appetite for discovering the source of creativity and learning to follow a true pattern of success.

In 2020, when I approved the final revision of my book, Welcome to the Shivoo!, I smiled thinking, “That’s a book I want to buy and read myself!”

Authors and publishers aim for more readers and merrier times. Whether this dream becomes fact, real art always comes from the heart. When an artisan believes in his or her process and skill, adapting ideas to reproduce stories in a bigger way and by a preferable means becomes real-world work.

What a delicious assurance.

 

Occasionally, authors believe they have written their only masterpiece.  With the work and expense required to establish themselves, it feels unlikely that another manuscript so heartfelt and well-researched will ever pour from their fingertips again.  They want their books to be mass-produced, and when at first this fails to happen, spirits fall in chorus like a requiem.

It’s simply the excitement and pathos of a first book singing out a delicious moment. But, there is a whole new career awaiting.

Getting a book published produces a bell-curve of an overwhelming high and extreme low of emotion before the reality of the artisan’s business work ethic sets in. However, it is unfounded to think that new inspiration can never spurt to the surface again considering the wellspring of ingenuity contained in the life events of any artisan.

Imagine logo Capture Books_smallWhen a writer has found one passion, another passion will likely emerge parallel to the appetites sparking at the time. An opportunity to produce a sequel or a similar brand of book will begin to tug at a sleeve. The question is, will the creator accept being the vessel in the future? Will the creator continue to find the hope and motivation as Braun found to prepare for a future society, to accept this new manuscript in the new language of a new people?

I like to keep a notebook, camera, and recorder nearby to document the interesting things that pass through my life so that I may one day adapt them into new art, or writing, or sales systems.

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Making investments of time, making new connections, encouraging and celebrating old friends, building a stack of different contact lists, figuring out new sales taxes, new applicable laws and trends, learning software and state of the art sciences, showing up to present at libraries and social clubs, and learning the ropes of publicity, are they worth the effort to you?

Every day, you and I are just like Emanuel Braun who was beckoned and wooed by life’s need to survive in New York’s transitioning society and the crux of needed creativity. You cannot blame your competitors who found a rung on the ladder before you did.  Learn from them. You cannot hold customers captive without new products. Keep inventing.

You and I are the ones who must continue to get gritty, work late nights and early mornings, research, edit, barter, and train.

Be Braun.

Author tools and hacks, better together, Big Creek Appalachia, Bridges, captive audiences, Charmayne Hafen, dying well, GK Johnson, Speak Wonder

Why Hybrid Publishing? Why this Co op?

Here’s a colorful picture of the hope. Lying on the ground are many colorful leaves.

Winter is approaching, but these leaves are making their statement, and a photographer was clever enough to memorialize the image.

Here, we believe that hope is realized in community.

Within the Books For Bonding Hearts agency, we share the author journey with many varied and colorful authors and speakers. We gather contacts for our author mailing lists. We help authors reach out to libraries and gather their publicity tools. We vet advertising opportunities. We record interviews for Captive Audiences or refer our authors to other podcasters, radio opportunities, and audio book companies see our first book Mister B or The Big Creek Series by Tonya Blessing, recorded by professional voice actress Courtney Patterson.

Books for Bonding Hearts is the agency helping a boutique publishing group, Capture Books.

Are you one of these colorful leaves on the ground? Tell me, what are you hoping for?

So many creatives swing on this pendulum between “spiritual talk” and “pragmatic living.”

Occasionally, the two ends of the pendulum meet up for coffee, and they discover what time it is. A piece of art should be born. It is born. Viola!

In fact, I met with a friend in the middle one day to ask her about her intentions regarding her own writing skills. “It’s time,” I said.

“Funny you should mention my writing!” She said. Many years ago she’d surprised herself by writing a piece of poetry in her history class. It seemed good to her, and so surprising. So, she decided to memorize it. 

“What? Have you ever told anyone?”

“Not that I know of, no.”

“Do you still remember it?”

At the age of forty, she roundly quoted the whole thing without a hitch sitting in the passenger seat of my car.

And golly, it was good. When I told her so, she shrugged and sighed and said that since she had also written a song once, and then this poem, she was convinced that there was some creativity stuffed inside of her somewhere. But she had no idea where to find it again.  She had been living between the “spiritual talk” and the “pragmatic living” for a very long time.

Creatives need community.  We need to breathe where there is a view to grow the precious seeds of color. We need to keep track of time gained and time lost. We need to give each other assignments that bring our brains together with our spirits and cast that vision for a perfect landing.

We need to touch each other’s lives with our own creative voice, not just spiritual talk, or pragmatism. Our souls need to be filled with mojo!

If God’s grace isn’t guiding the actionable hours of your day, the choices and relationships you make, and your own creativity, then honestly? I wonder if you are hobbling God’s purpose squirming around inside you on the ground.

It was kind of fun to sew together the many small pieces so that I could take a good look at the bigger picture, that is, why we do what we do. My little exploration into video making, that is.

Why do we come alongside of authors and entrepreneurs?

Making the video was a discovery experiment, but it touched something inside me so valid and sweet, like piercing a shaken up can of soda, and the pop spewed in wonder like a fountain.

pexels-photo-862517

SEWING CREATIVE BITS TOGETHER CREATES VALUE

When someone uses his or her unique voice, it joins a variety of things together, as two pieces of fabric can be sewn into a shirt, a sleeve added, and buttons.

The cloth becomes larger than the sum of the parts when it becomes a shirt.  It doubles its value.

This is why we are desperate for community. We use creative juices like threads sewn together for the purpose of creating a shirt, a pair of pants, a dress, or a pair of socks. Bits of fabric are no longer random. Like the need for tailoring the raw sheets of material into a garment, the threads of fabric find their purpose.

We need to find the meaning for the poetry of our existence.

An author might enter into an author co-op, or a hybrid publishing company, and discover that creative juices in many areas exist, not only do they exist,  but they swell to overflowing in such company!

This is because

  • When authors see the benefits of applying business to their craft,
  • When they add up the expenses and profits and create line item budgets,
  • Then they open up a new brain synapses that
  • Triggers a sum where places of personal worth and value can land. 

Understanding the quantum physics of a group effort in publishing and marketing is the math which defines the bottom line. This bottom line can trigger a God-given energy and value to a creative goal never before articulated, perhaps never faced.

Joining a publishing and marketing co-op puts a framework to creative dreams and hobby writing.  We need to understand the costs, the additional work to build a goal. We need to be inspired by the possibilities of sales and speaking opportunities.

Joining  a publishing and marketing co-op makes you accountable to be your own magnanimous best friend. A group like you! You can see the way then to invest in yourself. The group will help you understand that your God-given gifts are not only meant to make you curious, but they are meant for a greater good.

Shivoo Bk Mobile device

Welcome to the Shivoo! I wrote this book all about the power of community in publishing your prized manuscript and then making sure you reach the audience thirsting for it.

When we give ourselves this gracious gift of time to rest and dream and process in an community fashioned for accountability, it means that we are able to give a reason for the hope that lies with us on a very personal level in a uniquely styled expression.

Find out more. https://booksforbondinghearts.com/why-hybrid-publishing/

MY BLESSING TO YOU FOR A CREATIVE LAUNCH

May you rise up into your own Resurrection Day through Christ Jesus, and through His community, His Church, His body. May you unhobble that precious inner soul that God gave to you in hopes that you would use it. No one else was created like you.

Only you can speak your wonder into your world. Let’s go for it, shall we?

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Book Trailers for Golden Stories

Are you looking for a publisher who offers multimedia book trailers for your promotion efforts? Look no further than Capture Books.  http://Booksforbondinghearts.com/