Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weekly Links!

~ LINKS TO SOME INTERESTING READING ~ Just a few this time, but they're all really good & meaty ~

-"How to Fix Christian Fiction: More Christianity": I love this so much. YES. Christian fiction is bad when it's generic Nice Literature. More dogma, more drama. Yes, PLEASE.

-"4 Reasons to Soak Yourself in the Psalms": I've been going through the Psalms every month for several years now, and I agree with all of this. I'd add: it sure helps your prayer life. It gives you words to say to God when you have no good words of your own.

-"What's the Point of Sex? It's Communication on a Biological Level" - This is about the intersection of fertility and the immune system, and it's fascinating.

I hope you have a lovely Sunday, full of worship and rest!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Notes: "Write Without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing," by Ed Cyzewski

"Write Without Crushing Your Soul," by Ed Cyzewski, is a mix of practical advice and theoretical musings about the business of being a freelance writer. And, as such, it suited me very well. I like books that are basically intelligent people writing down their free-ranging thoughts on their area of expertise, and then giving their best advice to me, the reader.

Here are a few quotations from the book that I found particularly helpful:

The last thing you want to do is waste your time on something that isn't your first priority to begin with. In fact, my goal for myself and for you is to spend the vast majority of each day writing.

Just think of a new way to promote your book every week and leave things at that. You can do as much or as little as you want, and that removes a lot of the pressure and stress. Promotion simply becomes a small thing you add to your schedule each week rather than an all-consuming monster that threatens to take over your life for several months. Mind you, this may not be as effective as the industry standards for publicity, but there's no guarantee that either will work any way. Why not opt for the path that leaves you with a potentially healthier outcome?'s how I've found a sustainable way forward--at least for now. In order to write sustainably, you need to relentlessly be yourself. That isn't necessarily the same thing as following a calling or your dreams. The difference is essential, in fact.

Not an earthshaking read (though that last bit of advice might be earthshaking, if you really followed it), but encouraging and interesting. Recommended.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weekly Links!


-I have loved Linda Holmes' thoughts on reality TV since the days she was covering Survivor for the now-defunct site Television Without Pity. Here she is, talking about the ethics of a recent episode of Top Chef for NPR.

-A review of "Nailed It" from Aimee Byrd over at The Housewife Theologian. A snippet:
This is a devotional for those who don't fit into the happy-little-Christian box. And it's also for those who think it's okay to have a little humor in their reading reflections. Kennedy doesn't pick all the easy verses either. She pulls devotion to God out of what may have seemed random acts in history. Our days are kind of like that, aren't they? Circumstances often seem arbitrary and we sometimes question if it really matters how we get through them. That is what I especially appreciated about the book---Anne weaves all the tapestry together and helps the reader see the significance of God's holiness, mercy, and love in Christ working in our own lives now.

-And while I'm on the topic of my favorite devotional, here's a lovely podcast: "Persuasion: How Sarcasm is Good for the Soul." 

-And speaking of good podcasts, I liked this one: "Mere Fidelity: Humble Roots, with Hannah Anderson."

-And here's another good thing by Hannah Anderson, this time an essay: "You Can't Do It All: Rex Tillerson and the Limits of Vocation."

-"Minimalism Gets It Wrong."

-Also, "The Minimalism Trap."

-And, on our current season of the church year, here's "How To Throw an Epiphany Party In Four Easy Steps." 

-"How 'Sherlock of the Library' Cracked the Case of Shakespeare's Identity"

-These short filmed scenes of King Lear are amazing.

-And, finally, sailing the solar system with solar sailing ships.

I hope you have a lovely Sunday, full of worship and rest!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016: A Writing and Editing Review

It's 2017! I'm excited for the new year, but I thought I'd start the blog this month with a look back on the year that was. I did a lot of editing in 2016, and some writing. I'm hoping to flip the proportions in 2017--and more on that at the end of this post.


But first, here's the work of mine that was published in 2016:

-"Expensive." This short story of mine was published at Daily Science Fiction, which makes it my first pro fiction sale. (The time I convinced my college paper to pay me ten bucks a week to write a serial satire of life on campus doesn't count.) I love the atmospheric mood of "Expensive," and I'm still pleased that I managed to fit a full story arc into such a short piece.

-"An Anonymous Source." Another fiction sale, this time for the superhero-themed issue of Havok. This piece was fun because--unlike "Expensive"--it started with an idea, not a mood. I had an idea for a very different sort of superhero story, and when I saw the call for submission for Havok's special issue, I knew I had to give the idea a chance to prove itself.

It did, and I love it. I'm actually kind of tempted to keep going with's the kind of short story that feels like it might want to become a novel someday. We'll see...

I also published some non-fiction. I had two stories appear in two different Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes: my story "Right" appeared in My Very Good, My Very Bad Dog and my story "The Joy of Dirty Dishes" appeared in The Power of Gratitude. I also had the fun of writing about romance, friendship, and some very silly knights for Christ and Pop Culture in my article "Galavant: Finding Meaning in a Merry, Mocking Medieval Musical."

Finally, I got to do some enjoyable guest blogging. I particularly enjoyed participating in "The Lent Project" and "The Advent Project" again.

(I also worked on some pieces that aren't published yet, but that I'm looking forward to polishing and submitting in 2017.)


Editing was where the bulk of my work hours went in 2016.

I did some freelancing this year, but most of my editing was for Kalos Press, where I got to help out with books like Surrounded by Evil: Saved by God, Nailed It: 365 Sarcastic Devotions for Angry or Worn-Out People, and Everywhere God: Exploring the Ordinary Places. I had the honor of representing Kalos Press at a local writing conference, and also had the chance to talk to some current students and alumni at my university about editing as a career.

I also worked on some books that aren't out yet, but that I'm really excited to see get published in 2017. (Seriously, folks, there's some great stuff coming!)

Finally, the big news is that I stepped down from my post as General Editor at Kalos Press at the end of the year. You can read the announcement from the publisher here. This decision came about as the result of a lot of thought and prayer. I knew some things were unbalanced in my life, so I spent a few weeks tracking my time (on paper, in 15-minute increments), and then took a day's retreat to pray through a new Rule of Life.

I hope to blog about that process at some point, but it's sufficient for this post to say that my mind was very clear by the end of that process of prayer, and though it was hard to resign (because I love the folks at Kalos Press, and I love the work!), I'm still happy with that decision, and I'm excited to see what's next!

What's coming next

The answer is... I'm not sure! I know what I'm going to be doing (writing, a lot--and maybe editing, a little), but I don't know what the outcome will be. Which is...par for the course, in this business. I know I want to increase my submission rate, and I'd be thrilled to be able to up my acceptance rate (though I'm actually pretty happy with my acceptance percentage--if it stays the same, I won't complain).

(By the way, for more nerdiness on acceptance/rejection percentages, and submission rates, check out this year-end wrap-up post over at Rejectomancy. Rejectomancy is such a great blog, and it totally confirms me in my geeky love of tracking my writing stats.)

But I'm grateful for this past year, for what I got to do, for all I was able to learn, and for the people I've had the joy of getting to know.

And I'm grateful for all of you who read this blog. I hope you  have a great 2017!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Weekly Links: The It's-Still-Christmas Edition

~ Links to some interesting reading, FOR What's left of your weekend ~

- "Twelve Days of Christmas Jollification"  - A primer on when the Twelve Days of Christmas actually started.

"The Prophetess Anna Praises Christ": a beautiful meditation on Anna meeting the Christ child.

"Aspire to be Fezziwig: Isn't It Time to Grow Up?"

-"People Disagreed with Jesus About the Bible Too"

-"Mary and Jesus and Me"

-"'An Odd Sort of Mercy': Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle Melton, and The End of the Affair"

-"I'm On the Lookout for the Next Great Christian Novel"

-"How to Parent Without Regret": I needed to read this one this week.

-"The Bloody Attempt to Kidnap a British Princess"

-"Rules for Writers: Be Imperfect"

-"Why Can't We Read Anymore?"

-"It's Not Just You: Garfield Is Not Meant to Be Funny"

And, because I was reminded recently that if you've published a book, you ought to remind people of it every once in awhile...

-"Let Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home" - a good resource if you want to learn more about why it's still Christmas, or if you want to learn how to celebrate any of the seasons that are coming up soon.

And that's it! I hope you have a lovely New Year's Day, and a good first week of 2017!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)