"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Friday, September 22, 2023

5 Ways to Advance Your Writing Career in 2023 (Without Writing...)


It can be intoxicating. Sometimes magical. I love the way it connects hearts, minds, souls-- people of every intersection, belief system, and socio-economic group. Hello?

I love how the act enables us to share a certain intimacy and vulnerability with strangers; without wondering if they'll call in the morning.  

I love how it memorializes time, thoughts, experiences.  How it inspires, informs, empowers, educates, entertains. I love the sense of community.  

I love how it validates.  How it makes us feel "heard".

Anybody with me here?

Here's the flip side. It's not always a walk in the park...

Writing can be exhausting, time consuming, frustrating, depleting. Things like writer's block; rejections from editors; a lack of feedback from blog readers; technical glitches. They can all take their toll.

All reasons why it's important to sometimes re-fuel our spirit with other tasks that allow us to be progressive and productive, yet don't categorically involve writing and the creative process.

If you're on board, let's explore a few alternative options in today's post.


(Pencils ready?)        


Savvy writers realize that reading is integral to expanding our horizons, our vocabulary, and our professional skill set. Whether it's a romance novel, an autobiography, poetry, or a reference book devoted to the writing craft, read to succeed!

I would highly recommend Yuwanda Black's "The  Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook." Find it on Amazon: 



If your goal in 2023 is to earn pay for your efforts, you'll definitely want to spend time on research on the regular. To increase your bottom line and your visibility, you'll need to research grants for writers, job boards, contests, conferences and more. 

Check out the array of resources available here @ Winning Writers.



Organization leads to greater levels of productivity, research shows. Why not take some time to purge papers from your office, delete files from your computer you no longer need, or clear your crowded desk? There's no time like the present. 


Network to get work. I've been fortunate, over the span of my career, to receive job leads, publishing opps and more, from the supportive alliances I've built with other bloggers and fellow authors. You should too. 


This may seem counter-intuitive, but it really works. Sometimes to produce more you have to work less. That's right. Relax to recharge. Step away from your computer and take a break. 

When I am feeling stressed or too much "in my head" I tune in to some good music, or have a movie marathon, or get "creative" in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, it's where I often re-connect with my muse. Try it, you'll like it.

Want more ideas and actionable tips? Read this previous post at Pen & Prosper on 10 ways to move forward in your writing career:

Your turn.

Agree or disagree? Which tip is your favorite today?

Image credits: Pixabay.com


Monday, September 4, 2023

Motivation Monday! Quality Quotes to Live By...


Welcome back, readers! Hope you're enjoying a lovely summer and Labor Day holiday. Today's post is purposed to inspire and enlighten.

And during these "challenging" times they hold even greater significance.

Choose your favorite and consider the following:

  • Printing it and placing it near your computer for future reference
  • Integrating it in a personal essay or poem
  • Using it as a writing prompt to kick-start your creative process


"Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose you will be wiser."
"Don't count the days; make the days count." 
--Muhammad Ali
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way." 
--Napoleon Hill 
"People ispire you, or they drain you--pick them wisely." 
--Hans F. Hansen
"Everything in moderation, including moderation." 
--Oscar Wilde
"Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters."  
--Margaret Peters  

"Health is the greatest wealth."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."
--Albert Einstein

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Readers, your turn.

What's your favorite quote? Let me know in the comments section

Thanks for reading!

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Plants & flower pots: Jennifer Brown Banks

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Pen & Prosper Out For Summer Break...


Dear Readers,

Pen and Prosper will be on summer break until (or around) September 5, 2023.

I hope you'll join me then for more exciting adventures, informative articles, writing resources, and motivation to move you forward in your writing career.

Feel free in the interim to read from more than 900 former posts here, and to leave comments or suggestions.

I'll be checking back periodically.

Have a great 4th of July holiday and a safe summer!

Thank you for your readership.



Image credits: Pixabay.com

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Pen & Prosper* on the Blogging Scene in Year 14!


Welcome back, readers! So glad to have you here as I usher in year 14 of being on the blog scene. Yep.  That's right. Pen & Prosper celebrates its 14th year of being in the blogosphere this June.

Trust me. It's been no small feat. Factor in the demands of life. Technical glitches. Competing obligations. Writer's block. "I'd rather be at the beach" syndrome. Low motivation. "The dog ate my homework", etc.  

It's definitely been a labor of love. And I thank you for your support, faithful follow, and readership here over the years.


PAGE VIEWS AS OF JUNE, 2023 ARE 762,118.

  • Pen & Prosper has been honored as a "Top Writing Blog" for 10 of its 14 years.
  • My efforts have been enhanced by many great guest post bloggers; including the famous author of War of the Roses, Warren Adler.
  • I have had the pleasure and privilege of partnering with many brands, including: Good Earth Tea, FanStory, Five Star Publications, as well as noted authors.
  • When I'm not blogging here, I love writing for other sites, cooking, reading and music.
  • Pen & Prosper offers advice, resources, advertising opportunities, contests and more for writers and bloggers of every stage and niche.

With the exception of periodic breaks for the major holidays and summer, Pen & Prosper has been consistently and continuously published.

2023 has been a challenging year in many ways (so far). So, I am happy to share and celebrate all small victories along the way.

Thanks for joining me, valued readers! 
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts here in the comments. :-)

Have a great week ahead!

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Friday, May 26, 2023

Book Review* I can't Wait to Love You Forever

Many years ago, I remember my mom sharing with me how my birth was actually the planned result of my big sister’s begging request.  At that time, she had two bothersome brothers, but no sisters.

My sister dearly wanted the “stork” to visit just once more.

In fact, I’m told, that my name was even selected by her when I finally arrived. The thought of this little back story to my personal life story brings a smile, even as an adult.

Truth is, families and siblings have many dynamics. Like a Facebook relationship status, they can be “complicated.” 

Often times, a new addition can bring confusion and jealousy for a child, (particularly an only child) who may feel that he/she will no longer have their parents’ undivided attention. There are so many questions and fears, even.


is a delightful children’s book written by Patricia Eckerman Ambas (beautifully illustrated by Amira Daaboul), that addresses some of these dynamics.  

It tells the tale of little Benjamin and his daily adventures with his mother, who is expecting. The book shares how the mom’s clever and inventive parenting approach puts Benjamin’s heart at ease and ultimately prepares him for his new role as a big brother.

It’s a quick, enjoyable read. In it, the author uses playful imagination and games to warm siblings up to the idea of a baby’s arrival. 

The book “delivers” with great entertainment value and creativity.

Additionally, there is a coloring page offered at the book’s conclusion, for young ones for fun, or to welcome their new brother or sister to the world.  

“I Can’t Wait to Love You Forever” makes for a thoughtful gift or addition to a classroom library.  Get your copy @ Amazon.

Patricia Eckerman Ambas
loves sharing stories – everything is a story waiting to be told! Her interest in languages led her to become a teacher and she has been striving to instill her love for reading with youth for over fifteen years in that role. As a mom of three, bedtime and really, anytime-stories fill her world. She also shares stories with her community in Oshkosh, WI as she showcases the stories of her husband’s family heritage while teaching guests at their family restaurant about Filipino food.

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Sunday, April 30, 2023

A Review of Singer Jill Scott's 1st Poetry Book

Jill Scott is the real deal. Whether singing soulful lyrics or penning passionate poetry, she keeps things real and relatable.

As we conclude National Poetry Month, I wanted to share this gem that I discovered yesterday at my local library's poetry fest. And had the pleasure of taking home with me (from their free table of literature for visiting patrons).

It must have been serendipity that I stumbled upon it, folks; as I have been a huge fan of Jill's for many years.

Jill's jazzy, eclectic music has served as my muse for endless hours, while toiling away in my home office. It has even inspired me to create a piece in her honor. Which I will share at the end of this post.


In her first-ever poetry collection, she reveals to readers a myriad of emotions, experiences, and perspectives as she explores love, loss, and her evolution into womanhood. Her style is authentic and unapologetic.

She brings to mind a mixture of Aretha Frankin, Bonnie Raitt, and Beyonce all rolled up into one. She is dynamic and diverse.

This page-turner is engaging, honest, humorous, thought-provoking, wicked, wise, and wonderful.   



I put food coloring in my bath yesterday

Sat in a pretty blue

Let the drops fall from my finger tips

Onto my breast and my stomach

I just wanted to look how I feel

Without you...

As a point of reference here, I have a pretty extensive collection of books in my personal library, with poetry titles authored from an array of singers, TV personalities, and even the standard classics. They include books by Tupac, Alicia Keys, Danielle Steel, and others.

I would have to say that Ms. Scott's book is to date my favorite. Besides the excellent poetry, this 124-page collection has lovely illustrations,  interesting photography, and formatting that varies with different poetic themes.

Also worth mentioning is her selection of clever Haikus. Impressive indeed.

I would rate "The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours" ***** 5 stars out of 5. It will be worth every moment, minute, hour you spend reading it. Trust me here.

Now, as mentioned before, here's the poem I wrote and dedicated to Jill Scott back in 2006, in my poetry book entitled "The Leather Pants...And Other Provocative Pieces."

Page 53



Make notes


Each time

You release them

Into the universe,

Proud to be

The medium

By which

You move so many,


For their part,

In the joy

You create


(c) 2006 Jennifer Brown Banks

Check out the reviews (or order your copy) here:


Thanks for reading. 

Thoughts? Comments?


Thursday, April 20, 2023

Feature Interview With Author Jessica Guicheteau


Thank you for spending time with us here today, Jessica. Welcome!

Can you tell Pen & Prosper readers a little about who you are and your professional background?

I’m Jessica. I’m originally from New Jersey, where I have lived for most of my life. I am presently a Mississippi resident of 13 years. I have two cats whom I adore and consider my kids. In my spare time, I love going to the beach, shopping for clothes, and listening to music. I enjoy watching DVD movies of some of my favorite comedians and getting a good laugh from them. The bible says, “Laughter is like a medicine.” So whenever, I can get a good laugh to brighten my day or make others laugh with a joke of my own, I enjoy doing so. I also enjoy attending concerts of some of my favorite recording artists and am always thrilled to see them perform live. 

My professional background: I’m a certified holistic health and nutrition coach and certified literacy tutor. I am currently tutoring in reading for kids. I help them learn about phonemes, letter sounds and reading comprehension. I love getting the opportunity to interact with the students daily. It always makes my day to see them smile. 

Have you always considered yourself a writer, or did you “become” a writer in order to share your important message with others through your book?

I’ve always loved to write compositions for other people, but never considered myself a “professional writer.” I never considered writing something I was proficient enough at to do on a professional level. I was fine with just pursuing writing as a hobby. But my parents, my grandparents, and my extended family always raved about “how good my writing was.” My presently deceased maternal grandmother always made the comment, “You should’ve been a writer, Jessica.” 

In my youth and even today, I enjoy writing letters of gratitude to people in my family, as well as to people I admire as an expression of appreciation. I would see their reactions of tears and awe at how I was able to construct what I wrote to them in an impactful, passionate way. 

Up until writing my book, I never wrote anything as a profession or as a career. I became a professional writer via sharing my story with others through my book. 

What inspired you to pen “32nd Notes to Salvation--always seen, harmoniously loved, and eternally forgiven”? 

I was inspired to write this book to share my story with others who may have endured similar struggles to mine. I want others to know they’re not alone with battles they may be facing and God is always with them. 

I also wrote this book to give myself the closure I never felt like I received with many trials I went through. I wanted to give myself a sense of peace through writing this book. I thought to myself, “Maybe if I write about my life experiences in a book, like I have done in other forms so many times before, I’ll be able to let a lot of things go." 

So, what’s the meaning behind the title? It's very interesting.

The meaning behind my book’s title is about musical salvation and God’s timing. Musically, a 32nd note is the fastest note in value out of all the music note types (a quarter note, half note, whole note, etc.). 

Hence, I began thinking about holy salvation and religious music saving someone from a hardship as it relates to questions such as, “Why do loved ones die too soon?” “How quickly do I want God to save me with His Word in a melody from what I’m going through?” “Am I afraid of the time I’ll miss?” Will God grant me enough time to see all I want to before I leave here?” 

Also, there are many battles I went through in my life, after which I received many controversial opinions of others. I received opinions from others that related to: 

whether or not I should have been forgiven after something I went through, how much grace others felt like I should have received, and whether or not I should still be just as loved after something happened to me. 

I wanted to let others know with my book title that: 

no matter what your past, you are always seen, you are never forgotten by God, and you are peacefully (harmoniously loved). I want to tell people: don’t ever hold yourself in indefinite or permanent bondage because of something you may have done in your past! Even if no one else forgives you, God loves you unconditionally and He will always give you grace! 

What do you hope readers will take away from reading 32nd Notes to Salvation?

I hope readers take away to be patient with both yourself and God. God has a certain timing planned for you. If you trust in His timing, he will lead you in the right direction. 

I also want others to know music has the power to heal just as much if not more than reading the Word. I can speak for myself by saying religious and Gospel music has literally saved my life. I want readers to know, “Don’t be afraid to let God’s scripture in a melody do the same for you.” 

Name two of your favorite Gospel singers.

Two of my favorite Gospel singers...that’s really hard because I have so many favorite Gospel singers to narrow it down. But two of my favorites are Mathew West and CeCe Winans.  

(You've got good taste, Jessica. I love CeCe Winans, too).

As a Holistic Health Coach, can you explain a little about what you do for your clients?

As a health coach, what I do for my clients is, as I said, I currently help kids learn how to read. I believe fostering their literacy skills enriches their mind as well as their physical health. 

I also focus on nutrition as a health coach. Having been diagnosed as gluten intolerant in my youth, now as a young adult, I am presently very passionate when educating others about what the gluten-free diet consists of. I love educating others about what foods contain gluten versus what foods are naturally gluten-free. I also love helping others construct meal plans and giving them spiritual/musical ways to live healthier lifestyles similar to my own. 

Has the pandemic changed the nature of your services or the methodology?

The pandemic changed the nature of my services to doing everything online. I’m very much a “people-person.” So, adjusting to virtual interaction to offer services brought initial challenges for me. I had to become acclimated to regular email and or phone exchanges back and forth versus in-person health evaluation consultations.  

My methodology changed with promotion of my services. I’m very much an “in-person promoter” with telling people about my services. All of a sudden, because of the pandemic, I had to get used to creating recorded videos which advertised what I do. I had to construct a website and create social media posts to promote my brand...things like that.

Many people are struggling to implement lifestyle changes as a result of New Year’s resolutions made earlier in 2023. What piece of advice can you share to help them move forward and maintain momentum? 

A piece of advice I can share to help people move forward and maintain momentum is: walk through your struggles. Scripture states, “This is how you walk on water, one foot in front of the other.” I would tell a person to take on their struggles one small step at a time. 

I would also tell people there are options out there and to not limit yourself. There are support groups you can become involved with who will understand your “new normal” without judgment. There are resources out there and there is hope. 

To manage these stressful times in which we live, many are turning to Meditation Apps. I’m always seeing a commercial on TV or an Ad on my phone for downloads. Do you recommend them, and if so, what’s your favorite?

I’m not much of an app person. So, I don’t really have any meditation apps to recommend. However, I wouldn’t let my opinion discourage someone from looking for a meditation app if that’s something they’re interested in.  

I applaud the way that you have been able to turn your various physical, medical and emotional challenges into learning experiences and personal victories. To what do you attribute this? 

Thank you. I don’t know exactly what I attribute to my resilience with all of my challenges. I think prayer and looking to others for spiritual encouragement has helped me. When it comes to my physical and emotional challenges, I’ve been able to persevere because I don’t let any of my challenges just completely and utterly stop me. I’ve always been a firm believer in saying to both myself and others, “Your illness will only reach a point of deterioration to the degree which you allow.” So, I think mentally telling yourself, “I’m not going to let this thing defeat me” is always a way you can provide yourself the strength you need to keep going. Having that daily mantra that you say to yourself over and over again is helpful. 

I think I’ve been able to also persevere and come out on the other side because I’ve had people in my life who have achieved greater success than me; who have given me something to work toward. I think having that person who you look up to and say, “I want to follow their example” or “I want to overcome a battle they faced with what they used to pull them through” is always a positive motivator for myself. 

What’s your next project for 2023-2024?

My next project for 2023-2024 is writing another book, though I haven’t decided yet what exactly it will be about. I have some ideas about maybe writing a gluten-free recipe book mixed with education about how to live a healthy, happy gluten-free lifestyle. However, this is still very much just an idea. Nothing has actually been created yet. 

How can we learn more about your coaching services?

You can learn more about my coaching services via email communication and I would love to offer you resources. My email address is: onyourteausforglutenwellness@gmail.com

Again, thanks so much for sharing your story here, Jessica!

Thoughts, readers?

Image credits: Pixabay.com