"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

Sunday, May 22, 2022

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

 


Perhaps now more than ever before, mental health has become a major health issue and social concern.

If you're not convinced, you need look no further than local and national news headlines that underscore just how unhinged some members of our society have become.

Rampant violence; mass shootings; crimes against children; road rage; senseless suicides; and unspeakable acts from every corner of the globe.
People are on edge. Folks have short fuses. Some are ticking time bombs. Factors that make us all potentially vulnerable to an array of scenarios.
 
Adding insult to injury is living in the age of a Pandemic. Stress, uncertainty, social isolation, job loss, the increased cost of living, depression, death---has taken its toll.
Not to mention, the stigma associated with mental illness that prevents many from seeking help and better functioning. 

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING STATISTICS PROVIDED BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION:


  • Covid-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.
  • WHO's most recent mental health atlas revealed that in 2020, governments worldwide spent on average just over 2% of their health budgets on mental health. 
  • Additionally, the KFF.org reports that "During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder."
In an effort to maintain a healthier mental state, peace and clarity during these challenging times, I offer the following tips.
Please note: I am not a psychologist or doctor. And I don't play one on T.V.
Consult a professional, qualified practitioner to address your personal situation and individual needs for optimal results. 

5 TIPS TO BETTER MENTAL HEALTH

1. Find simple things that give you pleasure and peace on a daily basis. 
There's great validity to the expression, "simple pleasures are the best."  This can be something as small as taking a brief walk outdoors or escaping through a good book. For me? I love the therapy of music; watching comedies; cooking; and writing poetry.

2. Have and maintain a supportive network of friends. 
Chat over the phone, Zoom, host a small, intimate brunch even.

3. Tap into your creativity.
Did you know that journaling and adult coloring books have therapeutic benefits?  
According to an article at Huffpost.com, "In simplest terms, coloring has a de-stressing effect because when we focus on a particular activity, we focus on it and not on our worries. But it also "brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we most certainly had a lot less stress." 

4. Don't be ashamed of asking for help.
If you feel overly stressed or stretched, reach out. Talk to a trusted friend. Seek counseling. Be more concerned about your well being than other people's potential judgment.

5. Pray.
There is power in it. It can also provide hope and serve as a needed coping mechanism.

Be well. Be strong. And thanks for reading.


Readers, thoughts here?








Image credits: Pixabay.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Create a Buzz About Your Book, Product or Contest!

 


If you're an author, service provider or contest promoter, you'll definitely want to focus in on today's post, folks.

In my ongoing efforts to advance and enhance my readers and provide greater value to the blogosphere, Pen & Prosper is offering promotional opportunities to boost your visibility and your bottom line. 

  • Would you like to create a buzz about your new book? 
  • Do you have a product, contest or project that would be of interest to bloggers, writers, or people in the creative community?
  • Would you like to share it with an engaged, active community of readers and bloggers?

If so, here are a few promotional activities I currently offer at Pen & Prosper:

CREATE A "BUZZ" WITH THE FOLLOWING MARKETING OPTIONS:



  • COVER REVEAL


  • BOOK SPOTLIGHT


  • AUTHOR INTERVIEW


  • SIDE-BAR BANNER

* Cover Reveals, Author Interviews, Book Spotlights are available for just $29.00.

Add Pen & Prosper to your next Virtual Book Tour Stop!

* Side-Bar Banners--Rates vary depending upon the size and frequency of the ad campaign. 

4 REASONS TO PROMOTE 

@ PEN AND PROSPER:


1. A very active, engaged, broadly-based readership with more than 
700,000 page views to date
2. A long, consistent, respected standing in the blogging community (12 years and counting with numerous awards)
3. Affordable rates with great R.O.I. (return on investment)
4. Increased traffic to your site




HERE'S HOW TO SECURE YOUR NEXT SERVICE OR FEATURE HERE NOW:

1. Get in touch and request a date and desired type of promotion:

Email me at Gemsjen@yahoo.com.

2. Purchase a service by choosing the Paypal yellow "buy now" button in the right side bar margin.

3. Submit author's bio, book details, book cover, Amazon link and headshot (where applicable).

Questions?

Feel free to reach me @ Gemsjen@yahoo.com today or via the comments section!

Thanks for your readership. I look forward to partnering for your success.




Image credits: Pixabay.com

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Motivational Quotes For May to Move You Forward

 Happy May!

Though the calendar signifies spring, it's hard to recognize in my neck of the woods. Here in my region we've had recent snow, rain of biblical proportions, and periodic frost warnings. Not to mention, rose bushes in my yard are yet to fully bloom. Drats!

I'm not sure if Mother Nature is on vacation or whether she needs a nudge to usher in the warm weather most of us have been waiting for, but until spring officially arrives, here are some motivational quotes to warm your spirit, inspire better living and keep you moving. 

Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section.

Motivational Quotes For May, 2022:


"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." ---Walt Disney

"One person can make a difference, and everyone should." ---John F. Kennedy

"Be like the birds--Sing after every storm."

"To get what you want, STOP doing what isn't working."---Earl Warren

"Don't be frustrated by your inexperience--all green things inevitably grow." 

"Step with great care and great tact, and remember that life's a Great Balancing Act."---Dr. Seuss

"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do."---Kobe Bryant


"Live today fully and you create a lifetime of meaningful memories."

"The time is always right to do what is right."---Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."---Alan Kay

"Be still and know that I am God."---Psalms
     
"Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will." ---Zig Ziglar



Thoughts, readers?
Any quote you'd like to add here?
Have a great week ahead.






Image credits: Pixabay.com




 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

4 Reasons to Practice Poetry Even if You're Not a Poet

 


If you’re looking for more actionable ways to improve your writing for a  competitive edge, appeal to broader readerships, and boost your bottom line, here’s the secret sauce: get better acquainted with poetry.

That’s right. Even if you’re not a poetry practitioner, there is value in verse.

And I should know. 

HERE’S THE 4-1-1...

Long before I became a features writer for national magazines, a monthly columnist and an award-winning content creator, I fell in love with language initially through poetry.

Though my work has matured and evolved from those original poems penned about puppy love in my teens, many of the techniques and applications associated with this genre have served me well.

And they can do the same for you too. 

According to Iuniverse.com: “Poetry can help writers of all breeds, be they novelists or nonfiction writers, to improve their craft. The ability to play music to the reader through words or conjure some unforgettable images is something all writers aspire to achieve.”

Since this is National Poetry Month, let’s explore a few practical reasons to practice poetry to enhance your writing career and your bottom line.

HERE ARE 4 KEY THINGS TO CONSIDER:


1. WRITING POETRY TEACHES WORD ECONOMY.

Poetry in its very nature is intended to be brief but substantive. A good example is the Haiku (a Japanese poem that uses only 3 lines and 17 syllables). Writing poetry has helped me to consistently adhere to strict word limits established for creative projects via writer’s guidelines. Shorter pieces also can save time and increase productivity. The practice of poetry has taught me to be intentional in how I share my messages and how I connect with an audience. Remember, “less is sometimes more.” 

2. WRITING POETRY OFTEN EMPLOYS LITERARY DEVICES THAT ADD INTEREST AND DEPTH TO YOUR WORK, REGARDLESS OF GENRE.

Devices such as the use of metaphors, imagery, hyperbole and rhythm. Poetry is to writing what spices and herbs are to cooking.

3. POETRY CAN PROVIDE ANOTHER REVENUE SOURCE FOR YOUR WRITING.

The increased popularity (and awareness) of poetry has now created an abundance of markets that actually pay for work. (Thanks, Amanda Gorman!)  Some publications in fact compensate us very nicely. For example, THREE PENNY REVIEW pays $200.00 for accepted pieces published at their site.

Check out their guidelines here:

https://www.threepennyreview.com/submissions.html

4. POETRY IS AUTHENTIC AND UNIQUE TO THE POET’S DISTINCTIVE STYLE OF EXPRESSION AND VOICE. 

Consider poets such as e.e. cummings, Ogden Nash, Maya Angelou, Amanda Gorman--even Dr. Seuss! 

Study poetry to break away from cookie-cutter content.

IN CLOSING

If you’re on board with learning more about poetry to hone your craft in 2022, here are a few resources:

https://www.writebetterpoems.com/forms-techniques

https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry

https://www.iuniverse.com/en/resources/writing-and-editing/6-ways-poetry-can-improve-your-writing

HAVE A HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Thoughts, readers? Do you pen poetry? 

Do tell.


Image credits: Pixabay.com






Wednesday, March 23, 2022

5Qs With Author Leslie Jasper of Construction Tales


As I close out this month and my celebratory posts in honor of Women's History, I wanted to share with you an author and bodacious babe who is breaking down barriers and shedding light on the endless power of women. Meet Leslie Jasper and learn more about her inspirational background here. Please make her feel welcome by leaving a comment or question.

Q. CAN YOU TELL MY READERS A LITTLE ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?

My name is Leslie M. Jasper and I am a journeywoman electrician by trade.  I first got my start in the U.S. Navy Seabees when I joined at 17-years old.  I joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers fresh out of the military giving me a total of 29-years-worth of trade experience.  I switched to the office a few years ago to first work in the engineering department and learn how to create drawings using AutoCAD.   I then worked to become an electrical project manager.  I took some safety courses to become a NYC DOB Site Safety Manager.  I also taught OSHA for a labor studies college part time for a few years.


Q. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE CONSTRUCTION TALES?

I endured a few big blocks of no available work during the 2008 Recession.  It was during that time when I both went back to college to earn my master’s degree in business and ponder about writing a book.  I know that my experience is rather unique since there are few women in the trades.  I thought about it and then just started writing about my experiences during my down time during the recession.  Construction Tales: Volume I: A Woman’s Journey To Become An Electrician, or known by the hashtag #ConstructionTales, cover’s the encounters that I had during my 5-1/2 year apprenticeship.  I also have written (11) Kindle Vella short stories under the name Construction Tales: Told By A Woman as well.


Q. WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR SITE AND YOUR BOOK?

I would like for readers to review my perspective in order to gain an understanding of what it is like to work as a woman in construction.  I happen to be a really strong woman with a sharp tongue for retorts so I didn’t experience nowhere near the pushback that other women faced.  However, it didn’t make me 100% immune to harsh treatment.  I believe when I joined the construction work force, there were approximately 6% women on the jobsite.  According to Osha.gov, women representing are now at 9%.  Hopefully, I can serve as a mentor and guide to women who want to pick up a trade.  The times are much easier than when I became an apprentice back in the 1990’s.  Additionally, I’m providing data and experience to a reader who wants to know what it is like for a woman in construction.

Q. WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ABOUT ACHIEVING THEIR DREAMS AND BEING EMPOWERED IN 2022?


I would say, within the construction industry, to have or acquire a great sense of humor.  Humor and sharp retorts have served me quite well.  Humor fends off negative comments and shuts down anyone trying to kill your good vibe.  If you can make fun of yourself, then you kill the bad of what someone else has to say.

Q. WHO OR WHAT HAS SERVED AS A MAJOR INSPIRATION IN YOUR CAREER?

 My desire to have a good life for my sons has served as a major inspiration.  The fact that I had little eyes staring at me and depending on my success was enough inspiration in order to keep me going even when I wanted to quit.  I have crossed paths with some amazing fellow journeymen and journeywomen who were like brothers and sisters to me.


About The Author:



Author Leslie M. Jasper is a 29-year journeywoman electrician who started her career in the U.S. Navy Seabees.  Leslie then joined the union in New York and worked with the tools for 19-years.  She then shifted from the tools to the office to become a project manager.  Leslie now works as a safety manager in New York City.  Leslie’s first children’s book is entitled, “Not All Girls Play With Dolls”.  Leslie’s goal with this book is to inspire boys and girls to pursue their dreams and go after that career path even if it is not traditionally acceptable within society.  No matter the obstacles faced, keep your chin up, use humor and your smarts, and learn your craft as much as you can.  This book is intended to serve as a prequel to Leslie’s first book entitled, “Construction Tales: Volume I: A Woman’s Journey to Become an Electrician.  There is also an edited teen version entitled, “Construction Tales: A Young Person’s Guide to Accomplish Anything in Life”.  This first book, within the Construction Tales series, shares what it was like for Leslie to become an apprentice electrician in New York.  Leslie now serves as a mentor to guide young women who come into the construction industry as apprentices.  She went back to college, during the 2008 Recession, and earned her M.B.A. at Iona College in 2013.  She has two sons, named Tom and Johnny; the two, family dogs are Jack Russels known affectionately as Otis and Daisy.  Tom has followed in his mother’s footsteps to become an apprentice electrician.  Leslie dedicates her spare time to adventures with friends and family, painting, creating #VerballyDisastrous podcast episodes, and writing Kindle Vella short stories.

Learn more about Leslie or purchase a copy of her book @ these sites:

www.ConstructionTales.com

Amazon Author Central Link 

https://www.amazon.com/Leslie-M.-Jasper/e/B00LSRKAKO?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000




Image Credits: Pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Announcing My New Book* Ode to Toni Morrison

 


As we continue to celebrate Women's History Month, I wanted to share my literary contribution, honoring a woman who leaves a great legacy in her recent passing. I'm thrilled to announce my new poetry book: "Ode to Toni Morrison" released in February, 2022, published by Cyberwit press.

This poetry collection contains more than 50 poems on an array of romantic, humorous, timely thought-provoking themes. It appeals to a broad readership.

Many of you have read my articles, blog posts, commentary pieces over the years, yet know very little of my work in the world of verse. Ode to Toni Morrison is actually my 8th published book of poems. 


  
Here's an excerpt...


ODE TO TONI MORRISON

(1931-2019)


Always thought

That we’d connect

Beyond words 

On the page--

In a future time and space,

Perhaps in some

Quaint coffee shop,

With an assortment of herbal teas

And pricey brews,

Or a university lecture 

Of  fellow intellectuals,

Or a book signing 

Of eager readers,

Me

Full of awe and admiration,

Unfulfilled dreams

And endless questions,

Hoping to emulate,

You

Worldly,

Wise,

Strong, 

Spirited,

Grounded 

Like a mighty oak,

Tall,

Brown,

Statuesque,

Cloaked in black,

Now fate

Has deemed it

Too late

As you close out

Your final chapter,


And your writings

Remain 

Etched 

In our hearts



The following blurbs are from publishing professionals about my poetry...

“Jennifer Brown Banks’ impactful poetry is beautifully poignant and leaves an everlasting image while shining a light on many of the injustices in today’s society.” 

--- Kristin Oakley, managing editor of The Write City Magazine 

“Jennifer Brown Banks’ poems  

are unflinching, evocative

Powerful, candid 

neatly pinpointing the experiences we all have.

To lose yourself in words

read Jennifer Brown Banks’ poems.”

 --- Noelle Sterne, Ph.D.

Poet/novelist/Editor

“Banks invites readers to participate in a poetic dialogue, asking questions or making observations that demand our attention. While the topics in this collection vary, the work intersects in unexpected ways and is wrapped in love of language both clear and accessible.”

--- Jennifer Dotson, Founder of Highland Park Poetry Organization

For those interested in purchasing a copy for personal pleasure or as a gift for a friend, here's the Amazon.com link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/8182538882?

Did I mention that April is National Poetry Month? :-)

Thanks for your readership and ongoing support.

Thoughts, readers?

 Any Toni Morrison fans out there?





Image credit: Pixabay.com

 


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Pen & Prosper Celebrates Women's History Month!

 

Welcome back, readers

As many of you are probably aware, March is Women's History Month. A time to celebrate the collective contributions and achievements of fabulous females everywhere. In fact, if you're a woman reading this, take a bow. Go ahead...I'll wait.

Today I'd like to highlight a few of my favorite books written by women, that will definitely inform, enhance and advance you in your efforts to live your best life. Most writers are avid readers, and these titles will engage, enlighten and empower you as you move forward in 2022.

Bonus here. I'm betting that a few of these titles will likely resonate with my male readers as well. Some have been referenced previously here at the site; while others have not.
In the spirit of reciprocity, feel free to offer up your own recommendations at the end of this post. Deal? Now let's get started!

PRACTICAL GENIUS 

By GINA AMARO RUDAN

I was immediately intrigued by the title. And this book does not disappoint. Solid lessons found on branding, building a business, the importance of identifying one's creative strengths and more.

DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF FOR WOMEN 

By KRISTINE CARLSON

Anybody out there remember the hugely popular "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" series by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.? This one was written by his wife. I can't say enough good things about this book.

It's insightful, inspiring and full of wisdom for modern times. It's cheaper than a therapist and as intoxicating as a bottle of wine.


YOUR NEXT LEVEL LIFE 
By KAREN ARRINGTON

This pocket-sized book is a quick read with lasting impact. Authored by the founder of The Miss Black USA Pageant, it provides 7 rules on power, confidence, and opportunity for women of color. But, the advice really applies to women regardless of ethnic background. It shares solid wisdom on an array of topics. Additionally, there's a prompting journal included at the end of the book for greater reflecting and focus.


30 DAYS TO TAMING YOUR TONGUE
By DEBORAH SMITH PEGUES

The "Good Book" tells us that the the power of life and death exists in the tongue. And it goes without saying that knowing when to speak and when to exercise personal restraint can make or break a relationship. In 30 dynamic chapters Certified Behavioral Consultant, Smith Pegues, speaks on the many ways that we can improve our communication skills and the quality of our interactions with others. 

                 BY THE WATERS 

(A Collection of Prayers for Everyday)
By ELLYN SANNA
The writing is eloquent and the photos are scenic and soothing. This read allows us to look at the connection between quenching our physical and spiritual thirst so that we may live in balance, beauty, and in awareness of our daily blessings. The nice thing too is that it doesn't have chapters so you can approach it in any order you'd like. It's also a great gift to give to a friend or loved one.




LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW FANTASY
By JENNIFER DOTSON


If you like poetry, you will definitely want to add this one to your personal library. 
Dotson delivers big on entertainment value here with dozens of poems in a variety of styles, tones and themes. Some pieces are thought-provoking, while others will make readers smile and nod in agreement. The author is also the founder and program coordinator of Highland Park Poetry.


Your turn, readers.
What books are on your nightstand lately?