REFORMATION TODAY: How I Created a Digital Magazine

 

In a departure from the general spiritual-warfare topics of my blog, I’d like to take a moment to share with you all how I created a digital magazine. I hope this will be a useful, easy-to-use guide for any inquiring minds who’d like to launch digital magazines of their own.

 

THE CONCEPTION

For those of you who don’t know, my magazine is REFORMATION TODAYThe first issue was released in June (Summer 2017), and the sophomore issue came out earlier this week (Fall 2017). I’m currently planning the Winter 2017 issue.

SUMMER 2017

SUMMER 2017

 

REFORMATION TODAY (referred to as “RT” from here on out) was something I’d been wanting to do for some time now. However, I have to lay much of the blame on Perry Stone. I’ve heard him discuss the origin of his publication, Voice of Evangelism (highly recommend!), several times. The presently high-quality issue that comes out five or six times a year and features articles mostly by him (`~ four or five per issue) as well as one by his wife, Pam, was not always the professional work that it is today! He started it as a very young man – a teenager, I believe, and with ZERO experience! If memory serves correctly, he created a small publication, plagued with errors (that were mocked by many), and sold his drum set to a man to get it published!

Well, that was before I was even born. And I knew that I had skills as a writer as well as an editor. And these days, with all of the programs and apps out there, one doesn’t have to be a graphic designer to get the layouts and so forth done in a sleek, professional manner. I knew I could create a magazine, and do it well! So I did!

Editorial History

I’ve written/edited for various magazines in the past: Boudoir Fashion Magazine, DENIM Fashion Magazine (celebrity stylist Jason Bolin), Extant Magazine (no longer in existence), Shulamite Women Community MagazineGlobal Prophetic Voice, and Gospel Today. I wanted a publication of my own that would be a continuation of the topics already discussed on my blog; that would have a strong emphasis on the prophetic and apostolic; and would discuss topics such as prayer/intercession/spiritual warfare, the prophetic, the apostolic, revival, and last but not least, reformation. One of the words declared over my life on multiple occasions was that I am a reformer. Just call me “Martin”! *smile*

Writing from a prophetic vein was not always a liberty I was afforded in the past, and it was very restricting, suffocating to my passion and ability. I wanted to build a team of prophetic and apostolic writers, known and unknown, whose voices could be heard without unnecessary restriction. REFORMATION TODAY was the happy result.

WRITE FOR REFORMATION TODAY!

Below, I will share some of the programs, apps, etc. that I used to put the entire magazine together, start to finish.

TOOLS & SYSTEMS

Google Docs

I am an intense advocate of Google Docs! I’ve lost too many documents over the years by accident using Microsoft Word so I RARELY use it, if ever. With Google Docs, I can access my documents from any location so long as there is Wi-Fi, and you can download the offline version(s) as well.

Of course, you can use Microsoft Word, Open Office, or whatever document program suits your fancy.

Canva

Canva is my lifeline!!! I use it for everything! Book covers (i.e. Judging the PropheticThe Days of Noah and LotDeborah: The Ultimate Jezebel-PreventativeBlogpreneur 101, as well as my notebook covers), Facebook/Twitter cover images, email headers, Instagram/Facebook/Twitter posts, ads, digital thank you cards, PDFs, and more! Honestly, if my magazine was under 30 pages total, I could do the entire project on Canva instead of having to implement Google Slides. But y’all know I’m long-winded and the list of writers is growing, so the magazine currently sits around 50 pages.

How Canva works is that you:

  1. Set up an account.
  2. Complete the quick, initial Canva how-to training.
  3. Select the template of your choice. (There are now two specific magazine layouts. And if you want another size beside 8.5×11, then you can enter your own dimensions in the upper righthand corner.)
  4. Select your layout. All layouts are either free or $1. (I haven’t paid for a layout yet!)
  5. Edit the current template’s image or upload and edit your own. You can edit and manipulate these images in various ways.
  6. Write or copy and paste your content.
  7. Download your Canva document. You may download it as a JPEG, PNG, PDF-Standard, or PDF-Print. I download all documents as JPEGs. You’ll learn why in the next section.

READ THE FULL POST AT DESIREEMMONDESIR.COM!

 

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Martin Luther Had Pamphlets, You Have Manifestos

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Over the past few months, I’ve been studying reformation. The historical figures Martin Luther and John Knox. The not-so-distant Nazi opposers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and those involved in the White Rose Movement. They had one main thing in common: their reformation came through information. And that information was printed on pamphlets.

When the rebellious Benedictine monk acted on his righteous indignation over the travesties enacted by the Catholic Church, he nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door.

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They were soon printed—along with many other works—on pamphlets distributed far in wide to the German masses.

The young people who headed up the White Rose Movement made their non-violent protests against the inhumane acts of the Nazi-powered Third Reich distributed their righteous beliefs in the form of leaflets.

These were short works, manifestos, expressing their beliefs, values, and guiding principles. When a reformation occurs, it often comes with manifestos that outline its belief system.

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Some not-so great examples are The Communist Manifesto, The Homosexual Manifesto, The Humanist Manifesto, and a worldwide “favourite,” Mein Kampf.

However, there are some other excellent, godly manifestos as well such as A Christian Manifesto  by the late Dr. Francis Schaffer as well as The Reformation Manifesto by Prophet Cindy Jacobs. (I own both of these and they are EXCELLENT, RIVETING reads!)

We may not all be reformers in the areas of religion and government, but maybe you are a thought leader in another area. Business, writing, dancing, whatever! God gives us all ideas for our spheres of influence. It’s our job to share those ideas and belief systems with the world.

With the advent of eBooks in iPad, Kindle, Nook, and PDF formats, it is now easier than ever to express these ideas through eBooks and manifestos.

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I won’t pretend to be Luther, Bonhoeffer, or Jacobs, but I do have the mind of Christ!

Write your manifesto today! Nail your theses to your walls on Facebook, tweet them on Twitter, pin them on Pinterest, and share them on Tumblr!

You have no excuse.

Get to writing!

P.S. Check out this Google Image search on manifestos and find what piques your manifesto-writing interest!

 

Giving It Away–For Free

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You may consider this blog a sequel to “An Author’s #1 Enemy.

I remember when I first discovered Tyler Perry. DVDs of his plays would come into our house. Hopefully purchased *fingers crossed*, many borrowed, and we fell in love with Tyler Perry.

This was when the now movie mogul was doing the “chicken circuit” in the “black areas” of the South, East Coast, L.A. and the like. The only actors we recognized were the likes of Tamela Mann and any other who might have previously sung with Kirk Franklin and the Family (back when Kirk was still singing on his albums—a LONG time ago).

I wasn’t the only one who got introduced to Mr. Perry this way. Black folks across America did. Some of you reading this probably did.

Then, even in his humble beginnings, we became part of Tyler Perry’s tribe.

Now look at him! He’s just released a blockbuster hit,Temptation based on his stage play The Marriage Counselor. He’s got a new drama series (translation = soap opera) on OWN called The Haves and the Have Nots, is doing some Madea-Sophia collaborations with Oprah which is a stupidly brilliant idea, joining the Madea andThe Color Purple franchises the way they are, and that’s just this summer!

And guess what, he’s not just catering to black people now!

The man is literally creating a new, minority-friendly Hollywood in Atlanta and there’s no stopping him now.

You don’t have to like him, but you must respect the hustle.

But if you ask me, it all started with the bootleg DVDs.

Now pleeeease hear me, I am NOT supporting piracy. However, I AM promoting free, worthwhile gifts from your entity to the world.

If you are a writer, you can write an eBook or manifesto. (I’ll blog on manifestos next.)

If you are a singer, you can drop a mixtape.

If you are a choreographer, you can teach a free boot camp.

Whatever your specific niche is, you can discover a way to serve your gift for free.

(This is also a really great way to gather honest testimonials on your work.)

Here’s the key: what you give away must be of undeniable value to the recipients.

Think about it: if you give away your mixtape or eBook to 5; 50; 500; or 5,000 people, that’s 5; 50; 500; or 5,000 people who wouldn’t have been exposed to your work otherwise.

AND if your product is of value to those people, they’ll pass the word along—or the product itself—to those in their acquaintance. The possibilities are astronomical.

I’m not promising that you’ll become the next Tyler Perry, C.S. Lewis, or Laurieanne Gibson; however, I will promise what the Scripture promises: that if you are diligent, your gift will make room for you and bring you before influential individuals.

A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. (Proverbs 18:16)

He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)

The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor. (Proverbs 12:24)

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

Create something of value to give away today!!

An Author’s #1 Enemy

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Any publisher reading this post would blow of fuse from the content…here’s why.

Because I admonish you to give away your writing.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Don’t give away all of it, but give away something. You guys know I like to give away free PDFs of my work to my subscribers. There are also many other authors who do the same.

We do it for two reasons:

  1. We understand that serving our gift is the most important thing. (And who doesn’t like free gifts?!)
  2. We want as many people as possible to get their hands on our work. The people who think this method is insanity, don’t understand how the internet—and world—is presently set up.

They think if you give away something, you lose, but they’re wrong.

If you give away something, that means someone who previously wasn’t aware of you or your work now knows. And if they like it, they’ll pass it on.

Think about the last bootleg movie you saw. If you liked the movie, you bought it, or the sequel. If you liked the actor(s), you sought out other movies the actor(s) was in. And guess what, you told people about both.

Now this isn’t an advertisement for piracy, but it is a wake-up call that piracy isn’t death to an artist or art form. It’s life.

The enemy is not piracy, it’s obscurity. (Tim O’Reilly)

If people like your eBook, or your podcast, or your video, that they share it with people who share it with people who share it with more people, that’s not a bad thing. Not in the least. It’s amazing! Because now all of those people become your fans.

So now I ask you, what can you give away that would be of worth to someone else?

Check out this post and video of Michael Hyatt discussing this and more with Seth Godin!

Make God Your Writing Partner

PartnershipWithGodYou are not in this alone.

Oh sure, you have your own brains, your own intellect, your own ideas and inspirations. But at some point, not to be a Negative Nelly, those will come to an end. And not even a permanent end necessarily, but a temporary end, a seasonal end.

And you know what? That’s okay.

God’s Word says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). Therefore, that means that weakness is required for that perfect strength to make an appearance in our lives.

Lucky thing we have loads of weakness for Him to play with.

Sometimes, people ask me, “What do you do when you get writer’s block?” And much to their surprise, I tell them, “I don’t get writer’s block.” Seriously! I haven’t gotten it in years! Granted, I’m not in school or anything, but I am constantly writing. I’m never short on things to say, lol. But more importantly, when I do feel short on things to say, God isn’t. (Where do you think I get my long-windedness from? *smile*)

So when you’re lost and struggling, when you feel like you’re up against a brick wall or trapped beneath a glass ceiling, make God your Writing Partner.

Film Title: Becoming Jane

Some will encourage you to let your spirit guides lead you or let some ancestor, animal, or other otherworldly being give you inspiration. I say heeeeeeeeeeeeeck naw!!! I’m not about to sit here and lie to you and worse, encourage you to come into bondage to a demonic entity pretending to be your furry little familiar. We ain’t about that life, excuse the slang but not the sentiment.

Whether you believe in God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit is entirely up to you.

But if you’re looking for an AMAZING Writing Partner, One who will give you all the words and let you take all the credit (or at least 90% of the paycheck), then pick God. He’s the best possible choice you could make!

Check out the Bethel Media Film Workshop!

Authors as Sub-Creators

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Most of us are aware of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great literary works most recently embodied in Peter Jackson’s silver screen adaptations of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as well as The Hobbit (Trilogy). I am personally a huge fanatic and I presume that many of you are as well. Yet as many of us may be aware of his literary works, I gather that a much smaller remnant are aware of—and actually implement—his theory of sub-creation.

Fantasy

Created to Create

Tolkien’s theory of sub-creation involves the ability of the human being to create within our own realms of influence much in the same way that we ourselves were created. Now if you don’t actually believe that you yourself were created then, hopefully, as a writer, you can at least imagine that you were.

Think of it: an entire people created in the likeness (characteristics) and image (appearance) of their Creator; endowed with His abilities and powers, one of those powers being the ability to create. Well my friend, if you consider yourself a writer in any capacity, then you have this ability! So how are you implementing it?

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What Are You Creating??

The concept of sub-creation should be of particular importance to those who write stories. When you are a storyteller, you create your own world, your own rules, your own inhabitants and other creatures, etc. I have a little saying that I like to employ that states:

The story is true within the context of the writer.

In my book Faith and the Imagination, I open up addressing the issue that many parents—Christian or otherwise—are concerned with: are fairytales evil? In short, the answer is yes and no. Why? Because what is written reflects the character and nature of the writer. Look at the works of C.S. Lewis and his friend Tolkien: they’re works were good because the authors themselves were good men. Similarly, if you find yourself reading something by a deranged author, the work itself is likely to show hints (at the very least) of that deranged-ness.

As the author, you have the power to create whatever you want and allow your heart, your intellect, your morals, and your particular giftings to shine through. It is an amazing power! So what are you creating? What are you pouring yourself into?

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My Business is to Create

In one of my favourite movies P.S. I Love You, Hilary Swank’s character “Holly” is in Ireland, at her dead husband’s (Gerry) parents’ home. She is reading one of Gerry’s letters and through it, she reminisces on how they first met. The movie then takes you to that to the endearing encounter wherein Holly is convincing her new friend Gerry that she knows poetry. She does not. She then, sadly, yet hilariously, butchers William Blake’s quote. The actual quote is as follows:

Again I ask: what are you creating? Too many of us are busy being “enslaved by another man’s will.” Others still are lost in reasoning and comparing themselves to others and it is not beneficial. When your business is to create, you compare yourself with where you were to where you are now, and more importantly, where you are now, to where you desire to be. You spend your time creating something beneficial, good, and relevant that helps to meet the need of another as well as to “have a little part of you outside of yourself so you know a little more about yourself.”

I will not ask you again what you are creating. Yet I will charge you to go out and create. Do it today! And if you are already creating, don’t stop there! Become better! Improve yourself in every way! You have the opportunity to make this year your own, to wipe the slate clean from last year’s mistakes, and to do better and more importantly be better than you ever were before. If you make this your purpose, what you do create will be just that much more amazing. Sub-create today!

We the Sub-Creators

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The following is an excerpt from my book, Faith and the Imagination! Be sure to get your own copy if you haven’t already!

My favourite author of all time (tied with his long-time friend, C.S. Lewis), Jonathan Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien, developed a theory that was true at the world’s inception and will remain so until its appointed end. That theory is Sub-Creation. Tolkien’s theory, simply put, is the ability of humanity to sub-create in the image and likeness of their Creator. I believe in the truth of this theory and if embraced, the many possibilities and potentialities that can come from it.

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Sub-Creators by Nature

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”…. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26, 27)

This is the original purpose of man: to look and act like God on earth. Therefore, by nature, we are gods. Please hear me out before you burn me for a heretic! When the physician-apostle Luke listed the genealogy of Christ for Theophilus, he listed Christ’s bloodline all the way up to Adam, then God.

Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:38)

This is not the “Son of God” in the sense that Jesus is, rather the “son of God” as the angels are: glorious created beings with the breath of God in us. We are the sons of God and thus, little gods just as the early Christians were called “little Christs”; not Christ themselves, but presumably, the image and likeness of Christ in the earth.

Furthermore, the Psalmist backs this claim up.

I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6)

He, prophetically, equates the children of the Most High (humans) with gods themselves. We do not reside on Olympus, neither are we demi-gods (half-gods), but again, we are the offspring of God. Therefore, as the “children of the Most High,” “son(s) of God,” are we not then expected and required to reflect our Source of life in our own spheres of influence? The answer is absolutely yes.

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Sub-Creators by Mandate

When King David described humans as “gods” he goes on to say this:

I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.  But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” (Psalm 82:6-7)

He declares man’s divinely royal heritage and in the same breath, their eternal doom.  But why does he do this? Excellent question.

Just the other “sons of God,” the angels, left their “former estate” in Jude 1:6, we too forget and leave our former estates (mandates, positions) when we fail to -create in the world.

When God created us, it was a sovereign act of His unfathomable dominion. He created the universe and beyond to rule, yet as the Ultimate Father, gifted us with the rule of Earth.

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men. (Psalm 115:16)

In His first and eternal mandate to humanity, God entrusted us with the dominion and authority to rule over the earth and thus, sub-create.

Then God said…”Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  ….Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)

In our spheres of influence, we are to look and act like God: we are to have dominion over everything on the earth accept human beings themselves. And we are to not only have dominion over it, but to “be fruitful and multiply” it. Enter sub-creation.

Sub-Creators by Gift & Ability

Sub-creation, fruitfulness, multiplication—whatever term you like—is not merely procreation. It certainly includes that, yet it is so much more! God created us with the seed(s) of creativity already inside of us to beget not only biological children, but to conceive and beget spiritual children, dynamic inventions, ways to deal with and manage the psyche and emotions, business models, and much, much more (Genesis 1:29-30).

It’s like a Maple Tree: when the seed germinates and grows in the earth it doesn’t just produce roots; it produces the bark to cover the tree trunk, that grows limbs from the trunk, that grows leaves from the limbs, that has sap flowing through it’s veins that winds up as the nectar we smother our waffles and flapjacks with and all of it has the seed to produce millions upon millions of Maple Trees inside itself. Like Maple Trees, we too must flourish and reproduce in the arenas God has planted us in.

A more contemporary example is that of Tolkien himself. The arena God planted this particular man in was language and literature. He flourished and sub-created numerous books, namely The Hobbit and its sequel The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) along with several other accessory novels. Those “accessory novels” encompass The History of Middle-Earth which he also sub-created (Middle-Earth) in the LOTR series. He then sub-created five bona fide languages as a product of those books. And, years later, Peter Jackson, sub-created from Tolkien’s sub-creation the wildly popular LOTR movies series as well as the much-anticipated Hobbit movies in theaters. Movie guides and analyses have been further sub-created by many to serve as accessories and explanations of the movie series.

Sub-creation is something we are not only encouraged to do in life, but made and meant to do. And although it is best executed and appreciated when done from a Christian perspective, the abilities and imagination of God is still very evident in those who may not yet know Him because it is in their nature and because they have managed to connect with their mandate as a human being. So now I ask you: What has God created you to sub-create in the earth? You will never be fulfilled without the completion of that godly mandate.

What’s In a Name?

The following is an excerpt from my book How to Write Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, Chapter 2. You can get your own copy of the full book here

I am extremely particular about the names that I choose for my characters as well as the people groups, geographical places, etc. that show up throughout my stories. It’s actually an ancient, biblical concept to name a thing on purpose because there is a destiny attached to the name.

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The Importance of Naming a Thing

In my book Faith and the Imagination, I recount a story of my best friend Jessica coming to visit me. She had never been to my home before (we met in college and currently live in separate states). While looking around my bedroom, she saw a name plate that I’ve had since I was a little girl. My parents bought one for all three of us children. The plate reads as follows:

  • Name: Desiree
  • Root: Desitee
  • French: “longed for.”
  • Expression: a woman who is friendly with all she meets
  • Personality: a girl who has a strong fortitude
  • Natural: someone who enjoys being witty and carefree
  • Emotional: an individual who has a lot of compassion
  • Character: she provides comforting relief and sustenance
  • Physical: daring, dashing, creative, and inspiring
  • Mental: her family calls her the wise one
  • Motivation: is defiant and fearless in pursuit of her goals

When Jessica read the plate she said: “Dez! This thing describes you to a ‘T!’” And she was right!

I remember years ago when I would look at it and wonder when I would be those things that the name plate said I was or would be. And now in the latter part of my twenties, I can see that I really have grown into the phenomenal woman described on that name plate! I’m not perfect, but this name plate is pretty darn accurate indeed!

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In the Bible, you see that a person’s character was defined by what they were named; the destiny was shaped by what they answered to. Here are some biblical examples of “what’s in a name”:

  • Abram to Abraham: When God wanted to transform Abram into “a father of many nations” he changed his name to Abraham.
  • Jacob to Israel: When God wanted to change Jacob from a trickster into a prince, He changed his name.
  • Naomi to Mara: When Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, was heartbroken over the death of her husband and two sons, she changed her name to “Mara” which means bitter.
  • Simon to Peter: When Jesus wanted to form the “rock” upon which He would build His church, He changed his disciple’s name from “Simon” which mean “reed” to “Peter” which means “rock.”
  • Saul to Paul: When God wanted to change a zealous persecutor into an apostolic (pioneering) powerhouse, He changed his name.

Place names in the Bible were also named for particular circumstances, promises, and more:

  • The Tower of Babel: We’ve all heard about the Tower of Babel in Ancient Babylon where God confused the languages of all the peoples of the earth; they couldn’t understand each other so it sounded like a bunch of “babble.”
  • Luz to Bethel: When Jacob awoke from the place where he saw a vision of the stairway to heaven, he renamed the place “Bethel” which means “House of God.”

There are countless more examples that I could think of:

  • Eber had his son right after the earth currently in “Pangaea form” (all one continent; a supercontinent) broke up and started to separate into the seven continents we now know. Therefore, his son was named “Peleg” which means “divided.”
  • The various wells Isaac dug in Canaan were named after the various situations he experienced whilst digging them
  • Rachel named her second born “Ben-Oni’ which meant “son of my sorrow” because she was dying in childbirth, yet Jacob changed his new son’s name to “Benjamin” which means “son of my right hand” and is an honoured name.
  • Jabez prayed for God to give him a new name because his mother, for whatever reason, had given him a name that meant “pain.”

You may wonder why I am going into such depth over this particular topic. It’s because one name could make—or break!—your entire story.

L.M. Montgomery’s wildly popular character Anne Shirley rebutted Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet speech “What’s in a name?” by saying this:

Well, I don’t know….I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage. (Anne of Green Gables)

Anne, throughout the entire Anne Series, had a habit of renaming people, place names, and anything else she could. Ms. Montgomery created her endearing character with the most amazing imagination, yet I highly doubt that the series would have been half so successful if she’d named her heroine “Ethel.” (I’m sorry Auntie Ethel!) So hopefully now that you understand the importance of naming a person or a thing, we’ll delve into how we come up with the names.

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The Perfect Name

When searching for “the perfect name,” you can allow a character trait to lead you as in 1) a character trait that a person has or 2) a character trait that you want them to have.

Example: If you have a male character that has a fiery nature, then you could name him “Aiden” because in Irish, “Aiden” means “little fire” (Babynames.com).

The number one way I like to find character names is through baby name searches. My family has a book that has logs of male, female, and surnames with their origins, meanings, and variants that I used to look through frequently for inspiration.

I also like searching the internet for various baby naming sites. Babynames.com is a site I like to use that is chocked full of thousands of names from numerous backgrounds that are divided into alphabetical, gender, and origin categories. Here are two examples.

  • William: English for “strong-willed warrior.”
  • Alexandra: Greek for “defender of the people”; see also Alejandra, Alessandra, Alixandra, Aleksandra; Alexander, and Alexzander; see also Alexandria and Alexandrea (Greek for “city of Alexander”).

There are also various ways you can search for a name. Here are some that I employ.

  • Search by Origin (i.e. Celtic, Latin, Teutonic, French, etc.)
  • Search by Meaning (i.e. a name that means “hope,” “pain,” “friendly,” “protector”, etc.)
  • Search by People Group or Occupation (i.e. names related to Elves such as “Elf-friend”, “Elf-warrior,” or “Elf-Prince,” or a name that means “farmer,” “baker,” “miller,” etc.)

You may employ these name search strategies similarly when you are looking for geographical names as well (i.e. place names, river names, mountain range names, city names, etc.).

Another way you can name your characters is based off of people you know or even those that you would have liked to know. This includes you. Here are a couple demonstrations.

  • A Play on My Name: There was a short story I wrote once and I knew it was loosely based off of a real relationship I had. Therefore, I wanted the main female character to reflect me so I gave her a name that started with a “D” like my own real name. Thus, I became “Delandra.” It fit the character and it fit the story.
  • The Name that Wrote a Story: In the story alluded to above, my ex’s middle name was just so perfect that I had to use it for his counterpart in the story. It wasn’t something I set out to do; it just happened. I was walking through the hallways of my university and all the sudden the title, given life through my ex’s name, Othniel, Warrior King, popped into my head.
  • My Late, Mysterious, Paternal Grandmother: My father’s mother died when he was about eleven years old. He barely knew her. So by the time I came around, I really didn’t know much about the woman she was. I’ve seen exactly one picture of her and I know her name. Yet this was enough to cause her to begin appearing in various roles through my own stories. My late Irish Grandmother Rosemary became the old Irish grandmotherly maid set in the 1920s also named “Rosemary” in Tumble into Faerie. She then morphed into the sweet middle-aged, mid-Victorian Era French mother “Rosemarie” in my story Pere Noel, the Christmas Faerie, and Petite Christelle. I’m sure she’ll continue to pop up in my work as I continue to write. It’s my way of getting to know the her that I imagine she was or would be.

Naming places can also be just as exciting as naming people. In the aforementioned story Pere Noel, the Christmas Faerie, and Petite Christelle, a major theme is the loss and regaining of hope and faith. I wanted the town’s name to reflect that since it is one of the major settings of the story. So here was my creative logic:

  1. I need a town name that denotes “hope.”
  2. I remember in the book The House on Mango Street there was a character whose name was “Esperanza.” “Esperanza” means “hope” en Espanol.
  3. I can’t use a Spanish name, so I’ll tweak it to sound French and name the town “Esperance.”

And just that quickly, I’d found the name for my dear little town. Places can also be named after a person such as a patron or the original pioneer who founded the town (another common biblical practice). They can be named after a circumstance, after a people group, after its physical location, and more. Be creative!

People groups are similar to the previously mentioned naming categories. Here’s a popular example that you may be familiar with.

Example: In Tolkien’s Silmarillion, it discusses the birth of the Elven peoples. The Elves are known as the “Eldar.” Why? Because they were the first or “eldest” among the Elves, men, and dwarves to be created.

It may be tricky for you, yet you can, again, pull out that old King James Bible (or whatever translation you have, including the Torah) and start researching those people names. Peoples in the Bible were usually named after the forefather that they descended from such as:

  • Moab: This was the son of Lot by his elder daughter; the Moabites descended from him. They dwelt in Moab.
  • Ben-Ammi: This was the son of Lot by his younger daughter; the Ammonites descended from him. They dwelt in Ammon.
  • Esau a.k.a Edom: This was the brother of Jacob/Israel from whom the Edomites descended; the name “Edom” means “red” because Esau was a red, hairy man. Also, his name was changed to Edom after he ate red pottage (stew of some kind).  They dwelt in Edom.
  • Amalek: This was the grandson of Esau/Edom who was the forefather of the infamous Amalekites from whom the even more infamous Hamaan of the Book of Esther descended.
  • Jacob a.k.a Israel: The Israelites were the descendants of Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons. “Israel” means “Prince of God.” To this day that vast majority of the Israelites dwell in Israel.

The name of a people group, as demonstrated by the above examples of the Edomites and Israelites, can denote a particular characteristic.

There is also another example found with the Jewish people. These Ancient Israelis from the lineage of Abraham have also been given the name “Jew” and to many this has sadly become an indicator of a person or people that will swindle or “jew” you because they have historically been extremely blessed in the area of finances (Rabbi Daniel Lapin).

However, I see the Jewish people and their financial blessings in a different light: if I connect, collaborate, or go into business with them, I am likely to be blessed because of their adeptness with money and their position in God’s eyes. Both concepts are two sides of the same coin; it just depends on how you see them and what you allow to influence your thoughts about them.

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Going back to my example of Tolkien’s Eldar, you can also see certain traits with these people groups. The Eldar or Elves are intuitively wise, prophetic, discerning, and overall otherworldly in nature. This trait can be enhanced and supported by the fact that they were the firstborn of creation—they’ve been around the longest so naturally, they would be the wisest. They are also extremely skilled musicians and artisans as can be seen in their creation of items such as mithril (ethereal Elvish chainmail); Elven swords such as “Sting,” “Glamdring,” and “Narsil” later reforged and renamed as “Andúril”; circlets (crowns), and much more.

I highly suggest that you find a way to keep a log of all the names for the various characters, peoples, and places somewhere so you can pull it out, add to it, and refer to it whenever necessary.

All of these names, meanings, and definitions also make great material for your book’s appendix.

The Name Denotes the Destiny

I have said before that the name of a thing shapes its destiny. You could see this illustrated in the examples of my own name as well as the examples given with the Eldar. I have yet another example of this for you.

In one of my favourite shows Merlin, the young servant of the equally young King Arthur is secretly a dragon lord. His father was a dragon lord and transferred his powers to his only son upon his death.

On one particular occasion, Merlin was able to rescue the last existing dragon egg. Arthur’s father, Uther, had done his utmost to rid the land of Albion (Britain) of its fiery flying reptiles and only one living dragon remained. When Merlin found the egg, he brought it to the wise old dragon and asked him when it would hatch. The dragon told Merlin that the dragon lord had to name the dragon and only then would it hatch from its shell. So that’s what he did.

Merlin spoke the name “Aithusa” and the little white dragon emerged. The old dragon was pleased and prophesied that white dragons were a rare occurrence, yet he believed that Aithusa was a good omen for Merlin, Arthur, and the future of Camelot.

In this illustration, you see two principles:

  • Choosing a Name is a Responsibility, Not a Whim: Merlin needed to discern that name of the dragon hatchling because the name would prophesy the future of the creature and all those connected to it.
  • Speaking the Name Ignites the Destiny: As soon as the dragon was named, the dragon was hatched. When you believe in and name a thing, it initiates the commencement of the course of that thing, person, or people.

These naming pointers are not just for fiction, they’re for life. Yet since you are sub-creating your own world in your own stories, you set the rules, boundaries, and destinies of your world and all that is in it.

If you want to read a great series about what interacting with your characters and actually living in your own sub-created world could be like, I highly recommend Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart Trilogy: Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath.

Divine Inspiration

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I once partook in a discussion in a LinkedIn writers’ group that referenced that statement of a man who refused to let God tell him what to write. The absolute arrogance! The utter ignorance!  *breathe Desiree* As I am sure you can tell, this declaration angers me to my core. As an author and entrepreneur, I have learned the immeasurable value of allowing God to inspire and direct my decisions.

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Godly Literary Inspiration

The first and foremost example of divine—godly—literary inspiration and also the most trustworthy inspiration is The Holy Bible. This book which has been around for thousands of years and was translated into English most popularly in 1611 (thanks King James), is the most solid example we have of the legendary and proven inspiration of the Most High throughout the ages. Regardless of what some nay-sayers and learned individuals who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth” (II Timothy 3:7) may say, the Word was, is, and ever will be true. And not only true, but relevant.

The Bible told us that the world was round before the “church” and many scientists accepted it as truth. Isaiah prophesied that God “sits on the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). Empires that would rule the Ancient World and even Alexander the Great were prophesied in the Book of Daniel. Both the Gospels and Revelation speak of events that we see in our daily local and global news. These are just a few examples that prove the validity of the Bible. You cannot tell me that the Bible was not inspired by God (II Timothy 3:16).

Many other books besides the Bible have been written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Whether by ministers, businessmen, historians, or others, books are written every day by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and we know this because not only do they line up with the Word of God, but God speaks to us through them as we read them. The result is confirmation, affirmation, encouragement, and growth for the readers in the arenas that the books cover. My Kingdom Mandates is one such book. The over 300 pages that form its contents were composed in two days shy of one month. How’s that for divine inspiration?

Theory of Sub-Creation     

If you know anything about me personally, you know that I am absolutely obsessed with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy author, J.R.R. Tolkien. I am also equally obsessed with his theory of sub-creation and as such often see its effect in the world. It most certainly adds a different, equally wonderful aspect to our discussion of Godly inspiration. Tolkien’s theory summed up simply states that “[Tolkien] could view sub-creation as a form of worship, a way for creatures to express the divine image in them by becoming creators” (“Sub-Creation or Smuggled Theory”).

Tolkien was a Christian, as am I, and saw sub-creation as an opportunity to exercise our God-like characteristics endowed in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” God created, therefore, we in His image, have the ability to create as well. This is especially true for [fiction] authors who have the ability to create a world of their own with its own laws and beings in their literature. Yet we can also adopt this theory as entrepreneurs.

Your ability to create a business of your own should come from the inspiration above and allow you to sub-create in your own right. And although it is not the same as creating a story or movie, you can most certainly create a new niche in the world or re-create/re-define one that is already created.

What can you create this is uniquely your own? For DA Weddings, not only do I create fresh wedding-related content, but I revel in creating fantastically-fabulous wedding themes and inspirations and for this blog I seek to create equally fresh content that will motivate and inspire you to do what you were meant to. For my business, I assist others in their own sub-created literary pieces.

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How Does Inspiration Come?

In my experience, the best inspiration comes directly from God. Whether He “downloads” or “drops” it directly in my spirit such as in a picture or word image across my mind, or a direction to a particular item or subject. Oftentimes, I will sit in front of a blank piece of paper, ask God to speak, and start writing. He always comes through.

You can also be inspired by something you read, see, or hear. Oftentimes when you are inspired by God via literature, it can be described as illumination (light shed upon a thing) or revelation (a direct message or “lesson” from God). You are also able to see or hear something—whatever the source of it may be—and it can be harnessed as an inspiration for an idea.

The last way you can be inspired to write or build a business is to observe and be burdened by a need. Plato said “necessity is the mother of invention.” What needs in the world do you see that you believe you are meant to fill? What problems or dilemmas—whether they affect the quality or convenience of life—are you drawn to fulfill? Many of the greatest inventors were those who invented by inspiration of God.

The word tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning,” (James 1:17). This tells us that God, who changes not, can inspire us to create just as easily as He inspired the prophets and apostles of old to write the Bible; every good idea, no matter what it is, is absolutely from God.

The word also tells us that “…you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8:18). This verse shows us that not only does God care about our financial stability, but that He gave us—past tense—the power or ability to get the wealth that we desire. The ideas, inventions, and concepts He longs to give us are oftentimes the vehicles He uses to bless us financially. What an awesome encouragement and promise to us!

You were created in the image of God, and whether or not you serve Him—which I pray you do—you were endowed from before the foundations of time with the abilities of your Creator to sub-create in your own right. Allow God to inspire and direct your creations and you will be sure to build unique, relevant, and long-lasting businesses, literary empires, and the like if you simply trust God to guide you.

See also: “Sub-Creation or Smuggled Theology: Tolkien Contra Lewis on Christian Fantasy

Write the Vision

I was sitting at my computer one night saying God, “show me what to write.”  And He simply said, “write the vision.” Now some of you may not be familiar with this phrase but it comes from the Book of Habakkuk in the Bible. It reads as follows:

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

Now, we know that when we hear wisdom—whether Biblical or otherwise—we should not just listen to it and say “that’s wonderful”, but actually apply it to our lives. Therefore, the first instruction of this verse is to “write the vision.”

Writing the Vision

Some of you may be wondering what the vision is that I speak of. In the literal translation, it is the word which the prophet was given. However, since this is not a theological blog post it we’ll focus on the, metaphorical application that will benefit your life.

What is your purpose in this world? What dreams has God given you? What visions do you desire to achieve? That is the vision I speak of. That is what you are to write down. Writing the vision, dreams, and goals of your life is not only an encouragement to you, but an act of faith.

The passage itself is entitled “The Just Live By Faith.” As Christians, we know that it is impossible to please God without faith. However, we also know that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20 & 26). Therefore, this means that when we realize our vision for our life that the first action we should take is to write it down.

Writing it down encompasses creating personal as well as professional vision/mission statements, goal lists (daily, weekly, monthly, annual, etc.), business plans, and more. Whatever literature and lists, etc. that you can create to help organize your vision and goals, create it. They are the act of faith that will propel you forward emotionally and professionally.

In writing your vision and goals, remember that it is an act of faith; not perfect. The chances are very high that what you plan will not happen exactly the way or time in which you planned it to happen, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll give you an example. I made a move from Tulsa, OK to Charlotte, NC believing that I would follow a particular plan which entailed me focusing largely on Desired Assistance, my virtual writing and editing company. However, mere weeks later, I was led to create DA Weddings blog and now, this one. It was been a most wonderful turn of events! Step out on faith to write your vision and God will perfect it to align with His purpose and timeline for you.

Run with It!

The next part of this verse states “…that he may run who reads it…” As we started to touch on in the last section, faith without works is dead.  In other words, you can’t just write the vision and forget about it. Keep it before your eyes. Meditate on it. Speak it out loud. Then do what you’ve planned. Run with it! If you can’t expect to lose weight without eating differently and working out or having the perfect wedding without planning or hiring a wedding planner, than you cannot expect to succeed in business without making an effort as well.

If your business—like many nowadays—thrives on referrals, then network in person and on line to make contacts. Create the actual plans and literature for the next phase of your business. Start writing that blog or book. Whatever you vision is, act on it. As Marshawn Evans would say, “God’s anointing [ability to function in your specific gift] is attached to your appointing [what you are purposed/gifted to do].” When you discover what you are purposed to do, you will have the ability to “run” and do just that.

Wait for It…!

This is probably the most frustrating part of the vision process. We can write and we can work, but ultimately, we always have to wait. Tarrying is an old school term for waiting and in English, we typically define it as a passive act. However, it is actually an authoritative act. In short, we are empowered to do what we must until the God-given visions come to past.

We must be patient. There is always a perfect timing for everything whether it’s the writing and release of that book, the promotion of yourself or your business, that million-dollar contract. Whatever it is, do what you know to do—don’t be passive—and if it’s meant to happen, you can absolutely guarantee that it will happen at the perfect time.

I encourage all of you today: go, write the vision! Be specific as possible and do it in good faith knowing that if it is for you and if you work at it and towards it, it will happen!

Note: If you have visions and dreams that God has given you for your life and or business, create a Promise Journal. Make a list of everything He’s said chronologically if at all possible. Add to it when He tells you something new and comment on it like you would in a text book or essay when you start to see things come to past. It’s a source of encouragement to you and, I believe, it is an affirmation that you trust God, acknowledge that He is keeping His promises to you, and encourages Him to keep doing what He’s doing in your life. It’s a wonderful thing!