The Mayonnaise Jar by Anonymous

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When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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Anger by Allison Kohn

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Allison Kohn

Bailey left her nice little and her cat to help her missionary friend, Donna. She lived in some little rooms behind Donna’s house and went into the house every day and worked in the office.

Donna had a cat too – a very highly strung cat. The cat was lonesome and missed the presence of Donna when she went into the interior. Baily fed, patted its head and talked to it. The cat got used to having Bailey’s company and resented it when she left for the night. Eventually the cat started attacking her when she left the house. Every day the cat bit Bailey on the same spot on her ankle.

Bailey’s ankle got still and her whole leg hurt, so she went to the doctor. The doctor insisted on knowing how Baily got the bites. He said the law made it clear that any bite must be reported. Bailey explained the cat was house bound and couldn’t have rabies. She begged him not to report it, but he wouldn’t listen and the animal control officer was soon in control.

Donna returned home just in time to turn her cat over to the authorities. She was told her cat would either have to go to the animal shelter or spend the next four days at the veterinary clinic. O course she wouldn’t have had to send it to the vet if it had its shots, but Donna hadn’t got its shots so she had to board it for the next four days. The whole thing made her very angry.

Donna met Bailey when she returned to the house. Tears of anger marred her pretty face and her voice shook when she spoke. Baily knew she would be upset when the authorities approached her, but of course she wasn’t aware the cat didn’t have its shots, so Donna’s intense anger was a shock. “…and I’ll probably have to pay your doctor bill too, and what for? Just because your leg hurts. That cat is all I have! I can’t stand the sight of you.”

So instead of going to her afternoon college class, Bailey called her pastor and his wife and spent the rest of the day loading everything she owned into her pickup.

Later, parked in her pickup out at the campground where she would make her home for the next six months, Baily smiled. “Well, Lord, I got the desire of my heart. I’m living in the country. Thank you.”

“As a means of venting her anger, donna wrote and told her supporters what an awful thing Bailey had done to her. Then she had an attack of depression that resulted in some really bad decisions.

Another person’s thoughtless words and actions put our God-given defense system into action. It pumps excessive amounts of chemicals into our bloodstream to help in answer to alarm and agitation. Without constructive action our memory broods in an endless cycle. The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

God’s remedy for anger liberates us from the destructive results of a brooding memory. We can stop fretting because of the evil that mankind does. God promises that those who commit unjust acts shall be cut down and wither away.

The wonderful liberating truth is that God is keeping the records and we can trust him to take our burden on him. He will reveal righteousness and justice a bright as the light at noonday. We are free from the responsibility of righting the wrong, punishing the guilty, proving the truth of a personal injustice, or defending our honor. We can dwell in the circumstances God places us in and cultivate faithfulness. What a delightful Lord we have!

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Keep Your Gas Tank Full! by Sherry Chamblee

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Sherry Chamblee

So we’re toodling along (yes, that’s a word in my world) down the road in the big black Tahoe. I’ve just come from a meal out with my husband and daughter on her 17th birthday. This is after a full morning of getting Granny up out of bed, fed breakfast, getting to ensemble practice before church, morning worship services, getting Granny back home, fed, and cleaned up, then out for a rare activity with *all* the kids. So yes, it’s been a busy day.

Now it’s 5 in the afternoon, we have an hour (or so) to get home, get Granny cleaned up again, put to bed, pick up a kid, get back in the car and get back to church for evening service and canvassing the neighborhoods with door hangers for Open Sunday in a couple weeks.

The problem? The Tahoe’s hungry-for-gas light had been on all day. I knew it needed gas, but I figured it could go just a little farther. I really didn’t have time, and then when I’d had time, I’d frankly forgotten to visit the gas station. We had money with us. We had had a little time earlier in the day, and like I said, we hadn’t gotten to it. So now, when crunch time came…putter, putter, stutter, stop!

The Tahoe, a big, black, fits-all-8-of-us-and-a-friend driving machine simply stopped moving. You know, it takes a ton of muscle to turn a vehicle like that when the power steering is not working, but I pulled it safely into a parking lot and sat, waiting for my father-in-law to show up with help.

Isn’t that just like me and God?

I go-go-go, thinking I can pull just one more ounce of strength before I collapse, not thinking I have time recharge at God’s ‘gas station’. Then, when the crunch is really on, I sputter to a stop, my energy depleted, my patience gone, my motivation having taken a vacation. At that time I become just like that Tahoe – utterly useless no matter how many I’m able to carry, and really hard to move to a safe location. While I wait for a recharge then, I’m stuck in a parking lot of life, shoved off to the side of the road just waiting; when all along, a refill at the gas station was waiting for me.

Unlike what keeps our cars running, God’s gas station offers free refills. All I have to do is sit down and open my Bible. Close my eyes and talk to God – let Him refresh me, fill me with His energy and His motivations.

I can keep going all day and then some when I’m using God’s power to get God’s service done. And while it seems too simple to say that it just takes reading and meditating on God’s Word, and spending some time in prayer, it really IS just that simple. Simple, and yet something we tend too often to overlook. We don’t notice how far and how fast we’re going on our own until we’re nearly ready to collapse.

Let’s not get to that point. Keep your gas tank full!

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Gems from Pastor Jim for April 1, 2014

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 15:1, 3 Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who refuse to slander others or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.

Worship that connects with God involves refusing to slander others. It is so easy to do, isn’t it? We find ourselves finding fault with others and magnifying those faults to the point where we become guitly of character assassination. We jump into judging others without knowing for sure that our judgments are accurate. We bring others down by the things we say about them.

Worship that connects with God involves not harming others. There are so many different ways we can harm others: physically, verbally, emotionally, and mentally. If we knowingly and intentionally harm others, our attempts at worship are in vain. We are commanded to love our neighbors and love does not go out and harm the ones we love. If we do not conduct ourselves in a godly way with others, the Lord will not honor us in His presence.

Worship that connects with God involves not speaking evil of our neighbor’s friends. It is easy to judge others by the company they keep. It is easy to judge people who we don’t even know. Let’s be honest about this. We do judge people we don’t know. We judge them based on our own prejudices. We judge them if they are different than us or live differently than we do. We judge them if they think differently than we do about things. God wants us to stop it. We should love all those for whom Jesus died. How can we reach out to a people we don’t love with the Gospel? We need to ask the Lord to broaden our love base so that we will have a genuine love for all people.

If we love with the love of Christ, we will treat others in a godly way and our worship will be accepted by God.

C Through Marriage

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Patient Love by Rikki Strong

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Rikki Strong

It’s my birthday tomorrow. Most people don’t believe me, but really, April Fool’s Day is just another day. People have birthdays on April Fool’s Day… though, we don’t always like it.

Looking back, as people often do as another year of life comes to an end, it is plain to see God’s hand working. A year ago today, my husband was living and working in another city, in another state. I was, for all intents and purposes, a single parent of a very active 6-year-old. I had been content where we were, in our little house, with our little plot of land and our flock of chickens and our ministry to local youth. I would have happily stayed there forever if I could have.

My husband lost a good-enough job four days after Thanksgiving and got a much better one in another state two months later. He moved in February, and our son and I stayed in the house for another four months to finish the school year.

I should have been excited. We were moving back to the area we had grown up. We both had family here we hadn’t seen much during our nine years in Idaho. There are so many more opportunities for our son, who is academically advanced. But you know what? I hated every second of it. I hated the thought of leaving our little house. Our first home. The only home our then-six-year-old knew. I fought the idea for a long time and begged God to change his mind.

But, God had other plans for us, as He normally does.

In the past year since getting the new job, God’s hand has been not only in our financial life and the big things like a place to live, but also the little things; the minutia that often gets over-looked. Like the sparrows in the field, God provided a safe and loving home for our flock of chickens and the cats we had to leave behind. Our ministry to youth was embraced by some of the grandmas in the church and is still thriving. We, though the use of the house we still own, are able to be a blessing to one of our former ministry kids, now a single mom with two young children.

We were able to quickly find a new home church and recently became official members. At our new church, our son participated, enjoyed, and excelled in Bible Quizzing (the kids studied the book of Genesis this year). One of his 20 Bible memorization passages this year was Psalm 32:8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

It took me a good nine months to begin to come to terms with and begin mourning everything that could have been in Idaho, and it is still an ongoing process. Through everything, however, God continues to instruct, teach, and lovingly counsel.

It’s hard to feel God’s loving eye in the midst of the turmoil, but you can see it clearly when you look back. What earth-shattering–or even just minorly-inconvenient–thing are you facing today that you wish was simply a bad April Fool’s joke? What is God trying to teach you through this time?

Patient Love

My novella, Patient Love—written last April in the midst of all the turmoil—is 50% off today (March 31, ’14, ebook edition)! Tomorrow, it returns to its regular price of $1.99 (ebook; $5.49 for the print edition).

Patient Love Smashwords (Nook, Apple, Sony, PDF)

Amazon (Kindle, Print)

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2 Simple Steps to Living a Full Life by Heather Hart

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Heather Hart

Life can be chaotic. As a full-time author, entrepreneur and mother of four, that can actually seem like an understatement to me at times, and that’s why one of my favorite Bible passages is Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).

I know all too well that living in chaos isn’t something unique to me. We all face it. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, a mother or a father. Whether you work outside the home, or stay home all day. Life is stressful.

Often times we go through life running from one activity or project to another without ever really feeling like we’ve accomplished something important. It’s kind of ironic how our everyday rut that we find un-interesting can be so action-packed and stressful, but it really does seem that way.

So why do we do it?

My original answer to that was because there were a lack of choices. It was my life and I had to live it. That’s just the way that it is. Have you ever felt that way?

God has been showing me and telling me repeatedly that that’s not what He wants for His children. Jesus came so that we could have life—and have it to the fullest (John 10:10). So how do we do that?

I want to share two factors that I’ve found key in living life to the fullest—filled with God’s peace.

#1. Know Your Purpose

Living a chaotic, stressful life is all about your state of mind. If we’re living just because we’re alive, we’re not living on purpose—and God created us for a purpose. If you want to live life to the fullest, you have to know what the purpose is. My pastor always says the Bible is very clear about what our purpose is. He says God created us to “Love God, Love others, and serve the world.”

There’s no need to ponder the meaning of life. God has already told us, He created us to love us. And if we love Him, we’ll love others the way He loves them and live like Christ. That’s our purpose. How we fulfil that purpose, on the other hand, is more unique to us.

God has placed each of us in our lives to love Him, love others and serve the world. I do that first by being a wife and mother, and then through my writing. I write devotions for teen girls, Bible studies for women, and books that help other authors successfully publish and market their books—but it’s important for me to remember that I do it all for the glory of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31).

When I’m trusting God with the outcome of the day and letting Him direct and establish my steps (Proverbs 20:24 and 16:9), it never feels quite so stressful. But consciously living for and trusting God is easier said than done. Which brings us to the next step to living life to the fullest.

#2. Remember to Live on Purpose

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2 – NIV)

Living on purpose is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute choice. I’ve found the best way to remember to live for Christ and give Him my troubles, is to write down my purpose and how I’m working to fulfil it. Having a visual reminder of the reason I live helps me to stay focused on it—to keep it in the forefront of my mind.

I recently updated the background of my computer with my purpose written out and some goals to help me live it (you could do the same by writing on a note card and carrying it with you, or posting it somewhere that you will see it multiple times each day). I also have two scriptures written with it. Galatians 5:6b (NIV), “…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” and 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Living on purpose can get you out of living life stuck in a chaotic, stressful rut. I challenge you to take a moment today to write out the purpose of your life and how God has called you specifically to fulfil that purpose. I’d love for you to share your answers in the comments below!

Note: If you are feeling stressed out, you might want to check out my post “Scriptures for When You’re Stressed.” You can find it on my website at:

Destress Your Life

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About Heather Hart

First and foremost a servant of Christ, Heather has a desire to share the love of Christ with other women and to help other authors successfully publish and market their books. She works hard writing and marketing both books for authors and faith-based books – and she has a ton of fun doing it! You can find a complete list of books by Heather Hart on the website she shares with her husband, Paul, at

Connect with Heather online in the following places:

Facebook |Twitter | GoodReads

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What An Author Needs The Most by Suzanne D. Williams

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Suzanne Williams

As a writer, there is only one type of person I need to do my job for – those who love me.

You see, I’ve written and sold books for two years now, and God has blessed me. I am extremely grateful and remind myself of His hand in my life every day. But in that period of time, I’ve learned that I don’t live for people’s opinions. After a story is edited and released, I don’t need anyone to tell me how it should have gone.

I’m not talking about learning my craft or not admitting you’ve made mistakes. Goodness knows, I make plenty and am always willing to face them. But I don’t have to spend one minute of my day listening to an unwarranted critique from someone who felt I “needed to know” what they have to say.

I don’t need to know. I only need to think about things that are “of good report.” (Php 4:8) This means I filter what goes in my ears and before my eyes and focus only on those who said I was great. Not out of pride or self-confidence, but instead, from a belief in my ability to write well, and boldness to stand tall and say, “I’m sorry. That story is exactly how I wanted it to be.”

I shrug off people who don’t “get” me and therefore, want to fit me into their mold. We are, after all, each of us unique. What makes you, you, is special and important, and here’s a truth – you don’t have to be like me. If you want to outline every story and plot all your points in advance, go for it. If you like complete sentences that follow the form and structure of precise grammar, have at it. If you excel at description and never have one word of dialogue, that’s super. I am now your biggest fan.

For that matter, if you have no one else cheering you on today, I am now your supporter. I believe in you. You can do this. You can finish that story, and people will read it and love it. It will sell better tomorrow than it did today. So what if that person said this or he or she remarked on that … toss the negatives out. Just like I don’t need some unknown person to tell me what I should’ve done, you don’t either.

Because half of writing is done on the size of the author’s confidence. Do you think Stephen King cares about bad reviews? Or Nora Roberts? Or any of the dozens of household names out there? I doubt it. Do you think they’re going to go back and rewrite that chapter simply because one person said it was this or that or the other? Puhlease. They’ve moved on.

So should you and I. Surround yourself with happy people who tell you every day how great you are, and next time someone pops up who wants to “help you out,” here’s a thought. Say NO and forget about it. You don’t need them. All you really need is to believe in yourself and know that all those who love you believe in you, too.


Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

To learn more about what she’s doing visit or link with her on Facebook at

PAINTED BRIDE (Best-Dressed #2)


Barnes & Noble – Painted Bride
KOBO – Painted Bride

As good as the first” – Reviewer

He rolled over on his side, facing her, and took her head in his hands. “You’re good at way more than pool. I don’t know why anyone ever rejected you, but I want to say this up front. No matter who you are, I want you here.”

“You keep talking like that and this’ll become real,” she replied.

He kissed her softly. “That’s what I’m hoping.”


Haydn Fabrinni, to everyone else, looks like a spoiled rich boy used to getting his way. And maybe part of that is true. Because late one night, upset over rumors of a proposal he doesn’t remember to a girl he doesn’t like, he makes the rashest decision ever.

He challenges a stranger, a woman obviously out to make a buck, to a game of pool, winner take all.

But his all is her hand in marriage. The perfect solution. Until what the two of them have becomes far more valuable than anything else, including the secrets of her past that threaten to tear it all apart.

A moving story of true love from best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, and the final installment of the Best-Dressed Series.

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CrossReads Book Blast: The Swaddling Clothes, Amber Schamel

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swaddling clothes

The Swaddling Clothes
By Amber Schamel

About the Book

Through the ages, many stories have been told about Mary, Joseph and the birth of the Messiah. Stories of shepherds and sheep, kings, angels, and stables. But there is one story that has never been told. One story that has remained hidden in the fabric of time. The story of The Swaddling Clothes.

Mentioned not once, but several times in the Scriptural text, what is the significance of these special cloths? And how did they make their way into a stable in Bethlehem? From the author that brought you the Days of Messiah series comes a whole new adventure critics are calling “intriguing…thought provoking… a fresh twist on an age old story.”

“I get tired of Bible stories sometimes, but The Swaddling Clothes brings the story to life.”

“Heartwarming… truly inspired. A story you will want to read again and again. Rich details and a suspenseful plot will keep you reading while giving you a glimpse of God’s wonderful power and His amazing love.”


Amber SchamelAmber Schamel is a multi-published author of Christian Historical Fiction. Her passion for history and culture has led her to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. Amber is actively involved in her church and enjoys volunteer work and music ministry. Raised in a family of twelve children and homeschooled throughout her education, she currently resides in the beautiful state of Colorado where she also serves as bookkeeper and marketing director for their family businesses. Find Amber on her blog, or on all the main social media sites.

Follow Amber Schamel

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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

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SPIRITUAL THEMES By Cathy Bryant, author of the Miller’s Creek Novels

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Cathy Bryant


Stephen King quote

For those of us who aspire to be inspirational fiction authors, we would do well to consider the above quote.

Our stories, for the most part, are the lie. They’re fragments of our life experiences and imaginations pasted together to create a fictional tale. While the stories we write are hopefully true-to-life, they’re not real.

However, inside every story, whether inspirational or not, is a nugget of truth. And as believers, we recognize truth as more than a concept. There is only one absolute, capital-T Truth, and His name is Jesus (John 14:6).

There seems to be a train of thought among some inspirational authors that I personally find disturbing. It’s the idea that fiction writing is solely for entertainment. While I want readers to enjoy, and be entertained by, my stories, that is not my primary motive for writing.

Instead we write for God, our words intended to lead others closer to Him. That’s why the spiritual themes of our stories are so critical.

I remember reading Christian author Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. I’d read the book of Hosea many times, but never did it impact me the same way after reading Mrs. Rivers’ book. I literally sobbed as I considered my own spiritual adultery and God’s unrelenting love for me in spite of my sin. I knew at that moment I wanted to impact this world through fiction.

Here are the spiritual themes of my stories.

In Texas Roads, the spiritual theme is finding true home. Though the main character longs to find a physical place to call home, by story’s end, she’s found Christ. I believe inside each of us is a home-sized hole only God can fill. He wants to make His home with us. He longs to be our dwelling and abiding place.

For A Path Less Traveled, I wove in the topic of faith in action. The heroine struggles to raise her traumatized son after the tragic death of her husband, but her faith has been shaken. There’ve been times in my life when the Lord stretched my faith. Only as I leaned on Him in full dependence, could I truly understand how dependable He is.

The Way of Grace tells the story of a justice-seeking perfectionist. She leans toward legalism and truly believes a perfect life is within her grasp. Only after she falls from perfection at the manipulation of another can she truly realize her need for a gracious and loving Savior.

In Pilgrimage of Promise, the main character struggles with a broken promise of the man she loves. Through the course of the book, she learns that in spite of the human propensity to be unfaithful, God is always faithful to keep His promises. In fact, all God’s promises are ‘yes’ in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The next book in the series, due to release Spring 2014 is A Bridge Unbroken. We usually have no trouble with minor annoyances and grievances, but how do we truly forgive someone for malicious and unwarranted attacks against us? How do we love our enemies even when they continue their hurtful behavior? Only as we recognize what we’ve been forgiven, can we forgive others.

My prayer for Christian writers is that we’ll give the spiritual themes of our stories the utmost importance for the purpose of impacting our world for God’s Kingdom. Our Truth inside our lies/stories deserves nothing less than first place.


The Miller's Creek Novels

Cathy loves spinning grace-filled tales about the fictional town of Miller’s Creek, Texas, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth’s porch beckons. Home, faith, grace, and promise, make up the spiritual content of the first four Miller’s Creek Novels. The next book in the series, A Bridge Unbroken, deals with forgiveness and is scheduled to release Spring 2014. To learn more about Cathy and the Miller’s Creek Novels, visit her at and the other site links below.

Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | G+ | YouTube

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4 Creative Ways to Find an Illustrator by Corine Hyman

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Corine Hyman

4 Creative Ways to Find an Illustrator 

As a children’s author of several picture books, one of the most common questions I get is how to find an illustrator.  Over the course of my publishing career I have found several creative and affordable ways to find an illustrator.













I found the illustrator for my first book, Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time, through Craigslist.  I posted several ads on Craigslist under the gig section (if you post it under the job section, there is a fee associated with the ad in most cities) detailing what I was looking for.   To my amazement, several hundred applied.  After asking for work samples, discussing fees, and timelines, I picked an illustrator that met my needs in California.













For my second book, My Journey with Jesus Christ, I turned to Linkedin.  Linkedin has several groups dedicated to author and illustrators.  For this book, I only needed a cover design because I realized the stock cover from Createspace was one of the reasons the book was not selling.  Unlike my first book, I did not post an ad.  Instead, I was impressed by someone’s book cover and asked for a recommendation. Since changing the cover for this book, sales have increased by over 300%.



My third book, Why I Give – An Activity Book, I turned to my family.  One of my nieces loves to draw. However, I was not aware of how talented she was until she began to post her drawings on facebook.  I decided to talk to her about this book, and after getting permission from her mom (she is only 13) she agreed to illustrate it. I could not be happier with the results.




The illustrator for my latest book, What is Love, was found via Fiverr.  In case you don’t know what Fiverr is; it is a unique site where people offer different services, including illustrations for five dollars.  However, the catch to this site is that most illustrators charge per illustration and charge more for extras like coloring or the right to the image.  Evenwith all the extras I was charged on Fiverr, the illustrations were still a great deal.

Other places you may want to look for illustrators are:

Sites that specialize in providing a directory of illustrators


• The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators offers online portfolios of hundreds of illustrators with a wide variety of styles. (It is a membership site with a $60 fee.)

•  Children’s

The Directory of Illustration

Freelancer sites


That is all for now, please continue to pray for me as I pray for you,


You can learn more about me by visiting


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