by Jenny Fulton
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—”
Like much else in life, my writing journey has gone through seasons. These seasons have often correlated with my personal life.
The Newsletter Season. I was single, traveling overseas, and keeping people updated on my work and adventures.
The Weekly Contest Season. Still single, I was stepping into the public writing sphere for the first time. To help me learn, I submitted short stories to a weekly contest at Faithwriters.com.
Freelancing. I was married and my first child was a year old. I decided to step away from teaching in order to be home with her, but still wanted something to keep my mind busy. With my husband’s encouragement, I ventured into freelance writing to see if I was a good enough writer to get paid for it. For the next four years I focused solely on writing for other people.
Children’s Books. It began in January 2019. My biggest freelancing project was winding down and my thoughts turned to ideas for my own work. But between my other freelance projects and taking care of my now five-year-old, two-year-old, and newborn, did I have the time and energy to pursue them?
A conversation with Jasma Starks, a college friend now fellow writer-mom gave me the push I needed. We were discussing our writing endeavors. At one point I shared my dilemma. “I have some ideas for my own books but don’t feel like I have the time to develop them right now. I guess that’s why I’m focusing more on helping other people develop their ideas with the goal of developing my own once the kids get older. I think the idea of having to search out a publisher for my own work is a little intimidating as well.”
Jasma would have none of my excuses. “Of course you have time. Do it little by little. Invest in your work.”
Her words challenged me to take another look at my time and how I was spending it. If I did pursue my own work, where should I start? The idea of jumping into novel writing felt overwhelming. I didn’t have large chunks of time to dedicate to reading and writing such extended work. But I did have shorter spurts in which I could write short stories – children’s stories. I read a lot of picture books to my girls, so I was definitely immersed in the genre. I went through my Faithwriters contest entries and found a favorite character I’d been wanting to develop and write more stories around. My first children’s books centered around her – Zoe the Fairy. She is a rambunctious, imaginative, and misunderstood child whose creative world alternately gets her into trouble and helps her better understand and function in the real world. I wrote a few stories around her and tried to find an agent to represent them. Nothing took hold.
In December 2020, my grandpa had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. My mom kept us updated. “He’s ready to go home,” she told us. A video she later sent us confirmed it. I’ve never seen someone so patiently and eagerly awaiting his call into heaven. Shortly after watching the video, I sat down to process the bittersweet feelings of seeing someone I loved preparing to leave this world. As is often the case, I processed by writing. The first version of the story centered around Zoe and how her imagination might help her come to understand such an event. I submitted this version as an entry to the Faithwriters writing challenge and received some positive feedback. That spring and summer, I revised it to fit into picture book parameters and added it to my submissions. Again, nothing panned out.
In June 2020, I came across Laura Bartnick with Capture Books. Our conversations began around a different potential writing project, but I eventually submitted my picture books and asked if they’d be interested in publishing any of them. She loved the one about grandpa and offered me a contract. With her help, I came to see that the story was better suited for Zoe’s older sister, Lillian, who had a quieter and more gentle nature. We homed in on the themes and before long, the book was ready.
The book, Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and available upon request at local bookstores and libraries.
My season of writing and publishing the work God has put in my heart is now in full swing, and I can’t wait to see where He takes it next.
Jenny Fulton is a wife, mother, children’s book author, YA fantasy author, blogger, and freelance writer with a B.S. in Bible, a B.S. in elementary education, and an endorsement in K-12 ESL. After graduating from Grace University in 2007, Jenny worked as a teacher in a variety of cultural and educational settings, both abroad and in the United States. She is a storyteller, a follower of Christ, and a seeker of truth.
An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Jenny grew up hearing stories from her dad about the supernatural workings on the Navajo Reservation. As a child, she collected angels and loved anything related to fairy tales.
Her days are now mostly spent raising her three young daughters (homeschooling two of them) and writing as much as time and opportunity allows.
Jenny is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Faithwriters.com, and is an author with Capture Books.
Book Blurb for Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye
Can two worlds exist at the same time?
Little Princess Lillian learns the spiritual world can interact with the physical. A Navajo heritage mother and a Caucasian father use imaginary to explain a reality to their daughter, how heaven reaches down to earth as the young girl observes her grandpa awaiting his entrance into his eternal home.
In a deeply Native American Indian and Christian tradition, an intimate celebration of a loved one’s passing occurs as a family says good-bye to a man eager to meet his best friend, the King Above All Nations.