Higher Ground

Have you ever had a song to snuggle up and breathe new life into your flagging spirit? No? Well, maybe it just happens to me. 🙂

When a song enters my heart and mind there’s no getting away from it until I read it, sing it, and study it. Past experience has taught me that somewhere in the lyrics is the inspiration for my next steps.

For the past three months, I’ve had a head full of songs. The one I want to share with you today is an oldie but goodie. Written by Johnson Oatman Jr. in 1898 “Higher Ground” has been a favorite for many generations.

Higher Ground

I'm pressing on the upward way, 
New heights I'm gaining ev'ry day;  
Still praying as I onward bound,  
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
Refrain- Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith, on heaven's tableland 
A higher plane than I have found; 
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 KJV).

2-My heart has no desire to stay 
Where doubts arise and fears dismay 
Though some may dwell where these abound 
My prayer, my aim is higher ground.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2).

3-I want to live above the world, 
Though Satan's darts at me are hurled; 
For faith has caught the joyful sound, 
The song of saints on higher ground.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1 KJV).

4-I want to scale the utmost height 
And catch a gleam of glory bright; 
But still I'll pray till heav'n I've found, 
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1 KJV).

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Caleb. After fighting for forty years, he stood before Joshua, a man of eighty, and asked for his mountain (Joshua 14:10-13). Judges 1:20 tells us that he took that mountain.

Take heart, fellow sojourner. We are created for higher ground. His plan and purpose make it possible for us to scale the “utmost heights” of this life. Many have gone on before us with the Lord’s help. And he will lead us to higher ground if only we have the heart and courage to follow.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay

Great Things

The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad (Psalm 126:3).

After two months of changes, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so thankful for the peace of autumn mornings.

This past weekend I prayed for strength. You know what? The Lord answered my prayer. He filled me with His joy. I can see the colors of autumn as they are meant to be seen. With a heart full of thanksgiving.

To celebrate all the good things (Not circumstances.) the Lord has done for us, I made a loaf of banana bread and a batch of apple butter.

How are you celebrating the goodness of God in your life? What do you see when looking at the seasonal changes? Take time to relax, let go, and celebrate. The Lord has done great things. Just look around you!

Author Stephanie A. Daniels Part 2

Good morning! Last week, author Stephanie Daniels talked about the Kindle Vella Library. I’m excited about this new platform because it’s another way to share Christian fiction. Want to know more and how you can access new stories? Let’s get started.

Readers

Despite its name, you can’t actually read Kindle Vella stories on your Kindle. Bummer, I know. On Apple devices, you can read it on the Kindle app or through your web browser. On any other device, you need to access Vella through your web browser (though I think I’ve been told it can be found on the Kindle app on some Android devices).

1) The first three episodes of every Vella story are free to read. But you do need an Amazon account, and Vella will ask you to sign in before you can read stories.

2) Follow stories you enjoy. This does two things: it helps the author’s story to be more visible on the site, and it notifies (on some devices) readers when a new episode releases.

 3) There is a thumbs-up button at the end of each episode. Click it, so it turns blue (if you liked it) and it will tell the author you enjoyed what you read. There will be a thumbs-up button at the end of EVERY episode. Clicking that each time (if you enjoyed it) can really help the author.

 4) First-time readers on Vella will be able to redeem 200 free tokens. The key in the corner is where you can redeem them. Those will unlock additional episodes for the stories you enjoy. For my story, in addition to the first free episodes, you can use the free tokens to unlock the next ten. That means you can read thirteen episodes without spending any money.

5) Tokens: The number of tokens needed per episode is based on 1/100 of the word count. Most of my episodes cost between 20-27 tokens because my episodes are usually between 2000 to 2700 words long. Amazon always gives you a greater value the more you spend. Depending on how much you plan to read on Vella, purchasing more tokens at the outset is often the best way to get the most for your money.

Story Link

I will be releasing at least 52 episodes (possibly a few more, and not likely more than 60). So 30-40 episodes in addition to the 20 already posted. If readers purchase the 1100 tokens for $9.99 and use those exclusively on my story, then that will purchase (using a 30 token average) about 36 episodes in addition to the 13 free episodes. But that’s a high average which also means readers will likely have leftover tokens to check out other stories if they so choose. If this were in book form, that would be a 350+ page book. And the bonus with Vella is getting to read all my behind-the-scenes author notes.

6) Crowns/Faves: This feature will not work while redeeming free tokens. After you’ve purchased tokens, Vella will ask you each week which story is your favorite. You must be following a story to pick it as a fave/favorite. Stories that have the most votes as a favorite are awarded a crown. Vella ranks the top 250 stories so readers can see which stories are the most popular. Fave votes expire on Saturday, so if you don’t choose a favorite story before then, it expires, and you must wait to vote again when the next week starts. There are thousands of stories on the platform right now, and the search feature is still unreliable, so every bit of notice a Christian story can get by being voted a favorite and receiving a crown from Amazon helps others to find it.

7) Reviews: Just like for books, you can leave a review for a story—even before the story is completed if you so choose.

8) Share: As with anything online these days, Vella allows you to share the story link to Facebook, Twitter, or in an email. You can also copy and paste the link to other places.

Authors

Thank you for that reader information, Stephanie. Now, would you explain to the authors about posting and payment?

When to Post

There are two options for authors. Completed stories and ongoing. This means an author can post all their episodes at once or post them one episode at a time. Technically, my story is complete, but I’ve opted to post an episode at a time to incorporate feedback from my critique partners as I go along.

Authors decide how often to release an episode. Some release episodes daily, weekly, or less often. Amazon reviews each episode for up to 72 hours before allowing the episode to go live. They may or may not always take the full 72 hours.

There is a scheduling function that allows you to schedule your episodes ahead. You decide which day of the week you’d prefer to release. I post earlier in the week because readers have until Saturday to vote for a favorite, giving them several days to read before deciding on a story to vote for. Others strategize that later in the week is a better time to post because the story is fresh in their minds.

Caution: You can’t put a previously published work on Vella. Even if it’s a story you’ve been putting on your blog. If it’s been released for public access, Amazon may not catch on right away, but they’ll discover it eventually and block it.

How to Post

First, I would advise that if you plan to traditionally publish, that you think carefully about publishing on Kindle Vella. It is a paid platform, so it could reduce your chances to get a publishing contract elsewhere.

Otherwise, this link at KDP Publishing gives great step-by-step instructions on how you can start a story there. And I am always happy to answer any questions any readers or writers might have. I don’t consider myself a tech wizard, but I didn’t have a great deal of problems getting started.

Another thing that will take getting used to is that Kindle Vella stories are not formatted like regular books. They don’t indent paragraphs and only allow regular, bold, or italic font. No pretty scene breaks here. The standard *** or — will have to suffice, although I have seen a few stories that used special characters that they were able to import. Make a change in your story along the way? You can edit any episode that has gone live or is in draft. But any changes will have to be reviewed. The episode in its current state will still be able to be read as is until the changes are accepted.

Payment

This is the difficult part to break down and is also explained better in the link above. Some of this is time-sensitive because, at the time of this post, Amazon is paying Kindle Vella authors for any free tokens redeemed on their stories. But they’ve said only until this December. Whether that means the free tokens will only be available for that long, or that Amazon will only pay authors for the free tokens until then, I can’t say.

Royalties are based on about half of what an episode costs in tokens. But there are other variables that factor in. Amazon also awards bonuses that seem to be based on the number of story followers, liked episodes, the featured banner, featured on tags, and being on the faves. The higher the visibility it seems, the bigger the bonuses.

Reports for earnings have released on the 15th of the month, and payment at the end of the month, but 60 days from your posting month. So if you start a story in October, it will be December before you’re paid. I believe it is on the same schedule as their other KDP payments. I want to again say, I’m happy to answer any questions about this new platform. I’ll be checking the comments for any questions.

Thank you, Stephanie, for all your hard work!

So, what do you think about the new Vella? Yay or nay? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Stephanie Daniels is a Christian homeschool mom and author who writes faith-filled historical fiction for young adults and the young at heart. She lives in southwest Missouri with her husband and three sons. Her first published work, The Uncertainty of Fire, is available exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle Vella. 

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