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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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 Featured Anthology

A Cup of Comfort for Writers



Every writer published or unpublished, has met many roadblocks--not limited to writer's block and rejection letters.  The new release A Cup of Comfort for Writers features more than fifty writers who share the passion, unrest and joy their craft can cause them--from the woman who enters the an elite writing program at the age of forty and proceeds to "blow" the pros away, to the husband who wins his wife's affection by writing her love letters.  This collection will inspire readers to keep the faith and keep writing.



An interview with the editor of A Cup of Comfort for Writers,

 Colleen Sell


By Amy L Jenkins


AJ:  I understand you’ve been editing anthologies for quite some time now.  How did you get started?


CS: The first anthology I compiled and edited was the flagship volume in the Cup of Comfort series, which I started working on in November 1999. It was released in September 2001. Paula Munier, who was then an acquisitions editor at Adams Media and is now the director of inovation, developed the series and approached me about being the editor. I'd edited several books for Adams Media prior to that, and Paula and I have been colleagues for many years. She was familiar with my work, including as a magazine editor, which is similar to compiling and editing an anthology in that it involves soliciting, vetting, and editing speculative submissions. She also knew I had studied literary journalism (creative nonfiction), write personal essays, and am a fan of memoir. When she contacted me about the project, her first words were, "We need an editor for a new book series, and you're perfect for the job." I'll never forget it, and I will be forever grateful to Paula for hiring me to produce the Cup of Comfort books. It's hands-down the best job of my life.



AJ:  What does the Cup of Comfort series mean to your readers?  Have you received any memorable responses you’d like to share?


CS: We've received hundreds of letters and emails from people who have enjoyed and been touched by the stories in the Cup of Comfort book series. Most people tell us how a particular story struck a chord with and touched them, usually because it was about a personal challenge or loss or blessing or life lesson or simple joy that they, too, had experienced. Life is tough, but it is also precious, and most people derive great comfort from knowing that they're not alone, that someone else has walked in their shoes and understands not only their sorrows and troubles but also the joys and blessings in their lives. It's all about making human-to-human, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul connections.


One of the most memorable reader emails is this one, which I received on September 12, 2001:

"I would like to take a minute to thank you for your wonderful book. The day after a national tragedy, I was unsure how to deal with my grief. I brought the book to work, hoping for a small time to read. I have been able to sit here most of the morning and cry. Your book has helped me to work through my feelings about the tragic events of yesterday. I am ready to talk and listen about what happened, all to the comforting stories in your book. Again, thank you for understanding the need to be comforted from time to time." ~ Robin Coker

We've also received numerous letters such as these:

"I loved A Cup of Comfort. It is that -- and thought-provoking. A Cup of Comfort was introduced to me by a friend who had recently lost her husband of 55 years. She said reading the book helped her begin each day." ~ Margaret Gunn


"Thank you for publishing such uplifting books. While my reading choices are eclectic, I am always drawn to books that promise to make my day a little brighter." ~ Andrea Martin

And I'm also amazed and pleased to receive fan letters from around the globe, such as this one:

"I'm a freshman in Jilin University, Northeast China. About 3 weeks ago, my classmate recommended a marvelous book to me ... A Cup of Comfort. I am deeply moved by the stories by the kindhearted authors. My dream is to do just as this series of books by your press [has done]: help others." ~ Yuanzheng

AJ:  What might an experienced or novice writer gain from reading A Cup of Comfort for Writers?


CS: That we all -- we writers of all genres and all levels of experience -- go through the same processes and emotions. That writing isn't the  "lonely" and grueling experience some claim it to be, and that, indeed, it is a worthy, satisfying, and often joyous endeavor. That it's not only about pleasing a publisher and selling copies; it's also, and more importantly, about creativity and self-expression and contributing something of value to the world. That you can follow your muse AND have a life. That writing isn't merely a job or a hobby, it's an essential part of who you are -- as necessary to writers as eating and sleeping and breathing. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, reading these stories will make you feel like part of a community of people who really "get" and appreciate who you are and what you do.


AJ: If a writer would like to be published in the Cup of Comfort series, what advice would you offer them?


CS: Read a few of the Cup of Comfort books. Study the guidelines. Then write an authentic and honest story about a personal experience that had a profound impact on you (or someone you know) and that reveals an uplifting or inspiring (or both) universal truth in a personal and distinctive way. It is absolutely true that all the stories have already been told; but no one has told your story your way. The keys to getting published in A Cup of Comfort is to tell a really great story in a compelling and personal way -- and then rewrite and revise and edit until it is as tight and polished as you can make it.


AJ: Do you have any parting words for our readers?


CS:  Though few writers ever achieve "rich and famous" status, most of us appreciate getting paid and acknowledged for our work. Being published in a popular book series such as A Cup of Comfort looks good on the resume and puts at least a little moolah in your pocket. But writing and publishing the kind of stories published in A Cup of Comfort comes with additional rewards. First, there is reward in the writing process itself -- in telling a story that's close to your heart in a creative way. Even more rewarding, though, is publishing such a story in a book with a large audience, such as Cup of Comfort, and having your story "warm the hearts, lift the spirits, or enrich the lives" of the people who read it. As many Cup of Comfort contributors have told me, that is a very good feeling and something to be proud of.


AJ: Thank you Colleen. 



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