Submission Guidelines

Thanks for wanting to share your story and creativity with Velvet Ashes!

We are a community of women living and serving abroad–and we would love for you to offer your words here. We’ll be richer for hearing from you.

We believe truth and hope are best shared through story. And the power of story lies in authentic vulnerability fueled by love. As you prepare a post for Velvet Ashes you may want to read What is Velvet Ashes, We are Women Who, and Responsible, Ethical Storytelling. Poke around to get a sense for what this community is all about.

Each week we have a word prompt or theme that serves to center our stories. The questions and suggestions following each prompt are merely ideas to get you going. Feel free to take your own unique angle on the prompt.

Hidden (due March 27): There can be internal and external pressure to “have it all together” as overseas workers, and this can lead to isolation and shame. We want to handle the topic of what we hide with care and compassion. Perhaps you wonder if it’s all worth it and you are afraid to say that outloud. Maybe you wonder if you are ruining your children but aren’t sure who to tell. What do you do with the hidden fears, doubts, thoughts? What has the role of accountability played in your life? How has God’s light shone into the hidden areas of your heart? 

Beyond Myself (due April 8)This is Retreat week. While it is a week that we focus on ourselves in many ways as we rest and process, we also want to push outside of ourselves to the ways that God is at work around us. Think about Philippians 3 and Paul’s example of pressing on toward the goal of knowing Christ. How does this Scripture passage help you keep things in perspective? How are you celebrating God’s faithfulness and strength in your lives?

Beyond Joy (due April 15)Unfortunately, not all of life takes place on the mountain tops. The challenge comes when we strive for joy in the everyday, in the ordinary, in the challenging times. How have you seen joy sustained in your life? Especially when you come back from a big event, special occasion, or restful time like the retreat, how do you come down from the mountain top and keep the joy and/or momentum going? 

Mothering (due April 29)We are not all mothers, but we have the opportunity to be safe, trustworthy adults in the lives of the kiddos around us. Perhaps it is as a teacher, as an auntie, or key role model. What does mothering look like in your current life season? Do you have a story of an adult that was an important mother figure in your life? There are examples in Scripture of the mothering attributes of God (like the mother hen in Psalm 91) What do those mean to you? 

Village (due May 6)It takes a village, doesn’t it? Whether we are raising our children in another country, serving as honorary auntie as part of a team, or looking at all the people around us who are part of our journey, we want to celebrate the interconnectedness of our lives. Tell us about a time when your “village” was incredibly important. Or share a humorous story. Have you ever had too many voices from your village speaking at once?

Disciple (due May 13)We have the amazing privilege of following in the footsteps of Jesus and inviting others to do the same. What pictures come to mind when you think about the term disciple? How does this term resonate with you as you think about your current season or life on the field? 

Cynical (due May 20)Definition of cynical from the American Heritage Dictionary: “Negative or pessimistic, as from world-weariness.” World-weariness can creep into our lives, can’t it? Our retreat this year also mentioned that cynicism is “losing the antibodies of hope to offer the world”. Can you identify areas in your ministry where cynicism may be creeping in? What ways have you found to combat cynicism? 

Transition: Going (due May 27)We take time to talk about transition every year at Velvet Ashes because it is such a constant in our lives. Let’s have fun with these transition weeks! Each week, we would love to have one of you write a letter to yourself in this week’s stage. So for this week, write a letter to yourself as you were going to the field. What would you want to remind that transitioning self? What does she need to hold on to? Or, choose a word that describes that season in your overseas life. Why is that the word you would use? 

Transition: Arriving (due June 3)Ah, the honeymoon period! Everything feels sparkly and exciting and adventurous. What would you want to remind or tell that freshly arrived self about this time? (We’d love to have one “Dear Newly Arrived Me” letter for this week) Was your arrival sparkly and fun and wonderful? Or not so much? Tell us some of the humorous/embarrassing/ hard parts of your arrival to the field.

Transition: Leaving/Returning (due June 10)Are you in the thick of leaving and re-entry? What has been the most helpful for you? If you are a little farther down the road, what do you wish you would have known about this aspect of transition? (We would love to have one “Dear Returning Me” type letter).

Your submission should:

  • Be in the neighborhood of 600-900 words.
  • Be submitted as a Word doc or docx only.
  • Include your name and the title of your post in the document itself as well as in the doc title (example: Sarah Doe – Post Title Here.doc). We do accept pseudonyms as required by context or location.
  • Be original content. We publish content that has not been published elsewhere, including personal blogs.
  • Be aware that essays for online publication need only one space after periods/full stops. This will save us loads of time in the editing process.
  • Conclude with a reflective question to invite conversation in the comments.
  • Include a headshot and personal bio. Headshots should be attached (not in the body of your submission) and no larger than 600 x 600 px. Bios should be 100 words or less, telling us a bit about you, but mostly drawing readers to feel a connection to you. Please include all your social media hyperlinks so that readers can connect with you and so we can tag you when we share your post.

Please send your submission to Laura at: submissions (at) velvetashes (dot) com

We do have limited spots available. If your essay is not chosen for publication, we happily encourage you to share it with our community by linking up at The Grove the week of that theme.

If selected for publication, posts may be edited for length and clarity. At this time, we do not offer compensation for published work.

We look forward to reading and prayerfully considering your piece. If you don’t hear from us immediately, please don’t be alarmed. We’ll be in touch!

Thank you for the gift of your story,

– The Velvet Ashes Team