Ink & Soul

In Which I Interview Author & Literary Agent Blythe Daniel
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 This post makes me happy, because the person in this post makes me happy.There's nothing better than putting a good book into the world. Unless, of course, you're the actual person who helps to put good books into the whole. To put a good book into the world and to be putting good books in the world—it's almost kind of a superpower.It's literally saving the world, one good story at a time.blythe-and-mom-768x614I'm excited to introduce to you Blythe Daniel—author, literary agent, and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. Blythe has represented authors associated with Focus on the Family, Proverbs 31 Ministries, The Huffington Post, Today Show Parenting, and more. She has partnered with Harvest House, Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, and Zondervan, and has helped to campaign published books, such as The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, Breaking Busy by Allie Worthington, and Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman.mended-book.jpgBlythe, along with her mother Dr. Helen McIntosh, has authored Mended, a book that speaks into the healing and rebuilding of relationships between mothers and daughters.Of this, I've had the incredible opportunity to dive deep into, curious with questions about Blythe's writing process, what it looked like to be working to represent and champion the words of others all the while harboring the dream to write Mended, and what advice Blythe has for those wanting to write books of their own.Grab the hottest, deepest cup of coffee (or tea, if you're like me). Listen and lean in—the words in your heart just might depend on it.Rachel Kang: When did you first feel the pull inside your heart to write Mended?Blythe Daniel: Wow, like for years? Does that count?! Mom and I had talked several years ago about writing a book about mother-daughter relationships but we had a good relationship (made stronger by the effort we put into it) and [thought] that people wouldn’t just want to hear that but the harder moments as well. It was timing that God brought together, actually. Right before the start of 2017, we outlined the book and our publisher came to me (since I’m a literary agent) and asked if I had any clients writing about mother-daughter relationships. I told her about ours and she asked me to send it! So that’s how God brought it all together.RK: What did your writing rhythms look like while working on Mended?BD: Oh boy, this wasn’t an ordinary season for us nor was our writing rhythms. Just after we signed our contract and started thinking about the book, Mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She started chemotherapy and I was traveling that summer to writer’s conferences and to see her. She would go to her computer to type on days that she felt well enough to do so. Because of the intense time for our family and subsequent hospital stays that Mom had, we didn’t get to work on it like we thought we would. We were given a year to write it, but honestly, we really didn’t start writing it until a few months before it was due. I would sit in the hospital with Mom and listen and type while she gave me deliciously good content to type into the chapters. Then I’d stay up and weave in some of my stories and start the process over again the next day. We live over 1,300 miles apart but we did most of our writing when I visited her at Christmas 2017 and early 2018 before turning it in. The good news is that we had more time to develop it after our wonderful editor gave us her initial feedback. From there, we spent another couple of months of back-and-forth edits and that was a tighter schedule of reading and revising but I loved the editing phase as much as the writing phase—if not more, I’m wired that way!RK: As a literary agent, how did you juggle supporting writers in their dreams and journeys, all the while knowing you had a message in your heart to share too?BD: Good question! I wanted to write all the years I have been investing in the dreams of others, but I just had a sense it wasn’t my season yet. I knew that with raising young children and working, I didn’t have the time or the sense of what my unique offering would be. But when God was so faithful to bring the opportunity to us, I just knew it was Him. And, after Mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma and we had this book in front of us, I just said out loud one day, from my beliefs: “God, I know you would not have called us to write this book if Mom were not going to be here for it.” I knew that’s just not the way God operates and so I knew that she would be okay with her cancer diagnosis and we would continue to write and talk about our book. And she has had greater challenges than we could have imagined post-chemo and with Parkinson’s but our relationship has deepened further and we actually added a chapter to the outline that we didn’t expect based on this journey (Chapter 11: Do Hard Things Together).RK: What were the challenges and joys of co-writing Mended?BD: The challenges and joys at the same time were what to include in the book that would resonate with the reader and would be balanced well with practical truths and personal stories. We wanted to share from our stories but also encourage readers with practical things they can implement. It really came together so beautifully with what Mom had to share and then I’d fill in with my thoughts. We bounced off each other and we are grateful that it was smooth and came together as thoughtfully as we could have envisioned. It was work, yes, but it wasn’t labor-intensive. It wasn’t difficult to write. And I think that’s the difference when God is in a message that’s His versus us trying to drive a message. << Tweet that! It’s listening carefully and praying and being in His Word as you write so that you can hear from Him.[gallery ids="2230,2236,2229" type="rectangular"]RK: How did you balance honoring the story of Mended while honoring your family's story?BD: You know, we did think through, “Is this honoring of Mom (my grandmother),” or “Is this sharing too much but also sharing enough?” We didn’t want to hide anything from the reader and so we tried to be as honest as we could while still honoring my grandmother’s life and the life and love between Mom and me. We didn’t have to work too hard to do this because we had been in a place of healing from our wounds. So I think there was wisdom in waiting to write this book when we could share what we have seen and experienced without being too far away from it but also not too close to it. So it was a balanced timing and approach of what and how to share.RK: How did you know that the message of Mended was one that God intended and not just something you wanted to pursue?BD: It was interesting hearing from a few moms and daughters that we had shared with that we were writing and they said to us, “That’s such a need,” or “You need to write that book.” We felt like God had placed it on our hearts at a strategic time for us—God had shared with me about a year prior to be intentional in writing this with Mom—and we didn’t know what type of response we would receive, but we decided to put ourselves out there and write. So many times I think writers feel like it all has to line up, and in some ways it does. But when you can identify a need and speak to it in a way that others haven’t, that to me is when you have the green light to share from your unique experience. To pursue writing and position yourself in front of readers in various ways ahead of time to prepare for when the book will be in print is key.RK: What advice would you give to beginning writers that dream of writing a book?BD: Don’t feel rushed to write. Take some time to sit with what is brewing in you. Give it over to the Lord as you think about it: Lord, this is yours and if you want me to write it, show me when and how and how open I need to be about the message and the process. You know what this is to look like. I would start, not just thinking about your story/message, but how you are reaching and could reach the intended reader. Start putting those building blocks into place now; it will make it much easier when the time comes to publish your book. Connect early with the reader so he or she feels connected to you.


Mended_author_headshotBlythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She is a speaker for writer’s conferences and writer for publications. She links bloggers with readers through BlogAbout. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren.To learn more about Blythe Daniel, Dr. Helen McIntosh, or their book Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, visit www.ourmendedhearts.com.For questions on non-fiction and/or fiction submissions or to connect, visit www.theblythedanielagency.com—tap the contact tab to see info on submissions.You can also connect with Blythe on Facebook and Instagram, and Dr. Helen on Facebook and Instagram.

Your Words Matter (even when it doesn't look or feel like it)
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I'd toss my iPhone into the ocean and live off of handwritten letters and emails typed on computers for the rest of my life if I could.There is something about communication that is lengthy and takes a long time. Drawn out response time, carefully chosen words and phrases. The waiting. The anticipation. The angst. The trust. The thrill.Why, yes, email—you have my heart.The following is my response to a dear friend and follower. I thought I'd take what I shared with her and share it with other as well. I love it when questions like hers come through in email.May the sentiments sink in deep, deep, deep.PS: Feel free to comment below or email me with your questions on writing or being a want-to-be writer.—A,Girl. Thank you for giving me some time to wrap back around to this email.I stinking love emails. I love getting them and sending them. And I love emails like this one. I love sitting on them...ruminating a bit. Gathering my thoughts and sharing them full.First of all, thank you. Thank you for taking your honest heart and bringing it here. Thank you for trusting me...for feeling safe to share what you did. But also for trusting that I might have something worthwhile to say. I'm humbled. Honored. Encouraged. Spurred on. The list goes on. Adore you, truly.If the stars aligned and you and I were in breathing distance from each other, latte in hand and all, I'd be pretty happy too—swaping stories and talking life.Until then, here's this. Your question:I was wondering if you could pass on one bit of advice to a novice writer. The you five or ten years ago who was just venturing out in this uncertain world of creativity. What do you do when you put something you created out there, and it doesn't get the response you want? How do you deal with the disappointment and the shame after being vulnerable and then getting no reception? I know my worth doesn't hinge on the views, the likes or the comments I get. But it's still anxiety-inducing and disappointing nonetheless.A,I read an Instagram post by writer and author Ally Fallon. I love what she said about the younger version of herself."Watching all the #10yearchallenge posts has made me feel a little defensive of these younger versions of us—these extra rosy-cheeked human beings who were misguided in some ways, sure, but also trying and failing and so [explicit] brave to get up and do it all again, and again and again. There are a lot of things I could say about 25-year-old Allison. She was naive and hurting and didn’t know how to talk about what she needed or who she was. But she was also sweet and funny and loyal as hell and a fighter of the best variety. The kind of friend you want on your side. Not all that much has changed, when I think about it."And so, I want to start off by saying that this is exactly how I feel about me from ten years ago. I was a stumbling mess trying to figure out life and figure out myself. And I was writing my way through the mess. Maybe I was brave for sharing the words that came from that season. Brave, or crazy. But I did it anyway.And I'm so glad that I did.To be honest, me from ten years ago remembers when writing Facebook notes was all the rage. It was a momentary fad that is reminiscent of Instagram, sans the carefully curated graphics and pretty photos.I had written a couple of notes and, really, I wrote them for the sake of creative expression and not so much to be read by others. But when I saw that others enjoyed reading them, it began to change the way I thought and felt about writing and sharing my writing.Through it all, there is one thing I did, without fail, every time I wrote.I prayed before I hit publish.Not because I'm some super saint. But because I knew I needed to. I knew how deep the root of insecurity was wrapped within me—how wide it spread in thought throughout my brain.Through all of the many changes that Facebook has brought throughout the years, one thing has remained the same—the tiny red notification alert that flashes on your homepage when someone likes or comments on something you've posted.

I hated how my worth became attached to the number of likes and comments that I got. So I prayed before hitting publish. And when I say that I prayed, I mean that I prayed.I didn't just whisper under my breath high hopes for God to bless me.I got on my actual hands and knees and I put my forehead to the floor. And I wailed. And I cried. And sobbed. And I pleaded. I pleaded, not because God needed to hear me begging, but because I....me...I needed to cry it out. I needed to pour until the burden and the brokenness in me released from within. I wrestled there, on the ground, confessing the ugly in me...listing every insecurity, every time. Listing every lie and every haughty dream that was born from thoughts other than those that might glorify Him.I asked God to take my ugly eyes off of the numbers. I asked him to kill the part of me that fed ravishly off of the words of others. And, instead, I asked for him to fill me with every confidence so that who I was in Him, before Him, with Him, because of Him would always be all that I'd need.I dared not hit publish until I could trust that I had fully relinquished every part of my writing heart into His hands.When the comments came, and the notifications flooded my feed, and even when they didn't, I no longer saw it as the result of me doing or not doing something right. I saw it as God using words, written by my hand, to move and work in the hearts and lives of real people with real souls behind real computer screens.Because of this, my writing became less about showcasing myself and more about serving others.I don't think that prayer is the end all when it comes to writing—there is obviously much more to say when it comes to learning and perfecting the artcraftdiscipline, and (dare I say) business of writing.But, perhaps, prayer isn't such a bad place to start?photo-1527828189418-a3ef1af57804
Even still, beyond just telling you what to do, like pray or be patient or just hold on tight—I want to share a deeper truth in hopes that it will change the way you think, not merely change the things you do.
How do we handle quiet moments when the shares and the likes and the comments are slim to none?Your answer is in the unseen.
We plant the seeds and God is faithful to do the rest. Sometimes that looks like us sticking around to see the fruit. And sometimes, it doesn't. And when we know this—truly know and believe this. We can work and write and sing and be and serve and teach and sell and create and lead and weld and sculpt and calculate knowing that the result does not make or break us.It was never meant to, and it never will.
As a writer, there will come a lesson. It might look like a long walk up a high hill. Or a hard wrestle with self and with worth. But when you do finally emerge—a light, in even the darkest and loneliest places within you, will turn on and illuminate the truth that your words are enough.
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You words—every dripping syllable in ink or sound—matter.So right now, A, right now this very second. The dreaming you, the caring you, the creative you, the earnest you, the you that longs to connect and cultivate conversations and community. The you that dares to lead with written words—
Let the small moments matter. If that looks like your mom being the only person sharing your words, then that matter. If it looks like the same 23 likes from the same 23 people, then you thank God for those 23 people—and you say a prayer for them. If this looks like only one person commenting and opening to respond to something you've written and posted, then you find a chair and make some time to pour out your heart and respond to that one person. You do not give them a one-liner like, "Wow, thanks so much for your thoughts." You do not give them 5 emojis and 10 exclamation points. You sit down and you write to them. Heart to heart. For, when you do this, it is your heart that will expand. Your lungs that will fill with breath and air; your heart that will fill with grief and the hurt and the need that is so prevalent in our word.
And as you are filled with these things, whisper an honest and humble prayer. Ask that God might fill you with the words and vulnerability to speak with savage courage to these very things.
And He will.
And you will overflow.And you will write.And the world around you, be it little or large, will hear those words.And respond.A comment here, an email there.In time, you will see that this journey doesn't disappoint.Let the small moments matter. Stick with it and don't give up. Write words that speak to the hurt and need in the world. Pray before you hit publish. And if all else fails—It's okay if your words only matter to only you.Crazy proud of you and excited and all kinds of teary-eyed for the adventure that you are about to embark on. Embrace and enjoy it.All,Rachel
One Book That Will Breathe Life Into Your Lungs
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IMG_9826.jpgSometimes, when I let life get loud, I forget that there is a place I can go for quiet and calm to sooth my soul. I forget there is a place, with words like writing on the wall, that I can run to, and unfold and fall apart. A place to take my brokenness, and inquisitiveness, and doubts, and faith. A place, and a person in whom, I can be met.And it does not answer all of life's questions. And, often times, it leaves me to burn with an unrelenting wonder and frustration over its mysteries and myths—the ones that none of the world can solve.IMG_9813.jpgAt the very least, though, I am reminded that there is a greater narrative being told than just that of my wretched character. I am reminded that there is, and always has been, a theme of creation and existence and suffering and struggle and survival running deep in wide through all of life.I am also reminded that, intimately intertwined within that narrative, is one of love. Like the reading of a bedtime story to a child wrapped warm in covers on the bed, and how—the child cannot see the author of that children's book. And yet, that doesn't change the fact that the book was written for that child. Written with that child in mind. So much so that if that child (or the rest of them) did not exist, neither would that book.Thomas Nelson's beautiful Study Bible, written in the NKJV translation, is like that child's story, written with every one of us in mind. Within it is held the many God-inspired, God-breathed narratives of people—fighting in their creation and existence, fighting through struggle and suffering, and fighting for survival.And, in all of this fight, weaved in and through every beautiful beginning and complex ending, the story told, over and over and over again, is one of man always seeking out redemption and purpose and love, and God infinitely showing up to give and be and do all that—and more.

Here's an inside look of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tleEMGjjfawWhat's really good about Thomas Nelson's Study Bible, is that it's perfect for just reading, or for getting knee-deep in history and text to study. It has:

  • Over 15,000 verse-by-verse study notes
  • Bible times and culture notes
  • Word studies with Strong's numbers
  • Extensive cross-reference system
  • In-text maps and charts
  • Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
  • Full-length articles, a concordance, and color maps

Personally speaking, my favorite feature of this bible is the colored maps. For me, reading the bible doesn't come full circle unless I'm able to reference maps and align the text with supplemental tools that are historically accurate. There's no point in reading the bible if you're just looking for a sappy pick-me-up. You have to dig for what was before you can even think about what could or should or might be. Like an archaeologist, trying to understand the present or guess at the future, first you must look for the pieces of timeless truth wrapped in eras of civilization and culture. That's what's precious—that's the gold.IMG_9864 3.PNGThis bible is for anyone—literally. It's great for those looking to deepen their faith and, being a study text, it's even great for those that seek to refute or deny the Christian faith. It's perfect for anyone that simply wants to read the biblical narrative of creation or an account of man's history. It's also great for anyone hoping to learn more about God or what the Christian faith entails.This bible, in particular, would make a great gift—something to be gifted on Valentine's Day or Mother's Day.The cool news is, I'll be giving away one FREE NKJV Study Bible! Valued at about $50, this bible comes in a gorgeous cranberry color and boxed in its beautiful original packaging.220686.jpgTo enter this giveaway, simply

  1. share a comment here!

Giveaway ends SATURDAY (1/19) at 11:59PM. US shipping only.Disclosure: I received this book for free from Baker Books. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. This giveaway is in no way associated with WordPress.

How To Write About Pain
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unnamed.pngPoison.That's the name of the first song I ever wrote.I'd been sick, battling an incessant bout of sore throats. I later came to learn that this bout of sore throats wasn't just a bout of sore throats—it was a bout with strep throat and, all those weeks, the strep throat had gone undetected and untreated.I remember asking to sit on the sidelines in cheer practice and asking if I could just mouth the words without singing in chorus because I had no voice to yell or sing with.These bouts with strep throat led to me developing, Rheumatic Fever—a rare disease that comes from untreated strep throat. It's a triggering autoimmune condition that unleashes the antibodies in your body to fight against your own body.It stole my heath and my heart; it stole my voice—my physical voice and my literal voice.So I wrote.I needed a song that reached the deepest depth of how I felt. So I wrote. I needed words that surfaced the sinking shoreline of my soul. So I wrote. I had no listening ears, none that would linger long enough to hear my broken heart day after day after day after day. So I wrote. I wrote because a journal doesn't care how sappy you sound. It doesn't fold in and close up when you set fire to its pages.Like a punching bag, hanging high from the ceiling on chains that choke tight around to keep it suspended, a journal never gives—no matter how strong the punch is, it holds its own.That's why I wrote. And that's why I think you should write, too.I'll never forget the words I penned for my song, "Poison."I can feel itI know whenever it's thereOn my lips, on my tongueI can feel it tearAt the voice That sings so strongly So weak, so fatiguedI can't go onThose words still touch me deep in places no other words can. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it's because I wrote these words myself.I'm sure there are places of pain in your heart—places where the sun hasn't shined, places that are deep and are dark. Places begging to be seen or heard or understood. Begging for release and relief. So, here's how you write about those places and that pain:

  1. Let your pain be personal before you make it public. Social media has made sharing our stories so easy; it's become second nature to us to type up the things that we think and are feeling and to share them. I believe there's a very defined differenced between writing to reveal and writing to heal. Writing to reveal makes sharing your story about others. Writing to heal keeps the process personal and preserves the purpose that your writing was first intended to serve. Writing that isn't shared publicly is more prone to endure the practice of patience. By practicing patience, we give our hearts and our minds the space to process what is hurting, where it hurts, why it's hurting, and what needs to happen to make sure that kind of hurt doesn't happen again.Pray and push through your pain before you jump to promoting it. Sit with your pain before you seek to share about it. Rest, before you run to rush and tell the world about it. Linger in it for a little while, and then lean into the lesson that will inevitably come from it.
  2. Believe that journaling is a validated form of writing. Often times, people think that because their story of pain involves another person that they can't write about it. That couldn't be anymore far from the truth. The beauty about writing is that it can be all things: it can be a blog post that is public or a handwritten card that is only ever read by one. Writing can be quickly typing up an Instagram post that gets 1,000 double taps and hearts, or it can simply be a journal entry, to be seen by no eyes other than your own.The words in your journal are no less validated than the ones from that famous author on the pages of that book between your hands. Your writing doesn't have to be popular in order to be powerful and your story doesn't have to go public in order to be justified.
  3. Pick your poison. You've got to write in the way that best allows you to process and push through pain. When I write in my journal, I feel as though I'm able to write to release, to vent. But — it always just stops there; it's never enough. When I write a song, though, I feel like I'm actually able to heal. I feel more free, I feel more moved to cry and sing and fight through how I'm feeling. When I blog, I feel as though I'm able to organize my thoughts. And, yet, I always feel like blogging is not a time for helping myself. Rather, my focus naturally rests heavily on writing to see others be helped. But, that's just me personally.Writing your way through pain doesn't have to look like someone else's way. It doesn't have to look like writing a best-selling novel or a sappy diary with lock and key. It might look like writing letters to yourself. Or keeping a notebook of poems by your bedside. Or an unpublished blog. Or iPhone notes in your phone whenever tears come bubbling to the surface.
  4. Don't use published writing as way to get back at people. I learned this from a wise acquisitions editor from Revell back in 2012. There is a stark difference between writing that seeks to simply share a sentiment and writing that seeks to destroy. The closest thing I can compare this to is the kind of tension that takes place between rappers at odds with each other. Think Tupac and Biggie and their endless battle between each other through song. Decades later, both of their bodies laid in lower caskets beneath the ground, there's no taking back or redeeming the violent words or the legacies they left upon this earth.When you look back on your words, do you want them to be written in such a way that they point to the rage and strife that you held against others? Or do you want your words to paint a picture of a person that pushed through their pain without dragging the names of others through the mud? A person who knew hurt (deeply and widely) but still found a way to heal, and help others too.

And your writing doesn't have to be perfect. And you don't have to bare it all or worry about doing it right. You need only to hold a pen in your hand and to touch its tip to the page. To make strokes and traces letters that form words.Your heart will find its way from there.Where do you see yourself falling on this list of thoughts on writing about pain? Do you feel as though this is something that you're already doing, or trying to do? Or is writing about your pain hard to even think about, let alone write about?Thoughts always welcome in the comments.Chat back soon,Rachel

Brick Builders Children's Bible
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IMG_8740Brick Builder’s Illustrated BibleBy Emily Danner and Anthony Evans(Zonderkidz)This is literally the best children's Bible book, hands down!!!It' beautiful and bright—the pages are FILLED with bold, colorful Lego-esque illustrations, perfectly captivating the attention of any kid (or big kid...or adult) that loves Legos. From Genesis through Revelation, the Gospel truth is broken down into easy to read narratives, along with simple "Building Block" applications that allow for the Bible story to be processed practically. My son, Milo, is too young (11 months) to really grasp the truth behind these story-time readings...but he for sure isn't too young to enjoy this book for its illustrations. I also think it's amazing and important for him to engage with the miracles and words of God start now, that way he is able to see that from a young age that God moves in mighty and beautiful ways.Attachment-1-1.jpegAlso - I cannot say ENOUGH that I love how different skin colors are featured in this book. This has long since been a problem with children's Bibles. Traditionally, EVERY character is portrayed as Caucasian. That doesn't happen in this book. Seriously, the cover—Sampson looks like The Rock. Jesus is a brunette, Mary is tan, and on page 139 we've got a man with skin the color of dark ebony — AND lots of women that illustrated in the "followings" of Jesus.A beautiful nod to today's need for a more accurate and diverse representation for God's people—both past and present.The one (and only) point of improvement I have for this book is that some of the Bible stories and "Building Block" pieces that are featured on the bright blue "block" pages are kind of hard to read (color wise). Other than that -- SO beautiful.This book is great for boys AND girls! It'd make a great addition to your kid's bedtime routine or the perfect Christmas gift to giveaway! Speaking of giveaways...I have been given one copy to keep and one copy to giveaway to one lucky winner!!! To enter this giveaway:

  • Follow me on Instagram
  • Tag a friend (or two, or ten) that you know would love this book!

Giveaway ends SATURDAY (12/15) at 11:59PM. Winner will be announced on my Instagram and DM’ed. US shipping only.Disclosure: I received this book for free. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. This giveaway is in no way associated with WordPress or Instagram.