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Local Publisher Helps People Document Their Spiritual Paths

Shalana Frisby (left) runs her publishing company 123 Journal It from her home in Ava. She is pictured here with her daughter Rowynn and husband Stephen.

(AVA –Mo) – Albert Einstein kept them.

Marie Curie kept them. The ones she left behind are so radioactive they are kept in lead boxes.

Mark Twain started keeping them when he became an apprentice steamboat pilot.

Leonardo da Vinci kept his attached to his belt.

George Lucas found R2D2’s name in his.

Notebooks. Journals. Commonplace books.

No matter what you call them, history has much to thank them for. The small bound books of blank pages used for note-taking, drawing, doodling, or sketching and kept by significant people throughout history are responsible for recording many important discoveries and inventions.

But, now there’s an app for that. 


Indeed, you can use your smartphone, tablet and laptop to take photos, voice memos, text notes, web bookmarks. You can use any number of apps to store and organize all of that. You can make the data available to all your devices, share it with friends, search it, and archive it to the cloud.

But according to market-research group Nielsen, Americans already spend over 11 hours per day reading, listening, watching and interacting with media via our screens.

“Digital detox” is now a thing. There are retreats, corporate retreats, speakers, and books all dedicated to helping you recover and reset from too much screen time.

Another way people are reducing their screen time these days is – you guessed it – going back to those little bound books of blank pages.

Bullet Journaling (or “BuJo” if you’re hip about it) has become popular. Described as “the analog system for the digital age”, Bullet Journaling began as a simple text-based way to make lists, capture tasks, track upcoming events, and take notes. 

Bullet Journals aren’t always simple. Add hand-lettering, colored markers and stickers. Mix in inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram. The result? Some Bullet Journal entries look more like frameable art.

The Bullet Journaling craze is helping drive an 18% year over year increase in sales of themed journals, blank notebooks, paper, pens, and related supplies. It’s now a $210 million market in the U.S.

And one Ava resident is getting in on that game.

Shalana Frisby grew up in Ava (her parents Bob and Shirley Fleetwood still live in town). 

After graduating high school, she headed out of town to college and then onto a career in the publishing industry. Starting as a graphic designer, she went on to add blogger, writer, and editor roles to her resume. 

She specialized in arts, crafts and home decor content. Shalana’s work has appeared in the pages of Taste of Home Books, Birds & Blooms Magazine and Country Woman Magazine.

After a time living in bigger cities, home called. “Around the time our daughter was turning school age, my husband wanted a career change.” Shalana says.”And I wanted more time at home to be a mommy, so we chose to move back to Ava for a less busy pace of life.”

If a writer says “I moved to a small town”, the most likely thing they’ll say next is “so I could write a book.”

In Shalana’s case, that stereotype proved true.

“In 2016, Capstone editors contacted me to be part of a fiber arts education series for libraries and schools,” she says. “My book is called ‘Felting Projects You Won’t Be Able to Resist’ and it’s designed to be used by teachers and instructors with children and teens.”

Shalana has done more than write one book since being back in Ava. She’s also tapped into that demand for journals, publishing themed versions through her Christian education imprint, 123 Journal It Publishing.

According to, 123 Journal It has “over a 100 Bible study and prayer related journals as well as a free library of printable resources for homeschoolers and churches.” 

Publishing is something Shalana does in between the other tasks and to-dos that people use journals to track. “The number of hours I spend per day varies a lot since the needs of being a mom and wife are a number one priority,” she says. “I try to have a strong mentality of moving forward and building on progress day by day, even if some days vary a lot in the time I can put toward that effort.”

For Shalana that progress can involve the use of her own paper-based journals. “I do a lot of written organization and will make brainstorming charts, outlines, and various sketches, and then let it sit for sometimes a month, sometimes a year or more,” she says. “I like going back to my stack of idea notebooks and rummaging through  them for planning.”

And how is business? “Book royalties can vary a lot depending on time of year and retail trends,” Shalana says. “But on average, I am very pleased with the blossoming income.”

It’s not just a job. “I feel a strong calling for it,” she says. “I’m thankful my Bible study books are in the hands of people around the world, helping them to hide God’s Word in their hearts and pass on their hope in Christ to others.”

Shalana appreciates the ease of publishing that brings to the industry. “They make publishing both ebooks and printed books affordable and accessible to any aspiring author,” she says. “You essentially get to fully be a writer/publisher and Amazon as the retailer/printer handles all the selling aspects and distribution.”

Shalana has advice for aspiring authors. “As a creative person, you will probably never feel completely ready,” she says. “Honestly, your tenth book should be better than your first, but there won’t be that tenth book if you don’t have that first book or article. Dive into your first endeavor so you can have a tenth or hundredth one sooner rather than later in life. It is worth the butterflies in the stomach, the what-ifs, and the learning curve.”

And for those who might fear failing, “Ugly happens. That is normal,” she says. “Sometimes it can’t be undone so you just have to start over.”

Shalana doesn’t define success in terms of the number of books she sells or the income she makes. “Success is in being a good mom, loving wife, and striving to serve God. Success is in the day-to-day, not the milestones,” she says. “I am a failure almost every minute some days, but there’s contentment in knowing tomorrow is another day and thankfully grace abounds.”