Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stopping and Starting

As I was driving home from work the other day my thoughts started to wander. I was tired and there was nothing interesting on the radio, so I just started noticing things, including how many times I had to put my foot on the brake. Stop signs, traffic lights, roads clogged with traffic--I just wanted to go home, but I kept having to put my foot on that darn brake and wait.

As my car came to a stop at an intersection with a busy highway, however, I realized how grateful I am for my brakes. Without them, I would have shot right out into that traffic and gotten creamed! Sometimes it's far more important to be able to stop than to be able to go. As much as I'd like to dash straight home from work without a single obstacle in my path, I'm not going to have a successful journey by just pressing my foot down on that pedal and refusing to let up until my house is in sight. I have to slow down at the school zones, jam on brakes if a pedestrian steps into the street, stop at the lights and wait my turn.

So why is it, I wondered, that in my writing journey, folks seem to advise me to head for that goal (finishing a manuscript, publishing, whatever) full speed ahead. Don't slow down. Don't let obstacles get in your way. Divide up that word count and produce what you are supposed to every day, no matter what. Don't ever quit. Press on to the finish line.

Advice like this can be energizing. But sometimes it causes me some guilt, and I'm not sure it's always right. I have several email buddies who are also unpublished writers, and I noticed something strange. Without comparing notes, all of them have mentioned to me in the past week that they feel God is telling them to slow down or stop altogether for a time on their writing. He's calling them to do other things for awhile--concentrate on family, or jobs, or other good works for his kingdom. Since I've been having the same experience, I thought this was a pretty amazing "coincidence."

I believe God definitely does call us for different activities and priorities in different seasons. A lot of us aren't going to get that first publishing contract in one year, or with the first manuscript. We're going to be in this for the long haul. That doesn't mean we aren't going to reach the goal. But we may have to stop at some stop signs, or sit backed up in traffic. We may have to talk to a hurting friend for a couple of hours instead of turning out that thousand words we had planned. I don't think God will mind. In fact, that's probably just what he had planned for me that evening.

So my prayer for all of us is that we allow God to show us the right road--and the right speed--for our journeys.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Old Baby!

Today is my cat Cera's birthday. She is now 19 years old, which is a very respectable age for a cat.

Nineteen years is a long time in her owner's life, too. When she was born, I was a single girl in my twenties. Now my husband and I frequently discuss retirement plans.

In honor of Cera, I thought I would rerun one of my favorite posts from last spring--the affair of Cera and the terrible haircut (which still hasn't grown out properly, by the way.) Enjoy!

You're looking at a bad, bad girl.

Her name is Cera, and normally she's so sweet and meek that all the other cats bully her mercilessly. But just try to groom her, give her medicine, or basically make her do anything else she doesn't care for, and she turns into the Incredible Hulk.

I want to make it clear that Cera isn't a mean cat. She's just very fearful of, well, everything. So she tends to panic easily and make everything far worse than it should be. I've given up on keeping the mats out of her long fur. Brushing and grooming is a nightmare for both of us. So, once a year she has to go to the groomer to get her hair cut off.

At eighteen years old, Cera has a wide experience of groomers. None of them are particularly fond of her. Some have invited us never to come back. One refused to take her, period, just because she had heard of her from another groomer. At one grooming palace, they kept a database of their dangerous, biting clients. Cera was the only non-dog creature on their list.

So last week, it was time to make her yearly trek to the groomer for a haircut. When it came time for me to pick her up, I called to make sure she was ready. They hemmed and hawed a bit, then managed to tell me the awful truth. She was half done. Yes, that's right. They had shaved half of my poor cat and then given up in complete defeat. They say they're willing to try again on another day, but first she needs time to calm down. (So do they, I imagine.) So in the meantime, I have a half-shaved cat. I don't know if a picture can truly do this justice, but I'll try to give you an idea.

What's the point of my telling you all this--other than the sheer entertainment value? Well, I've often thought what a wonderful life Cera has--and yet, she makes her life miserable out of fear. If she'd let me brush her, she wouldn't have to go to the groomer at all. If she didn't fight the groomer, she wouldn't be faced with two trips instead of one. I often wish I could tell her all this so she would calm down. It's not that I'm trying to withhold information from her and make her suffer. She just can't understand my language. It's too complicated for her.

I often wonder if God doesn't think the same thoughts about me. Why do you make yourself so miserable, Robin? Haven't I always taken good care of you? You're making things so much harder on yourself by fighting my plan. And I'm sorry I can't explain all these strange happenings to you. But I just can't put it into a language you can understand. It's just too complicated for you.

Wow. I'm going to try to trust more. I don't want to end up like Cera.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Miralee Ferrell and God's Perfect Timing

Today's guest is author Miralee Ferrell, whose first book, The Other Daughter, has just released. Miralee is all over the blogosphere right now, but when I invited her to visit The Queen, the focus of my interview was a little bit different. Miralee's journey to publication seems nothing short of miraculous to me. As someone who believes that God called her to write, but has spent about 30 years trying to publish, I'm fascinated by God's unique timing for each of us. So I asked Miralee to reflect on God's timing--in her life and in ours.

First, Miralee, will you tell us a little bit about how you came to be a writer. It's an amazing story!

I know a lot of writers say the Lord told them to start writing, and I'm among them, but my circumstances were a little out of the ordinary. Two-and-a-half years ago I attended a church service and sat under a visiting minister who I trust and respect. I went forward for a small prayer need, can't even remember what, now. He began to pray for me and stopped and looked me in the eye. "The Lord just told me you're supposed to be writing. I have no idea what...short stories, poetry, fiction...but it needs to be published." That was the jist of his message and I took it home and spent two weeks praying it through.

As Miralee tells it, when she got the idea for her novel, she wrote the first draft in five weeks. Through a series of almost miraculous events, she found an agent, completed rewrites, and contracted with a publisher in less than a year. Miralee, before that incredible service where the speaker told you God wanted you to write, did you have a desire to write novels? If so, when did that desire begin, and what form did it take? never occurred to me that I might have the ability or talent to write fiction of any type. I'd written a few pieces of non-fiction prior to this, but the idea of writing fiction was almost humorous to me, when it was first suggested. But once the idea took hold, it started racing like a wild fire and now I can't imagine not writing fiction!

So many writers have a long, long road to publication. Do you have any speculation as to why things moved so quickly for you?

Gee...I hope I won't be answering all these questions, "not really", LOL! It sounds a bit spiritually 'stuck up' to suggest that God wanted it to happen this fast, as there are so many wonderful Christian writers whose careers have moved much more slowly. I can only say that God spoke to me in a prophetic word that He wanted me to start writing and He wanted it published. I moved out in obedience and left the results in His hands.

I'm always fascinated by God's individual timing for our lives--and how perfect it is for each one of us. (Not that I don't have to remind myself of that almost daily!) Do you think you would have been able to write this book at a different time in your life? Why--or why not?

Another tough question to answer, but I think I'd have to say...probably not with the same depth of understanding. So many of my life experiences have gone into my writing, including the thoughts and feelings of some of my characters...both in The Other Daughter, and in the two books I'm currently working on. Besides, my writing, editing and marketing is a huge time drain and I can't imagine having worked it in to my life when we owned a growing business and we were raising our children. I'm definitely glad the Lord didn't choose to give me the instruction to begin writing ten years ago.

Do you feel there's a particular reason God wanted this story told at this time?

I don't think "at this time" is as important as just getting it told. There really aren't many books on the Christian market that deal with the difficult balancing act that happens in an unequally yoked marriage. Toss an illegitimate child into the mix that turns up on your doorstep, and there's a lot of stress to deal with. Unfortunately, there's more of that in the church than we'd like to think.....Christians married to non-believers and children fathered out of wedlock....and even as Christians, those situations must still be addressed.

As an unpublished writer myself, I know sometimes I struggle with whether God actually called me, or whether this dream of writing is something I came up with on my own. Your calling was perfectly clear--and if you did doubt, events are certainly giving you confirmation that you're on the right track! Do you have any advice to folks like me who need to determine whether God really wants us to write?

I have one way I test anything that I believe the Lord has asked me to do, or spoken to my spirit. My Peace I constantly troubled and in turmoil about my decision, or is there peace regardless of the circumstances? I can have everything seeming to be against me in the direction I believe the Lord has called me to go...but if my spirit is settled with a deep sense of peace, I can know it's from Him. On the opposite side, I can have everything seeming to be perfect...but if there's a sense of unrest and a total lack of peace, I need to check with the Lord again.

A couple of questions on a totally different track: I noticed that you're considering different genres for future projects. Have you had any resistance from your agent or editors about that?

No, not at all. Of course, romance is close enough to women's fiction that it's almost considered an offshoot. I think those are two genres where you can pop back and forth quite easily without much repercussion from your readers. Also, I'm not established yet in a genre. While The Other Daughter is women's contemporary fiction, no one really knows me yet. So if I put out a romance set in the 1880's old west, I may pick up an entirely different set of readers. Hopefully, both sets of readers will end up crossing over, and I guess the direction I end up going will be somewhat determined by sales numbers. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way it goes. I'm leaning toward staying with contemporary for the long haul tho, as historical novels aren't my cup of tea....I'll freely admit I'm too busy for the research they take.

How did your husband and family feel when they first learned you were writing a story loosely based on a real event in their lives?

My husband has never had a problem with it, and neither has his daughter, Trish. I'll admit I didn't share it with her until I had the contract, as I wasn't sure how she'd respond, but she was thrilled. She wouldn't have minded having more true to life details where her life was concerned, but there are few if any similarities between the 13 yr old Brianna who appeared at the door, and the 18 yr old Trish who wrote us a letter years ago saying she might be my husband's daughter.

Our daughter Marnee was a bit more reserved about the idea. She wasn't too sure how thrilled she was that mom chose to write about a subject that had potential for misunderstanding. She worried that people would think the story was a picture of our family or our lives. I understood her concerns but felt strongly that this story was one that had tremendous spiritual help bring healing to others who've experienced similar things in their marriage. She's fine with it now, and my entire family has been very supportive, including our son and our kid's spouses.

Thanks for the wonderful, in depth interview Robin! You asked some excellent questions and I hope your readers enjoy a bit of a peek into my world!

And thank you, Miralee, for these thoughtful answers. I'm expecting great things from this book. God is so obviously in it.

And now for a tiny bit of housekeeping. Miralee is holding a drawing for a copy of The Other Daughter at the end of her blog tour, which continues through November . Whenever you leave a comment at one of the posts on her tour, you'll receive another entry into the drawing. Here are a few recent and upcoming blogs on the tour. (For a complete list, see Wednesday's post.)

In October:
24th Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviews
24th Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Life
25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer
25th Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts
27th Delia Latham---The Melody Within
28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journey
29th Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editor

You can read the entire opening scene of The Other Daughter at Miralee's web site:

The Other Daughter has now released, so you can find it in stores near you, or order from or

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Upcoming Interview with a Brand New Author

The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy."

Susanne Carson knew that she could trust the love of her life—her husband, David—until she discovered a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David's daughter.

Not that their marriage had ever been perfect—David's decision to embrace the Christian faith had strained their relationship. Susanne may not have agreed with his beliefs, but at least she trusted him. Had David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wanted Susanne to believe in his God, but believing hadn't done much to keep David out of another woman's arms.

As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must face her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.

That's a brief description of Miralee Ferrell's very first book, which just released. Miralee's been a good blogger friend ever since I started "The Queen," so I've been following the progress of this book. I thought I knew the whole story, but I found out lots of interesting things about Miralee, this book, and its connection to her life when I got involved in her blog tour. Come back on Friday and read my interview with her.

Also, you can read the entire opening scene of The Other Daughter at Miralee's web site:

The Other Daughter has now released, so you can find it in stores near you, or order from or

Last but not least, here's a listing of dates for Miralee's entire blog tour. She's doing something really neat--she's holding a drawing at the end of the tour for a copy of The Other Daughter. Whenever you leave a comment at any of the blog tour stops, you'll get an entry into the drawing. So check them out:

Oct. 20th, Karen Phillips---Sky-High View

LaShaunda Hoffman—See Ya On The Net

21st Angie Arndt---The Road I'm Traveling

22nd Deena Peterson---Deena's Books

22nd Teresa Morgan---Teresa Morgan's Blog

23rd Rose McCauley---Stories of Faith, Hope and Love

23rd Pattie Reitz----Fresh Brewed Writer

24th Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviews

Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Life

25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer

Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts

26th Robin Grant---Queen Of Perseverance

27th Delia Latham---The Melody Within

28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journey

29th Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editor

30th Carla Stewart---Carla’s Writing CafĂ©

31st Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose


1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog

2nd Jan Parrish---Bold and Free

3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry

4th Teresa Slack---ShoutLife Blog

5th Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey

6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog

7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope

8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress

9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger

10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos

11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker

12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels

13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll

14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction

15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction

16th Lisa Jordan---Musings

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friendship Bread

I mentioned my recent shopping trip with frequent visitor and commentor Kathleen, and how intimidated I was by her beautiful craft projects. I forgot to mention that, as I was leaving her house, she gave me starter and instructions for Amish Friendship Bread.

Frankly, the bread starter intimidated me, too. You were supposed to do stuff to it every day. Sure, most of it was pretty simple--as simple as mashing the ziplock bag. But did I mention you had to do it every day?

I've explained before how much trouble I seem to have with routine, and doing things on a set schedule. Sure enough, when I reached Day 6 and was supposed to add some ingredients, I realized it about 11:00 at night. You wouldn't believe how I scrounged to come up with a cup of milk. (I will confess that part of it came from a can.)

Somehow, the bread not only survived, but was fabulous. The picture up at the top is proof that I actually stayed the course and baked this bread.

Even more fun, the day for baking fell on my husband's birthday. I bought him a cake (I couldn't bake one, because I was busy with the bread), but he liked the Friendship Bread better. I should have just stuck a candle in it.

And now I have four bags of starter to share with some lucky folks. Don't you wish you lived close by?

Winner of Demon: A Memoir

Sally Bradley is the lucky winner of Demon: A Memoir, autographed by author Tosca Lee. Congratulations, Sally--and thanks to all of you who left comments and entered.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ten, Twenty, Thirty...and that's as far as I'm going

Rose McCauley tagged me for a new game that's going around. You have to tell what you were doing ten, twenty, and thirty years ago.

Wait a minute! How dare someone assume I was doing ANYTHING thirty years ago! Oh, who am I kidding. As you will see, I was doing plenty.

Thirty years ago--1977--was a big year for me. I graduated high school. After being the most sheltered little homebody in the world, I went away to college in the big city of Atlanta. Star Wars premiered. (As anyone who knows me will tell you, this was possibly a bigger deal to me than graduating high school.)

Perhaps the biggest thing about 1977 was that I mailed off my first completed novel manuscript to a publisher. My cousin Susie and I wrote it together, starting when I was about 16. So I have officially been attempting to publish a novel for 30 years now.

I didn't realize it at the time, but 1987 (20 years ago) was going to be the start of a big transition for me. I'd spent several years living in Atlanta as a single girl and having a great time. This was my geeky phase I've mentioned before, during which I had loads of weird creative friends and went to science fiction conventions and wore costumes and all that. Orson Scott Card was a frequent guest at these conventions, so it took me a long time to realize that he had actually become a pretty huge writer. He was just another guy at the cons. I even took a writing workshop from him.

I wrote a fair amount back then and occasionally popped something off to a publisher, but mostly I just enjoyed it. I walked around in a fog on my lunch hours in downtown Atlanta planning out my next scene. I wrote Star Wars stories and published them in fanzines. I shared stories with writer friends, and even sat around in all-night writing sessions with them. Anyway, this was a great time for me, but by 1988, it wasn't as satisfying and it was time to move on. I started feeling more drawn to God and serious things, and started thinking I wanted to get married (which was going to happen fairly soon, although I didn't meet Dave until 1989).

Ten years ago was a fairly calm time. I was married and living in a suburb of Atlanta. Dave had agreed to take on some extra financial responsibilities (like my health insurance) so I could work part time and write more. I worked about two miles from my house (as opposed to the nightmarish commute to downtown Atlanta I had done for years) and felt like a small-town girl, because I worked, shopped, and lived right there in little Fayetteville. I worked for a married couple--a former police detective and his wife--who had a private investigative firm. Don't get excited. I was a secretary, not an investigator. Still, it was fun reading and typing up their reports, and again, I had a great time. The theme of "waiting" was starting to get to me, though. Part of the reason I was working part time was that we were going to be starting a family. As the months went by, it became apparent that wasn't going to happen. And I had now been trying to publish a book for TWENTY years--and thought that was unbelievable!

And now, here I am in 2007.

That was kind of fun. I would pass the fun along to some of my other blogger friends out there, but I don't know any who have been alive for 30 years.

Oh well, if you want to visit other folks who were tagged, you can visit Rose's blog to see a list:

Rose McCauley, Christian Author:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Guiding and Providing

Ever ask God to give you a sign? Ever have him respond--literally?

I was driving home from work yesterday, and as I mentioned in my last post, I'm exhausted this week. Maybe that's part of the problem, but I feel lousy all over--physically and mentally. I'm behind in everything. When I do manage to sit down to write, nothing comes.

So I was putting myself through my weekly tirade to God. "Maybe you don't even want me to write. Obviously I can't handle as much as other people. I'm incompetent, or lazy, or something. I don't have enough energy. Other folks can turn out three novels a year and blog and hold down jobs and raise children and support orphans in developing countries and..." Well, you get the picture.

I looked up during this tirade and saw this sign:

'Nuff said.

Don't you love God's sense of humor?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weekends, Weekends

I usually post on Mondays, but I'm having a hard time of it today. Frankly, I'm exhausted. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that in addition to working full time during the week, over the past four weekends I have attended:

  • two conferences
  • two fairs
  • two mammoth shopping trips with friends
  • a play written and directed by my brilliant niece, Kristi
  • and a partridge in a pear tree.

No, wait. That last part isn't right. But the rest is. And with the exception of one of the fairs, all these events were out of town, ranging from Dallas, Texas to Savannah, Georgia plus a couple of trips to Atlanta.

You wouldn't believe the things I've seen during all this. A five-week-old baby zebra prancing through the crowd, leading folks to the petting zoo. Actors in pig costumes. Horse-drawn carriages circling the squares in Savannah, with moss dripping from the live oak trees. I should show you pictures of some of this, right? That would be lovely, except I didn't take any. Actually, I took one on my camera phone of the baby zebra--then got a new phone and left it on the old one. If I were trying to do this as a living or aiming to become a journalist, I'd be in serious trouble.

Kristi tried sending me some photos of her play, which I tried to use, but they kept turning out too dark. Sorry, Kristi! Oh well, she's doing so many things lately, I'll take lots of pictures next time. This girl amazes me. In addition to working and getting her degree in theater and film, she wrote, produced and directed a film last summer for a project called "The Woman's Angle," showcasing women directors in Atlanta. Check out this review of her film called Changing Baby. Last weekend she performed at a story-telling festival, and that was a couple of weeks after the play she directed. I was about to brag that she got all this creative energy from her old Aunt Robin--but I'm having trouble just writing this blog post.

Last weekend I made a trip up to Atlanta to meet Kathleen, with whom I became acquainted through this blog. Other than the fact that I got lost on the way up, I had a great time. Since we're both serious bargain hunters, she took me on a tour of fabric outlets, used bookstores, and thrift shops. Of course I came home with another stack of fabric I have no time to sew.

Kathleen also gave me a goody bag that blew me away. She obviously has picked up on all my interests from this blog, because it featured just about all of them. She handmade a tote bag for me that is simply amazing--featuring a pieced parrot and a parrot pin (because of my infamous picture in which I am covered with parrots). Inside were Pirates of the Caribbean soaps, vintage-looking point protectors for my knitting needles, a toile note pad, and more parrot goodies. Since I still have the tote bag and all the goodies in my possession, maybe I can actually manage to show those to you:

I'm rather partial to the "Swashbuckler Soap," myself.

Kathleen also invited me to come for a sewing get-together sometime, but after seeing how good she is, hmmm. Maybe I better stick to buying the fabric and dreaming.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Win an Autographed Copy of Demon: A Memoir

I briefly met Tosca Lee, author of Demon: A Memoir, at the ACFW conference in Dallas. I actually started up a conversation with her before I realized who she was, because I had to complement her very chic outfit. I'd love to have those boots she was wearing! But then, she was Mrs. Nebraska, so she obviously knows a thing or two about style.

I reminded her I wrote a review of her book for Novel Reviews awhile back (April 19, to be exact), and she actually remembered it. After we chatted, she graciously autographed a copy of Demon for me. Since I already have a copy, I decided to pass this one on to you.

By the way, in case you're thinking from the title that this is a horror novel and don't care for those, think again. It does have scary moments, but it's really a sort of spiritual history of the world and humankind, as a demon tells his story to a man who he hopes will write his biography. We see the angels and Lucifer before they fell, the creation of man (pitiful mud creatures as he calls them), their fall and redemption. If you want to know more, you can check out my review.

If you'd like to receive this autographed copy of the novel, leave a comment before next Friday, when I'll announce the winner.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Elizabeth Musser on the Ups and Downs of Writing and Life

Today's guest blogger is author Elizabeth Musser, who has some great thoughts to share about perseverance--in writing and in life. I won't give much more of an intro, since I did that Monday. If you missed that post, be sure to take a look at it. I shared some information there about how I came to know Elizabeth, and about her new book, Searching for Eternity. Here's Elizabeth:

Recently I received a short email from my agent: “I’ve struck out with every publisher on your novel….”

I’ve been writing novels for 13 years now. I’ve known that amazing thrill when the publisher asks, “How would you like to write a book?” and I’ve known the terrible disappointment when he says, “Your numbers just aren’t good enough. We’re taking the book off the market.” I’ve collected rejection slips as well as readers’ glowing letters, I’ve signed books at a crowded church event, and I’ve sat alone at a table at the front of a bookstore where no one stopped by to buy my book.

Ups and downs, ups and downs. It reminds me of learning to post on a pony. At the beginning, the rider just can’t seem to get it write—excuse me—right. But eventually, instead of bouncing all over the saddle and getting very sore buns, she learns the rhythm of the pony, and she posts up and down, up and down, almost automatically.

I wish it were that easy in my career. At times I find myself on a crazy wild stallion who is galloping uncontrolled into the wilderness with me holding on for dear life. My emotions go all over the place. One minute I’m excited about a new idea for a story or thrilled with the progress I’ve made on a chapter, the next I want to give it all up and hide my head in the sand, not with the horses but the ostriches.

For me, perseverance is a lot about knowing what to care about. Over the years, one of the blessings of persevering has been learning how not to care. Yes, I care about writing the best book I can, I care about doing careful research, and I care about communicating well with my publisher and agent and readers.

But there are things I have to force myself not to care about: the list of best sellers when my book is not among them; the review of my book that is less than stellar; the sales that sag; the rejection, again and again and again of a manuscript. These details are part of the writer’s life, but if I am not careful, the negative things can drown out the joy of writing and can almost paralyze me.

That’s why I find myself going before the Lord on my knees and asking Him to help me make wise decisions. How much time do I spend on marketing, how much money on conferences and books, how many websites do I visit? Often, for me, I simply need to write. I don’t need more information, especially since it changes every day in our cyber friendly world. I need to do my part. Write.

Over the years, I’ve developed a battle plan. I protect the time I have to write by not answering the phone, by refusing to look at the emails first, by telling my friends that I am not free in the mornings because I am writing. I’ve learned that instead of staring at a blank page, it is helpful to get up, stretch, and take a walk. Let the inspiration come through nature. In short, I do my part, I work hard, I entrust this fragile career into the hands of the Greatest Publicist in the galaxy, and I wait. This is hard.

I also have a few trusted friends who will tell me the truth when I am discouraged. They remind me of my calling, and they encourage me to seek God and keep going. I have learned to hold my career lightly, being ready to give it up if God calls me into something else.

So far, each time I have offered it back to Him, He has clearly shown me that for now I am to keep going. Persevere. On the good days when the words flow and on the bad days when I feel stuck. On the days when an email brings good news and on the days when a phone call destroys my self-confidence.

When people ask me what suggestions I have for the aspiring writer, I say ‘write, write, write and pray, pray, pray.’ This is what I do. I cannot not write. I keep going. And I pray. Long, long ago, God planted a seed in my heart, a desire to sprout a book. As with all of God’s creations, He chooses to let us spend time underground, developing roots, tenaciously grabbing the soil until one day, we are ready to push our head out and offer up our creation to Him. As I do this, each morning, I am reminded of why I write. I write because the Word became flesh and spoke to my heart. In my small way, I want my words to reflect His Word and call others into the wild ride of life in Christ. A trot on a pony, a gallop on a stallion, a pause to sip cool water by a stream. Persevere.

Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser, October, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Wonderful Writer--And Friend

Sometimes when I hear other writers talking about their mentors, I get a little jealous. How did they manage to find these talented, successful writers, and convince them to be their mentors? Why doesn't anyone want to be my mentor?

Then I realize, I have a wonderful mentor in Elizabeth Musser. I just never called her that until a couple of minutes ago.

I first became aware of Elizabeth and her books when I was living in a suburb of Atlanta a few years ago. Dave and I attended church with Elizabeth's sister-in-law Janet and her family. During a gathering of our two families one evening, Janet told us about her talented sister-in-law, and next thing I knew, I was flying through the pages of Elizabeth's two historical novels about the Algerian War for Independence from France: Two Crosses and Two Testaments. Back then, I didn't particularly enjoy Christian fiction. A lot of it seemed too sweet and simplistic. Elizabeth's writing was more complex and edgy. She wasn't afraid to tackle difficult subjects. Her work started me thinking about trying to write for the Christian market again--something I had tried before and given up on.

I couldn't easily meet Elizabeth face to face at that time, since she was (and still is) living in France, where she and her husband are missionaries. So I emailed her, and we started up a correspondence. Eventually I got to meet her when she visited family in Atlanta and had a book signing.

I can't begin to describe how gracious Elizabeth has been to me. She's read one of my manuscripts and offered advice. She's encouraged me when my spirits are flagging. Last year she was able to attend the ACFW conference, and I had such a blast hanging out with her. I've told you all what an introvert I am. Elizabeth would pull me over to someone and say, "You need to talk to this girl. I've read her book. It's wonderful." Or words to that effect. I have to say, it's much easier to talk to someone about your novel after an intro like that!

Okay, so why am I bringing this up now? First because Elizabeth has a new book coming out this week. I'm going to read it and review it here and eventually share a copy with y'all, but right now I've only read the first chapter myself. It's called Searching for Eternity, and here's what it's about: "Following his father’s dubious disappearance, adolescent Emile de Bonnery is forced to leave his native France for Atlanta, Georgia, never suspecting what awaits him in the South of 1964—culture shock, racism, and friendship with a strange girl named Eternity Jones. He brings with him to America an odd collection of ‘treasures’ used by his father during the French Resistance. With the aid of these ‘treasures’, Emile and Eternity find themselves on a journey through abuse, betrayal and prejudice which will ultimately lead them into a spiritual quest for healing. Spanning four decades, their journey unfolds like a spy story and its conclusion shows what happens in the midst of complex human relationships when an adolescent goes searching for eternity."

I also wanted to let you know that Elizabeth will be doing a guest blog this Wednesday. Even though Elizabeth is a successful author, she has shown me that everyone hits obstacles and rough spots. We unpublished souls are not the only ones who face doubt, who experience disappointment and goals that just can't seem to be accomplished. Wednesday she's going to be telling us about some of those experiences, and what God has shown her through them.

I know she'll inspire you--the way she always inspires me.

In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about Elizabeth and her books, you can visit her website at (The photo at the top is of Elizabeth at ICRS in Atlanta this past summer, with a poster of her upcoming book.)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Yours, Mine, and Ours

I noticed something recently. Whenever I talk about writing, even when I pray about it, I refer to it as “my writing.”

You may not think there’s anything odd about that. It started to jar on me, though, because I’ve tried so hard to give my writing—see, there I go again!—to God. I want it to be whatever He wants it to be. And I’ve tried very hard to turn over to Him all my dreams of publication, too. So why is it still “mine.”

For the past few days, especially when I pray, I’ve tried very hard to call it “your writing.” It’s amazing what a difference that makes in the way I think, in the way I feel. As a writer, I should know the power of words, right? But sometimes I’m still amazed.

See, I’ve always had trouble believing that God cares all that much about what I write. I’ve never had that problem in any other area of my life, but somehow I’ve always felt that I came up with this dream of being a novelist, and I invented these characters that I love, but that God somehow thinks it’s all silly and petty.

But once I’ve given it to him, it seems different. If it belongs to him, it’s his responsibility, too. He’ll make a way for it to succeed, or he’ll decide if that shouldn’t happen. He’ll give me the energy and the time to do his writing, as long as I’m willing to cooperate. I even started to think that he loves my characters as much as I do!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Now for the Ridiculous and Embarrassing

Before I completely move away from the subject of the ACFW conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, I have to tell you a little bit about the fun I had on the way to Dallas. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) You knew I couldn’t go all the way from Atlanta to Dallas without a few misadventures, right?

If you recall, I left for the conference right after the incident of the frog in the night. My critter adventures continued when I got to the Atlanta airport. I had about half an hour until my flight started boarding. I found a great seat with a view of the planes taking off and landing, and plenty of room to stretch out and relax. For about two minutes.

A gaggle of teenagers suddenly appeared and plopped down all around me. They were sort of loud, but that wasn’t the problem. A couple of them started squealing and giggling and pointing under a seat across from me. One of them yelled down to the others, “Look! A mouse!”

Sure enough, a mouse was running back and forth under a seat across from my purse and my toes. I wondered if he was actually a pet mouse that someone had dumped, because he seemed hysterical. I didn’t wait long enough to think all that much about his roots, however, because he kept shooting toward my ankles. I decided to relocate myself before I got to know him any better.

Things went pretty smoothly for awhile after that, until right after I got into the Marriott Quorum. That’s when I realized I’d left my book in the seat back on the plane. It wasn’t just any book, either. Remember me telling you about getting a book called Insulin Murders through Interlibrary Loan at my library? It took me a long time to get up the nerve to request the book from our ILL staff person, because it sounded like such a weird thing to be interested in (you fellow writers out there will understand). Now I had to call up the airline and ask if they’d found it.

The customer service guy on the phone was very nice. Then the moment came. He asked the title of the book. I told him. His response: “Ha ha ha….okaaaaay.” For 30 minutes he tried to track down my book. The folks at DFW said they didn’t have it. The plane had returned to Atlanta by then, and he couldn’t get anyone at the gate on the phone. I finally decided I would check in person in Atlanta when I got back the next Sunday.

So I walk up to the woman at the airline’s lost and found. She asks for the name of the book. I tell her. She looks at me blankly. “What was that?” I tell her again. “Okaaaaaay.” She couldn’t find it, of course. I went through all that for nothing. Or actually, less than nothing. I actually ended up worse off than when I started. Somehow, while trudging around the airport looking for my book, I lost my sweater.

And now I get to tell the ILL person at work that I—a librarian, a guardian of books—lost that weird book she ordered for me. I’ll have to pay for it, of course. I’m beginning to wish I had just done that to begin with.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Contest Winner!

After spending what felt like forever cutting up little scraps of paper with names, I now have a winner for the drawing. And the winner is...Brittany J., a subscriber and frequent commentor. Congratulations, Brittany, and thanks for reading the blog.

As for everyone else, thanks so much for participating. Be sure to stick around. More giveaways will be coming soon.