The Ivy and the Shears (by Peggy Trotter)

12164959_1026096070773880_323249653_oI once bought a lovely little plant. A vine, really. It was quite small, but beautiful. I kept the ivy inside for a few months and it didn’t do very well.  I started to wondering if it would grow outside. I thought of how wonderful it would be if it would grow along the house in the landscaping and how attractive that would be.

So I took it outside, the feeble thing, with much hope. I found a great place beside the house and planted it, and watered it. Directly it wilted. Hmmm. Apparently it was too feeble to handle being outside.  But I shrugged and continued watering it for several days.

The plant’s gorgeous triangular leaves didn’t perk up in the next week.  It drooped and looked worse than ever. So, I planted another one, the variegated type. If one was going to die, the first just as well have company.

I’ll admit, it was touch and go for the first season.  I determined it wasn’t the outdoorsy kind of ivy, but some kind of gentle houseplant kind of variety. But the next year, it had taken off, sending runners here and there.  I was ecstatic! The shiny leaves grew thick and vibrant. The ivy soon covered the entire area I had planned for it. And more. Then it’s hungry creepers began to covet the house’s foundation. No, no. I cut it away. I just wanted it to grow along the ground.

Nope. Soon I was back into my busy schedule and didn’t give it the attention I needed to. Now the foundation is covered, and the greedy ivy stretches toward the siding. And more ground. And around the bushes. And flowers.

I whack it away, but since it is such a fine grower now, I plant the cuttings in another spot. Now, some fifteen years later, I’m inundated with ivy. Trust me, it’s not the gentle houseplant kind of ivy. It’s the invading, eat your house kind of ivy.

In my heart there’s a runner. It waits deep and silent. And when I’m wronged it starts to grow. Feeble at first. Justified. I water it with my own discontentment and anger. The creepers aren’t satisfied with just a small area. No, it invades my storehouse of love and forgiveness. It’s not a gentle type of the houseplant variety that is satisfied with a small bit of sunshine and tepid temperatures.  No. It’s the parasitic kind that sucks the life out of its host.

This ivy in my heart begins to wrap around every vestige of my heart attacking further and further toward my soul. I whack at it occasionally, but it’s aggressively determined, and I realize I cannot do this alone. Can . . .not. That ivy, bitterness, will win.

I go to the only source I know that can defeat any enemy. The Scriptures.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV) 

It’s not exactly the magic cure I thought it would be. I look some more. I study, I read. There had to be some kind of thing to actually do. I was looking more for a step by step procedure to completely yank bitterness from continuing to grow and flourish. I love step by step instructions.

Then I realize, you just stop. You actually put it away and stop obsessing over it. Instead you turn to kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. Simply, put away. Done. Caput.

I can’t say I always do this “putting away” thing with much success. It’s much more difficult that it appears. And that wicked ivy often springs up, vibrant and covetous. Perhaps you’ve been in the bitter barn hothouse as well? After all, your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  I Peter 5:8b (KJV) And every time I think in my head. Okay, fine, but who is stronger? God or the Devil? Oh, yes. God is stronger. And once more I clip that creeper, day by day, one after another. I pray you do too.

Great. Someone just jabbed me on Facebook. Again. Grrr. Sigh. Hand me the pruning shears.

 

12047702_1026096430773844_1985967413_nAbout the Author:

Peggy Trotter has been writing something for over 30 years. The empty-nest syndrome set her to groping for a new direction, and wow, did God answer! Year of Jubilee, a Christian Historical Romance set in southern Indiana, debuted in April of 2015 through Prism Book Group. A second, a Contemporary Romance entitled, Reviving Jules, just released on Oct. 9th, 2015 as well. She loves to reveal God’s miracles through the world’s underdogs and mix in a little love, a dash of romantic heat, and of course, a happy ending.

 

She took third place in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest in 2013 in the 12119697_1026096577440496_2077627812_oInspirational Category, and won the coveted Genesis Award in 2014 from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in the Novella Category with her entry, Spun, a Historical Romance.

 

God blessed her with a wonderful husband who cooks and helps clean while supporting her crazy dreams. She has two incredible grown kids plus two fabulous in-law kids, and two rays of sunshine, commonly called grandchildren. Seldom does she stand still, but when she does, it’s to praise her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Creator of all gifts and Bestower of all blessings!

MY Cover Reveal: Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior

So, the time has come at last. My agent, Julie, and I have been working hard to polish Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior, the first part of the 5-book mini-series, and make it shine. I’m very excited to share it with you all in October. I know it’s a long wait, though, so I thought I’d at least share a little something with you today.

How about a book cover?

Kirk DouPonce, a titan in the cover design world, let me interview him a couple of months ago for the Realm Makers blog about the importance of book cover design. It’s a great post!

I love book covers, and it’s definitely one area I am very picky about. Luckily, I have a fabulous friend who is great at cover design. You can check out more of what Jennette does at Master Design Solutions, where she works with her husband on anything from website design to book covers.

Anyway, back to Bellanok. Here’s a little blurb about the book, in case you haven’t heard about it yet.

Bellanok is a haven for myths and legends . . . until evil discovers a way in. Now the fairy queen, Fauna, must journey from the island to the modern world to find the man the Creator appointed to save their world. A man she has been dreaming of her whole life.

Brian is a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up on God. He’s tired, frustrated, and feeling like a failure. No sooner does he make a decision that jeopardizes his career than an unusual blonde woman shows up and tries to convince him he is some kind of savior.

Fauna must open Brian’s eyes to a different reality, and Brian needs to embrace the haven’s secrets. If neither of them succeeds, Bellanok will succumb to evil and the world will lose all innocence.  

Now that I’ve given you a taste of what’s to come, here’s the real treat. Without further ado, I present Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior book cover!

 

Ralene Bellnock 1 The Reluctant Savior

 

What do you think? 

Do you have a favorite book cover? What do you like about it?

 

Who are You? (by Wendy Reese)

Jesus knew who He was, but made the point to ask his disciples if they knew as they gathered one night in Caesarea. Only Peter identified Him as Messiah. Before the resurrection, most of Jesus’ followers weren’t sure who He was.  To recall that same night, “… John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt: 16:14). But after the resurrection, his followers understood who He truly was and why He came.

“But, Wendy,” you ask, “What does this have to do with me?”

Here’s what I’m getting at: Do you know who you are? Unless you truly understand His identity, you won’t understand your own–and with that, the glorious gifts you possess to honor Him.

Yes, there are the spiritual gifts mentioned in Isaiah, Acts, and 1Corinthians that we all know, but what of writers, artists, dancers, and musicians, to name a few? So can we ask, “Are the arts counted as anointed to share with others?” Of course, when surrendered to the One who gave them in the first place. Then they will edify you and others as all draw closer to Jesus.

You are unique! There is only one of you. God designed you long before you were conceived. Check out Psalm 139.

My musings of God’s possible thoughts … “I’ll give her/him long legs to dance. I’ll give him/her agility to finger instruments into beautiful music. There will be writers to express imaginative imagery, challenging the doubtful to find My truth. There will be artists mixing colors to brush creative images upon blank canvases, just as I did when creating the world. And to this one I will give …”

Please forgive my pretense. Only our dear Father knows His own thoughts and words when He spoke our lives into existence for His glory. But in saying that, I feel that we sometimes misplace ourselves into false molds. Do we imitate someone else’s gifts because they’ve been noticed and have become popular?  In many instances, finding ourselves inadequate with the end result instead of drawing from the fresh, creative well of God’s provision placed within us?

What do you write? What do you paint? Do all artists paint portraits? Do all writers pen westerns? Makes me think of scriptures that say, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Psalm 96:1 as an example.

Frank Peretti broke ground with the subject of spiritual warfare in Christian fiction. I can’t recall anyone else at that time who braved through such a difficult, but needed subject. If anything, I came away from his books better educated and spiritually insightful–hence, my own genre of speculative fiction.

Take a leap of faith! Within prayer, sincerely look at the core of your creative unction. Does it edify? Is it Word-based? Many would say unless you specifically pen Bible phrases in your stories, paint only Bible characters, or dance Israeli folk dancing, you’ve strayed away from the Truth. Really? There’s nothing better than speaking the Word of God, right? Right, but His Word has laid the foundation of everything we experience which glorifies Him.

When I sit on a beach, breathing long breaths of salty air, I listen to the swash and sway of whitewater slapping the sand. My heart swells with gratitude for the One whose creativity made it possible for me to enjoy it all. I view His Word. I smell His Word. I listen to songs that only He could create: His earth’s natural rhythm. Sometimes a soft melody of dancing waves while in another time and place, the roar of sweeping winds that drum across an open prairie, sending animals to burrow into the safety of their homes which He created for them.

Jer:33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Prophetic for Jeremiah? Yes. Prophetic about your place in this world? Yes.

Who are you?

 

WendyAuthor BIO:

W.G. Reese (Wendy) is a Southern California Beach Native who now lives in the mountainous panhandle of North Idaho.  A story teller since childhood, the wonders of God’s creative gifts has always inspired her imagination. As a lover of sci-fi/fantasy (a Trekkie and not ashamed of it)…her metaphoric writings resonate with the possibility of worlds beyond. Blessed with a loving family and friends that walk alongside, she holds no greater awe than the love of Jesus Christ.

 

Links  http://www.amazon.com/Visitor-W-G-Reese/dp/1938708571/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/963527873671518/

 

VisitorBlurb-

Christian Fantasy / Speculative Fiction

The divine blessings of Sior transformed the world of Ariel Leun into a paradise where people enjoy long lives in the company of mystical creatures. Winn, a transplant from the dark world of Draugh, reigns as a beloved King with his trusted advisor Caelan at his side, until the death of his Queen sends him spiraling into despair. Banishing Caelan and neglectful of his duties, King Winn is unaware that an old enemy, Garthpha, plots to take the throne.

Rebelling against their father’s retreat into seclusion, the heirs of Ariel Leun travel the passages of the Red Stone to Draugh where four warring Kings scheme to capture them, exploit their inner light, and deliver them to Garthpha as tribute. Can the children be rescued before their light is extinguished and evil takes the throne of Ariel Leun, plunging it into darkness?

Please Don’t Faint! (by Ada Brownell)

Clara has always been a fainter. She passes out at the sight of blood. Once she fainted when she bumped her head on a door.

Due to her habit of fainting, Clara is not much help in an emergency. When she was a teenager she worked for her Uncle Matt and Aunt Marge. One day Matt broke his leg. Marge was away, so Matt shouted for Clara to call for help. Clara rushed to see what happened, and fainted. Matt had to crawl to the phone.

Years later, Clara and her family were camping at high altitude on Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, CO. Her son, Dean, had a heart murmur and in the middle of the night and gasped for breath.

Clara’s husband awakened her and said, “We’re going to have to take Dean off this mountain. He can’t breathe.”

She sat up, looked at Dean, and then lay back again. “I think I’m going to faint.”

Her husband laughed. “Don’t be silly. You can’t faint lying down.”

But she did.

Doctors say Clara’s fainting was the result of a depression in the action of the heart. This can be caused by cold, heat, hunger, mental shock, weakness, pain, or fright.

Not many people suffer physical fainting as often as Clara did, but in the church there are many spiritual “fainters.” The Bible reproves those who faint when the going gets rough. “If you faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small,” we’re told in Proverbs 24:10.

Another scripture addresses those in the Lord’s work. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galations 6:9).

“Spiritual fainting” is not necessary. As long as God lives and answers prayer, there is a way to recover strength, according to Isaiah 40:31, which says “if we wait upon the Lord, we can run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.” Luke 18:1 has further guidance: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Don’t faint. Don’t give up in your well doing. Pray instead, and God will strengthen you.

Note: Clara Miracle was one of Ada Brownell’s older sisters. A similar version to this story appeared in The Pentecostal Evangel years ago.

 

ada brownellMEET ADA BROWNELL

Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six books, about 300 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. A Bible student since her teens and a youth educator, she also taught on the Bible and science; courses from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict; and other faith-building courses. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.

Among her books: The Lady Fugitive, an historical romance; Imagine the Future You, a youth/parent Bible study;.Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, a novel for middle grade up; Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, includes evidence we’re more than a body; Facts, Faith and Propaganda, a book that unmasks propaganda as well as reveals amazing truth; and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; Most books are available in paper or for Kindle. Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at www.Audible.com  Free book with new Audible membership.

Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/AdaBrownellWritingMinistries

Twitter: @AdaBrownell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1654534.Ada_Brownell

Blog: http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

Barnesandnoble.com http://ow.ly/PUWHO

 

 Copyright © 2015 Ada B. Brownell

Tea with Me: BIG News, Priorities, and a Leap Second

file0002117963911Happy Friday, friends! As you sit there, reading this post, I’m busy visiting with family and friends at my parent’s house in VA. I only get out here about once a year, so it’s always so fun to catch up with everyone. Plus, we’re celebrating 2 very special birthdays–including my son’s June birthday. Love family fun!

But, that’s not why you came to visit, right? There’s questions that need to be answered. For instance, Cindy submitted 2 very interesting questions this week.

Cindy: What did you do with your leap second?

Me: Well, since the leap second was the last second in June, which means it came right before midnight, I was in bed, trying to sleep. Of course, sleep wouldn’t come because my mind was a whirl of excitement for the vacation to begin the next morning!

Cindy: I suddenly have free time! How do YOU establish your priorities to settle YOUR free time?

Me: That’s a loaded question! Priorities are so important when it comes to planning how we should spend our time. Without them, our temptation to say yes (or perhaps no) will overcome us and lead us to waste time on things we have no business doing or to over-commit ourselves.

My first response, though, was “what free time?” Ha! I really don’t seem to have much, but I can procrastinate with the best.

While choosing priorities is a whole blog post itself, I will say that to choose my priorities, I followed these steps:

1. Pray! Any decisions effecting our lives as a whole should not be made without prayer. How are we to know God’s path and plan for our lives if we don’t ask . . . and then listen?

2. Look to the Bible for answers or examples. The New Testament actually lays out a pretty good outline for priorities.

3. Establish priorities and then make sure activities fall in line. Once I established my priorities, I laid out all the activities I have throughout the week. If they didn’t line up with the priorities, I got rid of them!

4. Be sure to work in “me” time. It’s OK to have time to do things you enjoy, but they shouldn’t take up hours a day several days a week. Instead, work in a half an hour a day or an afternoon a week. It’s nice to get a break and relax!

For a look at my priorities (and what I use to inspire others), take a look at my article, Are Those YOUR Priorities or God’s?, on Managing Your Blessings.

a magenta coloured sparkling love heart valentine theme image on a black background

And finally . . .

My big news.

 

I’m going to officially be a published NOVELIST sometime in August!

 

My agent and I met this weekend to hash out details and decided to serialize my stand-alone novel, Bellanock. I’ll be self-publishing the story as a series of longer short stories, basically. If all goes well, I’ll be releasing the first one in August (we’re shooting for the first Tuesday!).

Eeeeee! I know, I’m so excited. And terrified.

So, what’s Bellanock about? I’m glad you asked!

Thousands of years ago, humans were expelled from Eden. God placed 2 angels and a spinning sword at the entrance to keep them out. But, as humans spread across the planet, some creatures of old became endangered, and God hid them–and Eden–on a small island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, Bellanock.

Now, though, a demon has found its way inside. It’s spreading its evil and changing the innocent creatures of folklore into monsters. It is up to Fauna, the fairy queen, to journey into the real world and find the savior she’s been dreaming about since she was a child.

In Chicago, Brian, a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up, is shocked when a crazy blonde tries to convince him that creatures like dragons, unicorns, and fairies really do exist–and he needs to save them. Even if he did believe her, what could he do? He knows demons exist, but how does one fight against them?

Brian and Fauna must return to Bellanock and defeat the demon before all that is pure is wiped from the realms of the universe.

What do you think?

Overwhelmed? (by Kimberly Rose Johnson)

file1801281015946As I write this, I’m sitting in the dentist office waiting room waiting for my youngest to get a filling. Poor kid. Life can sometimes feel like one big cavity—painful, overwhelming, or too much to deal with. But there is hope. That cavity can be filled and the pain will, or at least should, go away. That’s what it is like with the Lord. He can fill those painful times with peace, healing, restoration, or whatever the need is if we hand it over to Him.

A writer’s life is filled with so many different things that can become overwhelming. Reality is everyone faces things that overwhelm, but today I’m focusing on writers since that was my assignment.

As writer’s we face deadlines that must be met in the midst of marking, social networking, and a plethora of other things that drain our time. What’s a writer to do?

The first thing I suggest is giving the stress to the Lord. He is a big God and can meet you where you are. I’m not suggesting He will write that book for you. What I am suggesting is that He will give you what you need to be able to meet your deadline, or whatever you are stressing.

Secondly, practice good time management. Figure out what is most important and schedule your time accordingly. There are days, when I have a looming deadline and social networking becomes something I rush through in thirty minutes. I do the minimum I can get away with and then move on to what is pressing. Ideally we don’t get stuck in a situation like that, but sometimes life and circumstances get the best of us and it can’t be helped.

Thirdly, recognize you are human. You can only do so much. Delegate if you need to, or simply put some things off that aren’t a priority. We only get 24 hours a day, and we need to sleep. Yes, sleep is important. It is when our body recharges, enabling us to do what we do. So don’t deprive you body of what it needs. Take care if it. Which leads me into my final suggestion.

Take care of yourself both physically and spiritually. You may think you don’t have time, and you could be right. If that is the case, you overextended yourself and need to back off of something, because taking care of yourself is crucial to your success. I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but it’s worth repeating. Take care of yourself to be the best you that you can be. Diet and exercise play a key role in this, but so does taking time out to do something you enjoy, spend time reading both for fun and enrichment. Spend time with the Lord.

I hope you will try these strategies. I believe you will find that you will feel better and even be more productive.

 

IMG_4314-2 PublicityAbout the Author:

Kimberly Rose Johnson holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, teenage son, and their yellow lab. She writes heartwarming Christian romance for Heartsong Presents and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys taking long walks with her husband and dog, reading, dark chocolate and time with friends.
You may contact Kimberly via her website at http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Rose-Johnson/e/B00K10CR6E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1433789058&sr=1-2-ent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh

 

 

 

Never Give Up (by Teresa Pollard)

IMG_0519Hi, Everybody.  I’d like to thank Ralene for inviting me here today to share my writing encouragement story with you.  My writing tip is simply to never give up.

I’ve been writing almost my entire adult life.  I started writing in 1979 on a dare from my friend, Linda Anderson.  She’d lent me a grocery bag full of romance novels, and I had complained that they all had exactly the same plot: rich man meets poor girl, they fall madly in love, but misunderstanding piles on misunderstanding until they fall into each other’s arms and kiss.  The end.  I said I could write a better novel.  So she dared me to.

I sent my first novel off to Moody Press that November.  It was a romance novel called Karen’s Special Gifts.  I didn’t have a clue how I was supposed to go about a submission, so I sent my only copy of the entire manuscript.

On TV, people send a manuscript to a publisher, and voila, a few weeks later they have a published novel. Ha!  It doesn’t work like that.  I waited anxiously for eight months before I finally received a letter and my manuscript back.  It was a wonderful letter.  It said that I had come up before the review board, and it was a split decision. Since I was an unknown author, they felt they couldn’t take a chance on me.  I was crushed.  I didn’t write another word for three years.

Then, in 1982, I was sitting in church one Sunday evening and the plot to Not Guilty popped into my head.  I rushed home and spent three days writing furiously, day and night.  At the end of that time, I had eighty handwritten pages.  I knew it was only a first draft, and still needed a lot of work, but I gave it to my friend, Candi Pullen, to see what she thought of it.

A few days later, she gave me back twenty pages of critique.  At that time I had a pretty hot temper, and it amazes me now that I never got mad for a second.  Everything she said was so perfect to round out the story.  All I told her was that if she had that much to say about it, she needed to help me write the novel the way it needed to be written.  For almost a solid year, we wrote (in between chasing six kids around).

After we’d finished, we passed the dozen or so copies we made around to members of our church and other friends.  We got feedback from several women who said it had made an impact on their lives.  But inquiry letters to publishers brought zero results.  (After my first experience, I never sent out the complete manuscript.)

I decided to go back to college, this time for a creative writing degree.  By then, I lived right up the street from Hollins College (now university).  Hollins has one of the premiere creative writing programs in the country.  Their master’s degree program is almost impossible to get into.  By working at the library there, I was able to “back door” my way into it, and by 1986 I’d received my bachelor’s and in ’89 my master’s degree.

The one thing Hollins never taught me was how to market my writing.  They did say it was all about networking.  I guess I’m too slow on the uptake.  I still didn’t know how to do that.  I just kept writing novels and putting them up on my shelf.

In 2012, I was sitting in church one Sunday morning with a copy of Not Guilty on my lap, to give to a friend who was an aspiring writer.  Another friend asked if I’d ever heard of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference.  I said no, and I didn’t have the money to go to a conference.  Before the words were out of my mouth, a girl came on stage and sang a contemporary song called, Not Guilty.  I couldn’t help but feel it was God speaking directly to me, saying, “It’s time.”

So I went to the conference.  The first person I met there and exchanged business cards with was Lynellen Perry, my new publisher.  She was starting a brand new fiction imprint called HopeSprings Books that would deal with contemporary women’s issues.  Not Guilty became the second novel in the lineup, followed by Tokens of Promise in April, 2013, and now, Not Ashamed in July, 2015, and Woman of Light in October, 2015.

God is faithful.  He never forgets His children.  In His time, if we will wait on Him, and trust His will, He will give us the desires of our heart.  One caveat.  If your goal is to make lots of money, forget it. But if you seek to glorify Him in your writing, don’t ever give up!  God bless.

Teresa 

 

 

Headshot for booksAbout the Author:

Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age.  She has a Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years. She is the co-author of Not Guilty and Not Ashamed (due July 7), and the author of Tokens of Promise and Woman of Light, (also due out from HopeSprings Books in October).  Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia.  She blogs every Tuesday at http://teresatalkstaboo.wordpress.com. Follow her on Facebook at Teresa Pollard, Author.

3 Truths About the Writing Life (by Patty Smith-Hall)

file9421279373453I’ve always been one to know the facts. Be it in my old job as a research nurse or in my writing life, I’ve always wanted to know what to expect. Television had told me that romance writers lounged around on their chaise, a feather boa wrapped seductively around their neck, clad only in an uber expensive nightgown from Bloomingdales, holding their Yorkie with one hand while the story poured from the pen in her other one. If it’s a tough guy who writes suspense, he’s led a hardened life that gives an edge to his characters.

What a load of crud!

So what is the truth? What can you expect when you become a published author?

1) Writing is hard work!

I don’t like the show, Mike and Molly, because, last session, the female lead decided to quit her paying job as a teacher and become a writer. No writing classes or studying craft books—no,  she just whips out a couple of chapters and sells her book for a boatload of money to an editor she meets at her first eight-week writing retreat (for which she won a scholarship!)

No wonder they call it comedy!

The truth is it doesn’t happen like that for most of us. First, you write, then you write some more, until you’ve finally poured everything into finishing your book. All the while, you’ve studied craft books and gone to conferences, soaking in as much as you could to learn your craft. Then you pull out your novel and realize it’s pretty much 320 pages of crap, so you settle in to do the rewrites. And you edit and write and rewrite until that bright and glorious day when you finish it AGAIN.

Then it’s time to let others see your baby, for them to red line it and mark it up so that you can have an even better and stronger story. Then you’re ready to submit it . . . maybe.

But writing is also the most thrilling ride that I’ve ever been on (outside of marriage, but then marriage is work too!). Those giddy moments when you’ve written something so beautiful that you know it could only have come from God. Or those exquisite moments right after your agent tells you you’ve sold your first book; the first time you see your cover; seeing your book on the store bookshelves for the very first time—heck, even a one-starred review because it means someone took the time to read something you’ve created.

Yes, writing is hard, but it’s so totally worth it.

2) Not everyone will love your work.

I’m ashamed to say that when I first started, I thought every thing I wrote was magical. The characters, the descriptions felt so real to me, as if I’d actually stepped into the manuscript and had made my home there. Then I entered it in a writing contest, and waited, certain some smart publisher would snatch it up.

I was in for a long wait. My manuscript didn’t even final. In fact, the scores were so dismal, I thought someone had made a mistake. And the comments—passive writing, two-dimensional characters, episodic scenes. One judge even said I was the queen of -ly words.

I wanted to smack her. Obviously, the judges didn’t ‘get’ my writing. I even had the gall to go to the contest coordinator and ask if there’s been a screw-up (over fifteen years later, and I still cringe at the thought. Poor woman!) No mistake—the writing was just bad.

That is why it is necessary to grow a thick skin. Learn from the comments of your critique partners or judges. Weed out the good advice. Realize judges/critique partners/ editors/agents have dedicated their time and effort to make you a strong writer. So kick a couple of cabinets, eat some ice cream, then get back to work.

3) Writing is a calling.

A few years before I was published, I was at the end of my rope as far as my writing was concerned. Between my family and work schedule, there never seemed to be time to work on my stories, and when I did have time, the lack of words would frustrate the dickens out of me. All of my writing friends were published, some multi-published, and here I was, still plugging away at the same old book and not doing a very good job of it. I wanted to give up until I read these words from a Bible study a friend had given me.

“You are a literature missionary!”

Those words from Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Heart punched me in the heart like a two-by-four. Here I was, so frustrated and discouraged, and God had been calling me to the mission field the whole time! Yes, it meant giving up my loft ideas of what I wanted from my writing and give them over to Him. To write without any expectations, to trust Him with the very thing that was so precious to me, to allow Him control over my writing life.

There are people only you can reach, who ‘get’ what you’re saying, who feels as if the story could have been written just for them. You could point them to Christ through your words!

IMG_1250Author Bio:

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. Patty admits she has been making up stories since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Now she’s happy to share her wild imagination and love of history with others, including her husband of 30 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, and her future son-in-love. Her next book, New Hope Sweethearts, will be available on Amazon July 1st, 2015.

Website: http://www.pattysmithhall.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patty.s.hall
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pattywrites

 

Great news! Patty has agreed to give away a copy of her soon-to-be-released novel, New Hope Sweethearts!

Just leave a blog comment below, answering the question, “What has been the hardest part of your chosen career path?” 

Contest closes on Sunday night, winner announced in Monday’s post!