Category: Podcasts

100 – Best Advice for Writers from Writers

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Best Advice for Writers from Writers Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungThe Write from the Deep Podcast wants to thank you! We’ve reached a milestone, and you’re a big part of that. It’s our 100th podcast! To celebrate, we’ve asked proven authors from across the states to share with our listeners their very best advice for the writing life.

But first, a reminder that our newest Going Deeper Workshop: Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk is now available!

As writers, we understand the power of words. We want the words that fill our hearts, our minds, and our pages to sing God’s truth. Yet too often they don’t because we struggle with lies, unrelenting negative messages, and imposter syndrome.

But you can learn to stop those damaging messages in their tracks and replace them with specific truths to set you and your writing free.

That’s what this resource is all about! Learn more about Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk.

Welcome to our 100th podcast!

We’re so excited to reach this milestone, and so grateful to all of you for listening.

This podcast is all about equipping you—heart, soul, and mind—to be the best writer you can be, so to celebrate our momentous 100th podcast, we contacted established authors and asked them to share their best advice for writers.

“The best piece of advice I ever received was by Colleen Coble….she told me that writing was a business and I needed to invest in my business. Meaning, get the programs I needed to write in, take the classes from legitimate resources, attend writers’ conferences to learn and meet industry professionals and network, and join legitimate writing organizations to keep up with what’s happening in the industry as well as to keep learning and growing in the craft.”  – Robin Carroll

Robin Carroll’s latest book: Darkwater Truth

“Start saving now for a writer’s conference. Conferences can be expensive, but they’re an investment you’ll never regret. Besides invaluable workshops and a chance to get your work in front of editors, agents, and publishers, the contacts you make with other writers—people who get you!—are priceless.”  – Deborah Raney

Learn more about Deborah Raney

“Here’s my advice: Keep your butt in the chair. Perspiration beats inspiration hands-down.”  – Bill Myers

Learn more about Bill Myers

“As a full-time writer and a full-time administrative assistant, I’ve had to learn how to be disciplined about my writing time. That means setting manageable goals. Instead of being overwhelmed by a deadline and the sheer volume of words needed to meet it, I break the manuscript up into monthly, weekly, even daily word counts that are much easier to swallow. For me, one thousand words per day translates into about an hour and a half each evening. On the weekends, I try to double or even triple that. Using this approach has made me a better communicator and a much more prolific writer.”  – Elizabeth Ludwig

Learn more about Elizabeth Ludwig

“To quote writer Norah Ephron: ‘Everything is Copy.’ For the believer, this means that nothing is wasted.  Not one tear. Not one celebration. Not one wrong move. Not one right one. Every moment is precious. Golden. Worthy of capturing in a snapshot. The breathtaking, agonizing, seemingly unimportant moments we go through on a day to day basis aren’t just potential copy for future books; they are also copy in the great story God is writing in and through us. They shape, mold, and define us, and carve us into the image of our Creator. They also make us better writers. No matter what you’re facing today, God will use it to His glory.”  Janice Thompson

Learn more about Janice Thompson

“I think I’ve learned that the writing journey is full of the unexpected – because God often is. He’s more interested in shaping us, than concerned about the books we write. That means we might have twists and turns that can be hard – but they are for our good. Even if we can’t see it in the moment.”  – Sarah Jeffrey

Learn more about Sarah Jeffrey

“Dare to go to the places you are asking your readers to go to. Superficial writing makes for superficial impact.”  – Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth’s latest book: We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis

“Embrace being a beginner! No one expects beginners to be experts, and there’s a great deal of freedom in that. Instead of faking it and praying no one notices that you have no idea what’s going on, own the fact that it’s new, that it will take a while to figure it all out, and that you need some help. Then be prepared because after you get past being a beginner writer, you’ll publish a book and you’ll be a beginner all over again, this time as a first-time author. And again, you’ll benefit from embracing your beginner status and not being embarrassed to ask questions, learn from those with more experience, and accept that there will be a few bumps along the way.”  – Lynn Blackburn

Lynn Blackburn’s latest book: One Final Breath

“Writing is a creative passion; it’s also a skill that must be honed. Be patient. Take the time you need to learn the craft and the business side of writing before you take the next step, finding an agent to represent you to publishers. You only get one chance at a first impression.”  – Lori Benton

Learn more about Lori Benton

“God created us for community, and we shouldn’t try to do any part of life alone. I believe all writers need a group of like-minded friends with whom to share the journey. Some will have more experience and insight than you. Others will lean in to hear the lessons you’ve learned that they haven’t yet. You should seek critique partners who’ll help you craft your words, maybe brainstorming partners to help you develop your ideas. When you neglect to build a community of Christian writers, not only will you miss out on all you can learn from them, but they will miss out on the wisdom and knowledge God has given to you. We were not created to do life alone. If you don’t have a community of writer friends, start praying for one now.”  – Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen’s latest book: Legacy Rejected

“My best writing journey advice is aimed straight back at me, because it’s so HARD for an introvert! Stay connected to the real world by loving and serving people outside your writing cave. This will ensure that you have something worth writing about.”  – Beth White

Learn more about Beth White

“Don’t be afraid of a terrible first draft. It’s OK if you hate it. That doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, or that you should delete the work. On the contrary, it means that you see room for improvement, and that’s a good thing. I have more confidence in a writer who’s embarrassed by their first draft than I do one who is proud of it and thinks it’s ready for publication.”  – Regina Jennings

Regina Jennings’s latest book: The Lieutenant’s Bargain

“My advice is rather simplistic, but it’s so true. A writer must do two things: she must read, read, read and write, write, write. The habit of writing begets writing. When one style of writing stalls, try something else for a little bit. Whenever I need a break from fiction, I write more nonfiction and poetry for awhile, then dive back into writing fiction with a renewed sense of calling. I could also expand it to say a writer writes even when she doesn’t feel like it.”  – Darlene Franklin

Darlene Franklin’s latest novella release in the collection: Love and Hope at Christmas

“Once you have published, remember to take care of your self. Protect and nurture the creative force inside, or as some say, ‘Refill the well.’ It sounds cliche’ but it’s incredibly important. Spend time reading. Spend time with Jesus, with family, with friends. Anything that’s not writing. Make time to recharge. To do otherwise leads to burnout from which you may not ever recover. For new writers, II Timothy 2:15 says to “Study to show thyself approved.” This is true in our Christian walk, of course, but also in our writing journey. Writing is a craft that must be learned. So write, study, and then rewrite using what you’ve learned. Rinse and repeat. Don’t be impatient to get your work out there. You want it to be the best it can be.”  –  Linda Goodnight

Learn more about Linda Goodnight

“Persevere and never give up no matter how long you wait and learn all you can from those with experience. When the time is right in God’s eyes, He will open the door for you to enter the new adventures that wait with your writing.”  – Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers’s latest book: Diagnosis Love

“Don’t make any move in writing or publishing without waiting for that peace from God in your spirit. If you don’t have an answer from Him, don’t take a step forward.”  – Misty Beller

Misty Beller’s latest book: Hope’s Highest Mountain

“Do not fall in love with winning awards, making money or being published. That part of writing is an emotional roller coaster. Instead, make sure what nourishes you, what gets you out of bed in the morning, is sitting alone in a room listening to the keyboard click while you create worlds, watch characters grow and change and get at some deeper truth that only a story can reveal.”  – Sharon Dunn

Learn more about Sharon Dunn

“Writers have a tendency to procrastinate, then write like crazy near a deadline. That’s dangerous, as it’s highly stress-producing and too easy to miss that deadline. Whether you are a seat of the pants writer (pantser) or an outline/synopsis writer (plotter), it’s good to get a handle on that procrastination. Set a daily goal, even if it’s just 1/2 hour or four hours. Write something. Sometimes stream of consciousness writing gets the juices flowing. If you’re staring into space, think about something creative – preferably about your characters and your story. Write down those thoughts. Make writing something down a habit. Ideas begin to flow when we put our minds in gear.”  – Sunni Jeffers

Learn more about Sunni Jeffers

“Write what you need to read, and dedicate your work to the Lord from the beginning. Also, remember that You can’t run a race if you’re looking around at what others are doing.  You’ll stumble and fall flat on your face. We have to keep our eye on the goal – pleasing Jesus!”  – Francine Rivers

Learn more about Francine Rivers

“Soon after my move from the ABA (general market) to the CBA (Christian market), someone asked me how I measured my success. For many writers, measuring success is all about bestseller lists, awards, and/or the amount of money one makes. For someone writing for the Lord, that is dangerous ground. Measuring leads to comparing, and that’s a slippery slope. Back in 2000, I highlighted these verses, followed by a note in the margin:

So Peter seeing [John, the disciple whom Jesus loved] said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’ (John 21:21-22)

“The note in the margin said:

Jesus was saying, ‘Don’t look at what I’m doing with someone else’s life. Don’t look at what I’m doing with their career. All that should concern you is what I’m doing in your life.’ In other words, keep your nose out of John’s business!!

  – Robin Lee Hatcher

Learn more about Robin Lee Hatcher

“Don’t compare yourself to others. Because if you do, as the Desiderata instructs, ‘You’ll either become vain. Or bitter.’ Run your own race and cheer on the authors running beside you. Truly being able to rejoice with your author buddies when they get a movie deal or a major award or make the #1 Bestseller slot is one of the best things about writing. Because when you realize that God has your writing, your career, in the palm of his hand, it’s easier to let go of the comparison game. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be tempted to look over at the next lane and think, ‘Wow, I’d sure like to be running her race!’ Hey, the ‘old flesh’ dies hard. But it does mean that you can ask the Holy Spirit to recenter your thoughts on Jesus and on the race that God has specifically set out for you to run (Hebrews 12:1-2).”  – Tamera Alexander

Learn more about Tamera Alexander

“Stay focused on God and on Jesus and on what they’re asking you to do. Don’t worry about marketing. Don’t worry about a publisher or an agent liking your manuscript. Don’t write for that reason. Write out of obedience and just focus on being obedient. All the details of your journey, whether or not you’re published, whatever God is seeking to accomplish through you on this writing journey, that’s His circus and His monkeys. The only thing you have control over is you and your obedience. That’s where you need to stay focused.”  – Karen Ball

“Go with God and enjoy the journey. Enjoy with God, and go deep with Him. This is all about what you and God are doing together. What are you learning from Him? What exciting things does His presence hold for you? Do that. Stay there and He’ll give you things to write.”  – Erin Taylor Young

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young’s latest book: Finding and Working with an Editor: Everything You Need to Know for a (Nearly) Pain-Free Edit


What’s your best advice for writers?


Celebrate our 100th podcast with us as proven authors share their best advice for the writing life!


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Special thanks to our August sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff! You can find out more about another important cause she sponsors at

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!


Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.


099 – Spiritual Footholds: When Words Lead Us Into Sin

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Spiritual Footholds When Words Lead Us Into Sin Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungDoes what you say to people matter? Even some off-handed, albeit snarky, comment to a total stranger? Don’t some people deserve our disdain or even condemnation? Really, who cares if you use your skill with words to put someone in his or her place? The answer just may surprise you.

But first, some exciting news!

Our newest Going Deeper Workshop, Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk, is now available! 

We all hear those voices—the ones that tell us we’re not good enough. That we’re wasting our time. That everyone will someday discover we’re a fraud.

But you can stop damaging thoughts in their tracks and replace them with truth. This course will help you:

  • identify your damaging self-talk
  • recognize lies and replace them with truth
  • develop the mindset you need to eliminate negative messages
  • discover the connection between feelings and the words we speak to ourselves
  • and so much more!

Because we believe this material is so important, we’re offering an introductory price of $49, which will last through the end of August. CLICK HERE to start now!

Spiritual Footholds: When Words Lead Us Into Sin

In our first podcast on spiritual footholds (episode 94, “The Danger of Discontent”), we talked about what footholds are and why we need to be so aware of and careful about them. Today we’re looking at another foothold that can open the door to the enemy, granting him access to our hearts and minds: our spoken words.

We all know that words contain power. They can breathe life or death into the world and into the lives of those around us. They uplift and encourage. And they tear down and destroy. Words, especially our spoken words, don’t just go out into the world and have no impact. God makes that clear in Isaiah 55, especially in verses 9-11.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Consider if we rework verse eleven a bit and apply it to our own spoken words: so are my words that go out from my mouth: They will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I spoke them.

The trouble with us, though, is that we too often speak words not fueled by a desire to water the earth and make it flourish.

Far too often, our words are fueled by emotions, especially negative emotions. And what happens when we speak those negative emotion-fueled words? They will not return to us empty. They will accomplish what we desire in the moment we speak them and achieve the purpose for which we spoke them.

And they’re not good purposes.

That’s not a good thing. Not for others. And not for us.  When we let emotions fuel our words, we use the very gift God gave us—words—to sin.

We need to consider where our words stem from. In Matthew 12:34b, Jesus says, “…For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  (ESV)

Jesus calls us to a higher standard with not just our words, but with our hearts that birth our words. Listen to what Jesus says in the sermon on the mount:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’”

It’s easy for us to say, “Great, I’m in the clear because I haven’t killed anyone today.” But Jesus knows us too well, so he follows up with:

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

So, let’s take a look at what can make our words sinful. What are possible sources?

1.  Words that stem from anger

Angry words too often contain violence and are dishonoring to God and to His creation.

Anger in and of itself is not a sin, so long as it’s anger at things that anger God: Righteous anger. But when our anger comes from our self-focused emotions, and when we let those emotions build without seeking God’s work through it, it can become a cancer in our hearts and spirits. And it can lead us deep into sin, such as when it goes from anger to rage. Or violence, sometimes in actions, sometimes in words.

Consider James 1:20-26:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you…Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Did you catch that? Our human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires! There’s a word planted within us that can save us but if you don’t control your tongue, your religion is worthless! Hard truths that we need to take to heart.

Then there’s Ephesians 4:26-31:

“Do not give the devil a foothold…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

When our words stem from those negative emotions, they can grieve the Holy Spirit! And they give the devil a chance to establish a foothold in our hearts and minds.

Even worse, those spoken words can give the devil that same opportunity in the hearts and minds of those to whom we speak those angry words. When we say something in anger, it can bore into a person’s heart and spirit and change their lives. But not for the better.

Two more verses about anger:

“Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16:32

Anger, friends, can be a powerful weapon against others when we let it spark words that hurt and destroy. And when we do that, we give the devil an opportunity to form a foothold.

2. Careless Words

When we write, we’re so purposeful in what we put on the page. That book is going to be out there for a long time, right? We analyze our written words. We edit and revise to make sure what we write says what we want it to say, and that it’s clear in communicating what we want. But let’s face it, we’re seldom that careful and purposeful with our spoken words.

In today’s world, people seem to be more careless with words than ever before. Remember how in Ephesians 4 we’re warned not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths? But nowadays, criticism, sarcasm, even obscenities are everywhere. Even among God’s people. And all of that is unwholesome.

Webster’s defines unwholesome this way:

: detrimental to physical, mental, or moral well-being : UNHEALTHY

The second description is :


: offensive to the senses : LOATHSOME

How often have we laughed at a sarcastic comment without considering the feelings of the person that the sarcasm is directed at? It doesn’t feel good to them. It’s detrimental to their well-being.

Have you noticed how profanity seems to have seeped into everyday conversation? Again, even among believers. So many today say it really doesn’t matter if you use profanity. But it’s clear it does matter. To God. And to us. Profanity doesn’t belong in the life of a believer. At all. Why?

Because, according to Colossians 3:8, it belongs to our baser, earthly nature, not our new nature in Christ. “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

According to Matthew 15:10-11, it defiles those who use it. “Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.’”

The bottom line of careless words, no matter what kind they are, is that each of us will have to give account for our words, and—get this—we’ll either be justified or condemned by them. Matthew 12: 34-37 says, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

3. Words that stem from contempt

Words that stem from contempt give the picture of our heart. And it’s not pretty.

Here’s what Romans 3:13-18 has to say about people who speak such words:

“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness…ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Let’s go back to Matthew 5:22:

“…whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Why is the judgement on these kinds of words so severe? Because what’s in our heart when we say, “You fool” is judgment. It’s Pride. It’s Contempt. It’s us saying, “I don’t value you. I’m better than you.”

There is nothing more arrogant than that, because all people are created in God’s image. He values them, they belong to Him. We have no right to place our own judgments ahead of God’s truth.

Judgment belongs to God, and we need to trust Him. Just because someone has insulted us or hurt us or cut us off in traffic, or whatever we consider wrong or unforgivable in the moment, that doesn’t give us the right to speak words of contempt. Or to let ourselves become bitter and judgmental. We’re not perfect either.

Psalm 37:7-8 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.”

4. Words from the enemy

Words that stem from the enemy wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t listen to them. But for some reason, we seem oh-so-attuned to what he has to say. And what’s more, we take those words in and turn them into negative thoughts (John 14:27) and negative self talk. In fact, negative self-talk is so prevalent, and so pervasive, that we’ve developed an online workshop, Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk, to help people get rid of it. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Practicing mindful speaking

How do we become better stewards of our spoken words? How do we ensure they don’t stem from any of these potential footholds?

First, the moment you start to let such words escape your lips, stop. Pray. Seek God’s truth.

And second, in place of such words, speak God’s words. For example:

  • In place of anger, speak peace

You can make it a prayer, here’s one you can adapt from Romans 15:13:

God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • In place of hurt, speak restoration

Memorize this: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

  • In place of pride, speak appreciation

Focus on what touches you in others. Focus on seeing Jesus in others.

  • In place of criticism, speak God’s delight in them

Focus on the good things in that person or in what that person did.

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4

  • In place of fear, focus on confidence

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

  • In place of regret, speak praise

Instead of fretting over the past, praise God for the path He’s put you on, for the way He’s working in it. The way He’s been present.

  • In place of discontent, focus on gratitude

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

  • In place of self-focus, focus on God

Think about God’s goodness, God’s character. Think about who you are in Him, and that without Him, we are nothing.

Confidence in God

The good news is we don’t have to do this on our own. Ezekiel 36:25-28 gives us an amazing promise:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”

we want to hear from you!

Have you ever regretted words you’ve spoken? What steps do you take to guard your mouth?


Are you letting your emotions fuel harmful actions and words?


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Special thanks to our August sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff! You can find out more about another important cause she sponsors at

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!


Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

098 – The Joy of Writers’ Conferences with Guest Marilyn Rhoads

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The Joy of Writers Conferences with Guest Marilyn Rhoads on the Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

Writer—and president of Oregon Christian Writers—Marilyn Rhoads shares what makes the OCW conference such a joyous event. And how God uses writers’ groups and conferences to build lifelong friendships and support systems for writers. Come listen in and share the fun!

About Marilyn Rhoads

Marilyn Rhoads serves as president and Cascade Writing Contest Co-Chair for Oregon Christian Writers. She has taught in the Salem and Eugene public school districts and owned her own bookstore, Books and Things. As executive director of Orchard Inn, a non-profit agency, Marilyn wrote an extensive number of well-funded grants. She also fund-raised and marketed for the organization. Marilyn free-lanced for Harvest House Publishers as a proofer and end-reader for several years. She is involved in two critique groups and writes historical romance novels. The mother of two grown daughters, Marilyn and her husband, Jim, reside in the countryside near Eugene, Oregon, and are University of Oregon graduates. Marilyn holds a B.A. and an M.A.

Thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we can now provide an edited transcript of our interview!

Erin: Welcome, writers. We’re so excited to have you here with us in the deep. We have a guest! Yes we do!

Karen: Yay!

Erin: Her name is Marilyn Rhoads, and I’m going to let Karen tell you guys all about her.

Karen: I met Marilyn years, and years, and years ago at one of the Oregon Christian Writers Conferences. We’d been writers for a lot of years and have both participated in this conference, which is a great conference, and we’ll talk some about that. She’s a writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest, the best place in the world to live.

She’s the president of the fifty-six-year-old Oregon Christian Writers. They’re the group that holds that conference. And, just so you know, Oregon Christian Writers is a 501c3 organization. You know what that means? That means you can make donations that go to tuition assistance for the annual OCW conference or to one of their three one-day conferences. They really believe in giving back to conferences.

Marilyn has been a secondary teacher and a reading specialist, an independent bookstore owner, and she’s a prolific grant writer. She’s also a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Marilyn, welcome! We are so happy to have you here with us.

Marilyn: Well thanks! It’s wonderful to be with the two of you.

Erin: So, Marilyn, right off the bat let’s put you on the spot. We always ask people what does the deep mean to them. It’s different for everyone, and we love hearing the answers. So what does the deep mean to you?

Marilyn: The deep means laying down your life for Jesus. Doing whatever it takes to obey. To love others.

Karen: I love that.

Erin: That’s a great answer. As you’re in the deep, doing whatever it takes to obey, that makes me think about your service to Oregon Christian Writers. How did you even get started going to Oregon Christian Writers? What led you to them and led you to now become the president?

Marilyn: I was interested in doing fiction writing and I love historical romance. I spent a number of years doing various things. I had a bookstore, I was a teacher before that. I ran a nonprofit, a 501c3 here in the city of Eugene for homeless young women under the age of 21.

Erin: Wow.

Marilyn: I did extensive grant writing, and I’d sit there working with budgets which had to comply with the IRS. And I’d say, “Lord, someday please could I write something I enjoy?”

He gave me that desire. He fulfilled it. And I had started working for a missionary. She had a worldwide ministry. I had helped her write a book and then I wrote a book for her. We were going great guns and the Lord said to me, “No, you’re done.”

I said, “What?”

He said, “No. Write.”

I said, “I am writing. Write what?”

He never did tell me. I said, “Fine. I’ll write what I like.” So I did. I started writing, and I thought, “I need some help. I really do need some help, even though I’m an English major. There must be other writers somewhere.”

My husband saw a tiny little 2 x 2″ notice in the local paper and said, “There’s a Christian writing conference being held in Eugene. I think you ought to go.”

So I did and I thought, “Oh, what a sweet little organization with a little Mennonite president in her cap, and a treasurer who’s in her eighties, aww, how nice they are.” And then I heard their budget and I went. “Whoa. These people are professionals and they mean business!”

I have been a teacher and a union rep years ago so I understood what it took to run an organization like that. So I was very impressed.

Karen: That is very cool.

Erin: So what benefit do you think you’ve gotten from being involved in that organization?

Marilyn: Well, you make a lot of lifetime friendships. I’m very close to people in my critique group. I’m close to people I volunteer with because we’ve been through a lot together. As you go through challenges together and you have to rely and lean on one another, you value one another more. You learn together.

Erin: Yeah.

Karen: So talk to us about your volunteering—you volunteer as the president. That’s a rarity these days, for someone to volunteer and do such a big job. So what draws you into being a volunteer?

Marilyn: Well, the answer I always give people is that I just made the mistake of volunteering one time too often! The real answer is that the selection committee came to me and said, “You have a choice.”

I said, “Really?”

They said, “Our president is retiring and her position will be open, so you can have one of two positions.”

I said, “I thought I was done here. I’m thinking I’m in my twilight years, can I just have some rest?” No.

So they said, “You can have either the summer conference director position or you can be president.” Lindy was already doing the summer conference director position, and she was one of the selection committee.

So I said, “Okay then. I guess I’ll be president.”

So they put my name up, and you know, we got in. I do have an interesting story of how I got my first job at OCW if you’re interested.

Karen: Yes, please.

Marilyn: Well, I had only been around for year. I had been to all their conferences, and one of the nominating committee was in my critique group, and she nominated me. They didn’t want me because I had only been in the organization for a year and some of these people had been in there since Moses was alive.

So they didn’t want me, and I thought, “Great, I don’t want you either. I mean, you’re wonderful, but I don’t want to volunteer. I’d been a professional volunteer for years. I don’t want to work that hard.”

The person they had in mind decided not to do it, so they asked me again. They just asked if I’d allow my name to run. So I asked my husband and I asked my Bible study leader, whom I respect greatly.

They said, “Did you pray about it?”

I said, “No, I don’t want to do it, so I didn’t pray about it.”

Karen: Because I know what God’s gonna say…

Marilyn: Yeah I knew what he was going to say. So I did pray, and I said, “All right here’s my bio. You can run my name on your election.”

One of my other critique partners said to me, “Marilyn, congratulations on being the new program officer!”

I said, “No, no. I just allowed my name to run.”

She said, “Sweetie, they only run one name.”

Being naïve is not exactly safe. You need to do your homework.

Karen: I love that. Well, you do a terrific job. You had me come in to be keynote speaker for one of your one-day conferences. In addition to doing the annual conference, which is a big deal, you guys have three one-day conferences throughout the year. That was so much fun. I only live about three and a half hours south of where the conference was being held and came in.

The thing that has always impressed me about OCW is just how warm and friendly everyone is there. And how open they are to hearing what you have to say. When I got up on the stage to speak, everybody was just on the edge of their seats. They were there, and they were excited, and they were involved and ready to hear what God had for them. I really enjoy the conference a lot.

Marilyn: Well, we liked having you. I have a story about you. You were there, and there was a glitch at the summer conference. You know, big conferences, there’s always a glitch when you get that many people together. I said to you as we were passing in the hall, “I need a favor. We have a new conferee who’s heartbroken because she submitted her manuscript but it didn’t get reviewed. I’ve heard you say before you spend five minutes per manuscript. Would you spend five minutes on this lady so she won’t cry?”

You said, “Of course.” And you did it. So I thought that was wonderful!

Karen: That’s neat!

Marilyn: I remember at another conference, one of the editors was ill, and he had nineteen manuscripts to review. He was deathly ill with the flu, and you came up and said, “I’ll do it.” So I think when it comes to laying down your life, Karen, you have really done some wonderful things for OCW.

Karen: Oh, thank you. Well, I love you guys. I really do. It was interesting, for a lot of years the summer conference used to be over my birthday. When I was working at the publishing houses, you guys invited me every year. I told my husband, “I love this conference, but I’m only going to do it every other year so at least I have a couple of years of birthday at home.”

Marilyn: Aw, that’s wonderful.

Erin: The cool thing about those conferences, you mentioned Karen as a faculty member, I mean, being on both sides—I’ve been on both sides as well, as a faculty member and attendee—I love how the faculty are always pulling for the conferees.

For those writers out there who maybe feel a bit intimidated by going to a writers conference, the faculty there are pulling for you. The volunteers are pulling for you. The people who put those conferences together are pulling for you and rooting for you. We’re always there to help, to do good, wherever and however we can, because we’re all on the same team. We all want to see God glorified. We want to see words on paper that change lives through God’s grace.

Marilyn: That’s right. We are all on the same team headed for the same direction with the same ultimate destination in mind.

Karen: Right. That’s one of the blessings of writing for God. You’re not in it for yourself. You’re in it to accomplish His purposes, and only He knows what those purposes are—whether it’s publication or whether it’s something else. The beauty of it is when you meet people at a writers conference and when you establish, like you said, those life long friendships, you can support each other in the midst of the journey. When things get difficult you have friends there to lift you up. When things are great you have people to rejoice with you. You can’t replace that sense of community.

Marilyn: No, you can’t.

Erin: Having been, as you have said, to many OCW conferences, tell us a little bit about what one day at one of the conferences would look like. Maybe the summer conference? It’s coming up right? That’s in August?

Karen: It is.

Erin: We’ll have a link to that conference, guys, in the show notes. So, Marilyn, if you can, describe what one day at the summer conference would look like.

Marilyn: Well we do breakfast however you want it, which is relaxing. You don’t have to be downstairs at 8 AM. You can choose when you appear. We have devotions. Which aren’t likely because I’m a night owl.

Karen: Yeah, me too.

Marilyn: I’m with friends for a long time in the evening. Our theme is Cheetos and chocolate in my room. We actually had someone show up and think that we had chocolate-covered Cheetos. No, we don’t. We have Cheetos and chocolate, and we always bring extra food. My roommate is Julie Zander. We do the Cascade Contest together, so we’re war veterans. We have to work very closely together on that one.

So we get up and do breakfast however you want it. You can go sit in the restaurant and look at the river, which is fabulous. The location is incredible. Or you can have room service. Or we usually just bring a muffin and coffee or tea or whatever. And then we go downstairs and we have devotions and morning worship. And that’s fabulous. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. This year Bob Hostetler is going to give our little devotional messages every morning.

Karen: Aw, he’s great.

Marilyn: He’s funny! I know, he’s wonderful. Then we go to our coaching class. I’m going to go to Stephen James this year. By the way he’s doing the early bird the first day of the conference. So we go to a coaching class, whatever you choose, I think there’s thirteen different ones, seven hours total.

Erin: Nice!

Marilyn: Then we get out for lunch. OCW still does the name tags on the table so you can sit with an agent or editor or whomever you choose to sit with. We also do something wonderful for new people. I’m kind of in charge of the newbies, and we have special tables for them. If they want to get together, network and pass around cards and be there together, they can do that.

I always have special people situated at those tables to give them great advice. Sometimes it’s a shortcut. They wanted to see a Karen Ball or an Erin Taylor Young, but they’re trying to publish a cookbook, that might not be in their best interest. So we’ll try to put them with the right person and shortcut what’s happening with their conference objectives.

In the afternoon, there are two workshops. People choose from about twenty-four. Then we usually have a panel at about 5 o’clock. An agents panel, magazine editors, book editors panel, something current that’s going on. And then we break for dinner.

The bookstore is always going on, the prayer room is always going on. On day two, the writing center appointments go on, where you can actually meet with an editor or an agent for fifteen minutes each.

Erin: Nice.

Marilyn: Or we have something different, which are mentor appointments, and those are half an hour. For example, I hope to get a mentor appointment with Brian Bird, the screenwriter.

Karen: Ah, right.

Marilyn: Yeah. So there are all sorts of things to do. After dinner, we start night owls. Those usually go until ten o’clock at night. When you’re through, you can socialize, do your homework, or read the note book and find out what’s going on the next day.

The wise person doesn’t do everything. I usually do everything. There are poetry readings. We had Frank Paretti come, and he brought his guitar and they did a jam session downstairs. So there’s all sorts of breakout points. I think Thomas Umstattd is doing podcasting.

Erin: Nice.

Marilyn: There’ll be a critique group one night. All sorts of things. And then we have the big Cascade Contest awards. That’s done by James Rubart and Susan May Warren. They’re awesome, and it’s very, very funny. Susan May Warren wrote the script last year, and my name is Marilyn, so they did the James Bond thing and they called me M and my partner Q. So they’re very funny. They’re hysterical when they get wound up together. That’s a very fun night with dessert afterwards.

We close the conference on Thursday morning with the half a day. We go to our coaching classes, then we come in and take communion together, which is a very sweet, touching, moving time. We’re bonding together. Some of us won’t see each other for a whole year because I believe we have people coming from twenty-four states and two countries.

Erin: Wow.

Karen: That’s great.

Erin: I love the way you describe this, Marilyn, because it’s so clear that it’s a joy and it’s a passion of your heart. That’s one of the reasons Karen and I have been wanting to talk about writing conferences—to help people know what a beautiful thing these are and how beneficial they are. I love the way you’ve described it. It’s like a big party where you get to learn stuff and praise God.

Karen: That’s right.

Marilyn: That’s exactly what it is. We try not to tell our husbands that, but that’s what it is! And we get more and more men, by the way, every year, which is great. For many years that wasn’t the case, but now we’re getting more and more men interested, and lots of pastors are in that audience.

And we have Aaron Doerr from Rolling Hills Church, who is their music director, and he comes and directs our Music for the evening sessions. It is over the moon, I’m telling you. It is fantastic. The spiritual depth and quality is something that many people don’t have at home. We always get people remarking on that and the evaluations.

Erin: Right, and I think for people who don’t have the support at home, necessarily, this is also a good shot in the arm. Not everybody feels like they’re getting support and understanding from their friends and neighbors and all that.

I want to go back to the Cascade Writing Contest that you mentioned. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Marilyn: That’s something that happens every year. It opens on Valentine’s Day and closes on March 31. People can enter in whatever category they choose. I think we have 22 or 23 categories. If the category is thin, sometimes we’ll put middle grade books in with young adult or something else suitable.

I do published and my partner, Julie Zander, does unpublished. So we have something for everyone. Then we ask our members to put their hand to the plow and do some heavy sacrificing to judge all these things. We have preliminary rounds. I go to a midsized church, and they’re getting to the point where they call it Marilyn’s book club. Because if you’re there and you’re breathing and you’re a competent human being, you are automatically judging. We get some wonderful reactions.

In the final round, we have professionals do the judging. They judge three finalists. Jane Kirkpatrick was a judge this year, and Jim Hill. We have a number of notable people judging.

Karen: That’s terrific.

Marilyn: Then we do two trophies beyond that. Generally two. We do a Writer of Promise, where we’re looking around to find somebody who we think has a wonderful future ahead of them. Karen Barnett was one, and Camille Eide, and April McGowan. Then we do the Trailblazer Award for people who have been there and who’ve given and given from their heart to help empower other writers. One of them has been Leslie Gould. Melody Dobson. Judy Gann. So we have people who are powerhouses. Sally Stewart who did the Christian Writers Market Guide for twenty-seven years.

Karen: Sally is wonderful.

Marilyn: OCW has birthed some powerful people in the past. I’ve heard Lorraine Snelling say that more than one time. She came out of OCW.

Erin: Wonderful.

Karen: Well, Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing your excitement and enthusiasm. It’s so clear that Oregon Christian Writers and their conferences are all focused on serving God and helping writers do that same thing. I’m just so grateful for the conference and for all that you’ve done for them and for sharing about them with our listeners today.

For those of you who are listening, you can learn more about both the organization and the conference at You can find out more about Marilyn on her website at So, Marilyn, again, thank you so much for coming. Here’s to another great conference this year.

Marilyn: Thanks, ladies!

Erin: Yes, thank you!

Oregon Christian Writers Conference

We want to hear from you!

Do you have a writing group? Have you met writers at conferences who’ve become close friends?


Guest @MarilynRhoads shares what makes the OCW conference such a joyous event!


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Special thank you to Wendy L. Macdonald, our July sponsor of the month! You can learn more about her at her website Aside from being a writer, she produces a short, weekly, inspirational podcast called Walking with Hope for

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!


Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

097 – Words of Life

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Words of Life to Battle Busyness Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWe all want to write them: words of life. Yet all too often we get so caught up in the constant busyness of life that we reach the end of the day exhausted and even discouraged. But there’s a cure for that: God’s Words of life! This podcast is your chance to stop and listen. To let the comfort, encouragement, and power of God’s Words fill you to overflowing.

As Christian writers, we want to write words to refresh this weary world. Words to bring hope, joy, and peace in the face of struggle, sorrow, and temptations. But we can get so caught up in doing that task—and everything else that goes with it in the midst of our busy lives with all our responsibilities—that we can end up living our life in one big rush. We forget to get our fill of God’s Words of life. To drink from God’s refreshment waiting for us everyday as we meet with Him.

We want to dedicate this podcast to doing just that: being refreshed by God. If you do nothing else today, stop. Listen. Absorb. Soak in God’s Word.

“Slowly, steadily, surely the time is approaching when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems long in coming, be patient! It will not be overdue a single day.” Habakkuk 2:3  

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:5-8

“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, ‘What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’ So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

“When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.'” Exodus 14:5-16

“Never dread any consequence resulting from absolute obedience to His command. Never fear the rough waters ahead, which through their proud contempt impede your progress. God is greater than the roar of raging water and the mighty waves of the sea. ‘The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever’ (Psalm 29:10). A storm is simply the hem of His robe, the sign of His coming, and the evidence of His presence.” F.B. Meyer from Streams in the Dessert

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth….Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:12-18

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?'” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 11:33-12:13

“‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'” Isaiah 41:10-13

“…Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’…This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:24, 27

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 1Timothy 4:1-5

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:19-25

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25

Take that minute and stop and breathe and know that every breath is from God. He gives it to you, and He’s in control.

We hope that this time in God’s Word has been a refreshment and a blessing to you. It’s so important to take a moment and be immersed in what God has to say to us in His Word. So much truth. So much power. Let these words infuse you, and fill you, and remind you that you’re not in this alone. You’re not in this in your own power or doing it with your own ability. Everything you need to complete the task that God has given you, He supplies you. It’s not on your shoulders, it’s on His, because He’s the one who has given you this task.

“May the Lord give strength to [you]! May the Lord bless [you] with peace!” Psalm 29:11

We want to hear from you!

Do you have a life verse? Or what Scripture is especially meaningful to you right now?


Don’t let the busyness of life exhaust and depress you!


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Special thank you to our July sponsor of the month, Wendy L. Macdonald! You can learn more about her at her website Aside from being a writer, she produces a short, weekly, inspirational podcast called Walking with Hope for

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!


Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

096 – Why Writers Need Faith

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Why Writers Need Faith Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungBelievers talk about faith all the time, but what is it REALLY? What does it look like in the writing life? And why is it crucial for a writer’s heart? You may be surprised at the answers!

When we start our work calls, we like to read from Streams in the Desert, and then pray. One day we read this:

“Faith does not say, ‘I see this is good for me; therefore God must have sent it.’ Instead, faith declares, ‘God sent it; therefore it must be good for me.’” (Phillips Brooks, from Streams in the Desert, May 1)

Is that faith?

Yes. It’s about perspective. In the first example we judge whether something is good, and then decide God must have sent it. That’s too easy. And problematic, because not everything that happens to us outwardly looks like a good thing. In the second phrase, “God sent it, therefore it must be good for me,” the perspective acknowledges God’s sovereign hand, and then we trust that He knows what He’s doing, and that He’ll use it for our good.

definitions of faith

From Merriam Webster:

“Allegiance or duty to a person: loyalty”

“Belief and trust in and loyalty to God”

So yes, in our reading, that was faith, because it’s trust in God.

A few more definitions from Webster’s:

“A firm belief in something for which there is no proof”

“Complete trust”

“Something that is believed especially with strong conviction”


The Bible gives us a definition of faith as well. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Paul echoes that in 2 Corinthians 5:7 when he says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

What does that mean in our writing life? It means we can’t rely on our limited human sight and perspective as we navigate the writing life.

One of our big questions on our writing journey always seems to be: Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? And the way we typically try to answer that is by determining: Is this worth it? Am I seeing the benefit? Am I seeing a return on my investment of time and money? A return on what I’m doing that’s worth the cost of all the other things I could be doing that I’m not because I don’t have time now?

But that isn’t faith.

We can’t do that kind of cost analysis because that’s all about what we can see.  Remember, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

That’s why Paul also says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18. In the context, he’s talking about hardships and difficulties, the “light and momentary troubles,” that are “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” We as writers can totally relate to hardships and struggles. We can see those.

But walking by faith in the writing life means we can’t quantify the outcome of our efforts. We can’t say, “If I write a great book it will sell 50,000 copies.” It doesn’t work that way.

For some writers, we’ll have our writing read by others. Maybe hundreds, or thousands, or millions of others. But we can’t know that when we’re first learning the craft. We put huge amounts of time and energy into studying the craft— years— writing word after word, page after page, to become better writers over time. We don’t see the immediate results of that. It’s not like by page two we turn into Francine Rivers.

Then there’s years of pursuing knowledge about the industry, or learning about marketing. Years of building a platform bit by bit, never knowing if it will take off or if we’ll remain in relative obscurity.

Doing anything without seeing immediate results takes faith. And that glorifies God.

Think about the bigger picture here. You bring glory to God by walking in the path He told you to walk. The outcome is a better you. Even if no one ever reads your writing, you become a person, more conformed to the image of Christ by following Him in obedience. That’s a hope we can be sure of, like it said in Hebrews. That’s fixing our eyes on the unseen: on a vision of what we can be, but aren’t now.

One more practical thought about walking by faith not sight: If God gave us this task of writing, then we can’t be discouraged by what we can or can’t see. Don’t let your earthly vision dishearten you. God can do anything anytime, and most of the time we’re never going to see it coming.

But neither can we be distracted by what we can see.

Sometimes what you can see, and what you want to head for, isn’t where you should be going. We miss God’s direction because we think we know where we’re going. Walking by sight can get you where you’re not supposed to be.


We’ve talked about the definition of faith that’s found in Hebrews, but let’s go back to one of the dictionary definitions of faith: loyalty. How do we show loyalty to God?

It’s when we don’t give up on what He’s asked us to do, no matter what things look like, as we’ve said. It’s obedience, adherence.

But it’s also standing up for God. Speaking truth in the face of lies about Him, writing truth in a world full of darkness— worse, a world where people do what Isaiah warns about in 5:20:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

We live in that world, and it’s our job to show loyalty to what God calls good, and the light of God’s truth, and the sweetness of what’s good for us in God’s eyes.

Loyalty means we conform to His image, and not the image of the world. And we assign Him the value and glory He’s due, no matter what the world says. And no matter what the world tempts us to do.

Faith in the writing life means we’re loyal to Him and what He wants in our life instead of betraying Him with unethical behavior, for example.

Remember when Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt, and he’s in Potiphar’s house, and Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with him? How does he respond? He talks about how Potiphar made him responsible for everything and trusts him completely, but then in Genesis chapter 39, verse 9, he gets to the heart of his reason to resist: “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

That’s all about loyalty to God. And that didn’t come easy. It cost Joseph a great deal.

What about us? Are we willing to pay the cost? To do whatever it takes to be loyal? It’s easy to say yes, but harder to back it up with our actions.

Karen knew a best-selling author who’s had numerous companies option one of her most popular books for a movie. This book, made into a movie, will change lives. With each offer she prayed and sought God’s will.

Every option fell through. Some because the companies wanted to make changes to make the story more “palatable” to viewers. Some because they wanted to go a direction that would sensationalize the wrong things. Others because funding fell through. And on and on.

With each instance, she stayed focused on God, trusting that He was the one who made the deals not work. She’s now in negotiations with yet another company, and it may happen. But her stance is, “It’s in God’s hands. If He wants it to happen, it will.” She says her job is just to focus on Him and to be true to the story and message He gave her for the book.

two key components of faith

Action (doing)

Part of what faith means in the writer’s life is doing, acting, moving forward. It’s taking steps to go to that writers’ conference. To build relationships with readers and other writers. To get that book on craft and read it. To make time in your schedule to put your rear end in a chair and write. Then to write more. And to keep writing. To work for excellence. To keep submitting, keep publishing, no matter what the sales, no matter the rejections.

Keep doing until God says to stop, because all those things are your faith in action. Faith isn’t passive.

Look at the long list the writer of Hebrews gives us as examples of people acting in faith in chapter 11. Noah builds an ark, Abraham gets up and leaves his country, Rahab hides the spies who come to Jericho. They do all this because of their firm belief, trust, conviction, and loyalty, no matter what things look like.

Waiting (patience)

But there’s a flip side to all this doing, this action. It’s called waiting. That’s the second key component of faith. And we’re not talking about antsy, crabby, whiny waiting. We’re talking about waiting well. We call that patience. Patience is all about submitting to God’s timing.

Hebrews 11 covers that too. There’s a list of people who wait in hope, like Abraham and Sarah waiting for their promised child. And Abraham knowing he’d inherit the land one day, but never seeing it. Isaac and Jacob waiting for the same thing.

Waiting is good, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Waiting means we’re acknowledging our need for God to act on our behalf. And He does:

Isaiah 64:4 says “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”

So how does waiting look in the writing life?

Let’s face it, nothing moves quickly in this industry. Sometimes it’s patience as you’re waiting for responses from your submissions, or for your cover designer, or your critique group.

Sometimes it’s waiting months, years, as your craft improves.

Sometimes it’s waiting for the right timing for something you’ve written to go to market. Maybe God has told you to put that manuscript in a drawer and wait, and you don’t even know why. Maybe it’s a story that needs a more seasoned hand and you’re not there yet. Maybe the right audience isn’t ready for it. Whatever.

That happened to a friend of Erin’s. She wrote a novel that was good enough to get her signed with an agent, but unfortunately the industry wasn’t at a place where that manuscript could succeed. Ultimately no publisher wanted to take it on.

But all this time, she’s been honing her craft, writing other books, selling them pretty well, and building an audience. Finally, recently, she felt it was time to pick that manuscript up again.

That’s when she saw it could be so much more than it was. She hired a macro editor, got a long revision letter, and now she’s steadily rewriting it. And when she’s done, it’s going to be a much better book. A book it couldn’t have been a few years ago.

But will it be time to take it to the market? She doesn’t have that answer yet. All she knows is that now is the time to make it better. Then she’ll see what God says next.

That’s waiting well, and it’s also doing well. And at the end of the day, that pleases God.

The Fruit of Faith

Pleasing God
Faith is crucial for us not just as writers, but as followers of Christ, because Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “…without faith, it is impossible to please [God]…”

Why did He set things up this way? One reason is to help us could get the roles right: He’s God, we’re not. He gets the glory. But we get a reward for our faith.

Hebrews 11:6 goes on to say, “…for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” He knows what’s best for us, and what He has in store for us is perfect.

Another fruit of faith is peace. When we have unswerving belief, complete trust, unshakable loyalty to our God, what do we have to worry about? He’s taking care of us. He’s in control.

Our job is to rest in that. To stop striving. To stop trying to make things happen in our own strength. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep working toward excellence in craft, marketing, and everything else. But it means we do these things with peace deep in our heart. And that trickles right back out: “…Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34 ESV). You want the words you share with the world to be filled with deep, inner, soul-healing peace.

What is faith in the writer’s life?

Ultimately it’s a mindset and a lifestyle. It’s living with deep down conviction of who God is. It’s an unwavering choice to trust. To lay down our ability—or, more to the point, our inability—to predict and control, to measure with our insufficient human standards.

But you don’t do this on your own. Faith is a gift from God. Ask Him to build your faith, and He will. Why is faith crucial? It glorifies God. It brings peace, rest, hope, and joy to us, and through us to the world.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 can help us focus our hearts and minds when we need to act in faith: “May the LORD direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” Dwelling on God‘s love for us helps us know and trust Him. So let’s focus on Him, on who He is, on how very much He loves us, and leave everything else to God.

we want to hear from you!

What do you think faith is? How does it play out for you in your writing life?


What is faith? And why does it matter in your writing life?

Thank you!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Special thank you to our June sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain. Watch for her first book, Make Known His Path, a Christian speculative novel, to be released sometime this summer!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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