103 – Foundation of Family with Guest Misty M. Beller

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Foundation of Family Guest Misty Beller Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungThe days when writers could do nothing but write are long gone. No one knows that better than our guest, Misty M. Beller. She’s a wife, a mom of four (one of whom is only 3 months old!), a writer, a marketer, and a publisher. And, with her release, This Healing Journey, she’s a USA Today bestselling author! How does she manage to do it all without losing her mind? Come listen as she shares the key to all she does.

About Misty M. Beller

Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love. She writes as both an indie author and for Bethany House Publishers, and is Managing Editor of Wild Heart Books, a traditional publisher specializing in Christian historical romance novels. Find out more about Misty at her website mistymbeller.com. Learn about her marketing techniques at The Ambitious Author.

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Karen: [00:01:20] Hey guys, it’s time to go into the deep again. Thank you so much for joining us today. We know how valuable your time is, and we’re so honored that you choose to spend that time with us. And today you get to spend time as well with our guest, Misty M. Beller!

Erin: [00:01:33] Yay! And I get to introduce her.

I’ve known Misty for a while now, and gosh you guys, Misty has been a blessing in my life. This girl is a joy to get to know. She writes romantic mountain stories set on the 1880s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love. When I read her books, guys, I’m always amazed at her skill and the way her skill keeps growing.

She says her husband and her children are the loves of her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy, sane and out of her mind. She was raised, get this, on a farm in South Carolina. So her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and she tries to continue to keep that a priority today. And we’re going to be talking about some of that.

God has placed a desire in her heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler farm life, writing historical novels that display His abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters. So guys, writing is her passion, and that’s one of the fun things that we’re going to get to talk to her about today.

So welcome Misty, who’s a marketing genius, a wonderful writer, and if I’m right, a recent USA Today bestselling author.

Misty: [00:02:48] Yes, that is the case. That was completely God’s doing. I can take absolutely no credit for it. But I was excited that my July, or June actually, my June release hit the USA Today list.

Karen: [00:03:03] That’s outstanding. Congratulations!

Erin: [00:03:05] It is, and we’re going to go into that more. But first, Misty, let’s talk about the deep. Let’s talk about what the deep means to you.

Misty: [00:03:14] Yeah, I went back and forth with this question because it really, to me, does have two meanings. But my first response, the response that pops into my mind, is the tough times. The deep that you have to wade through. The mire, the slog that feels like it’s just sucking you in, and it’s so hard to climb out of. But yet the other meaning is, on the face, feels like the opposite. I imagine going deep with God and really being connected to Him. But then as I was thinking through both of those meanings, and which one really spoke to me more, I realized that in my mind they’re really connected. When I’m in that mire, that mud that’s so tough to slog through, that is the time that God draws me closest to Him. Where I’m really exposed and I need Him the most. And I can then connect to Him the most.

Erin: [00:04:15] Yeah.

Misty: [00:04:16] In a nutshell, that’s the deep for me.

Karen: [00:04:20] Makes a lot of sense.

Erin: [00:04:21] So let’s talk a little bit about something else you wrote on your website. You said, “Writing is my passion and my family, both immediate and extended, is the foundation that holds me secure in my dreams.”

One of the reasons why I was looking forward to this interview with you, Misty, is to talk about your family and how are you doing that? How are you staying grounded in family? As you are a full-time writer––you are the support in terms of financial support––you are supporting your family on your writing, and yet you just had a baby. Number four. Baby number four, you guys!

So your youngest now is what? Three and a half months old? How are you doing this?

Misty: [00:05:06] I have no idea. And quite honestly, I feel so inadequate every day. It just seems like I don’t accomplish what I want to accomplish. But one of the things that I’m really trying to do and have to do because my family is––in all honesty––my family is a little bit more important than my writing. Although the writing has to go well for the family to do well. Just from a financial perspective.

But I’m blessed with four kiddos. My oldest daughter is twelve and then the next one’s eight and the next one is three and then our little boy is now three and a half months.

My husband’s not able to work. So the books are income, and honestly God has truly blessed me with the ability to write, for my job to be something that I love so much.

Karen: [00:06:01] Yes.

Misty: [00:06:02] But I have to do it every day. It is work to me. Work that I enjoy, but it’s still, you know, something that I sit down and do every day.

I wouldn’t be able to do that, honestly, without my extended family. My mom helps with the kids so much. I don’t think I can do any of it without her. She’s also one of my beta readers. She also helps proofread my books. She is just such a blessing to me. I didn’t realize what a blessing she was in my teenage years.

Karen: [00:06:37] Do we ever?

Misty: [00:06:40] Since I became an adult and a mom myself, she’s also, I would say, one of my very closest friends.

Karen: [00:06:47] So what does God taught you about discipline on this journey?

Misty: [00:06:51] He’s still teaching me. I definitely haven’t arrived there. But there’s so much to do each day. I won’t get it done, and I won’t be able to fit into the pockets of time that I have between taking the kids to school and giving each one a little bit of time each day.

I won’t be able to get the work that I need to get done done unless I’m intentional about what has to be done. Making strong lists and really focusing on knocking out the things that are urgent. Honestly right now, this time in my life, I’m pushing deadlines a little closer than I want to push them.

Karen: [00:07:31] Right.

Misty: [00:07:32] I need to know exactly what has to be done when, and friends and readers have been very gracious when my responses aren’t quite as quick as I want them to be. If it were a perfect world, I would be on top of everything and I’m not. Erin has been such a great friend to remind me to extend a little bit of grace to myself. And I’m also just grateful that everyone around me has also extended some grace.

Karen: [00:08:02] A real good friend of mine who was a Bible study leader––we have a Bible study that we attended for 20 years––pointed me to the verse that talks about “love your neighbor as yourself.” And he says we all love to hang on that “love your neighbor,” but we miss that offbeat comment that he makes, “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we treated our neighbors the way we treated ourselves, our neighbors would be moving out! So he was saying, you know, it’s imperative that you treat yourself well, so that you are equipped and refreshed and able to love others and treat them well.

So, being able to let go of the pressures we put on ourselves and to give ourselves that grace when we can’t accomplish everything that we want to, and knowing that none of that is a surprise to God. All of it is in God’s hands and in His timing and we can rest in that so that’s a very important realization.

Erin: [00:08:55] One of the things that I love about how you work though, Misty, is that you’re very, very organized. I’ve seen your flowcharts. I’ve seen your Excel spreadsheet for your releases and what you do, and I want to swing back around a little bit. When we talked about you getting on that bestseller list and you say that is all God, yes, that’s true. That is all God. But at the same time you did what you thought was the wisest marketing for that to happen. Talk a little bit about your philosophy of planting those marketing seeds, but then leaving it in God’s hands.

Misty: [00:09:34] Yeah, so I’ve been writing for a number of years now and I published my first book, I indie published it, back in 2014, and it’s been a very steady journey since then. At the time I was working in the corporate world, and I was doing a good bit of project management and eventually did some marketing as well. And I really like to analyze and try new things and see what works and tweak the process. I just really enjoy that strategy type thing.

So I’ve applied that to my books, and I’ve learned so much through the years. Just learning from people that I respect and have done what I want to be able to do with my books, then applying each of those steps with my newsletter, getting to know readers, really identifying what type of books I wanted to write, narrowing down my brand, connecting with readers who enjoy the same books that I enjoy and that I enjoy writing. Which for me, you read some of that description on my website, Erin, that it’s really mountain stories. I connect with people who love those adventurous stories set in the mountains. Really an escape from reality. A simpler time but a much tougher time.

Erin: [00:10:54] Yeah.

Karen: [00:10:56] It’s interesting. It’s an escape from reality, but it’s not. Because the things that we learn from going on those vicarious journeys, the truths from Scripture, those are all timeless. And so that’s why it’s so important to read the books that have that Christian foundation because everything that we read in our “entertainment” actually becomes a learning opportunity for our relationship with God and with those around us.

Misty: [00:11:27] That is so true. And I learn so much with each book that I write. And God tends to either have me put what I’m learning at the time as the spiritual arc for one of my characters, or else He teaches me what He wants me to learn as I’m writing, which has kind of been the case in this book that I’m just finishing right now.

But kind of back to your comment, Erin, in each book I’ve worked so hard to make not only the writing better, but also to be a little smarter, to be a little better steward of the resources that God has been building. So, get each book into the hands of a few more readers, continue to grow my email list between each launch.

So it’s just gradually amped up until book seven in that series released and did really well.

Karen: [00:12:22] That’s great.

Erin: [00:12:23] So it’s faithful planting is what it is.

Misty: [00:12:26] Yeah, and I guess maybe it’s the same steady growth that writing a novel requires. You know, every day I sit down and, Lord willing, write two thousand words. I’m not doing so well with that.

Karen: [00:12:43] Oh come on, just because you have a baby?

Erin: [00:12:47] How is the two thousand words happening with a three-month-old baby?

Misty: [00:12:51] There have, I think, been three days since the baby was born that I’ve actually written two thousand words.

I’ve come close many days. I’ve dropped my word count just a little bit. 1,500 is the minimum that I’ll allow myself, and hopefully I’ll reach the 2,000.

And if I don’t, that’s part of giving myself some grace. Giving a little more of a buffer on the front end and back end of each book, and just kind of working things different ways. But I write words each day and I work to grow my readership each day and it’s just that same steady dedication.

Erin: [00:13:29] Yeah.

Misty: [00:13:29] Knowing what’s important to me. John Maxwell has, I think he calls it his rule of five? He narrows down his core work that he wants to do to five things, and he works on those five things every single day, whether it’s just five minutes with each of them, and over time each of those things grows and develops.

So I’ve tried to do that same thing with my writing and my marketing. Steady growth.

Erin: [00:14:01] If I’m not mistaken, you’re also homeschooling? Let’s just add to the pile there, all right?

Karen: [00:14:07] Just take me out and shoot me. I can’t believe that.

Misty: [00:14:11] There are many days I want to be taken out and shot. The girls are actually in a university model school. So they go to school a couple days and then they’re home the other days. That’s been a really good fit for us because I don’t have to do the lesson plans, honestly. It’s a Christian classical university model school. I love that they are surrounded by other Christian families who have the same core values that we do.

Erin: [00:14:40] Yeah.

Misty: [00:14:41] Yet I get to really invest the time with them that kids need from their mom growing up.

Karen: [00:14:49] It’s the best of both worlds. I like that.

Misty: [00:14:53] It’s been a really good fit for us. Every year as I’m kind of re-examining my goals at the beginning of the year, I pray, “Lord, is this something you want us to keep doing? Is this still the right fit for us?”

And I just have a strong peace about where the kids are right now, and that helps me move forward. On the tough days, I go back to that peace. I remember that God said this is where we need to be right now. So we need to make it work.

Erin: [00:15:23] That’s an interesting point. And a valid important thing for us to catch out of that: you go back to that peace. Just because God says this is the way it’s supposed to be does not mean it’s going to be easy. It means this is the way it’s supposed to be. And you’re fluid and hanging onto that peace that He gave you.

I’m seeing that in everything you’re doing, really. The year by year: are we still supposed to home school? The book by book release: is this what I need to do? Same as how I did last time? Do I need to change things up?

It’s a very fluid way of life. You don’t seem to have anything grasped really tightly other than your family, which is exactly how God would want it.

Misty: [00:16:14] Yeah. You know, Erin, you said something just a minute ago. I just want to circle back to it because it has been one of the biggest things God’s taught me over this last year. I think you and I may have talked about it some. Just because I’m in God’s will doesn’t mean things are going to be easy.

Karen: [00:16:36] Amen.

Misty: [00:16:37] And for a while for me that was kind of a sticking point. I kept questioning God: “How can this be your will? I must have stepped out of it at some point” when things would get hard. But He’s just reinforced that to me so many times. Not only is it not always going to be easy and wonderful and rainbows and unicorns for me, it won’t always be that way for my kids either. Or for those I love. But yet that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing what He’s called me to do. And the same for them.

Karen: [00:17:16] Exactly.

Misty: [00:17:17] He wants to grow not only my character, but my kids’ character, and my family through both the good and the hard times.

Karen: [00:17:26] It’s pretty clear in Scripture that He tells us if we desire and determine to follow Jesus, He is a suffering Savior. And He promises us trials in the world. Either He means what He says or He doesn’t.

So being a believer and following God’s will, that is no guarantee of an easy life. In fact, it’s pretty much a guarantee for the other direction. But the thing for us as believers is we have Almighty God, and we have Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit to walk us through it.

In those times when we’re broken, and in those really deep places, they are there, and we never have to deal with it on our own.

Misty: [00:18:06] Exactly.

Erin: [00:18:08] One of the things I wanted to ask you about, too, in regards to your family: you’ve been a very successful indie author and now coming up soon is going to be your first release with Bethany House. Is that right?

Misty: [00:18:22] Today. The day we’re recording is release day!

Karen: [00:18:25] Congratulations!

Erin: [00:18:26] Okay, so guys, when you’re hearing this, it’ll be a few days ago.

But tell me, like that’s a change. I mean, I understand you’re still doing your indie publishing, but now you’ve taken on this other responsibility with Bethany House.

How did your family, like were they part of this decision? How did that come into play?

Misty: [00:18:47] There’s always the check and balance and weighing how whatever move I make is going to affect us financially, either good or bad. So there was definitely that discussion that we had.

My husband is not part of the book world, so he tends to leave a lot of that in my hands because I tend to know the financial impact of it more than he would, being from the outside. But I will say that my family––my kids, my parents, my husband––they have been a good, strong cheering squad. Especially my parents. They have just continued to be a blessing to me through the years as I’ve been writing. My kids, as they have seen that it’s important to me, it becomes important to them. And that’s been fun to watch.

They like the fact that Mom is known by more people than just them and our immediate friends. But beyond that, for a while there, the books were just kind of “Oh, this is just something Mom does in her fun time, or this is something that Mom does when we’re trying to get her to do something with us.”  But I tried hard to bring them into the process.

Sometimes my daughters will brainstorm with me when I’m stuck in a plot.

Karen: [00:20:12] That’s great.

Misty: [00:20:13] That’s been fun. Getting to see the final product has also been fun for them. They tend to be there for the hard times, so when I go to conferences or whatnot it becomes hard on them.

So they see not only the tough part for them, but I’ve also been very intentional about celebrating with them.

Erin: [00:20:35] Yeah.

Misty: [00:20:35] When my book hit the USA Today bestseller list, we celebrated as a family. We had a little party. I asked for that, but I asked for it more for everyone else than for me. Because I was celebrating, but I wanted everyone else to have the opportunity to really celebrate the fact that we as a family did this.

This was something that everyone invested in, whether it was helping brainstorm the story or whether it was just letting Mom write during times that I needed to write. Everyone was invested in this project and look how it paid off. We can celebrate now!

Erin: [00:21:21] I love it. Tell me the name of the Bethany House title that’s out now?

Misty: [00:21:26] Hope’s Highest Mountain is the name of book one in this series. It releases the day we’re recording. Part of the Hearts of Montana series.

Erin: [00:21:37] We’ll have a book cover and a link so people can go and check that out.

Karen: [00:21:42] So guys, this has been great, hasn’t it? Thank you so much, Misty, for coming on and for talking to us.

The thing that I’m taking away from all this is how important it is, number one, to have your family and extended family there as a support. But even more so, as a preacher’s kid, my parents always made our family their first ministry. Their first priority. Then their other involvements, being pastor and that kind of thing, came into play. But I never felt shoved aside by the church. And it’s evident from what you’re saying that your kids have never felt shoved aside by your writing career.

They’re being welcomed into it, and they’re a vital part of it, an integral part of it. I think we all need to keep that in mind. That our family isn’t there just for us to say, “Hey you’ve got to do this while I’m writing.” But our family is there as a part of who we are, and a part of our support, and a part of our delight, and our joy. They’re there to encourage us as well.

Thank you so much for sharing the things that God has taught you on your journey, and thank you all so much for joining us! We’re just delighted in the blessings God is bringing you, Misty, and we look forward to talking to you again sometime.

Misty: [00:22:52] Thanks. This has been a lot of fun!

Erin: [00:22:55] Thank you, Misty.

Books by Misty M. Beller mentioned in the podcast
Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller

 

This Healing Journey
This Healing Journey by Misty M. Beller
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6 comments

  1. Thank you for this podcast. As I am about to indie launch my first Christian romance, I found this a true encouragement. For over two months my husband has had some serious health issues and he comes before my launch. Last week as soon as I sent my advanced reader copy out, I felt like a fraud. I went to the Lord in prayer and remembered that the reason I’m writing is to give God His Glory. Period. Keeping Him number one and my family next is how it’s supposed to be.
    Thank you, Misty, for sharing your story.

    • Karen Ball says:

      Amen, Elisa. Keeping your priorities aligned with God’s will benefit you––and your family––more than any accolades or sales ever could.

      Blessings to you.

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