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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.

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

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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102 – Getting Real with Guest Beth White

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Getting Real with Guest Beth White Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungOdds are good you knew what direction would be best for you as a writer. You may even have a whole plan laid out for your career, and are working it with determination. But what happens when God takes you on an unexpected detour? Guest Beth White is here to tell us why that’s a good thing!

But first, don’t forget about our newest Going Deeper Workshop: Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk. We understand the struggle to keep our thoughts filled with truth rather than doubts, lies, worries, or fear. This self-paced audio course will help you fill your minds and hearts with the ultimate antidotes to your specific negative thoughts and words. Check out this workshop (and our others) at writefromthedeep.teachable.com!

About Beth White

Beth White’s day job is teaching chorus at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native of Southaven, Mississippi, she holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Mississippi State University and a Master of Creative Writing from the University of South Alabama. Her family has resided in Mobile for over thirty years now. Her husband, Scott, is executive pastor at Redemption Church in Saraland, and both their children are now grown and starting families of their own. Beth’s hobbies include playing flute and pennywhistle and painting, but her real passion is writing historical romance with a Christian world view and a Southern drawl. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. You’re invited to visit her on the web at bethwhite.net.

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

Erin: [00:00:00] Hello listeners. Welcome to the Deep. We’re so glad you’re here with us because we have an interview. We’re here with Beth White and I’m going to let Karen tell you all about her.

Karen: [00:00:12] Beth is really terrific. Now she grew up in the South specifically north Mississippi, and it has a rich tradition of fostering writers, storytellers, and musicians.

She’s fond of both music and literature, so she amuses herself by teaching chorus and piano in an inner-city public high school by day.

Erin: [00:00:29] That’s brave.

Karen: [00:00:30] I consider her the bravest of the brave. She also conducts a secret life as a romance writer by night. She tends to be something of a hermit in real life, which I think is pretty normal for most writers, except in the classroom and on her computer, she’s more of an extrovert.

She loves to know what makes her readers tick, and what ticks them off, and what makes them smile. So hey, if you like what you hear from Beth today check her out at bethwhite.net. Welcome, Beth, we’re delighted to have you here.

Beth: [00:01:05] Thank you. I’m very happy to be here with you. I hope you can bear with my little southern accent here.

Karen: [00:01:10] Yeah, I was going to say, the minute you started speaking, it would be no doubt that you grew up in the South.

Beth: [00:01:17] I’m in south Alabama now, so it’s even worse.

Karen: [00:01:21] I love it.

Erin: [00:01:23] It’s the deep South.

Beth: [00:01:26] About as deep as you can go without falling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Erin: [00:01:31] So aside from deep South, what does the deep mean to you, Beth?

Beth: [00:01:36] Well, I was really interested in what you ladies explained to me and when I listened to a couple of podcasts to kind of figure out what you were doing. I like the idea that deep is both deep waters as in the challenges that hit us, but it’s also deep in to a spiritual walk with God.

That really hits me right now as I’m finishing the last ten, twenty thousand words of a book. This is where it gets really deep, you know.

Erin: [00:02:08] Draw that out for us. Why is that? It sounds like it’s hard. Tell us about that kind of challenge, that finishing challenge.

Beth: [00:02:18] Oh my goodness. Who was it that said writing a book is like shoving a refrigerator up a hill.

Karen: [00:02:25] I’m glad it was up a hill.

Beth: [00:02:28] Well up a hill. Yeah, that’s so true. The whole thing is hard.

Erin: [00:02:33] Right.

Beth: [00:02:33] But this last part where all of the balls are up in the air and the story is boiled, you know, and it’s just, everything is cooking all at once.

There are all the characters in there. Everybody’s problems have risen to the top, and now it’s my job to make everybody happy again by the end of the book. That’s not easy.

I’m praying so hard. I’m just feeling so inadequate and overwhelmed by drawing this thing to a satisfactory conclusion so that it makes sense. And so that all of the plot threads are pulled together. If not tied up in a neat bow, then at least a satisfactory ending. That’s hard.

Karen: [00:03:17] It is hard. Now when you and I worked together when I was at Zondervan and you were writing for Zondervan, you were writing romances, which was very cool. But I think your writing more historical books now?

Beth: [00:03:29] Yeah, it’s kind of interesting. I did do pretty much romantic comedies or romantic suspense for a long time, and I did write a historical or two kind of in that mix just kind of because I felt like it. Then once I quit writing for Zondervan, I took a long break–probably about two to two and a half years. Didn’t write much of anything. I thought about it a lot and I lived a lot of life and kind of planed some stories.

But then when it came time to actually pull together a proposal again, after I kind of got over the burnout thing, there’s a couple of directions––I could have either kept doing what I was doing, which didn’t seem to be selling as well as I wanted it to, or I could come take off in a new direction.

I had had an idea for a historical series that I had been wanting to do for a long time and it was based on an idea of a series that I really enjoyed when I was just a reader, before I ever published. If you’re familiar with Elswyth Thane, she was a British American writer who wrote a series of novels back in the 30s called the Williamsburg series. It was based on a family in the Williamsburg, Virginia, area and it took them all the way from the American Revolution through World War II, which was going on at the time.

I just loved that series. The idea of taking this family and the generations of that family just really sparked my own creative juice. I thought, “What if I did that on the Gulf Coast? The Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Gulf Coast? And so I developed an idea for telling the story of how the Gulf Coast was settled from the French Colonial period and that sold to Ravell about five or six years ago.

They did that series for me, and I’ve been writing for them ever since. The historical stuff has just been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed delving into the history of the place where I live. It’s interesting. It’s different from anything else in the rest of the United States because it’s so multicultural.

Karen: [00:05:43] Right.

Beth: [00:05:43] I’ll talk about that in a minute, the whole multicultural aspect of it. But anyway, yeah, I’ve been writing historical and just kind of left the contemporary stuff behind. I’m still writing romance. That’s still my favorite thing.

Karen: [00:05:58] You mentioned that one of the things that you think about a lot and that you even talked about is how real life bleeds into fiction. Can you share some of that with us?

Beth: [00:06:08] Yeah, and I’ll kind of jump off of what I said a second ago about the cultural thing. When I became a teacher in the public school system, I had been retired for a little while while I was getting my children through their middle school years.

I was teaching private music lessons while they were in middle school and high school. When I got ready to go back and teach full-time again, by then I had gotten an English degree. Because I thought, “I’m writing, why not just go ahead and major in English and teach what I really like?”

Then the first job I went to interview for, they were looking at my background and saw all this music stuff, and the principal goes, “You’ve taught music for your whole life. What are you doing applying for an English position?”

I explained how I’ve been a writer and I thought I want to do that.

He goes, “We need a music teacher right now. I’ve got kids sitting down in the choir room with no teacher. They’re watching videos. Would you please consider coming back and teaching music again?”

I was just completely caught off guard. That was completely off my radar. And so I had to get re-certified to teach music. Long story short, that’s what I did. I wound up teaching music in this inner city high school.

One hundred percent black population. I was the first white teacher that they had had ever in that school. Not teacher, but I was the first white choir teacher, and they were not at all sure that this middle-aged white lady could sing their kind of music.

They were very well-trained children. I’m not saying they weren’t. They were wonderful singers. I mean, I went in there, and when I realized what I had ahold of, musically, I was in heaven. These children could sing the paint off the walls.

It was a difficult situation as far as being a pretty low socioeconomic status. Nobody had any money, but my goodness they could sing. So we had a really good time. And as I got to know these kids who were so different… I mean my upbringing was very middle-class blue-collar. Suburban white, you know, the whole thing. But as I got to know them and got kind of immersed in that culture which, you know, I’m not going to lie to you, was really, really different than what I was used to, but I really loved it and enjoyed the differences.

So leading to the writing thing, as I got to know these kids, I thought, “How did we get here? How did we get from my suburban white upbringing, and how did these kids get all clustered together in this one little community?”

In Mobile, it’s a really unique city because there’s really wealthy, old money in spots. It’s a little bit like Charleston, South Carolina, something like that, and then there are spots where it is so desperately poor. And the black culture is just kind of isolated. And it’s not like there’s intentional segregation. It’s just kind of the natural way the city has settled over the years.

As I began to realize that and realize that their experience of life was so much different from mine, I thought, “I’ve got to explore this a little bit. I’ve got to figure out, how did we get here? What happened to create the situation here?” Of course, I grew up during the segregation era, during the 70’s, when they were beginning to bus and desegregate high schools and all that, and so I was aware of that, but my general experience was just ignorance.

Honestly. I was just ignorant. So I set myself to trace––this is my ambitious, overachiever kind of thought process––I want to trace when the first white people got here on the Gulf Coast. How do we get here?

So I moved my fictional family that I created, the Lanier family, from the French Colonial period through the American Revolution through the War of 1812, and now I’m exploring more Mississippi, but it’s kind of the same thing.

And now I’m dealing with post-Civil War era which is, oh my goodness, reconstruction. I knew nothing about reconstruction. Nobody knows anything about it because it’s difficult. People were not very nice.

Karen: [00:11:04] Yeah, it’s ugly. It’s an ugly, brutal time.

So what do you see in all of that research, and what have you learned from the kids that you’re working with about faith and how that comes into play in the midst of all this turmoil and racial animus.

Beth: [00:11:28] That’s a really difficult question. You know, I can look at it from my perspective of what have I personally learned about faith, and then what am I demonstrating to my students about my faith and about my compassion?

I’ve discovered that I was not nearly as compassionate a person as I assumed I was.

Erin: [00:11:51] Aren’t we all not?

Beth: [00:11:54] Man. We all want to be the hero of our own story and think of ourselves as being generous and kind and thinking of the other person, and putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. And you know, maybe to a degree, but I don’t think I ever got around to literally thinking about what it might feel like to be in a black skin. You know with coarse hair and with a different worship expression, even?

All of that is kind of different, and I’m not saying that one or the other is wrong. It’s just different and so I’ve been learning faith-wise to ask God to help me feel another person’s difficulty and experience. And that’s a tall order. When we have these political disagreements that you see in the media all the time and people on both sides want to say well you’re not being a real Christian if…such and such.

Karen: [00:13:05] Yeah, we love to throw that around.

Beth: [00:13:07] It’s just a really hard thing to read the Bible exactly like it is. And really absorb it into the expression of every day: this is how I’m going to treat people.

Karen: [00:13:21] Right.

Beth: [00:13:22] You know, I’m not there yet. Here’s an interesting thing: I’m at a different high school now, okay, so I was at this hundred percent black high school for eight years, and I thought, “Well I’ve learned enough now I can go back into a mixed-culture school and take what I’ve learned and I should be fine. Right? I should be okay.”

I have had more emotional eruptions in myself and in my students in this school, which is about a quarter white, probably 50% black, and then another quarter would be Asian or Arab and Hispanic and other mixtures. So it’s truly a multicultural experience. But I’ve seen really scary eruptions of misunderstanding and defensiveness and those kinds of things. It’s crazy. And it’s people who go to church and they consider their faith walk to be the real deal. And then somebody gets offended, and it’s just a difficult thing,

Karen: [00:14:42] The world is so broken apart. And so diverse but often in a bad way. Diverse in their stands. There is really no such thing as tolerance in a lot of the groups. It’s more either you think the way I do or, you know, there’s something wrong with you or whatever. So it’s something that we all need to think about in our lives and as we’re writing. How do we become bridges in that situation instead of someone who just exacerbates the division?

I want to jump from this. You had mentioned an idea of dreams and obedience, about being a writer, about considering where a writer’s passion for creation intersects with God’s will in that person’s life. I think you told us a little about that when you went in intending to get this job and ended up with a different job. It seems like God keeps taking you on these holy detours in your journey.

Or as you put it in an email to me, how far does one persist in pursuing something she longs to do or be, such as a writer or a musician, as opposed to pursuing things that she’s afraid of, like teaching and public speaking?

I think that those two years or three years you took away from writing––that was a courageous thing to do. Probably if you were in burnout you felt like you couldn’t do anything else, but still folks are afraid to step away from what they know and take a risk on stepping into something else.

So why don’t you talk about that for the few minutes we have left.

Beth: [00:16:16] Okay. My poor husband has put up with so many of these major shifts in, “I think I want to be this when I grow up. I don’t know. Really I don’t think I want to do that when I grow up…”

Really I trained to be a musician all the way through my 30s. I just thought I was going to be Sandi Patty and have a recording career. And that never happened. And I was really, mortally insulted that the Lord did not choose that for me.

We changed churches––my husband’s a pastor––and we made a big shift. Went from one big church to another big church. His job changed, and I moved from a choir soloist position where I was really comfortable being a soloist into this new church where nobody knew me.

And so I went from singing at least once a month, a solo, to zero. I was playing my flute in the orchestra and kind of behind the scenes and that kind of thing, a little bit of singing in the choir, but it was just a really shocking change.

At first, as you can imagine, I was just really mad. I was just angry and upset that that happened. But then the longer I stayed there, and the longer God kept His thumb on me and said, “No. Don’t move. You stay right there. And you do the thing that I’ve got for you now.”

And that’s where the writing and publishing thing kind of took off. I began to do that, and I got really comfortable with just being below the radar, writing my book, staying behind a computer in a cave, never being on the stage in a spotlight anymore. And until the point came where I looked around one day and realized, “I like this. I like this. The pressure is off. I don’t have to worry about memorizing lyrics anymore.”

That is just very freeing. It was so cool. You know, when God takes you from a point of resentment over “taking something away from you.” Well, here’s this other beautiful thing He had for you. And I have learned as I’ve gotten older that that is such a cool thing. I’ve kind of quit fighting Him over releasing the things that I love.

Honestly, listen to me y’all, that is a scary thing to say out loud because that’s like saying, “Okay God, I really like this publishing thing. But if you want to take it away from me, I believe you’ve got something else.”

And I’m sitting here crying because I don’t I don’t want that to go away. I like that. But if God says that He’s got something else? Then okay. We do that.

Erin: [00:19:13] I love that you’re coming from that place of experience. You’re coming from that place of hardship, of resentment, of difficulty, and then trust. Because you saw how He worked it out for you. You saw how He knew you better than you knew yourself. And now you can tell us all from your experience. That’s the beauty part.

That’s one of the things I love best about when we talk to other authors. Everybody’s gone through these experiences and we share them. That’s what the body of Christ is all about. So thank you for being brave and sharing that with us, because it’ll help people.

Karen: [00:19:45] We’re pretty much out of time, but you have some other topics that I really want to hear about like some harrowing experiences that God took you through so we will plan on having you back. We’ll figure that out in the schedule. It’s been great. We’re grateful for your time here and we’re grateful for all that God is doing through you, not just your books, but the way that you’re touching these young lives when you intersect with them.

So thank you. Thank you for being willing to let go and let God make you into what He wants you to be.

Beth: [00:20:15] Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it so much.

Erin: [00:20:25] Thanks, Beth!

Here’s a link to Beth White’s latest book, A Reluctant Belle, from Revell.

The Reluctant Belle by Beth White

We want to hear from you!

Has God taken you on an unexpected detour? What did you learn?

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For author Beth White unexpected detours on the writing journey are a gift from God!

THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our September sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! She writes atmospheric and charismatically character-driven suspense. You can find out more about Tammy and her book Blood Beneath the Pines at her website tammypartlow.com.

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

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101 – Make the Most of Your Writing Season

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Make the Most of Your Writing SeasonDid you realize there are seasons to a writer’s life? From the beginnings of spring to the seeming death of winter we all experience these seasons as we seek to honor God in our writing. Unlike nature’s seasons, though, each season of the writing life can last a short time, or a long time. And each season brings blessings and obstacles. Learn how to thrive in whatever season God has you in right now!

But first, don’t forget about our newest Going Deeper Workshop: Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk. We understand the struggle to keep our thoughts filled with truth rather than doubts, lies, worries, or fear. This self-paced audio course will help you fill your minds and hearts with the ultimate antidotes to your specific negative thoughts and words. Check out this workshop (and our others) at writefromthedeep.teachable.com!

How to make the most of your writing season

If you’re hearing this when it first airs, it’s September in the United States, and we’re just getting ready to head into autumn. God created such beauty when He made the seasons. There’s so much for us to learn from each season, not just in nature, but in our life and in our writing journeys. Because whether you realize it or not, writers have seasons in their journeys.

From the first spring, when you start on this amazing journey of writing, to the springs that happen after years and years of writing, these seasons always bring us both blessings and potential obstacles. So let’s take a look at how we can embrace the blessings and avoid the obstacles in the seasons of the writing life.

The Spring Writing Season

Spring in the writer’s journey can be when you’re just starting out and everything is new and exciting, or it can happen when you’ve been writing awhile and your journey is coming out of a winter season. When God is breathing new energy and focus and ideas into you.

The Blessings of the Spring Writing Season

Everything is new. You’re planting the seeds of ideas, then nurturing them. You’re learning the craft, going to conferences, getting involved with a critique partner or group, etc. Those seeds will grow and bloom in a story. Then a book!

When spring shows up in nature, many of us welcome the sunshine and fresh air by opening up windows and letting them flood in. Likewise, spring on the writing journey is the time you open the windows of your heart and mind to the fresh ideas God has for your writing.

For those who’ve been writing awhile, spring can be when you discover a new direction or element of the craft, and that discovery breathes excitement and creativity into you. You sense you’re perched on the edge of something powerful and life or career altering.

Spring in the writing journey also brings us the nourishment of community. We’re meeting new people, finding new allies. The wealth of encouragement that brings us is as refreshing and restorative as spring rains. Hosea 6:3 reminds us how important and necessary those “spring rains” are: “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”

The Obstacles of the Spring Writing Season

1. Too many ideas in your head.

Solutions:

  • Jot your ideas down but stay focused on your current project.
  • If something won’t let you alone, then set aside time to pray about it. If it’s something God wants you to act on now, He’ll let you know.

2. An abundance of advice from varied sources can be confusing, even frustrating.

Solutions:

  • Focus on one area of improvement at a time, weigh carefully what you hear from others.
  • Give yourself time and space to decide what works for you and ditch the rest without guilt.

3. When we see book after book release, it’s easy to get discouraged, to think there are too many books out there vying for attention, so how will anyone ever find your book(s)?

Solutions:

  • Get your focus off of others and their books, and onto the One who has given you this task to write.
  • Embrace Isaiah 40:31 because it reminds us what our focus needs to be, and how energizing that focus will be: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
  • Stay focused on God and where He has you in your journey. Leave others and their books to Him. They’re not for you to worry over. In fact, if you’re going to focus on them at all, let it be to celebrate with your brothers and sisters who are serving the same God you serve!
  • When you feel like your book is lost in a sea of other books, be willing to invest time and money in cultivating readership and growing an audience. Make it about serving, not numbers. Let it be a time of you nurturing others and let the results grow over time.
The Summer writing season

Summer is when nature shows off the fruits of all the spring labor. All that diligent planting and tending and feeding and watering produces a beautiful abundance. Likewise, in a writer’s summer season, all the work and study and prayer of the writer’s spring brings things to life! Things heat up, and it seems growth and blooming in your writing is happening fast and often. You find yourself working harder than you ever thought possible, but that’s okay, because this summer also brings you boundless energy. Energy that writers can harness to work and to play.

The Blessings of the Summer Writing Season

Nature’s summer is a great time to absorb important nutrients like vitamin D. Likewise, when your writing journey is in a summer season, you need to be sure you’re absorbing the “nutrients” that will strengthen and sustain you. What nutrients? God’s Word! No matter how frantic you are or how busy you feel, you MUST take time to soak in God’s word. 1 Peter 2:2 tells us, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”

A writer’s summer season is when we experience boundless energy, productivity, and, as a result, growth. Sometimes that’s growth in your career, but more often it’s inner growth. We gain a firmer understanding of what our journey is about, and what God is doing in us as a result. Those deeper insights and understandings flow from our hearts and spirits onto the page.

Writers can also harness the energy that comes with a summer season to play! To gather with other writers at conferences or retreats and share ideas and experiences. To read those books you’ve been longing to read but haven’t had the energy. And so much more!

The Obstacles of the Summer Writing Season

1. With everything that’s going on, you can become overwhelmed and even burned out. You can end up hot and tired and not able to do what you need to do.

Solutions:

  • Be aware of your pace, be aware of your surroundings, most people don’t notice sunburn until it’s already happened.
  • Work to prevent your writer’s burnout before it happens by putting safety measures in place. Pay attention to things like your posture in writing and the proper height for your keyboard to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Get a good chair, stand sometimes, and pay attention to the length of your writing sessions.
  • Be aware of your writing schedule and avoid putting yourself in the position of having to schedule an excessive amount of words per day.

2. Drought. Creativity dries up, passion dries up, our closeness to God feels dried up too. These are usually all connected. When we lose touch with the Creator, we have a harder time creating as beings in His image.

Solutions:

  • Always stay tuned to your “why.” Why are you writing? Know the answer!
  • Know what restores your passion, know what nurtures your creativity, and schedule time for those activities.

3. A growing sense of competition. When we realize other writers are having a summer season and things are happening for them, we run the risk of entering an emotional competition with them. If they show up on a best-sellers’ list, we wonder why we didn’t. If they get a movie deal, we think there must be something wrong with us, or they sold out to get the deal. As a result, we end up frustrated and discouraged.

Solution:

  • Write the very best book you can and trust God’s plans for it. Whether God intends your writing to be traditionally published, indie published, written for friends, or for just you and God, know that His purpose will stand, and His purpose is always perfect.
The Autumn writing season

The autumns of our journey are those times when it feels as though we’ve settled in to the writing journey. We’ve learned a lot, have put much of it into practice, and now a harvest of confidence and return is happening.

For some, we finally have a routine and it’s producing a harvest of words on the page. For others, words have become books on the shelves, and letters from readers sharing how your writing has touched them. In our autumns, we find a sense of belonging in the writing world and richness in what God is teaching us through the process.

The Blessings of the Autumn Writing Season

While summer seasons can be a lot of fun, our autumn seasons are calmer and more relaxed. We can just do what we know to do, and leave the details to God.

Our autumn seasons remind us that change is inevitable, Nothing stays the same. God didn’t create the world to be stuck in time or one season. And just as the animals use autumn to store up for winter, writers should use their autumn season to store up for whatever changes are coming. And for winter. Store up on what? Well, here are a few suggestions:

  • God’s truths and wisdom in His Word
  • research and craft books
  • fun books to read and savor
  • anything that encourages us

The Obstacles of the Autumn Writing Season

1. Because we have a sense of being settled, we have a tendency to ease off. To be more distracted and tempted to go off on rabbit trails of “Hey, that’s something new I can try!” But those rabbit trails too often don’t lead us where we hope, and we lose ground we’ve gained.

Solution:

  • Never forget the admonition in Philippians 3:14 to remain diligent and press on toward the goal. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to reflect Christ to the world. But we also need to be diligent in performing the tasks God has given us.

2. The leaps and bounds of our summer season may start to slow and even out. People who loved your book when it released aren’t talking about it as much. Your traffic on social media seems to be stalling, and you’re not in the spotlight. Too often writers see this as loss rather than the natural pace and pattern of the publishing world.

Solutions:

  • Learn from the leaves. Let go! Accept that God’s in control and let Him do what He desires.
  • Hold fast to two powerful verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

The Winter Writing Season

In nature, winter can seem desolate, a time when everything dies and is buried under heavy blankets of snow. A season cursed by cold, little daylight, and a dearth of the colors in the other seasons. But in reality, winter is a season of wonder and great beauty. But you have to have your eyes open to see those things.

Likewise, when our writing journey enters winter, things slow down and even seem to be stopping. Maybe dying far earlier than we wanted. We look at where we are and it seems everything has just…frozen. But we writers must keep our heart and spirit open to what God has for us in this remarkable season on our journey.

The Blessings of the Winter Writing Season

There’s no time more conducive to rest and being restored than winter. With the busyness of the other seasons gone, we can give ourselves a break. Breathe deep of the Spirit’s presence.

Winter in a writer’s journey is the perfect time to sit back and think. To savor the quiet. To ponder what’s happened in the past, and where you are now. Are you where God wants you? If your career seems to have slowed to a standstill, ask God if it’s time to do something different. Ponder your goals. Write them out and then spend time praying over them, seeking God’s guidance.

Winter is also a time to simmer inside, like a cabin in the snowy woods with a warm glow in the window. Stuff is happening in that cabin, even if the rest of the world looks like it’s asleep.

The Obstacles of the Winter Writing Season

1. Not understanding the difference between dormant and dead. If something is dead, there’s no bringing it back to life. But if it’s dormant, there’s hope. Maybe with a little attention it can bloom back to life. With the right kind of effort and intention, it can bloom in more amazing ways. With prayer and study, it can surge back to life, stronger than ever before.

2. Harshness. The winter season can bring harshness such as bitter reviews, cold decisions from your publisher (like dropping you) or trials from retailers (like bookstore closings, changing royalty rates, or new fees). Maybe you got your social media account cut off or a plagiarizer stole your books.

Solution:

  • We have to go back to what we’ve said before. Trust in God. Take refuge in God. He’s the shelter from the elements, the storms, the bitter cold. Psalm 46:1says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

3. Barren market. Maybe no publisher is looking for what you write, or your genre is frozen over in the market.

Solution:

  • This industry is cyclical, bide your time and be faithful in your daily tasks
  • If, after you’ve spent time reflecting and seeking God, you feel you should change your genre, then use your winter season to prepare

4. Barren mind. No ideas are coming to you because you feel you’ve used them all up. They’ve had their time and their growth and now that’s over.

Solution:

  • Look again at what you stored up in autumn. You may find a kernel that needs to simmer before it reaches full potential.

5. Barren sales. No one is buying your book.

Solutions:

  • This is a good time to evaluate if you need a new cover, a new description, or a change in categories.
  • It’s also a good time to learn and explore new ideas for marketing, new tactics for reaching readers.

Always remember that winter is just one of the seasons writers experience. There will be light and color and new growth again at the end of this season. God is for you, and what He has planned for you and your career WILL happen.

Final words

Whatever season of the writing journey you’re in, embrace it. Yes, sometimes it can seem you’ve been in one season for-EVER! You long for a different season because surely it will be better. But as with nature, God is in control of the seasons in our journey as writers. He’s the one who changes the seasons, not you or I. So instead of fighting or resenting or being frustrated about your season, surrender to God’s work in your life and career and embrace your season. Sink deep in the blessings it holds, and seek God’s wisdom and strength to deal with––or even avoid––the obstacles. And know that the one thing that will never change, regardless of what season you’re in, is God’s Spirit being with you every step of the way.

We want to hear from you!

What writing season are you in? What blessings and obstacles are you finding?

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Are you in a writing season of growth…or decay? Learn how to thrive in any season!

THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our September sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! She writes atmospheric and charismatically character-driven suspense. You can find out more about Tammy and her book Blood Beneath the Pines at her website tammypartlow.com.

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

STAY CONNECTED

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

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

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What’s your best advice for writers?

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

THANK YOU!

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 friendsofrenacer.com.

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

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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 :

: CORRUPT, UNSOUND

: 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?

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Are you letting your emotions fuel harmful actions and words?

THANK YOU!

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 friendsofrenacer.com.

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

STAY CONNECTED

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