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105 – Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back! With Guest Lynn H. Blackburn

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Lynn H Blackburn Don't Let Fear Hold You Back Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

If there’s anything most writers share, it’s fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of what people think. Fear of not being good enough. And on and on it goes, until we end up almost paralyzed. Our guest, Lynn H. Blackburn, has wrestled with fear as well––and she’s here to share what God has taught her about not letting fear hold us back.

About Lynn H. Blackburn

Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy—but her grown-up reality is that she’s a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations—while she’s sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! Her most recent book, One Final Breath, is the 3rd in the Dive Team Investigations series. You can connect with Lynn at her website LynnHBlackburn.com or on social media @LynnHBlackburn.

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

Erin: [00:02:20] Hello, listeners, welcome to the deep. We’re so excited to have you here with us, and I’m doubly excited because we have a guest. I love it when we have guests. We have Lynn H. Blackburn with us and Karen is going to introduce her.

Karen: [00:02:33] Lynn, welcome to Write from the Deep. Lynn is one of those amazing women. She started writing in 2009, and her first book, Covert Justice, was published by Love Inspired Suspense in 2015. She believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists and that it’s a gift from the truest love.

But she’s got this whole other life like so many of us do, aside from writing, and we want to talk a lot about what goes on in her life when she’s not writing because that impacts her writing.

Lynn, welcome again. You mentioned on your website that your daughter, Emma, has something called, and I know I’m going to say this wrong, Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome.

Lynn: [00:03:14] You got it right.

Karen: [00:03:16] I’m so smart.

You mentioned that for years, you considered yourself to be a therapy mom, and how having a child with a disability just rocked your world.

But God was both patient and faithful as you wrestled with your new reality. You said that being Emma’s mom has changed you in ways you never could have imagined and many things God has taught you about himself find their way into your books.

So, can you flesh that out a little for us? What exactly is the syndrome? How were you changed? What rocked your world? And what did God teach you about himself? Come on, share.

Erin: [00:03:47] And it’ll be two hours later!

Lynn: [00:03:50] In two minutes! So it’s Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. It’s not particularly common. It’s named after the two doctors who described it in the late sixties, Doctors Rubenstein and Taybi. And it is a syndrome with––it’s not really a blood test kind of thing––it’s something that’s generally more discovered by the doctors. It’s a clinical observation kind of thing.

Two main physical factors are, believe it or not, broad toes and broad thumbs. Her thumbs and her big toes are broad. And it was originally called something like broad toe broad thumb…or something like that. The gist of it mostly is that it’s cognitive delays, general developmental delays.

Emma is 16, almost 17. She weighs about 75 pounds. She’s about 4’7” or 4’8” and she probably won’t get much bigger than that. She is in a self-contained special ed classroom, and we have been very blessed with wonderful teachers and wonderful people in our world.

But you have a baby who you’re expecting to be healthy. This isn’t something that comes up on an ultrasound. This is something that you have a baby, and all of a sudden you’re in the NICU, and they’re throwing out terms and things, and it’s a whole new world, and you’re plunged into it immediately.

I grew up in the church. My father was a pastor. I got saved at a very young age, and I thought my faith was fine. And it was. I had gone through plenty of, you know, just growing up. But having something like that, it was the first time that I really wrestled with God’s sovereignty. And who he is.

I did everything right. That sounds very conceited and I don’t mean it that way. I was a good girl, you know? I mean, I don’t have this big rebellion story or any of that kind of stuff. I did everything I was supposed to do. Graduated at the top of my class, and I went to Clemson, and I got a degree. Go Tigers. And I got married.

I worked for several years, and we were involved in our church, and I did all the right things. And I did not think I deserved this. And I didn’t think she deserved it. And God was so gracious to me. I think I was angry for months, and I didn’t even realize it.

When he pulled me back to himself, it wasn’t like, “How dare you?” It was, “Honey, I know this hurts. I know it hurts. And I want to help you carry it. And I have reasons.” And he just revealed so much of himself to me, and he still does.

There are days when I struggle with the fact that we’re not communicating. Emma didn’t really speak at all until she was a little over three. And even now, we don’t have conversations. She can communicate her needs if she’s hungry or thirsty, that kind of thing. But it’s not like we’re having a conversation about how her day was.

I have to spend a lot of time just trusting God to show me and to reveal to me what she needs. It’s a constant dependence on him for everything. For her, for me, for all of it.

Through the whole thing I’ve just found him to be so faithful and so loving that even when these hard things come, there’s purpose, there’s meaning. He has a plan. And even that sense that when we get mad and kinda throw a temper tantrum about this thing that God has allowed, he’s not sitting there going, “I don’t know why you feel that way.”

Even when these hard things come, there's purpose, there's meaning. #amwriting @lynnhblackburn Click To Tweet

He’s like, “Of course. I can imagine.” He’s a loving father and he knows what we’re going through. And he’s not up there just like, “Well, you should just trust me.” Of course, we need to trust. But he’s so much more compassionate about the whole process.

If we would just take it to him, all of it, the ugly, the pretty. You know, I pray so much more. My prayers are so much more raw. Why hide it? He already knows what I’m thinking. So there’s no point in putting a pretty, spiritual terminology on it.

David was not pretty in his prayers. His laments are, “Lord, can we just kill them all?” He’s not nice in his prayers. And God called him a man after his own heart.

I have two boys that are 11 and 8, and sometimes I think they’re so lucky that God gave me Emma first. Because there’s so many things as a first time parent or before you have kids where you’re like, “Oh, my kids will never do that.”

Erin: [00:08:54] And they do.

Lynn: [00:08:54] They do all of it. And you get over it.

But even things like developmental milestones, you know, as my boys started, I’d be like, “Look, do you see what they just did? They didn’t need any therapy for that! They did it all on their own. Isn’t that amazing?” And it’s just, I’m much more grateful for all of it.

And also, I may have some control issues. One of the best pieces of advice that a developmental geneticist gave to me when I was asking her about Emma, and I said, “What do I expect? What would she be able to do when she’s five or ten or fifteen?”

She looked at me, and it was not the advice I wanted, but it was the advice I needed. She said, “You will know what she can do when she’s five, when she’s five. And you will know what she can do when she’s ten, when she’s ten. And you can make yourself crazy between now and then trying to figure it out, second guess it, and wonder. Or you can take it as it comes.

And there’s such an open-handed thing going on there. You just have to hold it open and say, “Okay, we’ll take it as it comes.” And there are things that she does now that I wouldn’t have known she could do. And there are also things that if I’d known she was still going to be dealing with when she was sixteen when she was two, I wouldn’t have had thought I could handle it.

And so God knows. We learn, we grow together. And I am a much better person and mother because of her. And because of being her mom. My walk with God is just, it’s so much deeper than it ever was because there is so much more dependence and reliance just for every day.

Erin: [00:10:46] Yeah.

Karen: [00:10:46] Erin and I were talking this morning as we were getting ready for this podcast. We meet together and read Streams in the Desert as our devotional and pray together. And we were both bemoaning some of the issues that we’ve been dealing with.

We were saying how easy it is to get your eyes focused on the temporal. To be caught in your reality in this world and not have eyes focused on eternity, and so your emotions then can often take a nosedive. And I was saying, you know, today was not a great day for me emotionally. I was frustrated. I was angry about things on the physical realm.

She said, “Well, but you know…” and she was giving me encouragement and I said, “I know all that, but right now, I’m ticked. I need to acknowledge those emotions and then I can hand them over to God.”

I think one of the mistakes that too many of us make in our faith walk and even in our journey as writers, is we don’t acknowledge the emotional impact of something.

We feel like you said, like we need to be spiritual, and so we just kind of stuff it away. And that’s when those things start to fester inside, and eat away at our trust in and our devotion to God. Because we start to convince ourselves, because of circumstances and emotions, we start to convince ourselves of a reality that isn’t God’s reality.

So I really like what you’re saying and how it made you realize that you thought your faith was strong, but then it became even stronger. That as much of a foundation as your childhood and everything gave you, you went into a much deeper place with God because of where you were.

Lynn: [00:12:25] Yes, very much so.

Erin: [00:12:27] Let’s swing around to some of the practical aspects here, though, because your daughter is presenting some challenges to your work time, right? We were talking beforehand and you had mentioned this change in her schooling. Talk a little bit about how you’re handling the practical aspects when something comes up that you didn’t expect.

Lynn: [00:12:49] Well, I always tell people, just because you think you figured something out, that it changes. That’s pretty much where I am too. We’ve had her in schools that have been nearby since she was three. Now just this year she started high school, and she’s 25 minutes away, and there’s no bus.

Where before she hopped on the bus and the bus brought her back home and that’s how things went. Now I’m spending close to two hours a day in the car. When this came up, God and I had several conversations about the fact that I was already operating with little to no margin, and now I have two hours a day in the car. How am I supposed to do that?

It is amazing to me how God knows. I don’t know why it’s amazing. It’s like, it shouldn’t be a shock, and yet every time I’m just blown away by it all. I was in between book series and when my new contract was set up, we set the new series to release once a year. At the time I was like, I don’t know. I mean, once a year, I don’t know if readers will be happy about that.

But at the same time, I thought…there was something. And of course the something I know now was definitely the Holy Spirit. But I just felt like I needed to be okay with that. And this was back in February of this year that I needed to be okay with this schedule.

At the time we did not know that this would be the high school she would be in. We did not know any of this would happen. So God knew I was going to need more time to write these books even when I didn’t know. I find myself having to come back again and again to the fact that he has called me to it, and he’s also called me to be Emma’s mom, and he has also given me everything I need to fulfill the calling on my life.

And if I don’t think I have enough time, then it’s really convenient that I serve the God who exists outside of time. He created time, and he doesn’t operate in the same sphere that we operate in. He’s in control of that.

If I don't think I have enough time, then it's really convenient that I serve the God who exists outside of time. #amwriting @lynnhblackburn Click To Tweet

And I have been amazed even over the last few months, and it’s still very new to us. My husband and I every week are like who’s taking her? What are we doing? You know, trying to figure it out. It’s a little bit of an adventure all the time.

And yet it’s so clear how God is giving me time that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Sometimes, like today, my mother-in-law took my boys and they’re off to Columbia to visit with family, and now I have a weekend where I’m down to one child. And I thought I would have all three. And things like that where I can see his hand in it, and I can see him if I’m paying attention.

I can see him giving me time that I need to do what he’s asking me to do. It does require a lot of trust. I keep thinking it’s going to get easier. And I think it’s that constant dependence on him. That it pulls us back into knowing that we can’t do it without him, and not getting too big for our britches, and not thinking, “Oh, we figured this out.”

No. We need him for every bit of it. So that’s where I am.

And I know that will change too. Emma has five more years of school and then she ages out of the school system. You want to talk about something I don’t even want to think about? It’s without school at all. I don’t even know what that looks like. I just have to trust that I will know what she can do when she’s twenty-one, when she’s twenty-one.

And I know that God loves me, and I actually know he loves her even more than I do. So he’s going to make both of our paths clear as we get there.

You might need to remind me of that in a week. I mean…

Karen: [00:16:56] We’ll send you a little note that says, okay, listen to this again.

Lynn: [00:16:59] I don’t believe I live there all the time, but I know it in my head.

Karen: [00:17:04] Yeah. Yeah.

Lynn: [00:17:05] He’s so good to remind me.

Erin: [00:17:06] That’s the beauty of it. Well, one of the things that I also wanted to talk to you about is you’re a suspense writer, and yet, you know, we’ve had this email conversation about fear. I love the irony there, but one of the things that you said was, “I constantly question if I have anything of value to say. I have to fight to believe I have a voice.”

I know there are so many writers out there who would say that same thing. So tell us, how are you handling that? How are you fighting that fight? What are you doing about it?

Lynn: [00:17:45] Well, it’s so true. I do think other writers deal with this. I think we all do. Sometimes you read a book or you listen to someone in a conference or something who gives a talk and you think, “Why does anything I say even matter? We’ve got them.” In my case, I write romantic suspense. I mean, really? Come on. Irene Hannon. Lynette Eason. Dani Pettrey.

I could just go on and on. There’s so many. What do I have to add to this conversation? And the thing that I’m constantly having to remind myself of is two things. One, it’s not my call. God called me to this, so if he thinks I have something to say, who am I to question that?

God called me to this, so if he thinks I have something to say, who am I to question that? #amwriting @lynnhblackburn @karenball1 Click To Tweet

I know it in my head. I don’t always feel it, but there are people that I can reach that others can’t for whatever reason. God knows what he’s done in my life and how that’s going to come out in the story. And it’s never going to look the same. You know, I could give the story I did to somebody else. They wouldn’t write it the same way I would. I also have to go back to the idea that he’s the one who left the ninety-nine to go find the one. He knows if I have something that he wants me to say, it might only impact one other person. But he’s the kind of God that does that.

So am I willing to serve him? Is my audience truly just him? Am I writing just for him? And if I’m really writing for him, then I need to write what he gives me to write and then trust him with everything that comes from there: who it goes to, where it goes, how it goes, how many books are sold.

All of those things are not up to me. Yes, I need to do my part. You know, I do my social media and my marketing and publicity. I do all those things, and yet, ultimately it’s in his hands.

Karen: [00:19:53] Right.

Lynn: [00:19:54] And I remind myself. I have versus stuck all over my desk about fear. I have things in my notes of the verses where Jesus called Peter out on the water, and the verses where they were on the boat and he had told them to go to the other side.

And then the storm came and he’s asleep in the boat and they’re so afraid. They come to him and they say, “Do you not care that we’re perishing? Like, we’re dying here?” And of course I love the disciples because, you know, I do that. “God, I’m dying here.” And he’s like, “Why are you afraid?”

So little faith. I find comfort in the fact that the disciples were the same way. And he rebuked them. He did. He said, “Why do you have so little faith?” And God had taken such little things––I think it was right before that he had fed the 5,000.

Karen: [00:20:54] Exactly.

Lynn: [00:20:54] He had taken this little lunch and fed 5,000. So my little voice, whatever I have to say. Who am I to say what God’s gonna do with that? My ultimate responsibility is just to sacrifice it to him and let him do what he wants with it.

But I have to stay in Scripture. I am constantly writing verses out, writing long hand, typing them, sticking them on walls and notes and mirrors because I just can’t be reminded enough of that truth. That ultimately my fear is based on my own weakness, and he has not given me a spirit of fear. He’s given me a spirit of power and love and a sound mind, and that’s where I need to operate from.

Karen: [00:21:42] I have a quote that I’ve had taped onto my desk forever, and it says, “Live by following your faith, no matter how weak it is, rather than your doubts, no matter how strong they may be.”

Lynn: [00:21:55] Oh, I like that. I like that a lot.

Karen: [00:21:59] I have to constantly remind myself of that. Just because my doubts are strong, it doesn’t mean they’re right. It just means that they’re emotions and you can’t measure reality, you can’t measure anything, with your emotions.

I like, too, that one of the things you were saying to us is your favorite thing right now is that you just keep circling back to Isaiah 41:13: “For I the Lord your God hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, fear not. I am the one who helps you.”

You say that you really clung to that verse while you were writing your second book. You thought of God holding your hand because there was a lot of intense spiritual warfare. So tell us about that.

Lynn: [00:22:38] Yeah. Interestingly enough, with this podcast, my second book in the series was called In too Deep and it’s kind of appropriate for y’all. It gets into human trafficking. I think anytime we talk about slavery, any kind of slavery––spiritual slavery, human slavery––Satan’s gonna fight that because he is all about slavery, where God has set us free.

We are free. Yet Satan wants to keep us bound in something. Of course, it took me a while to realize how much spiritual warfare was going on in the first place. I just was like, “Oh, duh. Of course that might be what’s happening.” I do sometimes wonder if God’s just sitting there shaking his head going, “Really?”

But it is that verse. He just keeps showing me things about that verse. It’s one of those fear not verses––I read a lot of the fear not verses––and they’re all over the Bible. And then this one where he talks about holding your hand, initially when I thought about it, I thought, you know, the way we hold a child’s hand. They’re running across the parking lot or something. We don’t want them to get hit so we hold their hand.

You know, maybe we’re helping them when they’re little. A little toddler helping them walk or something like that. And then later I got…it was just an image and I can picture it in my mind, specifically related for writers.

I have children that I teach. I’m homeschooling my boys. And when you’re first teaching a child how to write, you’ll hover behind them. You’ll come behind them, put your arms around them, wrap their hand in yours, and you’ll help them form the letters. You’re holding their hand and you are helping them write.

I just have that image now when I sit down at my computer and I think, “Okay, God, I want to do this with you. I need you to help me do this.” Whether you’re writing long hand or sitting at the computer. I just have this image of God literally hovering and helping me write.

I know you could take that same verse and apply it to a whole lot of things. But for those of us who write, I think that image is so, it’s just such a powerful thing because it’s not just about him giving us the ideas, it’s him holding us, holding our hand as we put the letters on the page or type them onto the screen.

I just keep staying there. And sometimes when I am most afraid, I get that, “I am the one who helps you.”

Karen: [00:25:27] Right.

Lynn: [00:25:28] And I let that image flood my mind and then get back to work.

Erin: [00:25:34] I love that it’s “I.” You know, fear not, I am the one…

Lynn: [00:25:39] Yes.

Erin: [00:25:39] It’s God. That wouldn’t work at all if it were like somebody you didn’t trust or who didn’t care.

You know, Lynn, what I love about what you’re saying is that you’re fighting this. You’re fighting through fear with trust in Scripture. You’re fighting with Scripture. You’re fighting with truth. Truth is the only thing we have and the most powerful thing that we have.

God’s Word is truth. And God is the Word. So it’s everything right there together. And it’s like what we need is to trust in God, which is the antidote to fear. And so we trust in the Word.

I’m gonna picture you forever, now, whenever I see your books, I’m going to picture these Scripture verses like surrounding you as you write, because I wish we would all do that.

I wish we had them all over our walls. Like it says in Deuteronomy. You know, write them on your walls and the doorframes of your houses.

Karen: [00:26:32] Well, some of us do.

But you know what? I don’t say that to say, yeah, we’re so great. But I have them all over to remind me––because you know, I have short term memory issues––but to remind me of God’s goodness in the face of when I look at today’s seeming reality, and to remember that from God’s perspective, it’s not reality at all.

Thank you so much, Lynn. This has been so much fun. I just think you’ve shared so much that’s valuable and beneficial to our listeners. For those of you who are listening, I really want you to focus on picturing yourself with God standing behind you, and his arms around you, and his hands on your hands as you’re writing.

Because that’s the reality. The reality is that if God has given you this task, he will equip you. He will fulfill what he seeks to do with your writing. He will fulfill his purposes for your writing. And that’s a beautiful image. So thank you, Lynn, that’s wonderful.

If you want to find out more about Lynn, you can go to her website at lynnhblackburn.com.

Erin: [00:27:39] We’ll have links in the show notes.

Karen: [00:27:41] Yeah, remember that short term memory thing.

Erin: [00:27:48] Thank you very much for being with us today, Lynn!

Lynn: [00:27:51] Thank you so much having me. I so enjoyed it.

We want to hear from you!

What do you do when you’re afraid?

Check out Lynn H. Blackburn’s newest release, One Final Breath.

One Final Breath by Lynn H Blackburn
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THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our November sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir, Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will be published by Redemption Press. You can find out more about Priscilla and the blog she writes for the TBI/PTSD community at her website: priscillasharrow.com.

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

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104 – Don’t Let Depression Derail You

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Don't Let Depression Derail You Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

Being depressed at times is normal. It’s part of the human condition. But it doesn’t have to derail you. When depression gets you down, let these powerful words of truth help you reset your focus and restore your peace.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

More and more today, people struggle with being overwhelmed, discouraged, and depressed. Even believers––or sometimes, especially believers––find themselves in a place that feels dark and hopeless.

Now, sometimes, when we struggle with depression that won’t go away, we may need a professional to help us with it. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to admit if that’s the case. But other times, depression and inner struggle comes because, while we know in our heads that God is in control, our hearts are weary.

And when things keep hitting us day after day, it’s far too easy to let our focus slide from the Father and land on circumstances. We say things like, “All I can do is pray,” or “I can’t even pray about this.” But the truth is that God is with us, and our circumstances, whether good or hard, are in His hands.

Which doesn’t change the fact that we feel this way, though, right? Our emotions are still real. So if you’re in a place of hurt today, or weariness, sadness, grief, or depression, know this: You’re not alone. Other people struggle. This is part of the human experience. Your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your enemies, deal with this.

Even your heroes and great people of faith go through these kinds of times, so in a sense, they’re with you, too. Everyone has wrestled with depression at some point. Theologian Charles Spurgeon once said, “No sin is necessarily connected to sorrow of the heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.’ There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression.” So feeling those emotions isn’t wrong or sinful. It’s human.

Listen to Psalm 56:8: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

God sees. He hears. He knows. Lay yourself open before Him. Be honest with Him about how you feel.

Praying in the midst of hard times isn’t about changing our circumstances, it’s about changing us. Moving our focus to God and His will. Surrendering what we thought would be to what He knows is best.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” C.S.Lewis Click To Tweet

So feelings are real, normal, human and we’re going to go through the full range of them over the course of our lives. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there’s a time to mourn, a time to rejoice, and so on.

But emotions are also a reflection of our thoughts. If we want to change our feelings, We have to change our thoughts, our focus. How do we change focus, especially when we’re depressed? John Piper says, in his podcast Ask Pastor John, episode 1248:

“Depression regularly involves a weakening of our faith and our hope, and God is clear that reawakening of faith, reawakening of hope, will not come if we’re not hearing the word of God…Without the Scriptures, there’s no hope of a Christ-exalting turnaround of our emotions.”

Here’s another quote from C.S. Lewis: “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

So we’re going to take some time to focus on Scripture, to help you let go and move forward, to help you lay a foundation for a “Christ-exalting turnaround.”

But remember to be patient through the process. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” But I don’t think that always means a literal day. Sometimes it’s a season. So weeping may tarry for a season, but joy in its season will also come.

“Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:147 (NKJV)

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me––a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:7-8 (NIV)

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25 (NASB)

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)

“In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye.” Deuteronomy 32:10

“O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and He makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:29-33

“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalms 34:17

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” Psalms 40:1-3 

“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalms 3:3-5

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.” Psalms 32:10 

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:3-4 

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalms 42:11

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (KJV) 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 

“Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will rise. Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.” Micah 7:8 (NASB)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

“O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.” Psalm 130:7

Hope is the key. As long as we have God, we have hope. He wants us to hope in Him first, last, and always.

As long as we have God, we have hope. Click To Tweet

“I find myself frequently depressed…and I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and seek afresh to realize the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus, and His infinite love in dying on the cross to put away all my transgressions.” Charles Spurgeon

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.” C.S. Lewis

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 (ESV)

We want to hear from you!

Do you have a favorite Scripture to help you when you feel overwhelmed or depressed?

Writers, don’t let depression derail you. #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
Special THANKs!

Special thanks to our October Patreon sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain! Stacy is hard at work on her first book—a Christian speculative fiction called Make Known the Path, so be watching for that!

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.

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
We want to hear from you!

What role has your family played in your writing journey?

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Want to know how to become a USA Today bestseller? For author @mistymbeller family is key! #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our October sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain! Stacy is hard at work on her first book—a Christian speculative fiction called Make Known the Path, so be watching for that!

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.

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

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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!

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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.