Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Guest Blogger: Debut Author Meg Moseley!

Missy Tippens, here. I'm thrilled to welcome friend and fellow member of my very first critique group Meg Moseley! And before I give you Meg, I have to give her a shout out. Her debut novel, When Sparrows Fall, got 4.5 stars from Romantic Times and was named a Top Pick!! Meg, we're thrilled for you.

And now, Meg Moseley...

I’ve been thinking about the name of this blog. Seekerville. Those three syllables hold a lot of meaning. The name implies that those who participate here are involved in a community—an online village, if you will—as they pursue whatever it is that they’re seeking.

Because this is a blog for writers, it’s probably safe to say we’re all seeking publication of some kind, whether for the first time or the fifteenth. Being part of a writing community, whether it meets online or in someone’s living room, is a crucial part of the quest. We need each other for many reasons.

I’m indebted to many published authors who’ve taken the time to give good, thoughtful critiques of my entries in writing contests. I’m indebted to authors, agents, and editors who’ve taught me at conferences, online, in how-to books, and even in rejection letters. I’m also indebted to writers, published and unpublished, who’ve become my friends along the way. No doubt about it, a writing community is invaluable.

And yet . . .  a writing community can also distract a writer from her quest. It can be a safe little cocoon that keeps her from trying her wings.

On “The Writers View” a few years ago, someone made a comment about all the people who spend years attending conferences, reading how-to books and talking about writing, yet without moving past that preparatory stage. J. Mark Bertrand, author of the Roland March mysteries Back on Murder and Pattern of Wounds, had an interesting response. Mark kindly gave me permission to quote his comment here.

“Could it be that, in some sense, the ‘conference culture’ encourages this kind of stasis? It gives aspiring writers the affirmation they crave (which could ordinarily be found only in print), while at the same time reinforcing the idea that they're not ready yet, that they still have so much to learn. Critique groups can have the same effect. Sometimes you have to disengage from the support structure to move ahead.”

Mark’s answer gave me some much-needed courage during a time when I felt isolated. Without an agent, without a regular critique group, and without the funds to attend writers’ conferences, I was on my own. For a while, it was just God, me, and my computer, alone in the wilderness, and it did me a world of good.

Because I wasn’t entering contests, I didn’t tweak the story to make it more palatable for judges. Because I wasn’t swapping critiques on a regular basis, I didn’t worry about how a critique partner would see my choices. I didn’t even worry about making a good impression on an editor or on my future readers. For a while, only the story mattered. I felt like a student who’d been turned loose to learn for the joy of learning instead of studying just to pass tests.

But a writer can’t be isolated forever. After a while, I re-engaged with the support structure. I started swapping critiques again. I signed with an agent who also offered great direction and critiques. I got involved with a local writers’ group. I found my way back to the “ville” part of the equation—the village—but I came back with new confidence in my purpose for writing. I knew what I was seeking.

When Multnomah bought When Sparrows Fall, the book I started writing during my self-imposed isolation, I was thrilled to learn that my editor completely understood my purpose in writing it. She knew how to improve the story, but she didn’t try to change the heart of it. She didn’t even mind that it was a bit of a genre-straddler, hard to categorize. “We prefer books that don’t fit in boxes here,” she told me. To me, that was another confirmation that finding my identity as an individual writer was the key to finding my place in the writing community


Meg has generously offered to give away a copy of When Sparrows Fall today. When you leave a comment, please let me know to enter you. Check the Weekend Edition for the winner!

From RT Reviews: “Debut author Moseley writes a compelling story. Miranda’s will to fight oppression is heartfelt and Jack’s incessant need to be, well, Jack is both frustrating and charming. As the characters grow throughout the story, readers will embrace them and never want to let go.”

Summary of When Sparrows Fall: Miranda Hanford, an isolated homeschooling widow, needs to break her ties to a cultic group. Jack Hanford, her estranged brother-in-law, is an outspoken professor who helps in her hour of need but challenges her choices at every turn. Miranda wants safety and security for her children; Jack values freedom above security but doesn’t understand that breaking free may cause Miranda to lose everything, including her children.

When Sparrows Fall, from Multnomah Books. Release date: May 3, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-60142-355-9

Meg's website:

Meg Moseley is still a Californian at heart although she’s lived more than half her life in other states. She formerly wrote human-interest columns for a suburban section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and home schooled for over twenty years. Meg enjoys books, travel, gardening, her three grown children, and motorcycle rides with her husband Jon. They make their home in northern Georgia.


Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Meg! I'm still up, wishing Helen was here with some decaff. :) But I bet she'll have a nice pot on first thing in the morning.

Good night everyone! I'll see you in the a.m. And maybe I'll get up early and make you some pancakes or waffles. Your choice. :)

Vince said...

Hi Meg:

I’d go one step further than Mark. I’d say that for some people going to critique groups and conferences meets their needs. It is an end goal in itself. They like doing it.

I believe a high percentage of writers never enter contests; go to critique groups, or writer’s conferences. These are the ‘just do it’ crowd and not the ‘let’s talk about it’ fans.

To each his own. Do what works best for you.

W Edwards Deming , the father of Total Quality Management, used to tell a cute story about a lady who always entered her dog in the most prestigious dog shows. Year after year, the dog never won a prize. When told that her dog would never win a prize, she sighed, and answered, “Oh, I know that but he gets to associate with some pretty good dogs.”

Sometimes it’s not about winning. Sometimes it’s not even about what it is about!


Vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Meg!

It's all about balance, isn't it?

Helen Gray said...

Here's Missy's decaf.

Whooppee!! This was great. A lot of things here for me to identify with.


Camy Tang said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Meg! And super congrats on the RT Top Pick!!!

Anonymous said...
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Lindi said...

Meg! Great post. Your post brings up a lot of good points. We have to define what it really is we want and go for it.

I already have the book, so don't enter me in the drawing. But some fortunate soul will win and will have a great book to read.

Renee Ann said...

To me it seems that yesterday's post and today's really complement each other. Both seem to encourage us to embrace whatever season we are in and enjoy those moments. I'm always glad to read how God has worked in another writer's life. It helps me remember He has a special plan for each one of us and that the plan might not follow our self-imposed time table! Don't enter me because I've already reviewed Meg's lovely story. Her book really touched my heart. Blessings!

KC Frantzen said...

MEG! Congratulations on persistence, enthusiasm, discernment and ultimately the success of a well-starred debut! I very much enjoyed your post today. You're an inspiration...

You mention homeschooling, both for yourself and the book. Has much been done with this as a setting? It has become more mainstream in the past decade or two, any thoughts there?

My debut is coming out this summer through RushJoy Press, and we will to market to homeschoolers. Any helpful hints on how to approach there?

may at maythek9spy dot com

ONE more question: Do you wear blue frequently? It is definitely your color! :) Lovely photo of a lovely lady!!

Have a blast in Seekerville today. Root around in the huts, there's always something good!

I'm up early so here's some fresh blueberry or chocolate muffins (we're celebrating right?!), with butter. Also whole wheat toast with several homemade jams. Helen's got the pot on already.

Patsy said...

Count me in on the giveaway. Would love to read When Sparrows Fall. Congratulations on your book Meg!


Lisa Jordan said...

I've seen many writers talk about writing, but stay in that stagnant phase where they rework the same story over and over without making forward progress. I loved what you said about the ville part of writing. Those villagers helped me to move beyond talking about writing and actually doing it. Great post!

Missy Tippens said...

Well, I see Vince was up late last night like I was. :)

Vince, I love that story about the woman and her dog!! :) That is kind of how I feel when I'm at conferences with authors I've always admired, the ones who are known by most Christian fiction readers. Very cool.

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Tina!

Helen, thank you! I'm sipping the coffee now. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Camy! Or I guess it was night for you when you stopped by. :)

I'm the one who removed the post. It had a link trying to sell something.

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Lindi!

Renee Ann, I agree. We sometimes think things should move a lot faster (and maybe even in a different direction!), but God's plan is perfect.

Missy Tippens said...

Will finish posts when I get back. I have to run get my hair cut. (And shhh, don't tell...and also get my roots touched up!)


Be back in a while to finish reading.

Brenda Anderson said...

Meg, I'm doing much the same this year. I've given up conferences and contests and have focused on writing. Sometimes, in our eagerness to do everything right, our voice gets lost. I've taken this year to recapture my voice. Next year, I'll dive back in.

When Sparrows Fall is on my can't-wait-to-read list. I love supporting debut authors, and the premise of your novel sounds intriguing & unique.

Brenda (at) Brenda Anderson Books (dot) com

Cara Lynn James said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Meg! Wonderful post.

When I first started writing I wrote by myself with no support. I didn't even tell anyone I was a writer because I'm wasn't really serious about it. But when I did become serious I joined a crit group, RWA local chapter, ACFW, entered contests etc. I realized other writers actually finished wips, worked hard etc. and if I wanted to be pubbed I had to do the same. Eye opening!

Meg Moseley said...

Vince: I love the dog story!

Renee Ann: You're right to enjoy whatever season you're in. Each season has its blessings!

KC: I'm not aware of other novels that focus on homeschooling, but they're probably out there. As far as marketing to homeschoolers, they're so diverse that it can't be a one-size-fits-all approach. It's definitely more mainstream than it used to be.

Missy: I did my roots yesterday. Shhh!

And thanks to all of you for letting me stop by and socialize. You're very good company!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Meg! When Sparrows Fall sounds wonderful! Congratulations on the RT Top Pick!

I agree that writers can't be isolated forever. I wrote in a vacuum at first and had no idea my story wasn't publishable. My poor heroine was a victim, to be pitied more than admired. POV errors, endless passages of introspection with little action were just the tip of the iceberg of issues with my writing. I wonder how long it would've taken me to see that on my own. But thanks to contest feedback and my critique partner's input, I discovered my weaknesses and more importantly how to fix them. Like you, I'm grateful for that input!

I suspect many writers exist in that cocoon of comfort you mention but I've encountered more on the other end of the spectrum who don't want or even fear feedback. Those writers who seek publication need to get used to criticism since they'll get it from editors and agents...if they're fortunate.


Jason and Emily said...

What a *great* article! Thanks, Meg, for some excellent points. There's a lot to be said for writing from your heart without editing yourself. I think this is especially true on the first draft.

Please enter me in the giveaway! I'd love to read your book.


Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, MEG, and thanks to Missy for bringing you here!

The first time I heard your name was when one of my critique partners told me they judged you in a writing contest. This person told me flat-out, that yours was the most brilliant entry he'd ever read, and I remember thinking, gosh -- I need to meet this gal!! I think that was the year you won the ACFW unpubbed contest in your category, and I believe I introduced myself and told you what my crit partner said. I've been waiting to see your name on a book cover ever since, so I am THRILLED to hear about When Sparrows Fall!!

I SO relate to the need to get away from all the voices and comparisons that come along with contests and critique groups and craving validation that yes, you are indeed a writer. So, needless to say, your blog this morning is a breath of fresh air. My goal now is to get to that place of balance where contest wins or book sales hold almost no sway over my mood or me, relegated to their proper place in God's overall plan for each of us. An idealistic goal, to be sure, but one certainly worthy of attempt, I think. :)

God bless you in your writing journey, Meg, and I look forward to reading When Sparrows Fall.


Nancy Kimball said...

Meg, welcome and congrats!
Your post was so encouraging to me.
For similar reasons, it's just me and the computer and the story right now. The one contest I entered was so helpful but the entry fee was pilfered from a shoe string budget.

My "critique group" is every craft book I can get through the local library and one or two I've been fortunate enough to win on blogs.

I would LOVE to be considered for your book, and so relieved to hear books that don't "fit in the box", like my WIP, are still marketable.

nancykimball at hotmail dot com

CatMom said...

Welcome Meg! (and I confess...I'm always extra-happy to see another Georgia resident here!) ~ This was a wonderful post--thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. It's always interesting for me to read about other writers' journeys, and what has helped them along the way. ~ Blessings from "south of Atlanta"! Patti Jo
p.s. Please enter me in the drawing: pattijomoore(at)yahoo(dot)com

Missy Tippens said...

I'm back! And blonde again. :)

Will catch up now...

Missy Tippens said...

KC, thanks for the butter. Anything is good with butter! (just call me Paula Deen). LOL

Doesn't Meg look good in blue! She had beautiful blue eyes.

Missy Tippens said...

Patsy, thanks for stopping by.
Lisa, I was one of those who worked the same book over and over and ended up regretting it. So Meg gave great advice!

Lorna Faith said...

Meg...your words are a breath of fresh air! I needed to hear your story that for awhile it was just God, you and your computer in the wilderness. And at that time in your life was it was helpful. I've been finding myself distracted this last while with different writing blogs...which are all very helpful...but with a perfectionist personality like mine, sometimes it can feel like I'm mentally 'ticking off' all the things I'm doing wrong as I'm reading which at times leaves me so discouraged that's it's hard to get back to the 'joy of writing'. I don't know if that makes any sense:( I really need(and want to) learn from other writers at conferences and blogs, etc....but perhaps I need to figure out 'in what proportion' and the 'timing' I can find my pace, voice and live the joy of storytelling. Like you said 'it did you a world of good. And for awhile only the story mattered.' I think that's where I'm at:)
Thankyou so much for sharing! Your book sounds so the story line:) As a former homeschooling mom of 4, I have a glimpse into that world. Would love to be entered for a chance to win your book!

lornafaith at gmail dot com

Missy Tippens said...

Brenda, that's a wise decision. Ultimately, I think voice is what sells. Editors can fix lots of things (plot problems, etc.) but they can't impart voice.

Y'all should go read the excerpt from the book! Meg has an amazing voice. And such a beautiful, lyrical writing style.

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Cara! And Meg, too! (I won't tell on the roots if you won't.) ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, that's true. It's such a balance to find that line between listening to everyone and tuning everyone out.

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Emily! Yes, that first draft is so important to get down! Somewhere along the way in critiquing I figured out I need to get that draft down first (or at least half the book), rather than critiquing one chapter at a time. It would just stall me out each time.

what do y'all think? Do some of you critique a chapter or two at a time?

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Julie! Yes, you're going to love this book! I'm reading it now and don't want to put it down. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Nancy, I'm glad you're finding what works best for you. We all work differently and need different things at different stages. Good for you for figuring out your style!

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Patti Jo! It's strange that I never see you except at conferences. I bet we're less than 2 hours apart! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Lorna, all the learning form blogs, etc. is great. In fact, I'm taking an online class right now. But sometimes, you just have to get the story on the paper. Then you can worry about all you've learned. I bet you've internalized more than you think. So do like Meg did and just go for the writing! Get that first draft down. And enjoy it! :)

Vince said...

Hi KC:

Margaret Daley wrote a series for Love Inspired about homeschooling.

The Story Behind Love Lessons by Margaret Daley

I read these and they are excellent. Margaret was a classroom teacher for decades (she may still be, I’m not sure) so the writing was right on target.


Vince said...

Hi Meg:

I’m happy to see that “When Sparrows Fall” is available for the Kindle. I’m going to get that version so please don’t enter me in the drawing. I am always interested in novels that don’t exactly fit in any given category. The last book I read like this was “They Almost Always Come Home” and I loved that book.

I'm really lookig forward to reading your book.


Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I'm glad you mentioned Margaret's books. She's retired from teaching now and is writing full time.

kristen said...

Congratulations, Meg.
I love that we have a community of writers and that we're not alone in this process.

Please enter me:)
kristengjohnson (AT) gmail (.) com

Joanne Sher said...

Great post, Meg! I can definitely see all that stuff getting in the way. Would LOVE to read your book.

Please enter me, ladies! joanne(at)joannesher(dot)com

Missy Tippens said...

Kristen and Joanne, thanks for entering!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Hi, Meg! Not feeling too well, but saw you were here today and wanted to let you know I'll be back later to read the rest of the post. I'd love to be included in the drawing!



Missy Tippens said...

Linnette, I'm so sorry you're under the weather. Get better quickly!

Meg Moseley said...

It's interesting that my thoughts resonated with so many of you. That's the "ville" part! We have a lot in common, even though writing is a deeply personal journey too.

Thanks, everybody, for welcoming me here today! Sorry I haven't been keeping up on comments. I wasn't home, and I don't have one of those new-fangled phones that would let me keep up with online stuff while I'm running errands. :)

travelingstacey said...

Greetings from south GA, Meg! I went to school in north GA (Rome), so it has a special place in my heart! I also just started homeschooling this year...and LOVE it!
I really appreciated your insight today. When you're just starting out writing and you don't know the lingo, trying to figure out what's best to's nice to hear that it's ok to take your time and not do a zillion writing things at once. Just write. I'm going to try and take baby steps into this exciting new world. Congats on your book! I'd love to be entered into the drawing.
Blessings, Stacey

Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Stacey! Thanks for coming by. There are a zillion things to think about and it can be overwhelming. I'm feeling that way right now, trying to make decisions on my next proposal!

Missy Tippens said...

And hey, this is a good chance to ask a question.

What makes you root for a heroine? What makes you empathize with her????

I'm having a hard time liking the heroine I'm working on so plan to change her a bit in the opening. I'd love to hear what you think!

Debby Giusti said...

Can't wait to read your book, Meg! I know it will be wonderful. RT got it right, for sure!

I always remember my first ACFW conference in 2005. I had just sold and had just heard about the conference and registered late. You and Missy were so sweet to let me room with you. I treasure the memories of that weekend in Nashville.

I believe you won the Genesis that year, and there was no doubt you would publish.

Loved hearing about your time of solitary writing...your own writing retreat with God. He's a very good teacher.

I wonder if a time away to just write without having to write for a publisher or a line or a critique group or a contest would be a good exercise for all of us.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Meg. I'm sorry I'm so slow stopping in today. What a DAY!!!!!!!!!!
But that's not your problem.

I think, our name, Seekers has as much to do with Captain Jack as anything.

At least that's how Missy explained it to me.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, that was such a fun trip! Do you remember how far we had to walk from the elevator to our room?! I remember we'd be doubled over laughing each time because it was so ridiculous. :)

And, strange memory... You brought celery sticks for us to snack on! (Man, I can't remember my own name some days but I remember this!) LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, I have NO clue what you're talking about! LOL Of course, I do like to talk about Captain Jack. :)

Jackie S. said...

Meg, I am so anxious to read your book.....always want to read a GA girl's book!! Please enter me! (from N.E.Ga.)! Thanks!!

Meg Moseley said...

I've had so much fun reading all these comments! And it's great to see so many current or former homeschoolers.

Missy and Debby, I do remember the long, long corridor at that hotel. It was ridiculous!

So it's all about Cap'n Jack, eh? I want details. :)

karenk said...

a fabulous posting....i would love to read meg's masterpiece...thanks for the opportunity ;)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Sally Bradley said...

Meg, thanks for your words! Right now I'm where you were, and it's encouraging to see that it doesn't last--and that it might even be good for me. :)

sallybradleywrites [at]gmail (dot)com

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for sharing your journey Meg! Glad it led you to publication :)

Virginia said...

Wow, this looks like a great story!

Virginia said...

Oh, and it would be neat to see how the homeschooling comes into the story, since I'm a home schooler, too. Lots of great conflict there!

Missy Tippens said...

Jackie and Karen, thanks for entering!

Meg, I'll let Mary try to explain that one. LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Sally, I'm glad you found her experience helpful.

Eva Maria, thanks for stopping by!

Missy Tippens said...

Virginia, when Meg told me what the story was about, I figured there would be a lot of homeschoolers interested in the story.

Nancy Kimball said...

Hi Missy!
When I'm reading and rooting for a heroine... it's always because I'm either SO GLAD I'm NOT her, because her situation usually starts bad and gets worse, or because I WANT TO BE her. Usually because there's a handsome and tortured hero she's going to rescue emotionally hehe.

I empathize easily when reading first person, and in third, when the heroine can be transparent. Behave in a way opposite her thoughts and feelings, when I'm allowed as deeply into the internal conflicts of her character as the external, I just find I relate more to that "state of being" of inner conflict than the external. I mean, I might never have experienced being dangled off a cliff or having to save my child from a beast or kidnapper, but I have had to forgive when I didn't want to, pretend not to be hurt when I was, wanted to NOT do the right thing, and so forth.

But that's just me =)

Missy Tippens said...

I love the way you said that, Nancy! Thank you so much for sharing. I'll keep that in mind while I'm re-working my character. She's in the first scenario--a situation you don't want to be in. :)

Oh, and I'll be sure to use that subtext you were talking about. Love that!

Patty Smith Hall said...

Hey Meg! Just wanted to stop by and say that I can't wait for your book launch!

Don't put me in the contest as I'll get my (signed)copy this Saturday.

KC Frantzen said...

Thanks for letting me know Meg. Just trying to learn all I can before it hits the market. Be prepared that's my motto - though I wasn't ever a Boy Scout!

Thanks Vince! GREAT to know too! :)

(My DSL died this morning. I'm limping along on dial-up. Wow. Glad to have some Internet access but wawzah, I'm spoiled...)

Missy Tippens said...

Yay, Patty! I'll see you there! :)

KC, so sorry about the DSL. I go crazy at my parent's house using dial up. And actually, now they can't even get connected at all.

Debby Giusti said...

KC, my heart stopped. For a moment, I thought your DSL was your dear sister-in-law. WHEW! My mistake! :)

Missy! How did you remember celery?

I do remember the long hallway that turned into another hallway and then another and then another and then...

No wonder we giggled!

Melanie Dickerson said...

I've missed Seekerville so much! Have you guys missed me???
Meg, your book sounds really intriguing! Congrats on your debut and the great reviews!
I totally agree that it might be tempting to want to stay in the safe environment and never really reach your full potential. I think I've witnessed that a few times. Me? I was totally driven to be published! LOL

Debby Giusti said...

Melanie! Yes, we missed you!!! And we were praying for you and all your neighbors in Alabama.

What a hard time you've had.

Hugs and love!

apple blossom said...

oh, i'd love to be entered in this book drawing thanks.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Cathy Shouse said...


You had many nuggets of wisdom in this post.
that have made me think.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your experiences.

I would love to win the book.

cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

travelingstacey said...

Missy, just saw your question about heroines. answer I started thinking about my favorite heroines....Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre to mention a few...and why I like them so much. They have their imperfections, they're vulnerable, but they also have a measure of wisdom, perseverance, and sometimes spunk! I have a hard time rooting for a character that is weak (I hate to say that!) and doesn't want to fight for her man, her job, her joy, etc. It's not that she can't be sad/low for a time, but after a while I want to move on. Honestly, for me, books are a form of entertainment and I want to walk away feeling happy or victorious...not blah. I love a happy ending! : ) I hope that helps! Stacey

Debra E. Marvin said...

yay! Melanie's back!

splashesofjoy said...

Dont enter me in the giveaway Missy. Just wanted to say that I've read Meg's debut book and all I can say is awesome! Its a must read!! Well worth your time!

Tammy Claudette said...

Congratulations on your book Meg,looking forward to reading it! As for your article, so many things I can identify with especially "just me, God and my computer. Your article became a pep-talk for me. Thanks. Please count me in on the giveaway.

Faye said...

Great to have you Meg!

Please enter me

crazi.swans at gmail dot com

Nia for Jesus said...

Great and interesting interview,would be awesome to win the book!Thanks for the chance.

niastrong21 at gmail dot com

Cindy W. said...

Congratulations on your debut novel Meg! I absolutely love the cover and would love to be entered to win a copy. Thank you for your generosity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.