Thursday, August 4, 2011

Are You Listening??

“I can’t believe she fell for that line.”

“How in the world can he listen to all that whining?”

“Don’t go down into the basement where you hear all the weird noises while you’re the only one in the house!”

Hi All! Audra here. Do these thoughts sound familiar? Did you ever mentally, if not verbally, scream those sentiments at fiction plots that frustrated you more than entertained?

Ever read a book by a best-selling author and wonder why it ever got published?

Have you ever tossed a book on the table, shake your head and declare, “I can write better than this!”

Lo, and behold, another author is born.

From the moment the kernel of an idea formed in my head that I could write a book, so too did the dreams of my future life blossom. When I began my writing journey, I was a stay-at-home mom. To me, this was a sign. I was already working from home (LOL), why not fill my time writing brilliant prose rather than following the ageless characters of my favorite soap, General Hospital…the neverending saga of Luke and Laura irritated me just as much the highly acclaimed novel I had just pitched across the living room.

So I wrote while the kids napped. I wrote while I waited at lessons, took them swimming at the lake, and friends came over to play. I knew I had the perfect opportunities to become an author, after all, look at all the time I had to write!

Okay, so you’ve decided the life of a book writer is for you. What now? Do you sit endlessly at the computer, pushing aside all distractions and interruptions all for the sake of seeing your inspired words in print? Do you barricade yourself with an office only coming up for air when you need another cup of coffee and the bathroom? Do you tell the rest of the world to leave you alone; you’re creating a masterpiece?

Some folks do. Some are so bent on their mission they forget to listen to the still, small voice that angled them down the road toward publication in the first place. They forget to continually ask God for direction.

They know their calling and, by gum, they’re not going to let anything get in their way.

And they’re missing out on God’s life lessons along the way.

A critique partner of mine once (actually many times) told me I catered to my kids and their friends way too much…yes, children are only young for a little while, but time marched on for adults too, and that I shouldn’t let MY life slip away.

I thought about that for all of 3 seconds before dismissing it completely. This IS my life’s calling. God gave me kids to fill my home with laughter, fighting, wonder and so much more. I learned from interacting with my kids and their friends what rapid fire emotions are all about and just how resilient children can be. They've taught me so much.

Hence, children are always featured in my books.

I had another writer friend harp on me for spending too much time involved in volunteer positions. Good grief, when was I ever going to have time to write?

All the volunteer hours I spent at our church are gifted back to me hundred times over. If it wasn’t for being chairman of a couple of committees, I never would have learned how to conduct meetings, present factual arguments to board for approval -- and when I chaired our Evangelism Board -- how much I loved telling the world of Jesus’ saving grace.

Would I have done that on my own? No. Is it evident in the inspirational thread of my books? Yes.

And of course, I’ve got to mention 4-H. My kids lived it, even now my son is 19 and just finishing up his 11th year in the program. My husband and I ran a club, volunteered to help at the County Fair, and my husband has coached shooting sports for as long as I can remember. We lived the history of our county and loved every minute of it.

A few years ago, the secretary of the 4-H program needed to take a leave of absence and the Extension Office asked if I could help out for a few months. Hmmm, I hadn’t worked outside the home since I’d gotten married. The kids were still home. I’m a writer, not a secretary. BUT, I couldn’t resist playing 4-H all day long, LOL! Besides, it was only for 3 months. How could I say no?

Well, 3 months expanded to 6 months and they eventually offered the full time position to me. NOW, I had a decision to make – stay home and write books and continue to care for the home, or go back to work full time? Obviously it was a family decision and with a lot of prayer, we chose the job.

Juggling family, job and writing have been tricky at times, but God is faithful. At my day job, I have unlimited resources at my fingertips for the research of agriculture, ranching, and farming I could ever ask for. I’m met tons of interesting people whose personalities fill the pages of my books with unique perspectives. I love the interaction of the supportive and encouraging folks at my office who were thrilled and proud of my first sale.

They put the fun and party into my first booksigning.

I guess I’m relating all this to you, not for my personal stroll down memory lane, but to drive home the point: Not MY will, but THY will be done. I won’t lie. When God first set my feet on the path of publication, I had a very idyllic idea of how my career would progress. Along the way I did get frustrated with the interruptions and delays, but the desire to write continue to burn bright.

When I decided to go back to work, I all but shelved my dreams of publication. After all, I’d chosen to forfeit my days of writing and I came home too tired to write much more than drivel – at first. As I got into the swing of the 40+ work week, so too did God stretch my time to accommodate HIS work. He’d handed me resources, support and an incredible cheering section – along with a paycheck to help pay for my habit : ).

I now know everything you’ve ever wanted to know about running a County Fair, but were afraid to ask (which by the way, is underway as we speak!!) ; how to make awesome milkshakes; the basics of more computer software than I ever would have thought possible.

AND along the way, God fulfilled my dream – I sold my first book to Love Inspired. I look forward to writing many more books filled with cowboys, ranchers and of course, kids!

The moral of this story? Set your eyes on Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. Share your story with us today and a lucky commentor will receive an ebook download of Rocky Mountain Hero, the first published book God blessed me.

Audra Harders writes “rugged stories with heart” featuring cowboys who haven’t a clue about relationships rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she’s married to her own patient hero, has two teenagers leaving the nest, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between remind her God does have her plan for her life…and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit her at her website and her blog. Don’t be shy!


  1. The coffee pot's on!

    Yep, I learned from the kids, too. And from the church. And the school. But I still don't know where this writing addiction is going.


  2. Thanks so much for sharing your encouraging story. Isn't that the truth how God puts our characters into our life situations! I thought my writing was sidelined by 5 years of caring for a grandchild with cancer, then years of guardian for an irascible parent. But God provided every penny twice to attend writers conferences where i met editors and publishers. I now have a column in a SW magazine and have hundreds of articles and stories published in magazines, anthologies and online. When I get stuck I jump on the treadmill and listen to recorded scripture, Christian music or just pray. I have so many stories, and so many miracles. I met Bruce Wilkinson last fall and he encouraged me to write a book about those miracles....Still living, listening and writing my dream.

  3. I couldn't agree with this post more! I set aside my novel for the past week to spend time with my grandsons. We swam, played games, read the Bible together, laughed at YouTube videos and ate ice cream. Next week they go back to school and I'll go back to my novel, but I wouldn't trade this week with them for anything in the world!

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  4. Thank you for the encouragement that God will make a way. I needed to hear it and be reminded that He's the one who led me down this path. He's so good!

  5. Once again, another Seekerville post brings me just the right kind of encouragement I need!

    On the topic of juggling family, a career and writing: I come from a social work background but not too long ago I decided I wanted a day job that involved more writing. So I enrolled in a very busy college program for communications, which is just now wrapping up. it was a good experience. I especially loved sharpening my skills in our writing classes.

    Seven intense months of school later, I feel fulfilled yet also drained. I also carry doubts around with me that feel rather dark: I'm doubting that I'll ever find a fulfilling job that also lets me keep enough energy for my family and for writing fiction when I get home from work every day. Given the way I feel right now, it doesn't seem possible. But your post gives me hope. :)

    You know, it's been almost a year since I discovered Seekerville, and I should really know better by now than to let myself get discouraged about writing! Because I know that with just a quick stroll through your blog I'll find exactly what I need to lift my spirits and help me see my goals in a more realistic/optimistic light.

    So thank you for reaching out to aspiring Christian writers the way you all do here. I can't adequately describe the blessing it's been to me.

  6. Audra,

    Ditto those who posted responses before.

    And so glad to know you better!

    Ooh my journey is kind of a wild ride, an adventure for sure.

    In my current state (hard sofa in Mom's hospital room, sleep-deprived more than I've ever been), I'm still faith-resting the idea that God is in complete control and I'd not have it any other way. Though typing on the Blackberry sideways in the dark is a challenge. :)

    My debut May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy available at !! came out at the tail end of June and since we are self-publishing, there is all the business part to run too. This has almost been entirely put on hold, since Mom's been ill.

    Yet, I'm acutely aware that the Lord continues to bring opportunities daily. He still graces me with "pings" that I'm doing what I need to be. So, on we go.

    May and I are so blessed to be FOS and MOS respectively. Thank you all!

  7. Great post! With 6 kids under 11, I really know the 'all in good time' rule. Of COURSE I could finish a novel faster than I do... Of COURSE I could take more than one writing class at a time... Of COURSE I could attend conferences- if I didn't have so many kids. But I chose, and choose, them. Everything in God's time! And what a wild ride it is!
    Jan, those memories you made with your grandsons will last for their entire lives. What a gift you gave them this week. How blessed they are to have you!
    Just yesterday I printed out my latest finished novel and it was delivered by UPS (from the Staples site, you can upload directly). I think my kids were more excited to see the stack of papers than I was!I love sharing this writing life with them and thank God for letting me do both.

  8. Oh, KC. Prayers headed your way! Prayers for peace, for the doctors's guidance, and for a good night's rest.

  9. KC, my heart went out to you when I read about you staying with your Mom in the hospital and being sleep deprived, because I can relate. I'm still in recovery (and it ain't easy) from 2.5 years of full-time caregiving for my Dad, who has dementia. He's in the hospital now, but it was those 2.5 years when he was still at home with us that were the most turbulent. I never knew dementia could be so chaotic, so physically dangerous (to everyone around the patient) and so emotional until my Dad came down with some of the worst symptoms associated with this disease.

    Now forgive me for whipping out that old cliche, but I truly wouldn't trade those years of caring for my Dad for a calmer/healthier existence. God has used the trauma in my family's life to grow our understanding of Him by leaps and bounds and to help us comfort others now taking that same challenging journey.

    And I have no doubt that, as writers, the lessons we learn along the way will enrich our work and benefit others.

    So anyway, I'll be keeping you and your Mom in prayer. :)

  10. Helen, lovin' the coffee, my friend! Thank you. And hey, your vantage point is very limited...

    Gotta believe. Remember Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th St.????

    "I believe... I believe... I believe..."

    Polar Express? His word? "Believe"

    Set your sight on the goal. Keep it there. I have so much faith in that. So much.

    Delores, good morning, what a great story! Deeeeelightful! You inspired me in a paragraph, and I'm an evil snark! Thank you!

    Audra, I get this totally. You know I tried writing when I still had kids home, and I know some can do it. I believe that. I see it.

    But I'm a little too obsessive, and timing is clutch with kids. So raising the six of them was the FIRST job God gave me. And that meant working two jobs for over twenty years. We do what we have to do, right?

    And most of them still like me, LOL! ;)



  11. You're the second person this week to remind me I'm in this for God. My youngest is also headed off to college in less than two weeks. I'm hoping to squeeze in more writing time between work and other family obligations.
    Thanks for sharing with us today! And congratulations on your new book.

  12. What a lovely and much-needed post, Audra! Thanks for sharing this. Blessings!

  13. Audra,

    I find much inspiration for my writing through my day job...interesting characters, family occupations. It all runs over into my writing.

    Is it hard to fit writing into my "day job working" schedule. Yet bet but I do think my writing it richer for it.

  14. Good morning everyone! Oops, I just reread my own post and so apologize for the typos errors. It's County Fair week and really, my mind is mush.

    Worse than day old oatmeal. Yuck!

    I'll be popping in throughout the day as I can, otherwise, be prepared for a barage of my posts at the end of the day, LOL!!

    Helen, you have no idea how your faithfulness -- to your writing and the Seekerville coffee -- will pay out in time! Keep at it girlfriend, the best is yet to come.

  15. Thank you! :) You make some really good points and I'm listening.

    God really does have a sense of humor in the way that he directs us to do things we never thought were possible. Thank you for the reminder to stop and listen to Him.

    Have an awesome day!

  16. Delores, you've had difficult choices to make and you chose wisely. God fulfilled your dream and sent encouragement all along the way.

    I don't know what I'd without my Seeker sisters. Their encouragement and understanding reaches me when I need it most. Of course Ruthy can be rather brutal when she thinks we're just whining...whoops, is she here yet?

    Hope to meet you at a conference some day, Delores!

  17. Jan, good for you! Children are precious and never to be overlooked. Yes, they drove me nuts at times, but I'm so thankful God blessed me with the opportunity to raise my children myself, a gift I know many families struggle with greatly when it comes to balancing the checkbook vs the family.

    Chin up, everyone. There is a method to all the chaos!

  18. Good morning, Audra! Yes, God's timing is all important. A writer friend at work an I were "lamenting" that we hadn't been able to get deeper into our writing and published many years ago, but "life happens." Then we both agreed that we NEEDED TO LIVE LIFE order to write the stories we're now being called to write.

  19. Hi Natalie, keep your eyes and heart on the path...even when it takes a detour!

    Widsith, thanks for the kind words for Seekerville, but really, you have no idea what a blessing YOU are to us. Look at all the relationships forged just because 15 authors spill their minds and invite all those who stumble into our midsts to share their thoughts.

    Gotta love the concept!

  20. KC, blessings on your days. It's so hard work caring for ill parents -- as an only child, I can so relate!! Prayers are surrounding you, friend. We love you!

  21. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraAugust 4, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing. I know what it feels like when all your family and friends are telling you how to live your life. Right now my Aunts keep telling me and my mom that I need to move out and meet a guy. I have also gotten the you need to go back to school and get a better job speech. I love my job which is being secretary/office manager for a local CPA. I brought some fresh fruit to share.

  22. Virginia, good for you! Wise choices! For as much eye rolling as I had to deal with over my writing while the kids where small, now that they are in college, they get just as excited as I do when ever I complete a book. And they get a hoot over seeing family situations and experience work their way into my fiction pages. Ha! You make your family proud!

    Jackie, it's amazing how much I missed my kids when they left for college. Of course, after they've been home all summer now, I'm quite ready to send them back to their respective schools, LOL!

    Renee Ann, grab a cup of coffee and a...a...oops! Where's the food?? I"ll be back in a second.

  23. Thank heavens for Panera!

    Help yourselves to hot out of the oven turnovers, cinnamon rolls and those cute little cheese pastries.

    Oh, Ruthy's going to kill me for forgetting the buffet...

    But all's right in Seekerville now. Whew. Oh man, these cinnamon raisin rolls are to die for!!

  24. Laura, thanks for the fruit, babe! Glad someone was minding the breakfast!

    Aunties and Momma all have their hearts in the right place. If you like your job, you've conquered half the battle. If anything, a comfortable job helps clear the mind for creating wonderful stories. AND nothing says, the next client that strolls through the door might not be the one!

  25. Mornin' Glynna. How true! In all the lamenting you and your coworker do, remember this too will pass, LOL! Gotta look for the bright side in every situation.

    Sheri, you hit that right! God has a great sense of humor...though we may not see it that way at times!!

  26. Morning Audra,

    Your story is so inspiring. And you all are so right. God's sense of humor is amazing. Several years ago I took time off from teaching for health reasons. I had my writing life so perfect with no interruptions, a quiet office, hubby gone to work all day, healthy family, etc. and guess what. NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT. I ended up back in the classroom. LOL

    As so many of you have said, we need the chaos, emotional turmoil and roller coaster ride of life to put in our stories to make them interesting.

    But sometimes the ride is a struggle and painful. KC I'm praying for you. Widsith too.

    Virginia your children see you writing and cheer for your success, like Ruthy's kids do. You are setting a great example of perseverance.

    Audra, love this post. Great going girl and best wishes at the fair. You have been a big part of the lives of many people.

    I brought some fresh fruit to go with the pastries. Those cinnamon rolls are smelling up the whole motorhome. yum.

  27. Oh, how your life sounds like mine. All four of our kids are in 4-H and as a family we spent more time this summer prepping for and staying at the fair. My second oldest is off to the State Fair next weekend for his Electricity project--2nd year in a row for him which is a great accomplishment for a child with ADD.

    There are days I feel like I've wasted the whole day and didn't write a word. But that day was spent with the kids doing this and doing that. So, it wasn't wasted. I'm slowly learning, that summer time is better to be the editor to my books, than the writer. I always have 8 1/2 months of school to be a writer.

  28. wow!
    your story is very inspirational to me and a bit convicting as well. i don't always fully trust the Lord like I should, but your testimony of His faithfulness encourages me to do a better job of turning things over to Him. i also realize i do need to slow down and listen so i continue to walk in HIS path for me - afterall, that IS the only true way for my heart's desires to come to pass.

    thanks so much for sharing your story!!!!!

    nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

  29. KC and others who are living through especially difficult life struggles right now -- Seekers are praying for you all. God knows and God cares.

  30. Oh, Audra, this made me cry!!! What a truly inspirational post, my sweet friend, especially since I harken back to that ACFW dinner table where we prayed together. YOUR publication was a particularly sweet and joyous answer to prayer for me, and I thank God He has knit our paths together and with the rest of our Seeker buds. We are blessed!!

    LOVE the blog today, and had to laugh because every writer does it -- the shaking of the head, the bugging of the eyes, the frozen moment in reading a book when the reader screams, "Nooooo!!!! That doesn't work!!!"

    I actually talk out loud to myself when I read something that is not believable to me, and Keith just looks up and shakes his head too. Of course, what doesn't work for me may work for others, but when it happens to me in a book I'm reading, I find myself stepping back from the story just a smidge. Which I have to be honest -- scares the living daylights out of me because if I'm doing that, you KNOW some readers are doing the same thing with my books!! :)

    Can't please everybody, I guess, but we sure try, don't we???


  31. Audra, love your post! When we turn to God for guidance, we'll find the right path and blessings galore. Not that we're guaranteed easy, far from it. I'm impressed with all you manage and still find the time to write. Very proud of you!

    Helen, thanks for the coffee.

    KC, praying for you and your mom. I'm enjoying May's adventures. One grandchild has read the book. The illustrations are terrific too.

    I brought fresh oatmeal and blueberries. Audra's too busy to cook.


  32. What a great post, Audra! And what a great reminder that no matter how many times we try to convince ourselves otherwise, God is in charge. Really.

    I graduated from college all set to become a published writer - except that there was this little thing called "life experience" that I knew was missing. Big time. So writing dreams got pushed to the background for somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty years while God made sure I got those life experiences.

    Now, I feel equipped to be a writer...

    Have fun at the fair!

  33. WONDERFUL post, Audra!! I completely agree, and am adding this to my "Keeper File" (I am certain I'll re-read it many times). ~ Several years ago, the Lord closed the door on my teaching career (had my dream job of teaching kindergarten--LOVED it!) but with the severe back pain I had there was no way to continue. But of course, the Lord knew what HE was doing, and sooo many blessings have come to me since that time. And of course, I've had much more time to write (which has always been my "other choice" of a dream job!). So as I continue writing and learning (and have so much to learn yet!) I strive to focus on HIM and HIS will for my life, and know His ways are always best. Blessings, Patti Jo :) p.s. My kiddos are now 26, 23, and 19...and they are still the "main focus" of my world,*smile*.

  34. Thanks Audra for the post! I'm also a stay-at-home mom who loves to write. I wait until the kids are at school to write, which means taking the summers, weekends, and holidays off. Because I love writing, I get antsy to have uninterrupted time in front of the computer (I started writing seriously while we lived in Japan. The kids were in an international school which meant Japanese + US holidays, so it really felt like they were never in school! LOL). However, I know my first job is wife and mother. Besides, if I have a lot of free time, I usually waste it! The girls are 6 & 8 now. I know in a few years they aren't going to want my time, so I'll take what I can get now!
    Thank you!

  35. Hey, Audra! I never seemed to have much trouble hearing God's direction when it came to my writing. It's other areas of my life that I fail to get his direction. But we won't get into that. As for my writing, I was constantly asking God, Should I get a job? Should I keep writing? God always made it clear that I was to keep writing and not let anything deter me, but I got discouraged many times anyway. God and I were really close back then!

    I went through a lot of rejections--thirty-two to be exact, and that was just on The Healer's Apprentice. My kids were my priority, but they probably got fewer trips to the pool or the playground because of my writing. But frankly, I don't think that hurt them any. My older daughter was always very supportive and excited about my writing, but my younger daughter has expressed some resentment. But I still think it was good for her to see me pursuing this goal, and that she wasn't the center of the universe.

    But that's just me.

    After three years of rejections, just when I had decided that the very last editor we were going to send The Healer's Apprentice to--the YA editor at Zondervan--had probably rejected my book, I found out that she loved it and was hoping Zondervan would publish it. Then, I was afraid to hope, since this was my very LAST hope before putting The Healer's Apprentice aside. But, I got the call on Veteran's Day, November 11, 2009, that Zondervan had said yes. After years of revising, years of reading writing craft books and taking endless courses online, not to mention the money we spent on me going to four ACFW conference (although I did get a scholarship for one of those) God said, This is what it was all leading to.

    Then came all the weird emotions that come with your dreams coming true, the scathing reviews on Amazon from people who absolutely HATED my book ... but we won't go there today. Let's just say, when you can enjoy your success, take advantage of it!

    Wow, that was longwinded! LOL! Loved your post, Audra! Always stay in God's will. That's key to everything in life! Pray and persevere, and keep your priorities straight!

  36. K.C., it's a hard juggle. There are days when we're very circus-like, balancing those plates, keeping them spinning.


    And I mean this... In all sincerity...

    The more and longer you spin (think ballerinas and ice skaters) the better you get.

    And I believe that totally. You're in my prayers, you and Mom both.

  37. Sandra, you are an inspiration to the rest of us! Having a writing career then putting it aside to teach and then resuming...what a wonderful example of life in action. Glad you came back : )

    Winter, you've just described my life!! Kids, work, home, 4-H--it all has to mesh together. Of course, there are something like cooking that never really became a refined skill, but hey, none of us starved, LOL! My daughter has ADHD and we found the variety of responsibilities she undertook through 4-H helped her learn to live with/utilize the distractions to her advantage.

    BTW, just an aside, my son placed first in the middle weight sheep yesterday. Didn't get champion, but first was enough for him!

    DebH, isn't the hardest part of life slowing down to listen? It is in mine!

    Gotta get back to Fair. I'll return soon : )

  38. Loved this!!! Keep listening to that voice. You have such a heart of service, and it informs your writing.

    Yay for county fairs and 4-H!

  39. Audra, what a wonderful, inspiring post! Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm glad you're still having a blast doing your job!! :)

  40. Audra you need to have a love story between a feisty lady rancher who knows more about ranching than anyone in the area and the county extension agent full of theories with no practical experience.
    Set them in each other's way and let them clash while they fall in love.
    You need more 4-H. It's a hidden world to most people.

  41. Oh, Mare, I love that idea!

    Quick. Audra. Do it.

    What great fun and role reversal. Perfect.

    And SHE can be the one that looks really good in them thar jeans.

    Gotta love a nice fittin' pair of Wranglers. ;)

    Beth and Jon just took urchins to playground.

    One sleepy 16 month old with me. Just woke up. Talking up a baby-stream of consciousness nonsense.

    You can tell I'm training him, LOL!

    I love me some babies and some goooooood books!

  42. Inspiring post, Audra. We all make choices hopefully so that we can live a life we enjoy and make a difference.

  43. Audra...I LOVE your post. I feel like you just climbed into my mind and said the things that I've been thinking about. Writing was never something I had a lifelong dream to do, although I can look back in life and see how God has helped me grow from writing stories as a little girl to finishing a novel. This year a friend challenged me to start writing 10 minutes a day. I have found so much joy on so many levels from my writing time. My biggest dream, though, has always been to serve God through teaching and family. I have such a short time to invest in the lives of my children and I want to do that to the best of my ability. I also find great joy in ministering to my husband and growing closer in our marriage. I would love to be published one day, get to go to an ACFW conference, be a part of the writing community, etc, but if it doesn't happen, I am so thankful for God's many blessings! Thanks for sharing! ~Stacey (I would love to have my name put in for your book! : ))

  44. Audra, thanks for sharing your story.
    Once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home writer but I live my life as a teacher too much to ever give it up. I write for me and to share the Lord's love and if publishing happens, that will be an extra blessing.

  45. oops - see, a teacher but not a proofreader. That was lOve my life, although I do live it too. ;)

  46. Great post, and loved learning more about you, Audra.
    I'm preparing for next week's fair, and as a 4-Her I know that 4-H is very demmanding!
    Again, great post!

  47. I'm glad to know there are other writers out there that take things slowly and work around their kids and jobs.

    My day job is writing, so sometimes I feel I don't have any creative writing left in me. Or my mind replays the last story I wrote that was very sad and emotional.

    But, I do remind myself that God put me on this path and I have to help myslef before He will help me.

    Goodluck to everyone!

  48. You know, Audra's post resonates for a reason... And I'm saying this because I know she's crammed full at the fair this week.

    Time is precious.

    And finite.

    And as you've heard way better authors than me say: If you can quit, do.

    And that's because it is frustrating and can be a long and winding road, but... and this is a huge BUT...

    Think how much better we have it RIGHT NOW....

    Internet research. Pshaw. Amazing. At our stinkin' fingertips.

    Online scouring of publishers wants/needs.

    Online advice.

    Online writer's groups.

    E-connectivity for books, contests, etc.

    I mean seriously, when I was in high school less than 40 years ago, we learned on a manual typewriter with white erase... And re-struck keys after we realigned the paper.

    Now we have machines that do so much of that for us.

    Balance is clutch. Always. But never forget how hard this must have been just a generation ago. We are so blessed. And maybe a little spoiled.

  49. Ruth, I just have a small question...what is a typewriter and why did you have to have paper?

    LOL...Just kidding...I've seen them in antique stores ;)

  50. Hi Kids! I really thought I'd have time to chime in more today.

    Yeah. Right.

    Glad to see the chit chat kept on without me. You guys are great. I can always count on Ruthy to keep any conversation going, too.

    Thanks, babe. Love ya!!

  51. Loved this post and getting to know you better, Audra. I had my kids late in life and stayed home to be with them. I became immersed in their activities with trying to make time for writing if possible. Many of my articles are about experiences with them. Now that they are older I can pursue my dream to be published in fiction.
    Thank you for the Bible verse which reminds me of God's direction and all in His due time. All the best with your debut.

  52. Julie, it doesn't surprise me you talk to yourself - or the mirror - or some strange person sitting next to you at a conference dinner table!! Everything about you is animated and I love you for it!!

    You'll have to demonstrate the whole talking to the mirror thing when I see you in St. Louis...hey, wasn't that a song??

    Janet, did we ever think this was going to be easy?? LOL!! That's why God gave us buds in the same situation with the same desires. So we'd help each other out!

    Thanks for the oatmeal and blueberries. My all time faves!!

    Jan, you're so right about the "life experiences" thing. I worked with a published author who took serious time in mentoring me. One day I said something about a lifetime of stories to tell. She looked at me and laughed. She said in another 10 to 15 years MAYBE I'd have a lifetime of stories, but not now.

    I laughed, not taking her seriously. WEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLL 10,15 years later, I'm understanding a whole lot more! Never give up!

  53. I loved this post, Audra!!!! There's so much to learn from other people, our parents, kids, grandkids. Sometimes it's easier to hole up in a room by myself, but I'm glad I can't.

  54. Cat, how right you are. Even at late teen and early twenties, kids are still orbs rotating close to our hearts. Sorry about your back troubles. I know it's hard to deal with dreams dimmed so early in life. Aren't you glad His Plan B is much better than our Plan A?

    Larissa, Japan? How fun! A friend of my lived in Malaysia for 9 months and their daughter attended an international school. She said the same thing...her daughter was never in school! Trust me, take the time to be mom first. The dividends so pay off!

  55. Melanie, in all those beautiful words you shared, you said all the right things. Frustration, anxiety, joy, anticipation and a host of other emotions all colide as we wait for that first contract, that first review, that first booksigning, etc. And then we do it all over again with the second, third, forth...

    But God wouldn't have chosen us if He didn't know we had the fortitude to stay the course.

    My kids pestered me whenever I sat down to write. You said your one daughter is supportive, the other a tad resentful. Well, I went rounds with my kids and trust me, I carry so much Lutheran guilt, it's easy for me start doubting whether my motives for doing something are right or not. But, my awesome husband just reminded me "they're only kids, what do they know?" LOL! He always did have just the right words. Then he'd take them to the pond to fish or downtown to scope out pawn shops.

    The kids may have pouted through those years, but I know no one was prouder when I sold : )

    Keep at it girlfriend. The Healer's Apprentice as great and I can't wait for the next book!!

  56. Let's see. We can brainstorm a 4-H story like Mary said...because I always listen to Mary, Ruthy and Tina (they're full of wisdom and knowledge and so much other stuff). Besides, I love the savvy lady rancher and newbie county agent thing.

    And great looking Wranglers, on him of course. She's got to wear Cruel Girl complete with blinged out ball cap.

    Loving this idea!!

  57. Ericaa, come out and join me! You always get to play with Mary. I'm thinking she's your FAVORITE.

    Patricia, I pray we're always cautious in the decisions we make and rejoice in the outcome.

    Wow, was that deep. Are we sure I really said that? LOL!

  58. Stacey, I love your attitude. My husband is my best friend. When my kids were young, I wasn't interested in being their friend, I was their mom. Now that they're grown up, we are the best of friends and it just warms my cockles to hear them say they appreciated the hard stand I took in guiding their lives.

    Rest assured, He knows the dreams of our hearts. All in God's perfect timing.

  59. MaryC, you go, girlfriend. Being a teacher is hard stuff. Being a good teacher is a blessing.

    Be the best you can be and let the rest just fall into place.

    BTW, my daughter, who hated school all her life and wanted nothing more than to be a farmer, is finishing her last year in college and will be -- of all things -- doing her STUDENT TEACHING through her spring semester. Happy compromise though. She wants to teach Agriculture in high school.

    Ahhh, gotta love a country girl LOL!

  60. ROF, LOL, half-dizzy, Jennifer!

    Good girl! You got me and I love it.

    Now go get me some chocolate and I'll think about forgiving you in proper Christian fashion. ;)

    Hey, my first typewriter is still around here someplace. I think. OH, sad, sad, machine. My second? I earned it being a Tupperware saleslady/manager... A Royal Selectric.... Oh, I worked my tush off for that sweet piece of modern technology.

    Have I mentioned how much I love my laptop that Zach gave me after I said "I don't ever want a laptop."

    Luckily my children are smarter than their mother.

    Thank you, Zach!!!

  61. Hey, Faye!! You go, girlfriend! 4-H rocks! Record books, interviews, judging--the whole nine yards!

    I'm proud of you! Go get'em!! Don't forget to come back and tell us how your projects did!!

  62. Work around our jobs, our kids, our families. Jennifer, it will all fall into place.

    Of course, if you continue to poke fun at the Ruthinator, you may not survive the see the byline, LOL!

    Hmm, don't know why I'm laughing...I used a manual typewriter, too. And carbon paper.

    And straight posture. Always remember to sit straight. Ruthy, I"m with you, honey!!

  63. Pat, so many of my characters come from experiences with kids and their friends. If you can't see life through the eyes of a kid, you ain't got perspective!

    Pursue those dreams, and like Jan said inferred, live life and draw on experiences!!

  64. Cara, sometimes holing up in a room by myself sound just heavenly, LOL!

  65. AUDRA ... well, as roomies at ACFW, sweetie, you're gonna see me talking to mirrors, in my sleep and on my knees, and that's just the talking!! There's also the crying, blubbering and hysterics that always come along with me on a conference, so GET READY!!!!

    And, K.C., keeping you and your mom in my prayers, darlin'. God's grace on you and the situation.


  66. Great reminder, Audra! Thanks for sharing. I'm not well today, so I'm keeping it short.

    I was an avid Grace Livingston Hill reader. She fed the flame of my already burning imagination. Though I wrote many a pen pal letter growing up and a few short stories as a teen, I didn't start writing for real until I had my third child and found myself too ill to do much physically. In order to keep from going nuts with my physical limitations, I started writing to keep my mind occupied and to satisfy my ever raging imagination. Somedays I'm too sick to even write, but thankfully, those days don't hang around for long. Usually.

  67. Sorry you're not feeling well, Linnette! No one should have the post birthday bads.

    Glad you find distraction (and a creative outlet) in writing stories. Writing is such soothing therapy and a wonderful escape. Except when you have to throw in all that silly goal, motivation, conflict stuff, LOL!

    Feel better. sweetstuff. I'm sending you cyber chocolate chip cookies, just to let you know I care : )

  68. LOL, Julie! I'm bracing myself already. Actually, I'm gathering all the recording media I can so I have a record of your amazing writing/research/inspiration talent!

    PS, I'm packing my own mirror just in case you and all your emotional personalities monopolize the hotel one. LOL!!

    I can't wait!

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  70. (((hugs))) Audra! Thank you! :D Dunking cookies in milk. Mmm....

  71. Thanks for you kind words, Audra! I couldn't resist commenting on the typewriter thing. My freshman year in college (ok, this was just 1995!) my parent's couldn't afford for me to have a computer at school and the lab closed at typed all the papers I wrote that first year on a typewriter with correction tape! Whew! I will NEVER forget those days. I definitely improved in my typing skills. Man, I am SO thankful for my computer! : )

  72. LOL, Stacey! I started out as an Information Systems major but soon discovered I could write a program without faulting into numerous loops.

    AND I had to use PUNCH CARDS to feed into this bohemoth computer system in the basement of the "technology lab."

    I quickly changed majors and graduated with a degree in Interior Design.

    Much more creative. Less computer intensive.

    Didn't even have use the typewriter much...

  73. Thanks so much for your kind words, Audra.

    And Sandra, thank you for your prayers!

  74. Thanks, Audra. :-) My kids are okay. I think. Weren't scarred for life by my writing. I hope.

  75. Hi, Audra! Sorry for not popping in yesterday, but--coincidentally--it was "get more moving-in organizing done and spend time with the kids & grandkids" day.

    Great words of wisdom here. Writing success requires commitment and dedication. But so does being a good wife, mom, friend, daughter, employee, etc. We really have to trust God's timing and go where the Spirit leads.