Monday, October 3, 2011

Change is good---scary but good

I get to kick off our HUGE, EXTRAVAGANZA, PRIZE LADEN BIRTHDAY MONTH AND MOVE!!!

No pressure there!

To start this off right I will have a drawing today for the Mary Connealy (or Nealy) book of the winner's choice (assuming I still own a copy...there may be a few missing) So leave a comment and if I draw your name, you get to pick the book you want.
This is all leading up to prizes EVERYDAY (or real close to that!) ALL MONTH, including a few really SPECTACTULAR PRIZES. So PAY ATTENTION.

And at the end of the month we are giving away a NETBOOK. And we will draw from all commentors for the month and if you leave multiple comments you get your name int he drawing multiple times. So stay involved to increase your chances to win.

We're talking about CHANGE. It's part of our celebration as we move Seekerville to a new home OFF UNPUBBED ISLAND!!! We are now dwelling in Seekerville, a lovely village right across the shark infested waters from Unpubbed Island. We are now  http://www.seekerville.net/ Just because the Seekers have all made it to shore doesn't mean we're leaving you. We will continue to help you build life rafts, bridges, and maybe even be able to send a ship now and then until we all reach the mainland.
And so, in that spirit we're going to talk about CHANGE. Or memories. Or the journey. Today I'm talking about a moment of truth. A turning point in my writing life. A huge, wonderful moment of CHANGE.

I started writing in about 1994 or 1995. My great change occurred in about 1999. At first I was writing in utter isolation.

1) I had no training, I belonged to no professional organizations. I was clueless. I just started telling a story. I honestly don’t know why I ever thought I could be an author, a strange goal, honestly. We here at Seekerville get it, this strange compulsion to write, but it’s not a real USUAL choice.


2) No internet.

3) A computer so old it didn’t have memory. I had to save everyday onto a floppy disk, the computer wouldn’t save it. Heaven help me if the lights blinked, because I lost everything.

4) No Google or Wikipedia.

5) My access to publishers was limited to buying a copy of Writer’s Market Guide, and that thing was expensive.

6) I’d never heard of RWA.

7) No ACFW.

8) No Seekers. (sniffle)

It all came very slowly to me. I seemed to have to learn every lesson though my own mistakes. I always hope that Seekerville will help people learn a little faster than I did.

I found a local writer’s group, an RWA local chapter, because there was an article about it in the newspaper. And when I say local, I mean about a 90 minute drive away.

Keep in mind that I was not online at home, that was also expensive.

My huge change came because I was getting the RWA magazine and it mentioned that Harlequin was starting a line called Love Inspired. A line of Christian romances. I don't know if that's the year it started or that's the year I heard of it!!!

It was a light bulb moment.

Christian romance? There was such a thing? Suddenly this whole wide door opened for me. I didn’t know there were Christian publishers. I’d read Love Comes Softly—which is considered the beginning of Christian fiction and was published in 1979, but I just didn’t get it that a publisher existed specifically for Christian fiction. Now I discovered not just Love Inspired but I found Christian publishers everywhere.

I had a lot of books written by the time I figured it out. And all these books were very sweet romances. I just wasn’t willing to write graphic sex or sex between unmarried couples. I refused to lace profanity through the books. These all seemed increasingly to be not just allowed, but they seemed to be required.

It wasn’t what I believed in and I wasn’t interested in writing foul language—and it was already all over TV. I was being left in the dust.

My books didn’t have a faith thread , but they had characters conducting themselves as Christians. And they had themes...the struggle against good and evil, honesty and lies, cowardice and courage, that lent themselves to Christian faith, I just needed to go through and say out loud what was already there.

There’s a line in Petticoat Ranch that says, “Parson Roscoe moved west in answer to a prayer that Sophie wouldn’t begin praying for five years.”

And that’s a reflection of how I felt about my writing. I was writing books for a line of publishing that I wouldn’t discover for five years.

This was my moment of change. My moment of almost euphoria, to think I could write what I really wanted to write. That moment of discovering a whole group of publishers who would consider a book with God in it.

Let's talk about a change in your writing. Are you experimenting with a brand or have you picked one? Was there a moment of truth that set you out on a writing journey or have you been writing all your life? Let's talk about change and any comment puts your name in the drawing for today and for the whole month.

185 comments :

  1. Our fortune that you found our little RWA group, Mary. Cheers to even more success!

    Smooches,
    Cher :-)

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  2. My moment of change came when I discovered our church's library. They had a section with Christian Romance. Imagine that, I had no idea there were so many inspirational romances out there.

    As a writer I kept my story telling to a fanfiction site that shared my beliefs, never dreaming there was a market for clean, Christian writing.

    I love to write but my strongest desire is to share the blessing of knowing my Savior. When I realized I can do both I started my journey to one day being published.

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  3. I hate change. Honestly I'm the kind of person that if anything in my routine somehow changes I go *slightly* mad. I guess that makes me a bit OCD but I'm always usually the last person to go with the flow so to speak and accept the changes. LOL I've only gotten a computer in the last 3 years and I still don't own a cell phone. :-P

    XOXO~ RENEE C.

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  4. Mary - Luv when I can totally relate to Seekerville posts. I started writing with a pencil and a pile of big fat notebooks from Staples :D Not all that long ago so I will not admit to when. If we didn't do what scared us (even cluelessly) what would ever get done?

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  5. Renee I thought I was the last person in America without a cell phone. My husband gave me his old one when he upgraded. He thought I should have it 'just in case'. I never use it and if for some reason I need to text with it I have my teenage son do it for me lol

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  6. I love reading stories about where authors came from and what brought them to where they are now.

    I started writing with pen and paper, no computer, and I'd go to Barnes and Noble to look at the Writer's Market when I was ready to query by snail mail. After ten years of writing and putting my work out there little by little, I found a critique group, started a blog, found support and encouragement and a huge load of talent within the Christian writing community and felt set free! Maybe an exaggeration but it was a moment when I finally felt, after all those years, that I had a direction--and not only that--people who understood my direction.

    Thanks for the post!

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  7. Love all of you guys <3 ~Stevie

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  8. No cell phone people unite! I get so tired of being looked at like I have 3 eyes because I don't own a cell phone. :)

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  9. LOVE that line from Petticoat Ranch, Mary. Now, I just had to fill up my Amazon basket to get free shipping and that little 3 in 1 of yours wasn't on my wishlist so I didn't even think about putting it in. :( I'm going to hop off right now so next time I'm in the "shopping cart needing $11.12 cents to get free shipping" occurs it's there to remind me!

    I was putting your books in the Inspirational Historical Fiction Index a few weeks ago--I think I put in all that are in print:

    http://inspirationalhistoricalfiction.blogspot.com/search/label/Connealy-Mary

    And wondered why Book 1 isn't in print but book 2 and 3 are. Made me very curious, but at least there's the compilation available, so I put that in.

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  10. I started scribbling in notebooks before COMPUTERS. On a typewriter. Making carbon copies. No library close, and of course no internet.

    I think I'm in heaven with all my current toys!

    Coffee pot's on.

    Helen

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  11. I had an aha when I realized that writer's actually worked together on each other's books. What would I do without my critique buddies???

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  12. Ok, so now I have the trilogy on my wish list. Inputting stuff in that index is going to get me in trouble, I keep finding more books I want. :)

    SOOOO, the topic was change--I'm chatty today--my first writer's conference was my first turning point. A small local one with Kim Vogel Sawyer as speaker--she wrote the same thing as me Historical Romance and the whole conference was getting across the idea of "Getting published is really hard, are you sure you want to do this?" and that fact that it was hard kind of energized me. Even though I was writing almost diddly squat--about a chapter a month for 10 months the entire extent of my writing career. I had to decide if I were doing this or not. So I wrote up my "Why am I writing" creed/motto/what-have-you. And I've been going at it ever since. In 3 years I've written 4 books--so that line in the sand definitely led to a change.

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  13. Melissa, I hear you. I get those same looks when I tell people I don't watch television.

    My light bulb moment came last year in NaNoWriMo. I'd been writing off and on since high school, but last year I made the 50K words in 30 days and somewhere along the way decided 'Ok, I'm serious about this now.'

    I sort of bought this house the same way. I started looking at houses, you know, for someday. Then called to see a few we liked. A few months later we were moving in.

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  14. oh, and as for a brand, aren't the best brands those that "pick us"? I'd be curious to hear about someone that decided to make up and choose a brand over discovering it. How well did that work for him/her?

    A few months ago my crit partner and I brainstormed our brand taglines. I was busy with the baby and realized what every story I'd written and what every story idea I have had in common and told her, and we worked until we had the right "brand" for each of us. That was several days of emailing back and forth and lots of thinking and brainstorming to get it right. I couldn't imagine trying to create one that you knew you could stick with, but maybe that's for people less single-minded in reading genre than me.

    I'd love to hear from someone who did it that way and how they like where they've ended up.

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  15. Oh, Nancy, totally get the no TV looks too. I have no idea how I functioned with a TV, I have no time as it is.

    But then, they all relax when I tell them I'm not a complete Neanderthal and I have a computer and an internet and know how to work it. :)

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  16. Renee I got a cell phone just under 3 years ago because mum broke her leg and the anesthetist forgot to get consent for the operation. The surgeon had it but not him. They couldn't get hold of me (although I had check before I left to go to church that all was fine) Oh we were in the city. They finally got my SIL to give consent. Well they operated next morning, go in asked if they have all the consent they need etc. Tell them I am in the residence (building next door with relative accommodations.) Again he lost the consent and had to ring SIL. So they got me a cell for emergencies. As it costs so much here for me anyway I have a prepaid and dont use it very often unless away from home.
    Dont enter me I have all your books under your name (not sure your new one is really my genre).
    I have to say Janette Oke got me back into reading and it was the Canadian West series which I devoured. I hadn't really been reading much for several years but that changed.

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  17. Hi Mary,
    I changed to being a writer from a criminologist when I read a piece of writing on a website and said: "I can do that!" and I did. Only then did I slowly find out all that I needed to learn...and forever change.
    Thanks for your post & your generosity!
    Please enter me in your draw.

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  18. The very first scene I ever wrote was of the rape of an unconscious girl. A man stood outside the window of an old, abandoned, crusty building in an area where only rats roamed. He watched this young man rape a girl. In my naivete, I sent this manuscript, with this prologue, to a Christian publisher. The editor actually wrote me a handwritten response, telling me my writing was solid but that they couldn't use this scene in a Christian novel. She told me I had to choose what kind of a writer I wanted to be.

    I've learned to write what I want to read, and I would NEVER, EVER read a book that started out like that. That was my moment of change.

    I love Seekerville. Keep up the great work, y'all!
    Tamara Cooper

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  19. Hey Mary. I'd been writing all my life but I didn't consider writing Christian Romance until my hubby read his first Love Inspired. When he finished, he waved it at me and said, "You could write one of these. Why don't you?"

    Why not indeed. Well, apparently I haven't been able to fit the LI mold, but I do enjoy writing Christian Romance.

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  20. I have always had stories in my head. I know God gave them to me. The Seekers have been a great inspiration. I read every blog that comes up and am catching up on the old ones.

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  21. Hello Mare,

    Glad you have come to share with us today.

    My Brand is Fiction with Grace...

    I write pretty much what I feel I need to write.

    I'm not always thrilled with change, but it comes none the less.

    I started writing a long time ago. First book in elementary, and alot has changed in the way I write.

    I used to have days on end to write while my children were in school. Then I went to work in our own business and my writing schedule changed again.

    I lost a story on a computer, five hundred pages worth. Put out an e-book 20 years before they took off. And self pubbed. Had a agent, then no agent. Then I worked on my stories and was contracted for ebooks.

    Now we lost our business and I have moved to Arizona and have my days again to write, and strangely, I've got to find the rhythm again. But I've been starting to get more words down again. So maybe this moment of change will take me further than I've been before.

    I just pray I write with the heart God gave me. For him.

    blessings

    Tina P.

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  22. I love these posts! I remember writing on my Brother word processor and saving everything to disks, then keeping the disks carefully in their own little bag... Except that now the info is lost because the WP went kaput. :O
    I think my big change moment was about ten years ago when I showed a romance to a co-worker of mine to critique because 'she read lots of books'. She said it needed a hot sex scene or it just didn't do anything for her.
    But the MC was based on ME, at the time, 25 and single. And I hadn't *had* any sex, let alone the hot variety. I realized I needed to find a critique partner who read the same books I did, and believed in the same God. Why was I taking writing advice from someone I wouldn't take normal advice from? :D
    My Christian critique partner is one of my dearest friends!

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  23. Tami, I love that story. That's a real change moment!

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  24. Thanks for sharing your story Mary!

    I think I'm going through my moment of change now. When I was a kid I had all my characters written out on index cards, and started handwriting stories on lined paper.

    But since I finished school, life got in the way and I barely read anything not educational related for a long time.

    Recently I decided to look into this writing dream of mine again. I started by heading over to the YA section of a bookstore. I stood shocked as I saw that virtually all the books were about vampires etc. I thought to myself, WHAT HAPPENED? When I was a teen we were reading far more innocent material. I almost gave up on the idea right then and there because I doubted whether I could possibly fit into the market with my clean ideas!

    I discovered Christian fiction just in the last few months and now I'm thinking hey, there just might be a place for my stories after all. And I've decided that if I'm going to write good clean stories with Christian like characters, I will go the whole hog and write Christian fiction.

    So I'm very thankful to have found Seekerville right now when I am just seriously starting my writing! It's been a great guide and there is SO MUCH to learn :)

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  25. One of my favorite changes book-related at least was when my older sisters finally deemed me old enough too read Christian Romance. I fell in love! Well over 2/3 of my almost 300 book library are Christian Romance. I grew up with my mom reading Love Comes Softly to us and to this day they are some of my favorite books. I love your stories and have all but Ten Plagues and Deep Trouble both of which I want to get (I am also anxiously awaiting In Too Deep!) God Bless

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  26. I've learned to embrace change. I used to fight it, kicking and screaming. I was a status quo cling-on.

    No more.

    Every change I fought, worried about and stressed over has ended up teaching me more AND sometimes ended up as the gold ring.

    (this embracing spiel does not apply to coffee or chocolate. Do Not Touch Them.)

    And have I mentioned that Melissa Endlich is coming FRIDAY...?????

    THIS FRIDAY???????

    SCOUTING RECRUITS????????

    :)

    Be here. Share. Tell your writing buds. And if you are writing historicals and aren't targeting LI WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??????

    THIS IS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY. THEY KEEP SAYING THEY'RE LIGHT ON HISTORICAL AUTHORS.

    TRIM. CHANGE. EDIT. POLISH. SLICE AND DICE.

    I cannot remember the last time an editorial house was so avidly searching for a particular line of stories that need filling.

    Make it shine.

    Then send it on!!!!

    Hey, breakfast, the nice folks from Dunkin' are hosting us today with breakfast sandwiches, bagels, donuts, etc.

    And they have Dunkin' K-Cups now!!!!

    YES!

    It's TRUE!!! ;)

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  27. Happy Birthday Seekerville!!!

    I like to think I started writing on my Granny's electric typewriter when I was about 10... but I wasn't actually writing stories back then, just copying the words from the opening lines of Gone With the Wind! Later, I started writing with a pen and loose sheets of lined notebook paper in 7th grade. That was my first novel and it's buried... somewhere.

    I don't know about a brand for myself yet, but I've been paying attention to what I like to read and realized that I really love stories that have a romance, memorable characters and that make me giggle. I love strong Heros. So I'm weaving these discoveries into the stories I'm currently working on.

    Mary, so glad you discovered RWA and ACFW. You're an entertaining & enjoyable writer!

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  28. Moment of truth, definitely. I love, love meeting other writers and am so thankful for all of the wonderful people I've met!
    Love the new website!! Good riddance, Unpubbed Island (though you might want to bring a few coconuts with you, heeheee)

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  29. I love your story. Thank you for sharing it. I started out much the same as you. I was in my first year of college and I couldn't afford all of the resources that I needed. I just wrote my stories and stacked them up along a shelf. I consider those years to be my training. They say you have to write at least a million words before you know what you're doing in this business. I'm not sure I believe that, but my million words are still lining my book shelf at home. I am so happy to have found the seekers here. I wish I'd have had this website back when I first started out.

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  30. Wow! I found you guys again! (Two computer crashes later ....)

    I went to a writers' conference at Bethel College (Mishawaka, IN) that opened my eyes in the 1990s.

    I had left newspaper writing and was hoping to free-lance more. But then we had three babies in a row and were still milking cows at the time.

    I started writing fiction as a hobby between diaper changes and chores.

    I went from writing longhand on yellow legal pads, to a Kay-Pro computer with a dot matrix printer.

    Then we got a "real" desk top computer. It was so much easier to write after that!

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  31. I love hearing about writer's journeys. Somehow it is encouraging to hear that others have struggles and can make it through.

    One of my greatest strengths is adaptability. (I took some kind of test and it said so...I just try to live up to it now!) But I am also a "rule follower". I just have to know when the rules change, and I can adapt accordingly.

    I'm not sure what my brand is, and am trying to enjoy the journey of discovery as I continue to write. :)

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  32. Mary, I'm hearing you about just starting to write. I'd always wanted to write, but while my kids were small, and I homeschooled, and we'd started a family business, I kept telling myself that I just didn't have time.

    My compulsion to write became too hard to ignore in 2004. I remember standing in my bedroom holding a Christian Romance, and telling God out loud (I rarely pray out loud), "This is what I want to do, God. This is the desire of my heart." Speaking that desire out loud seemed to solidify what was in my heart, and I've been chasing that goal ever since.

    Of course, we still have a family business, still have three kids (now teenagers), and though I don't homeschool, I'm back in the workforce teaching entire roomfuls of teenagers. Still, I make the time to write because if I didn't a part of me would be lost.

    I've missed see you guys at Seekerville. Hopefully, I can work my schedule back out so that I can visit you guys a little more frequently.

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  33. I can remember writing in notebooks. I always wrote, but I didn't have a clue that I could actually write. It wasn't until 2006 that I encountered a group of writers online. That's when I discovered RWA, and then ACFW in the last year and a half. But the real change for me came over the last year.

    One trial after another and a four month writing hiatus left me in a tailspin. At one point I had almost given up writing all together, but there's always a story to tell.

    This last year has brought me closer to my sweet Savior and a willingness on my part to be obedient to His voice.

    I may lurk around here but I'm very thankful for Seekerville. Like, Mary, I was uncomfortable with writing what the mainstream pubs wanted. But I wanted to write imperfect characters serving a perfect God, which didn't seem possible either. All the wonderful writers and guests that appear here have encouraged me and shown me that writing the stories in my heart is possible.

    Christina Renee

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  34. In 1991, when I started writing for children I made a major purchase. A word processer. Remember those? They looked just like an electric typewritter but you could save your work to them or a floppy disk.

    However, you viewed your work on about a 2 inch screen which made proof reading really tough!

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  35. It's a bit of a joke in our family that the person who never wanted change-Me-seems to do it the most. But in college I decided I'd never let fear stop me from doing something (unless it's the good fear that says don't jump in front of the psycho with the gun).

    So when God opens a door, I walk through. Okay, sometimes I crawl through...slowly...but I make it through and I always learn so much with each experience.

    My moment of change in writing came two years ago when I was helping a friend find sources on "how to write." Up until then I hadn't really given writing romance a thought. I enjoyed reading it, but never in my wildest dreams thought I could write one. But God is the master of taming wild dreams, and here I am doing something I love and can't imagine not writing every day. :o)

    --Kirsten

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  36. My moment of truth came right after I moved to Florida and discovered I was within driving distance of the Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA. I went to my first meeting in November 2002. At that point I decided to take my scribbling seriously.

    Before then I didn't believe a normal, average person could actually get published! But there were pubbed authors at the meeting. I began to take my own writing seriously, too.

    Thanks for the great post, Mary!

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  37. Cheryl St. John, the first author I ever found. Her name and, good grief woman!, I think her HOME PHONE NUMBER were in the Omaha World Herald.

    And she invited me to a meeting of the local RWA Chapter.

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  38. Jamie, not only did I discover Christian romance but don't we KEEP discovering it? It's expanding still, in all directions. It's certainly not just sweeet prairie romances anymore.

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  39. Renee, I so totally agree with you about Change. I am such a creature of habit.

    It's just plain scary to make big changes. And you know what? We always survive. We're often better off. But it's hard to see it that way while it's happening.

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  40. Stephanie, I talked with someone not that long ago who STILL writes her first draft with paper and pen.

    the mind boggles.
    But she says it's the way her creativity works and that physical activity sparks it.

    What? Typing isn't physical enough for her????

    I do know that, the longer I write, the more I get to know people, the more I find that there is not one RIGHT way to write a book, there are so many different styles and none of them is the right way, it's whatever works for you.

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  41. Melissa, I think you're talking about Petticoat Ranch not being in print. The reason WHY it's not in print is because, simply, they're all gone. And when I say all I mean ALL!!!!

    They're sold. Because my publisher did the 3 in 1 volume, Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, they didn't print anymore of that book. So it just doesn't exist in any form anywhere. I did do a book signing somewhere once, not that long ago, and the bookstore had like...three copies of Petticoat Ranch. I said, "Where did you get these?"

    "We didn't sell them. We've had them in stock for a long time."

    I was mind boggled and I bought all three of them (at the end of the signing, in case someone wanted one)

    I like to think it's because Petticoat Ranch was so beloved, but I suppose it could be a warehouse fire.

    Still, I'm going to believe my own theory, it's much more fun.

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  42. Happy Birthday Seekerville, looks like we share the same birthday month!

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  43. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraOctober 3, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Wow it's only 7:30 here in Texas and there are already 42 Comments. I only have a moment to say Hi and drop off some muffins and tea before I head to work. I'll come back later and share my discovery of Christian Romance after work today. Have a good morning everyone!

    fantum2004ATsbcglobalDOTnet

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  44. Good morning Mary and Seekerville and Unpubbed Island. (wshew)

    Such GREAT news about the goings on here!!! WAHOO!

    and while I'm up - just read this on Novel Rocket - A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman, Revell, September, 2010 a FINALIST for the INSPY award! May just went by doing backflips! (You DO allow dogs in Seekerville I hope? She's off leash but very well-trained...) Congrats Julie! Go Julie GO!

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Mary. We take so many things for granted these days it seems.

    For me, yes -
    picked the brand - May the K9 Spy, picked the genre - middle grade adventure...

    Now I'm struggling with getting book 2 of the series on paper. It's pawmazing how each new thing brings on a host of new challenges. Nothing like being a perpetual student.

    And thanks to you fabulous ladies of Seekerville, I know where to attend class. Finding y'all was a true light bulb moment for me. Though I don't write romance per se (just WAIT until you see book 2 - as a nod, I have a little romance in here - we'll see how it goes!!), May and I've found a home here. We are so blessed. Thanks so much!!!

    Long live Seekerville!

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  45. I had a friend (Yes, I did too!!!) who wrote a book in which she went around and interviewed every WWII soldier in our county. She simply listened, took notes, and wrote up their stories. She had it self-published.
    It's an amazing book, honestly. I loved it. And about that same time my daughter wrote this short story for an assignment in ... like 8th grade maybe (she might have been younger).
    That combination. My friend's story and my daughters very well done short novel inspired me to try.

    I told my friend I'd started writing a book too, and she said, "What kind of book?"
    I said, "Romance novel."
    She reached out and shook my hand and said, "Great idea. You can actually get one of those published--unlike me and my solider interviews."

    But I loved her soldier interviews, she didn't get a publisher to go for it, and honestly, I'm not sure how hard she even tried. But it was a beautiful work and almost all those men are gone now.

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  46. Morning Mary, Wow Seekerville is busy already. I love your story Mary.

    I had been writing mine by hand and like you, a newspaper article my mom saw introduced me to RWA. Wow other writers and they critiqued at Spinoza's pizza parlor!

    I took my handwritten chapters written on dark blue paper I'd been given free. Well my first big change came when they all politely told me they couldn't read my writing in the dark pizza parlor on the dark blue paper and they introduced me to the manuscript format of typed, double spaced, etc. LOL

    My mom went to community college and learned how to use the computer and she is the one who typed all my first manuscripts onto the ancient PC. Mom's are such a blessing. smile


    Thanks for the muffins Laura. They hit the spot.

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  47. Oh, a chance to win a Mary Connealy book, say, Lassoed in Texas, maybe?

    I've been writing creatively since second grade. At least, that's when I remember, though it could have been earlier. Christian romance was already around when I got old enough to care. A series of books called Spring Song, which are very like Love Inspired in some ways, is what introduced me to the Christian romance genre. From there, it went everwhere, from Lori Wick, to Janette Oke, to books like Catherine Marshall's Christy, to Seeker books!

    Whitney

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  48. As for a brand, I 'invented' my brand in a true fire.

    It was my first time at ICRS, the International Christian Retail Show, and I was doing an author signing (they give the books away free so the lines are LONG!) add to that I was at a table with Wanda Brunstetter, Christine Lynxwiler and MaryLu Tyndall. And the people just kept coming and coming and coming. A solid line (lured there mainly by Wanda, let's face it!) and we were supposed to tell these Christian retailers about our books, hopefully convincing them to buy a zillion of them for their Christian bookstores.
    But of course any extended conversation was out of the question.
    So it kept getting shorter and shorter through that hour until I'd boiled it down to Romantic comedy...with cowboys.
    MaryLu Tyndall was sitting next to me saying over and over, Christian pirates.
    We enjoyed that. And every once in a while (because it was overwhelming and exhausting) I'd say Romantic Comedy with Pirates and she'd say Christian Cowboys.
    Then we'd try not to giggle as the next hapless bookstore owner came through.

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  49. I'm laughing about you starting out with an ancient computer and no internet---that's where I was about five years ago!

    My long moment of change came when God stopped me from writing for a LONG time. I thought it was just writer's block but then I realized that I was trying to write things that God didn't like. He let me know that I was to only write things that would bring Him honor and glory.

    I'm currently at a point where I think I have writer's block again, but I'm pretty sure it's God trying to get my attention!

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  50. KC!!! I hadn't heard that about Julie

    AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
    CONGRATULATIONS, JULIE!!!!!

    And did you all hear that Walt won the Inspy Maggie over the weekend???

    AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

    More reasons to party here at SEEKERVILLE!!!!!!!

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  51. Good morning, Mary! It's only eight o'clock in our neck of the woods, so I think there's some very early risers around here.

    As a child and teen, I wrote a lot of stories, but had grown away from that as I took on journalism courses. After my youngest daughter was born, I needed a creative outlet so I started writing fan fiction on the internet. That was my eye-opening time. I found out I loved telling stories and I found my voice. Eventually, I decided I needed to create my own characters and stop borrowing other people's.

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  52. Oh my! It's only 8 a.m. and there's already 50 comments! It's going to be a wild and crazy month, methinks.

    Yours is definitely a wonderful success story, Mary. And I'm loving your Ten Plagues. Love the plot and the pace. I am reading it kind of slow because I normally read at night but I'm afraid to read this book after dark!

    Mary, I started writing in 2003, thinking that when my kids got older and went to kindergarten, I really didn't want to go back to teaching. I thought I might be able to make money writing children's books. It seemed pretty far-fetched, but I'd loved to write when I was in high school and wrote two novels by the time I graduated, so I figured, maybe it was possible. I took the writing course from the Institute for Children's Literature and realized I never should have stopped writing, and I would probably never stop again.

    A breakthrough came in 2005 when I was finished with my first novel and was trying to find a writers conference to go to. I stumbled across ACFW. I realized I'd found exactly what I was looking for. That first book never got published, but my second and third one have!

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  53. Oh, and I like change. Change is good. My older daughter hates change, but she doesn't get that from me!

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  54. I use to be our church secretary and did everyting by hand. That was before computers. Used a typewriter and taped clip art to do our newsletter. I used a lot of whiteout!

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  55. Good Monday everyone. Mary, why are you talking change on a Monday of all days? Gives me the chills.

    I've constantly changed in my writing journey the last five years. Judith Miller was my first change. I met her at a writer's meeting in Pella, Iowa. After that I figured this writing thing might actually be a serious venture.

    Not too long after that I met Mary, who always gives me great ideas. However, since I write speculative she never owns up to the ideas I give her. But she is my inspiration. Or one of them anyway.

    Have a great Monday.

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  56. Lorna, we talked about fan fiction at ACFW. I want you to come on here someday and talk about that.
    And Jamie, you mentioned FanFiction. I only know a little bit about that from Lorna. It's interesting.
    We need to know more.

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  57. So, I told my amish vampire story idea to Dawn.
    Dawn immediately went home to write it.
    Later she told me she was writing my amish vampire idea, except instead of vampires she had witches and instead of Amish she had....what was it, Dawn? Santa's elves or something???

    So, yes, I've inspired her!!!

    :)

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  58. In some ways, Mary, your story is similar to mine.

    After a move to NC, I wrote for several years without the support of a writers group (or the internet). Though I wrote and published several short stories, novels seemed to be off limits. When I tried, God would say it wasn't time. Besides, the last thing I wanted was to be told to add things that would damage my witness.

    Then one day about 3 1/2 years ago, He said to go for it. When I did, I found a local crit partner, ACFW and other crit partners, and more education than I dreamed possible.

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  59. Hi, Melanie, that ACFW conference would be the one where I was your mentor, right?

    I'd say that has worked out beautifully!!!

    Except for the ambulance!!!!

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  60. I'm with Cheryl St. John -- SOOO thrilled Mary found Christian writing, because it's scary to think of all the fun and shooting we would have missed ... not to mention the "caveman kisses"!! :)

    My very first moment of change came when I turned the first page of Gone With the Wind at the age of twelve -- my heart was sold down the river over romance from that moment on!! Started writing like crazy after that -- the first 150 pages of my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, poetry, short stories, etc. What a rush!!

    Now I'm getting read to embark on another change in my writing as well -- in my new series, The Cousins McClare. A little experiment to see if I can write for the market instead of myself with shorter books, less complicated plots and less sensuality. Only time will tell, but I'll tell you what -- for this long-winded drama queen, it's proving to be a WHOLE LOT easier!!! :)

    Great post, Mare!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  61. Patsy, I did our church newsletter for years with typing little squares of stories, cutting them out, pasting them onto a paper, along with pictures, running that through a xerox machine.

    Pretty low tech. I also worked for a newspaper for a year that had everything older than dirt.

    It was an interesting experience. I loved the writing. The Newspaper Year worked it's way into Nosy in Nebraska. The first book, the heroine was editor of a small town newspaper. She was just like me, except of course, she was young and skinny, the brat.

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  62. It was wonderful to read how you entered the world of writing, Mary. It's so fun to read the stories here. Also glad to read that my family isn't the only one that doesn't watch television.

    My moment of change came last summer (2010) when I discovered I had a story to write. I've secretly dreamed of writing since I was a girl (even "borrowed" the 1980 Writer's Guide from the library--and kept it for about 8 years) to try and learn writing.

    I became convinced that I wouldn't be talented enough to write fiction, but just maybe I could write non-fiction. When the kids were grown. Last summer, a story popped into my mind--the main character and the thing that would drive the story. After receiving encouragement from a writing friend, I decided to write my story, well the story God gave me. I'm still on the journey, but I'm learning tons through blogs and friends. Thanks Seekerville. :)

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  63. Mary there's a fanfiction sight online for just about any movie, TV show or book made. I just goggled and yes there is a fan fiction site for Mary Connealy books!

    I'll give you a moment to go google.

    Fanfiction is fun when you find a group of writers/readers who share a common interest. There are many sites out there where the responses to your work are encouraging and supportive but there are also some that are cut throat and not meant for those with thin skin.

    I stumbled onto a very supportive one where I met a now well-known and loved author before she was moved on who pops in here from time to time.

    It was a very rewarding experience for me but not the place to sharpen your writing skills if you want to be published. Anything goes: head hopping, us of ly words, and you don't have to show as much because your reader already has an image of the characters and their traits.

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  64. oops the whole site isn't Mary Connealy but some of the stories are. It's a more general site.

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  65. Oh, my goodness!!!

    Mary, I could have written this post!!!

    1)Started writing in 1994
    2)No internet
    3)I had an Apple Macintosh. $1000.00 for that sucker back then!
    4)Ditto
    5)My access to publishers….uh…the copyright page of the books I was reading.
    6)Ditto – RWA. And when I did find a chapter a few months later, you guessed it, it was at least an hour away!
    7)Ditto
    8)Ditto

    Oh, my! I remember being SO excited when I found out about the Love Inspired line. Wrote to them and found out NO historicals at the time. But that didn’t stop me from subbing some contemps.

    Seriously, I scrolled back to the top to make sure you posted this and not me!!!

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  66. I would so LOVE to read all the comments, but I've got to go to work. Maybe I'll catch up later. Mary has started this party off with a bang (as usual!)

    Speaking of change: I wonder how many of us would have stuck with pursuing the writing dream withoug computers?

    Ink and quill? Pencil? Pen? Manual typewrter? Automatic typewriter?

    Now that's dedication to the craft of writing!

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  67. What a lovely post, Mary.
    For me, change comes in a few parts.
    The first change I remember so clearly because I was in San Francisco on a business trip. I'd picked up a magazine to read in the airport and it had an article on romance writers. I remember the profile on Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee and one other. (This was a loooong time ago). The article focused on how they were ordinary women working ordinary jobs and writing on the side (well, in the beginning). That was a lightbulb moment for me. I'd always been a reader and the people who wrote books were akin to immortal in my mind. Ordinary people could write novels too? That was when I first considered it.

    I wrote for a long time but the demands of the market didn't sit well with me and eventually I drifted away from writing. I honestly couldn't imagine putting my name on a book I wouldn't want my daughters to read.

    The problem was, the writer in me still wanted to tell stories.

    That's where Part 2 and Seekerville come in. I don't remember how I ended up here, but I did and I kept coming back because you taught me that "ordinary women" (not that any of you are ordinary *g* ) could write inspirational fiction. I went through an "I'm not worthy" phase, and most days I still don't feel up to the task, but you all taught me to let God guide my pen and not worry about doing it all myself. For that I'm profoundly grateful. *sniff sniff*

    The prayer I was reading this morning had this line from John's letters to the Philippians:

    ‘Finally, brothers and sisters fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire’ (4:8).

    I like to think that we're doing that when we write these books.

    Mary

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  68. Love hearing everyone's stories!

    I can think of three big turning points in my writing -

    One was back in college (many years ago - before computers, but after the anti-war rallies of the '60's). I was an English Major With a Creative Writing Emphasis. Big fat label for a hot air balloon. I hated the snobbery. All I wanted to do was write stories. That was a negative turning point - I didn't write again for almost 30 years.

    But one of the big turning points came during that time. I was at a writing seminar and a well-known author (at the time) read my piece of prose I had submitted and couldn't find anything to say about it. He just looked at me and said, "This is really good."

    (He died the next year, but I don't think the two events were related.)

    I've held onto his comment for many, many years now.

    The third big turning point was a few years ago when my dear husband gave me a laptop computer for Christmas. He knew I wanted to write, but wouldn't until I had a tool to use to make it possible during my spare time (I was still homeschooling full time back then). His support and belief in me brought me to tears.

    So now I write. Whenever I can.

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  69. Santa's elves? What a GREAT idea!!! I've got it half plotted already! (psst, they were demons. But to put everyone's heart to rest, I have angels who overcome the evil bad guys)

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  70. fyi
    everytime I come to seekerville I come in through http://www.seekerville.net/
    I just love it. So beautiful.

    Except, is it just me, or does it look like there's a FACE in one of those windows.

    Or no, two of those windows. A face. Watching me. A stalker, or maybe a serial killer.

    AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But other than that, I love it. :)
    In fact BECAUSE of that I love it.

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  71. There have been so MANY changes, so many turning points in my writing journey. One of the biggest was coming across a copy of "Romantic Times" magazine at Barnes and Noble in Phoenix years and years ago. Through that I learned about RWA and through RWA really started learning about the craft of writing and the publishing industry. Entered contests for feedback.

    And deciding to focus on heartwarming, small-town inspirational romance rather than chicklit-flavored romantic suspense was another biggie.

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  72. I'm kind of a change addict. Going to the same restaurant is a struggle. I like new stuff, moving around, and making giant leaps. But i know that can get me into trouble too. Especially when it comes to branding. So I'm working to write consistently for the same audience, while feeding on the creative differences I conjure up each time I start something new.

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  73. Mary, I love your moment of change story! And your books! I didn't know about Christian publishers either. Odd really, but part of the journey.

    I wrote my first manuscript on a word processor. Anyone remember those?

    The biggest moment of change for my writing was like Mary's. I discovered RWA. That led me to a local chapter and my critique partner. Wow, it's fun to look back and see the doors God opened.

    Congratulations on the new series, Julie!!!!!!!!

    Janet

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  74. I'm so glad you persevered through those lonely times. Imagine the wonderful stories we all would've missed.

    Can't wait to see you on Friday! :)

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  75. I like to think that if someone were stalking you - as in following you from blog to blog - it's just because they are trying desperately to win a copy of Out Of Control... just sayin

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  76. Uh... 72 comments and a house to clean before lunch at Chick-fil-A with Andrea...

    I'll read 'em later... ;)

    I've loved to write for eons. I've tried regular romance and romantic suspense. The romance was fine. The RS is shoved in the bottom of the virtual filing cabinet drawer behind the arsenic. No one best go there.

    But... In April I started writing Suburban Straightjacket as a romantic comedy and it just... fit.

    It feels comfortable.

    Except it's not JUST comedy.

    So I am now the Queen of Dramedy. And I write romantic dramedy in the Ozarks.

    And I feel good in that skin.

    Melissa - you know there's a second 3-in-1 trilogy right? And a 3rd trilogy that goes with them [though not a 3-in-1 yet] ;). And the last of those 9 has my very fave hero ever!

    And from yesterday... Erica - darling, you can shop with me anytime! In fact, you'll probably like the magnetic pull my cart is going to have on Wednesday. I just KNOW it is. Cuz there's an NYT best selling book I just gotta have!

    carolmoncado at gmail dot com [and I'll be posting about Mary on my blog after lunch - will link to it later ;) It's all Mary all day!]

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  77. well that's strange. I found someone writing a fan fiction version of Clueless Cowboy. Set in the future.
    But the sight is confusing yet. I'll search more later.

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  78. My daughter loves to write fan fiction, and has found herself mentoring other fan fiction writers. It's an interesting genre...

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  79. That site is strange and hard to decipher. Ones dedicated to one show are much easier to follow. I've heard that you should not include fanfiction writing when telling an editor or publisher your writing history.

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  80. LOL I really should have proofed that last post before submitting... more easier...

    In fanfiction there is usually a disclaimer about the story idea not being their own and no money being made.

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  81. I had always wanted to write a Romance but had only read ones that left me thinking "I wish they had waited until they were married." Thankfully, I discovered Christian Romances and now feel I've been set free to write.
    After reading your story, I am inspired to find a local writers group. Thank you for sharing!

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  82. Jan, I can't remember the class in college but we all had to write a speech about something and I picked a poem...I wonder if I could find it now and 'interpreted' it...as an english professor would.

    I remember a line in my speech that went something like, There are two kinds of English professors. Old ladies in cartigans who enjoy enunciating the word onomatopoeia and personification.

    An dopers who were fond of saying, "Hey, Edger Allen Poe was a successful author and HE TOOK DRUGS."

    So we all had a good laugh and I read this very short poem about a flower and interpreted it so the flower meant LOVE.
    The flower meant WAR.
    The flower meant SEX.

    I did a bunch of versions and ended with the flower being a FLOWER, all mocking poetry interpretation.

    Then about the next day, the head of our department came to visit and do an interpretation of poetry reading in which he picked a different poem, Robert Frost, and interpreted it to mean some nonsense that seemed to have no bearing on the actual poem. A bird meant death, stuff like that, none of us could see without being told. I doubt Frost even knew all that stuff was in her poem.

    Only the professor was dead serious.

    We all sat there in the class and tried not to snicker at him and I kept getting these covert glances from my classmates while we struggled to keep a straight face.

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  83. Oh Mary, I only wish my class mates had snickered!

    My Am. Lit. prof was so anti-Christian that he refused to see Christian symbolism, no matter how blatant it was. So the Scarlet Letter? Had nothing to do with sin and redemption.

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  84. Yes, Mary, it was great except for the ambulance. But we aren't supposed to talk about that, REMEMBER??? LOL

    And getting you as my mentor was definitely a gift from God. In spite of the ambulance.

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  85. Oh my gosh, Mary, this is so funny:
    "There are two kinds of English professors. Old ladies in cartigans who enjoy enunciating the word onomatopoeia and personification.
    An dopers who were fond of saying, "Hey, Edger Allen Poe was a successful author and HE TOOK DRUGS."

    LOL LOL LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  86. Hey Ruthy - where's the cookies?!

    And I think someone needs to TELL the ambulance story ;).

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  87. Or SHOW it - a little skit for YouTube wouldn't be completely out of the question...

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  88. I got my first computer FREE when the local school upgraded to one that was only FIVE years old instead of TEN. So my investment was zero, which was about all I could afford.

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  89. Happy Birthday, Seekerville!!! My heart overflows with love and gratitude for you ladies! :D

    Change is good. It gets me out of the potholes where my brain tends to lodge. I'm experimenting with historical/fantasy and modern/fantasy. I've also written my first teen short story romance. That was a blast!!! I've started book two in my Broken Wings series, but I go to these other projects when I need a break/change of pace. I've found that even writing a short story re-energizes me for my main project. :D

    Birthday (((hugs))) all around!

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  90. I could tell the ambulance story, but maybe I'll save it for it's OWN BLOG POST!!!!!!!!

    C'mon, Melanie, it's okay to talk about it. It makes you...ahem... memorable in the annals of ACFW.

    I mean sure people get hauled away in ambulances all the time, but how often does it happen in front of hundreds of people during a session.

    ps Brandilynn Collins prayed for you. Clearly it worked.

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  91. Jamie- believe it or not I think I'm the last person on earth not to have a cell. It could be that I'm not really one to talk on the phone but I've just never felt the need to have one. I did have one for emergencies when I was in college but right after I graduated out the door it went! Hahaha

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  92. Linette there were a couple of years there when I was writing my long books, contemporary Heartsong Presents and cozy mysteries for Heartsong Presents Mysteries. I found switching genres incredibly creative and energizing. I loved switching back and forth.

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  93. I feel like I've been writing all of my life. I guess I've always had the bug, so to speak. :) One day I'll actually break into the published side of writing (other than articles). For now, I'm trying my hand at contests - scary for me, especially with those thoughts of 'Will I ever be good enough for someone to notice?'

    Loved hearing about your journey Mary. You are one of my favorite authors! :)

    Blessings,
    Jodie Wolfe

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  94. Ausjenny- I totally started out with Janette Oke books too! My mom was in her late teens when those first came out and she eventually got the entire series. When I was about 13 or 14 we were going through some of her old books and I found Janette's When Calls the Heart in one of my mom's boxes and I've been hooked on Christian fiction ever since.

    Mary- Besides the Janette Oke books I used to own pretty much everyone of the Love Inspired books.

    Does anyone remember the Guidepost romances published in the 80s? They were similar to Heartsongs and I owned a bunch of them too!

    XOXO~ RENEE

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  95. Jodie, it takes a lot of guts to stick your toe in the water (okay, let's instead say stick your neck out because it sometimes feels as if we're offering to be guillotined)
    Good for you. Change is good, scary but good.
    Unless it's bad change, but let's don't go there.

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  96. MY change was in early 2008. I was plugging away writing short stories and devotionals, telling folks I couldn't write a novel, cuz I didn't have a long enough story in me - or a character I was interested enough in to sustain for that long.

    And one day, I challenged myself to write biblical fiction short stories, and I came across Michal. And she had a story I could NOT let go of. And more and more ideas came. Now I can write novels (LOL theoretically, anyway).

    Enter me for a Mary book please ;)

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  97. My moment of change would have to be the first time I read "Pride and Prejudice." Opened up a whole new world in both reading and writing. Right after that, I wrote a story with a Regency theme. My first story. And four years later, I'm still writing :)

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  98. My moment of change came when a couple of members of a fanfiction writer's group talked me into joining them! I'll be forever thankful to God and grateful to Lorna and Marlene for bringing me alongside them!

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  99. Okay, not even noon yet and nearly 100 comments??? Am I late to the party or what???

    Oh, boy, Mary, I can relate to CHANGE! I started writing (seriously--been writing stories since I could pick up a pencil!) in 1983 on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Next moved to a Kaypro II computer--oh my, what a dinosaur!

    My first DOS computer had 85 megs of memory.

    A few years later I went to a Windows computer with 85 GIGs of memory!

    My first email account was with CompuServe. And it did me little or no good because NOBODY ELSE I KNEW HAD EMAIL ACCOUNTS!!!

    Now I wade through at least 100 message a day.

    AND THE COMPUTER AGE SUPPOSEDLY MAKES WRITING EASIER AND FASTER?????

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  100. I just realized I was nerd because I have a 'yahoo' account. It's not nerdy, it's 'retro'.

    Anyway, my change came when a critique partner wrote a love inspired book. I'd had this vision of Christian Fiction as preachy and boring. Boy, was I wrong.

    After that, I started reading Christian Fiction and realized I had found my calling.

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  101. Hey Seekerville,

    Great topic, Mary! Obviously you hit a nerve - every writer wants to tell their story! LOL.

    I started writing in notebooks too because we only had one computer and it was my husband's. So when I could sneak time in I'd type my handwritten pages.

    I wasn't sure what I was writing at first - romantic suspense maybe. But then I found out about Inspirationals and got a little God-nudge to write that.

    Still didn't know about the whole Christian romance market. I think Seekerville brought me to that! (Thank you!) Where I live there are very few Christian bookstores and very few Christian novels in the regular bookstores or the library. So I have spent a LOT of money on books on-line. Much to my husband's dismay!

    Being at my first ACFW conference just solidified for me that I am where I'm supposed to be!

    Thank you everyone for the help you give all of us everyday!

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  102. WOW! 8:30 Pacific time and there are already 100 comments??

    I haven't been writing long enough to have a writing change. ;-) I did go from historical to contemp. Women's fiction, but within my own writing I see small changes. New degrees of understanding (hopefully!) and a continued passion to help the wonderful published authors make it and keep writing. :)

    I just about chocked when I heard you had to start with no internet. GASP! *fans self* SO glad someone was smart enough to make it up. ;-)

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  103. Because we knew I wouldn't CHANGE my plans for the morning and skip the silly house cleaning thing so I could post a blog...

    And I did do some of that house cleaning...

    But for anyone interested in some Seeker Sightings. For Realz. check it out. Yes I did a. use the word reals and b. spell it with a z.

    ;)

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  104. I just looked at the Seekervillage picture on our new website and I admit I'm nervous.

    Tina, could you possibly move the bicycle down to the end of the street and chain it to the lamp post. True there is no crime in Seekerville, but why entice the younsters to go bad? Why make it easy for them to impulsively swipe a bicycle.

    Consider it, Tina.

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  105. Amanda, you mentioned Pride and Prejudice and Julie mentioned Gone with the Wind.

    I've heard so many times that someone reads a LOUSY book and things, "I can do better than this."

    But I think it's more common to read a fantastic book and be inspired to write from that. To read some great, heart tugging tale, for me it's A Lantern in Her Hand, and think, that touches my life. I could write about something I know and it might be publishable because THIS is published.

    What a great inspiration, Jane Austen

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  106. Checking back in.

    I see the party is alive and well! :)

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  107. Loved your blog Carol... that was too cute.

    Mary, when I first read Little Women I knew I wanted to be a writer.

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  108. Wow, I'm late to the party.

    I started writing in the late 1990's on a typewriter. It was one of those fancy ones that had the expense "correct type" dilly-ma-bob.
    When we bought a computer, I trashed the typewriter, but I wished I wouldn't have. I think I wrote better when I could see the words in print. After typing, I'd go back and re-read my story and mark the changes. I tell myself to print out my pages now, but I just hate to spend all that money on ink.

    After completing my first novel, I wrote Catherine Coulter with a story idea (I still can't believe I did that)and she actually mailed me back and suggested I join RWA and listed the chapters in my area.

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  109. Carol~ I had to skip 94. I wasted my morning on Internet stuff (not paying the bills like I'd planned).

    Have to get ready fast now.

    My change was in simply knowing that I have to write. I was always good at academic writing, but hated creative writing.

    When I felt called to write, it was (and still is) a bit scary. I know that God is going to have to do the job, because I simply don't have the talent for it.

    I'm not making a lot of progress so far, but He gives me little things that keep me on the "write" track.

    Great post Mary!

    I absolutely want to win one of your books. They've been eluding me lately, going to other lucky readers.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

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  110. ps that computer I've got pictures on the blog is an Apple 2e, a little more modern than the one I had. I mention this to alert you that we are not giving away THAT computer.
    We're giving away a shiny new Netbook.
    Check the weekend editions for a picture of that, but don't fear that the dinosaur Apple will be arriving in the mail.

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  111. Really enjoyed hearing your journey, Mary, and all the changes others have made along the way. Worked most of my life as a secretary and was a fast typist. But at home I was still typing my letters to the editor, essays and short stories on my old IBM Selectric and querying by regular mail. I'd get the guidelines for a publication by going to B&N and reading them in the WD Writers' Market. Hubby said I needed to move on and get a computer. Still resistant to change. Writing instructor asked our class who didn't use a computer. I was the only one. That was enough to convince me. Later a whole new world awaited me where I discovered writing groups online, etc. Congratulations to Walt. Looks like a fantastic week ahead.

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  112. Not for sure when my change came. However, I am sure glad it did. I love the Christian romance novels that you all write. My husband keeps telling me I need to put pen and paper together, I just have been chicken to do so!

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  113. I'm so "old school" and I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one! I see a few of you still use the ol' pen and paper when you write. Even though I'm not a writer of stories when I get ready to do a review on my blog I usually write it out first on paper. I guess I just haven't gotten past my school days when it was required that we hand write all of our rough drafts and type up the final copy. :-P

    XOXO~ RENEE C.

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  114. 113 comments and it's not even 1:00? No way I can catch up.

    Let's just say there have been moments of change, little "a-has" that make me like I can do this, that I should hang in there, that I'm supposed to write. A word of encouragement from a favored published author. Story ideas pinging around my head like popcorn in a microwave. Positive writing feedback. The success of writer friends.

    My big "a-ha" though was also a Love Inspired moment. I read a book by Margaret Daley. Must have been one of the first LIs. Got goosebumps. Scoured the stores for more. Devoured them. Then, after reading a series by Felicia Mason for LI, got the bright idea to write uplifting stories like hers, ones featuring people of color.

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  115. LOVED reading your introduction into writing, Mary! ~ Even though I've always loved reading and writing (wrote stories as a child/young teen) I was so busy being a Mom and teacher for many years. So when I had to retire from teaching (due to my back problems) in 2007, I strongly felt the Lord was showing me it was time to pursue my writing. Now I'm trying to become more disciplined and not become distracted by household tasks (or numerous cats, LOL) so I can do my very best. ~ So glad to have discovered the Seekers a while back--you ladies are amazing. ~ Blessings, Patti Jo p.s. It was wonderful speaking with you on the sidewalk, btw! I'm the lady who rushed up to you as you were boarding the shuttle to leave the hotel in St. Louis. You looked at me and asked who I was--and when I said "CatMom" you appeared to recognize my name. ;)

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  116. Just visited the new site, and Mary, you're right. One of the windows does look like someone is in it. I had to look for a moment at it before I figured out it was the top of the lamppost in front of the window. It is eerie how it looks like the shadow of a person though.

    BTW- it looked great!

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  117. Mary, I love A Lantern in Her Hand. I can see how that book inspired you.

    Change is such a fascinating topic! Sometimes I look back on the person I was twenty years ago and don't even recognize myself because God has worked so many needed changes within me. This past weekend I had to pinch myself to think that there I was at ACFW--introverted me--walking into a roomful of talented folks and trying to consider myself one of them. I did not enjoy all the changes that led me there, but I'm happy with where I ended up!

    And by the way, Renee C., it's sweet you're such an old fashioned girl, but I'm glad you finally got on the computer! Otherwise, who would share my name with me??

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  118. Hi Mary! It was great to meet you at ACFW.

    I had to chuckle while reading your post because it's so similar to the way I began. First came the typewriter (that dates me). Those were painful days struggling with carbon paper and correction tape! I was so excited to get a word processor that showed a whole line of text on a bitty little screen. I could make corrections before printing. That was great, but in comparison, computers seemed like heaven! My moment of change came when I stopped trying to do things my way and listened to God's call to write Christian fiction. I fell in love with the Christian stories I read and finally realized that's where I'd belonged all along. Yeah, I know. Not the quickest on the uptake. Thankfully He's very patient!

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  119. Tamara Leigh changed how I viewed Christian fiction. I had only ever read Lori Wick and Jeanette Oke - good books, but I love romantic comedy. When I realized you could write (and publish!) something like that, I wanted to try.

    Congrats on the accomplishments!
    Karin
    kvbwrites(at)gmail(dot)com

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  120. I too had one of those bohemouth computers. It had a floppy disk, and I mean floppy.

    But I could use it for free cause it was given to me.

    my next computer we paid $2200 for and it went down in the first year, taking my story with it. I learned about backing up early. After I cried.

    I did newsletters for several churches. With graph paper for layouts, fillers, drawing, and had alot of tapes for my borders.

    That kind of died away with the advent of the computer, but I enjoyed doing the hands on way too.

    Life tosses alot of changes our direction. As I said before, I had my fair share this year, but I figure I'll just keep plugging away. Keep learning, praying and hopefully growing

    And of course, keep writing.

    I appreciate ya'll for taking the time to share what you've learned with us.

    Blessings

    Tina P.

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  121. I think I may have you beat, Mary -- I started writing paranormal romance in the 70's. Back then Fantasy was an exclusive boy's club that turned up their noses at anything containing romance, and the romance genre was pretty much all contemporary or historical with no outlandish elements. I had to wait 30 years for my genre to be invented! (And I still can't sell a darn thing. >:-( ) Change is good when it opens doors for us, even though sometimes it may be scary or difficult just trying to walk through that door! Thank the Lord for the wonderful, encouraging folks in RWA and folks like all you Seekers; if it wasn't for all the support and good information I get from y'all every day I don't think I would even be trying to write again now.

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  122. This is so exciting!!! Love your site and always love a good contest! Margie at mijares dot net

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  123. CatMom, I remember you. And I did get it when you said CatMom. So, any info on where that nickname came from would be appreciated.

    It was fun getting to at least say HI. I can't believe how many people I never even found for a SECOND.

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  124. I need a chocolate jolt to get going this Monday morning! Where are Ruthy's chocolate chip cookies?

    My first computer back in the '80s was an Apple IIc... such a dinosaur compared to my current iMac and MacBook, but a huge improvement over my old typewriter -- definitely a good kind of change.

    I'm still waffling when it comes to genre. I've always written from a Christian worldview but my early experiences of reading Christian fiction had convinced me it wasn't where I wanted to go with my writing. Then I discovered Christian authors writing really great stories. (Yeah, I know... someone's going to tell me they were out there all the time and I should have looked harder, but I was turned off by all the salvation-and-live-happily-ever-after syrup I had encountered.) God began prodding me, and now I'm writing in the inspirational romantic suspense genre. Who would have guessed it ten years ago? Not me.

    (Cookies, Ruthy... COOKIES! Breakfast sandwiches are lovely, but why aren't you sharing those chocolate chip cookies? I'm not hyperventilating! I'm not!)

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  125. NO NO NO DIANE, look again. In the PINK building. In fact, I think there's someone lurking RIGHT IN MYRA'S WINDOW.

    GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, MYRA!!!!
    AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  126. I love your writing journey, Mary! Very inspiring!

    This is probably going to make me sound so young, but I've never written without a computer! (I'm 28- yeah, the Internet came around when I was in 6th grade!) Well, OK, I wrote my little stories on lined paper with a ballpoint pen when I was a kid, but by the time serious writing came around, I used my parents' home PC in high school, then the computer lab at college, then I finally got my own HP laptop in 2004. I'm still using it!

    Of course, my husband just got a MacBook Air and tells me I need one, too, but for now, my college laptop is working just fine and I don't want a new one until I finish my first manuscript (or unless it dies... NO!!!)

    I count myself SO blessed that I've grown up around Christian fiction...I read the Mandy books as a girl, and "Christy" by Catherine Marshall had a huge impact on me. I moved away from Christian fiction for a while, but Liz Curtis Higgs' Thorn in My Heart trilogy brought me back to it a few years ago.

    This past year, I've been privileged to get to know a few more Christian writers and Seekerville, which has encouraged me so much. Thank you for all that you do, ladies, and keep letting God use you!

    ~Stephanie

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  127. Carol Garvin, the way Christian fiction is stretching into all genres is the most exciting part of being involved in it.

    I love that Barbour Publishing is taking a chance on Ten Plagues. So many publishers trying so many different things. There is room for all of us. No matter what we love to read or write.

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  128. Stephanie, the only think I've got left from college is my husband--and he is actually left from highschool, but age wise, he was there.

    The rest of my college acquisitions (including the knowledge) is crumbled into primordial dust.

    :(

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  129. I looked in the pink building, Mary, and saw a candle and curtains. But in the event I'm wrong...Myra, definitely get OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!

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  130. I agree, Mary,

    I see a couple of figures in those windows.

    I believe there's something moving about in the cafe, too.

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  131. Mary, my husband is left over from college, too!

    That's one change I WILL NOT agree to.

    I'm a big planner, so I definitely resist change if it interferes with my plans, but I try to remember that God's plan is what matters, not mine. Most of the biggest changes in my life have turned into awesome blessings.

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  132. Mary, did you stash a secret treasure in the hole of the tree?

    Funny, my grandmother had to move in with my uncle and they all moved to a nice new place. My grandma is forever hiding things, especially cash. When she came to visit she had 3k stuffed in a kleenex box and another 1k stuff inside a stuff animal. Who knows how much she had in her socks. Anyway, there is a tree stump outside her window. She hid 6k in it when they first moved and she told my mother it was stolen. She just knew nobody knew the hole was there. My uncle, knowing her penchant for hiding things, cemented up the hole without checking to see if Grandma had already discovered it.

    Love the new site.

    Christina Renee

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  133. My first computer had a single big floppy drive. I remember being excited to get two! Actually, that was my first pc. Before that, I was programming computers in high school using cards that you colored the boxes to indicate to the computer what you wanted it to do. The big issue was keeping all your cards in order, so it was important not to get bumped in the hallway with your stack of several hundred cards in your hands!

    It amazes me how far computers have come in such a short time. I would never have thought. Back then, I didn't think about writing either. I thought about owning a Borders-like store where people could lounge, grab a bite and talk books, then purchase or even borrow. I figured not everyone could afford to buy but I could have a bookstore/lending library combined. A teacher talked me out of it, said it would never work and no one would combine a cafe with a bookstore because it would be too messy. Didn't think about anything in the publishing industry for years because of that.

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  134. You think those are CURTAINS????

    I think they are HEADS.

    Oh, Diane, famous last words..."It's just the curtain."

    TheN...SUDDENLY...CUE THE PSYCHO MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    REEP REEP REEP REEP

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  135. So Patricia, what else was your teacher wrong about?

    You would have founded borders and been rich...and of course YOUR version of Borders wouldn't have gone belly up.

    The food part at least. But the lending library/book store combined. I don't know about that. It sounds kinda like a restaurant with all-you-can-eat ... to go.
    Sure business will be brisk, but I'm not sure you'd sustain it for long.

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  136. Hey Mary and everyone else!

    My moment of change was . . . joining ACFW. Like Mary, I'd been writing in isolation. A year and a half ago, I joined ACFW, and wham! I found an AWESOME cp and email loop for European historical writers. I started entering and finaling in writing competitions, started meeting great people like Mary and my agent.

    Joining ACFW was definitely my moment of change.

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  137. A Lantern in Her Hand looks good and the fact that it inspired you makes it one I want to read. I love reading through these comments and I too want to hear the ambulance story!

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  138. My moment of change came while teaching a chapter of "Creative Prayer." Long story...

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  139. Happy Birthday Seekerville!

    Finding other writers made all the difference to me!

    Last year at the party I was unpublished, but not this year :)

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

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  140. I'm just starting to write my first book. It is Christian fiction with some suspense and a little romance.
    Thanks for this great site.
    Trinity Rose

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  141. LOL Renee Ann I'll bet we could really confuse a lot of people on here... I made a habit of signing all of my comments with "Renee C." so hopefully that helps!

    XOXO~ RENEE C.

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  142. Great post, Mary! :-)

    dancerchick(at)cimexico(dot)org

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  143. Mary, what a great story! You've come so far!!

    I actually lucked out sooner into my writing journey. I got feedback from a Christmas letter that I'd found my voice. It was hubby's aunt who told me so. When I asked, "What's voice?" she told me about Georgia Romance Writers and gave me a friend's name. :)

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  144. Good grief, psychos are lurking behind the curtrains on Main Street in Seekerville ???

    Teeeeeeeeeena??????????

    Okay, that's enough TEN PLAGUES for one night.

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  145. I can't comment about writing, since I don't write (except comments on my favorite blogs), however I have noticed a change in my reading over the last few years. I'd say probably 90% of my reading is Christian fiction. I still read new books in several favorite mystery series as they are published but that's pretty much the extent of my non Christian reading. I love that there is such a wide variety of Christian fiction available now, from sweet romances to gritty suspense. That is a good change.

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  146. GATORADE A Lantern in Her Hand is my second favorite book of all time, following only To Kill a Mockingbird.

    It's the most powerful emotional experience I've ever had with a book. If you read it, I'd love to hear what you think.

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  147. YAY!! EVA MARIE!!!!

    Sweet, huh?

    Once you finally get published there are NO PROBLEMS. It is ALL BLISS!!!!!!!!

    snort

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  148. Trinity Rose, good luck with your book. I stopped over to your blog. What a cute grandson. Wow, we are crazy for grandchildren here at Seekerville lately. There's been a baby boom.

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  149. Myra I think we need to not bother Tina. The psycho presence seemed to be confined to your building.

    Find comfort in that if you DARE!!!!!!!

    Bwahahahahahaha!!!!!

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  150. I guess I've been writing all of my life, for as long as I could write, but I have yet to pick a genre to focus on. I like so many things! Mary, I'm so excited for your success in a slightly different genre, great post :)

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  151. Mary, that's a wonderful story. I remember when I first discoverd writing groups. I met a couple of RWA authors at a book signing. At the time, I was writing a humorous nonfiction book on marriage, from the male POV and targeted to women. They suggested I join them at an RWA meeting. The conversation went something like this:

    Authors: You should join us at a meeting.

    Me: I write nonfiction.

    Authors: You're targeting women. Who better to teach you than our group?

    I conceded the point and went.

    I've learned a lot since then. I've also discovered that there may be a place for inspirationals set in medieval Japan.

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  152. When I rededicated my life to Christ in Feb. 1998, I asked God to provide quality Christian romances. In Sept of the same year, the Love Inspired contemporary romance line debuted through Steeple Hill, an imprint of Harlequin. God answered that prayer just for me! Yes, I feel special. I still have the very first novels.

    I knew I wanted my first novel to be published through Love Inspired--full circle. God answered that prayer too. My debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, will be released at the end of this month!

    Changing from a hobby writer to a published author who still works full time has created a whole lotta changes!!

    Great post, Mary!

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  153. Writing and reading have been constants since I was about four years old.

    My moment of change was when I discovered folks actually wanted to read my musings about faith and life and gain some understanding from them.

    My friends are still encouraging me to try fiction so that is why I hang here.

    I LOVE change so you would think the change from non-fiction to fiction would have me flying from one to another. But it is hard.

    Thanks for the insights.

    Peace, Julie

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  154. Naomi, I'm a member of ACFW for about the last six months and I'm only on the newcomers loop. You said you found a great group and loop. How did you do that? Just join one that looked like it would fit? Sorry if that's a dumb question! I just wish I was getting mroe out of that membership. I'm proud to support it, but I'm not sure if I know exactly how to use the site to make writing contacts!

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  155. I don't know if this counts as a change, but I had an elderly writing professor I greatly respected in the nonfiction area read quite a lot of my fiction. The fact that I met him and he did that opened my eyes to how much writers support each other. Then, he told me, "I believe your strength is your dialogue."

    The fact that he thought I had a strength thrilled me no end. :) His opinion was also invaluable in organizing my nonfiction book. He died before the book was published.

    This past weekend, I read where some editors at my target publisher said they wanted to see more dialogue. It was like a little piece of hope, you know?

    Thanks for another great Seekerville post. It's good to be encouraged to look at the big picture.

    I'd love to win a prize!

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  156. Virginia - if you're only on the newcomer's loop, there's soooooo much more to ACFW membership. I couldn't find your email but if you want to shoot me one, I'll do my best to help you out - I'm sure any of the other amazing women can too!

    carolmoncado at gmail dot com

    [and if your email is somewhere obvious blame the gasoline headache... DH is working on the leaf blower. Because we have no trees. But we have grass clippings driving him nuts.]

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  157. VIRGINIA!!!

    This is where to find different eloops, some of them targeted by genre.

    ACFW eloops

    You have to log into the members only section of ACFW.

    Oops, I probably oughta join the suspense loop.

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  158. I use to write a lot when I was younger (all my 'long-hand' writings got lost in one of our many moves. I was quite sad to say the least. I've been a poet for many years as well. I guess my 'change' started a few years ago when I felt the Lord nudging me to write a novel. I have stories and characters roaming rampant in my mind but I'm having difficulty corralling them into the right story. I've got a long way to go...

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  159. Virginia find the loops link and jump right in. I've found the course loop and scribes loop to be very helpful. Scribes is where I connected with wonderful crit partners. (Right Jackie :) )

    The prayer loop is a real blessing. Those are just a few I joined on day one. I've thought of joining the historical loop but I already get so many emails a day any more might make me loopy. (sorry it's been a long day)

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  160. Mary, isn't is amazing how that works? I love how the creativity differs between genres. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut doing one thing. At least for me. :D

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  161. Or I should say sub-genre... it's still all romance. :D

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  162. A change in my writing? I'm trying to write deeper, get into my characters on a deeper level.

    Ann_Lee_Miller[at]msn[dot]com

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  163. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraOctober 3, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Okay I am back. Looks like it's been hopping since this morning. It was a long day at work since my allergies have been acting crazy. I am not a writer but I discovered Christian Fiction a few years back. I loved finding books where the characters fall in love for real and there's more between them than getting between the sheets.

    fantum2004ATsbcglobalDOTnet

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  164. Who cares about all these Comments....

    CHRISTINA...... I need your grandmother's ADDRESS!!!!

    ROFLOL

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  165. Thanks for sharing! While I am not a writer. I have had my fair share of change. Including moving cities without a job only to get one that was a better fit than what I had before.

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  166. Mary, lovely post! I can relate.

    Realizing Love Inspired published suspense and allowed bad things to happen to good people was a big turning point for me. I incorporated a faith element into a story I had written for HQ Intrigue and knew I'd found my writing home with LIS.

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  167. What an aha moment.

    Funny how God plants those seeds and you haven't the foggiest clue why, you just do as you're told, write the books, and they will come. Sort of. You understand what I mean, right?

    My introduction to romance was through secular historical epics. Sex aside, I loved the world created between the covers holding 400 pages of emotion, conflict, and love.

    deep sigh

    But I didn't want to write for the secular market.

    When I told my husband I wanted to write a romance novel, he said, "that's nice dear. Just don't get us kicked out of church."

    LOL, don't you just love those guidelines??

    Anyway, long story short, I'm with you Mary. The lightbulb of excitement flared when Harlequin introduced Steeple Hill Love Inspired.

    Thank goodness.

    I like that kind of change : )

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  168. Audra, how funny. I loved Rocky Mountain Hero and I'm sure it didn't get anyone kicked out of church :)

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  169. Great post, Mary!

    A moment of change...

    I've written sporadically since the age of nine. Most of it I never stuck with. But this past June/July, I discovered Seekerville. It has really gotten things rolling for me as far as learning more about the writing craft and building up word count. That has been my moment of change.

    You said something about brands at the end of the post. So far I've got. "Humorous historical romance, where the guy gets the girl and God gets the glory." I want the historical and comedy in there, but I also want my readers to know that I will always give them a HEA (Happy-Ever-After). Still working on the phrasing.

    Oh! Congrats to Julie and Walt! Way to go! :)

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  170. Mary, thanks for sharing your story of change. My story is much the same except it started during the dark ages of type writers and carbon paper copies! I zipped over to the new site and it looks great! Can't wait to be able to make myself at home there.

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  171. My moment of change came when I quit running and said "Ok, Lord. I'll write." I'm so glad I finally did--and what a wild ride it's been since then!

    Late to the party. *rats*
    But hey, it's only the third of the month. =] Party month.

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  172. If you guys beg me, or bribe me, either one, I will tell the ambulance story when I'm on Seekerville at the end of this month. (But Mary, you're not allowed to tell it!)

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  173. Since it's almost midnight here in Georgia I thought I'd stop back by for a minute with cups of hot cocoa (for anyone needing a soothing, warm drink before bedtime). ~ Mary, my nickname "CatMom" came from my son-in-law (before he was my son-in-law!). He knew I adore cats (and have more than a few)so he bestowed that name on me (and I must admit I love it!). Thanks again for this great post and all your funny comments---reading the Seekers blog always makes me smile (and usually LOL). :) Patti Jo

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  174. My first change was in 1998 when I found a small group of Christian writers online (Christian Writers Fellowship International) and met in that group Wendy Lawton, Terry Whalin and a lot of nonfiction writers.

    From there I got a crit group and they encouraged me to take Dr. Dennis E. Hensley's fiction writing class at Taylor University--I had to drive an hour each way--and then I met Diann Hunt and Colleen Coble there. Wow.

    Anyway. Many turning points from there. Who knew?

    crystal.mrsinewaATgmailDOTcom

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  175. I won't tell it, Mel, but I may COMMENT on it, just to make sure the TRUTH comes out.

    So yeah, I'm begging.

    :)

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  176. Carol you made me laugh. Great blog.

    And hey, the cookies are here. Right now. Fresh. Warm.

    Got a little busy mid-day but my trusty helpers (18 mos, 18 mos and 4 years old) were GREAT RECIPE HELPERS.

    :)

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  177. Five years ago, I learned of a writing group here in Minnesota but never had opportunity to participate.

    I remember when I first started writing that I did it all in long hand for a while. Then computers but they always crashed. So glad God has supplied what I have now. I know that he will see my published some day!

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  178. KC, MARY, JANET AND NATALIE -- THANKS SOOOO much for the congrats on the Inspy. I actually found out by accident when Laura Frantz congratulated me on FB!! I am BEYOND thrilled because I just LOVE that name ... the Inspy!!

    AND, WALT!!! SUPER CONGRATS on the Maggie win, my friend -- VERY COOL!! The Maggie is one of the most prestigious contests out there, so that's nothing to sneeze at. And I understand my good friend, Leanna Ellis, won the pubbed Maggie??? WAY TO GO for both of you!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  179. Hi Mary I know I am late posting but just had to say your books are awesome and congrat on the Maggie

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  180. You sound like you absolutely love writing Mary!
    Thanks for sharing....

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  181. Ah, change. Always some adjusting going on. I'm stuck with certain scenes rolling in my head and when I try to write them down they just don't come out. Not sure if HE is trying to tell me to stop or go with the scene. I'm not even close to letting anyone read my "stories" yet, someday. Would love to be entered in any drawing this month. Thank you! kauppatgridcomdotnet

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  182. My moment of change came when my husband brought home an inspirational romance book for me for Mother's Day. Everything I'd read before that had been old, like Grace Livingston Hill. This new book was from Bethany House, and it was good!! I googled the author and Bethany House Publishers, and the world of writing opened up to me as more than just a hobby. It was now a possibility.

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  183. Thank you so much for offering the Seekerville Query contest with Melissa Endlich of Love Inspired. What a great opportunity. Kathy Copen

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  184. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  185. I started writing at age thirteen. I liked my church Christmas play, but there weren't many roles for young actors, so an adult encouraged me to write my own plays. So I started out writing plays then moved on to novels. I'm not yet published, and I felt encouraged by what you said:

    "I was writing books for a line of publishing that I wouldn’t discover for five years."

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