Wednesday, December 21, 2011


By Debby Giusti
Christmas is a magical time for children who eagerly anticipate the birth of the Baby Jesus.  As they grow, their childhood faith is nurtured to accept more fully the wonder of our God. 

Reflecting on our own lives, we know that spending time with the Lord, studying His Holy Word and communing with Him in prayer and contemplation strengthens our beliefs and brings us into a deeper relationship with the Creator.  A mature Christian accepts the on-going call to conversion, knowing the faith journey never ends but is a life-long process of drawing closer to the Lord.

As writers, we are on a journey, as well.  For most of us, the road is long and winding and requires perseverance and determination.  It also requires that we believe in ourselves and in our ability to write.

At times, the journey to publication seems like an uphill climb.  Family and personal needs may halt our progress or pull us off track.  Illness or economic problems force us to detour from the main route and travel along back roads that seem to go nowhere.

Periodically, I need to analyze the reasons I write.  Usually this comes after a tight deadline has forced me to spend long hours for many days at my computer.  Sometimes it’s when I feel a tug to branch out in a new direction.  The grass is always greener when I’m grappling with a submission or a story that doesn’t come together as easily as I had hoped. Each time of struggle leads to the same answer.  God has planted a desire to write within me.  That desire is part of who I am.

As Christmas draws near, I’m once again reflecting on my writing journey. Yes, I’ve achieved my initial goal of publication, but the more I learn, the more I realize how much more I have to learn.  Here are some questions I’m asking myself. 

Has my writing improved in the last year? What was my most significant writing achievement in 2011?

Did I receive confirmation that I’m on the right path?

How has my outlook changed over the last year? Do I have a better realization of my strengths and weaknesses? 

Why do I write?  Is it for personal or monetary gain?  Do I still feel an inner call to write?  How do I want my writing to impact others? 

What is the largest stumbling block to finding time to write?  What strategies can I incorporate into my life to overcome those obstacles?

How important is publication?  If I never sold another book, would I still write?

Do I have a sense of the direction God is asking me to take in the upcoming year? 

What tools do I need for the journey? 

What can I discard from the past to lighten my load? 

Share thoughts on your own writing journey or a favorite holiday treat to be entered into a drawing for one of my all-time favorite books, JESUS CALLING, by Sarah Young.  The winner will also receive a copy of the latest release in my Military Investigations series, THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION

I’ve brought cranberry bread and gingerbread cookies.  Grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle to talk about writing.

This Christmas Eve, I’ll be lifting each of you up in prayer, asking the Christ Child to bless you and yours in the year ahead.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and much love and abundant blessings in the New Year,
Debby Giusti


  1. Hi Debby:

    You asked an interesting question:

    Has my writing improved in the last year?

    Do you have a methodology by which you can measure your improvements in writing? Do you have a list of areas where you want to improve and then do you work on those improvements? That is, do you plot your plans to improve or do you pantser your way to the next level of craftsmanship?

    Maybe a writer should have a “New Year’s Resolution” for writing improvement. What would that be like? Maybe you can give us some suggestions.

    I’m asking you because you brought it up and this is the first time I’ve ever considered the issue.

    Your post really got me thinking in new directions.



  2. great post! And I would have to say that I actually set aside times when I'll 'hone the craft of writing' vs actually writing down stories. If I do them both at the same time (read a manual on plotting, while spending a few horus a day writing a story) it's overwhelming. I end up going back over every paragraph each time I read something I need to fix.
    But what IS fun is reading something I wrote ten years ago, or five years ago. Terrible dialogue, Swiss cheese plots, cardboard characters, yee-haw!
    Thank you for the prayers and I'll keep you in mine, too.
    I already have both of those books, so don't enter me in the drawing. :D

  3. Hi Vince,
    I don't have a list by which I measure improvement. But with each book, I find certain skills seem to come more easily. Perhaps it's freer flowing dialogue or a more developed theme or hooks that keep the reader turning the page. The improvement comes with the writing and not with any predetermined arrangement on my part.

  4. Hi Virginia,
    Glad to know you have Jesus Calling. Such a great book!

    Yes, reading older work reveals the lessons we've learned and the advances we've made. I still love the first full-length manuscript I wrote. Will it ever be published? Not a chance. But I'll always remember the thrill of creating that story and the sense of pride I felt when I typed (on an electric typewriter!) THE END.

  5. Thank you, thank you again. Thanks to all the Seekerville people I have "met" and thanks for the prayers.

  6. I went to add a few rewrites an old manuscript this last month and couldn't take my writing skills, or lack thereof, and had to fix the whole darn thing--so I know my answer to "have I improved"--yes! So that's good.

    I still struggle with why I do this. I'm not one of those writers with the "I've written since I could hold a crayon" bios. But everytime I complain to my hubby about my "wasting time" he reminds me that I'd just find something else to do, and he's right. With little kiddos and staying at home, I don't have any real good intellectual stimulation going on, and writing meets that need. So, I have to keep reminding myself, if I never get published it's nothing major--it's my form of mental exercise and publishing or not publishing won't change that from meeting my needs.

    Plus, I kinda ruined my reading habit with this whole writing thing, so now I'm so much pickier about my reading material that it's not always as fun anymore. Sigh. So Even if I quit writing and went back to reading books at a more heightened pace, my internal editor has now taken up permanent residence in my brain and refuses to leave. So I forge on.

  7. Deb, this post just sang to my heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Your soul is just a treasure to each and every one of us. I hope you know that.

    Writing improvement is a great question. It's easy to become complacent in any job. Teachers may complain bitterly about being moved from 4th grade to 6th grade but having to hit "refresh" and change all your lesson plans can be the MOST refreshing lesson of all.

    Same with writing so I try (besides blog posts, although those are a HUGE HELP) to write things outside my comfort zone to challenge myself. A different genre, altered style, different scope. If I shake up my comfort zone, I think harder.

    Right now I'm thinking hard about coating candy with Ghirardelli and MORE COFFEE.... And I'm leaving fresh toffee for all o' youse.


  8. Melissa, I love the new pic. Just noticed. Great look!

    And you're kinda stuck in the 'tweens' right now, but hang in there.

    You're obviously a writer's writer whether or not you were DYING TO DO IT as a kid... Even just the "I could do better than THIS" as you throw a book across the room impetus is the mark of a writer. We're all different. And your time frame is split right now, but bless you and your efforts.

    What did Nora Roberts say? Something about there being a lot of talented people out there, but not many have the persistence to make it... So the rule of thumb is DON'T QUIT... Eventually your persistence will win out.

  9. Hi Debby,
    You brought two of my favorite things, gingerbread cookies and cranberry bread.
    I struggle with the amount of time I spend writing because I'm not published. I work a regular job and then spend time writing which neglects my family which leads to guilt. My youngest child started college this fall, so I've had more time to write. What I'm getting at is, if we spend so much time on this we should want to be published. So my goal for 2012 is to get the courage up to enter more contests and contact agents.
    This is my last thought, I do feel like being a part of prayer and critique groups allows me to serve others in a small way on their writing journey. So for whatever reason God has allowed me to be able to write, my goal is to honor him.
    Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!

  10. Hey, DEB, I always LOVE your posts because like Vince says, they always get"me thinking in new directions."

    And I'm glad that Ruthy said your soul is a "treasure to each and every one of us," because that is SO very true, not only among The Seekers, but in Seekerville as well. You bring His glow to the room.

    I don't know if my writing has improved or not (I tend to think "not so much" since my edits get bloodier with each book, sigh) but my perspective on being an author sure has -- it's grown clearer, steadier, more focused on Him.

    I still remember sitting at a dinner round at ACFW (then ACRW -- American Christian Romane Writers) -- while Francine Rivers gave her keynote address, a crimp in my brow over something she said. It was that she did not enter contests or read reviews or even look at her royalty statements, a job she relegated to her husband. What???? I remember thinking, totally incredulous. Not enter contests?? Not read reviews?? Her reason was that she claimed it took her eyes off the true reason she wrote and deterred her from His quest while putting more focus on hers.

    WOW. Trust me, today, that woman's words and perspective hit a true bullseye, and I am SO grateful for her, her writing and her perspective. So, I am VERY happy to say that THIS is the year I feel I have made the most progress in shaping my perspective to be more what God wants it to be and WAY less on what I want it to be, which truly gives me GREAT joy!! Now ... one inch down, two billion to go ... :)

    Beautiful, thought-provoking post, Deb -- THANK YOU!!


  11. LOL, MELISSA ... "ruined" your "reading habit"!!! I know what you mean, but it also makes it easier to judge which are the best books I read -- it's those whose sentences I don't diagram ... ;)

    And like Ruthy said? The new pic is a really "great look" for you!!

    JACKIE SAID: "I do feel like being a part of prayer and critique groups allows me to serve others in a small way on their writing journey."

    What a beautiful thought and OH, SO TRUE!! To me, some of the best scenery on this journey to publication and beyond are those precious people we meet along the way who become precious friends we rejoice with when they succeed in their dream. Which, in true God turnabout, fulfills HIS dream for each of us to put Him and others first!


  12. Good morning Debby, What a lovely post and so timely. Those are wonderful things to consider as the new year approaches. It is always lovely to be reminded of what we are celebrating this Christmas time of year.

    And I do see tremendous growth in all of our writing. I just love to see how much we have all improved as we march along in this crazy business.

    Thanks for all the yummy goodies you all are bringing. They are a delight on a cold winter morning.

    Melissa, I agree with Ruthy and Julie. Your new photo is lovely.

    And Debby, Ruthy hit the nail on the head when she said you have a lovely soul. Thanks for all of your prayers. They mean a lot.

    I'm praying for all of you also. Thanks again for the reminder to believe.

  13. Hi Mary!
    Thanks to you for being part of the Seekerville family!

    Have a joyous Christmas!

  14. Oh, Melissa, I can so relate...

    When my three were little, I started writing to keep my "adult" mind working properly. :) Ended up selling to magazines at that time. One of the articles still circulates today, the "Sisterhood" piece about military wives that I've talked about on this blog. It was recently re-published in 1001 Things to Love About Military Life.

    Although I did write as a child...books, newletters for my neighborhood, stories...

    Listen to hubby, Melissa! Keep writing.

  15. Toffee and Ruthy wisdom...a great combination for this pre-Christmas Day. Love your mention of challenging yourself. That is so you, Ruthy!

    The challenge goes along with what God is calling us to do. Often He wants us to think big, when we're content to stay put. He plants seeds of desire and then continues to bring them to our attention. Eventually, we have to step out in faith because of His constant prompting.

    So, Ruthy, can you share the challenges you're working on now?

  16. Hi, Debby! I must say that that cranberry bread looks simply delicious! Now, onto more important matters…

    I have never been published; I can’t answer many of your thought-provoking questions. But I do know that a true writer writes because they can’t not write (a purposeful double negative!). I know that for myself, even when I’m not actually typing, I’m thinking about a story, characters, dialogue, etc.

    In my own writing journey, I’ve entered my first big-girl writing contest. I know my writing isn’t ready for publication (at least I don’t think so!), but entering this contest will provide feedback for my future writing, and I can give myself an award for just doing it!

    Debby, your thoughts and insights are such a sweet, deep pool of delightful water. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well!


  17. Debby, Blessed Christmas to you and may the new year be full of creativity. Thanks so much for the entertainment this year and the writing wisdom.

    I am taking on the daunting task of rewriting the published family geneaology. My dad wants to get facts corrected and new material added to his book. He also has an addendum to the memoir so will be working on that after the first of the year. I always learn new things about my family when I work with him. Fun fact: my great grandfather's brother settled around Brenda Minton's hometown and she is surrounded by my relatives.

    Still working on the connection to Ruthy's hometown!

    I find myself moving to writing about history in a novelistic style, probably because of the work with my dad. Whether that is an improvement or just different, I don't know.

    I like Vince's idea of new year's resolutions on writing as a follow-up to recognizing how we have improved, even the tiniest bit, in our writing skills.

    Peace, Julie

  18. Beautiful post, Debby. I loved your graphics along with the thoughtful words.

    As I struggle with proposals now, I realize I would write even if I never sold another book. Writing is a release that allows my mind to wander down fantasy paths where delightful mysteries lay around every corner.

    I've always been a daydreamer. Writing down those secret adventures puts a smile on my face.

    And of course, my H/H never have to worry about clothes feeling a bit tight over the holidays!! LOL!!

    Great thoughts, Debby. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Oh, I forgot to leave the goodies!

    My daughter got bored yesterday and made TONS of candy and cookies. Way more than are necessary for this household.

    I'm spreading around trays of mystery bark, cake balls, thumbprint cookies, toffee, and moose munch.

    Eat and enjoy! No leftovers!!

  20. Debby,

    Another wonderful post, thank you.

    There's no question my writing has improved this year, really it's improved from one manuscript to another. And I can't imagine not writing, it's been such a joy in my life and I thank God daily for it. I also can't believe I haven't been doing it for years and never thought of writing until two years ago.

    Recently, I let some of the joy of writing slip away as I started to question everything. I was finishing up a manuscript and at the same time reading wonderful blogs on craft and the more I read the more I questioned my stories, writing, calling. I got so bogged down in what everyone was telling me about what should be included, excluded and the how's, where's and why's I was completely blocked from doing anything. My characters refused to tell me their story. But after praying, I realized I was listening to too many voices and not the right one. So, while I think it's important to evaluate your writing, and I'm sure even more so once published, I think it's important not to over think it (which I intend to do).

    Thanks, Debby,


  21. Debby, thanks for this inspirational and very timely post! Year's end is a great time for reflecting on all areas of our life journey--and for adjusting our aim and setting new goals for the year ahead.

    As others have said, writing is just a part of who I am. Yes, I get discouraged when rejections come or there's a reeeeeeally long time between contracts. But God seems to always come through for me with just what I need at just the right time.

    And Kirsten, I completely understand about how competing voices can suck the life out of your writing! You'll eventually learn whose opinions and advice you can trust. But in the end, it's YOUR story, and you have to follow it where God leads you.

  22. The greatest thing I have learned in the past year about my writing is how much I have to learn. I have also learned that the way I write, in general, is counterintuitive to writing novel-length manuscripts. I'm planning to spend 2012 LEARNING about writing - through classes, conferences (hopefully), blogs like this, and craft books - the lessons of which I will apply to the WIP portion I have written this past year. Hoping during that time to get direction from the Lord if novel writing is what I should be doing. If not? I have plenty of other things I am gifted at writing.
    Pray for direction - and OF COURSE, I'd love to win a giveaway :D

  23. How serendipitous you should mention it. This year I have received the most wonderful Christmas cards from Seekerville friends who live all over the country, and I remarked to my family that making friends with these wonderful people was what it was all about.I had been blessed over and over again by them coming into my life.

    If I never sell another book, that can never be taken away from me.

    God is so good.

  24. Good morning Debby,

    I posted a long thank you for your wonderful post and agreed with all the comments here.

    Then blogger ate it.

    Yeah. Anyway. You've given me a lot to think about.

    I brought pumpkin pie, but I guess blogger ate that as well. :)

  25. I do write for publication. I've always written with my eyes on that goal. And I don't think that's a bad thing. A lot of people dream about making money doing something they love. I have a friend who is a chef, who makes money doing what she loves: cooking.

    Would she still cook if she wasn't paid? Yes. But not with the same passion. Adding an audience will always change the stakes.

    I think it's fine and healthy to write for publication!

    Sherri Shackelford

  26. Hey, Debby! Thanks so much for this great article! When I was doing my quiet time the last two mornings, I felt convicted for my lack of hope and faith. In my personal life as well as my writing. I know this is wrong. After all God has done for me, am I still doubting that he can help me and make things turn out well? He's already done miraculous things for me in my writing journey, with helping me get published and recognition for my first book. Why do I not trust him more with my new and future books? And why do I keep having panicked thoughts about the future? In the natural, the future does look bleak, with my husband being out of work so long and the economy still so bad. Our personal situation does not look good. But God can turn things around in a split second. Is anything too hard for God? No. He can do anything.

  27. Thank you, Debby, for your post! Very thought-provoking. I found myself going back over the questions you asked and filling in my own answers...

    2011 has been a phenomenal year for my writing. In 2010 I decided (or God nudged me into making the decision) to get serious about writing fiction. Way back - I mean WAY back - in the early '80's I had put that dream on hold. I had just gotten married, I wanted to give my best efforts to my family...but most of all, I knew I didn't have the knowledge - heart knowledge - to write fiction that would speak to others.

    Anyway, in 2010 I realized I had reached the point where 1) writing wouldn't take too much away from my family and 2) I had something to share, and I started rediscovering some of the skills I had temporarily moth-balled.

    In January 2011, I came to Seekerville for the first time. I've learned SO MUCH here - about the craft, the ins and outs of publication, myself...

    Has my writing improved? Have I received confirmation that I'm on the right track? Yes and yes.

    I can't say it enough - thank you Seekervillians for being there, for remaining true to the vision of reaching out to help newbies like me, for being unfailingly kind, supportive and encouraging.

    And just snarky enough to keep us on our toes.

    Oh, and of course, chocolate always helps get the little grey cells moving...

    Okay, now I'm going back to work. My goal for today is to finish up the final edits and get my story back to New York!

    I'm sharing a batch of peanut butter fudge - my grandmother's recipe. Merry Christmas!

  28. Hi Debby:

    I think I need a resolution list of areas to work on improving my writing for 2012. In fact, I think this topic would make a great post for the New Year. The kind of post, Julie writes, where different Seekers state what their writing improvement goals are for the next year and then in 2013 we can look back and see how well everyone has done.

    Just knowing what different writers intent to work on improving next year could give all of us ideas on what we should work on too. (I'd just love to know what Camy and Cheryl are going to work on.)

    I know one thing: after reading one Christmas romance after another the last few weeks, I am going to check the published dates of any songs I use in my writing. A lot of Christmas songs are not as old as many people think.

    For example:

    “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (1944)

    “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (1943)

    “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” 1944

    “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” (1945)

    “The Little Drummer Boy” (1941 -- earliest version)


    P.S. Virginia: I think “Swiss Cheese Plots” is the best visual term I’ve read all year. Wonderful!

  29. Bridgett - I always, ALWAYS, copy my post before hitting that publish button. I learned the hard way that blogger's appetite is capricious.

    Melanie - Hang in there! We went through the unemployment experience, too. It's heartbreaking to watch our husbands suffer, and fear gnaws at the edge of our consciousness. Joshua 1:9 was the verse I repeated to myself whenever the fear came too close, and it sustained me. God had a wonderful position for my husband - I know he has for your husband, too. I'll continue praying!

  30. That is a great reminder to keep forging ahead Debby!

    Melissa I so agree, keep at it! :)

  31. Debby that was a lovely post. Although I've loved creating stories for as long as I can remember my journey to seeking publication began a year ago this month on the 26th.

    I felt God leading me to write stories for Him so I emailed my friend Erica Vetsch to ask her how to start. She so sweetly gave me step by step advice that I have followed to the tee. It lead me to ACFW, Genisis, Critique groups and Seekerville.

    It's been an amazing year and yes my writing has improved but most of all I'm made friendships that I value above publication (though it's still my goal)

    God's opened doors for me in the past month that make me believe He really does want me to publish. I'm excited to see what this next year will bring.

  32. Oh I almost forgot I made some fantasy fudge to share. Reminds me of mom and Christmas back home.

  33. Thank you for such a great post and the opportunity to reflect. Jesus Calling is on my to buy list. It just may be a present to me from me. ;)

    My apologies up front for such a long comment post. I just want to give God praise for the guidance of His gentle hand over the last year. He's so awesome!

    This last year has been an adventurous journey as far as my writing is concerned. And as I look back I can definitely see God's hand in it all.

    A little over a year ago, I was struggling with where God would have me write, mainstream or inspirational? The mainstream wasn't as accepting of the automatic faith I wrote on the pages and I was certain the inspirational market wouldn't approve of my tortured heroines/heroes. I was lost and a lot confused.

    Then I began losing my critique partners to 'life'. And then our family took in a homeless father and his three small children, which left me taking a hiatus from writing from Nov 2010- March 2011.

    At the end of March, a few friends talked me into going to a local conference. I went, dragging my feet. I decided I'd go to support my friends (I'm a bit shy around crowds). The day before we were to leave we got word of my grandpa's death. God orchestrated it so that I could go to conference and then make it to the coast (18 hr drive) for the funeral. One of the workshops at the conference had to do with knowing if you were called to write or not. BOY, did I struggle! For a few weeks, I chewed on this. I mean I knew God had called me to write, but had I missed the boat? Had my calling changed?

    So, one night while still grieving for my grandpa I told God that even though it was like cutting out my heart, I'd quit writing if He wanted me to and go where He wished me to go. That was a huge turning point. He reminded me of Psalm 37:4, but He also showed me that if I delight in the Lord, He would naturally become my desire. As I've come closer and closer to the Lord, He's shown me that yes, I need to be writing, and yes, I need to be writing inspirationals.

    Learning the inspirational market has been fun and eye-opening and I know there is so much more to learn. This last year was about finding out more of who I am in Christ and who I am as a writer. I pray this next year helps me to grow even stronger and to build deeper friendships with those in the inspirational writing world.

    Thank you for the prayers, I could use them especially since I've been claiming I will have three three book deals (I know, I have not a clue what I'm claiming). I'd be very happy with one. *g*

    My prayers are with each of you.

  34. Hi Debby,
    I know that my writing is a lesson in overcoming fear. It's a lesson that God has put on my heart and I've been working on it in every aspect of my life, not just in my writing.

    Whenever I challenge that fear, like when I sit to write, I feel the change. It's as though God takes my hand in His and guides me to move baby steps forward. And it's the same as I continue to open my heart and trust Him with the plan for my life. He's so patient with me, but He's about to say, 'Enough with the baby steps already. It's time to run!' And I will.

    I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was thirteen, but I'd say this has been the year of my greatest spiritual growth. I am SO grateful and blessed!

    Thanks for the post. Merry Christmas!


  35. Melanie, you are such a sweetheart! I'm sorry you are going through such a difficult time. I pray Yahweh's Shalom over you and your family-nothing missing, nothing broken.

    Things can look bad, but our peace that surpasses all understanding comes from completely trusting God and His ways. There is a song I love, love, love. It's called The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe.

    The more I seek You, the more I find You. The more I find You, the more I love You. I want to sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hand, lay back against You and breathe and feel Your heartbeat. This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand. I'm melting in your peace it's overwhelming.

    Whenever I'm feeling a little shaken and need to remind myself to trust God, this is the song I sing. It's the only song I have memorized. I can't even memorized scripture verses, but I have this song stamped in my heart and on my mind. Youtube it. It's beautiful. I

  36. Quick trip to church...thanks for holding down the blog while I was gone!


    Good for you! You wrote,"So my goal for 2012 is to get the courage up to enter more contests and contact agents."


    I'm affirming your goal and your desire for courage. Interesting word, which continues to circle through my mind. It's been there for a number of years. IMHO, writing takes courage. We open ourselves up, we reveal portions of who we are on the written page and we allow the world to review that work.

    Then there's rejection!

    Praying courage for all who visit Seekerville. We need to go boldly into 2012!

  37. Julie,

    I remember when Francine was a Seekerville guest. She wrote about ignoring reviews and contests, which amazed me, as well.

    You said your perspective has "grown clearer, steadier, more focused on Him." I think most of us write because we feel His call. When deadlines loom and the words don't flow, I take comfort knowing the Lord is in charge. He takes my stories and, in some way, uses them for good. All I have to do is be faithful and continue to write.

  38. Hi Sandra,

    Are you in the middle of the Southwest snow storm? Praying safety for all our Seekerville family. Georgia is gray and rainy with mild temperatures.

    Feeling your prayers! Have a joyous Christmas!

  39. Debbie, such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and questions. This quote especially touched me: "Each time of struggle leads to the same answer. God has planted a desire to write within me. That desire is part of who I am."

    I love the idea of reflecting on my writing journey of the last year. I'm going to have to incorporate this into my "after-Christmas" planning. :)

    My own writing journey has been a short one; I only began writing about 16 months ago.

    I never thought I'd attempt to write a novel. But, since my story came to mind, I have determined to walk well on this new journey. As a Christian, I'm finding it brings me to a place of humility before the Lord. I am learning more and more to find my identity in Him and depend on Him to bring my stories clearly from brain to page. I want them to impact readers and encourage them. I can only do this with His help. Going to a couple of writing retreats this year was immensely helpful!

    Thanks in advance for your prayers, Debbi. I'll lift up the same for you. :)

  40. Hi Whitney,

    You said, "A true writer writes because they can’t not write." That's so true. Before I published, I felt guilty taking time from the family to write. (Someone mentioned those guilt feelings earlier this morning.) Over time, my spirit would start to sag, as if a portion of my soul was dying.

    Sometimes I forget how strong the call to write can be because I am writing on a regular basis now. So to answer the question about publication...if I never sold another book, I'd still write.

    Whitney, sounds as if you have to write, as well.

  41. Debby! I'm so sorry I keep misspelling your name! Guess my "editing skills" need some improvement. :)

    Melissa, I'm like you. I have younger kiddos--early elementary age, but still needy. :)

    I read boks very differently too with a little bit of writing experience under my belt. LOL.

  42. Thanks for the photo props! That's actually an old one, I've got a new one, but I have two silly blogger accounts so my photos always changing. This is actually my new one.

  43. Julie,
    What a gift you are to your dad and your family, and how wonderful to have that history recorded. Such a treasure!

    God uses everything, and it does seem you're being prepared to write historical fiction. How exciting! Be sure to keep us posted on your writing journey.

  44. Yeah, the younger kiddos thing is quite the task to work around with this writing gig.

    And my hubby last night told me that he doubted I could read all the rest of December without doing any writing--I guess that means I've morphed into one of those "Can't not write" writers late in life if he felt the need to say that.

    But so far I haven't done any writing 4 days in to my reading blitz. (Making up new plots and characters in my head doesn't count, does it??????) :)

  45. Hey, Jeanne T. I love meeting mom writers with little ones, makes me feel less crazy for attempting it--now if only we could all live close to each other and swap play days for writing days that would be awesome! Alas, the only writers in my area are all retired and one teen. Sigh.

  46. Hi Audra,

    You wrote: I've always been a daydreamer. Writing down those secret adventures puts a smile on my face.

    That's part of you-know-you're-a-writer-if...isn't it! I vividly remember looking out the car window as a child as we drove along back roads. We'd pass a cabin or small shanty, sometimes there would be a young girl on the porch, and I'd create a story about the house and those who lived there. Always thought everyone did that. Maybe not. Maybe only the daydreamers who grow up to become writers.

    Christmas hugs!

  47. Thanks for the Christmas goodies, Audra. So glad your daughter baked extras for Seekerville.

    And no calories in Seeker food! YAY!

  48. How many times have I asked myself those questions?


    I think probably my biggest writing accomplishments this year was attending ACFW and finaling in the Frasier contest. But with those positive results also came some negative that I expected and have tried to learn from, and ultimately I know God is going to us each of them to make my writing stronger.

    Would I continue to write if I knew I would never be published? Tougher question to answer, but I think ultimately the answer would be yes. Because I believe God wants me to write with or without rewards and He knows when those rewards are the best timing.

    Thank you Debby!

  49. What a wonderful post, Debby.
    I don't think I spend enough time in worship, study, reflection.
    These questions are great.
    I'll try and answer a few of them here but I may spend time with ALL of them privately.

    Has my writing improved in the last year? I wonder about this one. Not sure. I hope and pray I keep improving

    What was my most significant writing achievement in 2011? Rita

    Did I receive confirmation that I’m on the right path? Yes

    How has my outlook changed over the last year? I'm not as busy now that I'm writing two books a year instead of four. That makes me nervous. I like writing.

    Do I have a better realization of my strengths and weaknesses? I think I know them, but do I know them BETTER?

    Why do I write? Can't stop

    Is it for personal or monetary gain? Yes

    Do I still feel an inner call to write? Yes

    How do I want my writing to impact others? I would be so blessed to think my writing helped someone in their faith. I hope and pray I do. I mostly just want to entertain people but I hope I do more than that.

    What is the largest stumbling block to finding time to write? There is none. It's LIVING that I can't find time to do, I'm busy writing.

    What strategies can I incorporate into my life to overcome those obstacles? None. I'm happy having imaginary adventures.

    How important is publication? Well, hmmmm I love being published so it's really important.

    If I never sold another book, would I still write? I probably would. I don't think I can stop.

    Do I have a sense of the direction God is asking me to take in the upcoming year? I know what I want to write next.

    What tools do I need for the journey? I'm all set. No extra tools.

    What can I discard from the past to lighten my load? This I shall not answer.

  50. I have made the perfect, simple, Christmas goody and I'll share it with all of you.

    Speedy Turtles
    Pretzels (the standard braided ones)
    Rollo candies
    Pecan halves.

    Lay pretzels on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper)
    unwrap Rollos and set on each pretzel (great job for kids)

    Bake pretzel/rollo for 4 minutes in 350 degree oven.

    Remove from oven, press pecan half down to squish melted rollo.

    This is the best flavor combo imaginable and so easy. The big time killer is unwrapping each Rollo.

  51. Oops, it's Rolo, not Rollo.
    Editor needed.
    And when I say braided pretzel I mean the twisted ones, the regular ones, you know?

    Here's a picture

    Speedy Turtles

  52. Kirsten,

    You're so right about how too many voice can spoil creativity. I've had times when I've felt overwhelmed about what I was supposed to be incorporating into my writing. Now, I let the first draft flow and then rework areas in the revision stage. But I don't focus on every tip or craft technique. Often, I'll work on one thing that needs improvement.

    In the same way, too many comments from contest judges can throw a writer off track. We have to be careful to keep our own voice and be true to the story.

    How interesting that you've only been writing for two years ago. What got you started?

  53. Mary - Thanks for the recipe - I just retweeted it!

    (Yes, I'm still working on the edits, but took a between chapter break to check Seekerville and change the laundry!)

  54. Myra,

    You mentioned rejection and long periods between contracts. Both are so painful, yet when a door closes, a new one often opens.

    If we have a mission in life to write, and if God knows the stories we are capable of writing, and if we are asking for help, perhaps the obstacles are part of His plan so we will step out in faith in a new direction.

    Has anyone had that happen?

  55. Joanne,

    I'm with you about having much to learn. I still feel like a beginner, and I just completed my tenth contracted novel. Actually, that's what I love about writing...the journey--as I mentioned in the blog post--never ends. There's always something more to learn.

    You called the way you write counter-intuitive. Yet it may be the perfect way for YOU to craft your stories. Yes, keep learning, but do whatever works for you.

    Love your goals for 2012!

  56. Tina,

    We wouldn't be able to connect and become friends and share our writing journeys if it wasn't for this blog and all the behind-the-scenes work you do.

    Sending lots of love and gratitude along with best wishes for a Merry Christmas!

  57. For me, writing is a calling, a part of life's journey. Basically, I am a storyteller. In my childhoood years, I existed in make-believe worlds, always the one the teacher tapped on the shoulder to pay attention.

    With every endeavor, (five novels completed) I become stronger at my craft, waiting for God to grab my hand and yank me where he wants me.

    God Bless you and everyone on Seekerville. Merry Christmas!!!

  58. Thanks, Debby! Makes me feel better to know YOU feel like you're learning ;)

    Merry Christmas!

  59. Bridgett,
    I commented on your comment and lost my internet connection. Finally able to get back on.

    Sorry about the blogger problems you had today. Sort of like the writing journey, isn't it? We have to be persistent!

  60. Hi Sherri,

    Thanks for commenting on the reason you write. There's no bad reason, but I think it helps to know why we write. At least, it helps me when I'm struggling with a story that won't come together! :)

    I always think of publication as validation. Without publication, I'm never sure if the story works. Having an editor accept my work gives me a bit of confidence that I'm on track.

  61. Melanie, questioning isn't wrong. Often, it makes us stronger and more aware of God in our lives. Like our faith journey and writing journey, learning to trust Him more is a life-long progress. I trust...but I always want that trust to grow.

    Praying the New Year brings a new job for your hubby and more success for your writing!

  62. Jan...your writing journey made me smile! Lovely!!!

    So glad we found you last January. You always add so much to the blog...just as all who comment touch our lives.

    Improvement and writing confirmation and a submission that will soon head to NYC! All so, so good! Yay!

    You mentioned snarky. You were referring to Ruthy, right?

    Peanut butter fudge! YUM!

  63. Beautiful post, Debby, loved it!
    I'm with Whitney. I write because I can't not write. I can't remember who said this but I was made in the image of a creator and even when I'm not writing (there was a span of years there, and even now it still happens, in days and weeks, sometimes months) but like Sherri, since finishing that MS, now I write with the goal of being published. In a way it does change everything (at least it did for me.) 2011 was a year to jump in the deep end of the pool learning wise but man have I made some great friends and learned so much. Now... to continue to write meanwhile ignoring the continued suggestions my online persona is too extreme and will be a hindrance to representation, LOL :-p

  64. Vince, a New Year's Eve party is being planned in Seekerville with lots of giveaways. Might be a great time to share our resolutions.

    So many of the secular Christmas favorites came about during WWII when our brave military was far from home. Sending prayers to all of those deployed this Christmas and to the families who await their safe return.

    Have a joyous Southwest Christmas, Vince!

  65. Jan, thanks for your prayers and words of support for Mel.

    Melanie, we're all praying for you and your family.

  66. Merry Christmas, Eva! This has been a good year for you. Congrats!

  67. Jamie,
    We're all uplifted when we read how God is working in someone else's life. Thanks for sharing your writing journey. Hugs to Erica for bringing you to us!

    The Lord spoke. You listened and then acted. Good for you. Yes, Jamie, He wants you to publish. And you will!

    Yummy fudge! Thanks!

  68. Christina,

    Love your open heart that's so willing to do the Lord's will. I, too, grappled with the secular vs inspirational question. That was before I had heard about Christian suspense. Once I added a faith element to my secular story, I knew I'd found my writing home.

    Also love that you haven't limited God. A three book deal in 2012. Why not! As we know, nothing is impossible with God.

    Yes, yes, yes, prayers and love to you this Christmas. The Seekervillagers are always covered in my prayers and held close in my heart!


  69. Lyndee,

    "Be not afraid" is mentioned in scripture more than any other phrase! So don't fear, God is with you. He's the one guiding your hands over the keyboard. Think of your story as His story. If He wants it to succeed, it will. Giving Him control over your writing journey takes away some of the pressure you might otherwise feel.

    So glad your faith journey continues to draw you closer to the Lord. Sounds as if 2011 was a fantastic year. Looking forward to hearing even more good things in the New Year!

    Merry Christmas!

  70. Christina,

    Thanks for the beautiful song and the support!

  71. Thanks for your prayers, Jeanne T, and for sharing your journey with us. The Lord is working in so many beautiful ways.

    Can everyone see how God is lifting up His writers? His children are hurting, and He needs stories that reveal His love and mercy and forgiveness. We're all being called because there is much work to be done. As scripture tells us, the harvest is ready, but the workers are few. Let's all work hard for the Lord in 2012! More submissions and more sales and more rejoicing in Seekerville.

  72. Let's all work hard for the Lord in 2012! More submissions and more sales and more rejoicing in Seekerville.


  73. Casey,
    You had a mega year! Whoo-hoo!!! ACFW and a Frasier final. Pat yourself on the back!!!

    Don't worry about the negatives...they're part of this business. Focus on what you've achieved and then set your goals for 2012! Hope to see you at another conference and hear about more contest good news!

    Merry Christmas!

  74. Mary, thanks for the recipe for Speedy Turtles and for answering the questions. I want to be you when I grow up. You've got to be every editor's dream writer. While I spend time pondering whether I'm supposed to write, you write.

    Love watching your career soar! God does too. You're His go-to girl!

    Merry Christmas!

  75. Jan, laundry and Seekerville are both important! :)

  76. what you said about writing being your life's calling. So nice!

    Five novels. Good for you!!! Have you set goals for the New Year? Another book? More submissions? Contests? Sales?

  77. Hi Nancy, thanks for sharing your story with us. So what's with the online persona? A unique voice often takes time to sell...but success usually follows. We all want to read something fresh. Hope you're setting the bar high for 2012!

  78. Ha! Nancy, all sorts of thigns went through my mind! Extreme? Are we talking terrorist training ground? I think a lot of people like the timid and the bland, because it makes them feel more secure. Go extreme, girl! I look for the new and different, just like Debby said.

    Vince, I think that's from somewhere else, probably a writing manual! It's a good phrase, isn't it? Not one hole... a bunch of holes!

    Whitney, YAY!! Doesn't it feel good to be brave?? Next year, I'm going to enter the Golden Heart. I've already budgeted the money. Now I just need to keep the resolution.

  79. Oh, Melanie. We're there ALL THE TIME. And after a while, it just feels normal. We have a joke around our house that when my husband gets a new job the the other workers better start putting in their resignations because the company is bound to go under within two years. :P He's on his third company in five years. And we're in a tiny town so there's not a lot left.

    But we just hang in there and have faith. We always think it can't get any tighter... and then it does! Ha!

    We're healthy and together, that's what matters. :)

  80. Debby,

    It's really kind of interesting how God introduced writing to me. Two years ago a friend told me she felt the desire to start writing a book. So, in an effort to help her I started looking into groups, courses, and started praying for her dream. In the midst of my prayers a story started forming about a military historian and a U.S. Marshal that I just had to write. Next thing I know God reveled the greatest (other than Him and my family) passions of my life...Writing. All those years germinating until in my 30s He decided to pull back the curtain. I've written eight manuscripts since and just started a new one last week.

    Sometimes I wish I would have started years ago, but I'm not sure I would have appreciated the gift as much, but He knew. :o)

    I also queried two agents recently, so any prayers for a positive outcome would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for asking and letting me share.


  81. Virginia, love your Golden Heart goal! YES!

  82. Virginia wrote:

    "We're healthy and together, that's what matters."

    You're so right!

  83. Debby,

    Thanks for this post. Sometimes, especially when I haven't written for a while, I wonder why I write. Like many, I think it's because I can't NOT write, either. I've been writing little stories in my head or on paper for as long as I can remember.

    When my dad found out I was going to major in journalism and English when I was in college, he called me crazy, because he doesn't understand writing. He always says that writing is like pulling teeth for him (as evidenced by his succinct, two-sentence e-mails!). He knows I love it, but just doesn't get it himself.

    And that's OK. God has not placed that desire in his heart. But He has in mine. I think being a writer is not necessarily a calling for me, but more a desire to write. And He wants me to honor him by giving Him that desire. Like Psalm 37:4 (Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."), I feel as though the closer I draw to God, the better my writing gets, and the more I want to do it.

    For 2012, I think my goals are to finish my second draft and attend ACFW. I'm also hoping to connect with more writers and begin marketing myself prior to publication. Seekerville has been wonderful in introducing me to so many other writers, published and non, and I thank you all for your encouragement.

    Have a blessed Christmas, everyone!

  84. Praying for the perfect agent to represent your work, Kirsten.

    Sounds like you're another prolific. Oh my gosh! Eight manuscripts in two years. Oh, yeah, you are so a Mary!!!

    But that's a very good thing!

    Love that God had you pray for someone else's work and then realize her dream was yours as well!

    What are your goals for 2012? Five more completed manuscripts, an agent, and a sale! :)

  85. All of the above you mentioned, Debby, would be wonderful for 2012. :o) And sounds very much like the prayers I've been offering.

    Thank you for your prayers and support!

    God Bless,

  86. Debby, Merry Christmas to you. Please don't include me in the drawing as I already have a copy of your book. (However, it's in my Nook, so I need to figure out a way for you to sign it.)

    Has my writing improved over the year? For that, I would have to say yes. I do have my first contest victory and a published short story to show for my efforts this year.

    However, what I've realized is that my questions, the things I'm asking myself as I write, is that the questions, like my POV, have gone deeper. I know I have more to learn, but I was nowhere close last year to the level I am this year.

  87. Yes, Debby, you do bring His glow into your posts, and I am so honored that you will be praying for me(us) on Christmas Eve!! Thanks! I would love to have the books! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Keep up the great writing!

  88. Virginia, it did feel good to be brave! I was both excited and terrified. Then I started thinking, “What am I doing? I’m not good enough to enter a contest! My MS isn’t even finished.” But I don’t really think I’ll final, so the finished part didn’t really bother me TOO much.

    The Golden Heart is one my eventual goals. You have to be a member of RWA to enter, don’t you?


  89. Yay, Walt! Isn't it great to see growth and improvement. Good for you. You've worked hard and accomplished much in 2011!

    Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family. Bet the boys are eager for Santa! Ho, ho, ho!

  90. Thanks for your sweet words, Jackie S!

    You're in the drawing.

  91. /waves to everyone/

    I'll just say right here, right now, if Mary never gets another contract but keeps writing anyway... I expect those unpubbed MSs in my inbox.

    'Nough Said.

    And that goes for the rest of you too ;).

    So this year wrt writing... went to ACFW, entered Genesis [yeah, didn't do so well] and Frasier. This fall I've entered several contests [Gotcha, Great Expectations, Golden Heart, etc]. I'm 'this close' to being done with my 5th manuscript in the last two years or so [2 are completely unpolished and this one is a mess, but the rough draft is about a chapter from being done].

    I found a crit partner I love. Found friends who will crit from time to time.

    Found friends. Period. Good ones.

    Plus, I found out I'm actually Pepper's long lost twin.

    I met cool people at conference and elsewhere. I'm the local coordinator for our ACFW group in the Ozarks.

    I've 'come out' of the writing closet to so many people, including admitting to my pastor that I've worked on a blog post during service [hey! It was the only way I could get that little voice to SHUT UP! And I took 3 pages of sermon notes too!]

    I know that sounds all 'me me me, I I I' but I say that to say this...

    Most of that is so very far out of my comfort zone it's ridiculous!

    ME? Golden Heart? What on God's glorious green earth makes ME?!?!?! think I have a shot at finaling in GH?!

    ME?! Lead the local ACFW group?! What makes me think I can do that?!

    Being chatty and not hiding in the corner behind the half-dead ficus at conference? Me? Really?

    And so on.

    It's totally a God thing.

    It's time to be thinking about next year's goals. Some of last year's goals I far exceeded. Others I didn't come close. But some goals I reached weren't even on my radar this time last year.

    And that's also a total God thing.

  92. Love it, Carol! You rock!!! Great progress this year. You're a writer, right? 'Nough said!

    Congrats and Christmas hugs! Love and prayers, too!

    Looking forward to next year. More cookies perhaps at ACFW?

  93. I hope all of you have a blessed and merry Christmas! Debby, lovely blog post.

    Sometimes it's hard for me to see growth in my writing. I'm writing faster, but I don't know about better. I'm more confident I can meet deadlines and do revisions.

    This year I'm going to reevaluate what I write and what I really want to write.

  94. I have to say, after taking one of Kirsten's workshop she has such an awesome and unique voice, even outside the fiction realm. I can't wait to read her work!

  95. MERRRRY Merry Debby and all of Seekerville!

    Wonderful post today. Thank you

    Sorry this is short. 'Tis the season!

  96. Wow! Thanks, Christina! That's so very kind of you.

  97. I'm late! Had two parties today!

    Great post, Debby. I loved the questions you listed. Will spend some time answering them. I love doing that type think on New Year's Eve. (Yes, I like to be at home and to spend the time on reflection. I'm boring.) :)

  98. Of course more cookies! I made 12 batches in the last couple days for teachers, admins, etc. Will probably make nearly that many for ACFW next year as I learn more stuff and more people etc.

    OH! And I was looking up something in my email and found one where an acquaintance emailed ME to be an influencer because she thought *I* had connections and influence!!!!! ME!!!!

    I'll say it again...


    I've come a long way in the last year, baby!!!! :D

  99. Debby,

    I enjoyed your post very much and the pictures are terrific.

    I met some specific goals this year, by joining a local crit group and a small Online one through ACFW. These both keep in touch regularly and give tough criticism and provide support as well.

    I know I have my work cut out for me in 2012 and appreciate your prayers, Debbie.

    Please enter me for the prizes. :)

  100. Cara, you've had a tough deadline so close to Christmas. Glad you can relax for a few days now.

    Speed is important, but you're right. Writing faster doesn't always mean writing better.

    Have a joyous Christmas!

  101. Stephanie,
    Somehow I missed your comment earlier! Sorry. Love what you said about your desire to write...and your Psalm 37:4 mention. (You're the second person to use that particular verse today!)

    Connecting and marketing...two great goals for 2012. Looking forward to seeing you at ACFW 2012!!! YAY!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Writing!

  102. Ho, ho, ho to KC and May!!! Hope Santa brings lots of dog bones to May.

    Merry, merry!!!

  103. Merry Christmas, Missy, and Happy New Year! The Seekerville online party will be fun! See you there.

    Missy, can we announce your 4 1/2 star RT review on your latest release? YAY!!! Congrats!

  104. Carol, you are an influencer. Another accomplishment to add to your 2011 list!

    YAY, Carol!

  105. You're in the drawing, Cathy!

    A tough critique group made the difference for me before I sold. Yes, prayers for you and yours and your writing journey!

    Merry Christmas!

  106. For the RWA Hearts through History Chapter I conducted a week long "Boot Camp" only it was "BUD/s" on the SEALs in Vietnam, with hopes that it would help any writer develop a better and more authentic SEAL hero. Or even if they never write about a SEAL find some interesting facts about the first men who operated from the Sea, Air and Land.

    In March, I do another Boot Camp on the history of military medicine. And in September I'll present Naval technology during the Civil War.

    The SEAL workshop was very well received and I was thrilled so many took the time to "attend" even though SEALs were far afield from what they write. Christine's comment was so just so humbling. It also was great training for preparing and presenting an online workshop.


  107. The post & all the comments have been fascinating to read.

    I wish everyone well in their writing endeavors.


  108. Hi Debby,

    This was such a great post. Thank you! I have been saying for years that I want to write but I haven't taken any action. I recently started a blog and I am hoping and praying that I will find direction in 2012.
    I love to write but I am also committed to my day job of working for people with disabilities. Hopefully I can merge the two worlds in the upcoming year.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Anyone who cares to follow my blog can find me at
    I hope you join my journey.

  109. My writing journey has gone on for many years. When I finally found my niche in Christian writing, I knew I was supposed to be here. I am continuing to learn but now I know I am most definitely on the right path to publication.
    Linda Cacaci

  110. Debby,

    Thank you for this beautiful post! Your words are lyrical!

    Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas and every good thing for the New Year!


  111. Forgot my email:

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  112. Hi Debby,

    Thank you for a lovely post. Lovely may not be the word you look for in posts, but to me, it was that, and meaningful.

    My skills have grown exponentially in the past year, and I'm so grateful for all the help I find on Seekerville and through ACFW. Many of you have personally encouraged me, too. Besides having our son home from Afghanistan for Christmas, and our daughter newly married Dec. 17, I have such a powerful writing family . . . thanks, anyone who happens to read this who has helped me along the way.

    And I really liked Sherri Shackleford's post, too. Nice to hear someone who doesn't drag around guilt like I do!!

    Gail Kittleson

  113. I love your questions. They work for those of us unpublished still. The one that got me thinking the most is 'have my outlook changed?'
    That is one I am spending time in prayer over. Thanks.

  114. My writing journey is in the very early toddler stages. So I really don't have much to tell at this point other than I always learn so much here at Seekerville.

    My favorite Christmas treat is my Mom's Gumdrop Fruitcake. No one in our family has ever really enjoyed the traditional fruit cake but Mom's gumdrop fruitcake is a winner! She usually starts the process around Halloween by buying the gumdrops and cutting them up. She'll dredge them in flour leave them in a large bowl then cover them with a towel. Every other day she 'turns' them. The idea is to get them totally stale by the time she makes the cakes. If she were to make the cakes with fresh gumdrops they would melt in the cakes. When she uses stale ones they soften up when cooked. The only fruit in the cakes are raisins, she also puts in chopped walnuts. Yummo!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  115. If I never sold another children's non-fiction book, I'd still write b/c I also write magazine/newspaper articles and enjoy telling people's stories. One of my most exciting stories was of a WWII vet w/ 2 Purple Hearts. My son deployed yesterday so I'm feeling down, but then I think, maybe someone will tell his story someday.