Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER AMANDA BARRATT: Sailing Through Unchartered Seas (AND giveways!!)

Julie here, and you know, there just has to be something special about the age of twelve in a girl's life because I know WAY too many authors and writers who began writing at that impressionable age. Who knowsmaybe because as a pre-teen, the idea of romance is just beginning to burgeon within a gangly little-girl body. Most of you know I began writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of twelve after I read Gone With the Wind, penning 150 single-spaced pages about characters who are like family to me today. But ... the difference between me and our very special guest is that I let forty years go by before I finished that first novel and embarked on the journey to publication. Our guest, Amanda Barratt? WAY more on the ball than me, beginning her first novel at the age of twelve and now, at the tender age of sixteen, racking up five novels under her belt. I'm guessing by the time this sweet, little thing hits my age, she's going to be an icon on the New York Times Bestseller list with more books to her credit than Nora!

I first met Amanda at last year's ACFW Conference when I
was talking to somebody in the hallway outside the main ballroom and noticed a mom and daughter hovering out of the corner of my eye. When I finished my conversation, I turned to them, and in that very instant, I experienced one of the true highlights of the conference. The mom handed me a beautiful gift pack of a scented candle and soap, and although I suppose it might have been a hint that I should "clean up" the excessive passion in my prose, it turned out that her 16-year-old daughter was a devoted reader friend of mine. Never, ever have I been so struck by a young girl as I was with Amanda. Shy and gentle, she evoked such instant affection in my heart that I kept hugging the poor thing, probably traumatizing her for life. Today, we are the best of friends and I am SO excited to see what God is going to do in her life. To celebrate our month of "firsts," it is my pleasure to introduce you to the "first" incredibly young woman I have ever met who took the bull by the horns at such a young age and is pursuing her dream of publication. Please welcome, Amanda Barratt:

Hello to everyone here on Seekerville!! Thank you all so much for having me today! I’m so excited to be here!

Writing is a lot like sailing isn’t it? You row smoothly along with calm seas and blue skies, until suddenly a storm hits, rocking the boat, ripping the sails, and terrifying everyone onboard. Or maybe you hit an iceberg and a hole rips through the side of your ship. Hopefully, if you’re dedicated enough to keep chartering your course, you’ll repair the damages and continue sailing on.

Writing novels in a genre where you’re younger than most of your audience can be compared with sailing through uncharted seas. It is a course that hasn’t yet been mapped out. You never know what kind of response you’ll get and what’s around the next bend is completely unexpected. It’s a fun cruise to be sure, with plenty of twists and turns, rocky seas and calm ones. Just like every writer’s journey.

If you’re a young writer reading this, let me give you what has almost become a mantra for me. Age doesn’t matter, but writing quality does. Sometimes age works as an advantage and sometimes it can be a disadvantage. But if you’re dedicated enough, and determined enough to sail straight and navigate the storms, age is really not important. What is important is perfecting the craft of writing, becoming industry savvy, and most of all- just writing.

One of my favorite movies, Becoming Jane, about the life of the amazing Jane Austen, contains some wonderful advice for all writers. Ann Radcliff is giving Jane, who is a relatively young and inexperienced writer at the time, some advice. She says, “Knowledge will come in time. But until then, that’s what the imagination is for.” Isn’t imagination the main ingredient for good writing at any age? After all, how many of us have lived as English aristocrats or slew dragons? Although a young writer may not have experienced all the emotions of someone much older, they have experienced some, and possibly many, depending on their life experiences. Everyone has knowledge of regret and disappointment. Everyone, to some extent, has loved and lost. Drawing on those emotions can be the building blocks for the emotions of characters. What is lacking can certainly be accomplished with the imagination God has given every natural born writer.

Many (if not most) authors write about younger characters. This is where being younger can work to our advantage. I once read a review for a historical romance written by an author in her late twenties. The reviewer said they thought the author gave a more accurate depiction of the way a young woman would think and feel because the author was very close in age to her heroine. After all, someone with a great deal of life experience might have to remember what it was like to be eighteen again, in order to write that emotion accurately. (By the way, so many authors do this extremely well, including all you amazingly talented Seekers!) In our current culture we tend to relegate youth to a static existence. Thinking all that’s capable of them is biding, or even wasting, their time until adulthood. This is great shame. My great-grandmother was married at 15! Not that I’m advocating this, but young people are capable of so much, if only this mindset could be erased. One great advantage to being a young writer, is the freshness of it all. We’re excited about sitting down and putting words on paper, because most of us aren’t doing it because we have to, but because it’s what we love and are passionate about. Not that older writers are not in love with what they do, because the ones I know certainly are. However, when we age, sometimes even the things we used to love, become work. Our mindsets need to keep the freshness and enthusiasm of youth.

Still, I must face the fact that due to my age there have been disadvantages. I’ve had industry professionals imply that because of my youth I’m not qualified to write in the genre I write (historical romance). My goal is, and I am sure other young writers would say the same, is to be taken seriously and to have my work assessed in the same fashion as a writer of any age. As young writers, we don’t want favoritism, nor do we want boundaries or segregation. Personally, I don’t want to be known as a “teen writer” but as simply - a writer.

Lastly, I will admit, lack of experience can be a disadvantage. Young writers do lack the compounding knowledge that other writers have. We haven’t done all that we will do and see in our lifetimes. However, as we experience new things, and new challenges come our way, we will continue to embrace them and learn, thus aiding our writing.

Getting published may take longer because of age and young writers usually are willing to accept this. Yet that doesn’t mean we’ll become any less persistent or stop trying. At the 2011 ACFW conference Tracie Peterson ended one of her talks with a question. She asked, “If you knew that you would never be published would you still continue to write?” To this, I can honestly answer yes. Although my stories would undoubtedly become a whole lot more Dickensian and I wouldn’t worry so much about that bothersome POV, I would still write because it is what God has called me do, and I could not stop writing any more than I could stop breathing.

Four years and five novels later, I’ve learned so much from when I started. I’ve had so many people offer encouragement, support, and advice and I hope to do the same for other young writers. I think many of them will become the future of fiction, adding new slants and new ideas to what already exists.

So keep sailing, young writers (and all writers too!) There’s bound to be rough seas ahead but staying the course can lead to unimaginable rewards.

About Amanda Barratt: Amanda is a Historical Romance author who has just finished her fifth novel. She has won several awards for her fiction and enjoys writing about eras such as the Gilded Age and Regency England. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Faith Writers. She lives in northern Michigan with her family where she enjoys attending writers conferences, reading, researching history, and of course writing.

You can learn more about Amanda and her writing by visiting her blog at:

GIVEAWAYS GALORE!!! Amanda is offering a special Seekerville giveaway of six awesome books from some of the writers here on Seekerville. So leave a comment with your email and you could possible win one of the following: A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman, Out of Control by Mary Connealy, An Inconvenient Match by Janet Dean, Love By The Book by Cara Lynn James, A Family For Faith by Missy Tippens, or Mended Hearts by Ruth Logan Herne.
Winners will be contacted and annnounced on the Seekerville Weekend Edition.


  1. Amanda!


    I'll bet you were not traumatized for life from Julie's hugs. Here's some from me too. (((hugs)))

    Thanks for a super post. LOVED your perspectives!!

  2. That's so awesome Amanda! Good for you!!!!!!

    I have a 10yo who JUST landed her first 'publishing contract'!!!!!!! A couple hours ago!!!!!

    She's having an essay published in a magazine this spring!!


    Trying to decide how old she has to be before she starts reading Julie - she's a voracious reader! - how old were you, Amanda?

    She's also done NaNo 3xs - with 2 2K books and a 5K book this past year :).

    Sorry, I'm so ramble-y... I'm so very impressed by all you've done so far Amanda and have no doubt you'll go far!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Carol [who has all the books but Cara's - but would give them away if won another one]

  3. There's coffee ready for the early risers.

    Another advantage you young whippersnappers have over us oldies is that you have so many years ahead of you to pursue and reach your goals.

    Keep writing, girl!


  4. Amanda, I love your tenacity. I'd also like to visit your site but either my computer has attitude (very likely) or something is wrong with the link. I'm off to google you and see if that works. Oh, I like all genres but historical is my favorite, and as for the flack for being too young, I can tell you handle it with grace. 1 Timothy 4:12 ;-)

  5. Hi Amanda!

    (And another Michigander! I've lived a lot of places, but I still call Michigan home.)

    I'm so glad you've given us a glimpse at your unique perspective as a young writer.

    One thing you didn't mention, and something I suffered from at your age, is the reluctance of young people to "show their stuff" and contribute their best when competing with people older than they are. You've taken that bull by the horns and done beautifully - I'm sure relying on God-given talent and calling has a lot to do with it.

    Have you recovered from your Julie hug yet? I would still be glowing, I think :)

  6. Hi, Amanda. I'm glad to "see" you again.

    PS. Julia or Tina or whomever in seeker land that fixes blog posts, the hyperlink to her blog needs to be fixed.

  7. Ahem, I meant Julie or Tina.... Julia's a character in the proposal I was just working on, she's from 1870 and she'd have no idea how to fix a hyperlink.

  8. Amanda!!!! I'm so happy I ran across this link on Facebook and didn't miss the chance to read your wonderful article. Girl, you got it goin' on! I can vouch for the fact that you are exactly as Julie described you - and I can ALSO envision her hugging the stuffing right out of you. She's a crazy woman, and I love her oodles!

    Can't wait to see you and your sweet mother again - maybe at our next GLW conference in April?

    You take care, and do NOT ever lay that computer aside! God has wondrous things in store for you. I "felt" it from the first moment I met you.


  9. Julie & Amanda, I think that your connection is amazing! And thanks for the information too.


  10. I'd love to be entered in the giveaway! :)

    frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. Hi Amanda (and Julie) :)

    It's so great getting your perspective as a younger writer, and seeing the long term goals you've set for yourself. With that kind of attitude and determination, you'll go a long ways toward reaching your dream of publication. I'll be keeping an eye out for your future books. :)

    I had to lol about the comment regarding twelve year old girls gaining a sudden fascination with writing. Yup, that was me. And despite trying to imitate her best love on the prairie romance, Janette Oak I was not. I figured using at least ten adjectives per sentence was the secret ingredient when creating a novel of epic proportions. Pretty sure I devoted at least one paragraph for the mere description of my heroine's hair...

    I've read all of Julie's books, aside from A Heart Revealed, so would love the chance to snag a copy and find out what those O'Connors are up to now!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda, and blessings on your writing journey! :)

  12. Beautiful words well written. Thank you Amanda. I would love any of the give away books.

  13. nice post and nice to meet you Amanda, look forward to one day reading your books. I can see Julie hugging you to bits.
    I admire how your dedication.
    I would love to go in the draw just for Janet Deans book as I have a copy of the other 5 books.

  14. Great post Amanda! You GO girl! I love seeing our youth step out and take the bull by the horns and say "this is me. This is what I want to do with my life." Then they go out and do it. I'm proud of you!

    Would love to be entered into the giveaway.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  15. Amanda darling, you are the Taylor Swift of the writing circuit. I have used Taylor's devotion, her work ethic and her talent as a lesson for so many of the kids I work with.

    I will now include the amazing Amanda Barratt in that lesson.

    First, your writing style is wonderful. I can feel the historical author words dripping from you, and a lot of authors don't have that internal gift. Your words flow. Lovely. Just lovely.

    And did I know phrases like static existence when I was your age? Most likely not, so kudos to your mother for letting you develop your internal and external skills as you proceed with your schooling. And give her a hug for me, too!

    Guys, Amanda has an amazing talent. More so, she has a strong work ethic. Like Julie said, she'll go far and we'll all be able to say "we knew her when"... If she was on the NYSE I'd buy her dollar stock in a heartbeat, that's how sure I am of her success.

    Hey, I'm leaving breakfast. I just issued a challenge for 1K1HR on facebook so must get cracking!

    Hugs, Amanda. Thank you so much for being here today!

  16. Wow, Amanda, I'm impressed with how much you've accomplished! Many of my students have said they wanted to be writers, but only one or two have been able to stick to it. I look forward to showing them your books someday. Blessings!

  17. Amanda, thanks for being here and starting my day with a bucket of inspiration!

    How do you balance writing with the rest of your life? I remember my teenage years as being very busy so I got up at 4AM to write and read.

    Can't wait to see what you write in the years to come.

    Peace and blessings, Julie

  18. Amanda, how cool! I definitely want to be like you when I grow up! I really enjoyed reading about you and your experiences - keep it all going!

    Felicia Ciaudelli

  19. What an awesome post Amanda! Thank you for sharing.

    I would love to be entered in the giveaway. If I win I'd like to receive either Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman or Love By the Book by Cara Lynn James.

    My email is dawn(dot)janis(at)gmail(dot)com

  20. You've got alot of wisdom chocked into your years, Amanda! I salute you!!

  21. You, my dear, are inspiring.

    I first came across your blog and your writing from Jody Hedlund's blog.

    Wonderful post, girl!

  22. Amanda, I loved reading your post and I am definitely awed by your talent at such a young age. You said it best though, your talent is God given. I haven't read any of your books yet but I am looking forward to doing so. Congrats on your early success. I know in time your name will become a household name, especially to those of us who love to read and are avid readers. May God continue to bless you and keep you!

    Judy B

  23. Amanda! I'm so thrilled with your enthusiasm and the fact that you've finished multiple books.

    I was an "early" writer, too. But "back in the day" there wasn't an internet to connect with other writers, no workshops, no classes, no contests, no conferences, no organizations and few books that taught the fundamentals of the writing craft or shared information on the publishing industry. So, unlike you, I blundered around clueless for way too long.

    You have the world literally at your fingertips and the passion and determination to write, so I predict a BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL future as a writer for you! You're already well on your way. Don't let anyone discourage you because of your youth--continue to take advantage of it!

  24. Amanda, wonderful post. Keep sailing those stormy seas. Your passion for writing is refreshing.

    I have all the books, so no need to enter me in the contest.

  25. KC Frantzen, thank you so much for stopping by! And no, I was not traumatized for life by Julie’s hugs! She is SUCH a sweet lady and I’m counting the days till next conference so I can see her again!

    Carol, give your 10 year old a huge congratulations from me, for landing a publishing contract for an article!!!!! That is amazing!!!!! And doing NaNo already too! Wow!! I started reading Julie only a few months before I went to the conference (when I was sixteen) but was instantly hooked!

    Helen, thank goodness for coffee! Gonna need some if I’m to get any writing in today! And thank you so much for your kind words.

    Nancy, hope you can get the link fixed. I don’t think I can made changes to the blog post itself but maybe Julie can try to get it working again. And historical is my favorite too. : )

    Jan, I am always very nervous when going into a pitch appointment because I wonder if they will think my age is a factor. So yes, I am sometimes nervous about “showing my stuff” as you put it. And about the Julie hug, I’m eagerly awaiting next conference so I can see her again!

    Melissa, hope we can get the link fixed. And about “Julia” I do stuff like that all the time, calling people my character’s names and such. And in 1870 they’d probably think a hyperlink was some sort of disease. LOL.

    Shar, your comment put a big smile on my face! Thank you so much for your kind words! And I don’t think my characters will let me put my computer down just yet : ) They’re too impatient to have their story finished.

    Janet, so great to see you here! So glad you enjoyed the article!
    Melanie, consider yourself entered in the giveaway. I almost wish I could enter myself as there are so many great books on the list!
    Christina, I too tried to imitate Janette Oke, and was not her either! I probably lacked description though and what I came up with resembled a movie screenplay, with just a ton of dialog. Not exactly what makes up a novel : )

    Mary, so great to see you. And I’ll be sure to enter you in the giveaway!

    Ausjenny I’ll be sure to enter you in the giveaway for just Janet’s book. And I hope you’ll someday have the chance to read my books too : )

    Cindy, thank you so much for your sweet words! I too love to see other young people making something with their lives. I know another young person who is only 18 and is almost ready to begin law school!

    Ruth, I am honored to be compared to Taylor Swift! She is another young person, whose dedication knows no bounds! And have fun with your 1K an hour! Sounds like so much fun!

    Renee, I wish there were more young people who were more than just wannabe writers. Sad when you think someone could actually do well, if they’d only just stick to it! Blessings to you too.

    Julia, thanks so much for stopping by. Sometimes I don’t know how I balance writing with the rest of my life :) I usually use the afternoons and evenings to write. When I’m in first draft mode, I can usually do 1 or 2K a day which is my daily goal. I don’t do much else in my free time other than write, although I do manage to watch long BBC dramas quite frequently. But hey, they’re inspiration : )

    Felicia, so glad you enjoyed the post! I enjoyed writing it : )

    Dawn, I’ll be sure to enter you in the giveaway! Both the books you mentioned are AMAZING!

    I salute you too Tina. Your novels are amazing and I look forward to reading many more to come!

    Katie, thank you so much for your kind words! And you’re amazing too. Can’t wait to read your debut novel!! Looks like a wonderful story!

    Blessings to all,

  26. Amanda, welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for the wonderful, inspiring post. I'm blown away by what you've accomplished! Five novels under your literary belt is impressive! I'm smiling that you love historical romance as much as I do! Your hard work and eagerness to learn will get you published in God's timing. Relish the journey!


  27. Wonderful post, Amanda. I wish I'd had your drive and maturity when I was your age.

    I couldn't help but think of Christopher Paolini while I was reading it. He hasn't done too badly, and it sounds like you have a bright future as writer, too.

  28. AMANDA, WELCOME TO THIS SIDE OF SEEKERVILLE, a very FUN place to be since we have some of THE BEST reader friends around!!

    AND ... since we have a teenager as our guest today, we're going to go simple and easy-out-the-door with glazed and cake donuts fresh out of the fryer. You name it, we have it -- chocolate iced, vanilla iced, sprinkles, powdered sugar, custard-filled, jelly-filled, twists, bear claws, long Johns or French crullers. If I missed your preference, let me know and we'll restock. Also, lots of hazelnut coffee, teas and milk to go with it, so dig in!!


  29. CAROL, WHOO-HOO!!! Congrats to the budding author and PLEASE ... keep her away from my books until at least thirteen, okay? Or ... maybe twelve, since that's when I started writing that romance stuff. :)

    HELEN, as always, THANK YOU for getting the coffee set up while this lazy-butt (me) slept late. :)

    NANCY ... my bad on the faulty link, so it's fixed now for anyone who wants to check out Amanda's blog.

    JAN ... "glowing" over a Julie hug??? Not likely, although I'm sure not as bad as my daughter's friend, Kara, an effervescent type of gal who literally body-fronts you in a total-paste hug, truly leaving you traumatized on the first one. We all laugh about it now and have even adapted the Poly-Grip style of hugs whenever Kara comes over, but WOW, what a hoot the very first time! :) Looking forward to our chat this Friday, girl, so get your questions ready ... uh, not that I'll have answers, but I'll give it a shot and NO HUGS, I promise!!


  30. Amanda, welcome to Seekerville! It is so great to see you here and read about your journey.

    At 16, I too was in love with historical romance. I took a creative writing class in high school and was constantly chided for my sappy style.

    Hey, I'm a teenager! I'm writing emotion here! It took me YEARS to get over the self-consciousness of revealing my true feelings to anyone other my secret journal.

    I still tend to hold it in. Then I pick up a Julie Lessman novel and I'm reassured it is now safe to let my emotions flow : )

    Amanda, I loved meeting you at ACFW in St Louis. And your mom! Both of you are role models to look up to.

    This post made me seriously in the mood to write today. I wonder if I call in sick if anyone would miss me?

  31. Good morning Amanda and welcome to Seekerville.

    What a great post and inspiring for all of us writers. I love the analogy of writing to sailing. So true and insightful. Shows you've had plenty of experience with this crazy business.

    Love your persistence too. It is a quality you need to sail into the published world.

    I can just picture those hugs from Julie. Made me smile.

    Have a great day.

  32. Amanda your post is so encouraging. The link works now and I plan to share it with a few young ladies I know that love to write.

    adamsfammys @ yahoo dot com

  33. MELISSA ... I'm the link illiterate today, I'm afraid, not Tina, but it IS fixed, I believe ... or, er, I hope ... :| And I wouldn't bet I know more than Julia when it comes to this stuff because I am practically brain-dead on the techy side of computers/Internet. Sigh ... not a great thing for a writer.

    SHAR!!!! Sooooo fun to see you here, darlin', and look who's calling ME "crazy woman"!!! Your personality and smile is mega-watt voltage whenever you walk into a room, making me look like lights out!! You best be at ACFW this year, girl, or your name is Mud, you hear??

    CHRISTINA ... LOVE your addy -- "hammyflirt"!! It just sounds SO cute! And THANK YOU for reading my books -- MUCH appreciated, girl!!! I'm betting if we took a poll as to who many romance writers started at the age of 12, we would be shocked. I know AT LEAST six or so, including you!! Let's hope you get pubbed WAY before I did ... :)


  34. Amanda and Julie -

    My thinking was 14-15. Maybe she'll be more into historicals than sci fi-ish. Well... she does read true life historicals now [like the I Survived... series where she got to interview the author].

    You should have seen her this morning when I told her :D. She was so excited! And even more so when she found out she gets PAID!!!!


  35. Oh - and since I'm headed to Panera today and the temps are supposed to dip a fair bit, I'll bring soup in bread bowls for lunch. How's that sound?

  36. Hi, Amanda! Wow! Wish I had the encouragement, courage, and persistence you have. Stories have been a part of me since I can remember, but I never thought to pursue writing until I became physically limited as an adult and mother of three. (My raging mind demanded I so something so I didn't go nuts.) Congrats on your accomplishments! How exciting for you! :D

    I have three of the six books, but would love to be put in the drawing. If I end up with one I have, I can always forfeit it to the next person.

  37. Congratulations Amanda! Keep it up. I am a reader and not a writer. I will be looking forward to reading your books.

    Debbie Clark

  38. Praying for you Amanda and thanks for the post Julie. Amanda, I am from the U.P. Are you related to the Barratt's from up north? Many blessings to you!

  39. What a wonderful post! It's great to meet you, Amanda.

  40. Amanda, what a wonderful post! I admire your tenacity. Your sailing analogy was so appropriate. :) I appreciated what you shared about the unique challenges young writers face, as well as the benefits they have writing at a young age. I'm not one, but to see your enthusiasm and :) Hope you're able to meet your goal of being published soon!

    Off to a busy day; hoping to stop back later and read comments!

  41. Wow...such an inspiration!

  42. Hello, Amanda. We sat at Rachel Kent's table during the ACFW conference this year. It was a pleasure meeting you. What a wonderful journey you are on!

  43. Hi Amanda, you are such an inspiration! It amazes me at how much you have done with your life already. I love hearing about young people doing positive things.


  44. How's our girl doing over here???

    Enough food, Amanda? I'm bringing fresh coffee...

    And freshly frosted sugar cookies, home-made and delicious and none of that canned frosting here. Oh. No. Not. That. ;)

    To go along with Julie's donuts!

  45. WOW! Amanda I know you don't need me to tell you are an amazing young lady but....YOU ARE AN AMAZING YOUNG LADY. :) God has bestowed on you a marvelous talent and it's wonderful to see you using it at a young age. God doesn't put an age limit on what He calls us to do...look at Samuel, look at Joash and best of all...Jesus was teaching in the Temple at the age of 12.
    May the Lord continue to bless you, keep up the good work!

  46. Amanda, SO happy to see you here:) I'm excited to think of what the Lord has in store for you and your writing. And I'm beyond thrilled that you write historical romance! I enjoy visiting your blog and also was blessed by meeting you in St. Lou. Praying God's best for you in all you do! Waving at your wonderful family:)

  47. glad you have the passion and conviction to pursue your dream of being a writer. When I was a young girl growing up, I wanted to be a writer of books, poetry, and songs...these many years later, I am still an avid reader of books, but never followed my dream. I have literally read 1000s of books for my own pleasure, my children and now my grandchildren. I wish you the greatest success with your writing career. margie at mijares dot net

  48. Hi Amanda! Congrats on starting the writing journey at such a young age. I started when I was around 12, too, only I wasn't into romance...I liked murder mysteries!

    As a relatively young writer, too (I'm 28), I can attest that imagination can make up for a lot of experience that age hasn't taught yet. But God's calling is a powerful gift, and he will give you the words on your heart to put on the page.

    God's blessings on your writing and I hope to meet you at ACFW this year!

    stephludwig at hotmail dot com

  49. Judy, thank you so much for your inspiring words! Consider yourself entered in the drawing!

    Glynna, all those things like writer’s workshops and contests are relatively new, but such a blessing! I know without my online crit group or all the conferences I’ve attended, I’d not be learning the writing craft as easily as I have.

    Bridgett, thank you so much for stopping by! And as you have all the books I’m giving away, aren’t they wonderful reads?

    Janet, after reading An Inconvenient Match I can tell we’re both cut from the same cloth regarding our love of historical romance! Keep writing those amazing novels!

    Sandra, I am always inspired whenever I hear of Christopher Paolini! He has come such a long way since he sold his first self-published novel in mall parking lots. Both a teenage writer and a self-publishing success story!

    Julie, sounds like we’ve got a great selection on the menu today!! And thank you so much for your very warm welcome!

    Audra, your novels are great on the emotion. They have just the right amount for a satisfying read! And I loved meeting you in St Louis too!

    Sandra Leesmith (lots of Sandras on here today) publishing certainly is a roller coaster of a business! But I love the ups and downs of it all! Thanks so much for your kind words!

    Jamie, glad the link is finally working again! Whew! Thanks so much to whoever fixed it! And thank you so much Jamie, for passing the link on to other young writers!

    Sounds like some great menu choices for lunch, Carol. : )

    Linnette, I think most writers have been writers from an early age, some more serious than others. It’s one of those things that’s a part of a person’s nature, unlike other things that can be learned. If a person don’t love writing, it’s unlikely they’ll make it as a writer. So great to see you here!

    Debbie, I too am an avid reader, especially of all the Seeker books. Consider yourself entered in the drawing!

    Carrie, I think I very well might be related to the Barratt’s in the UP. We have a few relatives there. Not sure though, as less than fifty miles away there’s another Barratt (spelled with the “att” even) who’s not at all related to us. Thank you so much for your prayers!

    Julie Jarnagin, so glad you stopped by! Great to meet you too!

    Jeanne, thank you so much for your kind words! As I’m reading these comments, I’m just wowed by how kind and encouraging everyone is! Enjoy your day!

    Angie, so glad my post inspired you! Thank you so much for visiting!

    Sherri, it was a pleasure meeting you at ACFW, as well! Such a great place to make new friends isn’t it? Thanks so much for commenting!

    Wfren, so glad to see you here! I too love hearing about young people doing positive things! They can be such an inspiration!

    Ruthy, I think we’re about covered on the food. Let me know if we run low on anything : ) And I definitely think fresh coffee is in order!

    Teresa, sending smiles your way for saying such thoughtful things! And I so agree about God not putting age limits on what He calls us to do. You gave some great examples about that!

    Laura, meeting you was one of the many highlights of the ACFW conference! I’m still waiting eagerly for the cover for “Love’s Reckoning” : ) And your historical romances are one of THE BEST out there! I excitedly await each of your novels!


  50. Amanda it was so nice to meet you at the ACFW conference...your mom, too. One of the highlights of the conference for me.
    God bless you in your writing.

    I know just what you mean about that Tracie Peterson quote. "Would I keep writing if I never got published."

    I'm not even sure it's GOOD that the answer is an unequivocal yes. But it's true. I can't stop. I totally get that.

  51. I wrote my first book when I was about twelve but it might've been two pages long. I can't remember. Then I didn't write another one for about twenty-five years.

    And when I was sixteen...I was fussing because the principal would let me were BLACK denim jeans to school but not BLUE denim. WHAT, is the color of DYE going to make me learn more slowly?

    Oh, yes, I was pretty stinking militant about really IMPORTANT stuff. Way too busy to write.

    I also had my first date with my future husband at age 16. So I was doing SOME important things.

  52. Amanda, great post! You have such maturity for your age - and great perspective! You are awesome! It's fantastic that you found your passion when you were so young. Kudos to you! Much luck to you as you continue to "do what you love"!

  53. Hi Amanda,

    Wow! 5 books in 4 years! That's awesome.

    I too started writing at the age of 12 - not romance but a mystery like Nancy Drew. It took me 3 years to finish and then another couple to type each page manually on a typewriter! (Writers now have a huge advantage with computers! Do you know how many times I had to re-type a page!)

    Then, like Julie, I stopped writing for a LONG time - until I had my kids.

    I wish you great success with your writing, and since you're already so far ahead of the game, I'm sure you will go far.

    What an awesome example you are setting for other young people. Thanks for sharing!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  54. Wow, Amanda! How amazing that you have such a persevering heart at such a young age! Good for you! I hope you will keep hanging in there. And you know, you're not alone. It's not impossible for a teen to be a published author. My publisher, Zondervan, is publishing a novel by a teen who, I think, is only 15! But my editor says she is phenomenal, her writing is amazing, and she's so excited for her book to come out. I just wish I could remember her name or the title of her book! But I will find out.
    And of course there's S.E. Hinton, who wrote the classic Outsiders, which was published when she was 19, I believe. And Christopher Paolini, who wrote Eragon when he was 15 or 16. So I believe you can do it!

    I wrote two novels when I was still in high school, but I gave up writing when I started college. I didn't pick it back up for 15 years. Now I wish I had not quit writing. If I had kept at it I'm sure I would have gotten published so much sooner. So don't be like me! LOL!

  55. Oh ya, I forgot that I did start one historical romance in high school, but never got very far. The funny thing was my heroine's name was Diana Spencer (long before Lady Di came along)!

  56. Yay Amanda! you're an inspiration!
    Julie, I want to hug her too! :)
    Wow Carol! Congratulations!

  57. I wish I had the things I wrote when I was twelve! It would be fun to look back on!

  58. WOW!!! This was such an awesome post!!

    My daughter has been working on her book and has had a really hard time with feeligns of being 'too young'. I wrote out the verses from Isaiah Chap 6 where he argues with God and God reassures him that he's not too young, etc. but just right. :)

  59. Carol!! what a great news!!

    What magazine is it? We get a lot of kids mags around here...

  60. Yesterday was a big day and I wanted to share the news in Seekerville....

    I was offered representation. :) Wheee! Have to see the contract, chat with the agent, pray. But it all looks good. More than good.

    *snoopy dance*

  61. Virginia, congrats! That is SO awesome! Will definitely be praying for you!

  62. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Virginia!!!!!!!!!!!

    Maggie's article is going to be in the next issue of Starsongs, put out by Written World Communications. It's about the Titanic [hey - even I learned something new while helping her research! And I thought I already knew all the cool/interesting facts! This girl watches documentaries for FUN! Such a Mama's girl ;)].


    All right - I'm at Panera - joining Missy and Mellie and ... someone else for a 1k1hr sprint - then I'll set up the lunch table ;).

  63. Julie - I'm trying to remember your habit of praying for people who cut you off!


    And doesn't look like he plans to leave any time soon!

    God bless him! :D

  64. Hello Amanda!!

    I'm thrilled to say Amanda introduced herself to me at the conference and I loved meeting her and seeing her and her mom around the conference.

    Ruthy and I were actually talking about age and the writing that I do. (I'm 20 and write women's fiction) She suggested YA to me, but my heart really isn't "in" YA.

    Being a youngER writer, I know I haven't lived life experience (like you said, LOVED that Jane quote) and I accept that. I embrace it and use this time to learn and grow. It's only up from here!

    LOVED your post, it completely resonated with me. Keep writing Amanda!! :D

  65. Margie, thank you so much for stopping by! That’s so wonderful that you’ve read so many books. Without readers there would be no writers : )

    Stephanie, so great to see another relatively young writer here. Twelve must really be the magic number! I hope to see you at ACFW too. : )

    Mary, it was so great meeting you too. And I wonder why the color of jeans was so important anyway? Maybe blue makes people lethargic. LOL.

    Valri, thanks so much for stopping by! Bless you for saying such kind things! Lord willing, I will be continuing to do what I love!

    Susan, I’ve always admired those who wrote on typewriters. Always wondered what that was like. It’s amazing how many great novels were written on them and by hand too. Wows me every time I think that a long novel like “Bleak House” by Dickens or “War and Peace” was written by hand.

    Melanie, I would absolutely love it if anyone knew the name of that fifteen year old who is getting published by Zondervan. Would love to read her book and maybe send her an email! Thank you so much for commenting and by the way, I absolutely love your novels!

    Eva, so great to see you here. Thanks so much for stopping by!
    Dawn, I save everything I write (well most everything) and have fun looking back on it sometimes. Makes me laugh when I read lines like “he said frowningly” that I wrote when I first started. : )

    Virginia, how old is your daughter? She might enjoy reading my blog as I have a few posts about feeling like you’re too young. In fact, she might enjoy reading this post. And CONGRATULATIONS on the agent representation!!! That’s amazing!!!

    Carol, as a Titanic fan I’ll be sure to look for your daughter’s article! I always love reading articles about that! What a great topic for her first article. And I love documentaries too. Maybe it’s a writer thing. : )


  66. Wow, that's amazing Amanda! You have given me inspiration to chase my own dreams! Thank you so much!

  67. Way to go Amanda!!!!!! Just keep on plugging away, and don't let anything stop you. You've got quite a future ahead of you. God bless you sweetie!!!!!!!


  68. /cry/ my table was open and when I went to get a refill/check on it, I was momentarily waylaid by an acquaintance...

    Ah well.

    Don't get as much done in the front of the store [maybe I should sit with my back facing the other way?] but it's okay. And I prayed :D.

    More for me not to have an attitude than them, but still.


  69. Amanda! Oh, girlfriend, you sure brought back memories! When I was a teenager, I wrote "novels" mainly to escape from my rather dull real life.

    Problem is, unlike you, I never finished them. I don't think I wanted them to end, so I just kept adding and adding and adding. I can recall at least three different stories I had going through high school.

    Then job, marriage, kids...which meant writing professionally, a lifelong goal, got put on hold until I was in my 30s. And boy, did I have a lot to learn!!! (Not to mention the whole no-computer/no-internet thing!)

    You are so far ahead of the learning curve already, though, so keep after it, Amanda! Great things are sure to come for you!

  70. So VERY awesome, Amanda. Your story is extremely inspiring. I am SURE you'll be published soon. Rooting you on!

    Please enter me for one of the books! :) joanne(at)joannesher(dot)com

  71. WONDERFUL POST! I know a teenager who is an aspiring writer and I am sending her this link immediately. And congrats on your success, Amanda!

  72. Amanda, you have given me so much encouragement through your post today! I love that your so passionate and determined about writing. I just clicked over to your blog and enjoyed VERY much the Jane Austen quotes you supplied! Thank you for sharing with us today!

  73. Hi Amanda, Congratulations on your writing at such a young age. Enjoyed your post. Just keep on writing and we will enjoy your books. Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  74. Congratulations Amanda on your success! Can't remember the last time I was intimidated by a 16yo. I'm so impressed with your maturity and accomplishments.

    Keep writing. Imagine how many books you'll have under your belt 30 years from now when you're approaching the age of so many of us who are just getting started!

  75. Amanda, funny thing is I had no idea I was a writer. Growing up stories would spin their way through my brain and I just thought it was for my own entertainment. I even (for a while) thought I was a daydreamer and needed to curb the impulse because daydreaming about "fantasy" was a waste of time and brain cells. I don't know where that compulsion came from, but it was there and I often felt guilty for daydreaming. If only I'd know, I would have been writing stories long before I did. I did write a short story in highschool and submitted it for a competition. It was for a Christian school competition and there were some things in there they didn't deem appropriate. Back then, we didn't have computers. It was type-written. It was my only copy and when they returned it, the entire middle was missing. I have no idea what happened to it. It was a great story, too.

    Outside of that, most of my writing came in the form of pen-pal letters. I'd tell my friends all about everything going on. My brother said I could never write anything (even a birthday card) without writing a book. :D

    I'm so thankful you and other kiddos have the opportunity to start at such an early age. I truly just didn't know any better and had no one to encourage me. The one good thing that came out of the short story incident is that I did receive some good feedback and one of my teachers was encouraging about writing. But it still took years before I picked it up.

  76. I think this is the Zondervan author you're talking about.
    Zach Hunter

  77. BTW, I shared the link with some young writer friends, too. One of them is 16 or 17 and she's been writing forever. I thought your post would be a boon to her. She's struggled with her gift a lot because she's gotten into so much trouble for her daydreaming. She has a fantastical writing mind, so you can imagine. :D

  78. Casey, I was thrilled to meet you too. And like you, I really don’t have a passion for writing YA although I love reading it. And as I love women’s fiction I hope to someday read your novels when they hit shelves!

    HorseNRT thanks so much for stopping by. Great to hear you were inspired by the post!

    Krista, thank you so much for your kind words! God bless you too!

    Myra, that’s one of the many reasons I write novels. To escape from my rather dull real life, where I don’t live in a large Regency England country house with dozens of servants. LOL. And I never want my novels to end either, because I miss the characters too much. : ) Thanks so much for your encouragement!

    Joanne, consider yourself entered in the giveaway : ) Looking forward to seeing you at the next Great Lakes Chapter conference!

    Sarah, thanks so much for passing the link to this post on! Hope the young writer is inspired by it. Seekerville is a great place to read lots of great posts!

    Natalie, thank you so much for going over to my blog. And glad you liked the Jane Austen quotes. That post was such fun to write, almost more like play than work! So wish someone could somewhere unearth another Jane Austen novel : )

    Misskallie, thanks so much for commenting! And stopping by Seekerville is always a pleasure for me! I absolutely love their blog and was wowed when they wanted me to post!

    Patricia, I have so many more ideas for books and can’t wait to write them all! Absolutely love thinking of new ideas!

    Linnette, I too have been daydreaming from an early age and haven’t stopped since : ) And when I was about eight or nine I had about ten pen pals who I wrote pages and pages to. And thanks so much for sharing this with your young writer friends. That’s so sad she’s got into trouble for daydreaming. Creative types really need to hang out with other creative types, who understand that kind of thing. That’s why I love writer’s conferences.


    CAROL ... LOL!!! Uh, just start praying out loud, and he'll leave soon enough ... ;)


  80. Amanda, it's so great to have you here!! Thanks for this wonderful, thoughtful post. I'm really impressed with all your hard work and dedication to your writing. I'm sure you'll be very successful!!

  81. Carol, tell your daughter congrats!! Woo hoo!

  82. Oh, Virginia!!! I'm so excited for you! Congrats!

  83. Hi, Amanda! Welcome to Seekerville! I certainly remember you from conference. It's fantastic you know what you want to do at a young age and you're working toward it.

    You have all the time in the world to learn the craft and enjoy the process. I envy you. It won't be long before your published!

  84. WoW!! Only 16??? That's crazy!! Awesome job Amanda!!


  85. Hi Amanda, I read your post very early before school but didn't have a chance to post. It's such fun to read your enthusiasm for writing. 5 books in 4 years? Go YOU! You've obviously learned the most important lesson - it's not age that matters, it's finishing the book! (Or 5 of them!)

    I loved historicals too waayyyy back when I was your age. In fact, I have an embarrassing memory of strutting around the dock of our country house dressed in a floor length gingham dress that I'd made. And Julie, that was only because my mother had no green velvet drapes for me to make my Scarlett dress with. ;)

    Best of luck to you. I can't wait to see your name on a book cover.


  86. More congrats due in Seekerville today, I see.

    Carol, MEGA congrats to your daughter. How awesome is that?!

    And Virginia, WOW!!!! I'm so excited for you. Can't wait for you to be able to share details.


  87. Hey Amanda, so great to see you here and hear your story once again. I find it inspiring every time. And I'm totally jealous you can write a novel faster than I can.

  88. So fun to hear your story, Amanda! Wishing you all the best on your writing journey.
    Would love to be "in" for Julie's AHR!! Thanks!

  89. Missy, thank you so much for your thoughtful words!! I’ve enjoyed posting and being on here today, so much!

    Cara, it’s been a wonderful welcome to Seekerville! And I remember you from the conference because we both write Gilded Age. By the way, saw the cover for your upcoming novel and it’s so gorgeous! Can’t wait to read it!

    Marissa, thanks so much for stopping by! By the way, I love your name. All my heroines have names ending in “a”, Clara, Tessa, etc. : )

    Mary, so cool about the gingham dress. In fact, only a few years ago me and my younger sister were walking around the house wearing matching outfits pretending to be scullery maids. LOL. And thanks so much for your kind words!!

    Naomi, so great to see you here! I write a first draft really quickly, but then have to spend months editing. Whenever I hear of someone who edits their first drafts in only a few weeks, I’m absolutely wowed!

    Jackie, I’ll be sure to enter you in the drawing! And Julie’s AHR is amazing!!

    Blessings to all,

  90. Amanda, it's been fun to read the comments here today. :)

    I forgot to mention in my rush this morning that I would love to be entered in the drawing. I have Mary's Out Of Control, but I don't have any of the others. :) You are an inspiration. :)
    wetalk2biz(at)q(lower case Q)(dot)com

  91. MARY SAID: "And Julie, that was only because my mother had no green velvet drapes for me to make my Scarlett dress with. ;)"

    LOL!!! Glad you qualified that, my friend, because anybody can dress up in gingham, but not everybody can dress up in velvet drapes ... ;)


  92. Welcome, Amanda! I love the image of the little girl "imagining" a story with the horse on her knees. SO cute! How many of us does that image descibe at that age?

    It is wild you've accomplished so much success at such a young age! Oh, what coveted shoes you wear!

    I'm off to visit your web site...


  93. Amanda
    FABULOUS post filled with masses of encouragement and insight.
    Good for you!
    I loved meeting you at the 2011 ACFW conference. What a wonderful treat to see how God 'starts us young' in our writing.

    Many blessings to you in your journey AND
    I'm a Becoming Jane fan too. :-)

  94. Julie, thanks for introducing us to Amanda.

    Amanda. Wow. I'm so impressed with your drive and this post. Okay, you even have a Historical Romance author name. :)

    And I think we'll all be watching for it on a book cover

  95. Amanda, thanks! I'll keep writing historical romances. You do the same. One day we'll share the shelves!

    Hugs, Janet

  96. Amanda, you are an inspiration! I had to go and check out your site. My 14 likes to create stories and she's always asking, "how can I write when I'm so young?" I can't wait to share your post with her.

    Is there a writing organization for Christian teen writers or do they just mix with everyone else?

  97. Oops, that last post should have shown up as Christina. I forgot I had changed emails. *g*


  98. hi amanda.

    a wonderful posting. i love your blog :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  99. hi amanda.

    a wonderful posting. i love your blog :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  100. Amanda, I will ask my editor that young author's name and get back to you. It's not Zach Hunter, I know, because it's a girl. I promise I'll find out.

    And thanks for saying you love my books! :-) You and I have something in common--we both LOVE Jane Austen, and I am writing a Regency. But sh, that's still a secret. ;-)

  101. Yay! I was your 100th comment! And 101.

  102. I found it! Her name is Rachel Coker, and her book is called Interrupted: Life Beyond Words. She just turned 16. She is amazingly poised!!! Here's a video interview with her:
    So amazing!

  103. Maggie said to say 'thank you' to all of you!

    Thanks from Mom too :D.

  104. I have not heard of a writer yet who did not have their 'rough seas'.


  105. Good for you, Amanda.

    I wish I'd started when I was younger -- but then I wasn't interested back then.

    This shows your maturity.

  106. It's great to see a young up and coming author! How exciting for you!

  107. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jeanne. I’ll be sure to enter you in the drawing!

    Whitney, thanks so much for your kind words! And I absolutely love your picture. Such a lovely scene from Pride and Prejudice : )
    Pepper, so glad you enjoyed the post! And it was great to meet you too at the conference. Loved chatting about England!

    Debra, thanks so much for stopping by! And I never thought of Amanda being a historical romance author name but maybe it is!

    Christina, there is a blog for Christian teen writers called Go Teen Writers, which your 14 year old might want to check out. But as I don’t write in a teen genre I just mix with everyone else at the ACFW conferences, etc. Sometimes at writer’s conferences there are courses for teen writers and such, but as I usually just take the courses for adults, I don’t know which conferences offer that.

    Karenk, so glad you liked the post. And thanks so much for following my blog. Your comments always bring a smile to my face!

    Melanie, oh I can’t wait for that Regency!! And thanks so much for finding that young authors name. I watched the interview and you’re right about her being so polished and professional! She did an amazing job and her book looks amazing too!

    Marybelle, you are so right. All writers have their rough seas. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Peggy, thank you for your kind words! Sometimes a person discovers what their passion is right away and sometimes it takes longer. Best of luck with your writing!

    Jennifer, thanks so much for commenting! And by the way, I love your picture. Such a pretty wedding dress!


  108. Thanks Amanda! It's my favorite picture.
    Do you have a Fb page?

  109. Wow, Congratulations Amanda! I can't wait to read some of your work :)

  110. Congratulations and thank you for this giveaway.

  111. HI Amanda,
    I'm late to the party, but wanted to thank you for your inspiring story. It's so lovely to see a young writer who's embraced her gift so early in life. Congratulations and blessings in your writing career!

  112. Amanda,

    What an inspiration you are! You have a fresh and open perspective that is most encouraging. I agree with Julie - your name will be well known on all the best seller lists!

  113. Amanda,

    Wow! You are definitely an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your God-given talents. I would love to have the opportunity to win one of your books!

    My email is rhonda (dot) ritenour (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks! Many blessings to you as you continue to glorify God with your many talents.

  114. Amanda, don't worry about your age! I'm pretty sure author (pubbed) Noelle Marchand is only 16 or 17. :-)

  115. Congratulations, Amanda! You are such an encouragement!

    I would enjoy winning one of the books in this giveaway. Please enter me!