Thursday, December 20, 2012

Channeling the Raging River of Ambition

Sandra here with holiday cheer and Christmas songs in her heart.  

Christmas is my favorite time of year and this year especially has been bittersweet.  Its my first without any parents and I'm realizing that I'm the oldest generation now.  yikes.  I guess now that I'm the oldest generation in the family, I'm supposed to be the wise one.  double yikes.  And those of you who know me can stop laughing.  hmmmm

But the release of CURRENT OF LOVE has been such an exciting distraction that I barely realize how much I miss my family. 




As I discussed in my October blog, one of the things I've learned about this business is that it works in God's time and within His perfect plan. I certainly didn't plan for all the events occuring with lightning speed. 

The Christmas season is a good reminder of our wondrous God and His mighty plans for us. Because this has so been on my mind, I want to invite a Seeker friend of ours who has had a similar message in regards to her writing career.  

Ann Lee Miller has written a beautiful article about the Raging River of Ambition we all have within us pushing us to sail off Unpubbed Island and jump in feet first into the rapids so to speak of publication.  I love the title Raging River of Ambition. Doesn't that describe what drives us to publish?  I suppose ambition is our gift from God that gives us the push and motivation to pursue this amazing career.  (Notice I used a nice word to describe it)

Anyway without further ado, I'll welcome Ann Lee to Seekerville and let her tell you her amazing story. 




Channeling the Raging River of Ambition. How Does It Feel To Want?

By Ann Lee Miller




I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair.  I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of mouse brown hair threaded with silver.  Sister Sheila encouraged my writing during the final melt-down of my parents’ marriage. Her belief in me propelled me all the way through a BA in creative writing from Ashland University (OH).

Now in my fifties, my children raised, ambition rages through me, splashing over the banks as it goes. I am one of the fortunate few who get to write full-time, and if it weren’t for maintaining ministry, friendships, and needing to pay some attention to the man who believes in me and makes my writing life possible, I’d work sixteen hours a day. I don’t just want to write. I want to publish, sell millions of books, and travel around the country speaking to readers.

“How does it feel to want?” my mother used to say.

It feels stronger than my need to win freestyle races as a swimmer in high school, equal to my teen-aged longing to fall in love, and nearly supersedes my life-long yearning to be utterly entwined with Jesus.
Is the wanting wrong?

Well, it wasn’t for Biblical Joseph. His dreams sound even more far-fetched than mine. In Genesis 37:1-11 God gives seventeen-year-old Joseph two dreams he interprets to mean his parents and eleven brothers will bow down to him. His father rebuked him, and his brothers were incensed. But God brought the dreams to fruition in Joseph’s life.

I wonder what kind of role those dreams played in sustaining Joseph through all the hard years until they became reality. For me, the dream I knew, knew, knew would come true kept me writing for sixteen years of not publishing.

Maybe Joseph’s dreams made him a little pushy in a good way. He excelled at every job he was given. He avoided an affair with his master’s wife. When he interpreted dreams for the king’s baker and cup-bearer, he instructed them to remind the king about him. Joseph did everything in his power to make his dreams come true. I honed my writing skills attending writing conferences, digesting craft books, participating in critique groups, and, entering contests. I submitted to agents and editors. I waited patiently. I wrote books.

Joseph was created to rule as a benevolent leader and to rescue his family from extinction. I was created to write stories that will change readers’ lives. The passion to live out one’s purpose cannot be sin. Without it, none of us would step into our destinies. My books would never get “out there.”
What about when ambition runs full-tilt into a wall?

Just as Joseph was poised for greatness—in charge of a powerful man’s household—he was thrown into prison. After two-and-a-half years with an excellent agent, I was let go—still without publishing. Two hundred and fifteen agent queries later, I failed to scare up an agent. E-books pushed the publishing industry over the same cliff the music industry had plummeted a few years earlier. No doubt, Joseph despaired in jail. I questioned for the first time whether I would ever publish. We both cried out to God.

What about when your dream comes true—and it’s not enough?

Joseph was liberated by the king after approximately twelve years in jail and rose to be second in command in all of Egypt. The Bible doesn’t elaborate on how Joseph felt during this period of his life.
In February God nudged me to do something I’d never considered—self- publish. In the past six months I’ve launched three novels, held them in my hands. The reviews hover between 4.5 and 4.7 stars. One of my books has 92 reviews at this writing. I’ve visited dozens of blogs, received fan letters, and had a handful of newspaper articles written about me. I’ve even sold some books.
I’m grateful.

And hungry for more—more sales, more validation—perhaps as hungry as I was before I published. I need to let Christ harness the hunger and channel it in the precise direction he designed my life to go. As I bring my plans to God, I see him constantly course correcting my life.

For eight months I tried to land two important speaking engagements. I met with the leaders in person, followed up with several e-mails. Finally, I put my hopes into God’s hands and quit praying about them. Two weeks later, I got a call about the most coveted venue. The next day, the second leader phoned and a third slated me for an additional engagement. At the same time, I began discussing a book launch in conjunction with an artist’s monthly gallery art-walk. All these across-the-country speaking opportunities will happen within two days in February! And the door to a fifth engagement remains open. Only God could have planned such a time-efficient trip with so many marketing avenues.
How do I keep my ambition within the banks of God’s will long-term?

Joseph submitted to the authority of the king for the rest of his life. He had many opportunities to return to his own country. He sets a good example. I place God as CEO of my company. Of course, I’ll be tempted and have the freedom to elbow Him out, but publishing during the second half of life doesn’t leave me time to squander Twittering or blogging, or Facebooking if that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.

Some practical steps I’ve taken to keep God as lord over my career:

1. I framed Psalm 127:1-2 and hung it on my office wall.
Unless the Lord builds the house [career], they labor in vain…. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
This passage packs a wallop because God has given me bits and pieces of my stories hundreds of times as I’ve drifted off to sleep or woken up. I hear God telling me that if I let Him balance my life, He will give me everything I need writing and career-wise.

2. I spend the first 30-60 minutes of the day reading the Bible and praying. This quiet space gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to come in and land in my mind. Often He readjusts my priorities for the day. Maybe I need to meet with one of the teens I mentor. My chronically ill friend may need a visit. Cleaning the house for a youth group meeting, cooking a better than usual meal, writing a letter or making a long distance call may take precedence over working. I wish I could say I take these readjustments gracefully, but I do them—and pray for a good attitude.

3. One of the most difficult disciplines is completing the day’s writing before turning on the internet and cluttering my mind with marketing details. For me it is disobedience to “play” at energizing, fun marketing before “working” at creating 360 pages of gut-wrenching prose inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

4. It is a daily battle to quit working at 6 p.m.—not one I win every day. But my husband, children, friends, and church deserve my attention. And I need the refreshment and love they give me.

5. Sometimes I take a walk to detach from work and reflect on all the amazing things God has done for my career thus far. I choose to be grateful. I choose to trust Him to continue guiding my career and throwing wide the doors He wants me to walk through.

With my first book launch 15,000 people heard Kicking Eternity advertised as free—my unorthodox marketing plan—through a Facebook event. Facebook removed the page and did not respond to my inquiry asking why. A list of 15,000 potential buyers of subsequent books was lost. Knowing God ran my business carried me through the disappointment.

A month later—three months after launch—Amazon price-matched and dropped Kicking Eternity to free. Imagine my amazement when I stumbled across the fact that thirty thousand people had downloaded the book. At six months from launch, over sixty thousand copies have been downloaded. The Art of My Life is selling modestly, and my third book, Avra’s God, debuted this month. Free e-copies of Kicking Eternity may be requested at AnnLeeMiller.com.



Daily placing God as CEO lets the steam of my ambition/desperation escape the pressure cooker in my inner man. I am able to discipline myself to write, and curb marketing to second priority. Inside, my next book can quietly simmer.

Wow.  I don't know about you but that is a message I need to remember.  Don't you love how she compared it to Joseph's journey?  

Thank you Ann for sharing this testimony with us.  It is especially poignant as we get ready to start a new year.  It is also another reminder of who we need to keep our thoughts, dreams, aspirations and dreams focused on at this wonderful time of year. And all year actually.

And because its Christmas, Ann and I have some wonderful gifts to winners drawn from those of you who comment.  
Ann is offering an ebook copy (any format) of AVRA'S GOD to a lucky winner.  




Avra’s God Back Cover:

   In the tradition of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, four friends navigate college and the drama churned up by their Florida beach band to cement friendship and more.                
          Avra wants love, but drummer Cisco—self-medicating from his parents’ divorce with sex and intoxicants—is a poor choice. Cisco hungers for fresh-baked cookies and the scent of family he finds at Avra’s.
         Kallie shares her classically trained voice only with lead vocalist Jesse and fights to keep her heart safe. Jesse feeds on fame and hides more than insecurity beneath his guitar.
         The friends surf ego, betrayal, and ambition and head for wipeout.  But somehow, when they're not looking, Avra’s God changes them all.




Sandra is offering to three lucky winners your choice of a hard bound copy of PRICE OF VICTORY  (which makes a lovely gift) or an ebook copy of CURRENT OF LOVE.   

We have a wonderful Christmas buffet that includes my grandma's crystal platters filled with fresh fruits and slices of orange bread.  The orange bread is made from the oranges off my tree in the back yard.  You'll love this. Its a tradition in our family.  (Maybe I can talk Ruthy and Missy into posting the recipe at the Yankee Belle Cafe.






Please share with us how you control the raging river of ambition or how God has worked in your writing life.  Winners of gifts will be drawn from those who leave comments.

If you comment, check the weekend edition to see if you won one of the gifts listed above.

Merry Christmas to all of you.







Bio: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her pastor husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.

AnnLeeMiller.com
http://www.facebook.com/AnnLeeMillerAuthor
Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller
Blog: The-Art-Of-My-Life.blogspot.com












90 comments:

Tina Pinson said...

Congratulations Ann,
Joseph's story sure does fit with the writer's life. Well with life in general. Who'd have thought he'd end up second in the kingdom after all he was put through. thank you so much for the reminder that God does have our writing and lives in his hand. He is the best encourager, idea giver, promoter and agent there is.

blessings

Tina

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Tina!

Thanks for stopping by. We get to be the night owls since we live in Arizona. :)

Maybe one of the Seekers will be second in the kingdom someday. Cool, huh?



Vince said...

Hi Ann & Sandra:

You wrote: “Please share with us how you control the raging river of ambition.”

I do what Mark Anthony did when they said Caesar was ambitious:

“Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:”


Is it ambitious to work with passion if that work is for the greater glory of God and not for your own self aggrandizement?

Is it ambitious to be steadfast in your efforts to faithfully complete your mission when that mission is greater than yourself?

Is it ambitious to sacrifice the pleasures of the present in order to bring God’s message to a multitude in the future?

Is it ambitious to want to carry your message, as Paul did, to the greatest empire in the world when that message is one God wants the world to hear?

Ambition mimics passion, drive, steadfastness, loyalty and sacrifice – but it lacks a soul. It is a great doctor who will only treat himself. Put a soul into all you do and ambition will become a raging river of the water of life pouring into a draught stricken world thirsty for the word of God.

In other words, I change the paradigm.

Vince

P.S.I have both Sandra’s books. I also have “Kicking Eternity” but I'd love to win a copy of "Avra’s God". The description is captivating.

Aly Logan said...

Wow, Vince, you gave us a lot to chew on. Thanks so much for sharing from your deep well. You have really stretched me to focus on my mission and to examine my motives.

And you're a peach to take an interest in our books!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Oops, that last comment was from Ann Lee Miller. My character, Aly Logan hijacked my blog, and I haven't figured out how to get it back. What a character. Ha ha.

Mary Cline said...

Thank You very much Ann Lee Miller for an excellent post and great insight.

I have always loved Josephs story and how he let God work through him.

I would love to win either of your books.

Jenny Blake said...

Sandra I feel for you this christmas also. I hadn't thought I am now the older generation (but then I am the only generation in many ways as I am single) I am glad you have had the book launch ect to keep you busy. Tomorrow would have been dads birthday and although its almost 37 years since his passing I am missing him more now than ever before.

Ann I enjoyed your first book.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love analogizing this to Joseph's story, Ann. What a stalwart image that is!

Welcome to Seekerville! It's delightful to have you (and Sandra's orange bread and yes, Sandra, send me the recipe and pics and we'll feature it in January... I'd love to do that!) here!!!

Raging ambition.

"Cromwell I charge thee: Fling away ambition. By that sin fell the angels." (Shakespeare)

"Ambition is a good servant but a bad master." (Laura Ingalls Wilder, high school essay)

I am ambitious, and not just for myself, but for my kids, my friends' kids, the dogs, the garden.... So I understand overachievers.

But I respect ambition as long as it doesn't become the master. I let God rule the timeline, I produce the work.

Not all of the work is lauded, praised and accepted on sight, either, LOL! But the steady hard work and goal-setting has given God the chance to develop a timeline.

If we don't produce, how will God open doors?

So we produce and trust. And Ann I can see from this post that you've worked long and hard at this. Brava to you!

Vince, I agree wholeheartedly. Directing the ambition and not allowing rewards to taint the soul.

I think we see that with so many young successful athletes. Huge windfalls of money come their way but they don't have the internal skills to channel and manage that new normal. And we watch them crash and burn. What a waste of talent.

Ann, I love this! Thank you!

Sandra, do we eat the bread plain? With butter? With cream cheese? Is it really made of oranges or are you teasing us?

Orange bread.

Most interesting idea.

VINCE: AGGRANDIZEMENT??? REALLY????? :)

And I think that "ambition for the good" works beautifully unless it brings so many accolades as to taint our humble spirit within.

Then it can become a soul-eating monster, step by step.

Annie Rains said...

Beautiful post! I love your story and I'm so glad to hear about all your success.

I also took note when you said you try to be done working by 6:00 so you can spend more time with your other priorities. I might adopt that rule in my life, too. :)

Debra E. Marvin said...

Another Arizona girl, huh?

Right now I'm drawn to the scent of that orange bread. Yum! Fresh oranges at that. Wow.

Okay. Sorry ladies. You know, I never thought about Joseph taking those dreams and using them as a goal on the horizon this way. Ann, great thoughts on the passion to write and finding the balance--it's not easy at all.

Congratulations on your successes, Ann. I enjoyed meeting you. Thanks Sandra. Oh this bread.... yum!

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra, thanks for bringing Ann to us today. Such an inspirational blog with so many messages I need to embrace.

You seem so focused, Ann, which is wonderful. I wander, you take the direct route. I don't think of ambition. Hmmm? Need to ponder that today. I write because God tells me to write, which makes me work harder than if I were doing so to achieve my own goals. I get tiny visions of where He wants me to go, but usually those moments of clarity come after I've stumbled through the haze for extended periods of time. Perhaps it goes back to Vince's discussion yesterday about forgetting where we've been. :)

Getting my second cup of coffee and a slice of orange bread.

You have an orange tree in your backyard, Sandra? How delightful!

Sandra Leesmith said...

ALY I love that you're sneaking in on ANN. chuckle.
Welcome to Seekerville, both of you.

Hi Tina P. Waving at you also.

Sandra Leesmith said...

VINCE You CHANGED the paradigm? You are tooo funny.

But I have to admit, I love how you did.

Yes, you and RUTHY are right. Ambition needs the soul.

It is a gift when used for God and not for aggrandizement. (oh my such big words so early in the morning)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MARY C. Merry Christmas

JENNY hang in there girl. We will get through the holidays. Remember our parents get to spend them with the Lord. How special is that?

Sandra Leesmith said...

RUTHY The orange bread tastes best when you toast it and put butter on it.

Or just eat it plain.

Or it is yummy with cream cheese also.

It is sweet enough on its own that you don't need jam, but honey is good. I prefer it plain though.

And it really is made of oranges. Off my tree. Yes DEBBY a navel orange tree and a tangelo tree (which is a cross between an orange and a tangerine) The lovely thing about citrus trees is the fruit doesn't have to be picked all at once. It lasts for several months.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi ANNIE, Yes, I think her goal to quit working at six and spend family time is key.

The problem with self-employment and writing in the home, is you often forget to take breaks, lunch breaks and days off. These are important for your health as well as for your family.

It is important to set goals and finish them as RUTHY points out, but as many of you have said, you don't want the ambition to be in control. Great advise. Not one I always follow, but great advise to aspire to.

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI DEBRA, Glad you like the bread. I loved the photo the other day of you and Ruthy. Boy was I jealous and wishing I could have joined you two. smile

Merry Christmas.

Bridgett Henson said...

Ann, I love this post. I, too, have to remind myself of "real" world obligations; children, husband, dinner to cook, church groups to organize.
Thanks for the reminder that while we are driven to finish that WIP, God works everything in his time.

I've been struggling with the second book in a series. It was a nice story but something was missing. This morning, in my prayer time, God gave me that extra twist. Now, I'm back on track and loving the changes.

Isn't he an awesome God?

I would love to read Avra’s God. Please, enter me for the drawing.

Sandra, I previously won both your books and can't wait to read them. No need to enter me in the contest.

The orange bread sounds delicious!!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi BRIDGETT, So happy to hear that you're listening. smile. Isn't it amazing what happens when we do?

Jeanne T said...

Ann, what a beautiful and encouraging testimony. I always love the story of Joseph and how he walked with integrity through the trials in his life. It sounds like you've learned how to do that to. It narrows down to two words: Trust God. You gave me some good food for thought.

I liked reading that you were also a swimmer in high school. I loved being part of our school's swim team. :) Have a wonderful Christmas!

Viv said...

A post about ambition! And taking it as a positive thing... Often ambitious people are seen as selfish, proud, out to get their own glory, while really they can be great to work with as they're having a clear vision, they work hard to achieve things and they know exactly what they want and how to get there. In every organisation, so also in ministry and the church, you need that kind of people! And if they work under the guidance of God, their ambition can be a great thing in his hands, and not become a soul-eating monster like Ruthy said.

Ann, love how you've set such clear boundaries, setting time apart for God, for your family/church, and prioritizing (if someone needs you right now, you go after that instead of writing or marketing). That's so important! I think it was Luther who said that if he had a lot to do that day, he prayed a little longer at the start of the time. Give time to God, and he gives time back to you!

I'm sorry for your heartbreaking journey, especially being with a good agent and not selling must be sooo hard. But great that you didn't let doubts get the best of you. It's frequently said on writer's blogs and stuff 'if you can quit, quit' because it's just very hard getting in. But if you can't quit, if you just dry up inside if you don't write, you have to go on. You WILL go on. You did, and look where it got you! Amazing how God's opening up doors for you, giving you more than you asked for. I love it when our Father surprises us like that. Thanks for sharing!

Viv

Viv said...

Sandra,
will be thinking of you this first Christmas without your parents. Glad that you've got lots of good things to distract you!

Viv

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME BACK to Seekerville, Ann, and MEGA thanks to Sandra for bringing you!!

Like Ruthy, I LOVE the analogy to Joseph and like Viv, I seldom hear "ambition" presented in a positive light, so thank you for that unique perspective.

Love, Love, LOVE your first line: "I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair."

Goodness, I read that and was immediately transported back to the classroom and the shock that nuns were actually people!!

I also love the line that points out "Joseph submitted to the authority of the king for the rest of his life." Another unique perspective that I never really thought about, but totally true and telling.

And I'm with you on "one of the most difficult disciplines" being "completing" my Bible/prayer/exercise time be before turning on the Internet -- VERY hard to do, but something I strive for as well. I am TOTALLLLLY impressed you are able to do that AFTER you get your writing in, my friend!!

Great post ... great insight!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "Ambition mimics passion, drive, steadfastness, loyalty and sacrifice – but it lacks a soul. It is a great doctor who will only treat himself. Put a soul into all you do and ambition will become a raging river of the water of life pouring into a draught stricken world thirsty for the word of God."

WOW. Seriously, Vince -- one of the best quotes I have EVER heard on ambition!!

RUTHY SAID: "And I think that "ambition for the good" works beautifully unless it brings so many accolades as to taint our humble spirit within. Then it can become a soul-eating monster, step by step."

Ah ... the "soul-eating monster" ... yes, I know it well!! But thank God souls can regenerate (kind of like kidneys) through the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, there would be a lot of half-dead people walking around, and I'd be at the front of the line ... :|

Hugs,
Julie

Ann Lee Miller said...

Yawn.... Stretch.... Another yawn.... Morning has barely broken out here in the west, and you gals have obviously already had your coffee, maybe a second cup. Good morning!

I'm so tickled to meet you all and chat. Glad, too, that I'm not the only one who struggles with an extra helping of drive--though maybe it's not quite awake yet this morning. :) Coffee!

Lyndee said...

Hi Ann! Such a treat to see you here. Wonderful message. You have a gift. Thank you for sharing it.

This year I handled my ambition with trust and Ecclesiastes 3:1 and while I approached everything with the phrase 'To everything there is a season..." He moved my writing and my career, taking me places I'd never been before. It's been an amazing journey.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Amen, Ann!!!

I control the raging river of ambitions by not reading reviews and by whispering, "Let me be a vessel."

Marianne said...

i needed this post today, so thank you, Sandra and Ann. i loved that Joseph's life was drawn as parallel to life. Me...i think i've lost my goal and ambition. Not sure if i have a dream left.

Oh, but then i read Vince post and maybe my ambition and goal and all the rest right now is to care for Mom. And since she is the last parent i have left, and we almost lost her this past August. that is enough.
Although i am not jealous of you Arizona gals, i do think of how wonderful it is there. We spent about 17 Christmas' in your great state, and hopefully will come back next winter!

Marianne

Ann Lee Miller said...

Good morning, Mary Cline. Nice to meet you! Thanks for reading my article. :)

Joseph is one of those men who make us want to live better, stand taller.

Good luck with the contest!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Sandra and Jenny, I'm right there with you. I lost my mother in March after several years of dementia. And my father has been gone a couple of years. We are at the saying good-bye stage of life. As you said, what a comfort to know we will get to say hello again. But even in the partings, I felt God's gentleness and care for me.

Jenny, how wonderful to have had a father you still miss after all these years. I look forward to meeting him one day.

Sandra, may God's comfort be greater than your grief. It comes in so many different ways--even a book launch. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

MOrning Ann Lee, I didn't know about your Mom. I'm so sorry. Yes, we are all comforted in so many ways.

We have so many blessings, like our friends here in Seekerville.

I have some chocolate velvet coffee and also some breakfast blend if you aren't into the flavors.

It is wonderful with a slice of orange bread.

Sandra Leesmith said...

JEANNE, VIV, MARIANNE AND LYNDEE. Thanks for the empathy. Thanks for sharing.

Merry Christmas. smile

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ruth,

You made me chuckle:

"I am ambitious, and not just for myself, but for my kids, my friends' kids, the dogs, the garden.... So I understand overachievers."

You're my kind of girl! I asked my husband last night if I've always been this driven, or if publishing is the culprit. He said I've always been this driven with my writing.

Hmm. I wonder why all this energy never affected my housekeeping. Ha!

I loved that quote from Laura Ingals Wilder about keeping ambition as our servant instead of our master. Thanks for sharing.

I so enjoyed your post and feel like I got to know you a little today!

Sandra Leesmith said...

JULIE, Yes, thankfully our souls do regenerate. And thankfully our God is forgiving and merciful. He does have a sense of humor too. smiling

TINA, amen.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Annie,

So nice to meet you. My daughter is named Annie. After three boys, why not name her after me? Ha!

Well, 6 p.m. quitting time is my rule, but not one I'm particularly good at keeping. :) I'm working hard at it, though. Honest!

Joanne Sher said...

Loved this post. Needed the reminder. Gonna take that ambition and direct it where He wants it. Sometimes easier said than done.

LOVE the Joseph analogy.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Debra,

I never thought of Joseph that way either. The connection came when the guy in charge of one of my speaking venues was praying about next semester's teaching schedule. He had determined to do a series on the patriarchs, and thought I'd be a good fit for Joseph because Kicking Eternity is about our dreams for our lives vs. God's dreams for our lives. Wasn't God kind to open this door and give me the Biblical foundation at the same time!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Debby!

I spend a lot of time in your haze. I think it's just part of writing. But writers come in lots of different personalities. That's never so obvious as at writers' conferences. I'm always surprised by how many extroverts write.

I have a lemon tree in my yard that is just starting to drop lemons. My youth group will be in heaven for the next several months with fresh (or frozen) squeezed lemonade. :)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Bridgett,

Lovely to meet you. :)

I find that when I give in to my work-a-holic tendencies the joy is robbed from my work. Balance makes a happier me and a happier family.

I'm so excited about the twist God gave you this morning for your book! That happens to me all the time, and I'm so glad to share in your gratitude.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Jeanne,

So fun to meet another swimmer! I often pray and mull over my next scene as I swim laps or take a walk. My husband told me yesterday that he heard exercise causes our creativity to jump. Yay!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Viv,

Thanks for your heartwarming post. :) I feel hugged. And I'm sure all the other driven people who read your words will feel the same way. Who knew we were good people to work with?! Thanks for brightening my day.

XXXOOO

Ann Lee Miller said...

Julie,

You are such a sweetheart. I'm always reading your inspiring posts (and becoming a better writer because of it), so it's a huge treat to be on the other side of the table today.

I am pretty good at getting my writing done before going online, but it is the hardest discipline in the world. Even exercising is a breeze next to internet abstinence. Ha! Most days the internet is the carrot dangling in front of me, making me get my work done!

XXXOOO Sweetie!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Lyndee!

I'm thrilled to hear your career is moving forward. Yay!

Thanks for sharing the Ecclesiastes verse. For a long time I felt guilty for not pursuing writing while I raised my kids. But I heard Beverly Lewis say at an Orange County (CA) Writers' Day that she didn't start writing until her kids were in junior high--and that was a good thing because she would have ignored them. Obviously, I would have struggled in the same way.

So, this is my season and yours! What a joy to be here!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Cool, Tina Radcliffe! I've heard a lot of writers don't read reviews. I'm still at the so-desperate-for-reviews stage that I'm grateful for even the negative ones. Ha!

Myra Johnson said...

So inspiring! Sandra, thanks for inviting Ann to join us in Seekerville today!

Sixteen years? I admire you, Ann, because I know EXACTLY how it feels to keep writing and hoping when the fulfillment of a dream is taking SO much longer than I expected. My first book contract didn't come unitl 25 years after I began writing for publication.

It truly is about just doing the work while allowing God to work in His own time and trusting Him for the outcome.

Congratulations on your success, and thanks again for this inspiring post!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Marianne,

My heart goes out to you. What a difficult season you are going through. When I was in my wilderness, I thought it would never end. Even when it was over, I kept waiting for the other foot to drop. But it didn't. God moved me into a new season, one of joy.

I pray for you, today, that this hard season will forge a deep intimacy with Jesus that will make this season and the next (the joyful one!) all the sweeter.

I am never so desperate for God as in the hard times, and therefore, never so near to Him. May His nearness warm you today--like Arizona sunshine. :)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Myra,

Twenty-five years! You are my kind of girl!

XXXOOO!

Mary Connealy said...

What a great message, Ann. Love your passion for writing.

Sherida Stewart said...

Hi, Ann. I'm next door in New Mexico!

I believe I am traveling along God's path for me. My novelist daughter-in-law encouraged me to act on my desire to write, so I entered a short story contest. My reward to myself for entering was to join RWA, where I found the Faith, Hope and Love chapter, then discovered Seekerville.

For some reason, this is where God wants me to be. I am storing up treasures of information and finding a bit of time to write.

Why is God directing me on this path? I'm not sure, but I know He has a plan.

Please pass the orange bread, it smells like Christmas. Blessings to you!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Nice to meet you Mary Connealy! Thanks for sharing your funny bone with us in your books. I so admire people who make me laugh. :)

XXXOOO

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Sherida!

Welcome to the party, neighbor! I'm so glad you've taken up the pen, uh computer. What a sweet daughter-in-law to give you a nudge. :)

Misty Russon said...

I love how you encourage others when faced with defeat and rejection. It's very hard to face those rejections at first, but it becomes easier as time goes by.
It's very hard to realize God is in charge sometimes, but comforting to me. If I was in charge I can't imagine what a mess I would make of things.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks, Misty, for your kind words. You made my heart smile. :)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I was nodding my way through this until I got to your framed Bible verse about God 'giving to His beloved even in sleep'.

And THEN I remembered that during last night's windstorm, when I was laying in bed wondering if the roof was lifting off from the house, I had a great plot twist appear!

Which I didn't remember until I read that verse.

Thank you so much!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

And sadly, I completely lack in ambition.

Sloth is my cardinal sin. If I could lay in bed all day, I would.

But I can't. So sometimes I get things done. Between naps.

PatriciaW said...

The biggest thing for me is learning to let go, not of the ambition, but of the impatience that ambition breeds. Because impatience doesn't always lead to working longer or harder or smarter, on the road to realizing those ambitions. Sometimes all it leads to is frustration and disappointment and guilt.

Patience has been a theme between me and God for a few years. As He teaches me about patience in my personal life, I'm able to find more patience in my writing life. And as a result, I see to focus more, take more chances and get more done.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Virginia!

That is so cool that God gave you a twist last night. Bridgett Henson (see earlier comment) got a twist from God, too. Yay!

You cracked me up--cardinal sin of sloth. You either are, were, or would make a good Catholic. I have Catholic roots and enough guilt for three people.

What if.... your personality made you really good at relaxing and helping others to de-stress? I bet you go for coffee with a friend and don't peek at your watch every fifteen minutes like I do [looking down, feeling embarrassed, guilty). I bet your friends and family feel like you have all the time in the world for them, that they are important, valued. And wellah! You still get stuff done.

We seriously need to hang out!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Patricia,

Thanks for your insightful comment. Patience and trust are all wrapped up together, aren't they.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

I love it when you quote Shakespeare. And oy vey, I am so jealous of your phrase “a soul-eating monster” and the wisdom expressed in saying, “I respect ambition as long as it doesn't become the master.” You are a treasure.

However, what’s the question about, “Aggrandizement”? My fifth grade nun, Sister Melchior, used that word all the time. I liked it immediately. It means what it sounds like: making yourself grander than you are entitled to be.

BTW: Your mention of orange bread has fired up long dormant ‘cravings’ in my brain. Is it the same as I Swedish Limpa bread? I haven’t had any Limpa bread since 1971 when I left Santa Barbara for Tulsa. I don’t think there is a loaf in all of Oklahoma. And now I’m mad to have some. Can a normal person make it at home? Help!

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Ann:

I had so many things to worry about last night (that I would have to face this morning) that when I read your comment about Sister Sheila, it made me feel good enough to fall asleep afterwards.

“I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair.”

I went to Catholic schools until my 12th year. And I never saw a nun’s hair. However, we, sweet little fifth grade good Catholic boys, knew a away through the woods that would take us to the back of the hidden convent where we could see the nun’s clothesline. We didn’t know whether the nuns had hair but we knew all about what they wore under their habits. We even discussed whether we had to confess that we looked at the nun’s clothesline and decided by a unanimous vote that we didn’t. There was no commandment against looking at clothes drying.

Let me tell you, you just can’t trust sweet little boys no matter how much you think you can. : )

Vince

P.S. I just downloaded your book, “Avra’s God” so I don’t need to be in the drawing. I have a question however. I have not read “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I have read and loved, “The Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches” which is about the adventures of four young women. (They are all cancer survivors). Do you plan to write a book about each of the four major characters or is this a single title?

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

ANN-

Yikes.

I'm Catholic, but apparently did not inherit any kind of guilt. I'm all about the LOVE and JOY!

I think at baptism I might have missed that part. Guilt-free and lacking ambition, a deadly combo. No mater how hard I try to feel guilty, it just seems to slide right off. Must be the layer of cookie dust I carry around on my person. You should try it.




Vince, you've completely spoiled my impression of 'Vince of Seekerville'.

*sigh* Now all I see is a naughty little boy.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hello again, Vince.

I'm so glad you let me know Sister Sheila blessed you, too. And what a great story about the nuns' clothesline. Ha ha! I once got to spend the night at the convent with my best friend. We were sorely disappointed that we had to sleep on the enclosed front porch and never found out what nuns wear to bed. I bet you could have answered that question!

If you have insomnia again, here's a link to an article on how one of my Catholic schoolmates ushered in God's healing much later in my life. :)

http://www.annleemiller.com/e-mail-from-god-article.html

I married a protestant pastor, but I've always been grateful for my Catholic upbringing that pointed me toward Jesus. I've lived in Arizona for the past 15 years and have especially enjoyed the we're-on-the-same-team mentality between Catholics and Protestants out here. :)

Thanks for buying my book! Avra's God is part of the New Smyrna Beach Series, but each book stands alone. Chronologically, it's the first book in the series, followed by Kicking Eternity and The Art of My Life. I hope you enjoy it. So far, my male readers have all made positive comments.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Virginia,

Pass the cookie dust NOW! :) :) :)
I can hardly wait!

Missy Tippens said...

Ann, what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing with us today. You gave me a lot to think about and truly inspired me.

Congratulations on your book success!

Cara Lynn James said...

Merry Christmas Ann and Sandra! Ann, your perseverance is inspiring!

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Vince!! LOL! Thanks for the laugh over your clothesline story!! Oh my goodness, I didn't know you were such a naughty child! :)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks, Missy. :) It's pretty cool to be inspiring! Usually, I'm just late for church. Ha ha!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Cara!

Merry Christmas to you, too!

I really enjoyed your Love on a Dime. I usually read contemporary, so you get a big well-done from me! Love your writing style.

XXXOOO

CatMom said...

Thanks for this post today, Ann Lee and Sandra! Loved reading about Ann Lee's journey to publication, AND the way it was compared to Joseph's story. ~ My heart goes out to anyone having the first Christmas without their parents. I lost Mama 7 years ago, and Daddy 5 years ago, but I still miss them terribly (they were my very best friends). BUT I take comfort in knowing they're with the Lord and we WILL be together one day! ~ Christmas blessings to you all, Patti Jo

Whitney said...

Vince,

I went to Catholic schools until my 12th year. And I never saw a nun’s hair. However, we, sweet little fifth grade good Catholic boys, knew a away through the woods that would take us to the back of the hidden convent where we could see the nun’s clothesline. We didn’t know whether the nuns had hair but we knew all about what they wore under their habits. We even discussed whether we had to confess that we looked at the nun’s clothesline and decided by a unanimous vote that we didn’t. There was no commandment against looking at clothes drying.

Let me tell you, you just can’t trust sweet little boys no matter how much you think you can. : )


LOL. I just love this little story. I would have never guessed such a thing by your innocent Seekerville picture. ;)

karenk said...

a wonderful posting...congratulations, ann

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks for popping in Patti Jo, Whitney, and Karen!

Blessings. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh my goodness. I had a test for what Jeanne said earlier "Trust God" I lost my cell phone and without it can't get on the Internet--or do anything for that matter--like call and let someone know.

Oh my. I felt sooooo badly. And on my blog day no less.

Which made me doubly thankful that Ann was here today to cover bases. THANK YOU ANN.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Joanne,

Thanks so much for stopping by today and reading and commenting! Sorry it took me all day to catch up with you!

XXXOOO!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Sandra,

I'm sooo glad you found your phone! I lose things all the time. My favorite prayer is, "Lord, YOU know where it is. Just tell ME!"

I had so much fun gabbing all day. :)I think I had enough hot air for the both of us. Ha ha!

Sandra Leesmith said...

What a blessing it has been to read these comments. I'm laughing and crying at your sweetness.

And naughtiness. My, my Mr. Vince.

You know, the naughty boys were always my favorite students when I was a teacher. The day was never boring and always fun. LOL

I can imagine the nuns at your school had hair--Gray hair. LOL

Sandra Leesmith said...

Ann, I was saying that prayer all day. But you know I wasn't doing what you were talking about in this post.

I was so busy LOOKING that I didn't sit still and LISTEN. Would have found it much sooner. sigh

But it has been fun reading your comments. I've learned a lot about you. Like you have a lemon tree. Want to trade?

Vince said...

Hi Virginia et al:

I was a very good kid. I was even an altar boy for a short time. (We moved.) I even helped serve mass in Notre Dame Cathedral in South Bend. I was accepted to the seminary high school on the Notre Dame campus, since closed, but discovered girls that summer and decided not to become a priest. I really knew my Latin and even took it in college for the enjoyment. But I was still a boy. That was the point of the story.

BTW: If you don’t have any Catholic guilt, you probably didn’t have Jesuits. : )

Vince

Sandra Leesmith said...

So those of you drooling over the orange bread- watch for it at Yankee Belle Cafe. Ruthy said she would post it in January.

woo hoooo

Sandra Leesmith said...

My DH grew up Catholic also. Hence my becoming a Catholic. He has stories also but I don't think they rap knuckles anymore. His were raw.
All boy-Vince.

He doesn't have guilt either. He and Virginia could be related. Or went to the same school. So funny.


Sandra Leesmith said...

There were so many sweet and encouraging comments about missing the folks. Thanks Patti Jo and the rest of you.

Sandra Leesmith said...

VIRGINIA Your book arrived today. I'm soo excited.

Vince said...

Hi Ann:

I just read your, “E-mail from God”, loved your voice, which is unique and very well 5-sensed. I could not only feel what you were saying I also felt that I was there with you. I don’t know what your message is going to be but I sure enjoy your delivery. I’m also happy that I am starting your three books with the first one in time. I like doing that.


I quickly opened “Avra’s God” to see if you put the “E-mail from God” in a “Dear Reader” section in front of or back of your book. I didn’t find it. I really think you should include this because it creates a very strong association with the author. Ruth Logan Herne, in her “His Mistletoe Family” has such a strong “Dear Reader” section that I printed it at the start of my review on Amazon. Knowing this about an author enhances the reading experience.

I also appreciate how you listed your editor, artist, and proof reader at the front of “Avra’s God”. I may very well be contacting them for a book I am working on right now.

I’m so glad you came by today and I found out more about you and your work.

Vince

Mary Preston said...

I found so much to enjoy about this post thank you.

Pam Hillman said...

A day late, but I actually slowed down and read this post very carefully.

As someone who gets a little…uh…obsessed with writing talk, promotion, all about ME, I needed this big time.

REALLY big time.

Sarah said...

I would love to win a copy of The Prince of Victory.
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
Sarah Richmond
sarahrichmond.12@gmail.com

Ann Lee Miller said...

Mary Preston, Pam, and Sarah,

Thanks so much for sticking your head through the door to say hello! Lovely to meet you.

Blessings, girls!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Vince,

T!hanks for the great "Dear Reader" idea. It never would have occurred to me if you hadn't mentioned it.

I'm a fan of your posts, too, so I'm looking forward to reading you!

When my family moved, there wasn't a Catholic high school in our new town. Otherwise, I might--horrors--have attended an all-girls Catholic high school in Miami like one of my friends did.

I considered becoming a nun, but the sisters did not encourage me. I think they read "boys" printed across my pupils.

shelia said...

I'm not a writer but I feel God guiding me every day where he wants me to be to help others