Thursday, August 22, 2013

Five Ways to Discover Your Unique Voice with Guest Barbara Scott

Voice seems to be the most difficult concept for writers to grasp. Yet just as each of you has a distinct set of fingerprints, you also have a unique voice.

Then why do writers cry, “I don’t know what voice is?” Why does one book sound exactly like another in the same category? Why do editors pull out their hair reading proposal after proposal looking for a unique voice?

It’s simple, my dear Watson. You have a voice, but you’ve played nice for so long with your smiling face secured firmly in place that you don’t know who you are. To express your voice, you need to “know thyself.” Hmmm. Where have I heard that before? 

Voice expresses your unique personality. To find it, you must dig deep into the corners of your soul and dredge up the pain and sorrow you’ve tried so hard to forget. You must remember the joys of your childhood and the quality of the air—the scents, the sounds, the sights. If someone were to ask you to describe who you really are, would you tell them, or would you make nice and not admit to your true self?

“But, what if no one likes the real me,” you ask. We all feel that way. Be true to the person you were designed to be or you’ll never achieve happiness or success—not in the financial sense, but rather in finding peace by embracing your real voice.

Here are five ways to discover your unique voice:

1.    Chose different words and cast about for a unique topic to write about than the author who’s written a best-seller. Populate your setting with characters we’ve never met. Take us to places we’ve never been. We don’t need another Karen Kingsbury. We need you. Karen is popular because—you guessed it—she has a unique voice. Let your personality shine through in what you write.

2.    Find your passion. Don’t write another mediocre romance just because you can. If you love romance novels, discover your niche. Sandra D. Bricker, who is brilliant and funny, found her voice in her distinctive style of humor. Read and laugh your way through Always the Baker, Never the Bride or If the Shoe Fits and you’ll understand. She chose to write romantic comedy.

3.    Express honest emotions. There’s nothing worse than reading a book that manipulates your emotions. However, if those emotions flow out of the wellspring of your author’s heart—your experiences—they will touch your readers’ souls.

4.    Communicate your stories with authenticity—the truth of who you are. Why do you think politicians are unpopular? Because politicians all sound alike and promise voters the same things. Voters have a difficult time discerning who is a liar and who is telling the truth. Inspire readers with the truth. Fiction can be more real than life.

5.    Spend time daydreaming and remembering your life experiences. Your personality was established by the age of five. Can you remember who you were then? Do you let your individuality shine through in your narrative, dialogue, and characters? Would anyone know who you are by reading what you write?

You have a voice. Use it. At first it may be painful and sound like rusty pipes to your ears, but you’ll get used to it. 

Have you discovered your writing voice yet?

Barbara Scott has more than thirty years of publishing experience, ranging from newspapers and magazines to Christian books. As a senior acquisitions editor, she is credited for kicking off a well-rounded series of bestselling YA novels at Zondervan and quality, highly reviewed novels at Abingdon Press. Barbara worked with both fiction and nonfiction authors and sold their work to numerous publishers while acting as a literary agent for WordServe Literary Group. She also is a published author, and her educational background includes a M.A. and a B.A. in English. Currently, she is working as a freelance editor for both individuals and publishers.

You can find Barbara on Facebook and on Twitter: @BarbaraScott01

In honor of Barbara's visit today, we're giving away a copy of James Scott Bell's Self-Publishing ATTACK! for Kindle. Comment today for a chance. Winner Announced in the Weekend Edition. 

*This is intended as a fun giveaway and in no way has been endorsed or not endorsed by our guest.


  1. Your politician comment made me think of one I thought truly had a different voice--Ron Paul. And he had a camp of totally hate or totally love. Didn't seem at all like anyone sat on the fence with him.

    So it is with voice, I think. You can do the sound like "everyone else" and you're meh, but if you do decide to stick out with your voice, you're probably going to end up with both super fans, and super haters.

    And this quote:"Be true to the person you were designed to be or you’ll never achieve happiness or success—not in the financial sense, but rather in finding peace by embracing your real voice." Though Ron Paul lost, I just have this feeling he is totally happy with himself for saying what he wanted to say no matter the pressure even though he didn't achieve "success."

    Or maybe I'm just pulling the analogy too far, but Ron Paul definitely had a "voice" as you describe.

    I do think in the beginning I "lost voice" some in learning the rules. But once I figured out the rules, then I could go back and rewrite in my voice. Once the rule use becomes instinctive and you can wield it when needed or not, then it's easier to know you're voice....I think so anyway. I think discovering voice is part of the thought behind needing to write 1 million words or whatever that quote is....

  2. Welcome Barbara! So great to have you back in Seekerville with your newest hat on.

    Freelance Editor!

  3. Melissa, you are so spot on. I think that when I go out and look at reviews, the authors with voice are the ones who have 5, 4,3, 2 and 1 star reviews. Their voice, their story resonates differently with readers. That's a good thing.

    It can be much too easy to loose your voice as a writer. Or have it stolen.

  4. Hi Barbara:

    I think you have a very interesting psychological view of voice. This view holds that voice is an expression of our true and inner self and that it is something that we must find and have the courage to bring to the surface. Some compare this view of voice to having individual finger prints.

    I have a somewhat different view of voice. I call it a constructive view. Under this theory we each build our own voice partially with what we already have but also with outside elements we add to our voice. We are like a rock band trying to find its 'sound'. The members know that if they don’t sound unique, in a favorable way, they will go nowhere.

    The sound isn’t really 'there' to be found like a lost key. The sound is something they are going to try and create. They may practice for years in garages trying to find their sound. Really they are trying to create a sound.

    I think we are not only reaching down to pull something out of our subconscious to discover our voice; we are also reaching out to pull in elements from the environment as an attempt to build our voice to the point where we have found our sound.

    I believe voices get built by astute writers. I have seen Janet Evanovich’s voice evolve with each Stephanie Plum novel. M.C. Beaton’s “Hamish Macbeth” voice is quite different from her “Agatha Raisin” voice. I also think Lilian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who…” series of books demonstrates the author’s voice being perfected with each book. This is very noticeable if you read book One and Two and then jump to book Twenty or Twenty one.

    I see voice as being dynamic and changeable. It’s not like a fingerprint – something we are born with and which is unchangeable.

    The psychological view of voice is fine and important but I see it as being just half the equation. The other half is what we each can do to create the kind of voice our type of writing would most benefit by having.

    This reminds me of the story of two vultures who were perched on a high wire about eighteen miles west of Glendale, Arizona. One said to the other: “You know George, we don’t have to wait to find something that died. We could go out and kill something ourselves.”

    Writers can search to find their voices within themselves but they can also go out and create it as well.

    Giving writers more options in creating their individual voices may well hasten the day when their voices are found and perfected.


    P.S. I’d love the James Scott Bell book – his live seminar teaching voice is one of the best I’ve ever heard. No power point, no notes, just spellbinding writing information.

  5. Hi Barbara! Great post!

    I love this post. I love dissecting the idea of 'voice', how it's lost and found and who has it (or doesn't).

    Of course, we don't have a list of those without a 'voice' because we've forgotten them. :P
    I'm taking a class, starting next month (for six months) with Franny Billingsley, who was nominated for a National Book Award for CHIME. Talk about voice. She said it took her seven years to write that book, and most of it was finding the right words, for the right places. WOW.

  6. Agreeing with Vince, here.

    "I see voice as being dynamic and changeable. It’s not like a fingerprint – something we are born with and which is unchangeable."

    (I've read all those examples he gives, and I usually forget that MC Beaton is the author of both of those series! And don't you think Evanovich's voice is different for her Plum Lucky, etc. series? Similar, but different.

    Vince, you mentioned a change between one or two and number twenty in her series, but she also stopped working with her editor Jennifer Enderlin, when Janet asked for that 50 Million advance and left St. Martin's Press. I think they were a great team.

    As for flexible, I think of James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, and how he writes in 1st POV of a 15 year old girl, and it works. His other nvels have adult voices, and they sound right.

    My favorite 'voices' in fiction: Alan Bradley (12 year old protagonist in a murder mystery series), Jonathan Stroud (10,000 year old genie in the Bartimeaus series), Scott Westerfeld for two (a teenage prince in Leviathan, a steampunk fantasy) AND (a teenage girl in Pretties/Uglies/Specials, a dystopian series.
    These writers have voice, but they seem to be able to change it at will. And your characters need to change, too, I guess, so being flexible is important.

  7. Welcome, Barbara!

    Looks like a good discussion is brewing about voice. Is it our internal dialogue as writers? Does that dialogue change depending on the type of book we write? Does an element of our own POV remains no matter which character is speaking in our heads?

    And doesn't sentence structure have something to do with voice? I write a certain way with my suspense stories. When I used to freelance, my articles about fine china and lace tablecloths for women's magazines had a more flowing, lyrical quality.

    The coffee's hot. I'm sipping as I ponder voice.

    Always good to have you join us in Seekerville, Barbara!

  8. Welcome Barbara!

    I'm so glad you stopped by today. Thanks for sharing about voice. It's kinda elusive.

    When working in a critique group I try not to make comments that hurt a writer's voice.
    I agree with Melissa, learning the "rules" can shake your voice.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  9. Barbara!!!! Welcome back to Seekerville, and huzzah to you for doing free-lance work!!!!

    Do you know how happy that makes a bunch of us, to know there's a free-lancer out there of your caliber????

    Someone who not only knows but loves inspy and promotes it? Someone who knows the inside and outside of CBA publishing????

    What a wonderful thing that is!

    Okay, I'm going to get down to brass tacks and ask the question so many will choke on... can you give us a rate range of what you charge for editing a manuscript?

    Now, to voice... I agree with Vince mostly... but not completely because I see the "Cat" books like a TV series.

    You start at one end of the spectrum and develop your characters along the way, and in doing that, their voice (and yours) should deepen because it's more firmly entrenched.

    When a new series begins on TV, the protagonists might be miles apart whether co-workers, competitive developers, hero/heroine, etc. The viewer watches them evolve, week by week, and as you do, they change gradually.

    I see the "voice" between book 1 of a series and book 8 or 12 or 20 as moving the same way.

    Where's Julie Hilton Steele? That young rascal and I have had talks about voice... I've chatted about this with Pepper Basham, too... And probably with just about anyone who will listen!!!

    You poor, poor people! Just tell me to hush up and move on!

    Coffee!!!! I brought Coffee!!! and creamer, and flavored syrups, and whipped cream... It's not Friday, but it's ALMOST FRIDAY and that's gotta count for something, right?

  10. I’m gonna agree with the fingerprint philosophy. :)

    I have to know my character’s voice before I write in their POV, but the words I choose are mine. It isn’t possible to show all thoughts and feelings 24hrs of my character’s day. The scenes I choose. The story line is all part of my voice.

    Like Melissa, I lost my voice learning the rules. But after years of writing, its instinctive. Readers either love my book or hate it. Maybe it’s because I voted for Ron Paul. Lol!

    Barbara, I’m with Ruthy. I would love to know your rates.

  11. I am definitely working on it. I discovered my biggest mistake was editing the voice out of my manuscript. The writer took over from the storyteller.

    I am doing as Melissa mentioned, adding it back in.

    Melissa, I am currently reading The Book Thief and that is definitely a case where both voice and writing style have earned lovers and haters. Some of it because it breaks rules!

    Peace, Julie

  12. Ruthy, believe me, I'm here!!!!!

    Peace, Julie

  13. Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara!!! "Voice" -- such a hard thing to explain and for new writers to get their heads around. I was recently chatting with a writer friend who'd written a lot in college, then set it aside for day job and family obligations for a lot of years. In discussing "voice," I told him I'd pulled out some of the stories I'd started in my early 20's and was surprised that while the writing was relatively amateurish, the underlying elements of my "voice" were already evident. He pulled out some of his and found, too, that his fledgling voice was there. We found it fascinating that, even after all these years, we could "hear" ourselves in those earliest efforts.

  14. Hello Barbara,

    I jokingly call myself the "Voice Killer" because I teach other people how to subdue their voices in my day job. So it took me some time to figure out that I needed to do the reverse for my fiction writing and I try to look at my stories as a vacation from work. Thank you so much for your great reminders today!


  15. Hi BARBARA, Welcome to Seekerville and what a great subject, one that has eluded me as long as I've written novels.

    I so understand the voice theory and can see it in others, but I don't really know my own voice. I suspect I hold back because I don't do some of the things you suggested like getting down deep inside myself and to the truth of who I am. Well I do, but I still protect it and shy away from exposing it. l

    Writing a novel is so like exposing oneself. You don't realize that until your first book comes out and you're terrified for people you know to read it. lol

    Thanks for sharing. I so enjoyed meeting you a couple years ago and admired what you did with Abington. (Even though you passed on my manuscript- chuckle)

    Thanks for joining us and have fun with all of this discussion.

  16. This was a great post today. As a writer who hopes she is finding her voice, I loved what you shared about expressing honest emotions. Sometimes it's a challenge to convey what is in the heart onto the page. But that is what takes a story, and a reader, deeper. Thanks for the reminder, Barbara!

  17. I found my 'real' voice when i wrote a book about the life of my son who passed away at age 24 from complications of Prader-Willi Syndrome. It was emotional, lots of tears and lol moments. It was exhausting. But it was me - the real me. Now to figure out how to make that voice louder than a whisper in my fiction writing.

  18. Barbara, a good, good post! Thank you. It's all hard, this writing, but 'voice' is the most nebulous to me.

    I agree with MELISSA about learning the rules. Once you know at least some of them, you began to relax and 'find' more of yourself.

    I think in all subjects, when we start out the learning curve can block our natural 'voice'.

  19. Welcome, Barbara! Waving to my very first editor! I learned so much from you that has helped me through every subsequent book.

    You said, "You have a voice, but you’ve played nice for so long with your smiling face secured firmly in place that you don’t know who you are."

    I think this is very true. Beginning writers can get so hung up on rules and technique--and they should while gaining mastery. But "playing nice" with the rules can drown out the writer's unique voice.

    The first time I really felt I'd found my voice was when an idea came to me in the middle of the night, and the next day I just sat down at the keyboard and let the words pour out. The story itself needed a lot of work, but my voice has never been stronger. Now, even when playing by the rules, I remember that feeling and try to allow my natural voice to come through.

  20. Voice confuses me, but I've been told I have a unique one. I'll enjoy reading the other comments about this--great topic!
    Please enter me.

  21. I believe it's the fingerprint theory too. Sure you can disguise it and manipulate it for the book, the characters but the underlying fingerprint cannot be changed.

    Here's fun. Pick any Seeker post (of the 13 of us). Can you tell whose fingerprint is on it before you read the name at the bottom. Of course.

  22. We don't generally ask rates in a public forum. But we can ask Barbara for contact information to do that privately.

    Also we can ask Barbara to share the type of freelance editing she does.

    All types or just developmental?

  23. Tina,

    'Fraid so. Or at least, that is how I've come to understand the process over the last few years since I've picked up my fiction writing again.

    So when I write my fiction, if I do the exact opposite of what I tell my students in their composition clases, my voice emerges. Oh well, I lead a double life.

    And Barbara's contact info or e-mail would be much appreciated for those of us who may need such an informed editor down the road.


  24. Ditto to Melissa and those who lost their voice due to rules. The more I concentrate on sentence structure etc the more blah my story becomes. Doesn't even sound like me.

    Appreciate the post Barbara!!!

  25. Cindy, I am so sorry for your loss. But you are correct. Loss strips away the varnish to the real stuff.

  26. I was so painfully shy at age five.

    Wow, am I supposed to go back to that?

    I don't want to, Barbara! Don't make me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It's bad enough now but I've climbed out of the worst of it.

    I was a broadcast communications major in college and I fell into it because I got a work study job in that department and was doing secretarial work. I loved the people--the radio guys were crazy. And of course it included journalism and tons of writing. In the semester of my first year doing gen eds they lured me into doing the weather on TV when they were short handed (this is a college TV station and they assured me no one was watching and you know....I'm pretty sure they were right!). And I ended up staying right there till I graduated.
    So I tell people I went to college to learn to talk.
    And I did.
    You might say I have a BS in BS.

  27. I think I now need to write a book with the title The Voice Killer. But it'll be sci/fi and there may be zombies. any resemblance to Piper will be purely coincidental.

  28. Voice is confusing. I have people say I have a distinctive voice and I have a hard time even recognizing that in myself.

    I know I'm sarcastic.

    I'm not sure where that comes from.

    I think it's from living inside my head a lot. Shy person that I am, I would be quiet and watch live move around me and make cutting mental assessments, but always silently. I do know that I say about one out of every ten things I think.

    Oh, my husband and children just have NO IDEA!!!!!

  29. Give how popular zombies are now Mary, maybe if I use a zombie angle in class, the students will probably like it! Thanks for the idea.....:)

  30. Cindy Regnier what a hard thing to go through. God bless you for finding the courage to write about it. Did it help you? Did putting it on paper lift some of the burden off your heart?
    Or maybe nothing can do that?

    I find sometimes that when somethings really weighing me down, if I write it out, it seems to sort of, at least somewhat, transfer from me to the page and that helps me release it a bit.

    Of course none of my experiences come close to yours, Cindy. God bless you.

  31. Mary, you're our Official Seekerville Weather Woman!

  32. Cindy, so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you could tell his story.

  33. Hi everyone!

    Sorry I'm late to the party. My husband and I take a long walk in the morning and pray. It's a great way to start the day!

    I'll read all your posts now and comment as I can.


  34. Tina, you're so right about the blog posts. I can usually identify who penned the piece even without glancing at the name.

  35. Ruth brought out an important point about voice when she mentioned how voice changes in a tv series when viewers get to know the characters as the series progresses.

    This brings up the question of how much of voice is determined by the reader’s ear and not the author’s writing?

    Think about listening to a music genre for the first time – for example, classical or country music. At first it may seem that all the music sounds the same. Then, if one sticks with it, after a time the individual voices come out of the general genre sound and take on individuality.

    We may even come to wonder how we could have ever thoguht that Willie Nelson soundsed like Tobie Keith.

    Do readers have to learn to ‘hear’ our voice? Are different readers hearing many different voices when they read the same pages in our books? Will our voice have changed if the reader reads the same book a year later?

    Do we even have a common view of how to define voice? Socrates would always make people define their terms before he would begin to argue a philosophical point. Usually they could not do it. Every definition had flaws and exceptions.For example, in one dialogue no one could seem to agree what was meant by ‘justice’.

    Is anyone brave enough to offer a clear and concise definition of what a writer’s voice is? Not me. I like to take Socrates’ part. : )


    Tina: Are you talking about voice or personality combined with typography? Don’t forget that Audra will sometimes use ‘Oy vey’ . And is talking about the Yankees voice or personality? Until we have a clear definition of voice we may all be subject to equivocation and sometimes be talking at cross purposes.

  36. Melissa, I think you came up with a great example in Ron Paul. I've never read his writings, but if people feel free to express themselves in front of others, they usually are uninhibited writers.

    Glad to be back in Seekerville this morning. Even when I was an acquisitions editor and an agent, I always had my hand in editing manuscripts. Most editors have a sideline business.

    As for my rates, it depends on what type of editing you would like me to do. Contact me at for more information. Go to to see some of my recommendations.

    Now on to other questions, but first, is anyone serving virtual grande mochas today? LOL

  37. Voice is natural, but we subvert it by getting overly concerned about rules or about whether we are expressing something in a way that appeals to readers.

    That becomes an issue of writer confidence when we pay too much attention to too many other "voices" from well-intended writers and contest judges. You can't please them all and still know your story!

    I too lost my writer's voice some years ago and found it again writing articles in a non-fiction blog. Go figure!

    Barbara is right--write something a little different than you normally or create a character you never would have written about.
    Writing something fresh may help you lose the anxiety about the "rules" and allow you to find or re-find your voice.

  38. Vince,

    Thanks for adding to the discussion on voice! It's true that we can "construct" a different voice, but first I think we need to discover what it is. That comes with studying our craft. My voice has grown stronger over the years, because I've read other writers, sat through dozens of workshops, and read numerous books on writing.
    I like your example of the band. It made me think of the Beatles. John Lennon and Paul McCartney both had strong voices, but when you combined them, it was magic.

  39. Wait just a minute there Vince. Now you are treading on sacred ground. Willie Nelson and Toby Keith????

  40. Barbara! A walking prayer time. That sounds absolutely amazing!

  41. An interesting comment was made about the relationship of an editor and an author. Editors...good ones...strengthen an author's voice. One of the writers who stops by my Facebook page said a good editor "weeds the garden without destroying the plants." Such a great visual of what we do! As for the Cat Who...books, I've read all of them and think she lost some of her voice as the series progressed. Sometimes editors can be so intimidated by an author's fame that the writer doesn't receive the same kind of care. I'm also a fan of M.C. Beaton and love both series, but I must admit I love Agatha Raisin the most. Hamish is a bit distant and self-absorbed. What do you think?

  42. I've found writing "rules" vary from teacher to teacher. We all have our pet peeves, but if you try to correct every grammar error, you can ruin a perfectly good sentence...and your voice.

  43. I've received manuscripts that followed all the rules, but they were boring. So many elements make up this elusive skill called voice. A fresh voice will cause an editor to swoon.

  44. Mary Connealy, I LOVE your voice. Your characters make me laugh out loud at times. That's a good thing! Your heroines are sassy. :)

  45. Often zealous critique partners and contest judges can hurt a writer's voice...but only if the writer gives them permission to take over the work.

  46. Debby,you are so right about contest judges and critique "partners." Know thyself and you won't be knocked off thy feet by off-the-wall comments. In short, know your voice and rebel when someone is editing you to sound like themselves.

  47. Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara. I'm in awe of your impressive career in publishing!

    Thanks for the excellent tips on releasing our voice! I was struck by your encouragement to inspire readers with the truth. Our premises, our characters and the emotions they stir will ring with truth when writers are brave enough to be real on the page. Our experiences impact who we are. Our voices reflect that, perhaps not exactly the same as in a fingerprint, but much the same.

    I think of Willie Nelson's voice. He has the same gravely, emotional sound, but one of his songs touches me most: You're Always on my Mind. The words of that song must've impacted Willie greatly and the emotion they created came out in his voice.

    I agree with Vince that we can improve our voice, but not totally create it. A writer can develop techiques like using details to create emotion in the reader. But those details might not work if the writer doesn't draw upon her experiences or hasn't learned to convey that emotion through word choice.


  48. Janet, thanks for stopping by! I say my resume is only a hint to how old I am. LOL I can't believe I'm the same person who worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. Thank goodness we grow and change from our infancy as twenty-somethings. No offense to those in their twenties. Some naturally find their voices early, but I'm in the group of late bloomers. It took many trips on the potter's wheel to make me the person I am today. I love to encourage and inspire writers to achieve their potential.

  49. Good morning, Barbara! /waving to my very first agent!/

    I agree with almost everything that's been said this morning - voice is so elusive, and it's easy for a new writer to lose her voice trying to please all the contest judges and critics.

    My voice came out of hiding when I decided to stop worrying about it. It hides under the veneer of self-consciousness, but when you remove that, your voice can emerge.

    And I still think editors are super-heroes :) I loved the comment about weeding the garden...a great visual of what a good editor does.

  50. Good morning, Jan! I'm convinced the truth about voice is found somewhere between Vince's view and my own. Our life experiences alter the way we communicate as do different assignments. We write fiction in one way and non-fiction in another, but both inform the outcome. I think of the Scripture that says to "guard your heart." When we stop trying to please everyone who has an opinion about our work, we will find who we are and have the courage to work on constructing a strong voice. It's two sides of one coin.

  51. Hi Barbara:

    M. C. Beaton is very interesting to me. She was my all time favorite Regency romance author as Marion Chesney. She could write a 300 page complicated and intriguing story in just 150 pages. By the time I read all her, “The Daughters of Mannerling” romances I was shaking my head wondering why she wrote romances. Her voice was screaming out to write mysteries.

    You can imagine my surprise when I found out she was M. C. Beaton. It was like she and the rest of the world finding out that she was a beautiful swan! The UK loves her. I think hers was an example of a voice in search of a genre.

    I love Hamish Macbeth and so does my older brother who would not read women authors until I turned him on to Hamish. I never liked Agatha but my wife likes her best. My brother also likes Agatha best! What a literary betrayal. He went and found out about Agatha on his own.

    M.C. Beaton is a sociologist (which you may have to be to be a success writing Regency romances) and I like the society much better in Hamish’s world than the one in Agatha’s.

    This brings up another question: Do we have the right voice for the genre or subgenre we are writing in?

    BTW: I need a experienced nonfiction freelance editor for a series of writing books. Is your nonfiction experience in editing writing books? That would be so perfect.


    P.S. Tina: Nobody likes Willie Nelson more than I do. I have followed his career since his first album in which he was better dressed than Lyle Lovett and twice as smooth sounding as Jim Reeves. I even went to his 4th of July concert in Tulsa when it was 105 degrees! I must say I prefer seeing Willie indoors where it is a little more chilly. : )

  52. Hi Vince,

    Your post proves that every author has an audience. How fortunate you are to have both Agatha and Hamish fans in your circle. ;-) M.C. Beaton is an amazing author, but I didn't know she was a sociologist. I did try to read one of her romances once, but couldn't get into it. I think you're right that her voice better fits mysteries. Sometimes it takes trying a different genre to know where we belong.

    I've edited both fiction and non-fiction. The only writing book I've edited was published as an e-book. E-mail me at, and we'll talk!

  53. Barbara, I'm a long, long way from my twenties, but I'm still spinning on the Potter's wheel, being shaped my His hands.


  54. Janet, I suppose He'll continue to shape us for as long as we live.

  55. BARBARA, WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE!!! Sooooo great to see you here and, WOW ... what a GREAT post!!

    I honestly don't think I remember a Seeker post about finding one's voice before, so EXCELLENT topic and one on which I TOTALLY agree!!

    You said, "Be true to the person you were designed to be or you’ll never achieve happiness or success—not in the financial sense, but rather in finding peace by embracing your real voice."

    AMEN AND AMEN!!! I have JUST this year come to the place where I am finally comfortable and accepting of my voice as it is, crazy or not, and it is SUCH a freedom, isn't it?? Whether one sells tons of books or not, being totally who you are in your writing blesses both God and the author.


  56. Barbara, thanks so much. I really appreciate the kind words.
    Can sarcasm be a voice? That may be mine.

  57. Julie, thank you for the warm welcome! That's amazing that you have finally embraced your voice after writing so many books. Just think about what new works you have waiting in the wings to write. Go forth and bless more readers!

  58. Mary, I definitely think voice involves tone. Your's comes through loud and clear.

  59. Mary, I tend to be sarcastic in my writing--and in reality, which can get me in trouble. Ha!--so no wonder I love your books so much!

  60. I had no idea M.C. Beaton also wrote regency.

    I wonder if you, Barbara, would agree, that writing within certain individual and unique publishing line guidelines can be voice intrusive.

  61. Mary Connealy - Thanks for your kind words. Finding the courage to write it was the hard part. I didn't want to come front and center with all those painful memories. But, It did help to write about it. And now all those brutally honest and wonderful memories are preserved for my family and anyone else who can benefit from what I wrote - not just stuffed away inside of me. God has and will continue to use it for His good purposes.

  62. Yes, Tina, I agree. Some publishers expect that every book follow a prescribed plot course, which limits an author's choices. However, I've seen authors write several successful novels for such companies and then break out to publish with companies who allow an author's voice to flourish. The discipline you gain with one publisher can serve you well later.

  63. Yes. Exactly. I totally agree. There is also cumulative effect in publishing and much to be learned from each editor you are fortunate to work with.

  64. Welcome back, Barbara! This is such a great post. I love the ways you listed to try to find your voice.

    According to my husband's aunt, I found my voice writing my funny annual Christmas letter many years ago (before I even wrote, when I had no idea what voice was). :)

    And that's a good reminder to me to keep humor in my stories!

  65. Cindy R., I'm so sorry for your loss. You know, the pain you shared in that story will also be part of your voice in other stories. You'll show a compassion for people who are hurting. Your readers will feel that even when you have totally different plots or types of stories.

  66. BTW (off topic here)...

    I found my copy of Woman's World today, the one with Tina's story in it! (It's the edition with Dr. Oz on the cover). Yay!

    Now, back to voice...

  67. Very true, Missy. Cindy will be able to touch hearts and heal with her empathy.

  68. M.C. Beaton's regency romances? now I have to go looking!

    I found something I'd written 15-20 years ago and was dumbstruck about how it sounded like what I was writing now. I couldn't have missed it. I don't mean my craft hasn't improved (Oh Please God!) but it felt like it was voice-- Perhaps a bit like Rand Paul. Given those love it/hate it contest entries and reviewers I'm sure it's not for everybody.

    Fascinating discussion. Thank you Barbara!!

  69. Thanks for stopping by, Missy! You've come a long way from your Christmas letter days. :)

  70. Debra, it's amazing how our voice comes through in early writing. The craft may not be there, but our voice shines through. I need to dig out some of those romances and fix them. LOL

  71. I've bought the last two WW issues, but missed the one that came out today! First thing tomorrow, I'm heading to the store!

    I know Tina's story is simply delightful!

  72. Thanks for the reminder about being true to our Voice. I think my mom always referred to it as finding how God wired you and then following it. She was talking about my life path - but your post sure sounds the same to me.

    Thanks for the great list to check to help preserve voice. Include me in the draw please.

  73. Crazy work day today, but so glad to be back and see one of my favorite peeps again!!!!

    Hey, Barb, fun day!!!! I'm sipping a diet Snapple, we're expecting rainstorms and I'm busily writing an August in Big Sky Country book so that's PERFECT for this time of year, right??? Suhweeeet!

    Gotta go check comments and make sure youse were all nice to Barb because she's about the nicest thing ever!

  74. Okay, I don't know how that Blodgett woman got in here, she doesn't even have a TICKET!!!!!


    Cindy, I agree... the slapdowns of life are what make us emotionally vulnerable... and plausible to readers. Folks who've touched the hem of the garment have a lot of heart to wear on their sleeves, right?

    So when you tap into that emotion of loss and the elation of life, the appreciation for each day dawning, then you've taken that tragedy and turned it into life-giving water. The hope for others.

    Barbara, I cannot believe no one came through with a mocha of any kind for you!!!! GRRRRRR.

    I know it's kind of late, but I think a nice mocha now (cold or hot???) would be just the ticket because there is nothing like sleep in my future for a while!

    And, interesting note: I met a real-life animal rescuer today... With a Great Horned Owl, a blue heron, two little guinea pigs someone dropped off in a school yard, and 7 baby squirrels....

    Guess what's going in a future Ruthy-book????? :)

  75. Does Barbara drink Mocha? I think not. She looks like a tea gal to me. Lot's of tea on the sidebar along with Italian cookies.

  76. Well, it's late and I'm toddling off to bed. I'm an early bird kind of girl. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to some brainstorming with a gal pal AND a grande skinny mocha. Okay, I confess. I'd drink tea or a diet Snapple as long as I had good friends and friendly conversation. Italian cookies, huh? Hmmm...I could be persuaded. Anyway, night everybody. Sweet dreams!

  77. TINA

    the older I get - the smarter my mom is. she's starting to look like a super genius 'round our house. *heh*

  78. Ruthy wins! She is a mocha gals. HA!!!

    Thanks for spending the day with us, Barbara.

  79. Barbara, what fun this was! Thank you!!!!