Monday, June 9, 2014

Will I ever feel like a “Real” Writer? with Alison Stone

Will I ever feel like a “Real” Writer?

This morning I went to the bank to make a deposit. The teller was finishing up the transaction when she squinted at her screen and said, “Oh, I need to update your profile. Where do you work?”
“I’m self-employed,” I answered, always feeling like it’s a trick question.
She looked up from her screen. “What do you do?”
For some inexplicable reason, my heart races in my ears every time someone asks me this question. Do I mumble something about having an engineering degree, but I’ve been home with the kids for 15 years and now I write? No, too long. I decide to go for the direct answer: “I’m an author.” Yet, the words feel funny on my lips.
Interest sparks in her eyes. “Really? What do you write?”
“I write romantic suspense for Harlequin.”
The teller angles her head and studies me. “Do you ever get writer’s block?” 
I glance behind me, sure the customers in line are growing impatient, but there is no one in line.
I shrug. “The worst problem is procrastination, like running to the bank when I’m supposed to be writing.”
She laughs. I’ve always been great with humor, but telling people I’m a writer. Not so much.
Why is that?
When I decided I wanted to become an engineer, I had no problem telling people I’m going to school for engineering. When I was a young professional, I told people I worked for General Motors without missing a beat. Was it because engineering and corporations are more concrete? People can relate to that? Everyone has a job, right? How many people sit at home in yoga pants writing novels?
Yet, when I do own up to my new career, people are inevitably fascinated. When I was an engineer, I never had a bank teller ask me eagerly how I conducted efficiency studies on the manufacturing floor. Yawn.
Is my hesitation to tell people I’m a writer due to my own insecurities?

For over ten years, I taught myself how to write a novel. (Can’t say I took any creative writing classes at Georgia Tech!) I was a closet writer. Only my husband and my close friends knew I wrote. Only my husband knew how much I wrote. I think my friends thought it was a hobby, like cross stich or putting together puzzles. By not sharing my writing, I think I was trying to protect myself from having to share what I thought would be my inevitable failure.
During this long journey, I’d look up the biographies of other writers and lament every time an author’s bio read something like this: I’ve been reading novels since age four and I penned my own at age eight. I have a degree in English and a Masters in Creative Writing.
Groan.  I wanted a Masters in Creative Writing. I didn’t even read novels for fun until after I graduated from college. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone.) How did I ever expect to be a writer when I took calculus, physics, and thermodynamics?  And we all know that writers are terrible at math. (I only say this because many seem to lament their math skills as much as I lament my lack of formal training for “authordom.”) See, I’m good at math.  Does this mean I’m a terrible writer? A fraud?
Why do I think I can be a writer? This was the constant refrain running through my head on my long journey to publication. These doubts slowed my progress. It was easier to talk myself into taking a night off from writing if I didn’t think I was going to be successful anyway.
Finally, finally in 2011, I sold two sweet romantic suspense novels to Samhain Publishing. A year later I sold my first book to Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense. To date, I have four books contracted by Harlequin. Yet, I still don’t feel like a “real writer.”
I get nervous when a fellow writer asks me to critique her work. Does she really value my opinion? I sweated it out when the wonderful Missy Tippens invited me to stop by Seekerville. How can I write a better post on the topic of plotting, or creating villains, or layering my work when authors more knowledgeable than I have already done so?
Recently, a friend introduced me by saying, “This is my friend, the writer.”
I smiled and shrugged it off and she said, “You never tell people you’re a writer, so I have to tell them for you.”
Her words hit home.

I am a writer. Aren’t I?
Funny thing is, I’m not a wallflower. If you met me in person you’d consider me outgoing and as one friend once told me at an RWA conference, “Wow, you really know how to work a room!”
Just goes to show you that what’s on the inside doesn’t always match the outside.
If you’re experiencing similar doubts when it comes to your writing, here are some suggestions:

1)    Repeat this phrase over and over (and I apologize for paraphrasing): I wouldn’t have the desire to write if God hadn’t given me a talent to write. I truly believe this. When the seed of an idea to try my hand at writing was planted in my brain, it wouldn’t have taken root if God hadn’t already blessed me with some innate ability.  
2)    Educate yourself. I read a gazillion (there’s my math coming into play!) craft books and have taken numerous online workshops. Ask authors you respect what craft books or workshops they recommend. Check out the wonderful workshops advertised on this blog.
3)    Read. Read across genres. Decide what you like and what you don’t like and why? Sometimes knowing why you don’t like something goes a long way to improving your craft.
4)    Write. Writing is hard. Writing when you doubt you’re a real writer is even harder. But if you write, even if you never get published, you ARE A WRITER. The sense of accomplishment from tackling the blank page is awesome.
5)    Network. Whether it’s a local writers’ group or online writer friends. You won’t feel so lonely and it’s great to have someone who understands the crazy ups and downs we writers (yes, WE WRITERS) experience.
6)    Focus on what you can control. Whether you are published or on the journey toward publication, don’t get caught up in things that are out of your control. For example, shake off the bad review, the rejection, or the poor sales. Instead focus on what you can truly control: writing the next best book you can.

photo credit: Crestock/creatista

I share this story with you to reassure you that no matter where you are on your writing journey, it’s normal to have doubts and insecurities. But we must not let them stop us from writing.  Stop us from moving forward. Stop us from achieving our dreams.
While I was mulling this post over, a quote popped up on my Facebook feed. I believe we receive messages right when we need them most:
The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.”― Jaggi Vasudev
Perhaps this fear, this uncertainty, this “wondering” is what drives up to keep improving. This doesn’t automatically change when you sign your first contract or self-publish your first book. It takes time.
How much time?
I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, I’ll be writing the best book I know how.

Have you experienced similar feelings? How have you overcome them? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section. I’ll be giving away a digital copy (Amazon or Barnes and Noble / US only) of Plain Pursuit, my first Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, to one random person who comments.
Thanks for stopping by! ~ Alison

Bio: Alison Stone left Buffalo, New York and headed a thousand miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but true love brought her back North.

After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children's books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children's book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.

Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book—or writing one.

Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children's schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.

Alison can be found on Facebook at Her website is Her twitter handle is @Alison_Stone.
Latest release from Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense (inspirational fiction)

Researcher Dr. Lily McAllister has dedicated her life to finding a cure for a family disease and now, steps away from a promising new treatment, Lily is attacked. Only the training of army physician James O'Reilly can save her. As the would-be CEO of his family's pharmaceutical company, James's secret dream is to reenlist. But he can't leave Lily with a bull's-eye on her back. Nor can he stay and stop her from pursuing her goal. No one can, including the stalker who shadows her every move. Still, James has lost too many people he's loved—and this time he refuses to lose Lily.


  1. I guess I'm a writer after reading this post. Been writing since high school and no one knows. I also understand the math, studying for my BA in accounting but rather do something with writing. But God has me right where I need to be.

  2. I love math! Algebra is fun! I have an English degree, mainly taught English as a second language and took over an ESL Algebra class one semester and by golly, I soooo should have gotten a math degree instead. Teaching math was so much more fun than teaching English! Started studying for my Math Praxis so I could teach math instead, but was blessed with a baby and my stay-at-home mom dream instead. And then, got bored with diapers and housecleaning, so started writing. :)

    Math loving writers, unite!

    I still have all the Math books I bought to study for my Praxis which maybe I'll do for fun some day. Can't wait until homeschool high school comes about and I can teach Algebra and Trig!

    1. Melissa, you'll be a great high school homework mom! I'm afraid my usefulness ran out when the kids got about 9th grade. I've forgotten how to do any of it. :)

  3. Cat, I'm a former microbiologist. So we come from lots of different backgrounds. :) And I LOVED doing that.

    It took me a while to admit I was a writer. I was scared of other people's expectations, I guess.

    Great post, Alison!

  4. "By not sharing my writing, I think I was trying to protect myself from having to share what I thought would be my inevitable failure."

    I think this describes so many of us! I know I felt that way for the longest. Then I made a Facebook author page that told everyone, and that was very freeing...Except, folks thought that meant I got published and kept asking where they can buy my book, which was REALLY encouraging! But I felt bad for it and a little goofy. Hopefully it's all straightened out now. :D

    Your point #1 resonated with me. Reminds me of something I heard Don Aycock say this past weekend(paraphrased): "If God has called you to write, he has also called readers who will read your work."

  5. Natalie, the same thing happened to me. People kept asking when my book would come out. Then I had to explain about submissions and rejections. Which sometimes wasn't easy to do! :)

  6. Since I devour books, I love authors ... And I couldn't tell you if they like math or science or whatever. I do have a question that I've been pondering. Why do those authors in the secular world of general novels write inferior books? Would love to win, but surely that goes without saying

  7. Hi Alison! Loved your post!

    I think we should all start our comments like this:

    Hi, my name is... I have degrees in... I spent years... I work(ed)at... and I'm a writer.

    Just as there are all kinds of books, there are all kinds of writers. :D

    P.S. I don't call myself a writer because most people don't understand how it relates to real life and it gets really awkward. So I just say I stay at home with my kids.

    But I have a friend whose mother never used my name but always called me "that lady with all the kids". After I published my first book she started calling me "that writer friend of yours". Isn't that funny?

    We're writers. We have weird and varied backgrounds. And sometimes we live incognito.

  8. P.S. Melissa, it's odd that I just read a comment where you mention algebra because tonight my 8 year old was crowing over getting through all the levels of that dragonbox Algebra game you posted once. It was great deal and we use it all the time. Thanks again for posting it.

  9. Very encouraging post. I'm still a closet writer -- except online. :-) So that's a baby step in the right direction.

    Loved Plain Pursuit, Alison. Can't wait for your newest release and thrilled that you have more contracted. Woot!

  10. Thank you for an interesting post, Alison. We humans are a funny lot.

    I think I'll feel like a writer when I finish a full length novel. I'm just four chapters into it.:-)

    I have a way to go!!

  11. Have I experienced similar feelings? All the time. I graduated from UGA with a degree in pharmacy. If I didn't make it, my plan B was to get a business degree and work in a bookstore. Even though I talked enough to my mother about writing stories in high school, I never dared believe I could do it. (I enjoy being a pharmacist. Never a dull moment.)

    I'm excited to see Missy was a microbiologist.

    Alison, you've encouraged me today. Thanks! I love the quote also. Now I know, I'm not an idiot.

    Thanks for sharing!


    Alison, hey!!!! Thanks so much for being here, oh my stars, woman, we're practically NEIGHBORS up here in upstate NY ...

    We should have a block party! You, me, Holly Jacobs, Deb Marvin, Mia Ross, Tina-in-absentia because she MOVED AWAY.... Stephanie Karfelt... Oh my stars, we could have a good old time!

    You know, I used to feel funny saying "I'm an author", especially before I got that first contract...

    Not anymore! I think I've taken the banner of Christ on this fun mission to touch hearts and souls and I always say, "I write Christian romance for Love Inspired, it's part of Harlequin and our Christian imprint sells more books than any other line!"

    (of course the validity of that probably wavers from week to week, but in general, more LI's are sold than any other line, so I go with it!!!)

    Writing that touches hearts and souls should be talked about... not bragged on, of course, but look at that God-given talent (like you noted!!!) and just shake it out there for the world to see. God's hope/help/healing in the pages of an affordable book is a huge win/win.

    Alison! So glad you're here today!

  13. Cat B., you're a writer here, sweet thing!!!!! Are you a coffee drinker, or should I pull out the sweet tea and Coke cooler early??? Your wish is my command!

    I love math too. I love the absolutism of one right answer, so Common Core makes me cringe. Why complicate the simplicity of mathematical function?

    I raised two CPA's and a Political Scientist who specializes in equitable support for emerging nations, so math is their forte... And a couple of writers among them, so math and writing go hand in hand!

    Michael Crichton: Doctor/lawyer/novelist....

    We are in great company!

  14. Wait.... Carmichael....Can I join the club with no fancy letters or degrees after my name???? Please say YES!!!!

    I went to work at Eastman Kodak after high school, so there are no fancy degrees.... But I've got some fancy flowers, does that get me a ticket in the door???? Because I want "in!!!" on this group, LOL!

  15. Welcome to Seekerville, Alison! You are not only a writer, you have a fabulous name for an author. Thanks for sharing your journey. I think loads of writers are insecure, but admitting we're writers is a way to promote our work. Hope that bank clerk bought a book. :-)

    Love the cover of Critical Diagnosis!


  16. Marianne, we're so glad you love authors!

    As far as secular novels... I think it just depends on what you like to read most. We all have our preferences. I actually love a lot of genres, including secular novels. Of course, I have my favorite authors. And I also have those I don't enjoy so much.

    I'm glad there's so much out there to choose from! So many books…so LITTLE TIME!! :) :)

  17. Hey, I'm bringing to nice strong coffee this morning! With Italian Sweet Cream creamer (sugar free). I need the caffeine! Was up late waiting for my son to get home. Then got up early to see him and his girlfriend off on a cross country trip from Georgia to California!


  18. Virginia, it sounds like you have a math genius on your hands!

    And hey, I think you can safely call yourself a writer now! :)

  19. Come on, Kav! We're daring you…go to work and admit to someone that you're a writer. Double dog dare you!!


  20. Mary Hicks, we'll be cheering you on as well! When you type The End, we'll expect you to let everyone around you know you're a writer. :)

  21. Jackie, another science person!

    You know, it's always fun to me hear how we each got to writing. I never considered being a writer as I was growing up. I started thinking about it when I was on bed rest while pregnant with my second child.

  22. Oops, I see RUTHY already brought the coffee! Thank you!

    I do the same now, Ruthy. I say I write inspy romance for Love Inspired, then explain that it's part of Harlequin. :)

    But I remember, early on, how terrified I was to admit to any of my friends that I was writing! It was a long time before I told anyone outside my family.

  23. Ruthy, honey, you've got some brilliant kids--who came from their brilliant mother (and I imagine their brilliant father, too--I must not forget to give him a little credit!) :)

  24. Good morning, Janet!

    Yes, it is a great cover!

  25. Oh boy can I relate, Alison.
    Only my family and close friends know I write. I made the mistake of telling someone at Church that I write and he's asked to read my stories EVEN after I explained they're not published. My first thought, how embarrassing to let someone like him read my stuff!

    And I don't have a degree in nothing! LOL. I took a couple of years at a community college. I worked at Dairy Queen as a kid. Used to make my husband, then boyfriend, the best peanutbuster parfaits around. After we married and started having kids, I worked at daycare and also baby-sat from my home. Then went to work for logistics company brokering trucks. And for the last several years stayed at home w/kids again, write, and breed great danes.

    I feel like there's something "corny" about saying I write books. Like you, I feel the need to explain.

  26. Hi Alison and welcome to Seekerville. Great post and it sure hits home. Before I was published I hated to tell people I wrote because then they would ask questions like "Who is your publisher?" or ""Where can I get your book?" And then I'd have to explain that I wasn't published YET. Then when I became published I had to explain why I'm not on the best seller list. Or why they don't recognize my name. sigh.

    But I'm getting over that mostly. LOL Great job. Hang in there.

    And Ruthy, love the coffee and donuts. Thanks

  27. Oh yes, I have all kinds of degrees including a Masters Degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education and guess what? It doesn't mean diddly squat when it comes to writing. ha ha ha ha

    There are no degrees for mass market writing and that is what makes it so fun and interesting. What I love about getting together with a bunch of writers is the diversity. We all come from different backgrounds and bring in different gifts. Gatherings with writers is NEVER BORING. They are always fun and interesting.

  28. Hey, Alison -- WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    LOVE your post this morning because not only is it SO true and you have SO many good tips, but because it also shows the innate insecurity of writers and just why we need God SO much!

    Excellent points, all!! I especially concur with point 3 because as writers, we need to know our audience, which is where reading across genres comes in, to better know which you are called to write.

    The only thing I would add is that as CHRISTIAN writers, the "audience" is narrowed down considerably, best described by the blog name of one of my dear friends, Casey Herringshaw: Writing for Christ: the Audience of One. No matter the genre or confidence level, focusing on the true reason we write -- for Him, by Him -- has been, for me, the true key to success. We tend to lose sight of that, focusing more on our successes and talent, which only heightens the insecurity we all feel as writers. But when He is front and center in both our focus and our trust, our confidence level is SO much greater and SO much more fulfilling.

    Great post!


  29. Welcome, Alison from another WNYer. I graduated from Kenmore East high school in Tonawanda.

    Glad to have you here in the Village. I'll share my Buffalo wings and Beef on Weck at lunch time for a real Buffalonian spread!!

  30. I struggle with this All.The.Time. Since I have started to seriously pursue publication, I have joined online writing communities, RWA and the local affiliate, and found critique partners. One of my critique partners just sent in her full in Love Inspired Suspense's Killer Voices competition. The other's first book is coming out this month. And I...I have a pair of rejections and slightly battered confidence that this published author thing is ever going to happen for me. I know what you mean when you say that telling people you're a writing is anxiety inducing. I've told a few people, and they always ask if I have sold a book yet. It can make you feel like an imposter when you sit at the computer and bang your forehead against the desk, hoping an idea will be shaken loose.

    What helps me to combat these insecurities? My critique partners, my beta reader, and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I reread her advice on first drafts and perfectionism when I get stuck in a rut. I tell myself if I'm not going to stop writing, I need to stop complaining. I sweat it out until I get to the word choices, insights, or sentences that crack my manuscript wide open. I go on and on in the comments sections of post like this, LOL.

    I would love to win a copy of your debut LIS.

  31. Forgot to say. I wanted to get a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing and go on to get my MFA, but I chickened out and got a Bachelors in English Language and Literature because I wanted to get a job (and didn't believe enough in my abilities as a writer). I did take some writing classes in school, along with Anthropology and African-American Studies. Math is my sworn enemy. I work as a legal assistant in the legal department of a homeowners insurance company. I like my job and my coworkers, but I still look forward to writing full-time one day.

  32. Connie, I WANT A GREAT DANE!! I think they're so, so beautiful! What a fun thing to do!

  33. Sandra, you're right about how fun it is to get together with writers! I love getting to know everyone.

  34. Okay, Tina. Sounds like you're speaking a foreign language! What on earth is a Weck????

    Although it really doesn't matter, because you had me at Buffalo wings! One of my favorite things!! We have a local restaurant that has a dry butter rub that AMAZING. Although I guess that's not authentic to NY. LOL

  35. Mz. Zey Zey,

    I'm so glad you're sticking with it! I totally understand wanting to bang your head on the desk to shake ideas out. :) But it sounds like you're doing great, hanging in there!

  36. Fun to see that each of us discovered that yearning to write at different times. At twelve years of age when I was writing and illustrating little romances and knew I wanted to write books. Though I never considered it as a career. I was an Elementary Education major in college. Once I started writing, I was too excited about it not to tell friends and family, but that opens the inevitable questions about why I hadn't sold. :-) And the surprise that I was writing romance, not children's books. Though when our kids were little I made up stories at bedtime. Always about the adventures of animals with their names. They loved being the heroines of my stories.


  37. Alison, I begin to tell you how much this helped. I stay at home work part time as a substitute teacher and have writing since I left corporate America in 2007. Like I don't have credentials for writing just the desire. I loved your quote and wrote it down for inspiration. I got a Revise & Resubmit from an agent, so I'm starting to believe I'm a writer. Thanks Jeri

  38. Beef on Kimmelweck buns!!!! LOVE!!!!!!

    Missy, aw, you're too kind! They are smart and we did decide (Dave is not in total agreement, but who listens to him, anyway????) that their brains came from me and the athletic ability is all Dave... :)

    He finds that only somewhat a dubious honor, LOL!

    He's such a guy.

  39. SANDRA!!!! I love that you said that about the degrees.... Because I remember hearing a well-known super person (can't remember who it was) talking in the 80's that broadcasting and writing are two jobs you can succeed in without the college degree because the proof is in the pudding of practice, work hard, and claw your way to the top.

    Now the CLAWING part is tough with farm girl nails filed down, but I got the rest down!!! :)

  40. Remember Johnny Carson? I just loved Johnny Carson, and after all the years, the beloved fans, the success, the one thing he said he regretted was not going to college...

    Now that would be different for me. I wouldn't have Sarah, Matt or Seth. The world would be a different place without them, a lesser place. So I'm glad I decided as I did and I thoroughly convinced myself that my host of nametag and hairnet jobs were my on-the-job paid training for writing real life.


    It worked.

  41. Jeri, that's GREAT NEWS on the revise and resubmit request!! Woo hoo! I hope you're encouraged. That's a definite sign of interest! :)

  42. Jeri!!!!

    Happy dancing for you!!!!!!


    Back to Michael Crichton lawyer/doctor: He wanted to be a writer.

    And so he became one.

  43. Ruthy, your jobs have been great for helping with your story ideas and settings!

  44. I so enjoyed reading your post. I am an author. It took me a while to say those words also. I wouldn't say them until I had actually sold a book though. Now, when I tell people that I am an author, the very next question is invariably..."what do you write?" I tell them romance novels. "Oh..." is the standard reply and then they move on to something else. I then experimented..."I write thrillers." Their reply then became.."oh wow...that is cool. Where can I buy one?" So there is still a ways to go. However, I write and I am an author. I would love to read one of your the covers. Thanks again for the post!

  45. Sorry I went AWOL last week. First I was visiting with family that just moved from Maryland, then a rough virus hit all four of my children. They're just now getting over it.

    Alison, this post is something that really describes me sometimes. We started going to a new church two months ago and I didn't tell anybody I write. Didn't want the attention it would get. Then I got a Facebook page, which still didn't make a difference. Until one woman at church asked me to friend her. Which of course, I had to. The next Sunday the cat got out of the bag. It really doesn't bother me, but as a general rule I don't tell people that I write books. Just that I'm a stay at home mom.

  46. Thanks for the encouraging words, Alison. Yes, I still have trouble admitting I'm a writer. And when someone asks, "Oh, what have you published?" Answering, "Nothing. Yet." is always a bit humbling. But the "Yet," is what I hold onto. :) I am a writer because God gave me stories to write.

    I especially appreciated the advice to focus on what I can control. Good words!

  47. Alison, I can really relate to this! Even with several books in print and more on the way. My husband and family are the ones who introduce me as a writer. And it still feels so very, very weird.

  48. Hi everyone!

    I just got home from babysitting my 2 year old nephew and I am overwhelmed with the response to my post. I see I'm not alone! :)


  49. I've heard numerous writers say that they thought they would feel like "real" writers once they were published,but they still struggled with doubt. I can relate even though I'm not published. Any positives--gushing feedback, contest finals-- can all be washed away with one negative. At least for me.
    When I announced I was writing, everyone started asking when I was going to be published, when could they read my book,what was taking so long etc. This has quickly become annoying. Ha! Because I don't have the answers.
    So I'm trying to not let emotions control me. The Lord is in control. He's got this :)

  50. Cat B ~ maybe it's time to shout out to the world, "I'm a writer!" :) My son is going to study accounting in college next year. Can't beat the job security!

    Melissa Jageaus ~ I used to tutor math years ago when my kids were toddlers. All my students would say, "Your kids are going to be so lucky to have you when they get older." They're older and I do help them with math (sometimes.) I don't know if they truly appreciate it, though. ha ha

    Natalie ~ fear of failure is a huge obstacle. I love the quote you included. Let's hope the readers find us, right? :)

    Marianne, thanks for stopping. I have read fantastic books in both the Christian market and the secular market. Maybe you haven't found the right book, yet?

  51. Debra H, I've had the same thing happen when I say I write romance. It's such a shame! Maybe we can educate people. :)

  52. Crystal, I'm sorry about the bug in your family! Yuk. Hate those summer illnesses.

  53. Jeanne, I love that piece of advice, too. It sure saves stress to only focus on what we can control!

  54. Virgina, thanks for stopping by. I giggled when I read that you went from being the "lady with all the kids" to the "the writer friend of yours." You are one talented writer. I truly enjoyed Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits!

    Kav, so glad you liked Plain Pursuit. It was fun to research and write. Before then, I never realized a growing Amish community exists about 60 miles from Buffalo. I have 2 more Amish stories coming out from Harlequin next year!!!

    Mary Hicks, Go! Go! Go! finish that book! (My little pep talk.) You can do it!

    Jackie, my first job out of Georgia Tech was at Merck Pharmaceutical. They hired engineers and pharmacists in their quality control department. The minute I met a few pharmacists, I thought, "I should have done that." I guess I'm always exploring other careers. That's what makes writing so perfect. I explore other careers via my books.

    Ruth Logan Herne, I can so relate about the "absolutism of one right answer." It used to bug me when an English teacher gave me a 96% on an essay. Too subjective. Give me a math test. ha ha
    And yes, let's get together in WNY. I'll bring iced capps from Tim Hortons!

  55. Hey, Myra!

    Courtney, you have a good attitude! Although I know how hard it is to have people asking those questions!

  56. There's that Tim Horton's again! i really, REALLY need to come up there to experience that!

  57. So a "weck" is a bun. Hmmmm. I'm learning new stuff from you New Yorkers all the time!

  58. Alison - thanks for coming by!

    I've had a lot of trouble telling people I'm a writer, and the conversations all go like yours at the bank. But it's a lot of fun sometimes.

    What really surprised me was when I was at my mother's funeral. Family friends I hadn't seen for more than thirty years were treating me like a celebrity. Homeschool moms don't get treated that way!

    We soon got past that stage, though, and had some good visits.

    I'm looking forward to reading your debut - and only another month for the release of your second book! Congratulations!

  59. Janet Dean, Can you believe "ALISON STONE" is my real name? Well, I married into it. I thought about using a pen name, but everyone said, "No, you have a great name!" So thanks.

    Missy , like you, I didn't consider writing until after I became a mom. I think this is also one of the reason I felt like a fraud. Like, shouldn't I have thought about this sooner. :)

    Connie Queen, Can I just tell you I love, love, love peanut buster parfaits? Do not think that lack of a formal education means you cannot have success as a writer. I have zero formal education when it comes to writing. There are so many resources now, especially online. Don't let that hold you back. For what it's worth, I know many very success people who never went to college. If you have a dream, go for it.

    Sandra Leesmith, thanks for the encouragement. Since I wrote this post, I sold 2 more books to LIS! Ack, now I have to write them under deadline. It's a vicious cycle. ha ha

    Julie Lessman, thanks for the wonderful advice.

    Tina Radcliffe, we were practically neighbors growing up. I grew up down the street from UB, off Eggert. I'm a SHA girl. You know what that is? :) I graduated from Sacred Heart. I've seen your warm-weather posts during our unusually cold winter. You escaped in time! Thanks for stopping by.

    Mz. ZeyZey, oh, I can so relate to the paralysis that is perfectionism. We need to let go, huh? From reading your posts, I sense your determination will make you successful. Thanks for stopping by.

  60. Alison, congrats on selling two more books to LIS!!! :)

  61. I am truly loving all these comments. I wonder what writers did before the internet? I guess they were insecure all by their lonesome. :D

    Jeri Hoag, I'm glad my post inspired you. Congrats on the revise and resubmit from an agent. That's awesome. Agents don't waste their time writing revision letters if they don't see a spark in your writing. You are on the right path. Best wishes.

    Debra Holt, funny how you said you write thrillers. I tend to say, "I write romantic suspense." I do, but you got me wondering if there's a reason I don't just say romance. Hmm?

    Crystal Ridgeway, thank you for stopping by. "Just a stay at home mom" is a pretty awesome gig. I felt blessed to be home for my 4 kids. (I can relate!) Not everyone appreciates a SAHM, but our kids do. (Until they're teenagers. Then they want me out of the house. ha ha)

    Jeanne T, I'm glad my post encouraged you. My writer friends and I always remind ourselves to focus on that which we can control because so much in this industry is out of our control.

    Myra Johnson, You family sounds very proud of you. I also think they're secretly jealous. I know mine are. They want to stay home in their yoga pants all day, too. Well, all of them except my husband. :)

    Courtney Phillips, you have great advice: don't let your emotions control you. The Lord is in control. You mention one negative comment washing away all the positive. Recently a writer friend sent me an e-mail lamenting a negative review on Goodreads. I found the review and overall it was glowing, except for one little comment. So, this reader had written a long review highlighting all the wonderful things about her book, except for one little thing. My author friend focused on that. So, of course, I wrote her an e-mail focusing on just the positive. We can't let emotions rule us. God IS in control. Thanks for stopping by.

    Jan Drexler, I've experienced that "celebrity" at family functions. It is a weird feeling indeed. But if I ruled the world, homeschool moms should always feel like celebrities. I send mine off on a school bus every morning and write in my quiet home. My college roommate home schools her children and her oldest just started at Georgia Tech. I am in awe of those who homeschool. Thanks for stopping by.

  62. Thank you, Missy. I just found out on Thursday. Now I have to write them! :)

  63. Virginia, so glad to hear your kiddos liking the game, my 7 year old conquered it and has started over. and she "hates math" muhahahaha

  64. Alison,
    You need to come back to Atlanta for a visit. We'll eat grits and drink sweet tea. :)

    Loved your blog! I was a closet writer for so, so, so long. LOL!

    Those I dared to tell asked about publication which sent me back to the closet again. It's a hard road to that first contract.

    I'm proud to claim my vocation now, although I still pinch myself at times and wonder if I'm dreaming.

  65. And congrats on your sales!!!!

    From a Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church gal.

  66. Hi Debby, I'll take you up on the sweet tea. You can have the grits. :) I never acquired a taste.

    I sometimes pinch myself, too. It took so long to get here. By the way, I have your "The Writer's Prayer" tucked under my keyboard. Beautiful prayer.

  67. Hi Alison,

    Congrats on your lovely books! And thanks for sharing your story which I think about 90% of writers can relate to! I sure can.

    My first book is coming out in August and I'm trying to get used to telling people about it! LOL.


  68. Hi Alison,

    Congrats on your lovely books! And thanks for sharing your story which I think about 90% of writers can relate to! I sure can.

    My first book is coming out in August and I'm trying to get used to telling people about it! LOL.


  69. Thanks, Tina. Always nice to meet someone from Buffalo. If you're ever in town...

  70. I've written 24 books and I still get nervous with each release, I still have a hard time talking about my books, and I still struggle with each book. It doesn't get any easier. We're all in this crazy business together -- which is the only thing that keeps me sane, knowing other writers suffer the same way! :)

  71. Susan Anne Mason, congratulations on the release of your first book. How exciting! And thanks for stopping by.

  72. That comment above from Kabby Ink is actually from Me, Allison Brennan ... my daughter was logged on from my computer and I didn't notice! Argh!

  73. Alison, I came very close to feeling like a real writer for about two hours a week ago Thursday.

    But it's passed now.

  74. Similar feelings? All. the. time. My love of reading and writing drove me to get a Bachelor's in English. Despite my success in college, my discouraging parents had me so convinced by graduation that I would never get a job or be "successful" with "just" an English degree that I went to law school. So, the writing dream was derailed, but I got it back on track a few years ago.

    I am loving the Amish suspense! Please put me in the drawing, and July's release looks amazing as well. Can't wait to look for it!

  75. Kabby Ink, er... I mean, Allison Brennan, thanks so much for commenting. It's very reassuring to know I am in very good company, indeed.

  76. Mary Connealy, thanks for the laugh. I have flashes of confidence, too.

  77. Meghan Carver,
    Yay, another lover of Amish suspense! I have found many lawyers are wonderful writers. Glad you got the dream back on track.

  78. I'm currently taking the Seekerville Night Class on Getting Rid of the Junk that Holds us Back. So far it's great.

    I think this is part of that junk. Hopefully the class will help me get rid of this and all sorts of other junk that hold me back.

    I want to be able to say unequivocally, "I am a writer because I write."

  79. Andrea Strong,
    "I am a writer because I write." I love it! And I hope you get rid of all that junk. :)

  80. Thank you for your honest encouragement! I'm learning not to cringe when my hubby says, "My wife's writing a book." LOL!

  81. Welcome Alison, and GO YELLOW JACKETS!!! (Can you tell I'm a very proud Georgia Tech Mom? And daughter, too).

    Thank you SO much for sharing this today - - to be honest, I really, really needed this, as I've been having those self-doubts lately, so reading your post gave me a huge lift (it's going to the front of my Keeper Files). I do have a wonderful accountability partner, and we pray for each other---which is a big help when one of us is struggling.

    Being a former Kindergarten teacher, I often ask myself "what makes me think I can write for adults?" but then I have to remind myself that on my own, I can't. But with God helping me, I CAN. :) So I try to keep that thought in mind, although sometimes those doubts try to gain control.

    I really am thrilled to read that you're a GT grad! My Daddy was a Tech graduate many years ago, and now I have 2 kiddos at Tech. :)

    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  82. S. Trietsch,
    No more cringing. If you write, you're a writer. :) And it sounds like your husband is proud of you. That's a huge gift.

  83. Hi CatMom (love "your handle!"),

    Go Yellow Jackets. That's awesome that 2 of your children are students there. Someone recently sent me the average SAT scores of current freshman and I had to wonder if I'd get in today! :) I have a great photo on my bio page of me during my Tech days. I forgot I even had this photo until I went through an old box (me and Buzz):

    It was taken at a parade through downtown Atlanta after Ga Tech was named National Champs in Football. I believe it was 1990.

    I'm glad my post found you today when you really needed it.

  84. Just pressed SEND and subbed my requested full for the Killer Voice search.

    now i'm a "real" writer.

    maybe. well, sort of. um...

    well i've been a writer for a long time, now I'm an Author.

    does that make sense? just smack me if I'm babbling...

    apropos post for me today. so glad Seekerville asked you to share.

  85. DebH,
    Congrats!!! Making it this far in the Killer Voice contest is awesome. I bet if felt great to hit send. Now go relax. I hope you get more fantastic news soon! (I seem to like exclamation points today!)

    (And I finally updated my photo on my Google Account.)

  86. Sue Mason, you need to be practicing saying it! :)

  87. Sue Mason, you need to be practicing saying it! :)

  88. Allison B, I've done the same thing, posting as my son after he'd borrowed my computer. :)

    I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my insecurities. But I also hate to hear it keeps going even after 20+ books. :)

  89. Meghan, I'm glad you've gone back to your first love!

    Andrea, I'm sure that'll be a great class! Cheryl is such a fantastic teacher.

  90. Stephanie, my husband does the same thing. I'm learning not to squirm. :)

  91. DebH, congrats on submitting!!!

    Patty Jo, I should have thought to connect you and Alison as big Tech fans! :)

    BTW, my son is LOVING going to school there. :)

  92. WOW! I needed this today!!
    We just decided to do another 40 day prayer starting July 6th. I’m writing the daily devo/prayer guide/workbook/etc.
    And I really am Not a writer. I’m a speaker who writes, BUT for the next couple of weeks, I am going to Have To Be A WRITER!!!

  93. Okay Alison, I could not resist going to your bio and viewing the photo you mentioned. ;)
    SOOO CUTE!!! You and Buzz both look great (and haven't aged a bit, I might add). :)

    Missy, I'm SO happy your son loves GT!! GO JACKETS!! :)

    Hugs, Patti Jo

  94. Thank you for this post. I am still writing but have been struggling for the last month physically so not getting as much accomplished which is discouraging.

    I will keep pushing on through all the issues.

    thanks for the encouragement. I would love a chance to win one of your books

  95. Jana Vanderslice
    I'm glad you found this blog today. Sometimes the best writing is writing that comes from the heart. If you're a natural speaker, I'm sure that will shine through in your writing. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  96. CatMom,

    Awww...thank you. I never knew how much I loved GT until after I graduated. Youth is wasted on the young.

  97. Wilani Wahl,

    I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well. Perhaps "pushing through" might just involved free writing in a journal. Nothing too challenging, but an opportunity to get your thoughts down. Thanks for stopping by.

  98. Helpful post, Alison. A lot to digest. I have had a hard time convincing SOME family and friends that reading is part of the learning curve. When they see me with a book, I get 'that look' that heralds, "Where are your chocolate bonbons?" It's like they think this writing stuff is a cover-up for sitting around reading all day. Ha!

  99. Once I started feeling brave and thought of myself as a writer. Then came a dreaded rejection. :-)

    I'm still writing, I don't think I could quit. Well, sometimes when I'm revising I think I could, but I think we all feel that way. LOL

    Critical Diagnosis is sitting on my dining room table. I'm excited about reading it. Congrats on the additional sales.

  100. Jana, writing the devotional will be great for spurring daily writing! :)

    Wilani, I'm praying right now for healing.

    Lyndee, I'm so thankful that reading IS part of what we do!! :)

    LOL, Terri! That's so true about the rejections. :)

  101. Dear Alison,
    Thanks for your post.
    This past Saturday, my family and I were returning to GA from PA. We stopped at a restaurant. I was wearing a t-shirt that says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel." I had people ask me if I'm a writer. Even though I'm unpublished, I said yes, I'm a writer. I had to then chase my son through the restaurant before the people could ask me any more questions. So I enjoyed the post today after this experience. Have a great day.

  102. This is such a great reminder for me. For a long time, I thought of writing as an extracurricular activity when it's really my passion and an integral part of God's calling for me. Thank you for this encouraging post!

  103. Logic tells me that you didn't write this post just for me, Alison -- but it sure feels that way. Thank you!

    Nancy C

  104. Lyndee H, in my opinion, reading is one of the best parts of the learning curve. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for reading. Besides, if no one read, who would all us authors be writing for? Thanks for stopping by.

  105. Terri,
    Rejection is tough. I had a lot of rejection (still do) before I got published. I thought of quitting a few times, but like you, I couldn't. Now I have 2 books published with a smaller epub and just last week, I sold 2 more books to Harlequin (that makes 6 with Harlequin.) That wouldn't have happened if I quit. So congrats on your perseverance . I am thrilled you have Critical Diagnosis. I hope you enjoy it.

  106. Tanya,
    How funny. I loved your story. I think I need a T-shirt or mug with that on it.

  107. Preslaysa Williams,

    I'm glad you found my post encouraging. I think in our society, we equate earning money with something's value. So, if we write, but don't make money, it's just a hobby or something we tinker with. However, we'll never get to the "earning money" part if we don't work hard at it. However, you hit on an even more important thing: it's your passion and God's calling for you. We are blessed. Thanks for sharing.

  108. Chill N,
    I did write this for you! Didn't you know? :) Glad my post spoke to you.

  109. Thank you, Missy, for inviting me to post on Seekerville. Thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome. I am thrilled this post has struck a cord with so many.

    I will continue to check back for additional comments.

    Have a wonderful day.

  110. I get the email notices a bit late I guess, so I just read Alison's great post. When she made the math comment, my heart blurred and I see it resonated with many others. I work in a Cost Accounting/Management Reporting function for a major bank and though I wear the writer's cloak in the wee early hours and many evenings also, I wear the numbers hat by day and love it. Like Ruth Logan Herne, I think the path I took was the right one (God leads us, yes?) and has supported my real job--writing. I'm not off Unpublished Island yet, but I think I see a sail in the distance. :)

    Where can I get the algebra game for my grandsons?

  111. super post, Alison. Thanks so much for hitting THAT nail on the head!

    And waving at a fellow western NYer. I must read through all the comments now but I did want acknowledge how much I enjoyed your post.

  112. Thanks for this post. I just released my third book, and I'm 2/3 through my fourth, but when people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a lawyer (my day job). It takes my husband to tell them I'm a writer. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

  113. This post rescinated with me. My writing journey has been a bumpy road that spans over 30 years. I too like you am a self-taught fiction writer. At a low point in my writing life God reenergized me. This past week at the Write-To-Publish Conference I won the Editor's Choice Award. The award entiles me to free professional editors and mentoring as I polish my novel. Knowing that God once again confirmed my worth as a writer I can shout it loud and proud "I am a writer!"
    Cindy Huff

  114. I loved the line "even if you're not published, you're a writer." Thanks for sharing your encouraging story!

  115. Your words ring true, Alison. We are writers. I've only recently admitted that to myself but that was an amazing step on the journey! Thanks for the encouragement!

  116. Dana McNeely, Yay for another math person. My son is going to study accounting. Lots of jobs! I wish you success on your writing journey. Thanks for stopping by!

  117. Debra,

    Hi right back. Love this time of year in WNY! Glad my post resonated with you. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  118. Rebecca, I can so relate. I often mention something about going to school for engineering, but...blah, blah, blah. Don't know why it's so hard to just own it. :)

  119. Cindy Huff,

    Congratulations! That's awesome. Sounds like you're on the right path.

  120. Edwina and Kelly,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. We are definitely not alone. WE ARE WRITERS! :)

  121. Nicely written, Alison. It's a keeper for all of us who "lurk" in the shadows of self-induced shyness about the craft.

  122. Thanks, D.T.

    I'm thinking maybe it's time we all stepped out of the shadows.

  123. I think everyone has anxiety about others reading their work for the first time, but I love writing and I'm not scared for others to know. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  124. Rose, Thanks for stopping by. I love writing, too. It's a gift.