Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving Thanks for Turning Points in a Writer’s Life!

Debby Giusti here!
Thanksgiving brings to mind friends, family and blessings. I’m especially grateful for Seekerville and the wonderful people who are part of this online community – my Seeker sisters and the extended family of writers and readers who visit each day. Sharing the ups and downs of the writing journey with all of you has been and will continue to be one of the highlights of my life.

Since most of us are writers and in keeping with the season, I decided to revisit a few of the turning points in my road to publication and beyond. I invite you to do the same. Think of the events, whether planned or happenstance, that have spurred you on, turned you in a new direction or impacted you and/or your writing for the better. Together, let’s find those special moments for which to give thanks.

Often we focus on the big successes, which are so important, but we also need to consider the small stepping stones that have merit and help guide us to our destination.

1. Writing a book.

Early on, I published a number of fillers and slice-of-life vignettes. Because I wrote short pieces, I never thought I could pen a full-length manuscript. With encouragement from an instructor at a one-day novel writing workshop, I started to think of each chapter as a short story. If I put the chapters together, I could end up with a complete manuscript. The instructor stressed the importance of finishing the work. Four-hundred-plus pages later, I typed “The End.” Writing that book was an important first step and a significant turning point in my journey to publication. 


 2. Contests!

Pam Hillman talked about contests in her blog last week, which brought back memories of the many writing contests I have entered over the years. Each critique, as well as any final or win, boosted my morale and motivated me to keep working. A turning point came when I won three contests, and the final round judges were all editors at Steeple Hill, later renamed Love Inspired Books.

  3. Meet the editor!


Long before those three contest wins, Steeple Hill senior editor, Krista Stroever, visited my Georgia Romance Writers’ chapter. The Love Inspired Suspense line was expanding from two books a month to four, and Krista was looking for new authors. She encouraged me to rewrite my secular suspense into an inspirational story. I vividly remember my hesitation before making that first editing change as I weighed whether the Christian market would be a good fit for me. Once I started to include a faith element, the story came alive, and I knew I’d found my home in the inspirational genre.

 

  4. The Call!

As we all know, getting “The Call” is a huge turning point. Like many of you, my dream was to have one of my stories (I’d written six by that time) accepted for publication by a traditional New York publishing house. My pre-pubbed journey had been long and many of my peers had already received contracts, while my forward momentum seemed to have sputtered and stalled. I attended the RWA Conference in Reno that year, knowing I was close because of the positive rejections I’d received and the feedback on my various submissions.  It was in Reno that I won the three contests judged by Love Inspired Editors. A few days after returning home, Krista called and asked to buy my debut novel. NOWHERE TO HIDE was published in 2007 -- certainly a significant turning point, but my journey didn’t end there…I had other roads to travel.

  5. Book Ten!

In the beginning years when I freelanced for magazines, I often wondered if I would ever intuitively understand "story" and how to craft a novel the way I could mentally envision a magazine article before I started the writing process. After publication, the number “ten” took on significance as if that would be an important milestone, which indeed it was. That inner sense of how to craft a story was in place by my tenth book, which provided another turning point.


 6. Say “No!” to Fear!

The thought of creating an entire work of fiction can be daunting. A tight deadline makes the task even more of a challenge. Frequently, I would be nervous midway through a story and grow even more anxious as the submission date drew near. In scripture, we hear Christ say, “Do not be afraid.” Unwilling to let anything negative have power over me, I prayed to lose the fear and put my writing totally in the Lord’s hands. Although I never missed a deadline, I hated the stress. Anytime I felt anxious, I turned it over to him, and eventually, the fear lifted.  Some months later, I began to focus on living “in His perfect time.” It’s a mindset of sorts, but when I give him control of my schedule and ask his help, I am working in accord with his holy will and living in his perfect time. Now, the many tasks and projects that need to be done are achieved not only on schedule but also without fear. 


7. Confidence!

My most recent turning point came during RWA 2014. I attended a number of workshops that focused on the business side of publication and came home with a newfound confidence. I can’t explain exactly what happened, perhaps an acceptance that this is the road I have been called to travel. Up until then, I sometimes wondered if writing fiction was a bridge to the next stage of life that might not include the written word. Whatever I experienced at RWA left me firmly committed to my writing career. There will always be more to learn and new ways to improve my craft, and while the various stories may take time to develop, I am a writer. I can trust the process and my ability—with inspiration from the Lord—as I continue on my journey.

What have been the turning points—large and small—in your writing life? Look back on 2014 or farther. Are there moments that seemed insignificant at the time, which have turned into major breakthroughs to success? What about today? Are you struggling to find your way and unsure which road to travel? Perhaps you’re being called to write a bigger book or to change your genre or to break into the independent market and go hybrid. Could you be standing at a turning point, not yet ready to venture forth and take that leap of faith?


Today and throughout the week, I’m giving thanks for all those who have touched my life and have joined me on my writing journey--to the wonderful readers who buy my books and share my stories with friends and family, to my agent, Deidre Knight, and my talented editor, Emily Rodmell, and the entire editorial staff at Love Inspired Books and to all of you who bring joy to my heart. Thank you for being such an important part of my life.

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of HOLIDAY DEFENDERS and a special surprise gift.

The breakfast bar is loaded with goodies: eggs, ham, biscuits, coffee cake, fresh fruit and grits. The coffee’s hot, thanks to Helen, and tea is available. Fill your cup and your plate, and let’s talk about our thankfulness for turning points on our road to publication and beyond.


Happy Thanksgiving!
Debby Giusti

Think of Seeker books when shopping for Christmas!  









Watch for A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE, a collection of short stories and recipes from some of your favorite Love Inspired Authors. Proceeds benefit children's charities. Details to be announced on Black Friday!

102 comments:

Helen Gray said...

Yes, the coffee is hot.

I've experienced most of the turning points you mentioned, Debby.

And now I'm facing another.

I had a two book historical series and a four book contemporary one with my editor when the Heartsong line closed.
If I don't lose my nerve, I'm going to test the indie waters with the two historicals. Not sure how long it will take to get all my ducks in a row, but I'm working on it.

The Artist Librarian said...

Last year, I had to make a decision on whether or not to pull out of an "extra" scholastic honors program. I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my grades, but in the end, I didn't regret my decision. Though at the time, I felt like it was almost the end of the world to not graduate with honors. However, I don't think it would have been worth it to spend my last semester of undergrad under so much pressure and stress. =)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Debby, I love this post so much. Walking that walk with you, it's been a turn here, a bend there, and an occasional stop light, but it's been marvelous! And a writer's conference is a great place to have an "aha!" moment.

Perfect!

Helen, thank you for the coffee! And Deb for the food!

Helen, I remember Cheryl St. John and Virginia Carmichael encouraging me to play in the indie waters, and they were right. I think Mr. Bezos and Amazon opened a BIG WINDOW for us... and then invited us to make the best use of both opportunities. And since there's no other publisher similar to Heartsong...

I say dive in, Sweetums! The water's fine!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, my Princess Leia friend! I love that you love Star Wars! The artsy side of you, mixed with the love of sci fi and writing/reading could be like the perfect storm!!!!! So fun!

I think your choice made perfect sense. The term "with honors" could be shortened to "with honor" and certainly applicable in this case. No one wants to hang with stress-filled, crazy folks.

Good to stretch.... but it's better to draw back when we know we're bordering certifiable or people are crossing the street to avoid us! Go you!!!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for sharing your turning points with us today Debby. Number six really resonates with me in so many areas of my life. Being able to turn everything over to God is such a large milestone and one I strive to do daily. It isn't always easy but knowing He is with me and guiding my steps makes the fear subside.

Have a blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Jackie said...

Hi Debby,

Thanks for sharing your journey. I try not to get distracted by the number ten, as in ten is the average number of years a person writes before publication.

At ACFW in St. Louis I received encouraging words from agents and an editor I met. I have to keep reminding myself it's God's timing and not mine. Honestly I sometimes question if the time I spend writing and learning how to write better could be used in better ways to honor God. Then He'll give me a little sign I'm where He wants me. So I continue to strive toward publication.

You are a hero to many of us. Thanks for your encouragement on my journey.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(You don't have to include me in the drawing. I have the book and loved reading it.)

Debby Giusti said...

Helen, I'm so sorry Heartsong Presents is closing. Such a lovely line. Sounds as if indie pubbing will be perfect for you since you have a backlist and new books ready to release. A big turning point and a good decision!

We're cheering you on!

Debby Giusti said...

Artist Librarian,
A tough decision, no doubt, for you to make. I find it hard to say "no" to opportunities that seem very, very good, yet might tie up too much of my time and energy and keep me from my primary focus of writing stories. Weighing both sides and then having to decline something that might be enjoyable or good in another way, often takes time to discern...and lots of prayer to ensure I'm making the right choice.

Sounds as if the honors status wasn't worth the huge commitment you would have had to make. Life isn't always easy. We all have many responsibilities and adding unnecessary "extra" work isn't always best for us and those we love.

A turning point and a good one, AL!

Piper Huguley said...

Thanks for sharing this Debby. I think you are the first published writer I met who modeled the truth of a writer's life to me--never stop learning and growing.

2014 has certainly been a year of turning points for me. A second GH nom, deciding to go indie and a contract (where the call was an e-mail) has certainly put my writing into a new perspective. Thanks to your example, I want to continue to learn and grow, so I'm looking forward to #5-7!

Headed for the breakfast buffet and some of that coffee cake...:)

Debby Giusti said...

Ruthie, you've paved the way for many of us in Seekerville to put our toes in the indie water. Thanks for diving in and making it work so nicely for you. A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE is my first indie attempt. Of course, Dana Corbit and Lacy Williams did the work. :) I just wrote the story. Hope to have a novella for the next Seeker anthology and perhaps something additional in 2015. It's an exciting turning point!

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy W,
Fear walks hand-in-hand with the negative voice that harangues many of us. I think they're friends, and they certainly can mess with our creativity and determination!

Just say "no" to both of them! That's what I did. Sure the negative voice tries to whisper in my ear, but he's quickly silenced. The fear's gone. If it attempts to step back into my life, I remember that I'm working in God's perfect time...and fear flees!

Rose said...

Great post, today, Debby.

I didn't realize you wrote short pieces first. Do you still write them in between books?

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Jackie, for your sweet words about my story!

For years, I wondered if I was walking the path God had chosen--or one that I'd picked. I actually spent four years--in the early days--weighing whether I was to back out of some time-intensive ministry so I could write. Fast forward, and I was still struggling with that same question when I wondered if writing was only a bridge to something else.

As good as it is to produce fruit in a small way, God sometimes wants to expand our reach so we can plant seeds in distant lands that will bring in an even large crop.

I often go back to what scripture says about God wanting to give us the desire of our hearts. If we're trying to walk in accord with his will, then that desire is actually from him. At least that's the way I see it. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Piper!

God has blessed your writing, for sure! So beautifully!!! This has been a wonderful year for you, with--as you mentioned--lots of turning points. It's exciting to see your success!

I applaud your hard work and determination. Congrats!

About the continued need to learn...I think of my first ten books as a training program. In fact, I'm still there, trying to improve and better understand the process. I doubt there's ever going to be an endpoint. :) But that's good!

kaybee said...

DEBBY, thank you for your vulnerability. That's one of my biggest take-aways from this site, that you have all been through the same things we are going through and that sometimes you're still going through them. I was struck by some of your turning points. Sheesh, if you're not a writer I don't know who is, but then we also never know what's going on in people's minds and hearts. Like a few weeks ago when Sandra thought about quitting. I've worked so hard for this for so long that I can't imagine an established writer wanting to give it up, but I'm not in someone else's head. And the more I visit here, the more I realize that the only difference between the Seekers and the Villagers is a contract. Sometimes not even that, as some of the Villagers are published or contracted. We are All In This Together.
Thank you also for continuing to point us toward Christ.
Please enter my name in the drawing.
Kathy Bailey

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Rose,

I actually wrote for a number of magazines and loved it, but my heart's desire was--and is--full-length fiction.

Last year, I did a piece on beach reads for a regional magazine. Fun to write, but it took time, which took me away from my WIP. They asked for a second article, but I declined. I have charted my course, as they say, and I don't want to get detoured.

Debby Giusti said...

KathyB!

We are all sisters/brothers on the same road, facing the same potholes and obstacles. I'm always encouraged to learn I'm not the only one struggling with doubts or fears or other concerns. That's why I often share the internal side of my journey. You mentioned vulnerability. I'm smiling. Yes, a good word.

If our work might do good or touch one person in a positive way or just bring light in the midst of someone's darkness, then doesn't it stand to reason that negative forces will try to steer us off course? Think about that the next time you doubt yourself and/or your writing!

Hugs and love!

Cara Lynn James said...

Very inspiring, Debby!

My latest turning point: I've decided to write shorter contemporary romance. Sometimes we get sidetracked or stalled and it's important to start something new and fresh.

I'm also spending a lot of time learning better story structure so I can write faster and more efficiently. It's back to basics!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Awww Debby, What a wonderful post today. It brought back many memories for me as well. And that conference in Reno was special wasn't it?

Yes, we do have so much to be thankful for. I am so thankful for you and the other Seekers. I am thankful for all of our Seeker friends.

Have a blessed holiday.

Audra Harders said...

Thank you for reminding us of the joys experienced in every phase of writing, Debby. Your journey to publication, and then the continued process, is an inspiration to me.

The same 24 hour day is alloted everone. The trick is what we decide to do with that precious time. I had so many things I WANTED to do, yet drove myself crazy trying to accomplish it all.

In the end, as you beautifully reminded us, I gave it to the Lord to sort out. I can't say I'm thrilled with the amount of time He's alloted for writing, but I know my time is much more productive when I listen to His direction.

Not to mention my stress level becomes manageable when I turn it all over to Him!

Thanks for the poignant reminders to treasure the journey we're on!

Audra Harders said...

Helen, I lift my cup of coffee to you! Turn one disappointment into an adventure. Indie publishing is the New World. Go forth and explore, my friend!

Audra Harders said...

Oh Art Lib, I feel your pain in the decision you made. Sometimes the star we want to reach for isn't the right stretch for us. I'm grateful you found peace with your decision and celebrate your accomplishements!!

Audra Harders said...

Piper, your journey has been fascinating to watch. You go, girlfriend. There are big things waiting for you!!!

Audra Harders said...

Kathy Bailey. Bless your heart...and I mean that in the most beloved way : )

Tina Radcliffe said...

What a lovely post, Debby.

I recall two specific turning points.

God affirming that I should write romance as I sat in the pew of church in the late nineties.

The second was in late 2004, telling Missy Tippens that I was going to stop writing to QUILT if something didn't pop in my writing soon. In March 2005 I finaled for the first time in the Golden Heart and met the Golden Girls (Myra, Janet, and Julie) and my course was set. No quilts were to happen.

Happy Thanksgiving, Seekerville.

Mary Hicks said...

Debbie, a beautiful post—thank you!
In all things it seems, after struggling with an idea or a decision, I turn to the Lord's word and find my answer. Why do I waste time trying to do it on my own before I remember, I don't have to do it alone? :-)

I think that's human. The Lord allows us that time to squirm and be nervous about some worldly thing so that when we do turn to Him we feel the peace and know He is with us.

Tina Radcliffe said...

JENNIFER YOU ARTIST LIBRARIAN YOU! Love the new profile pix. I feel certain that whatever you do, you will SUCCEED WITH GODLY HONORS!!

Mary Hicks said...

Helen, remember, when something is taken away, it is often because the Lord has something so much bigger and better for us.

I think you should get ready... :-)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, DEB, GREAT POST, as always, my friend, and I would have to say that #7 is the one that resonated the most with me as THE biggest turning point in my career ... or life ... for that matter.

In February 2014, I went on a "spiritual sabbatical" of sorts, a time of soul-searching, if you will. You see, last year I told my editor at ACFW that I wouldn't be pitching another series or book for a long while in order to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing without deadlines or contracts.

Now eight months later, all I can say is ... WOW!! That eight months changed the way I think, feel, and live my life, both professionally and personally. God has gone a LONG WAY in purging the faulty confidence I had (based on people's approval, book sales, contests, etc.) and replacing it with confidence in Him instead of myself. It's been THE MOST liberating and defining time of my life, and I have never been more stoked to proceed on a writing course I now KNOW is ordained by Him.

For a writer -- this one, anyway -- confidence is absolutely critical, but it can also be very shallow if based on the wrong things, a lesson I had to learn. But OH MY, what a payoff!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Marianne Barkman said...

What a great post, Debbie, even for me, a reader! It, and the comments make me feel blessed to know you all, and though I've only met TINA and Sandra, I love all of you. Thanks so much. Have an awesome day!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Great article

I am limping along to the tenth book! I hope that's a turning point for me as well :) I've reached the stage of Conscious Incompetence on the learning progression.

Kav said...

Love this, Debby. Seekerville is definitely my turning point -- each and every day. And reading awesome books that are flooding the Christian market. Talk about inspiration and motivation! No need to enter me in the draw because I've read Holiday Defenders. Best mesh of Christmas and suspense out there!

Debby Giusti said...

Cara,
Turning points that lead to something new are good. I like your idea of writing shorter contemporary romance and am affirming you on that decision. When life is hectic, we don't always have the time and energy for a longer story. Plus, it's nice to complete a work in a more timely manner. There's something about typing "The End" that brings a sense of satisfaction.

The short story I wrote for the charity, A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE collection was like that...while I was pushing to complete my next LIS, I paused to write the short suspense--only 2500 words--but seeing that short piece come together energized me and excited me and made me eager to return to the WIP.

I'm focusing on story structure too. Seeing the whole piece and how the various elements work together. Christopher Vogler's workshop at ACFW was excellent and worth more study. That's a goal of mine for 2015--study Vogler to better understand story.

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra, wishing you and yours a blessed holiday as well! Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Audra, I'm nodding my head about what you wrote. Like you, I want to do it ALL!!! I've been known to overbook my schedule. LOL!

Now I try to weed out those things that distract me from my writing goals. Some mornings, I have to wait until the Lord tells me what to cut and what to tackle. Anything I leave for later doesn't seem to matter by the end of the day.

Stress is never good and it's never of God. Glad you've narrowed your focus and improved your quality of life...no doubt, your productivity as well.

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Tina!

Quilting is good. Writing is better. :)

Loved your mention of the Golden Heart turning point.

When you heard God telling you to write romance...did you think he meant secular romance?

I started with secular suspense. I kept asking how secular stories would further his kingdom and lift up his children. Eventually I learned what he had in mind all along. :)

Debby Giusti said...

So true, Mary Hicks. There is merit in that struggle. It ties in with free will. He allows us to pick the path we want to walk. Sometimes we find that's not the best place to be. When we invite him in, he can redirect our steps, and we find the peace you mentioned.

For me, that peace is a good measure of whether I'm in the right place. If my spirit is too conflicted, then I probably need to readjust something in my life.

Janet Dean said...

Debby, thanks for sharing the turning points in your career. I can see God at work through all of it.

I share some of the same turning points as you--that first completed manuscript, the contests, the Call. I'm not to book 10 yet but I'm gaining some confidence in telling a story. Deadlines were raising my blood pressure, the reason I'm writing the complete these days. Not as successful at releasing everything to God, but working on it.

Janet

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Wonderful post, Debby! The part of saying no to fear resonated with me today. Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Mary Hicks! Loved your comment for Helen. You're right! The Lord has big plans for her! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Julie Lessman!

Thanks for sharing your own internal journey. Seems you and I were both searching for the confidence that comes from him!

Notice that was Number Seven in my list of turning points. As we all know, in scripture, seven is the perfect number. Also the amount of time Seekerville has been live. It's all good, right?

Debby Giusti said...

Marianne,
We love you too...and we're so thankful that you've joined us, as a reader, on this journey. Sending hugs and love to you and yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Debby Giusti said...

Sherri!

LOL at your comment about "Conscious Incompetence."

I seem to have a pattern as I write each book. Love the initial concept. Struggle with the synopsis as I get the first three chapters where I want them. Enthused, ready to move on. Pull out hair as I write the middle. More excitement for the climax and smiling as I write the ending. Reread and hate everything I've written. Worst book. Editor will reject. Readers won't buy. Rewrite. Still not sure. Submit. Thankful for editor's suggestions for improvement. Rework, revise, reread. Not as bad as I thought. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Kav, you have a gift for affirmation. Thanks for your kind words.

Glad Seekerville can be your daily turning point!

Sending hugs north. I know you've celebrated your Canadian Thanksgiving already. Join us with ours as we give thanks for you and all our wonderful Seekerville family!

Mary Connealy said...

Turning points....
I got a computer. I really don't think I'd have ever written without one. The process mystifies me without a computer because I revise and revise and revise. How would that work with paper? Think of the work.
That was the first thing that made me start writing.

Then with ... I think the 2nd book I finalled in a contest.

I always had enough encouragement to keep typing.
And I had story ideas stacked up, in files, in my head. I just couldn't get to them all fast enough.

Then I found RWA...which led me to ACFW...which led me to the Genesis Contest...which led me to Barbour Publishing finally offering me a contract at the TWENTY COMPLETED BOOKS LEVEL.

And they bought about....12 of those twenty books, well, I published two by cutting them to novella length and publishing them through Ten Talents Publishing with the help of my amazing agent Natasha Kern.

Not sure if those two books are included in the twelve or not.

Then after a wonderful time at Barbour I moved the Bethany House.

Turning points all around.
The writing journey has been absolutely my dream come true. In fact it's BIGGER than my dream.

I AM SO THANKFUL FOR IT!

Debby Giusti said...

As we both know, Janet, stress isn't good. You made an excellent decision to sell on completion. Plus, you have so many other obligations that need your attention. A balanced life brings the peace we seek.

Hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Anna!

Glad you got something from today's blog. Bottom line, don't let fear take control of your life or hold you back from achieving your dreams!

Amen!

Happy Thanksgiving Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, we're glad your turning points led us to you!!!

BTW, Seekerville, Mary was one of the first-round judges on my manuscript that eventually won the Touched By Love Contest in Reno. Krista Stroever was the final judge. I won. She called and offered a contract.

Guess I have Mary Connealy to thank!

Thank you, Mary!

Hugs and love!

Connie Queen said...

My big turning point was when I received requests through a contest from an editor an agent and didn't have that particular book complete. The game was over. Time to put up or shut up. (okay, that sounded hateful...)

Starting books was fun and I began to get the basics down but avoided finishing the book because it got hard. It was time to grow up.

TINA, I love to start quilting again.

Debby, No Place to Hide was my first Seeekerville book. Loved it.

Cynthia Herron said...

Debby, loved your post of encouragement today! Thank you so much! *And...do you have any gravy to go with those biscuits?* :)

***

To Helen above..
Helen, your MozArks friends are behind you! Just a blip in the road. Don't be deterred. You can do it! (((HUGS)))

Jeanne T said...

What great turning points, Debby, and solid encouragement for those of us behind you on the journey. :)

I love reading about how God works through each author's journey to publication.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Debby!!

Debby Giusti said...

Cynthia,
Thanks for stopping by Seekerville today. Yes, there's gravy for the biscuits. Silly me, I should have mentioned it.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have lots of gravy with your turkey!

Debby Giusti said...

Jeanne,

You're so close. Do you feel it? I do!

BTW, gluten intolerant grandson, age 7, is coming for Thanksgiving. Is there a good glutin-free dinner roll you could suggest? I don't want him to be left out of anything. His mom is baking a special dessert for him and making a cornbread, gluten-free stuffing, but the rolls are a problem. Thanks!

Mary Connealy said...

Debby, it's just possible that your excellent writing gets the credit.
But I remember one of the first emails I sent when we created Seekerville as ALL UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS, said, "Debby is going to be unpublished for about three more days."

Mary Connealy said...

I came so crazy super close to buying some yarn and knitting a Santa Coat, a tiny one I found on Amazon. I stared at that simple little rectangle of red/white/black and thought, I CAN DO THAT.

But then I looked at the yarn...you'd need three colors...and the knitting needles because mine have all vanished...Of course the yarn would have made about TWENTY Santa coats and hats...but did I need twenty? NO! I only barely needed ONE!

So I came to my senses and just bought it on Amazon. And btw, I'm pretty thankful I did that, too. :)

Myra Johnson said...

A beautiful and inspiring post, Debby! There are so many important stepping stones on this journey, and it's good to pause and be thankful for each one and the lessons we learned along the way.

I personally will always be thankful for your friendship and those prayers and words of encouragement that have come just when I needed them most!

Piper Huguley said...

The Seeker journeys are wonderful role models for everyone. I'm so thankful you all are willing to share--I'm pleased to share too. Thanks Debby and Audra!

Debby Giusti said...

So, Mary, you knit?

Tina quilts.

Ruthy bakes.

Sandra plays pickle ball.

Who else wants to divulge a talent (other than writing, of course)?

Debby Giusti said...

Myra, sending hugs. The memory of that one prayer we shared is a lasting treasure!

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

Your comments about finishing and having confidence reminds me of a story I heard as a kid.

This rich man, in a fancy car, stops at a roadside produce stand in front of an old farm house. He admires a large watermelon and, for sport, he says to a young farm boy helping out at the stand, “I’ll bet you five dollars that you can’t eat that whole watermelon.”

The young man scratches his head and says, ”I don’t know sir. Let me check at the house first, can you wait a spell?”

“I can wait. It’s a pretty day way out here in the country.”


Eventually the boy comes back and says, “I’ll take your bet.”

The youngster sits down and quickly eats the whole watermelon to the cheers of everyone who, by now, had stopped to watch the event.

“Here’s your five dollars boy. That was amazing. But can you tell me why you had to go back up to the house?”

“Well sir, this might be cheatin’, but we had a watermelon the same size in the kitchen and I knew if I could eat that one, I could eat this one.”

That experience was just like my first NaNo.

Today, I’m not even sure I was successful on my first NaNo attempt but I do know that what I did was a lot more than I thought that I could have possibly done before I started.

The next year I was successful. Today I look at 50,000 words as just a down-payment on a novel. All my NaNo novels wound up longer than 50,000 words. (My current is over 70,000 with days still left.)


So what I learned was that no skill is as hard afterwards as it was the first few times you tried to master it. That’s a good thing to know. It took me two weeks of hard work to write my first 1-Hour real estate correspondence course a few months ago. (1-Hour courses were prohibited for the last 25 years!)

The next course took two days, and then the next four courses took just one day. (That's one day to write all four courses!)

Now it might have been real discouraging for me to think at the start of writing that first course that every course would take two weeks of painful creative work to complete.

Fortunately, I had well learned over the years (by eating those watermelons) that I should not judge the future by how hard the initial task proves to be in the present.

May You All Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Vince

P.S. And read Debby’s books. She does the military right! As of now, I’m only reading her book in my photo above because NaNo has me still tied-up. My characters are demanding another 10,000 words. I’ve discovered Parkinson’s Pantsering Corollary: Words will always expand to fill the available writing time.

Myra Johnson said...

VINCE, you're still cracking me up to think you're actually pantsering a novel!!!! Fun, isn't it?

Janet Dean said...

Debby, I enjoy colored pencil drawing, rubber stamping greeting cards and knitting--at least simple things like scarves. No Santa coats from these needles.
:-) Oh, I used to paint hard shell gourds.

When our girls were little I made all kinds of crafts like macramé, decoupage, 3-D pictures, felt-kin Christmas ornaments. I took a Stretch and Sew class. Makes me wonder why I didn't write!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Vince, I love that watermelon story! Things do get easier with practice. Impressed at your productivity!

Janet

Debby Giusti said...

Love the watermelon story, Vince, and your words of wisdom. Isn't it wonderful that experience pays off!!!

Go you!!!

So thrilled about your writing success.

And your Parkinson’s Pantsering Corollary: "Words will always expand to fill the available writing time," is spot on.

Happy Thanksgiving! And added thanks for your mention of my stories!

Wilani Wahl said...

Debby, and all the seekers and villagers. I am thankful for all of you. You have been such an encouragement and help to me this last year. This has been a rough month for me as far as writing goes thanks to Bronchitis which I am still battling. Hopefully by next week I will be up to writing again. In the mean time if is great that I have at least felt like reading which has included books and novellas from seekers!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, you're multi-talented.

I did crafts, oil painting and crocheted. In those days, I had time for hobbies. :)

Now I write!

Wilani Wahl said...

Helen,

I hope you are able to get your books published. I feel so bad that Heartsong closed.

Debby Giusti said...

Wilani,
Hope you feel better soon! You need to be completely well for Thanksgiving!

Glad you're reading. Thanks for the mention of Seeker books.

We're thankful for you!

Hugs and a little chicken soup, too!

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

Yes, pantsering is a lot of fun if you like riding on a wild, runaway, horse. In a way, it is like “free-association” that, when combined with a basic skill in Scrivener, can double your writing speed.

Right now my hero, Victor, is in the process of ‘crossing over’ and becoming a real person. He is like Adam in the Garden of Eden coming awake as a full adult with no experience of the world whatsoever. I have to explain what that awakening feels like to someone who has never had a human feeling and who knows about feeling only by looking at his own body language and by having a working knowledge of how feeling words are used in the language.

Pantsering this experience may be the only way I could show the event or even write it at all. Pantsering will make a handy club in my golf bag.

DebH said...

hi Debby
Finding Anita Mae on the Harlequin boards was my first turning point because she directed me to my second turning point: finding Seekerville.
You ladies scared me with your professionalism while I lurked for the first year.
I guess that means my third turning point was when I figured out y'all are so friendly and loving. That may have corressponded with my winning a phone call with you Debby.
Turning point 4 is your turning points #1&2 combined. I finished my first book because I entered the Killer Voice contest.

Because of four, I'm now at number five. Four proved that yes, I can write - but life has thrown a bunch of hurdles my way that has seriously brought my writing to a snail's pace. My brain knows what it wants to do for editing my entry for resubmission (requested if I was interested in doing the work - well duh, yes I'm interested) but getting the edits onto the screen is not happening.

I've discovered I'm a poor multi-tasker. I cannot fathom how others take care of more than one child and still get a book written. There's my graphics skills that I know the Lord wants to exploit more. I need to spread my wings there. Then again, there's my writing skill. I know I'm at a crossroads and I feel I'm without a map. Seekerville is providing me with a small light in the darkness, but I think I'm at that "I'm scared I'm going the wrong way" stage.

Okay, way too long, but I am ever so THANKFUL for today's post, and infinitly MORE THANKFUL for you ladies of Seekerville. You're both inspiration and comfort - greatly needed.

Meghan Carver said...

Good afternoon, Debby! I'm so glad you attended RWA for that encouraging message to keep writing! :-) Conferences are great for getting that focus. It seemed that the Lord was leading me during ACFW, but then we traveled to the Bible Bee and moved into our (technically unfinished) house. So, it seemed that those plans were put on hold, at least until life settles a bit. I'm looking forward to and praying for a turning point. Thank you for a post chock-full of encouragement today!

Lyndee H said...

I agree with Piper! The women of Seekerville have been a major influence in my writing journey.

Debby, we've had parallel experiences. I also freelanced for magazines and newspapers and envisioned my articles first sentence to last. I'm still working on intuitive story crafting when writing a novel. I feel like I fall into it, which is disconcerting. I am a perfectionist who thrives on plans. That's why being a pantser seems so peculiar. I'm trying to remedy this - writing, taking classes, reading books, talking with other authors, etc. THAT part I can plan! It's nice to know you turned the corner. There is hope!

Regarding fear, my Daddy always reminds me to consider 1 Timothy 4:14 - Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you...

Thanks for the terrific post!

Happy Thanksgiving all. Safe travels to those making the journey home.

Jackie Smith said...

Great post, Debby....you are always so inspiring!
I am so thankful for you great Seeker authors! And count me in for yours, please!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Debby Giusti said...

DebH, sorry we scared you. Oh my gosh, I hope we don't scare others. Please, if you're lurking, we're really nice people who have fun and smile a lot! Really!!! LOL!

I enjoyed our phone chat too. Sally S. and I were never able to connect...Sally, email me so we can have that phone conversation. It's time!

Deb, sounds as if you have a lot on your plate. I didn't write when I had little ones to care for...not enough time or energy, which needed to go to them. God--again, in his perfect timing--allowed publication after my last "baby" went to college. Perhaps that's why I had a very long pre-pubbed journey! :)

What if you break up the tasks that need to be done and set aside a certain amount of time for each so you have a start and end date and permission to set aside some jobs until after others are done? Not sure if that would help, but it came to mind so I thought I'd share.

Ah, I should mention "fear of success," in case that might be a problem with the rewrites. Are you worried you wouldn't have time if the book did sell? Thus you procrastinate making the changes? Something to ponder.

Sending hugs and love and praying for your discernment.

Debby Giusti said...

Meghan, God has blessed you abundantly--as I know you're aware--with your beautiful family. He'll direct you and your writing.

Have a joyous Thanksgiving. Love to all!

Debby Giusti said...

Lyndee, a perfect scripture. Thanks for sharing. I often think of time, talent and treasure. One of our talents is our love for the written word and our desire to create story. That needs to be shared.

Glad we're walking the same journey. I do feel that strong connection! :)

Have a joyous Thanksgiving!

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, you're in the drawing! Giving thanks for you and all our wonderful Seekerville community.

DebH said...

Debby
No apologies needed for scaring an easily intimidated person. Hopefully people as easily intimidated as me won't remain scared of Seekerville (hey lurkers, they really are wonderful, helpful ladies!!!)

Your idea for breaking things into little chunks of time sounds like a good idea. I will see if that may help. I tend to feel overwhelmed with the overall picture at times, so perhaps looking at little parts may give me hope.

I forgot to ask to be put in the draw earlier. I would love to win another of your books. If not, I've a handy dandy gift card to spend (can there be such a thing as too many Seeker book must buys?)

Thanks again for this great post. A great instiller of hope for me, it is.

Becky said...

Thank you for your post. I am a 'Contributing writer' for an online 'magazine', but otherwise I'm still working on turning point #1.

Katy Lee said...

I enjoyed hearing your story so much, Debby! You are an inspiration!

Chill N said...

Debby, those flowers are beautiful! And thank you for sharing some of your writing turning points. I recognize a couple ... and hope to experience #5 (Book Ten) someday.

Anthologies like Holiday Defenders are such a great way to 'discover' writers I haven't read. I hope traditional and indie publishers continue to offer them.

Nancy C

CatMom said...

Such a lovely post from a lovely lady - - thank you for sharing this, sweet Debby.

My writing journey has seemed to be a series of ups and downs---kind of like a roller coaster, LOL. But every time I start to doubt if this is truly what I'm called to do at this season of my life, the Lord sends a little "nudge" in various forms, to reassure me I am on the right path.

Recently I attended a funeral for a precious elderly man from my church. As I took my seat, someone behind me tapped my shoulder. A dear lady (I hadn't seen in quite a while) leaned up to me, smiled, and whispered, "I'm still waiting to read your book!" I didn't even realize she was aware that I'm writing - - but that small gesture was like a little nudging to remind me that I am indeed a writer. :)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the Seekers and Villagers!! You all are truly a blessing to me.
Hugs, Patti Jo

Mary Curry said...

Lovely post, Debby. Thank you for sharing and offering the inspiration for reflection.

Turning points do often happen when we least expect them. For me, deciding to write in the first place was one of those moments. I remember being on a business trip and picking up a magazine to read. It had an article on 2 California secretaries who wrote romance on their lunch breaks, using the office typewriter. That article convinced me that ordinary people could become writers too.

PS - the two secretaries were Rosemary Rogers and Shirlee Busbee!

Debby Giusti said...

You're in the drawing, DebH!

Debby Giusti said...

Becky, good for you! Another freelancer. All that writing experience will pay off! Believe me!

Debby Giusti said...

Nancy C,
Novellas are fun to write. Mission: Christmas Rescue, my story in HOLIDAY DEFENDERS, had me smiling...at the end, that is! My editor asked me last Christmas and I only had six weeks until she needed the final copy, but the story came together. I kept my Christmas decorations up a bit longer to stay in the mood. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Katy Lee,

Great to see you in Seekerville. Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Vince, Your share about the watermelon was toooo funny.

I am in awe of 70,000 words this month??

I'm lucky to get 7,000 with all the company and activity. sigh.

Great going and happy thanksgiving.

Debby Giusti said...

Patti Jo,

What a lovely nudge from the sweet lady. Yes, you must keep writing. Don't let anything deter you. You've conquered so many hurdles over the past few years. Now it's time for your next career to get started!

Happy Thanksgiving and much love to you and your beautiful family!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary Curry!

Is your school on break? Or are you still hard at work? You've had a wonderful year and a huge turning point!!!

Still so excited about how everything played out. God is good...all the time.

Funny story about Rosemary and Shirlee writing on their lunch break. Glad it spurred you on!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sherida Stewart said...

Thank you, Debby! All of your points touched me, but especially, "I am a writer. I can trust the process and my ability—with inspiration from the Lord—as I continue on my journey." I don't kniw which path I'm on, but I know I'm headed in the RIGHT direction. :)

Thank you for your latest book! I loved your story in Holiday Defenders--exciting with sweet touches of Christmas! Perfect! Now I'll be watching for the recipes and romance stories....great!

Thank you for all the inspiration and all you do for others! Sorry I'm late today, but we're on the road to visit our blessings! Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family!

Sandy Smith said...

I really enjoyed this post Debby. I hope Seekerville is a turning point for me to inspire me to keep on.

I would love to win your book. Please enter me in the drawing.

Tanya Agler said...

Debby, thank you for the post. A gracious, lovely post from a gracious writer.

It's wonderful to hear about other people's turning points. I loved reading your different turning points in your writer's journey and how you can give thanks for each of those points.



Debby Giusti said...

Sherida,

Thanks for your kind words. Safe trip and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

You are headed in the RIGHT direction!

Hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Sandy, you're in the drawing! So glad you're part of the Seekerville family.

Have a joyous Thanksgiving!

Debby Giusti said...

Tanya, thanks for stopping by this evening!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hugs and love!

jacqui19 said...

Would love to win/read your book. Thanks for the opportunity and Happy Thanksgiving.

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Thanks for your encouragement! It's wonderful to see the long-view when you're working away on your first novel or growing a speaking ministry. I think being open to growing is the best advice.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I'm late! Have had a crazy few days.

What a great post! And I agree with you about RWA this year. I came away with some of that same feeling.

Happy Thanksgiving week to all of you!

Edwina said...

Debby,
My biggest turning point was when God moved me from fiction to non-fiction. I went kicking and screaming and I've done everything I could think of to postpone this book. But in typical God-fashion, He wouldn't let go. So, my first draft is done, and I'm going through my second edit. Contests? I entered the first paragraph in a contest and it won Honorable Mention. I'm fine-tuning the first five pages and will be submitting those pages in a contest this week.
I'm really hoping my next turning point will be back to fiction because I have a great idea for a book!

Heidi Robbins said...

Thanks for sharing the preview of A Recipe for Romance! I'm looking forward to reading that collection! Please include me in the giveaway for your book!

Michelle F. said...

Eggs and the other food sounds good. Please enter me in the book giveaway.