Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Using Real Life Trials to Grow our Writing

with guest Naomi Rawlings.

Hi Seekerville,

I’ve been remiss at visiting lately because I’ve been pretty ill with this pregnancy, but I do miss hanging out with all of you. I’m told that some people enjoy being pregnant, but pregnancy is something I endure and attempt to survive. I’m not sure the word enjoy ever crosses my mind. Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk writing.

It’s January and a new year. Many of you have probably chosen words for the year and possibly even made a few New Year’s resolutions. As you were picking words for yourselves, I can guess a few words that were probably never chosen, words like trial, struggle, obstacle, hardship, illness, and pain. Who wants to focus the next twelve months of their life on pain or trials? Probably no one.

But trials, hardships, obstacles, and pain happen to all of us. No one reaches 80 years of age without them. And if we’re really going to be honest, no one reaches 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, or even 20 years of age without enduring some of these things.

As writers, difficult times hit us doubly hard, because we have to deal with not just the life aspect of these struggles, but how these struggles interrupt our writing. We’re all probably aware of how easily writing can be interrupted. The flu, a sick child, a broken down car, a panicked call from a friend, relatives coming to visit, a kitchen full of dirty dishes and no maid service to clean for you, and these things don’t include the big tragedies. A death in the family, the loss of a job, bankruptcy, marital problems, divorce, cancer, and chronic pain or illness—maybe even both.

While we can’t prevent hardships from happening, we can choose how we respond to them. Trials can either strengthen us or hurt us. They can build our character or tear us down. But since this is a writing blog, I’m going to talk about how to use these things to strengthen our writing.

1.    Take a break if needed.

Don’t heap a bunch of guilt on yourself for needing to step back. It happens. There are—gasp—more important things to life than writing. Your marriage. Your children. Keeping the house you live in from reverting back to the bank. Even paying your heating and electricity bills.

A break doesn’t mean you’ll never ever write again. In fact, a break might mean you’re still writing, but maybe only one book a year instead of two or three. Or maybe you’re only writing two days a week instead of five. While I’m sure everyone wants to see their name in print, and I truly believe the world is a better place with stories in it, I doubt you’ll get to the end of your life and think, Years of marital difficulty were definitely worth publishing that 37th novel. My life would be so much emptier if I’d only written 36 books.

Forcing yourself to write through a tragedy or hardship is only going to bring you stress and might even bring hardship to your family relationships. Now notice I said FORCING. If you’re experiencing trials and writing is a much needed relief, then go for it. If you have the time and the ability to keep writing despite what’s going on around you, then don’t stop. But sometimes life gets in the way of writing, whether we want it to or not, and you might need to readjust your priorities for a little bit. That doesn’t mean you’re a quitter. That doesn’t mean you’ll never reach your writing goals. It just means you’re human—like the rest of us.

2.    Use the emotions and experiences you face to deepen your writing.

There’s a reason the world’s greatest novels aren’t written by 21 year olds. (Unless you’re Jane Austen, then you’re allowed to be 28 when P&P is published.) Life experience can enhance your novels if you let it. Ever found yourself out of work and looking for a job? You can write about a character facing that same struggle.

If you write romance—and most of us probably do—you’re already drawing on the real life emotions you felt when falling in love to write your story. Why not take that principle a little further? Do you have a mother or grandmother with Alzheimer’s? Give one of your characters a mother with dementia. While this isn’t a strong enough conflict to drive an entire plot, it can definitely add an extra layer, making both your character and plot deeper. And readers who have loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s might even be encouraged by your writing. Perhaps your family is going through some difficult financial times or hardships dealing with a wayward family member. Look for ways to incorporate similar situations in your stories. Your fictional representation of the situation will probably look and feel very real, and I can guarantee you’ll hear from readers experiencing the same thing.

I drew on my real life emotions last spring when my grandmother passed away. Just before her death, I’d started writing Love’s Unfading Light, which opens just a couple weeks after the hero’s adoptive father dies. Needless to say, writing scenes where both the hero and the Cummings family grieved came naturally to me. Sorting through my grandmother’s apartment was heavily on my mind when I wrote this excerpt:
Mac reached for the door handle—one he hadn’t turned in nearly a month—and let himself into the sprawling log cabin. Coats hung haphazardly on pegs inside the entry room, much as they always had. Boots still warred for top position on the pile in the corner, and mittens, hats, and scarves all lay crammed into the crate beside the boots. But one pair of sturdy mukluks was missing, as was the familiar red and black plaid mackinaw coat Hiram Cummings had worn every spring and fall.

Last time he’d visited, Hiram’s things had still been out.

He wasn’t sure which was worse.

He stepped inside and jostled the pie and three remaining loaves of bread he’d carried with him from town. Maybe he should have come sooner.

Maybe he shouldn’t have come at all.

(This is where Ruthy would say, “Love’s Unfading Light is up for preorder on Amazon for just $2.99. Everybody CLICK HERE and buy it now!!!!” But I’m not Ruthy, so I’ll go with, “My book is currently up for preorder. If you’d take a moment to peek at the cover, read the description, and see if the story sounds interesting, I’d be most appreciative. Just click here.”)

3.    Transfer the emotions you have to situations you’re unfamiliar with.

Writers probably use this aspect of blending real emotions with fictional situations the most. No one reading Seekerville today lived through the French Revolution, Revolutionary War, Civil War, or even WWI, and yet countless novels are set during these time periods. I did a lot of emotional transferring when I wrote my new release, Falling for the Enemy. Have I ever fallen in love with an enemy at war with my country? Um, no. But I have fallen in love, and I do know what it feels like to have enemies.

I had to use this technique again when it came to dealing with Danielle and Gregory’s differing social classes. Are social classes as rigid today as they were in Regency England? Again, no. But I come from a blue collar, solid middle class family. My dad has been a factory worker for almost 40 years. While his job always adequately paid the bills, I also know how it feels to sit in a room with upper middle class people, and think, Yeah, half of you would faint if you knew my dress came from J C Penny. And did I mention I bought my purse on clearance for $10?  I have no business being here. So when I transferred those emotions and memories to Falling for the Enemy, I ended up with scenes like this:

If England won this war, France would go back to how it had been before the Révolution. No more liberty or equality for the masses. Peasants heavily taxed while aristocrats lived in excess. Commoners starved for bread and clamoring after only a handful of jobs while the queen ate cakes at Versailles.

Papa’s first wife had taken ill and died, half from starving and half from illness, during those days.

Many others would die of disease or starvation once more if King George had his way. ’Twas why England’s tyranny had to be stopped.

’Twas why she never should have agreed to aid Gregory.

(And yes, Falling for the Enemy is currently available on Amazon. You can find it here.)

Are trials fun? No. Do they sometimes require a break—or at least a slowing down—in our writing? Yes. But we can also take these trials and use them to make us stronger people and better writers.

Have you ever taken a real life trial and put it into your writing? I’d love to hear about it. What about transferring some of your personal emotions to your characters as they deal with different situations? If you have any techniques for infusing your novels with realistic emotions, please share them in the comments. I’d also love to see some examples of emotional situations from your novels. And in honor of being on Seekerville today, I’ll be giving away one copy of Falling for the Enemy. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

 An Unlikely Alliance

Betrayed and stranded in France at the height of war, Lord Gregory Halston has few options. After rescuing his ailing brother from jail, they struggle to survive in hostile territory without outing themselves as Englishmen. Gregory hopes the feisty French peasant woman he meets is willing to guide them to safety.

Danielle Belanger doesn't wish to protect any man from the same country responsible for her brother's demise. But there's something about the determined Englishman that makes her willing to try. Though a match between Danielle and Gregory is impossible, their attraction can't be denied. The only thing more dangerous than aiding the enemy…is falling in love with him

Naomi Rawlings is usually a vibrant mom of two boys who spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. But at the moment, she’s pale, wan, and not very mommish—and that’s on a good day. On a bad day, she’s green and curled up in bed. Instead of sending a professional author picture, to Seekerville today, she decided to show you a baby bump one, taken at 21 weeks, because she knows some of the Seekers love babies (though at the moment she’s trying really hard to understand why). If you want to learn more about her novels, visit www.naomirawlings.com. Or you can hop on over to Amazon and peek at her two books releasing this winter, Falling for the Enemy and Love’s Unfading Light. 


  1. Naomi, that's why they say write what you know, right? And though I've not had a baby, or fallen in love, I have lost dear ones, one not so long ago and your novels transport me into your characters lives. Thank you for sharing.

  2. WHAT WHAT? How on earth did I not get to see the belly picture before of all Seekerville????? (Did you see that I just made an elipsis out of questions marks? Beat that!)
    Must use my sense of betrayal to infuse some emotions into my characters now.....

  3. Sorry to hear your pregnancy is so rough! I know all about that! Hence why my girls are seven years apart! I wouldn't wish the rare pregnancy condition I suffer with on anyone! Thanks for a post that makes it ok to go at whatever writing pace you can :) and hang in there, you won't be pregnant much longer :) and it'll all be worth it! Take care!

  4. I'm sorry you're having a rough time with your pregnancy, Naomi. I can relate. I battled morning sickness the entire nine and a half months I was expecting. Enjoy wasn't in my vocabulary at the time either. I hope you get to feeling better soon.

    Your post is great! I'm an emotional person and feel others' pain, joy, etc. Gwynly likes to say I'm an empath like Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I use my experiences and the feelings associated with them to deepen my writing.

    My second Love Inspired Historical includes a beloved mother who is waging a battle with cancer. Having lost my beloved mother-in-law to the disease, I tapped into the emotions I experienced during her last days and used them to enrich my story. Did that bring back the feelings and cause me to cry? You betcha. Was it hard? Definitely. I allowed myself to feel the pain, fear and sense of loss all over again because want to offer my readers a moving story. If they're affected as well, I'll know I've done my job.

    This story will be dedicated in memory of my mother-in-law. She was very special to me, and I'm thankful to have had the years with her I did, even though they were far too few.

  5. A very interesting post thank you.

    I loved your 'author' picture.

  6. I was never blessed with a pregnancy but can only imagine the morning sickness that you are experiencing. I am so sorry but I am sure when all is said and done, your new bouncing baby will make the illness all worth it.

    Thank you for writing such a great post even when you aren't feeling well. It is inspiring.

    Many Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  7. Good morning Seekerville! And baby mamma Naomi.

    Love the picture.

    All I need is a package of Saltines to feel the moment.

  8. There are many authors who can tap into these emotions so well, like Ruthy but I find that it is tread lightly territory for me and I have to work in layers toward that deeper emotional response because like Kelly I empathize way too much.

    It's a tricky dance, but when we are able to get in that place we need to be the reader is rewarded.

    Robert Frost — 'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.'

  9. Melissa Jagears righteous indignation might be something I can tap into. hahahahaha

  10. LOVE the cover of your indie. Preorder completed. Who did your cover?

  11. Oh, I'm dying laughing at you, the slightly embittered tone and the RUTHY SALE REMARK, because that is exactly true.

    But beyond the laughter (I can't wait to see this sweeeeet baby!!!!) is the solid truth behind your words of taking circumstance and emotion from real events and planting them deep in your stories.

    Wonderful stuff, and I give pregos a pass on whining because I'm NICE THAT WAY.

    By the time the kid's 3 months old, though, the pass is marked EXPIRED and it's business as usual, darling.


    Love the cover and good for you on your endeavors!

  12. Robert Frost.... I'm a huge fan, I love the quiet empathy in his words, his timing, his thoughtfulness whether we're diverging in a yellow wood, running a 40 acre farm, or stopping by a wood on a snowy evening, he's such a perfect Yankee troubador.

    And the baby bump is a-stinkin'-dorable!

  13. I always keep my mouth shut on the whole baby preggo thing because the best time of my life was preggo.

  14. Have you talked to Kate about this, btw? I heard she is having a hard time with baby # 2. If you call Windsor Palace they can connect you.

  15. She does snark well, Ruthy. Almost as good as you. I look like an amateur compared to you two. hahahaha

  16. Oh, Naomi, I'm sorry you're feeling so dreadful. I know it's an old wives' tale, but I clung to 'the worse I feel, the healthier my baby will be.' So I'm hoping for a healthy, beautiful baby for you.

    When we were building our "dream" home, weeks before we were set to move in, the builder disappeared with our money. And we had sold our home. That's when I packed up my writing books, and walked away from writing so I could look for pharmacy relief work in addition to my regular job.

    We never got that house, but I love the home we're in now. Whenever I walk by the other house, a darkness settles over me as I remember the lies and deceit that went into it.

    I stopped by Amazon and read about Love's Unfading Light. Sounds like a great story.

    Take care of yourself. It will get better.

  17. So true, Naomi. Great post. I've found things sneaking into my writing in the past and didn't realize they were there until the book was finished. I'm becoming more aware though.
    Excellent advice here. I hope your pregnancy gets smoother!!! *hugs*

  18. Oh, my goodness, Jackie. What a tale. That's what you channel into those suspense books, no doubt. And it can't hurt for the thief to have a horrible fate, right??

  19. Naomi, so good to see you; so bad to hear you're not feeling well. Sorry about that. Much like Tina, my best time was while I was pregnant. The real test came in RAISING the little darlings. Ha!

    Drawing deep from emotions I find difficult to tap into on command. I'll think of a scene and want to write from deep in my gut and...poof...nothing.

    BUT, as soon as I get to day job and sit down to something so unfamiliar to the scene I was angsting through (like working on a newsletter or sending invoices) well, POOF, there's the inspiration I could have used just hours earlier.

    Funny business this writing. Who can figure it out?? Hope you feel better, sweet stuff!!

  20. Oh, Naomi, I can sympathize with you. Enjoy wasn't a word I would have used during my last pregnancy either. I spent 11 weeks in bed after spending a week in the hospital with preterm labor. But look at what beautiful wisdom you were able to share here with all of us! I agree. There are times when we need to step back and take a break. And the trials definitely make our writing more relatable for our readers. I hope things soon improve for you. Blessings to you and baby!

  21. Oh my goodness, Jackie! How awful for you! I know with God all thing work together for good (just read that in my devotions this morning :) ), but I think at that time, I'd have a tough go of it being okay. I've never experienced a difficulty on such a grand scale as losing a house in such an unexpected manner.

    Wow. Good for you in getting past the crooked contractor. Was he ever brought to justice??

  22. Righteous indignation. I can see it in you, Tina.

  23. Hi Everyone,

    I'm so happy to be here today, and I'm bringing an almond coffee cake (even though I doubt I'd be able to eat it in real life without getting sick). If you can't eat guiltless virtual food, what's the point of having virtual food?

    I'm also bringing a spinach quiche because that just plain sounds yummy at the moment.

    I hope the post is an encouragement to everyone who reads it. I'll be in and out to answer comments throughout the day.

  24. Marianne, I'm glad the post was a help to you.

    Melissa, I had no idea you were writing a novel about betrayal at the moment. How interesting.

  25. Jackie, that's a story waiting to be told, my friend!

    There's raw emotion just in the telling of it!

  26. Eva, I'm really sorry your pregnancies are rough. Mine seem to be getting worse with each one, but I know there are others who have a lot more trouble than I do. It makes me grateful to squeak by with my own set of symptoms.

  27. Keli, I think your story with the mother who has cancer will be extra special and probably bless a lot of readers's lives. Thanks for sharing.

    And Ruthy, I'm reminded of a novel you wrote where the heroine had breast cancer. You based that on one of your friend's real life experiences, didn't you? That novel really sticks out in my mind as an excellent story. I'm sure it touched a lot of lives.

  28. Mary Preston, I'm glad you stopped by.

    Cindy W., you're exactly right about forgetting all the bad once you actually hold your baby.

  29. Tina! Thanks for inviting me today! :-)

    I hadn't really thought about diving into your characters emotions being too much for some people, but if you're very empathetic (which I'm not) then I can see how that could make things hard on the author.

    The good news is that you probably write your characters' emotions fairly easily.

  30. Clarissa Yeo at Yocla Designs did my ebook cover. I was really thrilled with the final result and the price. :-) Here's her website: http://yocladesigns.com/

    She had a somewhat similar cover on her website and I wanted my Eagle Harbor covers to follow a similar layout, so I emailed her and asked if we could do an inspy-ish version. Here's what we started with: http://yocladesigns.com/wp-content/gallery/portfolio/thalia.jpg

  31. There are two men sanding floors and my old, antique stairway right now... Me and the kids are holed up in the new family room.

    There will be dust everywhere but pretty floors when it's done.

    Naomi, who did your book edits? And who did your cover, it's lovely.

  32. Ruthy and Tina, I didn't even intend to be snarky. I think I'm snarkier than I realize this pregnancy. (Melissa deserves a gold medal for putting up with me--or maybe a really big box of chocolate).

    And for the record, I have a tendency to whine until my babies are sleeping through the night and not exclusively breastfeeding anymore. That's usually longer than 3 months. You might want to kick me out of Seekerville for a while later this year--just a warning.

  33. In my crazy mind, it actually is comforting to know there're famous people out there who have miserable pregnancies. Go Kate Middleton!

  34. Wow Jackie, what happened to you is heart-wrenching. I'm so sorry, even though I'm glad you love your house now. Still, I think there are times where certain people might need to lay writing aside for a while. I hope you can get back to it at some point. And I think Ruthy's right, that IS a story waiting to be told.

  35. Naomi, "The Lawman's Second Chance" was dedicated to my dear and wonderful friend Lisa, now nearly 4 years out from her original diagnosis... Lisa had suffered from hyperemesis in all her pregnancies, to the point of hospitalization and IV's... and I think that toughened her enough so when the breast cancer diagnosis came in, first we cried.... and then fought like heck. So far, so good!

    And my debut novel "Winter's End" was based on my hospice experience with my mother, and that book has had an ongoing healing effect on people.

    What a pleasure to be able to say that. :)

  36. Hey Jessica, waiving at you down in warm, sunny Florida (because it's so not warm and sunny where I live right now).

  37. So Tina and Audra are in the "Loved Being Pregnant" Club. Good for you. I wish more than anything I could be part of that club, but you might do yourself a favor and never mention that to pregnant woman who's running to the bathroom. Wait until she's feeling semi-normal first. Just sayin'. ;-)

  38. NAOMI!!! We've missed you, girl, and I'm SO sorry about the difficult pregnancy. But "hope" is a powerful motivation, and there's nothing more "hopeful" at the end of being "sick" than a sweet-smelling bundle of baby, thank God!! Saying one for you right now, my friend, for grace, grace, and more grace to get to that first wonderful baby cry ...

    Speaking of "hope" and speaking real-life trials aiding our writing, I just finished my first contemporary from my "Isle of Hope" series. What's unique about this novel over all of my others (other than it's the only contemporary I've written so far) is that it is based on my own real-life struggles with my dad growing up and during my early 20s.

    Isle of Hope, GA is a real place and the series is all about hope restored — so how appropriate is that? VERY loosely based on my own life, it’s about woman who has recently come to Christ and the first thing God tells her to do is to heal her relationship with her estranged father who kicked her out of the house years prior (which is actually what happened to me). In her teens, she was a wild girl engaged to a pastor’s son who was planning to be a minister … until she runs away, leaving him high and dry. Eight years later, she’s back to make amends to the father she defied, the fiancé she jilted, and the best friend she turned her back on. Only this time, the tables are turned because now she’s the Christian and her ex-fiancé is the bad boy. Gotta love those "bad boys"!! ;)

    Ironically, there is more spirituality in this book than all of my others, so it's obvious that God used the pain of the personal tragedies I went through with my own father to flush out any unforgiveness and hurt I still had.

    Thanks for your very important post today, my friend -- it's a keeper!


  39. Thanks for your kind words, Christina. I'm glad everything eventually worked out for your third pregnancy. I'm on number three at the moment too (well, if you don't count the one I lost).

  40. Honey, I'll never kick you out. I'm actually more sympathetic than I let on...


    I will employ plausible deniability.

  41. NAOMI SAID: "A break doesn’t mean you’ll never ever write again. In fact, a break might mean you’re still writing, but maybe only one book a year instead of two or three."

    Well-said, my friend, and MUCH needed to be heard by so many of us!! I just finished an 8-month sabbatical to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer pleasure of writing, which was incredibly beneficial for my spiritual and emotional state. Unfortunately, not so much for my professional state as an author since I didn't pitch any books or series during that time. So if I sell Isle of Hope to my publisher as I hope to do, it won't come out till late 2016 or 2017. Which means unless I put an indie book out there in the interim, which I also hope to do, I will go almost two years without a book on the market -- not good for an author!

    Even so, the rewards of stepping back for a while were truly worth it, and I look forward to what God has in store.


  42. Ruthy, you make me want to go buy Winter's End now. Isn't it amazing how works of fiction can be such an encouragement to others?

    And I'm sorry for the dust. Truly sorry. My husband picks up an occasional maintenance/remodeling job here and there. I know all about construction dust. :-(

    Oh, and as for my editors, I was actually going to ask you who did your ebooks. I've bartered and haggled with a couple writers I know who also have an amazing set of editing skills, both of whom are writing for Bethany House. So I essentially ended up swapping labor. It was a little scary to go out and pay an editor I didn't really know money to work on a fiction book. It seems the ones who specialize in fiction are really expensive and I don't really trust the ones who don't specialize in fiction.

    I might eventually need to find a professional editor that I like, but I've avoided that for my first few books.

  43. I use my daughter Bethany for my indies, and she's done some work for others now, too.

    She's used to me, she's great at finding detail mistakes, and her strength is making fun of HER MOTHER and explaining to people how she is the driving force behind the Mega Machine.

    Or something like that. :)

    She's reasonable, generally $100 for a novella-LI sized book, and she's good at keeping my timelines straight, keep my repetitive nature in check, and keep me humble.

    Of course, daughters love that!!!

  44. Excellent post. I just quoted you on my Facebook page.

    2014 included a stroke, cancer surgery and complications from exploratory surgery for ManO, a pacemaker for my dad after he almost died, etc etc. and me being a caregiver at earlier age than I expected.

    And you and Kate! The most watched bumps in the world. I promise not to spread the picture but I am spreading news about this post.

    Peace, Julie

  45. My first publishing credit was an essay in a magazine where I dealt with the challenges of raising a child with autism. I know what you mean by tapping into the real emotions of one's writing. Transferring them to new characters is still proving a challenge. :-)

    Please withhold my name from the drawing. Thanks.

  46. Great post, Naomi. I'm so sorry you're feeling so sick!! :( I know "It's all worth it in the end," but man oh man, walking through the now? It's so hard. I'll pray for you today.

    I love your suggestion for thinking about similar emotions you have felt to help draw upon for writing deeper emotion for my characters. It's not always easy. I think of a time when I've felt what my character's feeling, and then I journal about it. I can usually figure it out. The thing that helps me most? Being still enough to really think and re-feel some of it so I can write it.

    In one of my stories, I had a hero who really, REALLY messed up. When he was finally ready to ask the heroine for forgiveness, I thought about a time when I blew it big and I tapped into some of that. Putting on a certain kind of music also helped me to get into the mode. :)

  47. Naomi, thank you for this inspiring post. Life does throw us some curves. Sometimes we have to take a step back from writing. But like you, I've found the tough times make us better writers and more importantly better people. We understand others when they're hurting and can support them. As writers, we can create characters and scenes that ring true because of what we've gone through.

    In The Bride Wore Spurs Hannah's father is dying of cancer. The scene where he dies always brought me to tears as I'd lost my father to cancer and relived that loss when I wrote it and every time I read it.

    I think everything we write shares a part of us. Our experiences--good or bad--come out on the page through our characters.


  48. Naomi, your books look wonderful! Love the covers!

    Sorry you're not feeling well with your pregnancy.


  49. Another great post, Naomi. Using what you've been through in your books definitely makes them real.

    I also am in the "easy pregnancy" club. I never had morning sickness or even stretch marks (okay, I'm hiding from the things being thrown at me) I did, however, suffer from insomnia while pregnant. And since I had just finally gotten the previous child to sleep through the night by the time I was pregnant again, I basically didn't get any sleep for 7 years.

  50. Thank you for this inspiring post, Naomi! So sorry about the rough pregnancy, and I hope it gets better soon!

    Reading through the comments, I had to stop at Tina's quote: "Robert Frost — 'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.'"

    I definitely draw on my own experiences and emotions in my writing. One theme I have found repeatedly cropping up is difficult relationships between adult children and their parents. Seems I'm always trying to "fix" my own parental issues through my characters. The situations don't mirror my own that closely, but the emotions aren't so different.

  51. Julie, I'm glad the post was an encouragement. As much as we all love writing, sometimes other things need to take precedence for a while. I'm glad your sabbatical was fulfilling and enjoyable.

    And I hope you sell your Isle of Hope series. Wait--is that name based on Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears? I love that song! And the idea of doing an Ireland immigrant series. How fun. :-)

  52. I got to see the extra baby bump pictures, so now my indignation has been dampened....which is good since the scene I am working on is filled with grieving characters and they just plain weren't being sympathetic to me! ;)

    And Naomi told me she was a mean prego before she got pregnant, but I find she just keeps up with my snark better.

  53. Julie, I knew you'd had a rough year, but when you list it all out like that . . . wow. I truly hope God pours out His blessings on you in 2015.

  54. Julie, I'm so sorry! I mixed up your two comments and read them in the wrong order. Isle of Hope is a contemporary, not a historical. Even so, I'm sure the novel is excellent (like all the rest of your novels), and I hope you get a contract shortly. :-)

  55. Ruthy, my kids aren't old enough to make fun of me quite like that. But I can only imagine what it will be like when they're older. :-) Glad God has blessed you with such a talented daughter too--even if she does like to brag.

  56. Walt--I think different writers have their own strengths and weaknesses. Maybe infusing your characters with emotions isn't a strength of yours, but I bet you have other strengths.

    Jeanne--Thanks for your kind words, and I'm glad you were able to write through that harrowing part of one of your novels.

  57. "Everything we write shares a part of us." You put that so beautifully, Janet. YOU probably should have written this post, not me. :-)

  58. You know, Becky, I've had insomnia for all three of my pregnancies, though this one has been a little better than the other two. I used to hate it. Now that I have novels to write (and I took a three month break because I couldn't scroll down on my computer screen without getting sick), I actually wish I had more insomnia. I'm using the time to get up and write without distraction any chance I can.

    Now if only I could get the insomnia, write, and then find a way to still roll out of bed at a semi-normal hour of the morning.

  59. Yes, Myra! That was a great Robert Frost quote. And Tina, thanks so much for bringing it up. I'd not heard it before.

    And it's amazing how some of my own personal emotions and struggles have a way of repeatedly showing up in a novel. I, too, love playing around with family relationships. They're inherently complicated and there's so many directions they can go.

  60. Well, Melissa, this is one time where I actually wouldn't recommend real life experience to help with your scene. I wouldn't wish death or the grieving process on anyone, but I do hope your scene comes together--even if you're still mad at me.

    And yes, when critiquing some of Melissa's stuff, I've actually emailed her and given her warning that I was in a bad mood because of other things at my house, so not to take anything personally. For the record, I love having crit partner that I can be honest with and who always seems to forgive me no matter how badly I mess up.

  61. Naomi, I'm sorry your pregnancy is so difficult, but your baby bump is beautiful! Thanks for a great post. It is so tempting to leave the difficult things in the past, but that's not necessarily why we experienced them -- to forget them. Only God knows what encouragement we might share by writing about the tough spots in life.

  62. Exactly, Meghan! You said that way more beautifully than I did.

  63. Oh, Naomi, you poor thing!! I can relate to being green around the gills. My middle child about did me in. I lived with saltines and Sprite in my hand at all times.

    I LOVED this post. It's full of so many truths. I've often used painful times I've had and transferred them to similar situations for my characters to draw on that emotion.

  64. Naomi, that's your pregnancy brain talking. :-) I loved your post!


  65. Glad you enjoyed the post, Missy, and thanks for the sympathy. I'm so sick of being sick that I'll scrounge up sympathy rather shamelessly at the moment.

  66. I feel for you on the pregnancy! It won't last forever.

    I'm sure I tap in to the emotions when I write, but I'm not consciously aware of it. I tend to stay away from things that are too real for me. I'm sure this is not good for my writing.

    Can I say I love your covers?

  67. Um...I'm in the "loved pregnancy" club. I think God blessed me with that because He knew it was only going to be the one time (I'm a late in life mommy, meaning 40+ age at time of begetting...).

    Great post, Naomi. Very good info that I can really see how it can improve my writing. I'm very impressed you are able to share such great insights with us even while you're experiencing a difficult pregnancy. I think I had mush for brains during my pregnancy.

    Thanks for the link to your book cover designer too. As a graphic artist, I love seeing how other people do things because it will help me for when I jump into the book cover design waters. (fearing more sinking than swimming...eep)

  68. This is like sitting around the OB/GYN office sharing war stories!!!!!

  69. Apparently you two have a good relationship because Melissa still loves you!

  70. My guess is Melissa did the cover. It bears repeating. Beautiful!

  71. Naomi! That baby bump is adorable. :) I'm sorry you're feeling bad, but I'm so glad you shared the photo. :)

    I'm using the "transferred emotions" trick quite a lot these days. My main characters are in a troubled marriage of convenience. My heroine is an orphan who has a legitimate fear of manipulative men. I've never experienced any of these things, but I'm pulling from everyday arguments, frightening childhood experiences and others' advice to make these scenes and back stories work.

    Great post!

  72. Great post, Naomi. In one of my earlier WIPs, the heroine has to deal with losing her father. I transferred my emotions of almost losing my dad almost 2 years ago and, as a result, her character and emotions seemed much stronger and deeper.

  73. Dear Naomi,
    I'm sorry your feeling poorly with your pregnancy and can definitely relate. I used to tell my husband we should buy stock in ginger ale, which was a big help. But with both boys I was sick throughout the whole pregnancies. I also was on bed rest for months with my first son. I've always thought all the prayers dear friends offered made him even more super. I'm sure the same will be true for you. Loved your transfer of real-life trials to your writing, since that's the whole theme of my writing too. It really works in any genre, I think, to bring about better descriptions. I've also thought that the Lord can heal some of our trials through our writing.

  74. Tina, did you miss the cover link I posted up above????

    It's a direct link to the cover designer's portfolio page. Here's Clarissa's home page:

    Naomi's Cover Designer!!!!

    Here's the portfolio page:

    Cover Designer's Portfolio Page!!!!!

  75. Hi Connie,

    You know, if you're naturally one of those people who can write realistic emotions for fictional characters, then you might not need to tap into some of your personal emotions. It just depends. Every writer is different.

  76. DebH, I didn't know you were a graphic artist. How neat! Isn't it amazing how talented writers are in other, non-writing areas?

    And I'm glad you got to have your cherished child and that you enjoyed your pregnancy. Truly.

  77. Natalie and Anna, it sounds like you are both on the right track for finding a workable way to give your characters realistic emotions. Keep up the hard work.

  78. Elizabeth, that's a really great way to look at a hard pregnancy. Having so many prayers is a great way to start a child's life!

  79. Sorry, Tina, I'm not smart enough to know how to post actual links in blogger. Facebook does it for me, so I don't have to worry there. Did you see Ruthy's link for my designer? She's really talented (and really reasonably priced).

    And while Melissa didn't do the cover, she did send me a list of cover designers she would consider if she was self publishing. (She keeps crazy good lists like that.) So naturally, I siphoned off her hard work and energy and just picked someone she's already chosen. ;-)

    And for the record, I asked for examples of character emotions in everyone's novels. I can't help it if I scrounge up some sympathy for my poor, sickly condition in the process, Mrs. "I Loved Being Pregnant".

  80. LOL, I just now saw Melissa's comment about sense of betrayal!! LOL Melissa, you're hilarious!

  81. Jackie, that's just awful about your criminal builder!! I can't imagine how awful that was and can certainly understand the feeling you must still get looking at it.

  82. Naomi, I'm so sorry about this perpetual morning sickness you seem to be having. Shall we send chicken soup?

    I craved oranges, which were a good thing to eat. Lots of Vitamin C for baby and mom!

    Love your blog and your tips on incorporating the pain in life into our stories. So important.

    Just got home from visiting family in North Carolina. Hated to say goodbye. I've done it too many times in my Army brat, wife and mom life! Perhaps I should add the pain of parting in my next book.

  83. The crooked contractor is still free. I hand over my anger to God. On a daily basis for a while. But I know he will have to answer what he did to us one day.

    It's a really long story, right down to an anonymous letter in the mail warning us to be careful right before the guy disappeared.

    Other families were hurt by him, too.

    Like I said, I had to turn it over to God so I wouldn't let the bitterness take over.

  84. Just so you don't think we're complete idiots, he was recommended to us by our real estate agent who "checked him out." We toured a home he built in another town close by. And he prayed with us. That's the part that really got me.

    You all are right, I need to put this in a book one day.

  85. Naomi,
    Wow! What a beautiful reminder of two things:
    1. Using faith to fuel us in the fire
    2. Using emotions to 'keep it real' in our writing.

    This was so timely - and the snippets you shared from your writing shows such a beautiful use of word pictures and descriptions!!
    Thank you for sharing!!

  86. Naomi, I am sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult pregnancy. I'm sure you will be able to use that in your writing.

    I have not written a novel yet, but I have written many short stories and have often incorporated events that have happened to me, or started with an event and turned it into a story. It does make writing easier.

    Please enter me into the drawing.

  87. Debby, I've been eating a lot of oranges this pregnancy as well. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  88. No Jackie, you are not the one who sounded like an idiot in that story. Definitely not! Now as for the other party involved . . .

    You know that saying that's used for novelists, right? "You better be nice or I'll make you the villain in my next novel." It sounds like you have a really good villain, though I'm really sorry for the hardships this has caused you. :-/

  89. Pepper and Sandy, thank you both for your kind words.

  90. I did miss it. But in fairness I was reading posts on my phone and the screen is tiny and my glasses need replacing.

    THANK YOU!@!!!!!

  91. Naomi, thank you for your blog. Prayers for you and your pregnancy.

    I like your second point. Sometimes turning the emotion of whatever you're going through can help your writing.

    Hang in there and soon you'll be bringing home a new baby.

  92. "But sometimes life gets in the way of writing, whether we want it to or not, and you might need to readjust your priorities for a little bit. That doesn’t mean you’re a quitter. That doesn’t mean you’ll never reach your writing goals. It just means you’re human—like the rest of us."

    Thank you, Naomi!

    Sending wishes for good health,
    Nancy C

  93. Thanks for hosting me, Seekerville. As always, it was a pleasure. :-)

  94. Hi Naomi,
    Sorry I missed you yesterday, but it was a great post! I love the idea of using our angst over situations in our lives to enhance our writing. And using our joy as well!

    Your both books look wonderful. Will have to check them out! Love the covers!

    Wishing you a speedy rest of the pregnancy, an easy labor and a beautiful healthy baby to make all the pain worthwhile!


  95. Interesting picture! ! Hope you are feeling better soon... please enter me..

  96. In Book 3 of my Caney Creek Series of sweet Southern romances, a character has a neurological disease. I have a rare brain disease. Yes, it was a little difficult to write but I certainly made it real for the reader because of my living with the disease.

    Hope your pregnancy is going better.