Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday and the Writing Life!

By Debby Giusti

Today marks the beginning of Lent, a special time for Christians to draw closer to God. When we deny ourselves through fasting, when we turn our hearts more fully to the Lord through prayer, and when we put the needs of our brothers and sisters before our own wants through almsgiving, we are able to more fully enter into the Paschal Mystery. As many of us can attest, a well-lived Lent leads to a joyous Easter.

But how, you might ask, does Lent tie in with writing? The keyword is sacrifice.


Years ago, I heard an established author lament that she had missed her son’s youth because she had been so busy pursuing her writing career. As much as I wanted to publish, I didn’t want to be that woman. God and family came first. Then writing. Perhaps that’s why my road to publication stretched over so many years.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire women—and men—who do it all and do it well, the family, the day job, care of the home, as well as the writing. For me, something always suffered, and I didn’t want it to be my husband or my three children.

That being said, I do feel strongly that many folks, especially women, don’t take enough time for their own needs. I did write, but like many of you, my efforts were often piecemeal, fit in between carpooling, cheering the kids on at sporting events, or helping with homework. 


We all know that publication requires determination, persistence, and hard work. While a few might achieve success early on, most of us have to pay our dues. I wrote six manuscripts with multiple revisions before my seventh story sold to Love Inspired. As I mentioned, I squeezed writing time in after my family commitments were met. For four and a half years, I even cared for an elderly and infirmed aunt who had no other family to support her.  Soon after my aunt passed away and my youngest child went to college, I joined a committed critique group that met weekly. I cut back on other activities and focused primarily on my writing. The time was right. My children were grown, and I didn’t have any other significant responsibilities that vied for my attention. Within a year, I had a completed manuscript that sold some months later.

For most of us, our days are filled to overflowing with work, whether at home or at the office, with family commitments and with the ever constant, day-in and day-out household needs that require attention. No matter where we are on the journey to publication or beyond, writing takes time away from those daily demands.

Often we must make choices. Will I rise early or stay up late to get my pages written? Will I give up my free Saturday after a long week at the office to brainstorm a new story? Will I say no to family activities or social events to ready my contest entry for submission? Each decision requires sacrifice.


Regrettably, some people are unwilling to spend the time and energy required to achieve publication. Three friends come to mind. The first, I’ll call her Sally, was an avid romance reader who understood how to construct a compelling story. After a few years of honing her craft, she sold to Precious Gems, a romance line marketed exclusively through Walmart. Because Precious Gem authors were paid a lump sum with no royalties, Romance Writers of America did not consider them an RWA-approved publisher when it came to RITA entries and membership in the Published Author Network (PAN). As you can imagine, a brouhaha within the organization ensued. My friend withdrew her membership in RWA and stopped writing. Was it anger? Was it pride? Was it a realization that, even after publication, the writing journey would take more effort—more sacrifice—than she was willing to give? Whatever the reason, she walked away from the very thing she had worked so hard to achieve.

Another friend, I’ll call him Tom, was a retired pilot who wrote beautiful, albeit lengthy, prose. He snagged an agent but was unwilling to cut his manuscript into a shorter read. Tom walked away too.

A third friend, Claire, was a successful magazine freelance writer who wanted to break into the fiction market. Her stories always drew me in, but after a few years, she tired of the rejections. Perhaps Claire viewed them as a personal affront. Maybe deep down she couldn’t accept the criticism of her work that was never good enough, in her mind, for an editor to buy.

Sally, Tom and Claire were talented writers who were each close to publication, yet they were unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their dreams.


I’ve never regretted the choices I made in my writing journey. They were right for me, and my long road to publication made the first sale that much sweeter. I am forever grateful to be able to see my work in print and have never taken my career for granted, especially when so many, far more accomplished writers are still unpublished. I’m living my dream. Yes, there are sacrifices to be made, but the rewards far outshine anything that might be seen as negative. Truly I am blessed.

What sacrifices are you willing to make for your writing career? Have you prioritized your life? Where does writing fit?

Along with the food for thought in this blog, I’ve included a light Lenten breakfast of fresh baked bread, warm from the oven and slathered with butter and jelly. The coffee is brewed; the tea is hot. Grab a cup and let’s discuss sacrifice and the rewards that come when we achieve our writing goals. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for my March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
My March Love Inspired Suspense:
STRANDED
BY DEBBY GIUSTI

AMISH COUNTRY REFUGE
Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer.  But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever.

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.com 

86 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Good morning, Debbi. I noticed your subtle plug for buying the book. Love your Lenten breakfast, too. As long as there is coffee, though maybe that should be my sacrifice....I would love to win Stranded. Thanks

Helen Gray said...

I identify some parallels in our paths, Debby. I wrote when my children were young, but finally had to put it aside to devote my time to my family, job, church. etc. Retirement is when I resumed pursuit of my dream.

Wilani Wahl said...

I am mot sure what happened to my post I had to fix my slow computer so had to sign in for everything and create new passwords. So forgive me if this is a duplicate.

I would love a copy of your book. I found this post to be an encouragement for me to keep hanging in there and write, write, write! I don't want to be a quitter.

I hope everyone is staying safe with all these storms.

CatMom said...

Wonderful post, Debby.
Love your parallel of the Lenten Season and our writing life. Yes, sacrifices must be made.

I realized when my teaching career had to end earlier than planned (due to my back problems) the Lord was then opening the door for me to write full-time. Despite the health struggles, I feel blessed it worked out this way, as the timing also coincided with my kiddos being grown. I could not have written while my children were young and I was teaching school. The Lord's plans are always best! :)
Hugs, Patti Jo

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the post Debby. It gives me hope that with persistence my dream will be realized.

I would love to be in the drawing for Stranded.Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Mary Preston said...

It is a matter of priorities, compromise & persistence.

Debby Giusti said...

Morning Marianne,

Thanks for supporting Seekerville. Always love to see your comments. I don't have a cat, so no cat dish. Am dropping the names in a cute basket. You're the first in the drawing.

Good luck! And stay warm this cold winter day!

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Helen,

Our paths are similar. I published a few articles when my children were litte, then like you, I pushed the writing to the back burner as I volunteered in their schools, at church and in the community. Fast forward to moving to Georgia in the 1990s. That's when I found GRW and a support-group of other writers. Plus, I knew it was time. God's time, for sure! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Wilani, sorry for the problems you had logging in. Sometimes my computer is a friend, and sometimes not! :)

Glad the post offers encouragement. There's one thing to remember: it's never to late to build a writing career. That's the beauty of the profession...it can be achieved at any age and any stage of life.

Keep moving forward! I'm proud of you!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I can't even begin to tell you how beautifully well said this post is.


I am reminded of how coworkers always ask the same question each Monday-how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Well I defer the question back to them, because I doubt they would get that ...yes, I did do something exciting..

I traveled to a ranch in Colorado and rose horses. Then I wrote about love and angst.

LOL

Tina Radcliffe said...

The Seekers all span the decades...it is never too late to make your dreams come true.

Debby Giusti said...

Patti Jo,

I love how the Lord never allows one door to close without opening another. Although at times, I felt I was pushing on a lot of doors that remained closed! LOL! Often it seems the hardest when we're very close to making a sale. Many linger on that almost-published plateau. Regrettably, that's when some folks walk away. They get discouraged and give up, which is always so sad. Of course, they might not have Seekerville. Joining together for support and encouragement keeps us focused on our publishing goals.

I'm sorry about your health problems and that you had to leave teaching, which you loved. A huge loss for all those children who would benefit from your experience. But I am so glad the Lord drew you into the writing world.

Warm hugs on this cold Georgia day!

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, persistence is one of the key words. I'm almost 100% convinced that with enough determination and hard work, everyone who has the desire--and is willing to sacrifice--can and will publish.

NO LIMITS!

You're in the drawing!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary Preston, thanks for sharing your three words:

Priorities, compromise & persistence!!!

Want to explain a bit about compromise? Is that with family obligations? Time demands? Work requirements?

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, you're the woman who does it all...and does it all so well. Don't know how you keep up the pace and the schedule.

Ruthy too!

You're role models of determination, persistence and hard work!

Jackie said...

Hi Debby,

Thanks for the Lenten breakfast. Almost twenty-two years ago when my youngest child was born, I began to dream of writing. An adult dream, not my childhood fantasy. But, like you, I sacrificed the dream for God and family.

A few years ago, I felt God's nudge. I still work, and God and family come before writing, but I began the wonderful and scary journey of writing.

I appreciate you and the other Seekers who have encouraged me along the way. Thanks so much.

I ordered your book from Harlequin a few weeks ago. Is it out yet? I probably need to check the status of my order.

Dana R. Lynn said...

Wonderful post Debby. I really identified qith it. I waited until my children were older to begin writing in earnest. And even now, it's God first, family second, writing third. I usually squeeze in my writing after everyone else is in bed or before they get up. But it's worth it.

And I love Lent. The focus on drawing closer to God. Have a blessed day all!

Dana R. Lynn said...

Happy Lent

Becky Dempsey said...

I am at the "squeeze the writing in around the kids" stage currently. I dread the rejections because my personality is prone to take them all personally. I will need to trust God for the strength to use them to grow.

I would love to win the book.

Rose said...

Good morning, Debby,

When I started writing for publication in 1991, our son was 9. Since I always worked full-time, I knew I couldn't commit to book length manuscripts so I chose the short story route to publication. It worked for me, not only in my family schedule, but God granted me many successes in the genre.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Deb, I may be one of the few people along with you who actually enjoyed Lent growing up. Sacrifice, though difficult, brings so much good to our lives, not the least of which is a closer walk with God.

I LOVE how you tied the season of Lent into your blog today!! And it's so very true about the sacrifices one has to make to succeed in this business.

You asked What sacrifices are you willing to make for your writing career?

Before my spiritual sabbatical last year, I was willing to sacrifice a ton of my time to promote my books, but that's all changed now. I still promote, but not near as much anymore, and I'm much happier for it.

YOU ALSO ASKED: Have you prioritized your life?

FINALLY!! After five years of killing myself in this industry, the sabbatical forced me to take a step back and evaluate my priorities, and I finally have them straight, thank God -- God, family, friends, writing!! Which means more biking/walking with my hubs, more connection with my family, more lunches/dinners with my friends, and a far closer walk with God than ever before. Doesn't get much better than that.

Great blog, Deb!

Hugs,
Julie

Sandy Kirby Quandt said...

Debby, thanks so much for sharing your writing journey. I needed your reminders that persistence and determination are all part of our journey to publication. Stranded sounds like a great read.

Mary Hicks said...

Beautiful words, Debby. :-)

Family, church and friends are the reason I'm so late getting started writing. I loved every moment of my early life and wouldn't have done it any other way.

I know women who are able to do it all, and I applaud them, along with a little envy. :-)

I still spend two days a week on church activities and still love it! :-)

And when my grown daughter calls on a hectic morning, I sat in my favorite chair, close my eyes and enjoy the time with her—I can write later.

TINA, I can't imagine anyone not thinking you had the perfect weekend—what more could a person ask for—horseback riding and wallowing in romantic angst.

What IS wrong with people???

Audra Harders said...

Debby, we don't hear this message often enough...God opens the doors at the right time. Just as you said, priorities need to be evaluated and as many have said already, I had my family and God front and center through all those years of learning my craft. My conscience is clear and I know I'm right where He wants me to be.

Lent is a beautiful season and time to reflect over how much God has blessed us...and will continue to do so through the end of time.

So beautifully said, Debby. Thank you.

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, I admire you for following your dream and making it work, even if you have to "fit it in."

Love that you realized God's nudge. He does that. He tells us when it's time, especially if we're listening to that small, interior voice. Of course, we often have to quiet the world before we can hear him.

I'm excited about your journey and am cheering you on! Yes, you can!!!

STRANDED will be out in March. Thanks for ordering. Your support means so much to me!!!

Hugs!

Rhonda Starnes said...

I've never done anything in my life on anyone else's time table. I married, had two children, and then I went to college to earn my teaching degree. I didn't start pursuing my dream of publication until our youngest married, and we became empty nesters. Actually, I finally wrote my first manuscript when Mountain Man told me to either write a book or stop talking about it. Gotta love a man who is supportive and encouraging! :)

I'm learning to prioritize and make time for me and the things I enjoy. And like most things in my life, God is helping me learn patience as I navigate the publishing world.

Thanks for the post, Debby. I hope you're staying warm today. It's a bitterly, cold day here in north Alabama.

Janet Dean said...

Hello Debby. Love the writing tie in with Lent. In my mind, sacrifice is always part of achieving a dream. I feel sorry that your three friends didn't pursue their gift, but the rewards probably didn't outweigh the sacrifice. We must all find our way.

I'm grateful I didn't sell before my kids were grown. Those were precious years that seemed to just whiz by.

Janet

Myra Johnson said...

So many truths in this insightful post, Debby! My daughters were just starting middle school back in 1983 when I first got serious about writing. Schedule adjustments and sacrifices had to be made, but I always tried to put God and family first. Still do today, even with a retired hubby under foot!

Myra Johnson said...

Also wanted to say that I can totally relate to writers who lose hope and are ready to give up. Several years ago--you'll remember this, Debby--I was SO CLOSE to walking away. In spite of contest successes and "near misses" with editors, I couldn't seem to break through the rejection barrier.

But thanks to encouragement from my Seeker sisters and tons of prayer, I kept with it. And ONE YEAR LATER I received my first book contract!

Yes, practice and perseverance, combined with a lot of prayer and faith, is the only way we can make it in this business!

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

I have a Lent story from childhood that might be appropriate to today’s sacrifice theme. In a writing career there will be sacrifices, allocation of resources, choices, and a lot of ‘Gotta Wanna’.

I was born a philosopher. In my first religion class, before mass service and before I even started first grade, I objected to the story of Adam and Eve because ‘it was wrong to be punished’ for something someone else had done. The nun couldn’t convince me and after the class my parents were asked not to bring me back to that class again. (I was either a devil or a philosopher and there was no exorcism for philsophers.)

A few years latter at supper my parents asked me what I was giving up for Lent. My younger brother was giving up candy and my older brother, ice cream. I said I was giving up vegetables.

My father said, “You can’t give up something you don’t like. That would not be a sacrifice.”

Well that very week in school I had argued with the nuns about sacrifices in the bible. “Why would God be happy with the killing and burning of animals? That makes no sense!”

I told my father, “If I had scarified a chicken at the temple, as in the bible, it would still be a sacrifice even if I did not like eating chicken.”

“No, that’s not right. It was not the chicken that was the sacrifice. It was the fact you could have sold the chicken and bought something you did like to eat. The money was the sacrifice.”

“Well, what if I did not like that particular chicken, (it had pecked me over and over again), so I derived a great deal of satisfaction by having that chicken killed in the temple? That would still be a sacrifice (especially to the chicken) but it would not be a sacrifice to me.”

“That’s why the Christians did away with those sacrifices and instituted Lent! So you must give up something you like!”


My father was more of a dictator than a philosopher. My Danish uncle would tell my father that I was a philosopher and not to argue with me because that is what I wanted. It would only make me worse. (My father did stop arguing but I still got worse!)

Still some things are sacrifices like taking care of an aged parent with Alzheimer. You don’t get a monetary return. Other things are just an allocation of resources. When one gives up golf to divert money into buying a new car one is very proud of, that may be a sacrifice of golf but was it really a sacrifice?

Ultimately, I believe that it comes down to this old motivational seminar saying: “You Gotta Wanna”.

At times you may even need courage as is so well expressed in the words of this prayer:

“Give me courage to step out in faith, to stretch and grow and to be the writer You have called me to be.”*


I think a prayer like this has a way of showing how to turn sacrifices into love.

Vince

P.S. Thanks: you gave me a wonderful trip down memory lane this morning.

* "The Writers’ Prayer"Debby Giusti

Debby Giusti said...

Dana, thanks for sharing your priorities. Congrats on your success and on making time for writing while being attentive to your family's needs.

Happy Lent to you!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Becky,

We all dislike receiving rejections. Even published authors get them at times when a proposal doesn't fit the editor's needs.

But we have to remember that this is a business. The story is our product. Our product may be rejected when it isn't ready for publication, but that doesn't mean we're rejected. It merely means that the product, just as in industry, needs more revision.

Try to separate yourself from the rejection and never take it personally. Easier said than done, right!

Your name's in the basket!

Debby Giusti said...

Rose, congrats on your success writing short stories. They're hard to write and sell. So few places publish them, these days. And I do enjoy a good short story.

Bet writing those short pieces helped hone your craft for longer works of fiction. When did you decide to move to full-length fiction?

Eileen said...

Thank you Debbi. I can see myself in each of your examples as well as in your life. I too left many careers and unfinished stories whenever my family suffered. Regrets? Not usually. But, reading about talented people who so easily shelved creative gifts has inspired me to push past disappointment. I rose this morning at 5 am so that I may attend Mass and receive ashes. That sacrifice seems small because of my love for the Lord. How come I can't get up at 5 am to write? Discipline I think. I'm going to commit to Speedo and finish my story!

Debby Giusti said...

Julie, love how you listened to the Lord. Also like your priorities.

I need to spend time with the people I love. If I stayed glued to my computer 24/7, I probably wouldn't be able to write...or wouldn't enjoy writing.

Finding the right balance is key. Although it can be a challenge.

Everything changes when a deadline looms, of course. :) Then, I'm usually at my computer for long periods of time. Luckily, hubby understands. He also knows my final push lasts about a week, and then I'm back to life as usual.

Happy Lent! Plus, we have SPEEDBO in March. It's all good.

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Sandy,

The road to publication is different for each of us, but I don't believe it's ever easy. Rewarding, yes, and usually worth the sacrifice. But there can be bumps in the road, detours, stalls, etc, that slow our progress.

Discouragement comes, but needs to be shrugged aside.Often we look at where we have to go instead of seeing how far we've come.

Your name's in the basket!

Jeanne T said...

Debby, what a great post! Thanks for the encouragement to keep pressing forward and not give up on this writing journey. With my boys, and the house, and a husband who travels, it's hard to fit writing in. But you helped me feel a little better with the reminder that this is my season of life. And it's a good season.

I'm still going to write, but I'm not going to beat myself up when my writing doesn't move forward as quickly as I want it to.

Loved your post today!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary Hicks, I loved what you shared. Like you, my life has been so full. Each stage brought new blessings.

Nodding about the sweet phone calls from children. Taking time for them is still so important.

Glad you're continuing with church ministry. God is smiling, no doubt!

Hugs!

Jeanne T said...

Debby, what a great post! Thanks for the encouragement to keep pressing forward and not give up on this writing journey. With my boys, and the house, and a husband who travels, it's hard to fit writing in. But you helped me feel a little better with the reminder that this is my season of life. And it's a good season.

I'm still going to write, but I'm not going to beat myself up when my writing doesn't move forward as quickly as I want it to.

Loved your post today!

Debby Giusti said...

Audra's comment needs repeating. She said: "My conscience is clear and I know I'm right where He wants me to be."

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing! Sending Seeker hugs and Lenten love!

Jeanne T said...

Debby, what a great post! Thanks for the encouragement to keep pressing forward and not give up on this writing journey. With my boys, and the house, and a husband who travels, it's hard to fit writing in. But you helped me feel a little better with the reminder that this is my season of life. And it's a good season.

I'm still going to write, but I'm not going to beat myself up when my writing doesn't move forward as quickly as I want it to.

Loved your post today!

Debby Giusti said...

Rhonda,

Giggling at Mountain Man! Love his advice. So glad he spurred you on. :)

Seems a number of us have come to writing as a second career, or later-in-life occupation/vocation. God's timing, right?

Georgia is cold, but we'd don't have snow, and our power is on. Praying for all those struggling through this winter freeze.

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, so true. Those younger years fly by...although we don't always realize it when the children are little.

The phrase, "Fire in the Belly," comes to mind when I think of the three friends who walked away from writing. They allowed their passion for writing to slowly die. I never want that to happen to me or to others who just need a bit more encouragement and support. So glad we have Seekerville to fan the flames and keep the "fire in our bellies" burning brightly.

Hugs!

Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Debby! Great post and great food, both for thought and for eating. :-)

Family and homeschooling definitely come first. I don't get to write every day. I don't have the time to hop around different writers' blogs and a lot of social media time, so I suppose my connection to other writers suffers. But the children are here for only so long. The older children are quite independent with their school work, and my husband helps A LOT around the house, so I can fit in writing time here and there.We aren't involved in a lot of activities, not because of my writing but just because neither my husband and I nor my children want that, so we're not on the run from thing to thing. And now my time here is up. The littlest boy needs me....

Debby Giusti said...

Myra, so glad you didn't walk away. Yes, you're right, we need the support and encouragement to continue on at times, especially when we see nothing but rejection. Prayer, faith, support, it all is so important whether we're trying to sell our first book or our twentieth!

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, I'm thinking your father may have been a saint! LOL!

Just kidding. But I can see you as a child seeing things through your own special lens. Probably hard for more practical folks to understand.

Glad you found Seekerville, Vince. Or did we find you?

Either way, you always bring joy and a fresh way to look at life.

Thanks for your mention of The Writer's Prayer!

Hugs!

kaybee said...

Debby, this is deep.
KB

Debby Giusti said...

Eileen, good for you getting up early to attend Mass.

Good for you making plans for SPEEDBO! We'll call you Ruthy! BTW, do you know about 1K/1H on Facebook? Find it. Ruthy's always there in the wee hours of the morning, and I'm sure she'd like your company.

I believe in you! You can and will finish your story! Remember a story is written one page at a time.

Lenten hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Jeanne,
Yes, seasons of life. Enjoy your family and your young ones now. Write when you can, but don't get discouraged or feel that you're not successful. You are! And you've very blessed.

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Meghan, you have your priorities in line! Good for you!

I know publication will come, at the right time!

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to KB.

And smiling!

Jennifer Smith said...

Aw, love these thoughts, Debbi! I can relate to so much of what you said. I've always been driven to work toward my goals, but when I had my son almost three years ago, I knew the right thing to do was step back a little.

I write and do some editing work in my spare time, but I only rarely have time to work on my novel. Though I have peace about that, sometimes it's a little frustrating. But when it's all said and done, I want my son and husband to know I loved them more than I loved my writing.

Jennifer Smith said...

Oops, *Debby, not Debbi. :)

Jan Drexler said...

I love this look at sacrifice, Debby. Very thought provoking.

I spent years sacrificing my writing for other things. Raising children, homeschooling them, serving in Bible Study Fellowship, serving at our church, supporting my husband...all of those things took precedence. Every time I tried to write, God said "not yet."

Finally, when God said "now," I started writing. And now I have to learn to sacrifice things for my writing.

I'm too quick to sacrifice other people's comfort for my writing - a clean house for my family, my husband's favorite homemade bread, etc. But I need to sacrifice something of mine, instead.

God will show me what that is :)

Thanks again, Debby. And please stick my name in the hat for the drawing!

Mary Curry said...

So much wisdom in this post, Debby. Thank you for sharing today.

My writing journey has taken longer than yours. ;)I first began playing with storied back in the 80s when I was newly married. I dabbled in them when my children were young. I had dreams of publishing, but mainly I wrote because it was fun for me, something relaxing when the children were napping. I had some measurable success - requests, contest wins, but I never pushed through to publication.

I've learned there was a reason for that. That was not the path God had in mind for me. Can I tell you how happy I am today that I didn't succeed then?

I've learned an important lesson besides sacrifice - patience and waiting for God's perfect timing.

I may have shared this here before, but it seems appropriate today.

Questions for reflection from an sacredspace.ie :

"Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life?
By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit.
If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future."


What I have learned in the past few years is that now my writing serves as that growth area. As I create my characters' spiritual journeys, I have the opportunity to walk with them and expand my own faith. As I reflect on the message I want as a theme to my stories, I read and ponder and pray.

So, by practicing patience along with sacrificing time (and sleep ;) ), I have gained so much more than just publication.

Jana Oliver said...

Wonderful post, Debby!

Debby Giusti said...

Jennifer, beautiful comment about wanting your hubby and son to know how much you love them. I doubt anyone ever regrets caring for their family. However, they could--like the woman I mentioned--regret focusing too much time on their work.

I do want to mention that some women have to work to provide for their families. That, in itself, is a huge sacrifice. So it can go both ways, IMHO.

Debby Giusti said...

Jan, even after my first few books published, I still struggled to find the right balance. It's never easy. I find most women are hesitant to put their own needs first. Must be the nurturer in us. Perhaps that's why writing contracts are important. I have to provide the completed manuscript on time so some decisions are easier to make because of the commitment I've made.

You're in the drawing!

Keli Gwyn said...

Debby, I'm another who waited to pursue her dream of being a published author. It wasn't until our daughter was a sophomore in high school and I was no longer needed as a parent volunteer that I put fingers to keyboard and started my first story--forty years after my dream took root.

Sacrifice coupled with commitment and realistic expectations helped me as I embarked on my journey. Having worked as an editor at a small textbook publishing company, I knew it would take time to learn craft and produce a manuscript that would capture the attention of agents and editors.

I've put in the time willingly, although I've had to miss out on things I would have enjoyed, but the sacrifice is worth it. One of my goals was to show my daughter that it's possible to pursue our dreams. She's living hers now as she works over in Europe. Being so far from family and friends is a sacrifice, but she'd seen me make them, so she was prepared.

Eileen said...

Tina
Where were you in Colorado? I spent the weekend with my sister and brother in Steamboat Springs, a four hour drive from Loveland, but oh, what beautiful weather! Needed that getaway and there's no better place that the Colorado mountains.

Debby Giusti said...

Lovely, Mary Curry. Great reflection from sacredspace. I like the idea of seeing where we have produced fruit.

Which ties in with one of my favorite scriptures: It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit. John 15:16

I'm always questioning where God wants me to work...then I come back to writing Christian fiction. It's where he's called me, at this stage of life.

One of the beautiful blessings that comes from writing is meeting people across the country. Those connections are so special to me. Praying for folks, lifting them up when they're in need, sending words of encouragement, those "little" things uplift me as well and bring added meaning to my writing journey. Sometimes I wonder if God allows me to write so I can minister to his people in other ways. Perhaps I'll never know, but it's interesting to ponder. Ah, the mind of God!

How lovely that your spiritual walk is enhanced through the stories you write. Can't wait for the release of your debut.

Debby Giusti said...

Jana,
Thanks again for being with us yesterday! Great blog post. I learned so much!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for sharing, Keli!

I know you're sacrificing for your daughter's happiness now. Having her so far away must be difficult!

Always hate when my military son and his family are far from home. Don't even mention the four deployments to the Middle East. Mothers like to have their children close at hand! :)

When my children were teens, they couldn't talk about life being unfair to me. They saw me open too many envelopes that contained rejection letters, yet I kept writing. My long road to publication provided a good lesson about persistence and hard work. I know your journey touched your daughter as well.

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Eileen, sounds like you had a lovely weekend.

Tina's probably at her day job. I'm sure she'll stop back later.

Keli Gwyn said...

Debby, talk about sacrifice. You're no stranger to it, in writing or in life. I feel for you as I think about your son in the military and his four deployments to the Middle East. I can't begin to imagine how tough it must have been to have him over there and how many prayers you must have lifted on his behalf. My thanks for his service and for his family's sacrifice, including yours.

Jackie Smith said...

Thanks, Debby, for a beautiful and inspiring post!
Yeah, it is a cold (and windy) day in GA....thankful we had no power outages!
I would love to win STRANDED!

Sherida Stewart said...

Debby, I always enjoy your faith-centered thoughts on the writing journey.

I'm making slow progress towards the writing I feel called to do. Sacrifice? I'm not sure what I'm sacrificing because I enjoy being part of the inspirational writing community.....thanks to all in Seekerville. To make more progress toward publication, I know I need to prioritize to get everything done. I want to make efficient and productive use of my time. Through prayerful consideration, I'm learning to fit writing activities into little bits of found time.

I do believe, as you have said, our successes come in God's PERFECT timing, so I am not discouraged. As always, thank you for your inspiration!

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, you're in the drawing!

Stay warm!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Debby! This is a great post, and a great reminder of what is most important in life. I like your parallel to Lent. Although I have never celebrated Lent (it was not stressed in my denomination), I love what it means to many Christians, and the reminder of the sacrifice of our LORD.

Thanks for the pick-me-up!

Debby Giusti said...

Sherida,
It is hard to fit writing time into an already busy schedule. Remember what Ruthy and Tina have said. A 1,000 words a day = a Love Inspired book in two months. Or divide that by two. Write 500 words a day and you'll have a book in four months. Then rewrites, of course.

As you said, in God's time. Often I look for large segments of time, but as you mentioned, even short writing spurts are productive.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for stopping by today! You don't have to participate in any church-wide Lenten practices to draw closer to the Lord during these forty days. Ask him what he wants you to do. I know he's guiding your steps in your writing life and your spiritual journey as well.

Hugs!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Debby, Yes, it is Ash Wednesday and in mass this morning I thought of all my Christian friends and how blessed I am to have them--you included. smile

Great article. And yes, we have to make sacrifices.

And I'm glad we all have different roads to publication and such a variety of ways to get there. it is good to know that when we persist, it happens at the right time for each of us. Good thing to remember.

Blessings my dear friend.

Tanya Agler said...

Debby, thank you so much for this post.

I'm thankful that my husband is helping me in my writing journey. Both of us are making sacrifices. He'll be sacrificing a lot this July so I can go to New York to the RWA Conference (we have 4 kids-all at home).

Right now, it's a balancing act, especially with our oldest having been diagnosed with a serious disease that requires a lot of doctors' visits.

I think my children see the benefits. They especially like the souvenirs.

Thank you for your gracious example and this wonderful post.

Mary Connealy said...

Great blog post Debby. I didn't see it when I was in the middle of trying to get published but now I can see clearly that God gave me a season of life for motherhood and then, as my children grew up, a season for my writing.

Valri said...

Hello Debby! I always enjoy hearing from you. I can't wait for your next book. I love every military investigation! I hope it will include some of the characters from your other books. You know I always ask you that! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra, well said. Yes, it happens at the right time for each of us. Thanks for thinking of all of us...and offering prayers for us...at Mass today.

Hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Tanya, I didn't know you had four sweet babies! What a blessing!

Praying for your child with the medical need. So hard for a mama and dad to watch their little one struggle. I'm asking God to bless your family and bring healing to your beautiful child.

Let's get a groundswell of prayer going across this country for healing for your sweet one!

Holding you all close in prayer!

Debby Giusti said...

Love those seasons, Mary Connealy! You're right. We don't always see them.

Now you have four grown daughters and wonderful grandchildren. God is good!

Plus, he's blessed your writing abundantly.

So proud of you!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Valri! You're so sweet. Hope you enjoy this next story!!!

Hugs and love!

Sandy Smith said...

Debby, I enjoyed reading this post. I wrote short stories for years, but never got started on the novel I wanted to write. I am really trying to do it now, but I have to find the discipline and priorities to do it after a full day of work. Lent seems like a good time to follow through and discipline myself to write. Our church is also doing a Reading the Bible in 90 Days program. I am not participating in the small group studies but am committing myself to following the readings on my own. I am also going to do Speedbo, so I will need to find that discipline.

Please enter me into the drawing for your book.

DebH said...

thanks Debby for writing this post. it is very comforting to me. perhaps now is not my season for pursuing getting pubbed, but rather to absorb the wisdom found here and practice until the time is right (meaning short stories to hone skills, and slowly form the longer ms without neglecting my boys...)

Patsy said...

Love you writing! So glad you put God and family first.

Deanna Stevens said...

I agree, hard work with persistence will get you far. I really like your book cover.. please enter me I'd love to read Stranded..

Debby Giusti said...

Sandy, I'm cheering you on...for completing your book and for reading the Bible in 90 days. ( I did the Bible in a year, which was enjoyable. Three months isn't long.)

At least, SPEEDBO will help for the writing! Love that we'll be supporting one another.

NO LIMITS!

Debby Giusti said...

DebH,
Honing your craft is what we all have to do. Don't get discouraged about publication. Just keep moving forward. You've done so well, especially with Killer Voices.

I pushed on all doors. Didn't know which one would finally open.

Eventually all the hard work paid off. It will for you as well.

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Patsy, for your kind words about my writing!

Hugs!