Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Advent and the Writing Life!



By Debby Giusti


Is your Advent wreath lit, and are you counting down the days until Christmas?

For most of us, the four weeks of Advent are filled with anticipation and expectation as we prepare our homes and our hearts for the birth of the Christ Child. We shop to find the perfect gifts for family and friends and then wrap the presents with pretty paper and shiny bows and place them carefully under trees dressed in twinkling lights and glittering ornaments.

We bake cookies and pies, send cards and newsletters, and spread the spirit of Christmas by reaching out to those in need.


Family traditions might include setting up a crèche to welcome the Baby Jesus, caroling at a local nursing home or preparing care packages for military heroes deployed far from home.

In spite of the busyness of the season, we make time for prayer, scripture and contemplation as we await the birth of the Tiny Babe.


A writer’s life is filled with long periods of waiting that can be thought of as secular Advents. We wait for an agent to read our work, or a contest entry to be critiqued and returned, or for a publishing house to make an offer to buy our book.

How can we use our time wisely as we wait?

Here are five suggestions.
           
1. PRAY
Saint Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”


Prayer should be the first step in each stage of every endeavor. Pray before you brainstorm the story, while you write the pages and as you prepare the manuscript for submission. Finally, send it off with a final prayer that the work will be well received.

Usually our goal is publication, but a “positive” rejection letter with suggestions from the editor on how to make the manuscript more marketable is also a plus. (We’ve talked before about the importance of reworking the story and resubmitting if an editor shows interest in seeing revisions.)

           
Some folks believe praying for the success of their work is not appropriate, yet if God has given us the talent to write, then doesn’t he want us to use that gift for the betterment of all? If so, our words need to connect with readers, and the easiest way to do that is to have our stories accepted for publication, which seems like an excellent prayer request to me.
           
In addition to rote prayer and spontaneous prayer from the heart, consider praying through scripture. Pick a verse that expresses your feelings and recite it frequently each day.



          
One of my favorite verses is John 15:16. It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit. In that short verse, God is telling me that he chose me to be a writer. It’s a mission and a ministry, and it’s the way he wants me to bear fruit, good fruit that will build up his kingdom on earth.
           
2. GET READY
Just as we prepare for Christmas, we also need to prepare for the next step in our writing journey.


If you’re awaiting publication, then use the time to build a web site, get involved in social media, create a tagline and logo, and develop a marketing strategy. Get to know your local booksellers, your librarian, perhaps even gift shop owners and anyone else who might be interested in promoting your work.


During my pre-publication waiting period, I chose “Faith with an edge…cross my heart” as my tagline. My logo is a heart with a superimposed cross, which I add after my signature whenever I autograph books. I also include the phrase, “Cross my heart,” in each of my full-length suspense stories, and I have a Cross My Heart Prayer Team that joins me in praying for the needs of others.

Long before my first sale, I got to know the independent bookseller in my town who became a dear friend and hosted signings for me with the publication of each book.


I also wrote The Writer’s Prayer, knowing I needed God’s help with my stories. I’ve given away thousands of copies and am grateful that the prayer is meaningful to other writers as well. 

3. REMAIN OPTIMISTIC
Rejection hurts. Too often, those closest to publication get discouraged and some folks even give up their writing dreams.

           
To combat the negatives, review the positives. Keep a file of the affirming comments contest judges and editors and agents have written about your work. Read biographies of successful people whose early work was rejected, such as Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and John Grisham. Thankfully for us, they didn’t give up.

Visit book stores and envision your book on the shelves! Make a mock up cover. Add your name in large print and include New York Times or USA Today bestselling author to your list of future credits.

4. DEVELOP PLAN B
If I’m worried about a particular outcome, often I’ll consider alternate strategies to achieve my goal.


If publisher A doesn’t buy your story, do you have other editors to whom you can submit? Independent publishing provides a viable way to get our work in print. Is that an option for you?

Seek advice from a freelance editor or ask a critique partner or beta reader to evaluate your work and/or offer suggestions for improvement. Sometimes a story is ahead of its time and needs to be put on hold. Allowing the work to “rest” helps us see it with a more critical eye when we read it some months later.

5. KEEP WRITING
Start a new project. Write the next book or a Christmas novella or a short story for a magazine. (Check out Tina Radcliffe’s Seekerville blog on writing for Woman’s World.)

Consider a freelance article for a local or regional publication. Submit a feature story to your town’s newspaper. Pen a letter to the editor about a pet peeve or in recognition of someone in your community. You get the idea. Keep writing!

           
Don’t get discourage or disillusioned, and don’t let the negative voice within throw you off track. God has given you the desire to write, and he’s gifted you with ability. He will guide you to the right door that leads to publication.

Share your Advent traditions and the many ways you and your family prepare for Christmas. Also share how you’re preparing for publication or for the next stage of your writing journey. What productive steps do you take as you wait to hear back from an editor or agent? Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of one of my books, winner's choice, and a surprise gift.


The coffee’s hot. There’s eggnog and cider and lots of Christmas cookies. Also enjoy Stollen from Germany and Panettone from Italy, two of my family’s favorite Christmas treats!

Wishing you abundant Advent blessings!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Debby Giusti

PERSON OF INTEREST 
WOMAN ON THE RUN
While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.

Also available: A HEARTFUL OF CHRISTMAS, a Christmas collection found everywhere you buy digital stories.

“A Miracle for Christmas,” by Debby Giusti

Nurse Brigid O’Grady refuses to open her heart to NYPD Officer Tony Calabrese, knowing she could lose him to the gang violence that killed her dad. But, while working to save a patient on Christmas Eve night, Brigid is confronted by the very danger she most fears. Can Tony save Brigid…or do they both need a miracle to make the darkness bright?

85 comments :

  1. Love your post. Advent was not something encouraged in the church I just left, and I didn't do it this year, but next year! And I love your suggestions! Thanks, Debby

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  2. We don't usually follow Advent or celebrate Christmas growing up. Money was tight, but my mom would always make something special for dinner - something each of us liked to eat. Now as I'm older and a Christian, the meaning of Christmas is more important to me. As a family, we spend time together cooking and playing games. It's always a time with comical and memorable scenes. Thanks for an informative post. Sometimes while reading some great quotes, verses or prayers in books, I would follow along and pray those words. So I appreciate all the things writers do. Thank you for sharing. Annie.

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  3. We're in full Advent swing here! We're reading Anne Voskamp's "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas" along with our usual Advent prayers.

    We also sing the O Antiphons, starting on the 17th and going the last seven days before Christmas.
    We sing them in the evening (when Vespers would be)and use little blocks to spell out the first letter of the first word of each days' Bible verse (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia), until the last day when it finally spells out "Ero Cras", which means, "Tomorrow, I will Come".
    It's a really old tradition. Around 600 AD the father of the family would sing them and give a gift to a different family member each of the seven days... which would stink if you were the 8th kid, haha. Around the 8th century, churches started singing the O Antiphons as a community thing but only two of our three local parishes have this every year. I only know a few families that sing the antiphons here, but in Poland almost everyone did. Anyway, my kids love the little blocks and waiting for the next letter, so I like keeping the tradition.

    Oh, the songs are prophecies from Isaiah and a friend told me that they have a "Joshua tree" craft during Advent that follows the same Bible verses, so maybe some people sing it and some people hang ornaments for each verse on a tree until Christmas? So many variations on telling the same story!



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  4. We don't follow a lot of Advent traditions. Interesting thank you.

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  5. Hi Debby:

    Thanks for this beautiful post.

    I'm up late listening to "Songs that got us through World War II", and thinking about the amazing gift of prayer.

    I'm so old fashion that I think of prayer in terms of saying the "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" prayers. I don't think in terms of just talking to God. That makes me wonder how many different ways there are to pray.

    Does any one have suggestions as to the different ways one can pray. I have the time and the need and would welcome any suggestions.

    Debby: I wanted to read your military prayer but I lost my only copy and I could no longer find it on your website. Do you still have it? Could you post a link to it?

    Thanks,

    Vince

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  6. Debby, heartfelt thanks for this straightening-out perspective of the multi levels of publishing... concluding that He loves me ( us all ) so much that He not only planted a story in my heart but will NOT abandon me and will see it to completion.

    God bless.

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  7. Great post Debby!

    Vince, for me, prayer is simply a two way conversation with God. I talk to Him and then when I am still and listen I can hear Him talk to me, He speaks through His Word, in a small still voice, through nature, through many different ways. I just need to listen. I love to pray and get closer to our Father. Sometimes I find myself talking to Him throughout the day, other times I'm in my quiet time with His Word and I talk to Him and listen.

    May everyone have a blessed day today!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  8. Debby, we're celebrating advent here. One of my favorite ways is to find a daily advent study. We light the candles on the wreath everyday during our study time.

    It is a much needed time that keeps the focus on Christ.

    Last night our circle went caroling to the shut ins from church. I'm a horrible singer and was loathe to go, but it meant so much to the people we visited. I think doing something for others brings the true meaning of Christmas home.

    I love how you tied the writing aspect in. Believe me, I pray when I submit!

    Vince, I find there are more needs than people willing to pray so I applaud you for your willingness. I find a prayer journal helpful. I don't always do this, but wish I would.

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  9. I love this! I love this so much! And I was one of those who felt embarrassed to pray for success, who thought God was too busy to have to be bothered with such things.

    How stinkin' silly of me!!!!

    The Seekers taught me otherwise, to put my work before God with prayers and supplication.

    I love these women!!!!

    Deb, thank you so much for this beautiful reminder.

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  10. I love Advent traditions and Lenten traditions. They create a season of preparedness.

    The Advent wreath....

    yarn on the creche, warmed by good deeds...

    We used to have vespers at church, sweet evening services of prayer and music. I miss them!

    And I saw a lovely Advent Calendar idea from Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a calendar filled with little slips of paper, offering advice on how to make the world a better place, each day.

    Imagine if we all did that???? I loved it!

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  11. Marianne, even if your church doesn't focus on Advent, you can. Make the Christmas preparation a prayerful gift you give to your family...and the Christ Child. I like to think that the gifts we give one another are in celebration of the Lord's birthday. Most of the Western World celebrates His coming, even if they don't recognize the true reason for the season. For me, this time of anticipation is so special.

    Advent blessings to you and yours!

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  12. Annie, it sounds as if your home growing up was filled with love...and that's the true meaning of Christmas. Love came to earth to dwell with us. You mentioned the special memories you and your family create now during the Christmas season. I know you treasure those moments of family fun and laughter, which are the best gifts of all. If each family could be a source of love and joy, the world would be a much better place. That's how we stamp out the darkness...with love.

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  13. Hi Debby,

    I loved reading your Christmas novella. What a fun story!

    Thanks for an inspiring post today! I needed this, and I pinned much of this to my 2016 Reach for the Stars board. I especially like the thought of praying one scripture throughout the day.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our savior.

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  14. Mary Jane/Virginia,

    I love your singing of the O Antiphons. How special. Tomorrow we start with the "countdown to Christmas" readings that run to Dec 24th...always a time of great anticipation! I didn't know about the gift giving tradition. Lovely! You might remember that I visited Poland earlier this year and fell in love with the country and the deep spirituality of its people. Last night, I was reading again about the strong faith that held Poland together during all its years of oppression. We can learn much from that small country.

    I'll be thinking of your sweet family as I pray Evening Prayer this week.
    Advent blessings!

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  15. Hi Mary Preston,

    Advent is a time, rather than any activities or special celebrations. We're all in that period of anticipation, if we are believers. Little children wait with great expectation for Christmas. As adults, we can enter into that excitement as well.

    How 'bout some coffee and Christmas cookies!

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  16. Vince,

    I'll send you a copy of the Prayer for Our Military. Remind me, if you don't hear from me by the first of the year. Life gets busy during December! :)

    Consider taking time each day, Vince, to sit with the Lord. Invite him into your office or living room and just "be" in his presence. Often we need to quiet our own voice to hear his more clearly.

    Have your heard of Lectio Devina? (I'm sure you have.) It's a way to enter prayerfully into the scriptures. I have a feeling you might enjoy that form of prayer.

    How are you feeling? Hope you're getting stronger. We're covering you in prayer!

    You mentioned the songs of WWII. The music was so important during that time, and the Christmas songs from that era are so poignant. "I'll be Home for Christmas" always brings a tear to my eye!

    Hugs to you and your sweet wife!

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  17. Beautiful pictures of this very special season, Debby! Advent candles are being lit at church and the tree is up here at home, the ceramic nativity that I made AGES ago is out, snow is on the ground--but I'm just now starting Christmas letters! Gonna have to hustle if they're to make it to their destinations before the 25th!

    With the New Year (and a book proposal deadline looming), I'm definitely in the PRAY stage for ideas for the "core" of my next story. I've also prayerfully selected my "one word" for 2016 and am prayerfully contemplating the coming year -- what to add & what to subtract from my often too-busy world. To focus on what's most important. These advent days are perfect for inner contemplation and consultation with our Heavenly Father!

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  18. Yes, yes, yes! Elaine, you've got it! Keep working...and praying!

    Hugs and love throughout this beautiful season!

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  19. Cindy, thanks for sharing the ways you pray. Isn't it wonderful to know God is always with us and that he wants the very best for us. After all, we're his children. What parent would want harm or pain to befall his/her child? Taking time to listen is so important. I believe he speaks to us constantly, but we need to tune our hearts to recognize his voice.

    Advent blessings as you and your wonderful family prepare for His Birth!

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  20. Bless you, Terri, for visiting the shut-ins and spreading Christmas joy. I know they loved hearing the carols and feeling the love you shared!

    I like your idea of lighting the Advent wreath during your time of scripture study. Christ is the light of the world. Having those burning candles as a visual sign of that truth only underscores the message.

    Wishing you abundant blessings as you prepare for Christmas!

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  21. Hi Debby,

    Wonderful and timely post.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

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  22. Ruth, even if you weren't praying for your writing success early on, I was! :)

    We used to do the yarn in the creche when the children were little. Such an easy way for them to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

    An adult Advent calendar...great idea! The world would be a better place if we lived Christmas throughout the year.

    Hugs to you and yours!

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  23. Jackie,

    Glad you have a Reach for the Stars board! I need to make one...and set goals for the New Year! But first, I have to wrap birthday gifts for hubby. Tomorrow is his special day. We have three birthdays in DEC, including my son's birthday on December 25!

    Abundant blessings from my home to yours!

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  24. Glynna, beautifully said. I need to unclutter my life and my home in the New Year. Prayers for your next story. I'm working on a proposal as well. Need to make time to get the ideas down on paper. But I am exciting, and the stories will be a bit of a change of pace for me.

    How special to have made your own Nativity scene!

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  25. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Rose.

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  26. Debby, thank you so much for this beautiful post and lovely photos. You have no idea how badly I was in need of your words. Lately, I've felt overwhelmed by things I need to do, but thankfully, the season of Advent has helped me to slow down and reflect on what truly matters.
    I have copies of your Writer's Prayer all over my house. Your words are a blessing to me each time I sit down to write.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  27. What a lovely, lovely post Debby. Please enter me in the drawing - I always enjoy your books.

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  28. What an encouraging post, Debby! I appreciate your suggestions. And the idea of continuing to write, creating a plan for the waiting is good. For me, I'm working on a proposal right now, and then I'm going to begin my next story.

    As for our family's Advent traditions, this has been the first year I've been purposeful about thinking about Advent. I soooo wish I'd been more intentional about celebrating Advent when our guys were young.

    For our Christmas traditions, we love decorating our tree together. We make tea or cider, blast Mannheim Steamroller and share memories as decorations get hung on the tree. We also celebrate Christmas Eve, just the four of us, and go out to lunch and open presents from my husband s side of the family. On Christmas day we head north to spend the day with my family.

    Merry Christmas, Debby!

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  29. This is such a great post and very timely! Thank you! I never thought about creating a tag line and logo before getting published. That's a great idea! I just assumed that came after publication.

    Could you share The Writer's Prayer? I'd love to read it!

    As I prepare for publishing, I will work on a tag line and logo. My son plays drums for a band that plays at local churches and youth explosions, The Five Stones. They have a logo. I'll have to see if he will help me come up with one! I am starting work on another story. Finished one in November and the first feedback on it has been great. Lots of things to work on, but great encouragement as well!

    I read a post the other day that said you had to write to get better, like practice. A musician or athlete puts in many, many hours of practice to be at the top. It's the same for a writer. You keep practicing. Write and see! I'll keep writing and see what God has in store. And if no one reads it but me, it's been my personal time with God that I wouldn't want to miss.

    Would love to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of one of your books!

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  30. Love to read all the comments. It's next to enjoying the posts!

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  31. Thanks Debby - you must have written this just for me. Been very discouraged lately after my agent closed her doors. I finished my WIP end of November and will get started on my next project after kids have been here for Christmas. Hoping that will get me back in the mood to try again! Traditions: Every Christmas I write a poem about my family we send out in lieu of Christmas cards. Sometimes it's really hard to do and I complain a lot, but people have come to expect it and always love it so I plodded through it once again. Its available on my facebook page if anyone would like to read it. Thanks again, Debby.

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  32. Thanks for sharing this Debby.


    Cindy R. No agent needed for Love Inspired.

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  33. I agree with Jill. The Writer's Prayer is a blessing and it's all over the world by now, I'm sure!!!

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  34. So encouraging, Debby! I love The Writer's Prayer, too, and keep it tacked to a bulletin board next to my writing chair.

    And I also love how God has blessed you in your faithfulness to His calling. You're a skilled writer and a cherished friend!

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  35. Enjoyed your post, Debby. It's both educational and inspiring.

    I duke it out with the Doubt Dragon on a regular basis. Like you, I've learned to "keep a file of the affirming comments contest judges and editors and agents have written about your work." When the voice of that pesky intruder is muttering dark and discouraging digs, reading the affirming comments others have made about my stories can give me a much-needed dose of truth and encouragement and help me silence my confidence-crushing opponent.

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  36. Delightful post, Debby! Appreciate your encouraging words...and loved hearing about your traditions.

    Our traditions have changed over the years with our ever evolving familyscape. (Like a tablescape, but living not static! LOL) When we do assemble we adhere to a few simple traditions...and now the Grands look forward to the continuity of Christmas at Nammer and Grandpa's house.

    It feels like I am always praying, since I carry on a conversation (talking quietly and listening) with the Lord throughout the day... "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1Thessalonians 5:16-18) (NIV) And, dealing with the public at our antique store, I've learned to give a whole lotta stuff to the Lord for Him to sort out!! Then, I can walk in peace!!

    Wishing you and yours a joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year!!

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  37. Thank you, Debby, for a great analogy filled with encouragement! Our family enjoys reading An Angel's Story/Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado in the days leading up to Christmas. Of course, story is always a wonderful way to speak to the heart :-) and this telling really brings the whole season to life.

    We also have three birthdays in December, including one on Christmas. That makes the preparations and the day more complicated but also so much more sweet! Merry Christmas!!

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  38. Debby, thank you for this beautiful post! I am waiting expectantly for the Christ Child. To have a relationship with our Lord, I need to sit quietly with Him each morning, reading a devotional and its Scriptures, praying and listening for His voice.

    I love that you compared the waiting of Advent to the waiting for publication most writers experience. I believe that waiting is a blessing. Even though our talent is both a gift and a call from God, mine needed to grow before my words were ready for print. Your Writer's Prayer helps me remember to ask for God's help to write the story He wants written.

    Merry Christmas!

    Janet

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  39. I'm back! Sorry that I left you for a few hours. We've had a Mission at church this week, and the last session was this morning.

    I've brought sandwiches from Panera's! Chips too! And more Christmas cookies!

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  40. Vince, I use a prayer journal during my morning devotions to remind me of the needs of others and of our family. I also write in a journal each morning. Writing really helps me focus on praising Him and seeking His help with whatever is on my heart and mind that day. I struggle to listen sometimes so I now leave a space at the bottom of the page to write what I hear Him say. I also talk to Him throughout the day. Nature's beauty, a siren, someone popping into my mind trigger impromptu prayer. With a sincere heart and a desire to be in relationship, we can't pray wrong.

    Janet

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  41. Jill, thanks for your kind words. December can be so hectic. Glad you're able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, which always brings peace. This Advent has been especially powerful for me. Usually I'm on a tight deadline. This year, my December writing schedule is lighter, although that could change. I'm expecting revisions from my editor. :) At least, I've had time to enter fully into Advent and live that peace for the last three weeks.

    Wishing you a beautiful week ahead as we continue to anticipate the coming of the Lord.

    Alleluia!

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  42. Loves To Read, you're in the drawing. Sending prayers and hugs to you and yours. May the Lord bless you during this time of preparation and throughout the Christmas season!

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  43. Jeanne,

    I know your tree trimming and gift exchanges are filled with love. You have such a beautiful family. As was mentioned earlier, you're creating memories that will last.

    A new story for the New Year! So happy about your success. The Lord has wonderful plans for your future. He's the one who has called you by name to be His author!

    Advent Blessings!

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  44. Sally,

    Practice makes perfect...even with writing. :) So proud of all you've accomplished this past year. I hope you're celebrating your success! How wonderful that you're working on the next story. We don't want to stand still or move backwards. We always want to be moving forward. God has called you. You said, "YES!" And then you put in the long hours and all the effort to create something beautiful for Him. I know He will bless your work so that others can be blessed through your stories.

    THE WRITER'S PRAYER
    Lord, inspire me to write stories that touch readers' hearts. Breathe your spirit into my characters so they come alive on the written page. Help me develop intriguing plots full of twists and turns that capture the imagination and move the story to a satisfying resolution. Keep me focused and on schedule, and take away any fear or sense of inadequacy that blocks my progress. Give me courage to step out in faith, to stretch and grow and to be the writer you have called me to be.
    Amen.

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  45. VINCE- I've written a couple of 40 day prayer books that we have used at my church (Fierce Faith & Fierce Faith 2.0). If you would like, I could send them to you.
    You can email me at dr((dot))JanaVanderslice((at))gmail((dot))com. It may or may not be what you are looking for, but you could give me helpful feedback I know!

    MARY JANE- that's so cool! I'm going to look that up & try it!
    JACKIE- Going to do that Reach for the Starts board, too!

    DEBY! Isn't it fun to hear about everyone's traditions? Please put me in the drawing! And Thank You, my Friend!

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  46. Cindy,

    Did you see Tina's comment? Would LI be a good fit for your story? If so, submit! Don't get discouraged. Years ago, I was rejected by an agent and didn't write for six months. Silly me! I was taking that rejection personally. What I needed to do...and what I eventually did...was to keep writing. I wrote six full-length, 90,000-plus word manuscripts before I found Love Inspired! Then I added a faith element and the rest is history. Sometimes the path is long and windy, but if we are determined and continue to move forward, we can achieve our goals!

    I liked your author page. Do you have a personal page too? I couldn't find your Christmas poem. How creative of you. I'm sure it is a labor of love!

    Advent blessings! Enjoy your family and all the special moments you'll share together over the holidays.

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  47. Waving to Tina...and delivering coffee and chocolate to her office. She's so busy. How does she do it all? Probably because she puts God first. :)

    Hugs and love to you, Tina, and abundant blessings throughout Advent and the Christmas season.

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  48. Myra, you're making me misty-eyed! Sending hugs and love! Would love to hear your beautiful choir singing this Christmas. God has gifted you with many talents...accomplished author and beautiful vocalist. Thanks for sharing both with the world.

    Advent love!

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  49. I forgot to say this before - EVERYONE should read Debby's 'A Miracle for Christmas' which is part of the 'A Heart Full of Christmas' Seeker compilation. It is a great story as are those by Ruthy, Tina, Sandra and Missy. It will put you in the Christmas spirit if you're not there already.

    Thanks Tina and Debby for your suggestion about LI. My books are a little too long for them (about 80000 words) but a lot can be accomplished on the cutting room floor. Ew- I really hate cutting. Will consider it though. My facebook page is Cindy Luginsland Regnier and I have also posted the poem on my author page now. Thanks for your interest.

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  50. Thank you for your post today, Debby.....just what I need to hear. I feel my writing is in perpetual preparation mode.....so your suggestions are appreciated! Your Writer's Prayer is a treasure!

    With our family all going different directions this year....and not even being sure where we will be on Christmas Day.....this is a different Christmas season for my husband and me. Our time during Christmas week will find us reflecting on our blessings and the gift of God's love, rather than the baking and decorating I usually do.

    We've been doing an Advent devotional each day during our morning Bible reading and prayer time. And (inspired by your art pictures combined with Scripture), on the Sunday's of Advent, I've posted a photo and verse featuring the Advent words of anticipation, hope, love....and the upcoming joy.

    My writing preparations include reading/reviewing romance stories, studying craft books, and posting on my website......plus lots of daydreaming plot ideas. I do need to combine more actual words on paper/computer, as I remember your words "God has given you the desire to write." Thinking of that desire....combined with prayer....will move me along the right path. :)

    Thank you for SO many things, Debby! Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas!

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  51. Mary Jane could you send me a copy of the O Antiphons, or a link? I'd like to try that with my little guy.

    Ditto Debby with your countdown to Christmas readings. my email is nm8r67 at Hotmail dot com

    Growing up, we read verses with the advent wreath each dinner time and then read the Christmas story before opening gifts. I'm attempting to establish something for Guppy - the first couple of years of his life we traveled to relatives for Christmas so things weren't set. Last year was our first Christmas at home, but we didn't do Advent. This year (he's six now), is the first year I see him really grasping what Christmas is about and I want to establish something to counter the excessive Santa stuff that goes about this time of year. (I did tell him that without Jesus, there'd be no Santa, and that Santa loves it when children focus on Jesus... they get to be higher on his Nice list when they do.) Guppy does love "his" nativity scene that goes under the tree so he can play with the pieces whenever he wants to.

    I also wish I had a bunch of the traditional Christmas hymns/songs to play while we decorate. Guppy seems to love songs very much and I hope to teach him about Christmas via songs as well. As always, there are times I worry I've messed things up already, but I know it's never a bad time to focus on Jesus. I'll just do what I can, even if it's a little bit at a time.

    Debby, I love how you pray and have a prayer team. I know when Seekerville ladies pray, good things happen. My family has been blessed by those prayers a whole lot the past couple of years - we really needed them. THANKS!!!!!!

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  52. Hi Keli!

    Doubt Dragon is the perfect name for that negative voice. A pesky monster that can do so much harm. Sounds as if you know how to control his manipulation. :)

    Will your daughter be home for Christmas? I know the separation is hard. Loved seeing pictures of your visit on Facebook. You must be so proud. I'm proud of you for letting her fly free...hard to do for a Mom and Dad!

    Hugging you from afar!

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  53. Nammer...what an adorable name. Did someone have trouble pronouncing Grandma? Care to share the story?

    You have an antique store? How special! Hmmm? Great setting for a book...or two or three! :)

    I love your mention of praying constantly. A running dialogue, right? I surround myself with lots of visuals too. Pictures, crosses, prayer cards, anything that draws me closer to Him!

    Advent blessings!!!

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  54. Meghan, Max Lucado is such a gifted writer. Love his work, but I haven't read The Angel's Story. Perhaps a trip to BAM later today...

    Did you deliver a child on Christmas? I truly felt that I was living the Christmas story the year my son was born. It was a Holy Day for me, to be sure! I've always told him that only special people share a birthday with the Lord! :)

    Happy Birthday wishes to your Christmas "baby." I enjoy the pics of your beautiful family on FB! I know you're a proud Mama! :)

    Congrats, Meghan, on your success! You have a lot to celebrate...your family and your writing!

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  55. Janet, thanks for telling us about your daily time with the Lord. Starting the day with prayer makes everything run a bit more smoothly, I've found. How wonderful to journal each day. Do you often go back to read your entries? Sometimes I forget the significance of certain events. Having them in writing ensures I don't forget the many ways God is working in my life, although I usually only journal once a week, on Fridays when I spend a bit of extra time in prayer.

    Wishing you and your beautiful family abundant blessings.

    Sending hugs and love from my home to yours!

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  56. Jana, how wonderful that you've written two prayer books. I'm sure they've blessed your church community. Share a bit, if you have time, about your daily entries. Do you write a short reflection or a prayer? The forty days brings to mind Lent. Have they been used as a Lenten devotional? I'd love more information.

    You're in the drawing, Jana! Yes, I've enjoying learning all the ways folks celebration the season. There's no wrong way, is there!

    Sending love and hugs! Prayers for your health too!

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  57. Such a wonderful post, dear Debby - - thank you! (Going into my Keeper Files to re-read and be encouraged). :)
    Several years ago you gave me a copy of your Writer's Prayer, and it has a special place on my computer desk, so I see it very often. (In fact, I just glanced at it before typing this!).
    I just want to add how much YOU have encouraged so many writers (myself included). You are truly an inspiration (hmmmm...maybe I need to keep a photo of you next to your Writer's Prayer). ;)
    I'm happy to say I've *finally* reached a point of being much more disciplined with my writing, and have been working on my WIP daily (and almost finished with the first draft). Also planning to enter at least 2 contests in 2016 - - I am determined *smile*.
    Christmas blessings to you and your family, sweet friend.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  58. Cindy, we were already friends on FB! I found your Christmas poem and loved it! You are a talented poet as well as novelist! I know Christmas can be bittersweet and pray each year for those who feel not only joy but also loss. Hope you feel the prayers.

    Thanks for your kind words about "A Miracle for Christmas." I had fun writing the story and feel so honored to be with the other Seekers.

    If you decide to rework your story for LI: Be sure to save the 80,000 word version. Don't delete anything. Instead revise in another file. If you have a secondary plot, you might remove that from the LI version and then expand it into a full-length story after this first one is done. Would that work?

    Abundant blessings and love to your family!

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  59. Sherida, our traditions change as families grow, don't they! This year, we're going to our daughter's house on Christmas and will spend the night. (On Christmas Eve, she and her family celebrate with her in-laws.) Our son and daughter-in-law and their little one won't be home this Christmas, and I already miss having a houseful. But wherever we are, the time will be joyous!

    Thanks for sharing about your Advent devotions. So glad you're posting reflections on the Sunday's in Advent. I do feel that God uses FB and this blog and other forms of social media to touch his people in positive ways. Someone mentioned the negatives she saw on FB. I smiled and said most of my friends post lovely, prayerful messages that uplift and encourage...so for me, FB brings smiles and joy!

    Sometimes we have to prepare, then at other times we execute. You'll find time to get those stories into final form. Remember in 2016, we're Reaching for the Stars!

    Hugs and love and Advent blessings!

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  60. Hi Debby, Yes, I journal every day. For me it's a form of prayer. I rarely reread my journal entries. In fact, I destroy the journals as they're personal and not for anyone's eyes but God's. :-)

    My hugs and love are crossing the miles and surely intersecting yours along the way.

    Bless you always.
    Janet

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  61. Debby- Fierce Faith is a combo Bible study/devo/prayer guide. Each day has 1 page (short) with the following parts:
    Engage- thoughts,story,etc.
    Explain- scripture
    Explore- ?s for personal reflection & application
    Encounter- PPAYER
    Experience- 120 seconds to journal about the experience of praying that day & reward/encourage accountability

    During the 40 days, we met as a group on Sun nights to learn & pray together in Cool, Inventive, Active ways! We had a "Prayer Battle Plans" sheet that we prayed from every day, & of course we prayed for each other. And GOD Showed Up BIG!!

    This spring we hope to have another 40 day prayer- Ferocious Faith! I'm so excited to see God move again, I can hardly breathe!!

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  62. DebH,

    My little ones always thought Jesus told Santa what to give them for Christmas. At the children's liturgy on Christmas Eve, Santa would stop in at the end of the service and pray in front of the manger scene. Sounds as if you have the same idea. Santa's a great guy, but it's nice for children to learn who is Lord of all. :)

    Six is the perfect time to set those family traditions in place, Deb. Love how the little ones get so excited. Everything is special to them, as it should be. If only, we could keep that Christmas enthusiasm. I guess that's what Advent does for me. It builds the excitement and anticipation for the wonderful event about to take place again. Oh that God! I love how he works and how we came to set us free.

    Abundant blessings and lots of love! Continued prayers!

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  63. Patti Jo,
    A new picture? It's lovely. Did you cut your hair?

    You've set great goals for 2016! Glad you're getting back into the writing full time. I know your stories will touch so many hearts! You have such a beautiful spirit, and you always uplift and affirm. I treasure your friendship.

    Sending hugs and love and abundant blessings!

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  64. Janet, isn't it hard to destroy the journals? Not something you want to pass on to your children? I'm sure your words would inspire them.

    Hugs!

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  65. Jana, you are touching so many people through your Fierce Faith devotions. Are the books available on Amazon? If not, have you thought about going public with them? Something to pray about if they're not already out there!

    You've blessed me today. Thank you! :)

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  66. DEBBY, thank you for the beautiful post. Have a very Merry Christmas!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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  67. I'm spending the next four weeks doing a big rewrite on my next book. Never am I more aware of the need for prayer than when faced with mammoth tasks like this in a short (and very busy!) time frame. Merry Christmas to all the Seekers and Seekervillians!

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  68. Hi Caryl,

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    You're in the drawing! Thanks for stopping by Seekerville.

    Hugs!

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  69. Kara,

    I'm praying for you to find the time to revise and that you clearly see how to make the changes. Always hard to be on deadline over the holidays!

    Wishing you abundant blessings...and peace!

    Hugs!

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  70. I'm sorry I'm so late! I thought I got by this morning but apparently didn't. My days are so busy they're blurring together! LOL

    Great post, Debby! We have a beautiful set of Advent candles at church, and we have different families do the reading each week. It's always a joy to see the little children involved. :)

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  71. I'm sure your church is beautiful, Missy! Hope you can find some time to relax and enjoy! It does get busy this time of year.

    Advent blessings!

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  72. Hi Debby:

    No, I did not know about the "Lectio Devina" but I researched it on the internet and it suits my temperament very well.

    I have always been fond of the Benedictines as they are a contemplative order. Looking into "Lectio Devina" lead me to the Monks of Norcia and how they pray by singing.

    http://osbnorcia.org/en/blog

    On this page there are three chants of which one was the Antiphon. Absolutely heavenly song/prayers.

    Then I went to YouTube

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUvZHuM6mmw

    and found some really beautiful chants and how the voices are so sincere because they are prayers. This was really inspiring.

    One thing leads to another. I welcome and appreciate all who commented on different ways to pray.

    Thanks again,

    Vince

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  73. Lovely post, Debby, and much-appreciated suggestions about what to do while waiting. I like the idea of becoming acquainted with bookstore owners. Although, visiting a bookstore is always a bit dangerous for my budget :-)

    Very pretty photos!

    Nancy C

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  74. Debby, what a BEAUTIFUL post, my friend! I love how you tied the Advent season in with writing -- VERY clever and unique!

    And LOVE that Scripture, John 15:16. It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.

    Talk about encouraging -- WOW!! I remember hearing that Scripture over the years, but this is the first time I correlated it with writing, and it sooooo fits, so THANK YOU!

    I'm glad you put "Prayer" as #1 because I would just pack up my computer and go home if I couldn't rely on prayer and God's mercy and grace. Never have I realized that more than with my latest book, Isle of Hope. Towards the end of the book, one of the characters who's done a lot of damage to his family and others is finally brought to his knees, which ultimately sets him free because on our knees is where God's grace is the most potent. When I gave the character the following lines in the book, they were actually lines from my heart, and every single time I read them, I cry. Here they are:

    “It took losing everything, including my life, to finally understand what I was too blind to see. Everything to liberate me from the same pride that lost Lucifer his soul. And that is -— God alone is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beat of my pulse. He is the strength in my bones. He is my beginning and my end, and there is no hope in anything—” He took a step forward, an almost ethereal glow of faith in his eyes like nothing Jack had ever seen, “anything … except Him.”

    Hugs, Deb, and HAPPY & HOLY ADVENT!
    Julie

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  75. I always feel so inspired when I read a post by you, Debby. You are such an encourager. With many children in my house it's easy to let the stress overcome you and forget the real reason of the season. Your post is a wonderful reminder and I have taken a lot away from it. Thank you for it. Many Blessings to you and your family.

    Deanne P.

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  76. Hi Jana:

    Thanks, I've sent you an email requesting your 40 day prayer planner or system. I'm very interested in the many different ways that people pray. You might check the videos I mentioned to Debby as being a very interesting way to pray.

    Vince

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  77. Hi Debby:

    I've been thinking about this all day: is there any Divinity on that table of cookies? I can still remember my first Divinity cookie. I must have been three or four and that cookie lit up my brain! It's so good it just has to be sinful. : )

    Vince

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  78. Oh Debby, I'm so sorry to be so late tonight. I was busy with my godson today and his projects. I read the post, but just didn't get back to comment.

    What an inspiring post for this time of year. I love the five points of advent for writers.

    And Pray is number one.

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  79. I love the military prayer. I also say the writer prayer.

    Thanks for sharing all of this today.

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  80. I am very late getting on today but I really enjoyed this post. I have received your writer's prayer and really appreciate it. I love preparing for Christmas. We have an advent wreath on our coffee table. We used to do a service each Sunday night at home but haven't so much lately. We need to get back to that again.

    I enjoyed reading the analogy to writing. I need to keep this in mind with my writing.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

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  81. Debby,

    I really enjoyed your post! I celebrate Advent by posting "The Gifts of Advent" on my blog site each day of Advent. It's a way for my readers to think on the many gifts of God as they anticipate the greatest gift of all - Christ our Savior.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

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  82. Debby:

    When you're young and thousands of miles away from home for the first time at Christmas and you're walking a post guarding an air base from midnight to eight am in the morning at below freezing weather the idea that there are those praying for you provides amazing comfort.

    Just knowing that there is a Military Prayer and that there are those who are praying for you is the answer to a prayer in itself.

    May your mission as a writer be a blessed one.

    Thanks

    Vince

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  83. Enjoyed the post & pictures..
    Praying for the military and all those who serve & protect..
    May we all have a Blessed and safe Christmas!

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  84. Debby, in answer to your question, no, our daughter will not be home for Christmas. She will be visiting the wonderful friends she made when she was working in northern France a couple of years ago. We'll miss her, but it's wonderful to see her embracing this amazing experience she's been given. Her plan is to return to the States at the end of this school year. After having had her over in Europe for three years, it will be nice to have her back.

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