Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Unexpected Blessings of the Writing Life!



When I count my blessings, I count you twice.

I love that Irish Proverb. It brings to mind our Seekerville blog and the wonderful folks who visit each day. You are all so special. Without your support and involvement, this blog would be words thrown into cyberspace that fail to find a home. By joining together, the 13 Seekers and the hundreds—if not thousands—of Villagers become a force for good as we encourage and uplift one another. We’ve forged a bond of friendship that unites us into a loving, prayerful community for which I’m so very grateful.

Writers often talk about the joy of “The Call” and the thrill of seeing their stories in print, but today, I want to focus on some of the unexpected blessings that have come from my writing journey. I’m not trying to draw attention to my efforts, but rather to show the opportunities that have presented themselves solely because of my writing. I hope all of you, whether published or not, will share the positive fruit from your own journeys, either as writers working toward publication or readers with a love for story and the written word.

Friends ‘Round the World

As I mentioned, joining together with you through Seekerville is an amazing blessing. We’ve logged in more than two million page views. Our blog family includes folks from the US, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Slovakia, the Ukraine and even Russia so we truly are a global community.


Writer and Reader Events

No one understands a writer better than another writer. That’s probably why we enjoy getting together at conferences. We’re also lifetime learners so the workshops and programs are an added benefit. Attending conferences across the nation allows me to reconnect with old friends as well as meet new folks who share a love for writing. Taking time to tour the various parts of the US where the conferences are held helps me appreciate the beauty and grandeur of our country as well as its history and its people.


Similarly, reader events provide a delightful way to mix and mingle with folks who share a love for story.  That commonality brings us together and forges an instant connection, which brings joy to my heart. Meeting readers has always been a special blessing that comes from my writing journey.

Mentoring

Encouraging writers at any stage of their careers brings me joy. I had a long and rocky road to publication so I understand the disappointments and sense of failure that are inherent to this profession. My more-than-a-decade-long pre-pubbed stint is proof that perseverance and determination pay off. A hefty dose of prayer helps as well.

Teaching

Last month, I talked about the writing group I host bi-monthly at my church. I started the group after a number of promptings from the Lord. What I didn’t realize was how the classes would bless me. Sharing what I’ve learned about writing and seeing the excitement when folks grasp a somewhat difficult concept is exhilarating. Mike Healy, one of my star students, started writing in earnest after attending my class. Since then, he has published a poem and is now regularly submitting short stories to magazines. At church on Sunday, he shared a recent rejection letter. The submitted story was too long for the publication’s needs, but the editor liked Mike’s voice and wants to see more of his work. You can imagine my elation!

Mike Healy and his wife Ann. Mike's one of my star
students!

Donations

As some of you know, I donate the proceeds from my hometown book signings to various local charities and augment the amount with an additional offering, which I’ve been able to increase over the years as my career has grown. Helping those in need and recognizing the good works of various ministries and service organizations is a blessing.

STRANDED, my March 2015, was dedicated to Frank Forth, a member of the Greatest Generation who was severely injured in the Battle of the Bulge. The donation for that signing went to an organization that helps our World War II heroes. The Bulge Bugle, a magazine honoring survivors of the Battle of the Bulge, published a photograph of Frank holding a copy of my book with an attached article that recognized his service to our country. Last Christmas, Frank gave copies of STRANDED to his family members and personal friends. Frank says I’ve touched his life, but he has touched mine far more.

Frank Forth, a member of the Greatest Generation,
turned 93 years old on August 8. 

Reader Correspondence

Letters and emails from readers always touch my heart. One that was especially moving was from a woman who was staying at a shelter for abused women. She had recently read my debut, NOWHERE TO HIDE. In the story, the heroine places her trust in the Lord when her child is in danger. The woman said she had spent 72 terrifying hours when her son was kidnapped. Throughout the ordeal, she kept my book close at hand, and because of the story, she turned to the Lord in her need. Thankfully, her son was released unharmed. The woman said she has a renewed faith in God, which she claims is a result of reading my story.

Social Media

Most authors are active on Facebook, but I always bulked at social media until the Lord told me to post a scripture verse. I rolled my eyes but complied and heard the same prompting the next day. Before long, I realized folks share their joys and sorrows on Facebook. Each small glimpse into their lives allows me to rejoice with the good and pray for them in times of need. Along with a daily scripture, I also post a corresponding work of art, usually from one of the Old Masters. As you may have guessed, my daily postings have given me a new appreciation for art and the treasures of the past.
 
One of my favorite works of art:The Miraculous Draft of Fishes,
by Raphael, c 1515-1516, Royal Collection of the United Kingdom. [PD-US]

Self-Satisfaction

Writing a book is a long and arduous process. Some folks start to write, but very few complete a manuscript. I remember my own feeling of accomplishment when I finished my first story--after typing 400 pages on a portable, electric typewriter. Even today, with twenty books under my belt, I am filled with awe when a flash of an idea develops into a full-length novel. Surely, it only happens through the inspiration of the Lord, and whenever He touches my life, it’s always a blessing.



Now it’s your turn. What are some of the unexpected blessings you’ve experienced through your writing and your reading? Share a comment, and your name will be added to two drawings for one of my stories, winner’s choice, along with a surprise gift. The list of my books can be found on my newly updated websiteClicking on my titles will take you to Amazon for excerpts and book reviews.

Special thanks to all who have reviewed my stories. I greatly appreciate the time and effort you took to spread the word about my books.

The coffee’s hot. Tea is also available. I’ve brought a light summer buffet of fresh fruit, muffins and bagels and hard boiled eggs.

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti

Follow me on Facebook for daily scripture and sacred art! https://www.facebook.com/debby.giusti.9

PLAIN TRUTH
by Debby Giusti

AMISH COUNTRY SECRETS
When widowed doctor Ella Jacobsen is attacked and left for dead in her childrens’ clinic, the peace she’s found in Georgia’s Amish country is shattered. Someone is after something in her clinic and wants her out of the way...but what are they looking for? Ella knows only that  her life is in the hands of army special agent Zach Swain. Zach can’t resist the vulnerable but headstrong Ella, who stares down danger to care for the people she loves. With one look, the loner soldier goes from investigator to protector. To save Ella, he must uncover the secrets that swirl around the idyllic community. And he needs  to do it fast, because Ella is running out of time.

Available Sept 2016. Order HERE!







STRANDED, by Debby Giusti, reissued in a two-in-one with Emma Miller’s MIRIAM’S HEART

Available June 23. Order HERE!







101 comments :

  1. "Even today, with twenty books under my belt, I am filled with awe when a flash of an idea develops into a full-length novel. Surely, it only happens through the inspiration of the Lord, and whenever He touches my life, it’s always a blessing."

    I so agree with this. Writing novel length is hard work for me. I can easily craft a short story, but novel length is truly something that only God can do in me.

    The unexpected blessing is when my stories entertain someone for a few hours and make them smile.

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  2. I have 'met' people from around the world with my reading. I have armchair travelled around the world many times and even through time.

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  3. I love a book that pulls me into the author's world and allows me to escape into another moment in time. Reading and writing gives me the opportunity to turn out this world for a moment in time and I always feel so relaxed afterwards. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to read good Christian books but to be able to contact the authors and communicate with them makes me feel doubly blessed.

    Blessings to all today.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  4. Another unexpected blessing is getting paid.....

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  5. Good morning!

    Just poured my first cup of coffee and am raising it in honor of all my Seeker and Villager friends. Looking forward to today's chat!

    Tina, I agree with you. It amazes me that folks buy my books and enjoy reading them. :) Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

    Plus, my editor keeps wanting my stories. Another huge blessing!

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  6. Mary Preston, thanks for providing that reader reflection! So true, books open the world to us, don't they! We can be anyone and go anywhere. I feel sorry for folks who say they don't enjoy reading. Think of all they're missing!

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  7. I've had so many blessings since I started writing.
    I've grown closer to God because I lean on him for strength to persevere.
    I've made so many friends through Seekerville and ACFW and I hope to see you all in Nashville.
    I've followed God out of my comfort zone. I've entered contests and joined critique groups.
    I won a contest and placed in a few others, and last week I shared with you all I signed my first contract.
    And I think my husband and I've grown closer. He's been super encouraging on my writing journey. And my sons have both told me they are proud of me for tackling a new goal.

    Debby, thanks for asking us to list our blessings. You are definitely a blessing!

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  8. Cindy W,
    Love your mention of feeling relaxed after you read. I have to read before going to sleep. If I don't, my mind keeps working on my next story or on something that's upcoming that needs my attention. Reading soothes my spirit and let's me drift to sleep...often with the book still in my hands. :)

    You wrote, "...to be able to contact the authors and communicate with them makes me feel doubly blessed." Authors feel the same way. Connecting with readers is always special!

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  9. Jackie, we're all so thrilled about your writing journey...and your first sale!!! It brings us joy to know that you've achieved your dream! A true blessing.

    How wonderful that your husband and sons support you! I know they're proud of you! I always felt my bumpy road to publication showed my three children the importance of perseverance. They saw me receive rejection after rejection without giving up so they couldn't complain when they had to work hard for something in which they believed.

    You wrote, "I've followed God out of my comfort zone." So true. He does lead us along paths we may not have found on our own. I love giving him control of my life. I see through finite eyes, but he has the total picture!

    I know he has wonderful plans for your future! Can't wait to see them unfold.

    Hugs and love! Looking forward to seeing you in Nashville.

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  10. Probably the biggest unexpected blessing since I started writing has been discovering that God believes I can accomplish anything, even when I'm full of self-doubt. Of course, all of you at Seekerville have been a blessing for so many years. I've tried to look back through my journals to pinpoint the day I discovered this blog, it was so long ago, but that day was indeed a blessing. Thank you.

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  11. Hi Jill!

    Love your comment! "God believes I can accomplish anything, even when I'm full of self-doubt."
    So true. He sees our true potential. I love how he gently guides our steps.

    So glad you "found" Seekerville. You're a blessing to us, Jill!

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  12. Deb, would you have imagined all this 8 years ago???? What a difference it makes to hang onto your dream, but also, the ripple effect of what a difference you make to others.

    Your kindly nature.

    Your amazing grace.

    Your wisdom.

    Your words.

    Your beautiful books and gentle countenance.

    I'm standing, applauding you for the differences you've made to so many, in such a quiet, dignified manner... but always gently pressing forward.

    You bless us.

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  13. Ruthy, you're always so affirming. That's a gift! I often think of your children, and what an inspiration you must have been to them. Bet you didn't let grass grow under their feet! Bet they couldn't complain about being bored! Heck, bet you never allowed them to be bored. :) And they all have done so well in life. I know you're proud of them, and you should be. I also know they must be proud of you!!!

    Hugs and love!

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  14. I'd have to say the biggest blessing so far in my minor attempts to gain publication has been finding Seekerville - way back in 2008, right before I got married. I have Anita Mae Draper to thank for pointing me here from the writer's challenge discussion boards of Harlequin. I was intimidated at first by the professionalism of each post. You all sounded so scary SMART!!!! Then, as I read the comments, I found the humor and down to earth love and wisdom that is the core of Seekerville (well, in my opinion anyway).

    I'm not published yet, I think because it's not my time. I know I'm a better writer because of you Ladies of Seekerville. You're still scary SMART, just not intimidating anymore. I think of you as loving mentors who give me the occasional kick in the ol' keister when I need it (tough love).

    DEBBY, getting to talk on the phone with you (and my phone call with RUTHY) are high points of my learning journey. That and the constant prayers of all the Seekers that have carried me and my family through a couple of tough years.

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  15. Thank you, DEBBY. I am at a low ebb right now, there's a lot of other stuff going on, and just checking in every day gives me encouragement. I do love my writer friends, such a blessing.
    Kathy Bailey
    Toughing it out in New Hampshire

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  16. Debby, you're one of my writing blessings. Without writing, I'm not sure how I could ever have met you, and my life would have been the lesser without your sweet, loving, prayerful presence.

    Thank you for this post because you have me thinking--as you often do!

    Love you, friend!

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  17. Meeting readers and other like-minded writers has been such a blessing.

    Finding out that the world is really a small place when you're friends with someone down the road and then find out that they're kin to an editor you also know in a different state.

    Connection with a cousin through Seekerville: Natalie Monk

    Meeting (either in person or on the internet) my street team.

    Becoming life-long friends with so many of you.

    The special connections with people are my unexpected blessings, and they make me smile!

    Thanks for this post today, Debby. It made me smile and have warm fuzzies. Your specialty. :)

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  18. What, only 16 comments to Debby's fabulous post? What is everyone DOING? It's raining here...it looks like it has already rained BUCKETS of water during the night and it's still raining hard. A day to cuddle under the blankets and read. But no, first I need to go to the library (60 miles away) to pick up some books. Because it's THAT kind of day that Ebooks don't cover it. I have grocery shopping to do, an appointment in the city as well as some other stops. All this AFTER I muck through 6 miles of rain drenched gravel roads. It's a good day. We finally finished mowing all our grass and picked up the gras last night!

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  19. I have a whole new appreciation for the kids when they're struggling w/their writing assignments at school.

    Jackie mentioned this too, but one of the greatest blessings for me is the support I receive from my family. My husbands, kids, and family all ask about my writing. It feels really good to know they are interested and hope for the best for me. It's like we know that, but don't really know that.

    I've also made a lot of friends through writing, whether critique partners or friends online. We have so much in common.

    What an encouraging post! And DEBBY, I love all your books.

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  20. DEBBY, thanks for this lovely post. Writing has blessed me in many of the ways you mention.
    I'm especially awed by what this community means to me. Our purpose for opening Seekerville was to help writers achieve their dream of publication. It's been exciting to see many receive The Call. But I had no idea how God would bless us with friends, prayer support and just plain fun. I'm so grateful for all of you.

    Thanks for the buffet and coffee, Deb!

    Janet

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  21. I'm thinking about the importance of Inspirational fiction in this world, of how the stories bless and strengthen readers. Yes, and authors, too, as I've never written a book that didn't teach me something. If you're still working on craft and waiting to see a book on the shelves, don't give up. Our stories make a difference. God has a plan. Hang in.

    Janet

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  22. TINA, most of us may not garner fame and fortune, but like you, I'm grateful to be paid.

    Janet

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  23. DEBBY, this is a beautiful and heartfelt post--thank you! The Seekers and Seekerville are among my sweetest blessings of the writing life, that's for sure!

    And skimming comments just now, I also have to agree with TINA--getting paid for doing something I love is a true blessing!

    Another blessing for me is receiving an encouraging response from a reader at just the right moment--typically at a time when I've been feeling frustrated and discouraged and wondering if my stories even matter. Just one personal message or positive review can turn my whole day around!

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  24. You are SUCH a blessing, Debby! I wish I could sit in on every class you teach. You have such a sweet, caring spirit, an anointing of God's Spirit on you. I want to be like you when I grow up! :-)
    Seekerville has always been a blessing to me, as has Mary, who introduced me to Seekerville. And getting to be a published author has been a blessing in ways I can't even express. God is good. I feel so thankful to be able to do this writing thing, and it's only because of the grace of God and the good people who buy my books. :-) But especially God. I remind myself sometimes to hold onto it loosely. I don't want it to overshadow what God wants to do. If He can accomplish his will through someone else or wants me to do something different, I want to be able to let go of writing and not let it become an idol. (Although, there are enough struggles involved with writing that I don't think I'm in TOO much danger of loving it too much or it becoming an idol! Ha!)
    But I am blessed, and I know it. God is good. My sweet friend has put her writing on hold for a year now because her precious little girl had a re-occurrence of cancer. Her battle is over as of yesterday and she is safe with Jesus now, and it just shows that this world is not our home, we are just passing through, doing what God wants us to do, hopefully staying in his will, and holding loosely to the gifts and blessings he has given us.
    Very nice post, Debby!

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  25. DebH, so glad Anita Mae pointed you in our direction!!!

    I'm smiling about your comment that you thought we were SMART!!! :)

    You mentioned a "kick in the ole keister" when needed. That made me laugh. You must be talking about Ruthy! Maybe Tina. But she doesn't kick, she gently guides.

    I enjoyed our chat as well. Thanks for remembering!

    And yes, all will come together for your writing in God's perfect time. I'm sure of it!

    Hugs!

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  26. Debby, you can't possibly know how much your thoughts blessed me this morning. I had to grab a tissue when you talked about giving back. Hear, hear! I loved learning more about Mike and Frank. Their stories blessed my socks off! (Good thing--I'm still in my nightie. Oops. TMI?) :)

    I'll always, ALWAYS, remember those who've taken time to mentor and encourage me. When someone e-mails me, I try to respond within a day or two. Usually, after my monthly newsletter goes out, I'll have folks touch base and say how much something there blessed them. Isn't that what life is all about--spreading the love, sharing hope, and extending kindness the way Jesus would do?

    Thank you, Debby and Seekerville friends, for connecting with this community in such a personable way. And thank you, too, for lighting our path as we navigate together.

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  27. Kaybee, hate to hear that you're at low ebb. Sending added prayers your way. I've just come back from church where I prayed for all those who would be stopping by the blog today. Hope you feel the prayers.

    Life can be tough at times. Know that you're not alone. Can you see our hands stretched out to you? We're all connected, and when we invite God into our lives, he can turn the darkness to light. Praying your light shines today.

    Hugs!

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  28. Dear Anna, thank you for your sweet comment. You've touched me heart! Miss you! We need to get together. Sending hugs and love to you and yours!!!

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  29. Oh, Melanie, I'm feel so sorry for your friend.

    My dad died about 3 weeks ago. My sister was saying how even though people try to be comforting, sometimes it just doesn't come across well.
    She said the best sympathy card she got was from a 12-13 year old girl. The girl simply said, "I'm sorry you lost your dad. I'll bet you're really sad." My sister said she wanted to shout. "Yes, I am. Finally someone gets it.

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  30. Pam, what a delightful list of blessings! Thanks for sharing them with us today.

    I forgot that you and Natalie were cousins. And your neighbor is related to an editor you know. It truly is a small world. I love how God has interwoven our paths. He's so good!

    I'm having warm fuzzies just thinking about all the connections!!! (BTW, warm fuzzies is a term I haven't thought about in years!)

    Hugs!

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  31. Marianne, so glad you got the mowing done before the rain. We had rain last night, as well, but it was much needed...so another blessing.

    Have fun at the library. Hope you come home with lots of wonderful books that bring joy to your heart.

    Thanks for being with us in Seekerville. We treasure you!

    Hugs...and safe travel on those wet roads.

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  32. CONNIE, I'm so very sorry for the loss of your dad. I'm praying for you...

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  33. Connie, thanks for your kind comment about my stories. Writers need affirmation, even after publication. So I'm sending hugs and a huge thank you!

    How wonderful to receive all that support from your family. I know they're proud of you! What a marvelous blessing they are to you in so many ways. Of course, you bless them as well. Guess that's how God works...He loves and we love in return.

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  34. Janet, Seekerville is such a huge blessing, as you mentioned. No, we didn't realize how meaningful this blog would become to each of us. It's part of my life...and so are the wonderful folks who visit each day.

    Love you!

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  35. Janet, agreeing with you about Christian fiction. I am so grateful that my writing could find a home in the inspirational market. I am so not a secular writer! :) Maybe that's why I didn't publish all those years. Like Peter, I was throwing my net over the wrong side of the boat! :)

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  36. Praying for you and your family, Connie. I can't begin to imagine the pain of losing your father.

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  37. Joining Tina and Janet in gratitude for getting paid to write. I spent a lot of years volunteering in my children's schools, in church and in the community. It's nice to have my work validated with a paycheck...be it ever so humble! :)

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  38. Myra wrote, "Just one personal message or positive review can turn my whole day around!"

    So true, Myra. Love how God prompts someone to write and send the message at the moment it's most needed. :)

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  39. Uh, I just noticed in my earlier post I said "husbands". Let make that "husband". I only have one so far.

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  40. Melanie, I'm so sorry about your friend's daughter. I'm praying for the family. So hard. I know you've been a support to them throughout this long ordeal.

    God uses us in many ways. Only one of which is writing. You're so open to what God wants for your life, Melanie. He'll continue to lead you. I hope that means more of your delightful books that uplift and reveal his truth!

    Hugs and love!

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  41. Debby, I enjoyed this post. I am truly grateful for Seekerville. I feel like I have many good friends from here, even though I have actually met very few of them. Seekerville is so inspiring to me and helps keep me going. I have enjoyed seeing many of my short stories and articles in print, but hope someday to see my name on the front of a book, so Seekerville keeps me working toward that goal.

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

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  42. Cynthia, how special that your newsletter touches folks. I'm always amazing how God works. He uses everything...newsletters, blogs, Facebook!

    Yes, that mentoring and sharing means so much. Special blessings that come from this writing life!

    Before hubby retired from the army, I always had a group of wives to encourage, mentor, support, especially when the guys were in the field or far from home. Now the writing world is where I'm able to share and, hopefully, uplift.

    Thanks for being part of Seekerville. You bless us!

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  43. Connie, that reminds me of what a friend told me after her mother died. She said she really liked my card because I told her I knew how it felt to lose a parent and it stinks! :-)
    Thanks, Debby! Hugs and love to you too!

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  44. But I've been on a 12-yr-old level for a long time. That's why I write YA, I guess. :-)

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  45. What a warm, upbeat post, Debby! So many unexpected good things have come into my life because of writing. People that I wrote profiles about (newspaper/magazine) became good friends. Their interests broadened my interests. There was the unexpected benefit of judging contests, being able to share what others had taught me. What I learned in newspaper and other non-fiction writing allowed me to write ad copy, format magazines, research and help write manuals for non-profits I wanted to contribute to. What a joy that volunteer work was! One of the best surprises was finding the Seekers back when some of you were still on Unpubbed Island. That led to the unexpected delight of watching Seekervillagers reach publication.

    I'll stop now, but that is by no means all of the list. Thanks for helping me remember to count my writing blessings :-)

    Nancy C

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  46. Debbie you really, sincerely, have turned your writing into such a ministry. Such a wise woman.

    I am a slacker by comparison but then......we're not talking about me are we? (thank heavens)

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  47. Tina Radcliffe said...
    Another unexpected blessing is getting paid.....


    Amen to that!

    Nancy C

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  48. Hi Sandy. How are the eyes? I'm going to have to have cataract surgery one of these days. I've got baby cataracts and the eye doctor says it's too soon to do anything, but my day is coming!!!!!!

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  49. Hi Mary. My eye is doing well. It is not 20/20, though, so I may still need some correction. But they also say it can continue to improve over a week, so we will see. I get the other eye done next Monday, so am anxious to see how that turns out. It really is an easy surgery. I was in and out of the surgery center in exactly two hours. When the time comes for you to have yours done you will be glad.

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  50. Debbie, I loved your post and give a hearty AMEN. Getting to know other writers has been one of the best parts! There's nothing like hanging with folks who understand you. I love Seekerville and the encouragement, support and advice I get here daily.

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  51. Connie, I'm so sorry about your dad. So hard, isn't it! Sending prayers and sympathy to you and your sister and family!

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  52. Oh, Deb, GREAT post, my friend -- and SO incredibly true!!

    In fact, I wrote a Seeker post on this very subject called "Over the Rainbow: An Author's True Pot of Gold, so I am sooooooo with you on this!!

    And, Deb, I have to agree with Mary -- your writing is a true ministry in so many ways, that I am in awe, my friend. And just may be feeling a wee bit guilty ... ;)

    As far as "unexpected blessings" through my writing, I would have to say the friendships I've made, both with authors and readers has been a true pot of gold in my life for which I am truly grateful.

    As far as an "unexpected blessing" from my reading? That award still goes to Gone With the Wind, which so swept away at the tender age of 12, that I began a romance-writing career right then and there. :)

    Sandy, SOOO glad your eye is doing well -- YAY!!!

    Wonderful post, Deb, as always!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  53. The LI authors just had an hour-and-a-half live meeting with the LI and Harlequin team. Great to be able to interact with the editors as well as the marketing and art folks. Writing for LI is a blessing!

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  54. Sandy, good to see you commenting today. We've been praying for you!!!

    Yes, yes, yes to your name on the cover of a book! Soon!

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  55. Love what you have to say about the unexpected blessings. So true, each one. I liked this too: Maybe that's why I didn't publish all those years. Like Peter, I was throwing my net over the wrong side of the boat! :) When I first found inspirational romance, I read Grace Livingston Hill. I'm so glad there are more contemporary stories to choose from! And maybe there were then too I just didn't know who they were. I loved Louis L'Amour and when I found out there were Christian western stories, I couldn't believe it. And then to realize there were suspense stories too, it seems the choices are endless. These stories give me hope, encouragement, lift my faith, and draw me closer to God with each one. God takes your words and touches the heart of each one who reads them. You don't know who's reading them and what they need, but God does.

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  56. Nancy, thanks for sharing your blessings with us. Look how many folks you've touched through your writing!

    Yes, writing is a blessing!

    Hugs!

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  57. Mary, you could never be called a slacker!!!

    You touch so many folks through your wonderful stories, your mentoring, your FB posts and your thoughtful concern for others.

    Hugs!

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  58. Sandy, so glad all is going well!

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  59. Sharee, we're so glad you're part of the Seekerville community!!!

    Hugs!

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  60. I finally had a chance to get on my laptop. This post was an encouragement.

    Today I got back the judging sheets from my first ever contest. No one had read the chapters but me so it was raw. I entered because I felt it was good but wanted help to get it better. The first judging sheet was done by a published author. All the categories received at least an 8 and one was a 9.5 I felt so encouraged by her comments. The second one the scores were not so high but it had some positive suggestions and comments. This judge was published but not in my category. The third one was really bad. All comments were very negative but this judge is unpublished.

    I am wondering about this should I listen more to the judge that is published in my category then the one who is unpublished. All though I will consider the negative comments and try to fix the problem if I think it is important.

    I should add that since I entered that one I have been allowed to be a part of the ACFW Critique loop. I made a lot of changes in the first two chapters with their suggestions and help.

    Then I entered another contest with all the changes. I did not final but look forward to receiving those judging sheets and will compare the judging sheets

    Even though I got a negative judge, I feel very encouraged and I will continue learning as an author. I don't get encouragement from family. In fact they believe I don't live in reality and should get rid of all my books and writing notes. But I believe God has called me to write so will continue.

    The fact that I pushed through all my health issues this year and managed to enter two contests leaves me encouraged. I was planning to enter two short stories into a contest this month. However the first one I just sent in to be critiqued and I realize that I have a lot of work on it and the second one I have yet to finish all though it is very close.

    I have some health issues again. I have had an infection since February and been on multiple antibiotics. When I saw the doctor a week ago, he said if this latest round doesn't take care of it then we are talking a stay in the hospital so I checked with the people of this contest and they will have the same theme and same contest next year so I am thinking I will still work on it but not stress if I don't have it done for this year. I can tell this infection is still there. I would appreciate prayers that it goes away.

    So thankful for the Lord as well as all you seekers and villagers. You are my encouragement to write and keep striving to improve.

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  61. Julie, it's hard to find a topic we haven't discussed on Seekerville after all these years, isn't it! :)

    GWTW touched a lot of folks. Good for Margaret Mitchell...a one-book wonder who took the world by storm! After all these years, we're still remembering her story with admiration and awe!

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  62. Sally,

    You're so right! God knows who needs to read our stories! Like you, I didn't find Christian suspense until later in my writing journey. I had read sweet romance, but never any suspense lines. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I "found" Love Inspired Suspense! :)

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  63. Wilani, you've achieved so much...and you've moved into your new house! Congrats! We're all so proud of you.

    But take care of yourself and get that infection under control. I'm sure it's making your tired and weak. Added prayers headed your way!

    I'm so glad you received good feedback from two of your judges. Take those positives to heart. Concerning the third judge, weigh her comments. If you agree with her suggestions, they make the changes. But if you think she's wrong, then focus more on the first two. Usually even bad judges can provide some good insight into our stories...but pick and choose what you think works.

    Contests that provide written critiques are wonderful ways to improve your writing. I found them invaluable during my unpubbed days.

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  64. Debby - you know how much I love your books! Can't wait for the next one! I think the readers are blessed to be able to read your books! You are awesome! Keep on coming up with fabulous stories and we will keep reading them :)

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  65. Oh, Valri, you're so, so sweet! Thank you for your kind words. Sending hugs and love!!! And lots of gratitude. Your encouragement and support mean so much to me!

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  66. I read this blog all the time and I am always blessed by the strong thread of encouragement I find here.So much so that even when I haven't looked at my writing for several days or even weeks, I feel motivated to keep moving forward. So thank you all for that and thank you, Debby for showing me how your writing has by the grace of God, impacted many others. Blessings.

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  67. More unexpected blessings! Getting to jump up and down in your office chair when cool writers final in the Genesis!!

    Megan Besing, Cynthia Herron, Iola Goulton, Laura Conner Kestner!!!! WOOT!!!

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  68. Wilani!!! Way to go.

    I always put aside my judge sheets for weeks then return to them. Often I can find a nugget of gold, even in a negative judges comments.

    Adding you to my prayer list for health.

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  69. CONNIE, I'm sorry you lost your dad. I still miss mine.

    Hugs, Janet

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  70. Hi Debby What a great article and I'm loving the comments too. Yes, we are blessed when we write. I think Seekerville has been a major blessing for me. The friendships we've made and the encouragement have been priceless. But another blessing is that working with Tina I've learned so much tech stuff that I would never have ventured into on my own. Thank you Tina.

    Thanks again Debby, Have a good week.

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  71. WILANI, I'll be praying that this time the antibiotics will destroy that persistent infection.

    I'm proud of you for entering contests and working hard to improve your craft. When God calls us, He will enable us in His timing.

    Hugs, Janet

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  72. SANDY, so glad your cataract surgery went well. Project Guy is very happy with how his turned out. MARY, when the time comes, I'm sure he'll be glad to share all the lovely details with you. :)

    WILANI, I hope you feel better quickly! And I'm so, so sorry your family has not encouraged your writing. But hang in there! Seekerville has your back!

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  73. MELANIE, I'm sorry your friend lost her precious daughter. I know you'll be a great comfort to her.

    Janet

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  74. Thank you, DEBBY. Life is going pretty well except for the writing, I am in a huge dry spell. Writers are the only people who understand; everyone else says, "Well, just don't do it."
    It matters because, well, it matters.
    KB

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  75. Hi Debby:

    I think the biggest blessing from reading Christian fiction and visiting Seekerville is that it changes who you are into a better person. And when you become a better person, you are twice blessed.

    Seekerville is a spiritual safe zone where people you have never met will pray for you in your times of need.

    Seekerville is where an author will do a book signing with the profits going to charitable veterans' associations and where you'll find both a Writer's Prayer and a Military Prayer.

    Seekerville is where help is always offered, encouragement is the order of the day and where never a donation is asked.

    Seekerville is an ideal community that actually exists. Being part of that community is a genuine blessing.

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  76. Linda, thanks for your kind words. So glad you're part of our Seekerville family!

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  77. Congrats to the Genesis finalists!!! So proud of you!

    Proud of everyone who submitted too! It's never easy to put your work in front of a judge.

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  78. Sandra,

    Tina is a blessing, for sure! So are you. We are so lucky to be part of this wonderful group of writers. What a gift!

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  79. Debby, thank you so much for your uplifting post!!

    The blessings for me in reading Christian Fiction are vast, can't believe I was unaware of Christian Fiction until just over 5 years ago. Education, inspiration, encouragement, entertainment, a better understanding of the problems of others, an enlightening of God's working to reach people through the words He gives authors - along with the fellowship, prayer, and friendship with godly authors, readers/bloggers, etc. are but a few.

    God began impressing upon me the need to spread the word about Christian Fiction and it's authors shortly after I began reading it - in as many ways as I possibly could. The more I read re: all that is involved in getting a book in the hands of readers - from idea to publishing and beyond - the more inspired by and appreciative of, I am to Christian Fiction authors for heeding His call. And especially grateful to God for placing the desire to write in their hearts and inspiring the words they write.

    Debby, you're such an inspiration - I'm blessed to have become even better acquainted with you through your gracious participation in The Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat (CFRR)!! I think the license tag on your truck says it all - we're ALL blessed, authors and readers alike!!

    Please enter my name in your giveaway drawing - thank you so much!!

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  80. KB,
    Go easy on yourself. Sometimes we need a bit of space from the writing for whatever reason. Perhaps God is preparing you to make a slight change in your writing...or to find a new door to push open. Give him time to reveal his plans for you.

    And I do understand!

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  81. Vince, thanks for your lovely comments today. You've touched me...I'm sure you've touched everyone.

    Love this: Seekerville is a spiritual safe zone where people you have never met will pray for you in your times of need.

    We're praying for you too! How are you fairing?

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  82. Bonton...the CFRR will bless so many! I'm amazed at what you have done in such a short period of time, and I'm super excited about the event. I know it will be so special.

    God is smiling, for sure! So am I!

    Hugs and love!

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  83. VINCE, I'll join Debby in thanking you for your sweet words. You bless us with your fun and savvy comments. And you and Walt bring the male POV to Seekerville. :-) Love having you here.

    Janet

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  84. DEBBY, thank you for such a sweet, uplifting post! It reminded me not to get so focused on "getting there" that I overlook the blessings that surround me right now -- and they are many. I'm especially blessed to have discovered Seekerville last fall! You ladies are incredible!! Thank you all!

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  85. Okay, Debby I just saw your WE ED question on TBL. I won in 2004. I was the overall winner. I won with Trouble in Paradise which has never sold and I am indie releasing in February 2017.

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  86. Laura, thanks for reminding us to enjoy the journey! So good to see you on the blog. Thanks for being part of our community!

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  87. Congrats! I won in 2005. RWA was held in Reno that year, and it was my first National RWA Conference. I remember meeting Janet and Julie. I believe you and I met as well. I met Mary at ACFW in Sept of that same year.

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  88. Yes. RENO!. That was your first RWA? I am shocked. My first was 1994. 2005 was the year Janet, Debby and Myra and I were GH finalists. Myra won.

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  89. Loved this post, sweet Debby. I've often commented that the *best* part of my writing journey has been all the amazing, caring, wonderful friends I've made along the way - - truly a blessing. And I must add that YOU have been and continue to be a special blessing in my life, Debby, along with the other Seekers. If only ALL the Seekers lived in Georgia! :)
    Hugs and Love, Patti Jo

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  90. Hi Patti Jo!

    Love that we can get together for lunch...which we need to do soon! You're a blessing in my life, for sure!

    Enjoy this hot Georgia summer!

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  91. Thank you, Debbie for the post, and I can certainly use a giant pot of tea about now. It is VBS week amidst a whole host of family issues and trials. I will have to say I am so early in all of this that I didn't think I would have anything to share. I post to my author Facebook page expecting it to get lost in the great world of posts and for my blog posts to hover around unread. But God is so much bigger than I expect.

    Yesterday I received a comment on a Facebook post I had written about how I had visited a beautiful local cathedral, spent some quiet time with our Lord, and then asked how I could pray for them. This young man wanted me to pray that his name would be put on a Cathedral or Basilica. This opened up a whole conversation that would have never happened without God having called me to writing. At the moment, a seed is only planted, but I ask for everyone to pray for Andrae as he pursues what he believes to be his dream. Pray that in that pursuit he will find a pure and devoted relationship with Christ where his treasures are laid up in heaven and not on Earth. For me, so far, that has been the biggest blessing.

    I have made many great new friends, and I feel like I belong to a community, but the biggest blessing is serving God in ways I never dreamed.

    Thanks for the post Debbie!

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  92. VBS is going on at my church, as well, Crystal. God bless you for working with the children and youth!

    I'd say God is using you in lovely ways. Connecting with Andrae was so special. I'm sure he appreciated your prayers. Isn't it amazing how God uses social media!

    How nice that you have a beautiful cathedral in your local town. What part of the country are you from?

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    1. I am from Northern Kentucky and in Covington we have the Basilica of the Assumption which is a replica I believe of Notre Dame, even the Rose glass. I am not Catholic in the Roman sense, but I am catholic in the fact the we are part of the universal body of Christ. Every now and again I am drawn to the peace and reverence of the cathedral during the work week. This area is heavily Catholic so there are many beautiful cathedrals to choose from. :-) And yes VBS is most definitely a blessing for me, too.

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  93. Crystal,
    My parents lived at Fort Knox when I attended college at Ohio State in Columbus. I drove through Covington going back and forth to school. It's a lovely town. How nice to have such a beautiful church there. Yes, catholic means universal, and we all make up the Body of Christ. Glad you can find moments of quiet and peace in the church. I find the same thing when I stop by my church.

    Hugs!

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  94. What a wonderful post, Debby! Sorry, I'm late to the party. My daughter and one year old grandson have been visiting, so my schedule is all messed up. Of course, I'm not complaining. I cherish every moment I can spend with them, and i'm so thankful they were able to come for a nice long visit.

    As for the unexpected blessings of my writing life, the top of the list would be the friendships I've made. It's amazing to think of all the people God has placed in my path who I never would have met if I hadn't started this writing journey. *Side note: After meeting you and Tina at WPA, I've decided one of my life goals needs to be meeting all of the original Seekers in person...so, if any of you are going to be at the ACFW conference in Nashville, please let me know so I can give you a hug.*

    Another blessing has been that sending out manuscripts and waiting months and months and months to hear back has helped me learn to stop stressing about things that are out of my control. I've always been a worrier and a person who wanted to "fix" everything, but writing has helped me learn to "let go, and let God" (take care of things). He is much better at handling things than I am. It's amazing (in spite of the stress brought on by deadlines and whatnot) how much calmer I feel now than I did before I started writing.

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  95. I'm revising my memoir and sharing it with a few readers - one is a priest of a local Catholic church. My story involves childhood sexual abuse, and then my seeking healing - first I rejected God and turned to the new age, occult, witchcraft, and psychology. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and finding no healing, I met a local pastor who counseled me. I accepted Christ, and was totally healed from my past. It was a long journey and the healing after salvation took time and patience and trust in God, but slowly and steadily my past became my past.

    In writing my memoir and sharing it some incredible blessings have occurred. God has shown me where He was in the midst of all the abuse - in surprising places. He showed me He was in the "nots" what did not happen. I did not get pregnant, did not go insane, did not catch VD, etc. Then I asked Him why he wasn't there when my father raped me - To find solace I went to an imaginary place with an imaginary mother and father, and He said to me, "Who do you think your imaginary mother and father was?" Then during the time when I was closest to suicide and He knew I wouldn't come to Him, He allowed pagans into my life to give me unconditional love and keep me alive until I was ready to come to Him. These pagans believed everything was true so I wasn't drawn fully into any of those paths. God used what satan meant for harm for my good.

    Then, if that wasn't enough of a blessing, the Catholic priest came up to me one day and said, "Because I've read your book I now know the right things to say to people who come to me for help with similar problems to yours." And the pagan priest I once knew had his wife die. I wrote him a note expressing sorrow, and told him I am now a Christian but thanked him for saving my life, telling him God used him to preserve my life until I could come to God. This pagan priest is reading my story, excited to follow it and wondering how it will end - I am praying he reads it until he comes to the salvation part. Others are also blessed and identify with my story.

    I pray that counselors and those who are abused or lost in the occult realize real healing is possible and that they learn that God is the perfect Father for those of us who have not had a good father in our lives.

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  96. Hi Debby,
    Thank you for your comments. Writing Christian fiction blesses me in every way. Staying focused on God's word is key to a joyful heart. There is nothing...and I truly mean nothing...like the fellowship between people that love God AND Christian fiction. I get so excited talking about what I love, and it is overwhelming joy. What a blessing from God.

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  97. Hi Debby,

    Thanks for your post. I have been blessed so much by other writers who have offered advice, encouragement and prayers! The writing community is such a blessing!

    I didn't know you were teaching writing classes! Sounds great!

    Blessings
    Edwina

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