Thursday, August 18, 2016

Writer Unboxed

with guest Jessica Nelson.
 I won't deny it: the box is comfortable. 

There's Ghiradelli brownies, a leather couch and my favorite blankie from Barnes & Noble, aptly named "the chocolate blanket." Not to mention there's air conditioning and books. A schedule. No surprises. No worries. Nothing that could possibly shake up my cozy little world.  

Yes, we all have our comfy place. 

Sometimes the comfy place becomes our cage, though.

Maybe you saw this picture on Facebook? My son is caring for his father's snakes. These reptiles are in little plastic containers that sit on shelves. Some friends on Facebook were concerned about the snakes escaping. They won't and they can't. There isn't enough space for them to slither out. Perhaps with creativity and persistence, freedom might be attained. If the snake grew desperate to escape, it might slam its body to the side. Even forward. And with enough momentum, perhaps the box might slide forward enough to allow the snake its release. But then maybe the snake might land on the ground and break some ribs? Or now, free of its cage, find himself hungry with no food in sight. 

As I looked at this picture, I was reminded of my own boxed life. Of yours. Of humanity's. Mothers. Fathers. Writers. 

Sometimes what we think is Home is actually a cage. Like an exotic bird, we swing on our perch, chirp our songs and live with the door to the world locked. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable and safe. There is nothing wrong with having a home. One of my favorite verses is "Contentment with Godliness is great gain." Aspiring to find a contented place in life is a good thing.

But what if you're on that swing, singing your song, and you lift your wings? What if you begin flapping and there is some deep, raw part of you waiting expectantly for the lift. For the rush of air beneath your wings. For change.

And...nothing happens.

You remain on the swing. There is an uncomfortable, painful gnawing in your gut that something more should have happened. But you can't figure out why it didn't. You can't find the change.

You are locked in a cage and your wings are clipped.

The world offers us so many different kinds of cages. The lifetime worker bee cage. The religious cage. The political cage. I could go on and on, but if I control searched this post, I'd find way too many instances of the word cage. ;-) And that would drive the editor in me absolutely bonkers.

It really doesn't matter how many prisons I can think of. What matters is: are you in caged? 

Sometimes we have no one to blame for our limitations but ourselves. We've clipped our own wings. Certainly, there are perils to living unboxed. Dreams can be squished. Ground into pieces by the harsh realities of life. For some people, shattered dreams is a danger too risky to encounter. Even if they are desperately unhappy, at least it is the unhappiness they know. 

Why do we trap ourselves?

I think anyone who reads the Seekerville blog is smart enough to know the answer to that question. Remember my first paragraph? Yeah...the box is safe. There's not a whole lot to fear when we have food, water, and bedding. But is clipping our wings living to our fullest potential? 

How exactly does it feel to know we're meant for more, to feel that when we flap our wings, we should be exploding upward in a flurry of sound and rhythm to meet the sky. We flap...and nothing happens. How does that feel?

It feels terrible. Yet people do it all the time. They choose a box for themselves, they hunker down, and even if they grow to hate their enclosure, they are too afraid to venture somewhere new. 

Let's tie this into writing. The genres we settle into. The face we present to the reading community. Brand is meant to help readers, not trap writers. A good publisher encourages us to become stronger and deeper writers. We should never let these things keep our creativity locked up, though.

You might wonder if you are at home or if you are caged up. They have similarities.

1. Both are comfortable.
2. Both are safe.
3. Both are familiar.

There is a difference, though, and in my opinion, it is the power of fear. When you are home, you may be afraid to leave, but you still do it. Fear of the unknown does not hold you back. You wake up in the morning, eat, poke your head out and say, "What adventure can I embark on today?" You spend the day exploring, but you love coming home. 

If you don't like your home (the life you've created for yourself), yet you are afraid to do something new, to step out of your comfort zone, then perhaps you have clipped your own wings. Perhaps you are afraid to fly. 

Let's say you've been writing suspense for fifteen years but there's a woman's fiction playing out in your mind...but you don't write it because you have spent so much time studying the art of writing suspense that you refuse to do something new. What if you fail? What if you change to women's fiction and the market tanks? What if you invest more time into this new genre and you still don't get a contract? Or maybe you've always published devotionals but one day, this man runs into this woman in your imagination. And they are so real! They have pasts and they don't like each other, but external forces are drawing them together. You want to write this book so badly, but you're successfully published with devotionals. You have limited yourself. 

It's an unhappy place to be. 

There are ways to live unboxed. Here are a few:

1. Be Flexible

So an editor says she likes your story, but it's leaning toward romance and her publisher is acquiring women's fiction. Be limber, dear writer! If you want to see a new place in your writing life, then maybe you can take this story in a new direction. What comes out may surprise you!

2. Look for opportunities

A new publisher is opening up? Remember that one manuscript collecting dust on your hard drive? The one that won all those awards? It would be perfect for this publisher. Dust it off. Send it in. 

3. Expand Your Network

There's a big world out there filled with readers! With wonderful people who share our love of books and stories and dreams. Don't let your introversion keep you from developing new relationships. 

4. Stretch Yourself

It's hard to be flexible when you don't stretch. If you are unhappy with where you are, or if you are just looking for more, do a little bit of stretching. Stick your neck out and take a peek at the world. It might be worth the discomfort. They don't call them growing pains for no reason!

What kind of growing pains are you going through? Do you love what you write or have you unwittingly boxed yourself in?

Leave a comment and your name will be put in today's drawing. One commenter will win a copy of A Hasty Betrothal along with a bit of chocolate. Winner announced in the next Weekend Edition.

Jessica Nelson believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story. Or she might be daydreaming about a raspberry mocha from Starbucks. Or thinking about what kind of chocolate she should have for dinner that night. She could be thinking of any number of things, really. One thing is for certain, she is blessed with a wonderful family and a lovely life. 

A Hasty Betrothal

A Practical Proposal 

Though Lady Elizabeth Wayland would rather spend her days with her beloved books than an uncaring spouse, scandal forces her to find a match posthaste. To escape the scoundrel who almost ruined her, Elizabeth accepts an unconventional proposal from a childhood friend. But when she finds herself falling for her husband-to-be, will she be able to convince him to return her love? 

Widowed cotton mill owner Miles Hawthorne vowed to never marry again—until Elizabeth's reputation is on the line. Their betrothal begins as a simple favor. As he spends more time with his fiancée, though, Miles finds that there's more to her than he ever saw before. And Elizabeth just might be the only woman who can slip into his heart.


  1. Welcome back, Jessica! First! I love your cover. So beautiful. This one and your last cover are some of the prettiest I have seen. You and Keli Gwyn and Sherri Shackelford are tied for most gorgeous covers. They're all beautiful. LIH does wonderful covers!

    And the plot is so cute. How did this one get stuck in your writerly brain?

    Okay, tea and finger sandwiches for the late night folks.

  2. And BTW, I a mulling your topic and will give my input in the morning. Lots to think about.

    All but snakes.

  3. Which makes me ask...why pet snakes? Do they roll over, or do tricks? Listen to your problems like my cat does??

    I don't get what you get out of a pet snake? Except the shivers.

  4. Hi Jessica:

    Life itself is a cage bound by bars of death. Even a lifelong quest to ever express our freedom can be just as much a cage as one's hearth and home. There are cages that are comfortable and those that are dungeons of solitary despair. One might even see those outside his cage as the truly encaged.

    If one follows God's plan and lives with purpose, then what place can have cages? Take the cages and squeeze them down to nothingness. Let them rest inside you. Let things be what they are. Enjoy comfort for comfort and love for love. Let go and let God!

    Philosophy eats cages! : )

    Please enter me in the drawing for "A Hasty Betrothal." I like getting to the wedding quickly. I find the period of adjustment more fun than the courtship with its black moment.


  5. I must admit to liking my rut, my box as you will, very much.

  6. I am definitely in a box but occasionally I push a side down to venture out and then am thankful when I come back in. Thank you for this thought provoking post Jessica.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of A Hasty Betrothal, I absolutely love the cover.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  7. Well I'm just cracking up here. We have the boxes versus the unboxed. I wonder what the score will be at the end of the day.

    If you always do what you've always done. You'll always get what you've always gotten.

    No guts. No glory.

    No risk. No reward.

    Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Where will we be one year from now if we don't get out of the box...hmmm.

  8. Jessie, you asked about growing pains. I'm experiencing some right now as I'm helping my daughter get settled into her first apartment. I'm happy for her, but it's kind of weird walking into her near-empty room, clapping my hands and hearing an echo.

    Our daughter has been out of the house for seven years, four in college and three working in Europe, but most of her things were here. Even though Gwynly and I were Empty Nesters, the nest wasn't really empty, but it is now.

    Thankfully, our gal is in a nearby town, and I'll be able to see her often. Even so, since this is the first times she's been living near us for many years, I'm having to learn to mother an adult. It's different. Not bad. Just different. I'm sure in time, I'll adjust, as will our gal, but in the meantime, I'd welcome tips from parents who've traveled this particular path ahead of me.

  9. Tina, I'm with you on the covers the Love Inspired art department designs. They do a great job. I happen to think Jessie's latest two LIH covers are stunning.

  10. Good morning Jessica! Thanks for the push to get us out of our comfort zone. This is perfect timing with ACFW coming up next week.

    Keli, it is hard. Here are my two tips for living close to adult children. I've learned to keep my mouth shut and I respect their privacy. One son has been married ten years, so I've had more practice with him and his family. The other son just got married, and I'm training myself to give him freedom and not voice my opinion too often. I hope if you asked them, they'd tell you I'm doing okay.

  11. I think this is one of my favorite posts this year, Jess, and maybe for all time.

    I love the way you presented both sides of this, and the examples. And the kid-in-a-box is a hoot.

    But more than that, I loved the challenge of looking at ourselves, at our habits, at pushing ourselves out of that safety-zone.

    You are brilliant.

    THIS IS MARVELOUS STUFF, and we should all print it out and post it above our work area and on our mirrors and on our refrigerators... a constant reminder that God didn't create our box...

    We did.

    And we can bust out the walls any time we want with courage and conviction and some old-fashioned work.


    I brought coffee to celebrate Jessica's amazingness (I would have brought it even if you weren't amazing, Jessica!!! I'm just sayin'...) AND homemade carrot cake. Because a morning is always better and box escaping has long been found to be made easier with carrot cake.

    I'm not kidding!

  12. Mary Preston, laughing!

    I think there are many who would agree!

  13. Thank you for inviting me, Tina!!! Ahhhh....this plot. Well, Lady Elizabeth came to me first as a character. I had to finagle a plot around her. Miles showed up and he was so charming that I knew they had to fall in love. :-) But how could I force them together? And that's where the plot came in.

  14. Tina, ahahahaaaaa, they're not MY pet snakes. The boys and their father have the snake love, but their father is also breeding them for business. *shudder*

    Vince, that is very, very true. With God, we are completely free!! :-) Thank you for the comment! You added some depth to my morning. Word of warning though, they don't get married right away. Just engaged.

    Mary, if you like it then it's a home and not a cage! :-) That's the point. It's when we keep ourselves stuck even though we're unhappy...that's the cause for concern. lol Thank you for the comment!

  15. That's wonderful, Cindy! You're a smart lady. :-) Yes, I love the cover too...I'm super thankful!

  16. Tina...first you DON'T sleep, do you??? *grin* Second, you GET it. You get it so much. Love those bits of wisdom you posted!!!

  17. Oh Keli, I imagine that must be a new challenge. Sometimes I laugh at my mom, but it seems like that urge to nurture and hold close our children is hard to let go of. Or, like you said, it just changes. Either way, you all did an amazing job raising a daughter who is not afraid to venture out and pave her own way! :-)

    I love the covers too. The art department is really outdoing itself.

  18. Jackie, true! ACFW is a great place to expand boundaries a little. Test new waters. :-)

    Good morning, Ruthy!
    Tina found the pic. I adore it!!! She's so awesome. And I'm happy the post resonated. It's something near to my heart and somewhat of a light theme in A Hasty Betrothal. Coffee and carrot have no idea how much I wish you were my neighbor!!! LOL

  19. I loved this post, Jessica! Your timing couldn't be more perfect, as I venture into other genres. I's scary, but so exciting too.
    My biggest growing pains now are excepting the realty that my parents are aging and the challenges that I'll face down the road.
    Your cover is beautiful!

  20. Hi Jill, woot woot on venturing out! Thank you about the cover. I hope all goes well with your parents...that can definitely be a challenge and change in our lives.

  21. JESSICA, these are beautiful sentiments and nearly brought me to tears. I have been in my box for SO long. "Weeping may endure for a season, but joy cometh in the morning." I'm going to branch out, as soon as I figure out what that means for me.
    Kathy Bailey
    Please put my name in drawing.

  22. Kathy...I'm sorry to hear that! What a beautiful verse to is so true. Sometimes we have those dark places in our lives and sometimes the box serves a purpose, but I will pray right now that God shows you what it means for you. :-)

  23. Awesome article. Awesome cover. And awesome writer behind it all. Congrats on your latest release!!!

  24. I'm learning escape measures. ❤ I wrote a women's fiction with a romance, but was told romance is easier to sell ... so I immediately began to work on a way to change it. My next novel, I wrote as a romance. And the romance is what I love the most.

  25. This is an incredible, beautiful, critically important post. Thank you for the reminder this morning! I'm going to bookmark this because I know I need to hear it over and over (I'm stubborn like that). Running off to share this post with others!

    (Also, as an aside...only terrible people keep their exotic birds caged with the doors locked!!! Most pet parrots, like mine, have the door open so they can fly around / play as they like for the majority of the day. I mean, I get the sentiment. But if I meet an exotic bird owner who keeps their precious baby locked up, I'll go Mama Bear on them!!! *grrrr*)

    -- Michelle Karl <3

  26. Thank you Diane!! I think you're pretty awesome too. ;-)

    Shelli, that is wonderful. I love your phrase "little escape measures". Sometimes that's all we need.

    Michelle, thank you so much for commenting! I'm really happy to hear that about the birds. I don't know much about them as pets so you've just taught me something new. :)

  27. Thank you, JESSICA for such a thought-provoking post. I am an introvert who doubts and second guesses myself, my work, my words (my foot-in-mouth and what-was-I-thinking moments) every time I step out of the box. But step out I must, even if it's only occasionally. I try to remind myself that God wouldn't have laid this work on my heart if He wasn't going to see me through it. Thank you again for such an interesting post.

    TINA and VINCE, loved your thoughts and quotes! This made me smile: Philosophy eats cages! : )

    JILL, what genre are you working on?

  28. Good Morning Jessica And welcome back to Seekerville. What a fun post. I know how much children love to climb in and out of a box. Great analogy for us to get out of our "cages" and be adventurous. From my experience, doing so provides much more fodder for the story.

    Thanks for sharing. Hmm. Chocolate for dinner? Now that's something I might try. LOL

    1. It's delicious!! I'm thankful to be back. I love Seekerville!

  29. I guess you could say I am not boxed in. Of the three books I have finished they were all 3 in a different genre. I am preparing for writing in a fourth genre. Of course this might mean that I am floundering and not grounded in what is best for me.

    I will say this though. I love writing and learning and developing my skills.

    1. It sounds like you're very adventurous!! Congrats on the books. :-)

  30. Michelle Karl, I'm laughing because I put a macaw in "Home on the Range" (soon to be released) and the free-range bird is a big part of the action... and a stress-breaker/conversation-starter.

    I named him "Hoyle" after the mythical bird... and he was my example of how risk is a big part of the joy of life.

  31. Oh Ruthy I'm definitely climbing out of the box to grab some carrot cake. You make the best.

  32. Now I'm wondering if my Ruthy brain read way more into this post than just writer unboxed from "writing" one thing...

    Because it spoke to me as a challenge to unbox ourselves to improve our story-telling abilities.

    Am I the only one who went Deep Six on this?

    1. I was like deep But there are so many ways beyond writing that we hem ourselves in. lol I love your brain and I was finishing Refuge this morning and I was BAWLING. Like a baby. Beautiful story.

  33. I'm with Laura I got a real kick out of the quotes from Vince and Tina

  34. Definitely boxed, caged, whatever the word is. My box has an open door. Sometimes I step outside and look around. Kind of looking at some new boxes to move into. Wondering - is it out of one box and into another, or is it out of one box and into the big wide world?

    1. that's deep. Great question and no easy answer.

  35. Jessica, I remember reading that one of the reasons people w/addictions or painful habits go back to it time and time again, is because it's familiar to them.

    They did research w/mice (or rats) and put them in a box. Every so often they'd shock the mouse. After several weeks, they let the mouse out of the box. You know what? The mouse ran back into the box even though it knew it would experience pain.

    I'm sure I just butchered that story but hopefully the point is still there. We do like the familiar. We want to know its there at her fingertips if we need it.

    And your story sounds so cute! Love the cover!

    1. You know, Connie, I think I read that article before. I have a family member who is a recovering addict and it amazed me how relevant the recovery program is. Thanks for sharing that story!! I'd forgotten about it.

  36. Hi Jessica:

    I just read the first chapter of "A Hasty Betrothal". What great lines!

    "Balls were the worst sort of social event."

    This has to be the best opening of a Regency novel since "Pride and Prejudice".

    And then:

    "One month after Lady Elizabeth Wayland’s arrival in London, the Season began full force. She received her voucher to Almack’s, that most-coveted place of stale biscuits and overeager girls in search of a groom."

    I'm sure Jane Austen would love this book!

    At the ball:

    "She dropped her dance card to the floor, deliberately sliding it away with her slipper. Let someone else dance the night away. She longed to be finished, to return to Windermar and meld back into her normal life routine."

    Like Jane Austen it seems Elizabeth prefers the comfort of her cage!

    Even Elizabeth Bennet was not this witty:

    "She preferred his authenticity to the sticky disingenuousness of the haut monde."

    And the perfect quote for today's topic:

    "What she actually preferred was isolation."

    Should I mention that I am already in love with your heroine? I haven't been the bitten by the romance love bug since Emma in "A Heart Revealed". And Emma was a married Catholic woman who could not divorce! Wrap your head vicariously around that!

    Well, don't put me in the drawing. I've already downloaded "A Hasty Betrothal" and have started reading it. I'd love to be able to write the next review on Amazon.

    BTW: I also love your cover art. Smart women are extra sexy. My three all time favorite romance covers are:

    "Love on a Dime",
    "Courting Miss Adelaide",
    "A Hasty Betrothal."

    The heroines on these covers all look as if -- if you got too close -- you'll be captured. They all seem to have a secret and are more than a match for any hero.


    Remember: all famous quotes have an escape clause. Everyone who has won the lottery has done something millions and millions have done over and over again with no results! (Without Julie submitting "A Passion Most Pure" year after year there may never have been an Emma!)

    1. Vince!!! I'm blushing!!! lol I'm so happy you loved my lines. :-) I'm ashamed to say I have never read Austen, but she's in my TBR pile! I hope you enjoy the story and I agree about those covers. They are gorgeous!

  37. Jessica, from our chat in the Goodreads LIH group, you know I love the library backdrop of your new cover...and the sparking eyes of introvert Lady Elizabeth. Charming!

    Concerning your encouraging post, I did leap (or was pushed) out of the box recently. I wrote a historical romance rather than the contemporary romance I was attempting. And guess what? I found I LOVE writing historical! Since I enjoy the obscure museums my history-buff husband finds during our travels, I should have realized historical fiction would be a good place for me....but it took that shove to leave the box. Thanks for encouraging us to try the uncomfortable.

    Congratulations on the release of A Hasty Betrothal. Please enter my name in the drawing. Thanks!

  38. Loved this post, Jessica! Timely for me because I've had an out-of-my-usual-box story rumbling around in my head for a few years now but have had too many other commitments to pursue it. A few weeks ago, I picked it up again and still have no idea where it's going, but I'm excited to find out!

  39. Oh JESSICA. I LOVE this post.

    RUTHY - I'm definitely with you. I read this and immediately thought: this is about LIFE, not only writing. Sometimes, I think my life is too comfortable! Has my pretty little box become a cage? God cares so much more about our character than our comfort.

    My childhood and adolescence were exceedingly uncomfortable and guess what? I draw from THAT more than anything when I write! Truly, some of the greatest art has been born out of the greatest pain.

    My takeaway is that if I want to grow as a writer or a human being, I need to step outside my cozy life and take a look around. I was convicted of this last night as I had a conversation with my step-sister who is a single mother to an awesome 10 year old boy. She works as a postal worker in the heat of North Carolina summers to support her son without help from his father. She is beautiful, strong and contented woman. I had a hard time falling asleep last night because there is a whole world out there that I know nothing about.

    I think artists can fall into this trap rather easily because we are so good at getting lost in our own made-up worlds.

    I did a Bible study this spring about idols and guess which one came up for me? C-O-M-F-O-R-T. Even the King of the universe didn't have a place to lay his head and hung out with the messiest, most broken of the bunch.

    Just look at what we write! We give our characters so much trouble and heartache don't we? Why? Who the heck wants to read a book without it? It would be a snooze fest. We grow when we're challenged and that's why we write characters the same way.

    Here's to each of us exploring life - UNBOXED!

  40. JESSICA, wonderful to have you back post side in Seekerville!! Thanks for making us think about what boxes us in, what we're afraid of and need to change so we can soar. Be all God created us to be.

    Love your cover!! The story sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read it!!


    1. Thanks Janet!!! I'm thankful to be here. :-)

  41. VINCE, thanks for including Courting Miss Adelaide in your list of beautiful covers. I've had pretty covers but my debut is still my favorite!


  42. Not so much a box as a padded cell. :-) But seriously, I can't get past the snakes. Plural. In the house. With a child close by. I will forever remain in a tightly sealed box if becoming unboxed requires me to face a snake. I know there's a lot more to process in this blog...and I will...once I get over the heebie-jeebies. Shudder.

    Oh -- and no need to enter me in the draw. I read A Hasty Betrothal and loved it. And I agree with everyone about the cover. Awesomesauce!

  43. Great post, Jessica. I have to tell myself all the time to climb out of my box. I am working on my first novel, and many times I am tempted to just stay in the box and not come out.

    I recently read a quote on a calendar that I saved and I think it fits with this idea. (The quote isn't attributed.) "The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces." I have to tell myself to stop parking and move forward on the road!

    Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

    1. Wow!! Sandra, that is such a great quote!!

  44. Keli, it is tough when you are trying to figure out how much guidance and attention to give adult children. My son will be graduating from college in December and is navigating the road to his future. He doesn't always appreciate advice, but he has always seemed to do well when he follows his own path and not do it exactly as his parents think he should! Your daughter sounds so well grounded and independent with all the adventures she has had in Europe, so you probably don't have much to worry about. Enjoy having her so close after all these years.

  45. Sandy Smith! I love, love, love that quote! You are so right.

  46. Well, ding, ding, ding!! Your book has already hit the Vince Best-seller list!! Congratulations.

    And I too am now downloading it.

    As Vince goes Seekerville!

  47. Tina, I just saw it last week and was saving it for the perfect time to share it, and today seemed to fit.

  48. Michelle Karl! great to have another LI author in Seekerville. YOU HAVE A PARROT!!! Have you put him/her in a book yet??

  49. Diane Estrella! Welcome to Seekerville.

    Friend of the author??

    Pass the plate of pignoli! Would you like some iced tea?

  50. There's a Goodreads LIH chat? Wow, brave woman, Jessica.

  51. Josee! You and Jessica have given me a push out of my box! Nicely said, Josee!

  52. Hello, Jessica. I first read this post right before bed last night. Note: this is not bedtime reading material.

    My initial instinct was "I don't want to get out of my box."
    But after sleepless hours of pondering, I have to admit it's not because I love it but because I know it so I don't fear it.

    Some of us are born more adventurous than others, some of us may have that sense of adventure knocked out of us, some of us retain it as a way of life.

    One thing I know about myself - I don't like change. Even if it's something better that eventually I'll come to love, I resist it because it's change. That's a biological thing. I feel it in my gut.

    I've always admired people who thrive on adventure and change. Who live fearlessly.

    I'm not that person, but I can be dragged out of my box and sometimes it doesn't even involve kicking and screaming. ;)

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  53. Oh, I should add - Ruthy, I totally read this as being about life.

    In my writing I'm always outside the box. I write all sorts of stuff and love it all.

  54. Delightful post, Jessica!!

    Having grown up with an unboxed father and a mother who bravely followed him, but was most comfortable in a box, I feel like I've had the incredible pleasure of experiencing life in and out of the box. Our life, since marrying my sweet husband, has been a series of in the box, and then out! I feel happy wherever I am but do tend to enjoy exploring new avenues and conquering any fears along the way! (I'm just terrible at four-wheeling and once threatened to divorce my sweet husband if he didn't let me out of the vehicle...happened on a horseback trip down a mountain-side too...I got off and walked my horse down to the flat ground!)

    Congrats on your beautiful new book! I'm going to buy it on my kindle, but would love to win a print copy for my mom. She's 88 and devours least one or two a week! ( Can I enter if I want to give it away? If not, no worries).

    1. Oh Kathryn, you sound like such a fun lady! Sounds like you had a well-rounded childhood. lol

  55. Welcome, Jessica! I loved this post. I braved sticking my toe into writing YA a few years ago but never finished it. I should go back and look at that again someday. :)

    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Missy, you never know! And if it's calling to you...:-)

  56. Tina, I'm still laughing at your cat listening to your problems. :)

  57. How thought provoking, Jessica! Thank you for sharing.

    I realized not too long ago that I didn't have a goal. I'd met my last goals and hadn't put a new one in place.

    So God gave me my new goal...and I like it. I know it's from him because I never would have thought to stretch so far. Part of me isn't sure I even want to achieve the goal. The other part says "Go For It!"


    1. Hi Debby! I can't imagine you without a goal. :-) Happy to hear God has given you a new one. That should be exciting.

  58. I just read the comments. I'm unboxed...uncaged. I like adventure. I want to explore the world. Sometimes that takes me away from my writing, which isn't good for a writer. Balance is the key. Sometimes I'm unbalanced...and then I work to get back into alignment. Am I rambling? Perhaps...but, at least, I'm rambling outside the box! :)


    1. I agree! Balance and contentment. And many other things. The ingredients for a delicious life stew. lol

  59. Jessica, if you've lived outside of the box for as many years as I have, sometimes it's nice to crawl back in the box and take a nap.Even though I'm back to writing, an opportunity plopped in my lap this year that I knew God wanted me to pursue. I am outside the box again...juggling. It's a good thing you brought chocolate! It just may save my sanity.

    BTW, love the cover of your book! Please throw my name in the box for a copy, or are you collecting names outside the box? I'm soooooo confused. ;-)

    1. Hahahaaaa, your name is in! I want a nap too. After I eat my brownies.

  60. LOL, Barbara. Yeah, I am all for naps!!

  61. LOL Kav!! They're not in the house. :-) Thank you for the great review!

    Hi Sherida!!! What a great story. Congrats!

    Myra, I'm sure you will put out something completely fabulous. I look forward to reading it!

  62. I just got home from work and on my phone, it showed me replying to individual comments but on the laptop...LOL Sorry about that!!

    Hey Cate, love your comment. Sometimes I think people who are adventurous have their own cages though. It's different for everyone and you can't tell looking at someone, necessarily. Unless they are absolutely miserable but refuse to change their life. LOL Then I'd say, CAGE.
    I don't think too many miserable people hang out in Seekerville though. *grin*

  63. Josee, what a beautiful comment. I'm not sure I've ever heard of comfort being an idol, but that really resonated. Thank you.

  64. JESSICA!!!! Love, Love, LOVE the cover, the title, and the blurb for your new book, my friend -- looks and sounds AWESOME!!

    Okay, I'm sorry, but just the idea of snakes in my house gives me the eebie-jeebies, so you are one brave woman, girlfriend!!

    I was smiling throughout this entire post because I never thought of myself as a writer "unboxed." A writer "unhinged," maybe, but not a Taco Bell gal who "thinks out of the box."

    BUT ... your excellent post today proves I am because I have done all four of your points, so I'm feeling pretty smug right about now. ;)

    I have to say that #4 is my favorite, though, because I've tried to "stretch myself" A LOT in the last few years by jumping genres. Traditionally a historical romance author, I jumped out of the box to Indie pub a contemporary series that is both a women's fiction and a romance, and next I'm tackling a historical Western series, of all things! I'm also planning to write a secular book down the road, along with revisiting the O'Connors in a cousin's trilogy during WWII. Unfortunately, I'm not a Mary or Ruthy, who speed-write excellent books, so it's gonna take me a little bit longer, but at least I'm jumping boxes, eh?

    Hugs and more hugs!

    1. I'm with you, Julie! To quote Indiana Jones, "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" lol

    2. I'm with you, Julie! To quote Indiana Jones, "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" lol

    3. Julie!! lol You're a wild woman! *wink* I liked your contemporary!

  65. Jessica, As I am preparing to go to ACFW next week, this was a great post to read. This will be the first time I attend this conference, and it will be a learning experience for me.

    As far as growing pains, I think for me, it's working up the courage to ask people to beta read for me. I know I need more feedback to take my writing to the next level, but I'm very fortunate in that I love what I write, and I love my characters.

    Thank you for posting this.

    1. Hi Tanya, I know how hard that can be. Hugs! And first conference? Wow!! I hope you have fun. I know you'll meet tons of new people who will be a part of your writing journey. I think Seekerville has done archives on conference-preparedness. I'd highly recommend checking those out. :-) They're a huge help! Best wishes to you.

  66. Hey, sorry, it's so late. My computer was acting up because of some sort of update or something like that... hey that's life for you.

    I don't think I have a problem with boxing myself in too much, in fact I would say that my problem is quite the opposite. Every book from a new genre and my mind is racing! I am currently brainstorming 3 fantasies, 2 contemporaries, 1 dystopian, and 2 steam punk stories (all quite different)! It's enough to make my head explode! I have to pull myself in check before I run off with a new idea, I have to focus on the book series that I am writing right now otherwise I will never get it done!

    Please enter my name for the drawing of your book!

    1. Nicky, that's hilarious! So your cage is actually a lack of focus? :-) You can do it! Stick with the one and finish it!!! lol (but jot down your ideas for future use) ;-)

  67. Very thoughtful post, Jessica - - thank you! Made me really think (and since it's almost 10 p.m. here in GA, it's pretty much past my "thinking time" of day, LOL). ;) Seriously, I appreciate your sharing this with us, and CONGRATS on your latest book (Lovely cover!).
    Blessings, Patti Jo :)

  68. I'm very much a creature of habit, but I've noticed my stories have been transforming all the same, almost without my permission. Perhaps my first big change was when I decided to do a historic paranormal instead of my usual contemporary action-adventure, but then I was tearing down certain rules I had put in place over my heroines (but not all yet), and now I'm watching as my young adult turns into new adult even as I make the same change. And the characters in my current work in progress are married! That's new for sure. I still won't kill my characters, but they're allowed to kiss now, so changes have been made.

  69. Jessica, I don't think you used the word SLITHER enough in your snake story.

    There's a picture of me, from last Friday, on my Facebook page, holding a snake.

    I am very brave (when it comes to creepy things and wide eyed children who would have (maybe) been traumatized it's I'd followed my most Basic Instinct and chopped it up with a hoe.

  70. I promised myself when I got published that I would step out of my comfort zone. (Public Speaking! Eek)

    And take changes when it came to my writing to market it and draw attention to it.

    I don't know if I've succeeded or not but when I am sitting at home for the fifth day out of seven, writing, I sometimes tell myself a great book is the best thing I can do for myself, my readers, my publishers.

    It's possible this is a lame excuse. :)

    This is a bold, wise post, Jessica, thank you for it.

  71. Stepping out of the Is there some of that in each of us? Me, for sure! This unwraps the birthday box to reveal gifts that I am often afraid to delve into. This was great food for thought...and a reminder that I needed. (And by the way, I could BARELY look at that picture, "just in case" a snake was visible.....euwwww). Blessings to you and many thanks!

  72. I missed this great "conversation" yesterday because of general life chaos. I think I remain more boxed than un-boxed. Every once in awhile something gets me revved up and POP, outta the box I go. In general though, I prefer to stay put. Sad. :( Must rectify.

    I would LOVE to be in the draw for your book. If Vince loves it, I know I will too.

  73. And I am even later than DebH.....but loved your post and can't wait to read your book! The cover is great! Thanks for your giveaway....this avid reader would love to win.

  74. Great points!

    I think I'm naturally more out of the box but there are ways I could be more flexible.

    Please enter me in the drawing to win a copy of "A Hasty Betrothal" along with a bit of chocolate.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!