Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Am a Writer! Now What?

with guest Josee Telfer.


This past May, I turned to my husband as he drove our family to Costco and said, very matter-of-factly, “I’m going to write a book.” He nodded and replied, “Sounds good. Should we get cheese?”

My husband’s response was appropriate, given my history. You see, the dreamer in me thinks up new businesses to start every month. I’ve held job titles ranging from “high school Spanish teacher,” and “Realtor,” to “Interior Designer,” and “Calligrapher.” I’ve blogged, owned an Etsy shop, and written for a bridal magazine. I enjoyed every job, though some more than others. Still, I knew…I hadn’t found “the one.”

Sure, I sometimes declared, “One day, I’m going to write a book!” But who hasn’t said that? Reading was always a favorite pastime, but after having kids, books became reserved for vacations. When I was pregnant with my third baby, I didn’t sleep well and read to combat the insomnia. Then my husband bought me a Kindle. 

I read voraciously, typically three to four novels per week. Especially appealing were inspirational romance, historical romance, and women’s fiction with a heavy dose of romance. The more I read, the more I discerned what I enjoyed in a novel. I found myself often thinking “I wish there was a book like this…” and would imagine a story. I’d pick up a new book, hoping it would match what was in my head, but couldn’t find it anywhere. That was my first clue, though I didn’t know it at the time.
It wasn’t long before I had a unique cast of characters living in my head. I knew what they looked like, what their quirks were, even the sounds of their voices. I had detailed scenes, and dialogue for days. The voices were getting louder and were demanding something…but what? Clue number two, but still, I was clueless.

It was like a bolt of lightning hit me that day in the car with my husband. My “Aha!” moment, to quote Oprah. After we came home and unloaded the groceries, I sat down at my desk and started typing. I worked right through dinner while my family feasted on rotisserie chicken and continued writing late into the night. The next morning, I woke up before dawn and began again. Every spare minute I had, I wrote. It felt SO GOOD to get the story down on paper.

A few days later, after I had written a particularly moving scene, I stared at my laptop and whispered, “I’m a writer.” I looked around the room to see if anyone had heard me. Could it be true? If it was, then what was my next step? I prayed, asking God for direction.  The next day I stumbled upon Seekerville and met some amazing women who mentored and guided me.

By Labor Day, I had finished my first novel, Grasping Hope, coming in around 60,000 words. I entered a few contests, became a finalist in two of them, and as of today, won first place in one. 

People hear you’re a writer and the first thing they ask is “Ooooh, where can I buy your book?” Funny you should ask, I’m working on that. 

There is just so much to say on this topic but my advice can be summed up in five words: Write, Read, Educate, Engage, Pray. W.R.E.E.P. You WREEP what you sow. These aren’t listed in any particular order of importance, though I found that extensive reading and prayer were the catalysts for my writing to flourish.



*Write. In order to be a writer, you must write. Your writing time is sacred. Set a goal for a number of words to write per day and stick to it at least five, if not six days a week. Get a room with a door. Close the door. Write. Repeat.

*Read. Just as I wouldn’t trust a chef who didn’t enjoy food, I’m wary of a writer who never reads. Read all kinds of books, especially in your genre. We typically write what we love to read so what’s on your bookshelf?

*Educate yourself. Study books on the writing craft, analyze best-selling and award-winning books, read blogs, enter contests for feedback, study the publishing market. There’s so much to learn and always room to improve.

*Engage. No one is an island. Connect with writers, authors, bloggers, editors, and agents. Leave a comment. Say “Hi.” Introduce yourself. It’s never been easier. Social media may have its downside, but it’s an incredible resource for putting your name out there and seeking advice. You also need to start building your audience, even if you’re not yet published. Put up a website, pick one or two social media outlets that you enjoy and use them. 

*Pray. I no longer say “God, how am I going to do this?” Now, I tell him “I can’t wait to see how you’re going to do this!” Seek his guidance and praise him with a humble and grateful heart. 

I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. But, I decided, I don’t need to. Who knows what they’re doing when they’re starting something brand new? We all learn as we go. We stumble, fall, get back up and try again. 

There is much I need to learn but this I know: I am a writer. There’s a fire burning in my belly and at the risk of sounding cliché, I feel like a butterfly popped out of her cocoon. It’s humbling and exciting to be doing what I know I was born to do. I’m pounding the pavement toward publication and with determination and God’s grace, I’ll get there.

I’d LOVE to know, what was your “aha” moment, when you knew you were a writer? 


Josee Telfer is an award-winning, contemporary romance author. Those words still feel surreal to her but she loves them! She hails from Québec, Canada and immigrated to the United States where she grew up in southern Connecticut. Today, Josee makes her home in Vermont with her husband and their three children. She spends her time at hockey rinks cheering on her boys, feeding her teenager and playing Barbies with her daughter. Admittedly, she doesn’t know much except this: God is good. All the time. You can find her at her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.



Josee has a very special giveaway! Two winners will get their choice of either Proverbs 31 or "The Lords Prayer," done in pointed pen calligraphy. Printed on thick cardstock and ready for framing. Leave a comment to get entered in this giveaway. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.


153 comments :

  1. Welcome to the other side of the podium!!! Great to have you here, Josee. We love enthusiastic and hard-working new writers here. GO YOU!

    I wrote my first novel at 14. Then put it away for 20 years. Then wrote in secret as I squirmed on the pew trying to figure out if God was okay with me writing romance.

    Eventually, I realized he was. TADA!

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    1. Wow, Tina! FOURTEEN? I wrote poetry in high school. It was a great outlet for my teenage angst.

      Thank you so much for having me! You have been an incredible mentor to me!

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    2. It's a gift to put words to paper and into the hearts and minds of readers. I'm so happy you have found your gift. Looking forward to all of the stories inside you coming out.

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    3. Karin! You are so sweet. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement!

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  2. Hi Josee:

    I can hear the joy in your voice and feel the inspiration that drives your dream! Such happy inspiration makes Seekerville the comfort it is to those still seeking and still island bound. I hope you let us know when your debut book is released.

    As for now, can you tell us something about the stories you write? Genre and setting? I'd love a romance set in Quebec. I am still impressed by the 1/4 scale St. Peter's Cathedral. It's a wonder. Good luck and good writing!

    Vince

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    1. Hi Vince! Thank you so much! I write contemporary romance novels and so far my books are set in Vermont and Quebec. There are two things I can't leave out of my books: my faith and my French-Canadian heritage.

      Do you mean Marie-Reine-du-Monde? It's beautiful! Quebec is a treasure pot of gorgeous cathedrals. They're the center of every village. My father's hometown, Lambton, (population about 1,500) has a gorgeous cathedral, Saint-Vital. Here's a link to the interior, if you're interested: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/55062215@N05/20483377658/

      I wonder how many others would read a romance set in Quebec?

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    2. JOSEE, I've visited Quebec twice and would love to return via a story set there.

      The interior of the cathedral is gorgeous!

      Janet

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    3. Isn't it, Janet? They populate the countryside, built when the Catholic church ruled. Sadly, many of them sit empty and some have been converted into lofts or commercial buildings.

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  3. Wow, Josee! Congratulations on pursuing after the dream that God's put on your heart! I'm not a writer (and for now have no ambition to become one), but do read avidly and love hearing writers' stories of their own journeys. I am a calligrapher also (sometimes ;) ) and love your work there--thanks for giving us a peek!

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    1. Thank you, Fedora! How did you get into Calligraphy? I'm mostly self-taught (except for a few online courses). I don't have much time for it anymore but I love it. You have to be so still, quiet and "in the moment" when you're doing something as precise as pointed pen.

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    2. I fell in love with Quebec when we visited the city last fall. And visiting the churches were the high points of our tour! Yes to a book set there!

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  4. What a great story Josee! Perseverance will get you to your goal for sure.

    May you be blessed.

    Cindy W.

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! Blessings upon you, also.

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  5. Welcome, Josee! This is such a wonderful story. I'm a firm believer that perseverance always pays off in the end. To answer your question...I think I'm still waiting for that moment. LOL!

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    1. LOL, Jill. Thank you. I often refer to Calvin Coolidge's words, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence."

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  6. Good morning, JOSEE! What an AMAZING year you've had! And it looks like more good things are on the horizon. Congratulations on the strides you've made and the finals and win!

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    1. Thank you so much, Glynna! It's like I woke up from the world's longest nap, or something.

      Not that I didn't keep myself plenty busy! But this is different. I'm busier than I've ever been but it's not work!

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    2. You're an amazing calligrapher, too! WOW. And gifted in multiple languages, as well. It must be fun to read the original versions rather than translations to English.

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    3. So much gets lost in translation. Recently, I was trying to translate something from French into English and found there just wasn't a word for it! My college professor told me languages were the keys to the world and unlocked culture.

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  7. Hi Josee, welcome to Seekerville! Congrats on all you've done. Thanks for sharing with us today!

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    1. Thank you very much, Jackie! I'm thrilled to be here today with all of you!

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  8. Welcome, Josee, and what a great subject. Congrats on all your accomplishments. I think I first Believed I was actually writer was when I sold my first book to Love Inspired Suspense. Before, I always felt a little unsure about telling people I wrote. Even today, it doesn't seem real at times.

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    1. Congratulations, Mary! That is quite an achievement. I get what you mean...I was hesitant to put up a website and declare to the world "I am a writer!" I mean, I'm not even published yet! But God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity. I believe each one of us ought to step out in faith and confidence with the talents God has gifted us with, whatever they may be. The trick is to remain humble, always. Blessings on your future novels!

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  9. JOSEE, welcome post-side! Your excitement and the fire in your belly is inspiring! Congratulations on the contest finals and win. You're working hard and you'll get there.

    From the age of twelve, I knew I'd write a book someday. Guess we're wired somehow but it took me a long time to turn on the switch.

    I love your calligraphy!

    Janet

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    1. Thank you, Janet! Twelve! Wow...I'm always impressed when people say they knew what they were born to do at so young an age. Though...looking back on my life, I can see now that I was doing what God had put in my heart at fourteen.

      I wrote a big book of poetry and my 11th grade teacher entered one of my poems into a college contest. I won first place! But life "got in the way," so to speak, and I put creative writing aside.

      My mom bought me a calligraphy set when I was twelve. I forgot about that too, until one day when a co-worker asked me if I would address her daughter's envelopes for her upcoming wedding. She said I had beautiful penmanship. It wasn't until I was half-way through that I remembered my mother's gift!

      Life is loud and can drown out that still, small voice. But I'm here! Yay!

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    2. JOSEE, I knew I'd write a book but honestly never dreamed I'd see it in print. So my dream wasn't to strive for goal. It was more of a creative endeavor like drawing was for me then, too. It wasn't until I'd written a book that it even occurred to me to want to see it published. I'm a slow learner. LOL

      Congrats on winning a college poetry contest! You obviously are talented in many areas. It may just be me, but I think creative people are drawn to many outlets and that can spread us too thin unless we find our focus. Glad you heard that still, small voice!

      Janet

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    3. "Life is loud and can drown out that still, small voice." This is so beautiful and true. Protect the work, it cries. Protect the work!

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    4. JANET, yes! Just yesterday, I said that exact same thing to my mother. Creativity begets creativity and it's no uncommon to see creative people who are talented in many areas. I have an uncle, who, for example, is an accomplished guitarist, a self-taught artist, a composer, a singer, and a poet! Focus is key or you're right, we spread ourselves thin.

      Tina, should I copyright that phrase? hahaha

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  10. JOSEE, your post made me smile. How fun that God placed your characters in your head and gave you a story. I love that your husband supports you! :)

    My Aha moment probably came after I finaled in two contests close together. I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, I could really write and hopefully, one day, engage with readers. I sometimes need those reminders that I am a writer. God has ways of reminding me when I become discouraged.

    Your calligraphy is beauitful!

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    1. Thank you, Jeanne! I thought I was *eccentric* with those characters and their world banging on the door of my brain. I mean, I am a little eccentric, anyway, but I think writers generally are!

      Congratulations on being a finalist! You ARE a writer! Keep on keepin' on! God bless you, Jeanne!

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  11. Hi Josee:

    You are so right! It was the church of Marie-Reine-du-Monde and it was like walking into the twilight zone! We had been in Rome recently and St. Peter's was one of the most memorable sites we saw on our whole trip. When we walked into Marie-Reine-du-Monde it was hard to find any way in which the church was different. The size is still so large that it even seems to be the right size. It was spooky because the two churches were so much alike. All this time I just assumed if you had a scale copy of St. Peter's, you'd call it St. Peter's, too!

    Funny thing on our trip to Quebec: we got on the city bus and a well dressed man was having a terrible loud shouting argument with the bus driver. Eventually the young man was told to leave the bus. When the man left the whole bus cheered the driver. I asked a Canadian sitting next to me, "What just happened here?" The man, a total stranger, said, "He's a Parisian and thinks he's better than everyone else. The driver would not make an exception for him and the guy went into a rage. We can't stand people like that guy and his superior French! Of course, the driver would have made exception for one of us."

    I'd love a romance set in Quebec. It's like going to Europe without the long plane trip. I think it would help novel sales if its being set in Quebec was essential to the plot and some of the famous landmarks were also woven into the storyline. I'd really like to see Marie-Reine-du-Monde worked into the plot.

    I think an indie romance set in Quebec, with the right cover art, would find a welcome market. It really does not matter if the public wants a romance set in Quebec if the Traditional publishers don't. If you write it, I promise to buy a copy.

    Vince

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  12. JOSEE, what an inspiring post. I especially like the acronym, WREEP. We need to balance all those things. But if we keep up with the writing, the rest should follow. I'm going to keep this as a checklist.
    Not really a Proverbs 31 person but would love to win The Lord's Prayer.
    Where in Vermont do you live? I'm in southern New Hampshire. Don't hear from too many New Englanders on Seekerville, unless they are lurking.
    I'm about where you're at on the writing, several finals and one substantial win. My AHA moment actually came in elementary school, I've always wanted to write fiction, but I made every mistake and took every detour imaginable. It's all coming together now. I credit my fifth-grade teacher, who "saw something" and encouraged me, and the Betsy-Tacy books, where Betsy dreamed of being a writer and I knew I could too. But it's more than dreaming.
    Back later,
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Hi Kathy! I'm so glad you found the acronym helpful. I'll put you in for "The Lord's Prayer."

      I'm just south of the Canadian border, on Lake Champlain. You're right about New England being poorly represented here. There aren't too many New Englanders represented in Christian fiction, overall, that I can tell.

      Congratulations on the finals and win! It's validating, isn't it? But yes, it's so much more than dreaming! We've got to put pen to paper! Blessings, Kathy!

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  13. Good morning Josee!

    My story is almost identical to yours. I kept reading books and kept wishing they'd do this or that. Why does everyone do this?
    But I took it a step further, (hang my head of embarrassment) I wrote Catherine Coulter and told her my idea so she could use it. Luckily, she was kind of enough to write back and give my the closet chapter of RWA. This was years ago.
    And back then, it was harder to find info. Seekerville didn't exist. I had more fun writing that first book than any other I've ever written. It was after I learned some of the "rules" and began to enter contests that my writing slowed down to a crawl.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I love hearing that, Connie! Amazing that Coulter pointed you in that direction! Thank God for sites like Seekerville and the generous women who are such wonderful guideposts.

      I'm laughing at your comment about learning the "rules." I had so much fun writing that first book, in under 3 months with no outline, no notes, NADA. Revisions have been brutal. Keep writing because it's obviously in you!

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    2. CONNIE!!! What a delightful story that is. And so gracious of Catherine to point you in the right direction! I LOVE THAT STORY!

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  14. VINCE, I'm 15 minutes from the Canadian border, about an hour's drive to Montreal. These days I rarely get up there anymore but I love it! I'm from just outside of Quebec City. My favorite city on earth. Have you ever visited St-Anne-de-Beaupre? Or "L'oratoire St-Joseph?" Churches and cathedrals are my favorite landmark in any city I visit.

    Funny about the Parisienne. Quebec and France are cousins but with very different accents and personalities. Like most families, it can get testy but there's a kinship there, regardless!

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    1. Hi Josee:

      I'm not sure all the sites we saw in Quebec as after our first city bus tour we were so impressed that we took a second tour. We were also amazed by the landscape and hills and rivers and all the green areas. It is almost as if you were a writer wanting to create the most interesting and beautiful setting for a story, so you did what C. S. Lewis would do: you created Quebec. But in this case, Quebec is already created!

      We also had the best meal we've ever had in North America in what looked like an old brick building in an industrial area down in a basement that looked like a dungeon. It was so French and fancy with multi-courses and there was even a little bowl of ice cream ( I think it was lemon sorbet) to eat to 'clear our palate' between servings. The French sure take food seriously! Wow! I thought they could cook in New Orleans but Quebec was in a league of its own.

      Vince

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    2. Oh the food! Reading this has me itching to head north. The Quebecois are like the French in that they are passionate about food, wine and and love.

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    3. I loved visiting the Oratory and learning more about Brother Andre.

      And I agree about the restaurants! They were wonderful. Loved eating outside along the city square. It was OCT but the temps were mild when we were there. Also took a charming boat tour of the harbor at nightfall. They took us out into the rough channel as well. Amazing the difference in the currents.

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  15. JOSEE, I am 3/4 French Canadian. My maiden name was Perron. My family came to Manchester, NH to work in the mills. I would love to see more of "our" heritage in Christian fiction.
    VINCE, love the bus driver anecdote. French-Candadians are their own entity and good enough for me. Sheesh, are Parisians even rude in someone else's country?
    KB

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    1. Ahhh, yes Perron! My maiden name is "Baillargeon." There are LOADS of French-Canadians in our neck of the woods. Try as I might, I can't leave my heritage out of my books!

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  16. Loved this, JOSEE! Thank you for sharing your story! You sound like such a fun, interesting person and I'm sure your books will reflect that. Congratulations on your contest success! Can't wait to read your first book!

    I've always known I wanted to write. Even as a child I created newspapers with my friends (I was usually editor, reporter and advice columnist, lol) and wrote numerous "books" (inspired by Nancy Drew, Trixi Belden, Happy Hollisters, etc.) that we rarely finished before dashing off to the next great story idea. As an adult I've written for small-town weekly papers (where I did everything except advice columns) and just recently became serious about a career in Christian fiction. In some ways I wish I would've started this journey sooner, but I've recently realized that God was preparing me for this time. I'm not sure the younger me was ready for this. Writing is easy, writing for publication is something all together different. Thanks for the inspiration this morning - I needed it! So grateful for Seekerville!!

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    1. Hi Laura! Fancy meeting you here. 😉 You've been writing your entire life! Did you keep any of those books you wrote?

      I agree. Writing for publication is so much more intentional.

      Isn't Seekerville just the best?! I love hearing other people's stories and being renewed here! Blessings, Laura!


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    2. Laura!!! Trixie Belden??? Be still, my heart. :-)

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  17. Hi Josee!

    I found Seekerville the same way you did - I was praying and looking for direction in my writing, and one day I "stumbled" across Seekerville. Ruthy was the hostess that day, and I haven't looked back. :)

    I loved reading about your writing journey. My own story has some similarities - I started writing in high school, but life got in the way in the form of a wonderful husband and four children. As they grew (the children, not the husband!), I tried writing stories or poems, but God's answer was always "not yet." Once my youngest boys were ready to graduate from high school, the doors opened wide. :)

    I'm looking forward to reading your first published book! I have a feeling it won't be too long from now!

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    1. JAN! Timing is everything, isn't it? Five years ago I kept feeling like God was preparing me for something big about to happen in my life. I thought it had to do with my career since I had been writing for blogs and a local magazine. I found out I was pregnant with our girl!

      I'd say, yes, those doors did indeed open wide for you. Congratulations on all of your success!

      As far as publication...well, from your lips to God's ears! And THANK YOU, again for your critique! It was so helpful.

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  18. Gosh, yes, Josee. You have all the makings of a French-Canadian book and wouldn't those Canadian Harlequin editors love it. I've been to Toronto several times, growing up at the Buffalo border.

    Vermont though, the closest I've been is a ski trip in college to Killington.

    So what are you working on now? Writing-wise?

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    1. Hmmm...you've got the wheels turning, Tina! My husband is from Toronto so we go a couple of times per year. It's a great city! I didn't know you grew up in Buffalo!

      I don't ski. I know, I know...but hockey keeps us too busy during ski season.

      I'm working on another romance that takes our heroine on a journey to discover why she's inherited an estate in Vermont from a woman she never knew. She ends up at a convent in Quebec...

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  19. Hello Josee. I'm a reader and I enjoy peeking behind the scenes of an authors journey. It makes me appreciate authors so much more.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Hi Caryl! I love getting a glimpse behind-the-scenes, as well!

      You're entered!

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  20. Josee! Congratulations on your win! So exciting. When my kids were little, my oldest is 23, I wrote short stories, a mix between Nancy Drew and Goosebumps. I still pull those stories out and read them lol. I went back to school in 2003. Once I got my Assoc degree, I transferred to a four year school, and in 2013, finally graduated with a degree in English. About 2010, I figured out I loved editing. I found a couple of authors to edit for and my freelance editing business has taken off from there. Maybe over Christmas break in 2012? I wrote my first contemporary romance story. Now I've gotten two complete, 3 on their way, and lots of other ideas. I have no idea where this will go, but my writing time is time spent with God (because I sure don't know what I'm doing!), so if no one sees these stories but me, I'm okay with that. I have a close friend who reads them and loves them and can't wait for more, and my son reads scenes for me. His responses are hilarious usually. Tina opened my eyes a few days ago when she said enter contests for the judges. I always entered for the feedback, b/c I never expected to win. So now to change my mindset lol! Congratulations, Josee! It's great to see you in Seekerville with your own post! So now you get your name to the right with a link to this post. That is so cool! Happy writing! Can't wait to read your book.

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    1. Thank you, Sally! You came full-circle! Three novels is a wonderful accomplishment!

      Tina also taught me about researching judges. It saved me from spending more money than I needed to because the same judges did several contests. When the judges weren't a good fit, I skipped over a particular contest. Tina's a wise one, isn't she?

      Happy writing to you, too and God bless you! Writing is worship when done for Him.

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    2. I love that! Writing is worship. That is so true! I'm going to post that on my computer. Thank you!

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    3. I can't take the credit! I saw it on the website for the Mt Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. "Writing as Worship" is their theme this year and I loved it!

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    4. Writing as Worship...another note to tack to my computer!

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  21. HI Josee! What a lovely post. I loved reading about your journey. You are a woman of many talents!

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    1. Hi LeAnne! You're too kind! I'm a woman who couldn't make up her mind, is more like it, but thank you!

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  22. What a great post! Thanks for sharing with us Josee. I am still waiting for my aha moment. Until then I am mostly a writer wannabe.

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    1. Hi Cindy! It could just be that the timing isn't yet right. Keep writing and waiting on the Lord. If that's your calling, he'll let you know. God bless!

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  23. Thanks so much for this inspiring post today, Josee!

    I think I've always known I was a writer. I must have been about 6 when I wrote my first story, "The Enchanted Prince." But, like so many of us, it was years before I began to figure out what it takes to get published. That part of the journey began when I enrolled in the Institute of Children's Literature correspondence course. It wasn't long before I sold a short story, the first of many to follow. That was in 1985, and it was the validation I needed to keep believing I could do this . . . even though it wasn't until 2008 that I FINALLY got a contract for my first novel.

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    1. Hi Myra! So interesting that you started out in Children's fiction. I'd say you've been rolling since 2008!

      The road to publication is steep and windy. But I love a challenge and meeting new people along the way. Seekerville has been the biggest blessing. All of you are WONDERFUL!

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  24. Every single time I read the "cheese" comment from your husband, I laugh out loud.

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  25. Hi Josee, what a wonderful post and I love WREEP! Printing it off as we speak.

    I have always loved to read but being a writer was the unicorn. Untouchable. Impossible. I kept feeling the nudge but was scared to death to move toward it. I made excuses, even told God, I didn't have a computer. Then my friend called me up and said, she knew she was supposed to give her laptop away and gave it to me. So, I tapped away and wrote my first novel on that gifted laptop. I, too, am still pounding the pavement toward publication.

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    1. Hi Sharee! So glad you found WREEP helpful!

      I hear you about it being untouchable. I'd read a novel and finish it with a sigh in my heart. Being an author appeared to be out of my grasp but really, who are WE to decide that God has ordained?

      He certainly made it clear with your laptop! I can't wait to read your book, Sharee!

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  26. This was such a fun post, Josee! I look forward to the day we all get to read your first book! :)

    You're my hero. Fluent in five languages! I'm an amateur linguist myself, but I'm only fluent in English. I can get around in French and Spanish and read quite a bit of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. And I've dabbled in a dozen or so other languages. As a kid, I'd read through grammar books for fun. Apparently that's not normal...? Haha

    You might appreciate this, being Quebecoise! I learned French using a Parisian program, practicing with a French Canadian friend, while we lived in French-speaking W. Africa. So... I'm sure my accent is a horrible mess!

    As far as writing, I actually made up languages as a kid before I discovered Tolkein. I remember writing stories about the people who spoke those languages and the worlds they lived in. When I stumbled on The Hobbit in fourth grade, I realized I wasn't the only one! I began to read everything I could get my hands on and always "wanted to write a book."

    But I don't think I really considered myself a writer until the first time I broke the 20,000 word mark on a story. That was more than I had ever written--considering school assignments and my own short stories and poems--and I realized that writing was something I could actually do and not just mess around with as a hobby.

    Thanks so much for the encouraging post today!

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    1. Megan! Wow, you are a linguist! Seriously! I mean, really! You made up your own language!

      I'll never forget my first German class. Deutsche 101. The professor taught the entire class in German. I caught 3, maybe 4, words. I went to her to explain I had mistakenly sat in the wrong class and she smiled and said, "No. You're exactly where you should be. But I like to throw my students into the deep end. No wading in." She was right and I learned very quickly.

      I love unique accents. What I've never been fond of is believing that one's accent is superior to another's.
      God bless you in your endeavors, Meg!

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    2. Thank you! I feel a little better about my accent now. I'd love to visit Quebec someday :)

      And sink-or-swim is the best way to learn! The stakes are a lot higher and success is more rewarding. I've dabbled with German, but never had high stakes, so it hasn't really stuck. I know a few words, but that's it. I'd love to learn more because my brother in law and his wife are stationed in Germany and it would be fun to visit!

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    3. Hi Megan:

      I've also always been fascinated with languages and I used to make up languages as a kid. Talking in class is bad enough but talking in your own made up language got you an express pass to the principal's office. Have you ever looked into the artificial languages? I was interested in Ido for a while because its speakers were called Idiots. No kidding!

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    4. Vince and Meg, did you know that making up languages is a sign of GENIUS?

      It's true!

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    5. Megan, where does your bil live? I lived in Germany for three years and took German classes the entire time. I could converse although my grammar wasn't good. I took French in high school and two years in college and loved that language, but German seemed to make sense to me, for whatever reason. Unfortunately, I've lost most of my spoken French, although I do better reading. I'm losing the German as well. Must get into refresher conversation classes. If only there were more hours in a day!

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    6. Josee -- I don't know about "genius" but that's kind of fun! My brain is just wired for language. If you asked me to do basic algebra, though, you would definitely NOT consider me genius! Haha.

      Vince -- glad to know there are more like us out there! I used to teach parts of my made up languages to my best friend so we could pass notes in class that the teacher couldn't decipher. Teachers aren't amused by that either! I've looked into some of the artificial languages, but never took the time to study any of them. Except Klingon. Somehow that one always makes it into linguistics curricula! I'm curious about Ido now though...haha!

      Debby -- I think he's at Spangdahlem. He flies F-16s. Unfortunately languages do have to be used to be retained. I used to be almost-fluent in French, but not many people in South Dakota speak French so I've lost a lot of it. I wish there were more hours in a day too!

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  27. Good Morning, Josee!

    So much fun to learn more about you. Vermont native, huh? When can I come visit? ;-) Always, always wanted to visit the gorgeous state. (Just out of curiosity, did you ever see the movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton? SO cute!)

    I think I knew I was a little different when, at six or so, while my friends played on the playground at recess I couldn't wait to take my tablet and pencil and find a big shade tree. I longed to create the worlds people could one day get lost in, too. Of course, back then, my plots were a little more...uh...simplistic. :-)

    Best wishes for an exciting writing future!!

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    1. Cynthia, I read your other comment below, first. Born in Quebec, raised in Connecticut and now live in Vermont. It's far too gray here for my liking but the positives far outweigh the negatives!

      Baby Boom! Yes, I've seen that!

      Six years old and dreaming away! I love that! Best wishes and blessings to you also!

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  28. Josee, I see you're originally from Canada. Wow! Best of both worlds. Looking forward to your stories!

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    1. Hi Cynthia! I am a dual citizen and live just 15 minutes from the border. I've always said if you took the best of the United States and the best of Canada, you'd have utopia!

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    2. Interesting how they allow dual citizenship now. When my son was born it was not allowed. He was born in Germany and we had to declare citizenship. Of course since I was only temporarily in Germany when I was in the Army I pick the United States.

      So what does your passport say? This is very interesting. Must research this.

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    3. I found this: (so I am thinking it was probably the US Army that made that credo to me.)

      Not that it is expressly allowed, or disallowed, due to the fact that as far as the US is concerned, if you hold US citizenship, you are a US citizen, with no consideration to the fact that you may have a foreign citizenship. But generally, the door was fully opened to dual citizenship by 1964.

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    4. I'm not sure if it's because of a relationship with Canada? My kids are also dual citizens because Eric and I were both born on Canadian soil. The passport says USA but we hold Canadian passports, as well. We didn't have to renounce our Canadian citizenship.

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  29. Josee, I knew I loved you when you "talked" about your Quebec grandparents who provided lodging for strangers. Now, you've confirmed all the good thoughts I've had about you since that time.

    Such a lovely blog post! I LOVE WREEP! It speaks to my heart and will be posted on my computer. Excellent advice for all of us, no matter where we are on our writing journey.

    Thanks for offering the exquisite calligraphy prayer cards. Both such works of art that give Him glory! You are an artist!

    Continued prayers for you and your writing. God is leading you down the right path. So glad He brought you to Seekerville. You've blessed us!

    Love, hugs and prayers!

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    1. Oh, Debby, my fellow SHA lady! You're so incredibly kind. You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your thoughtful words. I appreciate your prayers.

      So happy WREEP spoke to you! I'm grateful to God for each of you wonderful women I've met here at Seekerville. You've been such a blessing to me!

      I pray God continues to bless you!

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  30. Josee speaks five languages? And Megan Brummer lived in South Africa? How did I miss this. You gals are pretty amazing.

    Which languages are those? Besides fluent hockey.

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    1. I SPOKE 5 languages fluently but alas, languages are a living, breathing thing and if you don't use them, you lose them! French, English, Spanish, German, Italian.

      The first 3 are strong, German and Italian, not so much. I bet if I spent a summer in Germany or Italy though, it might all come flooding back.

      I'm far from fluent in hockey. I still don't understand "offsides" or "icing." My eyes are usually glued to the boy in the net, praying those pucks don't get past him!

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    2. I did live in a Muslim West African country for about 7 months working with a Bible Translation group. I didn't do any translation myself--because I couldn't learn enough of the tribal language in that time--but I did teach literacy programs and helped distribute Scripture once it was printed. There were also a couple of towns I taught English to small groups of young adults hoping to go to university. That was fun--trying to teach English as a third language through two languages that I couldn't confidently speak myself!

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    3. Oh my goodness, Meg! A novel set in west Africa would be awesome!

      What an incredible experience you had!!!

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    4. That would be fun to write! I've used some of my experiences as scenes or settings, but I've not thought about doing a whole novel set there... hmmm.

      So you can write a romance set in Quebec, and I'll write a story set in West Africa ;) This will be fun!

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    5. Both of you ladies are amazing! My hat's off to you with your gifts for languages. Love Inspired features heros and heroines who have worked/lived in foreign settings, especially with their historical line. Just an FYI!

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    6. Good to know Debby! Thanks for the tip!

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  31. CREATE THE THINGS YOU WISHED EXISTED.

    WOW. That hit me right between the eyes because it's EXACTLY the reason I started writing in the first place in my 50s, after a 40-year lapse.

    Sorry, Josee, you SO grabbed me with your post that I forgot to say WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!! Soooooo good to see you on this side of the blog! ;)

    As many people have heard ad nauseaum, I started writing my first novel at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind. I got as far as 300 double-spaced pages back then, and that book actually became the basis for my debut novel when I picked it back up some 40 years later.

    When I did, the reason I did was because I decided to forego on all secular romance to read only Christian romance. The problem was, there was NO Christian romance that had either the romantic passion OR spiritual passion I craved, so I decided to write my own. Like you, I found myself saying, “I wish there was a book like this,” a book that spoke to my passionate nature. So you might say I started writing for both God and myself and if anybody else liked it along the way, well, that was just gravy.

    You asked: "what was your “aha” moment, when you knew you were a writer?"

    I knew I was a writer when I was about 8-10 years old and would create little booklets for which I both illustrated (art was one of my strong points) and wrote the story. The problem was, I was so good in art that my heroines were a little too anatomically correct to suit my mother, who went crazy when she found one of my booklets tucked under a mattress. And don't even get me started on what she thought of the story ... ;)

    Josee, have a feeling you are on the threshold of major blessings in your career, my friend, and I pray God uses you mightily to blaze a trail for His glory!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, Julie, Julie!!! I remember the first book of yours that I read, "A Passion Most Pure." I loved it and thought, "So there IS Christian romance out that's full of passion!" It gave me the guts to write what I wanted.

      Like you, I had been reading ONLY Christian romance and hadn't come across much that spoke to ME.

      Three hundred pages at the tender age of 12? WOW. I feel like I arrived really late to the party, but at least I'm here!

      Do you think Christian romance is changing? I may be wrong but I sense that it's loosening up a bit, maybe to reach a broader audience?

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I pray you're right! God bless you, Julie!

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  32. Hello, WRITER and AUTHOR Josee! Your post is filled with inspiration. You have accomploshed so much in your writing journey in less than a year! Love your five word advice and the switch in focus for your prayer...watching for how God is going to work in your writer's heart. Thank you for sharing. I'm already looking forward to reading Grasping Hope...perfect title!

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    1. And I forgot to answer your question...I've long considered myself a writer, but it was when I typed THE END on my first manuscript that I considered myself an author. That was my "aha" moment.

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    2. Hi Sherida! Thank you for your kind words! It's true. It's easy to forget God's power. When I get overwhelmed, I remind myself that He isn't limited the way I am.

      I believe you have to give it your all, whatever it is you're doing—leave nothing on the table. Then watch to see how God multiplies it!

      What a feeling of accomplishment to type, "The End." But then, the WORK begins. Writing isn't so hard but the revising!! Oh boy!

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  33. Josee, welcome! I'm so excited to read your story. I laughed at your husband's comment when you announced you were going to write a book. :)

    Congrats on all your successes! And congrats on the contest win!!

    Like you, I think I knew I was a writer when I sat down and started writing. I had that same burning you did as I enjoyed it more than I ever imagined I would! At the time, I had just had my second baby, and I would type while nursing him (one-handed typing). :)

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    1. Missy! One-handed typing- YES! Though it takes so long!

      It sure is fun writing stories! I'm so incredibly grateful for the ability and the opportunity!

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  34. Josee, thanks so much for sharing your story. You have given great encouragement. I look forward to being able to read your first book.

    I suppose I might have first felt like a writer my senior year of high school when I won the Omaha World-Herald's monthly short story contest for students. My story was published and I received $25. That same week I won first place for yearbook feature writing at the Nebraska State Journalism contest. (Also got a superior rating for my clarinet solo at district music contest that week, so it was a pretty successful week!) It was almost 20 years later when I sold my first short story to a small Christian publication. Since then I sold many stories, but never really thought I could write a novel. I had an idea for years, so finally decided to get serious. That is when I found Seekerville and started checking in regularly. There is no better encouragement.

    My biggest problem is, that unlike you Josee, when I sit down to write the words don't just pour forth, even when I know what I want to say. I wish I was more able to do that.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. You're welcome, Sandy! I'm so happy you were encouraged and I appreciate YOUR encouragement!

      When I'm blocked and the words "don't pour forth," it's because I'm afraid. Afraid I'll write a dumb scene, afraid it'll all sound cheesy. And the first draft often is. You can fix anything but a blank page. Besides, writing is really REWRITING anyway. At least, for me.

      Or try a novella first? Maybe the idea of a novel is intimidating for the sheer length.

      Seekerville is awesome, isn't it? The women behind this site have blessed scores of writers!

      You're entered!

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  35. Well done, Josee!

    I'm definitely a writer and have loved writing since I was a child... but I'm more a nonfiction writer. However, I love reading fiction and look forward to your first book!

    Please enter me in the drawing for your beautiful Proverbs 31 calligraphy!

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Thank you so much, Phyllis! You're entered!

      Delete
  36. JOSEE, your life is so interesting. And because of the response to your post, I've gotten to read some interesting things about other Villagers I didn't know! I'm sure Tina did. She's got us all in the file drawer of her mind. :-)

    Janet

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    1. "She's got us all in the file drawer of her mind."

      Now I just need to learn a filing system. Argh. I turned and looked up at my picture of Albert Einstein looking at his messy desk.

      "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then, is an empty desk a sign."

      Apply this theory to my brain and I will be fine.

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    2. I can't say I've really thought of my life as being interesting but then maybe none of us really see ourselves like that? It's been so much fun reading everyone's comments!

      For sure Tina's got it all filed away!

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    3. TINA, The bulging folders of your filing cabinet may overflow upon occasion and jam the drawers, but it's all in there. Just keep a crowbar on hand. :-)

      Einstein forgot that empty and cluttered are not antonyms. He'd probably say neat desks are a sign of wasted time and he'd be right!

      Janet

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  37. Hi Josee:

    I know how it is to fall back on a language. I lived in Italy for three years and I know if I went back to live most of my Italian would come back quickly. When one word or phrase comes back it does not come alone. There is a whole set of associations which come back with it. In math they call this geometric progression.

    In years past Seekerville did something about going to Tuscany for a summer writing course. Tina was even writing Woman's World stories to earn the tuition. I found a cooking school in the same area during the same time and I'd love to go to that. I just love Tuscan cooking the best in Italy.

    Perhaps the Seekers could work on going to the Writer's School again. That would be even more fun than the RWA convention.

    Vince

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    1. Vince, I'm all in for a writers school AND cooking school. I'm a wannabe chef! :)

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    2. VINCE!! Good memory, pal. That is Watermill.net

      That is totally on my bucket list. But this year they don't have any writing classes. Maybe I should offer to teach some if they fly me over.

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    3. For less than 100 bucks you can go to school with Gordon Ramsey, Missy. https://www.masterclass.com

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    4. Hi Tina:

      Did you know 'Russo' is the second most popular surname in Italy today? Do you have relatives in Italy today? Tuscany is so beautiful and they speak the purest Italian in that region -- because Dante was from there.

      I'd love to go back again someday.
      Keep the dream alive!

      Vince

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  38. I want to know what you sold in your Etsy shop, Josee.

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    1. I took my original calligraphy (quotes, scripture, short poems) and printed it onto fabric then a friend of mine sewed it into ornaments, door hangers, and pillows. It was called "Script & Cloth."

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    2. I just went and searched for it, but realized you used past tense. I'm sorry I missed it! I did some shopping at Christmas on Etsy.

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    3. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I had never realized how much work went into it all. Needless to say, I now have a lot more respect for crafters!

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  39. Hi Josee, What a fun post. You really do have a gift for writing. I could just picture you and hubby on your way to Costco. chuckle. And I love your experience. The thing about writers that I love is the diversity amongst us. We all have a different way of coming to the same place-writer. I love your gift also. You have many gifts. smile Thanks again for joining us here in Seekerville today and have fun.

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    1. Thank you so much, Sandra! That's really kind. I've enjoyed reading everyone's stories today!

      My husband has always told me I love to talk. A lot. I've always replied with, "Well, I have a lot to say!" So, there you go! Blessings, Sandra!

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  40. Josee, I love your story! I always like to hear about other people's writing journeys. I wrote my first "booklet" (as Julie would say) in third grade...and got a spanking for it. Evidently, I had a boyfriend at the time, and I wrote about two people getting married and having a baby. My mother was not impressed. I guess I've always been a romantic. lol

    Please count me in for the calligraphy "Lord's Prayer." Beautiful!

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    1. Oh, no, Barbara--a spanking for writing a romance??? Glad your mom's reaction didn't discourage you!

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    2. LOL, Barbara! I guess she suspected you knew too much. :)

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    3. Hi Barbara! I concur with Missy and though I never got spanked for writing a booklet, my mom often scolded me because "I had my head in the clouds."

      You're entered for "The Lord's Prayer!"

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  41. Hi Josee
    I love WREEP - gonna print that out for my desk. I've been a voracious reader since childhood and have written stories since at least grade school. As a cartoonist, I've drawn illustrations for the simple ones too (not quite like Julie - being too anatomically correct). I've done really short film scripts and finished a couple of animated film shorts. No, "aha! I'm a writer!" moment for me yet. I haven't given myself permission yet, especially with my seven year old son always wanting his "mommy time".
    I know a bit of German - but not fluent. Although if I visited Germany again (was living there when the Berlin Wall came down), it'd probably all come back.
    I loved hockey ever since a friend sat with me at a CANADA vs USA game and explained everything as we watched. I'm guessing by your comment that your boy is a goalie... way cool. I sometimes wish to join a hockey league, but I can barely skate on ice. I'd have to be a goalie so I wouldn't hurt the team.
    I used to have a friend in Montreal. I visited her during American Thanksgiving one year and learned how to curl being a substitute for her league team. It was a blast. We lost the match, but she said it wasn't because of me, their captain had a really off day.

    Great post. Looking forward to your next one that celebrates a debut book! :)

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    1. Hi Deb! It's so nice to meet you! I still remember watching Reagan's speech, "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" How exciting that you were there for that!

      What are the film shorts about? I'd love to see! I've always been fascinated by people who can draw.

      Thank you for the encouragement, Deb!

      I'm laughing at your comment about curling. It's SO Canadian but I've never done it! I'm also terrible at ice skating. My son is a goalie and I am a "Goalie mom." But, as other parents tell me, I'm cool, calm and collected compared to other goalie parents.

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    2. My animated shorts were one about a scuba diver & a shark called My Chum, and another that was animating the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet, and another about what happens to those socks lost in the dryer (they're hanging out at a country music place called the Black Hole).
      Hooray for goalie mom's.

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    3. How fun is that?!

      Being a goalie mom is stressful. But fun.

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  42. Hi Josee! So glad to see your post here today - - very wise words. I had to giggle at your husband's cheese comment when you told him you planned to write a book. ;) My "aha" moment came when the Lord closed the door on my beloved teaching career (due to severe back/spinal issues) and I realized then He was opening the door for me to follow my life-long dream of writing full-time.
    I really like your WREEP list too - - and that's a great way to remember what is essential. :)
    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

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    1. Patti Jo, you're so sweet! Thank you! I'm sorry you had to deal with so much physical pain but I'm happy to hear good came out of it.

      Glad you find WREEP helpful. : )

      God bless you, Patti Jo!

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  43. Hi Josee! I enjoyed your post a great deal! You are a writer and and encourager! We need both all the time. I have had an insatiable appetite for story all my life. I remember when I was a freshman in high school, my dad would give me $20 every week for my girlfriend days at the mall. I bought books with every last dime. My friends didn't understand why I wouldn't by some cute jewelry, but that just wasn't where my value system was. When I talked to my dad about it years later, he said that was exactly why he gave me the $20. He knew I would spend it well.

    Now I am going to just claim it and get the work in. Thanks for WREEP. I like it!

    Praying for the best for you in your journey.

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    1. Hi Kelly! Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words. I just love your story about your dad giving you money each week, knowing how you'd spend it. He sounds like a wonderful dad.

      You go and claim it, girl! I'm glad you found WREEP helpful!

      God bless you, Kelly!

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  44. I always wanted to be a writer thanks to being inspired by my sister who made up stories herself. The only problem was that I couldn't write. I spent years laboring in trying to write something, until finally I gave up... mostly. Long story short, I started writing a story for my sister when I was eleven years old and finally I had my "aha" moment or as I liked to call it, the floodgates opened. Suddenly I had all sorts of ideas for stories, and I began writing.

    Funny that people ask you where to buy your books. People only ever ask me if I sell them, not ever making the commitment to buy them- that is of course only after staring at me bug eyes and repeating "You wrote a book" (I would then politely tell them, no, I wrote two and their bug eyes would get wider).

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    1. I'm envisioning your bug-eyed friends, Nicky! Author Stephanie Bond once mentioned a young woman who visited her table at a book signing.

      "You wrote that book?" the girl asked.
      Stephanie nodded.
      The girl's eyes widened. "You wrote EVERY WORD in that book?"

      Evidently, the girl couldn't believe anyone could write that many words.

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    2. Hi Nicky! Amazing that you had your "Aha!" moment at 11!

      Apparently writing a book is an impressive feat! I get a similar reaction: "You wrote a book? As in a novel? How many pages? How long did it take you? What's it about?"

      But I go bug-eyed when I walk into a beautiful building, or I see an elaborate painting, or I see someone play an instrument like a virtuoso.

      Excellence is inspiring.

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  45. Josee, thank you for sharing your writing story. I loved the Costco story. And five languages? Wow!

    I remember when I'd go to the library every day and write, and then I finally got the courage up to talk to my husband and my dad about writing. For years, I'd always wanted to write (and how often I've heard that said to me when I tell people I'm a writer) and would imagine stories while walking. One day, I finally realized I had to do something about it. After I had my twins, I realized I needed to do more and meet other writers and learn about the craft. Thank you for sharing your story, and I love how you emphasize the importance of writing and reading for writers.

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    1. Hi Tanya! When you get "The Call," it won't just quit you, will it?

      It's not always easy with children (and twins, wow!) but as with anything else, when it's a passion, you find the time!

      All the best to you and God bless, Tanya!

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  46. Hi Jose! I love your story and girl you are definitely a writer. Looking forward to reading your book when it's published. It will happen.

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    1. Wow, Terri! Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind and encouraging words! God bless you!

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  47. Josee, thank you for being such an amazing hostess today. I am passing out what's left of the Tarte Au Sucre we made in your honor!!!

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    1. Tina!!! hahahaha. How on earth do you know about tarte au sucre? That's awesome.

      You are SO welcome. I had a blast and would be happy to come back ANYTIME.

      Delete
  48. Aaahhh, I'm so late! Long day at work and an unexpected guest this evening kept me away. I loved your story and learning more about you! I love calligraphy too, but am not great with the pointed pen. I'm more of a brush pen gal. ;)

    When I turn 40, I decided it was now or never and wrote the story that had been stuck in my head. I had started writing a book in high school, but stuffed it in a drawer and it disappeared somehow. I always wanted to write, but never felt I really could. But turning 40 was liberating, and so I wrote the book and even won a couple of awards with it. I did set aside my writing for a few years and am just now getting back to it. It is almost like starting over! lol

    Thanks for an encouraging post!

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    1. Hi Sherrinda! Thanks for checking in! I wish I was better with the brush pen, but I feel like I need a massive sheet of paper to get it to come out decently.

      I turned 40 this summer and it was a great kick in the pants that I needed. Congratulations on your past success. I'm so happy to hear you're back at it!

      I wish you many blessings with your writing!

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  49. At first, "wreep" looked like weep. It's an acrostic for a poem.

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    1. True, Tea! There have been moments where I've wept (tears of joy and tears of frustration!)

      Delete
  50. Your husband's response sounded much like my own but for a different reason. I tended to start projects and ventures enthusiastically then stalled under the weight of doubt and fear! Thanks for sharing your story and encouragement here!

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    1. Hi Kelly! In the past I treated my projects like a sprint and now I look at it as a marathon. I don't want to sputter out so I'm being mindful of that.

      Fear plays a big part in it but turning 40 this summer was liberating! Blessings to you!

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  51. Hi Jossee. Thanks so much for this post. Even though I have written many small pieces, I have only pursued publication for a few and thus, have only published a few. With that being said, I have a very difficult time telling anyone that "I am a writer". Why? Because I haven't finished a book...that "now you're a writer" place in my mind. I'm past the 50% point in my current WIP story. It's time to say "I am a writer" and mean it! Blessings to you.

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    1. Yes, Rebecca! "ONLY published A FEW??!!!" It's far past time to declare you are a writer!

      Whether it's novels, poems, essays, blog posts, articles, non-fiction, it isn't the length or the genre that matters, it's the mindset!

      Congratulations on your success and keep on writing! God bless you!

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    2. Thanks so much, Josee. You are a great encourager! Blessings to you.

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  52. Congratulations Josee. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey to becoming an author and I think that WREEP is good advice for all of us!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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