Thursday, February 2, 2017

Going Against the Flow

with guest Virginia Carmichael aka Mary Jane Hathaway.

Hello, everybody! I’ve brought triple chocolate cake and strong coffee, so grab a slice and pour yourself a cup. It’s so wonderful to be back in Seekerville! I always tell people that Seekerville taught me almost everything I know about writing. Aside from two writing books and a few other blogs, every good writing habit and crafty sleight-of-hand came from the good people at Seekerville. Thank you for sharing your knowledge over the years! 

Today I’d like to talk going against the flow. We all like to be part of the crowd and feel like we fit in with our peers. Nobody looks to be the “odd man out”. But every now and then, especially as writers, we’re called to step out of the herd and do something different. I’m not talking about starting a revolution or gathering an army a la Game of Thrones. I’m talking about that “still, small voice” that lets you know that you’re called to a different path. We all have those moments. We’re all called to a unique and powerful purpose. How do we, as Christians who write books for a wide audience, answer that call to take the path less traveled? How do we recognize the call? Who do we ask for advice? How do we know we’re on the right path and not just being pigheaded?  (That last one is my go-to question because I’m so often pig-headed it’s practically my default state. )
        
Step One: Pray. That’s obvious, isn’t it? But we should pray in a way that gives God a chance to answer, and not just listening to us make demands. One of my favorite ways to pray is to simply hold the question in my heart. I don’t make a list and go down the bullet points for God. He already knows more about it than I do. I don’t try to explain why I want to do whatever it is. I just hold the question gently and let the Holy Spirit give me gentle nudges. 

OK, to be fair, sometimes the Holy Spirit has to do more kicking than nudging, but that’s me. I’m sure you all will be better listeners. When God is in charge, going against the flow doesn’t feel like you’re fighting your way upstream. 

  Step Two: Once I think I know which direction to go, I start to look for guides. None of us can walk this world alone, as much as we introverts like to think we can. If we find ourselves surrounded by people who have walked that path and are living out their divine purpose with joy, then it might be a good sign that we’re called to walk that path, also. 

Finding someone who has gone before you isn’t just a survival tactic. It’s a great way to suss out whether you’re completely off base.

For an example, say I decided to open a yarn shop that only used dog hair. I start contacting companies that process fibers for yarn. I find lots of great, reputable companies that process alpaca, sheep, even yak. But no dog. In fact, the processing companies laugh long and hard at my idea of a yarn shop that sells dog hair. Should I give up? Or am I a brilliant entrepreneur that will revolutionize the yarn industry with my red setter, malamute, and husky mittens? 

If I can find one person who has branched out from the usual yarn and that one person is willing to give me advice, I might say I was on the right path. But if I can’t find a single person who thinks it’s a good idea or knows anyone who has done the same thing, maybe it’s not meant to be. Maybe I should take up a more stable profession, like writing, haha. 


Along the Cane River


When I decided to try and get a Bookbub ad for a boxed set of five books in my series, I wasn’t sure whether I was throwing away all my hard work, or if I was being a marketing genius. So I started looking around. I watched the charts. After a while, I approached writers I’d seen do the same thing and all of them were very happy to answer my questions. YAY! Going against the flow wouldn’t leave me swimming in the dark.

I’d found some guides, and that let me know I was on the right path. I certainly didn’t want to be trying to set up that project by myself because I’m not omniscient. I needed help. God provided several people willing to guide me through the process. The ad went smashingly and my boxed set ended up at #42 on the top 100 of all Amazon. Cracking the top 100 paid books had been on my bucket list for years! 
Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley
Step Three: I hold up my idea against the backdrop of my family life. My first calling is as a mother, and I don’t want to let my profession (also a calling, but a lesser one) take over my family life. So when I get an idea for something that is out of the ordinary, I look at how it will impact my homeschooling and my family obligations. 

When Valerie Comer asked me to join her Arcadia Valley Romance Series project with five other authors, I took a little while to think about it. (Okay, about five minutes, but still…) It was a very ambitious project and like nothing I’d done before. One novella in a collection and three full-length novels set in one fictional Idaho valley sounded like so much fun, but could I commit to four books in addition to my own projects? Would the schedule force me to make changes to our homeschooling? Would the marketing get in the way of my family time? 

My oldest is almost seventeen but my youngest is only six. I have great kids and my teens haven’t given me a lick of trouble (besides some eye rolling and chore shirking) but we take our schooling very seriously. We’ve got kids taking college classes and kids just learning to read. We spend a month on the coast studying marine biology and take trips to the geological formations in the next state. Being in charge of a child’s education is a big responsibility and homeschooling is a whole different beast, including the loss of writing time during the day. In a way, I have a day job as a teacher, and my writing can never overshadow that. 
Summer's Glory
When I sat down and looked at home I could write those four stories and submit them to be released over the next two years, I saw that my family life wouldn’t suffer.oing against the flow wouldn’t make big waves for my kids. I would have to be on a stricter schedule than I had been (I do love watching the British Baking Show or Poldark instead of writing) but the plan fit into my homeschooling schedule. And it’s been smooth sailing so far. We’ve released out novella collection and my first full-length book set in Arcadia Valley, Summer’s Glory, releases February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day! 

So, how have you had to go against the flow? When you realized you were being called to a different path, how did you find your way? Was there someone who walked with you as you stepped out in faith? I would love to hear about the times you embraced your unique purpose in life!

Comment to put your name in the hat for prizes! I’m giving away my boxed set of the first five books of the Cane River Series, AND the awesome cookbook River Road Recipes, a collection of classic creole and Cajun cuisine from the Cane River community near Natchitoches, Louisiana, where my series is set. 




My newest release is the 6th book in the Cane River Romance series.



One magical bookstore, two best friends, and a whole cast of 
interfering busybodies determined to help true love happen!


Mary Jane Hathaway is an award-nominated writer of Christian fiction and a homeschooling mom of six young children who rarely wear shoes. She holds degrees in linguistics and religious studies from the University of Oregon and lives with her habanero-eating husband, Crusberto, who is her polar opposite in all things except faith. They've learned to speak in short-hand code and look forward to the day they can actually finish a sentence. In the meantime, Mary Jane thanks God for the laughter and abundance of hugs that fill her day as she plots her next book. She also writes under the pen name of Virginia Carmichael and loves to meet readers on her facebook page of Mary Jane Hathaway, on the weekends at the cooking blog Yankee Belle Café, or on her personal blog The Things That Last. 


130 comments :

  1. Virginia, what a fun post! It's tough sometimes to step out and try something different. I like the ideas you gave for testing the waters. Thanks for sharing!

    Congrats on the new releases! I thought the Arcadia Valley projects are such a great idea. Wishing you the best on that!

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    1. Hi, Missy! It's so funny to see you over here instead of Yankee Belle Café. LOL. It's like we've run into each other "in town".
      The Arcadia Valley project has been a HUGE amount of work... mostly falling on Valerie. She's a master organizer. If I'd been in charge, we'd still be picking out our name.

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    2. Which is better than picking your nose.

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    3. LOL, Tina!

      Yes, Virginia, it is like saying "hey" to each other in town! LOL

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  2. Welcome back to SEEKERVILLE!!!

    You know, I find when God is preparing me to swim opposite of the flow, he prepares me in small ways that I fail to really understand until afterwards..then it's AHA!!!

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    1. Tina, that's such a good observation. I'll have to keep my eyes open for that.

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    2. Oh, that's brilliant. I can see exactly how that would be. :)

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  3. Hi Mary Jane! You're a new-to-me author & I've not heard of your books. I'm going to have to pop over to Amazon or your website to check you out...er...your books that is!

    I've always been a go-against-the-flow kind of person, not wanting to be or do like everyone else. I'm never contrary to the point of being obnoxious (at least I HOPE I'm not), but I tend to like to be my own unique person. :-) And yeah, I get the whole pig-headed, Holy Spirit kicking thing because that's often the case! Sometimes God has to knock me upside the head a few times before I learn. Then I have to kick myself because I didn't listen in the first place....haha! *Sigh* Aren't you glad God is so very long-suffering with us?

    I can't really think of an example where I've had to step out into faith when I was called to a different path or had to go-against-the-flow to embrace who God made me to be. Hmmm, something to ponder for sure! I do know my husband has always been by my side walking with me no matter what, he's a great inspiration to me and I'm so thankful he's God's gift to me :-) He has always encouraged me if I've ever had to step out in faith on something, prodding me ever on. It's nice to have someone on your side, encouraging you, helping build your faith & reminding you of who you are both in Christ and life. And of course, loving you when you get pig-headed stubborn & dig your heels into the dirt...lol!!

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    1. Trixi, I'm glad you have a supportive husband! Mine is as well.

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    2. Hi Trixi!
      I think a lot of writers are made in the independent "genre". That's just part of who we are.
      I love that your husband urges you on! Mine is my voice of caution. He thinks of angles I don't, especially when I'm already sure I'm right. I'll tell him about my grand plans and he'll think hard-- then poke holes in them. LOL. It's very useful!

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  4. On Facebook it says you brought coffee and chocolate cake. I see no evidence. NIGHT WRITERS NEED FOOD.

    Off topic: Today I saw a recipe for amazing chocolate frosting made with vegetables.

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    1. Vegetables? I'm a veggie girl, but I'm not sure about that.

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    2. Chocolate is a vegetable . . . isn't it?

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    3. Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting Now if that isn't against the flow, I don't know what is!

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    4. Hmmmm. I don't know how I feel about that. As long as those veggies don't really taste like veggies made into something I used to love....

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  5. I love a good "Road Less Traveled" story... because I think our bends in the road help us to grow as people and as authors.

    This is a delightful post about picking and choosing... and with the buffet of opportunities available to authors at this time, everyone has a shot at true success. We are surely blessed!

    And while I know change is harder for some than others, I love this crazy business and absolutely love what I do... having said that, the depth of knowledge and understanding of the race that knows Joseph I attained from years of hairnet and nametag low-level jobs was the best schooling for how to empathize with readers via characters... and I got paid while learning, so God's plan was there, at work, two-fold.

    Oh, that God!!!!

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    1. I love that. :) I just told my kids yesterday that they should never write a character in a certain profession without knowing AT LEAST two people in that profession, and then asking them as many questions as possible.
      You just can't get all your info from Wikipedia, right? Research only goes so far on the 'net. The rest is done with the heart.

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  6. Coffee is here! Enjoy the breakfast beverage buffet of coffee, tea, hot cocoa (with or without marshmallows, darlings) and fresh buns from Panera... No time to bake in the mornings when it's writing time, but I might be by with something homemade later! :)

    Mary Jane/Virginia, enjoy your day in Seekerville! Thanks for being here!

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    1. Speaking of Panera! The other day I got a free pastry. She recommended the new Kitchen Sink Cookie. Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing! But nearly put me into chocolate overdose (even though I ate it in more than one sitting).

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    2. That is not a safe place for this chubbette!

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    3. See, I've never even SEEN a Panera. I think they popped up after I stopped traveling. At this point, I don't even know if I want to visit because I'm afraid I'll be disappointed. I have visions of the best coffee shop EVAH.

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    4. Never been to a Panera either....the pitfalls of living in a small coastal town! We don't have the big box names in restaurants or stores. Not even a Walmart!! But I love it here, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

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    5. Virginia, they do have good coffee and pastries. But what I really love are the sandwiches and soups and salads. They have all "clean" foods. Expensive, yes. But so, so good.

      Trixi, I can't imagine not having a Walmart! But just hearing you say "small coastal town" makes me wish I could be there. It sounds wonderful!

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    6. I do a lot of writing at Panera. I really enjoy it as it's a little break.

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    7. Trixi, I agree with Missy. I'd trade the "small coastal" part for not having a Walmart (which we have about 30 minutes away).

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  7. Here among friends I can call you Mary Virginia Ginny and thank you for being a mentor by action as well. You took time to answer questions I had, but just as importantly, I've watched you put action behind everything you've said here.

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    1. You can trust a woman with three names.

      (Your friend Tina Marie Theresa!)

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    2. Hi Debra! I don't remember you asking me questions, but if it wasn't me, I'll take the credit anyway! LOL

      Tina, I love your names!

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  8. Great post! I tend to shy away from walking against expectations for me. I wish I was bolder, but I hate confrontation. Working on looking to Jesus rather than others.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Kate, I, too, often wish I were bolder. So I understand.

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    2. Oh, man I hear you. I do not do confrontation but have been known to drive around the block asking the Holy Spirit for the words I need.

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    3. Oh, confrontations are so a different beast. I know some people who thrive on confrontations but are lock-step in time with the crowd.

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  9. Good morning Virgiani/Mary Jane! Thanks for your encouraging post. I need a strong cup of your coffee because I left my coffee maker in KY. Sigh.

    Going against the flow? I seem to do that frequently. One of the BIG times I went against the flow was to move to Georgia as a single mom to attend pharmacy school at UGA. (Long story and I won't bore you.) God led and I followed. Now He's in the process of leading us to SC.

    I'm still trying to follow His path for my writing career. Thanks again for sharing, and congrats on the new book(s)!

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    1. Oh, Jackie! I love this story. I was a single mom, when everyone said, "Come home. Come home. Let us take care of you." Instead I stayed put and put myself through nursing school.

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    2. That's a story I'd love to hear! I'm sure those people were only speaking from concern for you. I have a single mom friend who's struggling in is halfway across the country. I sure wish she was close enough that I could run over to help, or take the kids while she's at work.

      Tina, it's amazing what people can do when they have the will. Single moms are heroes in my eyes. I always say I "could never survive" being a single mother, but I sure hope I would. But I really, really have it much easier than any single parent I know.

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    3. Jackie, My husband went to pharmacy school at UGA! Go Dawgs.

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    4. Tina, you never cease to amaze me.

      Mary Jane, you'd be fine, but I hope you don't have to experience being a single mother.

      Tanya, that is so cool! Football Saturdays in Athens are soooo fun! Go Dawgs!

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  10. I've never been one to go against the flow and I think it is because until I was 33 years old I was extremely shy. But a lot has changed in my life now and I am going to embrace change, mostly because I have to.

    Blessings to everyone.
    Cindy W.

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    1. I'm w/you Cindy. My comfort zone has expanded as I gotten older.

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    2. Life starts outside the comfort zone.

      Never heard a truer statement. Extra hugs to my girl Cindy W today.

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    3. I hear you! I was so cripplingly shy in grade school that I refused to speak in class. I would scribble on a note and the teacher would read it. LOL. I had very understanding teachers.
      I have a very shy child and I work to make sure he's as comfortable as everyone else. Shy people are people, too!

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    4. LOL, Tina. I read that as "combat zone" and was wondering how you got that from Connie's comment.

      Yes, some people have a comfort zone a mile wide. Some have a zone that's just a few inches beyond their doors. I think we should respect the difference, but like Tina said, "life begins where the comfort zone ends".

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  11. Virginia, I want to be your homeschooled student!

    I don't think we'd even have a Christian romance genre if someone hadn't been willing to go against the flow.

    You made some excellent points I'd never considered.

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    1. Virginia is not unlike you, Connie. An amazing momma.

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    2. Haha, I've got an interesting approach to homeschooling. It's sort of a mix between "get out there and get your hands dirty" and "let's read all the literature that nobody even remembers anymore" and "no tests, ever".

      SO agree about the Christian romance genre. Who would the first authors be? Francine Rivers? I wasn't reading Christian romance back when, so I'm not sure...

      We should throw them a party!!

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  12. Virginia, what a great post. I am not normally a "go-against-the-flow" kind of girl, but I love your suggestions for how to do it well. Since beginning writing, I've had to make choices that went against the flow of others in my life. I've stepped back from activities friends do. I've said no to some things so I could say yes to more time for writing. In writing itself, Id on't know that I've gone against the flow in big ways. I have been learning/writing in a new-to-me genre, which has been fun and stretching.

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    1. That's it, Jeanne. Even saying no is going against the flow. So proud of you and your drive to write.

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    2. Oh, that's a huge one-- just saying 'no'. I really don't like telling people no, and I dread being asked to do something I can't commit to, or I won't do well because it will be rushed.

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  13. Hi Virginia (MJH). Going against the flow is hard work. I think as Christian writers, we are especially called to do so. Prayer draws our road map and then we take the path before us. Sometimes hard but always exciting and rewarding.

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    1. And you know what, when we have a hard time doing what he calls us to do, he always has a Plan B.

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    2. I think the worst part of going against the flow is that you have to be your own support at times. Other people have their built-in tribes (or as my teenager calls them "their cheerleaders in their pockets") but when you step out in faith, you learn to rely on God alone, not on any earthly approval.

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  14. Hi Mary Jane and welcome back to Seekerville. It is always such joy to hear about your adventurous life. smile And we always enjoy your prods to step out and do something different. Keeps life interesting, doesn't it?

    Thanks for sharing. Oh yes, thanks for the cake and coffee. Always a joy and I know you cook delicious goodies because I've sampled them on Yankee Belle. smile

    I have stepped out many times in areas I had no idea I would ever indulge in. Sometimes gently nudged and sometimes booted. But always an adventure and learning experience. And you're right, if you go with God, it all works out. Try doing it on your own and beware. Hindsight is marvelous.

    Thanks again for joining us today.

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    1. Hi Sandra! How's the pickleball?

      I loved your "sometimes gently nudged, sometimes booted". Isn't that the truth!

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  15. Great post, Virginia! Just yesterday, during my commute into work, I was listening to a teaching from Joyce Meyer on stepping out. To quote her, "You've got to step out, to find out." That can be difficult, especially for those of us who are shy, but often the payoff is worth it. Thanks for visiting!

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  16. Hi Virginia! I actually bought your book "A Star to Steer By" through Book Bub and I loved it! I related to Roxie because I used to dress up in a cow costume when I worked at Ben and Jerry's. I was in high school. The costume had udders and I had to stand on the side of the road holding up a giant ice cream cone waving to everyone. My crush drove by in his jeep with a bunch of his friends and honked the horn laughing hysterically.

    I wanted to die right there.

    My most recent "stepping out" was writing my first novel this past summer. The call was so strong, I would have been an idiot to deny it. (God often has to use a megaphone with me.)

    I spoke with a friend of the family, who is a best-selling novelist and she told me if I left out Jesus, I would have a broader audience and potentially sell more books.

    So, I tried. I wrote without the faith element but it rang so hollow. It was all the confirmation I needed that Inspy Romance was what God was calling me to, at least for now.

    Thanks for your encouraging post!

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    1. Oh, you are so sweet, Josee. I just saw that cow costume and it reminded me of being a senior in high school and my aunt handing me a bunny costume for a church program for kids. BIG GROAN.

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    2. OH MY GOODNESS. Your cow costume story is hilarious/awful/so great!! I'm so glad I can now say I know someone who danced on a corner in a costume. About halfway through that book, I had a brain flash that Cupcake needed to be IN a cupcake. My kids thought I was insane.

      Oh, that "leaving out Jesus part"... I've heard that a hundred times. But if we're supposed to write what we know, I can't exactly leave God out of a story.

      Tina, I bet you were all kinds of delightful!!

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  17. I can't really think of an instance when I went against the flow, though I am still pretty new to this. I'm sure something of the sort will come up someday.

    Also I thought it was a crazy coincidence that out of the kids you are homeschooling, your oldest is almost seventeen and taking college classes, and your youngest is six and just learning to read. I'm homeschooled, am almost seventeen (though I'm only the second oldest my older sister already graduated), and I am taking college classes (college English to be exact). My youngest brother is six and just starting to read. How many kids do you have between your eldest and youngest?

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    1. Hi Nicky! I had six kids in ten years so for a while, people would ask if we were a school group. LOL. Now the spread is more noticeable. Three teens, one preteen, two younger kiddos. Now we look like they're siblings, but for a while there we got a lot of "is this a daycare?" comments.

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    2. My almost 17 year old loves to write. I bet you'd have a lot in common. :)

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    3. Virginia, that's so funny about the day care comments!

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    4. That really is crazy! I am one of six. There are three teens (though one is technically an adult at 18) one preteen, and two younger kiddos. My mom had all us in a twelve year span so its not really all that much of a difference.

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    5. It does sound like your seventeen year old and I have a lot in common. Tell you seventeen year old not to give up on writing, it's totally worth it!

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  18. Welcome, Virginia! Going against the flow can definitely be scary. I like what Tina said earlier about how sometimes we don't even realize God has been preparing us for a change of direction until afterward when we look back.

    Actually, just the decision to pursue a writing career can feel like going against the flow. Non-writers often simply don't get it.

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    1. Exactly Myra. It takes bravery, like Jeanne said, to say no to your friends when you need to write.

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    2. Oh, that is SO true. Several of my family members were upset when I left my library position to finish my book. I could have finished it in another year (it had already taken two), but I knew we could swing it, so I took that step. I finished it two weeks later.

      People who work a day job AND write are my heroes. As a mom, even though I homeschool I have a lot of leeway with my schedule. My working friends truly have to manage their time efficiently because they have a "real" boss.

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  19. You stay home with your kids? Degree in linguistics? Totally opposite hubby loves habaneros?

    ME TOO!

    Don't you love those moments when you find someone else as "against the flow" as you are??

    This post was excellent and very needed today. My kids are still little and we're just now looking at all the homeschooling options (our oldest is 3) and I'm overwhelmed!

    There have been a few times I've entertained putting writing on hold until all our kids are grown.

    But then I laugh, sip my coffee, and find ten minutes here or five minutes there to get a little bit more written.

    Your advice here is spot on and such a good reminder. Especially Step One: Pray. Goodness, that's an obvious one that's so easy one to forget when life gets crazy!

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    1. HA!@!!! Megan, you need a field trip to Virginia's house.

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    2. Heeyyyyyy, friend! I'd say we were twinsies, but you've got cuter hair, so I'll say I'm in an alternative universe.

      I wrote my first book while working at a university library part time, homeschooling 4 kids, and pregnant (two kids in 16 months). Every time I decided it was way too much trouble and no one was ever going to read it, I lasted about four days. I needed to write. I needed to do something that wasn't undone the next day.

      Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits didn't come into the world until a few years later, but it will always be first in my heart because it was born from so much struggle. God would not let me quit on it!

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    3. P.S. Is your degree in applied or theoretical?

      Linguists unite!

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    4. Love it! That's inspiring and encouraging. I think my limit was four or five days too. Writers write... we can't do anything else, can we?

      Applied! I wanted to be a Bible Translator... but that's a long story. You?

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    5. Fascinating! I never much enjoyed my historical linguistics classes. I think there was one on Icelandic literature that was sort of interesting, but then I wandered back to theory.

      My degree is in theory, but I also studied 8 languages formally, and my focus was Eastern European modern languages, so I always say I was an applied linguist disguised as a theoretical linguist. LOL. I went to grad school at the Warsaw School of Economics, but of course, studying theory in another language is sort of... applied- again!

      I was aiming for a position with the Foreign Service and during the year-long vetting process, I met my husband, who only spoke Spanish... one of the languages I'd never bothered to learn fluently because I didn't really see the need.

      Oh, that God has a funny sense of humor!

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    6. Oh, I just realized you probably mean Bible translator, as in translating the Bible from English to other modern languages. :) I was thinking Greek to Latin.

      That would be an incredible job and there's so much need for great Bible translations!

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    7. That's amazing! I've only formally studied three languages, but I've spent personal time on dozens of others. And I might have invented a language or two for fun ;) In that case, you could call me a theoretical linguist disguised as an applied linguist! Hehe

      Yes, I was hoping to work with an agency to translate the Bible into modern languages that don't have it. And the goal would be to translate from the original Greek and Hebrew into the target language, but God had other plans and shut that door firmly several years ago. So now I'm an amateur linguist who likes to dabble whenever I have the time.

      Before I got married, I wanted to get a master's and looked at working with the State Department, but that never panned out.

      So I'm assuming you speak fluent Spanish now? Fun!

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  20. Virginia, I love your books. I love the Arcadia collection and I have your book in that collection on pre-order.

    Going against the flow can be very scary until we remember we are never alone because the Lord is with us. I am one who thinks outside the box so I have often felt like I was going against the flow, but then when it is something that the Lord has prompted me to do and He is in it, all works out in the end.

    I really am wanting to read the cane River series as well.

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    1. I'm excited about the Arcadia collection TOO!!!

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    2. Hi Wilani! I feel like we've been friends for a long time. :) I think we first "met" when you reviewed one of my Love Inspired books (written as Virginia Carmichael). I've always loved reading your reviews because you're a reader at heart, like me.

      Thanks for preordering the Arcadia book. It's coming out sooooon!

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    3. And this begs the question...aren't we writers all readers at heart? Are there writers who don't read?

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    4. I think there are. But they're not very good at it. LOL

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  21. Lovely, Mary Jane.

    Some folks say writing inspirational fiction is going against the flow...at least the current that surrounds a lot of the world. For me, it is the genre that makes writing worth the work. I love adding a faith thread to my stories...to take wounded hearts and allow them to find the bounty of God's mercy and love.

    I'm working on an Amish suspense trilogy that I think is a bit out of the mold. The first story, Amish Refuge, releases in May. I'm hoping readers enjoy the slightly different twist. I enjoyed stepping out in faith a bit, yes, hearing God's nudge and taking the plunge. I turned book 2 in to my editor on Monday...and I'm still swimming!
    Hugs!

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    1. Hi Debby! Did you always write Amish? I thought you mostly wrote straight suspense. I could be wrong!

      And writing inspy fiction is SO against the grain. I wish I had a collection of snapshots of expressions when I tell people what I write. Bemused, befuddled, confused, faintly disgusted, shocked, surprised, etc., etc. Makes me laugh!

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  22. Hello Virginia,
    I really appreciate the way you balance your priorities. I am not a mother yet, but I have always believed that motherhood is the great calling for us women and in today's day and age it is oft neglected. Thanks for being an example to a young gal. :)

    I have had to go against the grain in many ways. Now I find myself a bit confused as God has asked me to go with the flow a little more, but still sorta against it. Ya, I know. Confusing, right? But me and God are working through it.

    I think my next story is going to be the hardest one I've written...and maybe the hardest ever. I'm going to need lots of prayer to get me through.

    Thank you for the encouraging post!

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    1. Hi Amber! I believe women are called to "give life", whether that's through their bodies, their teaching, their friendships, or their work. Not every woman gets the chance to give birth or to be a traditional mother, and some are called to give life in through their missionary work or singlehood. In that way, I agree that motherhood is a woman's first calling.

      Praying for your next book!

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  23. MARY JANE, I love the concept, "Hold the question in my heart."
    I love "Poldark," too. Fortunately the British shows have shorter seasons, and when they're done they're done. Lead us not into temptation...I find most television easy to resist, but not "Poldark." And it's not just because of Aidan Turner. ALL the characters are developed, and they have kick-butt plots.
    I don't think I've taken a "road less traveled" yet, except for the writing itself. Most of my stories are pretty standard, i.e., they fit into a genre or classification. And I don't do anything too freaky with them, I'm still firming up on the basics. But I can see some stretching in the future.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Hi Kathy! I actually stopped watching Poldark after the second season. I've read the books and I couldn't bear to watch my Aidan Turner betray his wife. UGH. I know they reconcile, but I just couldn't. LOL.

      I think writing itself is a road less traveled!

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  24. CONNIE QUEEN is right! We wouldn't have Christian fiction, or not as much of it, if people like Francine Rivers, Janette Oke and the Thoenes hadn't gone out on their particular limbs.
    KB

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  25. CINDY R., of course, the very act of Doing This goes against the flow of our current society. Wow. I will be thinking about this for the rest of the day.
    KB

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    1. Totally agree. If you look at the top 100 on Amazon, our writing is WAY off the beaten path.

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  26. VIRGINIA!!! Always love to see you here, my friend, because you are a font of wisdom in the indie area and elsewhere, ESPECIALLy the wisdom imparted today in this blog -- SO important!

    You said: "So, how have you had to go against the flow?

    Well, the first time I went "against the flow" over ten years ago, it was with romantically passionate romance that went against the grain of everything I read in the CBA. I was a catch-22: too spiritual for the secular market and too romantically passionate for the Christian market. When my agent signed me, she said it would be "slim to nil" to get published in the CBA, but that's where she was going to pitch me.

    You asked: When you realized you were being called to a different path, how did you find your way?

    As a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) I knew that I knew that I knew I was being called to write more passionate Christian romance (spiritually and romantically) that would rock the proverbial boat and my agent did too. But since she is brilliant, she sold me to the only CBA publisher who would give me a chance at the time, Revell, primarily because they were known to be a bit edgier. So it was definitely my agent who first showed me the way, then my editor who reined me in with her excellent editing. :)

    You also asked: Was there someone who walked with you as you stepped out in faith?

    Definitely! Over and above my agent and editor, there were my prayer partners who prayed diligently with me for ten years that God would guide me along the fine line of glorifying Him versus glorifying the world in my writing. And, of course, my sister Katie who never stopped encouraging me from the age of nine when she would beg me to "read my book" to her, to being a beta reader for me after I got published.

    Thanks again, Virginia, for such a wonderful post!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Thank you for sharing that long, detailed testimonial, Julie! I'm sure a lot of readers will take note and follow your lead. You're a walking, talking billboard for others trying to find their way.

      And I laughed at your CDQ tag. Hilarious!

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    2. I remember being at the ACFW Conference in Denver. Rachelle Gardner was speaking. She was with NavPress at the time..and Julie Lessman stood up.

      Never heard of Julie Lessman then this was over ten years ago.

      She started talking about her friends at the beauty parlor who-like her wanted real romantic Christian fiction. Not the stiff stuff that was on the market. She spoke like she was in the pulpit.

      I was blown away by this petite fire-ball.

      Little did I know how my life would intersect with hers.

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  27. Mary Jane or Virginia (whoever you are!) great article. It awakened a little corner of my brain that reminded me of something I need to add to my book. EXCELLENT. I appreciate it.

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  28. Virginia, I have to smile after reading your post. This morning during my prayer time, I asked the Lord to show me what project I should tackle next and left it in His hands to direct me. When I logged on to email, I had a note from a good friend with a link to a magazine that accepts fiction, essays, poetry, etc. Pretty eclectic. Their payment structure is generous too. I hadn't even considered writing for a magazine, but I've ordered a sample copy. Maybe the Lord is directing me to swim against the flow. Thanks for the confirmation!

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    1. Hi Barbara! I've written for magazines before and they're a really wonderful way to get those buylines (and income) in a short amount of time. I wasn't very good at it and only have a few credits in that industry, so I really admire anyone who can write for the magazine market.

      I'll be praying for your success!

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    2. Actually, I'll be returning to writing for magazines after several decades in between. I started out as a journalist, writing for mags at the same time and wrote my first unpublished novel at the age of 30. Wow! That is a long time ago. We'll see if I can still pull it off. :)

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    3. Cool, Barb!! I know you can do it.

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  29. I honestly consider my whole CAREER as being against the flow. When I got my first book published NO ONE was writing light hearted, action packed westerns. No it's everywhere. Yes, I'm taking total credit for that. (snort)

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    1. LOL. And now EVERYBODY started with gunfire. Or falling off a cliff. Gone are the gentle intros full of backstory. It's the TV version of story telling- get in there quick before they turn the channel!
      So many writers need to take tips on that, including myself, the queen of the gentle scene-setting...

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    2. Oh yet, cliffhanger openings...runaway stagecoaches, gunfire. It's all about the opening BANG.

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  30. Amen and amen, my twin! :-) My oldest just turned 17 late last fall, and my youngest was six last week. My three oldest are taking college classes while I sit in the study area with the 6yo going through phonics flash cards. I second, wholeheartedly, the motion that homeschooling is the full-time day job. I need your self-discipline, though, because I'm way behind in books. :-)

    A terrific post, Virginia, and I love the images! What fun would life be without swimming upstream every now and then?

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    1. Hi Meghan! I loved your facebook posts on the National Bible Bee. WOW. So inspiring.
      And everytime you post a pic of your kids off to their college classes, I nod. They were just in grade school last week, right? It's shocking to a mother's heart, but that's our goal, isn't it? To guide them into adulthood. *sigh* It just goes by so quickly.

      And Tina made the images!! Aren't they pretty?

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  31. MARY JANE/VIRGINIA, thanks for the excellent tips on validating if God wants us going against the flow or if we've just conjured up the ideas ourselves. I'm laughing at the dog hair yarn example. I'm sure you would've had volunteers for supplying the dog hair. :-)

    God made it obvious He wanted me writing for the CBA. I'm not much for going against the flow in my career yet, but I do seek God's leading for story ideas. He's even given me a one-line story starter that I could n ever have made up on my own.

    I'm impressed that writers like you and MEGHAN home school your kids. I was a first grade teacher and can't imagine teaching all those grade levels and subjects. You're modern day one room school teachers at its best!

    Congratulations on all your success. You're an inspiration.

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet! I tell my teacher friends I could never do what they do. For me, it's much easier to teach a variety of ages an subjects than wrangle a whole class of kids. And first graders? Save me now!! I taught 3rd grade Sunday school for years and when my teacher's aid (who was a REAL teacher) was gone, they almost ate me alive.

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    2. LOL, I'm glad you lived to tell the story! Your kids must be agreeable to their mom wearing two hats, mom and teacher. I suspect my strong-willed child would've given me a run for my money if I'd tried homeschooling.

      Janet

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    3. I have a few friends who tried it, and the personality clashes just didn't make for a peaceful home! I think it has to be good for everybody, not just the child or the mom. Otherwise, those twelve years are going to be one long haul!

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  32. Hi Mary Jane
    I do not know how you (and the other Seeker ladies much like you) are able to accomplish what you do. I didn't marry until forty and didn't become a mommy until two weeks before turning forty-two. I can barely figure out how to handle my one seven year old and his ptsd daddy.
    I'm not sure if I've ever gone really gone against the flow. I've traveled a lot on short term missions trips, but that's about as crazy as I've ever gotten.

    I do like this post. It's great advice on how to step out in Faith and wisdom. I also agree with you that everything I've learned about the "reality" of the writing process - I've learned here in Seekerville. It's an awesome place. Where else can we "meet" people like you? It's awesome.

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    1. Hi DebH! My seven year old just turned eight, and I'm not sure about your little guy, but I don't really think I'm "handling" him. LOL. I spend most of my time trying to avoid disaster. They're a hoot at that age!

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  33. Thanks for sharing today, Mary Jane/Virginia! Going from teaching kindergarten to writing romance has seemed to be a bit of "going against the flow" in my life, LOL. But now that I can no longer teach (due to back/spinal issues) I am LOVING writing!
    I think it's wonderful that you homeschool. :) That was my dream when my kiddos were young. I wanted so badly to teach them at home---but my husband was opposed, so the children attending public schools and I taught in public schools. But I feel the Lord blessed since I didn't go against my husband's wishes, and thankfully we all "survived" the public schools and my kiddos have all done very well. But because homeschooling was in my heart, I've always encouraged other moms who took that path. I've even had a few gasps, LOL: "But you're a public school teacher - - and you're encouraging homeschooling??" ;) I would smile, nod, and encourage them.
    Thanks again for this post, and CONGRATS on your writing success! :)
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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    1. Hi CatMom! And I support public schools and people who choose to put their children in public school. Other homeschoolers gasp when they hear me advocate for schools, but really, not everybody gets the chance to homeschool and we'll always need really great teachers. I'm so glad you got the chance to teach lots of kids, and I'm sure you taught your own, too. Not all schooling happens during "school hours"!

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    2. Well said. We should all have choices.

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  34. Hi, Virginia! I loved this post - so much to think about. I'm not sure I go against the flow, as much as I stand still and refuse to let the flow move me, LOL. I'm working on it, though. Thank you for such a thought-provoking post!

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    1. HAHAHA! I love that! Resistance is also not going WITH the flow, so I can see how that would fit right in to the idea of going your own way. :)

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  35. Mary Jane, Thanks for the post. The three words resonated with me: pray, guide, family.

    I don't know if I go against the flow much, but I love the journey I'm on. Thanks for reminding me of the need to trust in God and keep praying while figuring out how God is calling me to use gifts as a writer.

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    1. That's a great way to break it down! Pray, guide, family. Thanks for that. :)

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  36. Virginia/Mary Jane, thanks for the wonderfully inspiring post! Congratulations on your new releases!!

    So many times in my life I felt like I've been called to go against the flow...the popular trend at the time. I feel blessed to have married an adventurous man and we've shared an incredible journey together!









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    1. Oh, there's nothing like having an adventurer by your side. Sometimes I think of how hard my life would have been if I had married a person who wanted to follow the herd. But then, I guess he wouldn't have married me!

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  37. I enjoyed your post, Mary Jane. Very inspiring and practical.

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  38. I think I missed the cake and coffee but I certainly enjoyed Virginia's comments. Thank you for sharing!!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot) com

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  39. Hello Virginia,
    I really appreciate the way you balance your priorities. I am not a mother yet, but I have always believed that motherhood is the great calling for us women and in today's day and age it is oft neglected. Thanks for being an example to a young gal. :)

    I have had to go against the grain in many ways. Now I find myself a bit confused as God has asked me to go with the flow a little more, but still sorta against it. Ya, I know. Confusing, right? But me and God are working through it.

    I think my next story is going to be the hardest one I've written...and maybe the hardest ever. I'm going to need lots of prayer to get me through.

    Thank you for the encouraging post!

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  40. Well done Virginia / Mary Jane :)

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  41. I really loved your Jane Austen takes the South books! Please put me in the drawing Paula: paulams49(AT)sbcglobal(DOT)net. Thanks

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