Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What would you write if no one would ever read it?


Welcome today's guest

Keely Brooke Keith






  First of all, I’m beyond thrilled to be on Seekerville today! I’m equal parts published fiction writer and fiction fangirl, so this is crazy fun!

I’m supposed to be promoting The Writer’s Book Launch Journal, one of the several resources I created for writers. So, the plan was to come here today with a beautifully crafted bullet point list of book promotion tips. But as I sat down to write, God reminded me
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of how and why I created these resources. So instead of telling you what the Guided Journals for Writers can do for you, let’s talk about what creating them did for me.

Last summer after completing my seventh novel, I felt depleted and lost as a writer. I had to force myself to write or check email or even look at a book. My fields needed to fallow. God said rest. I said but but but… oh, all right.


I spent weeks in prayerful introspection, journaling my feelings. Eventually, my thoughts cleared and my spirit calmed. Then something unexpected happened.


Questions began to pop into my mind, one by one. Questions I couldn’t ignore.


Why do you write?


What would you write if no one would ever read it?


I’d spend days contemplating and scribbling out the answers. Once answered, another question would come. Finally, one stumped me.




What is the core message God has given you to share and who needs to hear that message?


I’d never thought about my core message as an author. I first started writing stories for funsies. I wanted to craft uplifting, unique stories to encourage and entertain readers. Of course, I made sure every story had a solid theme, but I simply wrote what came out of my heart and let it fall where it fell. That couldn’t amount to something as weighty as a core message.


Or so I thought.


Keely Brooke Keith
During my time of prayerful introspection, the Lord led me to sift through each of my stories, searching for a core message. I felt silly analyzing my own books, but there it was in a mass of index cards and Post-It Notes. No matter the characters and the plot, my stories had a core message: You can trust God.


In The Land Uncharted, Lydia and Connor had to trust God’s sovereignty. In Uncharted Redemption, Levi and Mandy had to trust God’s forgiveness. In Uncharted Inheritance, Bethany and Everett had to trust God with their future. In Christmas with the Colburns, Lydia had to trust God with her family. When I went back in time to tell the history of the Land, the same theme flowed. In Aboard Providence, Jonah and Marian had to trust God’s unfailing provision.


Once He so graciously opened my eyes to the core message He gave me to share, I poured over a file of notes from readers with new clarity. Had others picked up on my core message when I’d been oblivious? I’d heard from readers in their eighties and in their late teens, but most were in their thirties and forties. Many seemed similar to me in temperament, ideals, and dreams. Soon, I began to see the running theme in their notes.



The commonalities in my readers were uncanny. I learned my average reader grew up reading or watching Little House on the Prairie. Though there was a 50/50 chance her parents had divorced, she dreamed of someday marrying a man like Charles Ingalls. She was raised in a Christian home or was around the Christian faith enough it affected her thoughts and conscience. She might be a devout Christian now, or she might be seeking God (whether she realizes it or not). She loves to learn but doesn’t want to be preached at. She enjoys American history and is enthralled by herbal remedies and organic gardening, even if she doesn’t have the time or skill to keep a houseplant alive.


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She wishes life were simpler and fantasizes about throwing her phone out the car window on the commute from work to her kid’s ballgame or her zillionth errand or a chemo appointment. In all of this yearning for a simple life, she curls up in bed at night with a book to escape the clutches of click bait and reality television. She might not be in her own bed. I’ve received enough letters from readers to know it’s likely she’s reading in a hospital bed or sitting beside a loved one who is ill.


The book she chose to read tonight probably has a sweeping landscape on the cover and maybe a woman in a dress from a bygone era. It’s usually a paperback, but it might be an ebook because she didn’t have the energy to get to the bookstore or library. If it is an ebook, she wishes it were a physical book for the feel of the paper and the smell of the ink. She imagines reading it by the light of an oil lamp with the thud of horse hooves stamping onto her property, announcing the return of her faithful husband from some noble and manly adventure.

She might have a husband who is truly noble and faithful, or he might have left her for a career or mistress or alcohol or Heaven, or he might not be in the picture yet or never will be. She might have regrets or she might be at peace with her relationships. Regardless, she believes people—men and women—can and should treat each other in a chaste, temperate, charitable, diligent, patient, kind, and humble way. She wants those qualities exemplified in the books she reads while she dreams of her own noble adventures.

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Wherever she reclines and whatever pain she is in, she reads for comfort and encouragement. She reads to know she is not alone. She reads for someone to show her: you can trust God even with this—whatever her “this” might be.

I’ve heard writers muse about writing for an audience of one. While that sounds uber spiritual and famously singable, I don’t write for God. I pray I write for God’s glory, meaning what I write points the reader to God’s redemptive plan. But I write for the readers who need to hear the core message He has given me.

How about you? I know we have both writers and readers here. If you’re a writer, what is your core message? If you’re a reader, is there a certain message you hope to find while reading fiction?

Share your thoughts in the comments. I’m giving away a copy of The Writer’s Book Launch Journal if the winning commenter is a writer or paperback copy of The Land 
Uncharted if the winner is a reader. Or both if you’re like me: equal parts fiction writer and fiction fangirl.



~~~~~


Keely Brooke Keith is the author of the Uncharted series. Her novels are known for blending genres in unconventional ways. Keely also creates resources for writers, including The Writer’s Book Launch Guide and The Writer’s Purpose Journal. When she isn’t writing, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Keely resides with her husband and their daughter on a hilltop south of Nashville. She is a member of ACFW.



138 comments :

  1. Hi Keely welcome to Seekerville! I was one of the readers that reviewed "Aboard Providence" and I have to say, it was an excellent book!! I hadn't read any of your other "Uncharted" series books before, though I read some positive talk about them. Re-reading my review, I did mention the core message I got out of it: "...reinforcing my faith that God has good plans for my life—just as He does for both Jonah and Marian!" I love those reminders that authors include in their stories. And I think the neat part, is that maybe every reader will get something entirely different but just as profound out of your story. God can do that! :-)

    For me, ANY core message that points me back to the Father (God), His Son (Jesus), His word, and/or His promises and the like is what I look for! It's why I read only Christian fiction, because I know there's going to be some nugget in there that will speak to my heart. I appreciate an author who isn't afraid to write what God has them to. He may have a core message that speaks to your readers :-) What a wonderful ministry opportunity to be used by God!

    I'd love to be in the draw for "The Land Uncharted". Really enjoyed your post and how you shared about when you poured over your readers notes and began to see similarities. See we get it, we really do :-) Especially when God is in the middle of your words!

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    1. Good morning, Trixi! Thank you for the warm welcome and your kind words. I'm so glad you enjoyed Aboard Providence and continue to allow God to speak to you through fiction. May the Lord bless you richly today. Keely :)

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  2. Keely,
    I have finished 2 ms, working on a third. I am still unsure of my core message. I have considered my purpose, and see entertaining and soothing readers as a good beginning. Perhaps, I want the reader to experience a heroine who creates her own happy end.

    Your insight is wonderful.
    Best,
    Laura

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    1. Hi Laura! Congratulations on finishing 2 manuscripts. That's wonderful! I too love a strong heroine who drives the plot. May God reveal your core message to you even as He works through you to touch readers. Keely :)

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    2. Laura, my heroines are a bit "Alpha female!" I love writing about strong women who realize true strength comes in humbling themselves before God and letting go. In fact, my heroine in my first book has a tendency to ball her hands tightly and dig her nails into her palms and the motif of open hands is one I wove throughout the story. At one point, the hero pries open her hand, one finger at a time and tells her "You can't take hold of what God's giving you if you don't open your hands."

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    3. Love your use of hands in your story, Josee!

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  3. WELCOME KEELY! This is a beautiful post and I heartily agree with it. Oh, that God! I believe that as writers we do have the same message in all our books, whether we realize it or not. I know that mine are two that usually intersect and it's all about self-love and forgiveness and on the human side about accepting ourselves as we are, because normal is highly over-rated.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I've already read it twice and know I will be back to ponder it again today.

    Praying for continued success for you on your journey.

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    1. Tina, thanks for the smile on normal being overrated!

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    2. Hi Tina! Thank you for the warm welcome. "Normal is highly over-rated" <--LOVE that! So true. It's wonderful you encourage others to accept themselves as being God's workmanship, created in His image. Be blessed, Keely :)

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    3. Tina
      I remember complaining to my mom when I was young that I just wanted to be normal. She looked at me and said "Someday you'll change your mind about that. Normal isn't all that it's cracked-up to be."

      She was right. Now I'm glad I'm not "normal"

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    4. DebH, that's funny! I'll have to remember that. As a kid, one of my sisters used to say, "you're weird!". That would really burn me up. LOL.

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  4. As a reader I hope to be inspired by the stories I read. I want them to resonate with a positive message.

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    1. Hi Mary. I too love to finish reading a book and be left with a sense of hope. Blessings, Keely :)

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  5. Keely, thanks so much for sharing your heart, as well as those fascinating insights to readers. As an author, my stories seem to center around the theme of loving and respecting others. Looking back to my childhood days and being on the receiving end of all types of prejudice, I feel strongly that this is what He wants me to wrote, be it all out or subtly.

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    1. Hi Elaine. It's fascinating how much of our personal experience shapes our stories. They say to 'write what you know' and oftentimes we think that means write about our location or profession or hobbies, but it feels more genuine when an author writes from the lessons they've learned. It's good to hear you obey what the Lord has put on your heart. May God bless you. Keely :)

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  6. I'm not sure I know what my core message is yet but I do know I enjoy books where one or both characters are redeemed and forgiven.

    I would love to be in the draw for either book.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Hi Cindy. I've cried my way through many a forgiveness scene, both as a reader and as a writer. If you enjoy reading redemption stories, that might be an indication of your core message. Just a thought. Be blessed, Keely :)

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  7. Miss Keely, I am in full agreement with your statement "I write for God's glory..." Like you, my goal when I begin or end a book is to help heal hurting hearts. To offer that olive branch or that hope, that joy, that promise of God's loving forgiveness... especially if we have trouble forgiving ourselves.

    I never worry about fame or money or awards... I write for readers. For people in pain, for the oppressed, for those whose hope has faded.

    When I do that, everything seems to fall into place beautifully.

    I believe we're given a calling... maybe a mission, but I love the term "calling". And when we follow that calling (preferably with a smile in place and no grumblies!!!) we share the light of Christ with others through our words and our deeds.

    We become those modern day disciples. And if a sweet romance trips alongside, well... I'm okay with that!!!

    Great post. Wonderful. THANK YOU!!!

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    1. Hi Ruth! Amen and amen, sister. Your beautiful comments are a post unto themselves. I always love reading them. This calling is an honor, to be trusted by God and by readers. Blessings, Keely :)

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    2. Ruthy, your books DO help heal hurting hearts. I'm pretty sure I get some healing each time I read your stories. Just sayin...

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  8. I BROUGHT COFFEE!!!! AND FRESH, WARM BREAD WITH BUTTER & HOMEMADE VERY BERRY JAM....

    #simplethings

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  9. Welcome, Keely! I love your name. :) Thank you for your honesty in this post. Your words about feeling depleted resonated with me. As for my writing, my core message (I hope) is one of forgiveness and trusting God even in the most difficult times. Thanks for visiting today!

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    1. Hi Jill! So many writers go through these times of depletion. I pray God will refresh you as you continue to obey Him with your writing. Blessings, Keely :)

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  10. GREAT post! I have never thought about author's having a core message, but it makes sense that there would be one. We all have something we have learned from God and hold fast to it through life. I've only written one manuscript, but I think my core message is freedom. Freedom from fear, expectations of others, sin, and so on.

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    1. Hi Sherrinda. Congrats on finishing your manuscript! (Don't worry about having written "only" one. You've already accomplished something huge!) Freedom is a wonderful message in fiction. May God bless your writing! Keely :)

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  11. I'm still in the process of finding my core. I hope my writing glorifies God and helps someone find their way to Him or find strength and encouragement. I would definitely keep writing whether anything sold or not. Hopefully my family would get a kick out of it at some point. I have copies of writing that my ancestors created in the past. Though mainly unpublished I get a kick out of reading their poetry and prose from time to time. Maybe some descendant of mine will at least smile over my efforts.

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    1. Hi Bettie. How wonderful to have your ancestors' writings! I have a few letters and notated Bibles from great-grandparents, and I treasure their words. While I write, I do consider the legacy our written stories carry, whether published or not. Blessings, Keely :)

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  12. Keely,

    Thank you for a wonderful post! I'm a reader and writer and I tend to write books along the same vein as what I like to read: historical romance or historical romantic suspense. I think I also tend to have a "core message" of being open to the journey God has paved for you rather than the journey you think you should be on. :) It took my husband and I several years to figure this out but the more we let go and let God the happier we are. We also find that more wonderful things than we could have ever planned for ourselves have then happened. This theme seems to run through all of my books whether it be through the hero or heroine...and one day they might just be in print. :) Thanks again for your thoughtful post!

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    1. Hi Jeanine. Don't you just love how God pursues us until we let go and trust Him? There is such contentment in knowing the God who created the universe is in control of our lives. Be blessed. Keely :)

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  13. Good morning, Keely. Thank you for a wonderful post! I've never really thought about the core message in my writing, but now you've got me thinking about my stories (all four of them...lol...I'm as yet unpublished and haven't written anything new in two years because I've been focused on revisions and resubmissions). Anyway, my stories all have the theme of forgetting the past and focusing on the future. What makes this interesting to me is that the message in my stories fits perfectly with my favorite verse, Philippians 3:13.

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    1. Hi Rhonda. Amen on forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead! When I surrendered my life to Christ, I left my baggage at the foot of the cross. When I'm tempted to go back and have a look in those bags, I see the empty cross stained with my Savior's blood. That's all I need to remember He is risen and I'm raised to walk a new life with Him. May God bless your writing. Keely :)

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  14. This post hit me right where it needed to today. I'm in the middle of (I think) a 'crisis of calling' in that I'm not sure what God is asking of me in this time of life. Maybe theven reason I'm floundering a bit is because I haven't whittled down my own core message from God, yet. I'm writing on my second manuscript and just lay night I was trying to write a one sentence theme and it wasn't working. Maybe it's because I don't know yet what God needs to say through me. Thank you so very much for this post!

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    1. Hi Glynis. I pray God will quiet your anxious heart and reveal His plan to you--His plan to work in you and through you. Call to Him and He will answer you and tell you great and mighty things. Blessings, Keely :)

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    2. Glynis, I'm in a very similar situation. I'm about 1/3 of the way through my second novel and I'm not feeling it. Like everything I'm writing is "meh." I want to throw it out. But I forgot my message. I forgot how strongly I felt when I was writing my first book. Maybe it's also a little of that "sophomore slump," too. Tina told me yesterday to RELAX. I trust that God will reveal his plans for both of us! God bless!

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    3. Thank you both for the encouragement! He has beautiful messages for the world He wants to deliver through us. What a wonderful thought :)

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  15. Keely, thank you for sharing this with us. Lately I've been feeling a little lost with my writing. I've completed one manuscript and am working on my second. But I'm unsure as to whether I am writing for CBA or ABA. If my audience is devoutly Christian or if they're secular.

    From the moment I started writing I knew that I wanted to appeal to people who believed in God and Jesus, heaven and hell. They're Chreasters (People who go to church twice a year.) People that when asked will tell you, "I believe in God. Absolutely! And Jesus. I'm going to heaven because of him." They believe God is in control, that there's a reason for everything. They may pray, thanking him when good things happen and turning to him when tough times come their way. However, apart from that, they're living as unbelievers.

    They're living lukewarm lives, justifying or ignoring their sin. Just like I did for many years. What I hope, is that my stories convey the message about Jesus not only as Savior but Lord. TOTAL SURRENDER. Now, the question is, will a person who picks up my romance novel for entertainment decide thereafter that Jesus has been in the peripheray for far too long? Who knows, but maybe, she won't be able to shake the feeling for a few days that Jesus wants more of her. He wants all of her.

    Your post reminded me of why I'm writing and I'm going to print my message out on card stock and put it where I can see it daily. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Josee. Yes, total surrender! I love your heart for the lost and the lukewarm. May God use your stories to turn hearts to Him. Blessings, Keely :)

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    2. I'm not completely sure what my central, central theme is, because I work really hard to explore different themes each time. Though, I have noticed these two messages pop up even in the books I didn't mean for them to: God doesn't always give us what we want, but always what we need... and God will never let us go. Ever. It's like a marriage covenant as it was meant to be, with no such thing as divorce.

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    3. Boo, you are right, a good marriage is a metaphor of God's love which we are working out on this earth.
      KB

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    4. Josee, I love the term "Chreasters."
      KB

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  16. Love this message! Thank you for sharing your heart. My core message is "see Me in a new way." I want readers to see a part of God they've never seen before so their relationship will grow. Hopefully, they resonates in my stories. Blessings to you, Keely!

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    1. Hi Toni! Oooo, I love your core message! Keep sharing your gift. Blessings, Keely :)

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  17. No one really reads my stories other than family and friends, and even then it sometimes seems like I write too fast for them to keep up with. But I hope my stories will appeal to all- to Christians who want something different but still God-honoring, and for those who want a good story- and find something more.

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    1. Hi Boo. Don't let the size of your audience affect your contentment. God sees your heart to honor Him and will use your words for His glory. Be blessed. Keely :)

      PS I write more stories than most of my family and friends can read too. :)

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  18. Hi Keely. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your words touched me deeply and I am encouraged by your words. I have totally loved all your books about the land and look for to more.

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    1. Hi Robin. Thank YOU for all of your encouragement! I'm so glad you enjoy my stories. If the Lord allows, many more will come. Blessings, Keely :)

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  19. Hi Keely. You do have such a pretty name. Thanks for this post. It is something to think about. I am writing my first book. Not sure if I have articulated my core message but probably trusting God in all things.

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    1. Hi Sandy. Thank you! Enjoy writing your first book. That first story is a journey like no other for the author. May God bless your writing. Keely :)

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  20. Love this post! This is a question I had talked about with my son several months ago. What is it I'm trying to say? I want to encourage people I don't know who read my books with God's love for them.

    No one reads my stories other than my son and a friend. I can't write fast enough for them. But I've said if no one reads these stories but me, they're for me. I'll go back and read something and think there's no way I wrote that.

    With the story I'm working on for Speedbo, it's different than anything I've done before. And it's going together in scenes instead of chapter by chapter. We'll see how it comes out at the end of the month lol. Happy writing!

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    1. Hi Sally. If you continue to use your gifts for the Lord, He will make sure the person your story was meant for reads it. And, yes sometimes it's meant for the author. I've written several of those stories myself. May God bless your new story. Keely :)

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  21. I love this. It just turns on my creativity switch.

    I can't think what I'd write but ideas are storming through my head.
    I had several books of a middle grade novel series done at one time. I'd like to explore that. Maybe.
    I'd love (and am afraid) to write a regency romance sometime.
    I'd love to create a character, some woman or man who is in book after book.
    Jack Reacher
    Kinsey Milhone
    Kay Scarpetta
    Harry Bosch
    Lucas Davenport

    I love those series to READ. But they don't have romance (or not the long lasting kind anyway) Usually.
    Although Lucas Davenport is now a married man with a child...so it could happen. But even that isn't a romance. More like the ongoing saga of his life.

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    1. Hi Mary. Oh, it would be fun to create a long-running action/mystery hero! You're right though--they don't often find lasting love. I'm all about the HEA. :) Keely

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  22. Keely, what a thought-provoking post! I never thought about the writing for God/writing for God's glory for readers differences before. That will keep me meditating through the day.

    Your message lines up with something I heard Jim Rubart say at a conference a few years ago. We all have a core message. We just share it in different ways. I think my core message revolves around the question of who defines us/what our identity is. Our identity is in Jesus, not in what others say we are. I've been learning and walking this one out for awhile now.

    Please put me in the drawing. :)

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    1. Hi Jeanne. Our identity in Christ. What a great message and one we need to hear often! May the Lord bless your writing. Keely :)

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  23. Hi Keely
    I really really like this post. I don't ever think I've sat down and asked that question: "What is the core message God has given you to share and who needs to hear that message?"

    Game changer.

    Thank you.

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  24. oh. p.s.
    name in draw for either of your give-away books. thanks for your generosity!!!

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  25. Hi Keely. I really like this post. I am used to writing like no one will ever read it - it's how I get past the fear and get words on the page. But what is my core message? That's something I haven't thought much about and will have to spend some time coming up with the answer. Seems like that should be basic, huh?

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    1. Hi Cindy. May God bless your writing! Keely :)

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  26. Hello Keely! I love authors who bring glory to the Lord through the talent He has given them!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Thank you, Caryl. Have a great day! :) Keely

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  27. Hi Keely and welcome to Seekerville. What an interesting concept to go through your books and analyze the main theme. I might have to try that someday. I'm sure it has given you better direction on your current wip. Thanks again for joining us and I hope you enjoy your day here.

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    1. Hi Sandra and thank you for the warm welcome!

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  28. Welcome, Keely! I love how you discovered your core message, and I believe you're absolutely right that, for most writers, the same core message is at the heart of every story we write.

    I haven't tried recently to put my core message into words, but as best I can figure, it comes down to discovering and accepting our true selves and embracing the person God created us to be. Sometimes that takes the form of forgiving ourselves or those who have hurt us. Sometimes it's giving up something in our life that isn't God's best. But ultimately, it's the same central truth.

    Thanks so much for sharing these insights with us today!

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    1. Hi Myra. Thanks for sharing your core message. May God bless your writing! Keely :)

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  29. Thank you for this post. Some great questions to ask. I do have a core message I want to convey as I write. While I am a planster, I have the core message figured out before I right and the little twists and turns I come up with in the middle of the story go right along with the core truth.

    Please enter me in the drawing. Like you I love to read and to write. I figured up the other day I am on 10-15 street teams.

    My world began spinning again on Sunday Morning and it doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon.But I refuse to give up on Speedbo, I am currently at 7,340 words. Praise the Lord that I have had a couple good days where I could make up for the spinning days. The Lord is so good.

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    1. Hi Wiliani. Wow, 10-15 street teams! I pray things calm down for you and the spinning stops so that you can find joy in writing. Blessings, Keely :)

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    2. Wilani, you are my heroine, I can't always write that much when I feel GOOD. Hang in there.
      KB

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  30. Hey, Keely -- WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE -- SO great to have you here!'

    And I gotta tell you, this post speaks to the writer in me BIG TIME, my friend, so THANK YOU for reaffirming so many things that I feel God has been speaking to my heart.

    You said: "I’ve heard writers muse about writing for an audience of one. While that sounds uber spiritual and famously singable, I don’t write for God. I pray I write for God’s glory, meaning what I write points the reader to God’s redemptive plan. But I write for the readers who need to hear the core message He has given me."

    LOL ... well, my reason for writing is far less noble and wee bit more selfish. I write for me and for the woman I used to be before God got a hold of my heart.

    There came a point in my 50s where I no longer cared to read secular novels because of all the graphic sex, so I turned to the Christian market. Unfortunately at that time, I could find almost NO romantic passion in the Christian market, which bothered me greatly since, uh ... God created romantic passion in the first place (such as Song of Solomon), right? So rather than go back to the ABA for amoral secular romance (which is always empty to me without God in the middle), I decided to write my own under the tagline: Passion with a Purpose, hoping to draw to draw women like me and teach them God's precepts through fiction, instilling all the lessons I learned the hard way! :)

    You asked: "How about you? I know we have both writers and readers here. If you’re a writer, what is your core message?"

    My core message from the first page of my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, was to show readers that application of God's precepts in one's life is not only doable, but it's the only way to be happy, be it in a marriage, in a family, or in one's life.

    EXCELLENT post, Keely -- realllly enjoyed it!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie. Thank you for the warm welcome! I love to hear your purpose and how you encourage passion in line with God's precepts. That's a hard concept for many to grasp. May the Lord bless your writing! Keely :)

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  31. Hi Keely:

    You wrote:



    "Last summer after completing my seventh novel, I felt depleted and lost as a writer."


    There is a staying for this in sports about the really big games:

    "Leave everything on the field".

    If you were not depleted, you did not give your all. You held back. You may have feared giving your all for many reasons. (Your all may not be good enough). It takes a full commitment to let it all hang out. That is, to "Let Go, Let God."

    I think you may be living your core writing message and that is that you can trust God.

    But is that a message or is it really your voice? Doesn't every such core message have embedded in it many additional core messages?

    Isn't a core message much the same as a story's "Moral Premise"?

    "If you trust in God, then God will retune that trust but if you don't trust in God, then what you do trust can lead to failure."

    Keep the faith.
    Walk God's walk.
    Do what would Jesus would do.

    If no one would ever read your writing, would that be like the tree that falls in the forest that no one hears...would it make a noise, would it even be writing?

    Does a novel exist when no one is reading it? Are just words on paper really a novel? Is sheet music really music? Aren't these just the potential to become writing or music when they are being played in someone's mind?

    My core message:

    My reader will always get the most rewarding reading experience I am capable of delivering.

    I both write and read and would most love to win one of your fiction works.

    Thanks for your very thought provoking post today!

    Vince

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    1. Hi Vince. I love the sports analogy. You raised some interesting questions. And a couple that made me giggle. (Does a novel exist when no one is reading it?) Be blessed. Keely :)

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  32. KEELY, welcome to Seekerville! Thank you for this thought provoking post! Your books look great! Love the covers! By all your readers have shared with you, Your stories have obviously blessed them and given them

    I think the core message of my books involves redemption/forgiveness. My characters have either made a mess of life and are living with guilt or they've endured or are enduring heartache because of the actions of others. Through the course of the story they learn God truly loves and forgives so they can release the past and trust Him with the future.

    Janet

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    1. Thank you for the warm welcome, Janet! What a wonderful message you share in your stories. I could read redemption stories all day long. Blessings, Keely :)

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    2. KEELY, you're a lovely encourager! God bless you and your career.

      Janet

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  33. Keely, I write with settings of medieval Japan, also with a keen interest in historical India. Given this focus, I kind of thought I was already writing what no one would read, as shown by my lack of getting a contract. :-)


    Oddly, my favorite E/A person (she's an E, and the only one I could ever go out for coffee with) once told me she thought I made it hard on myself by the topics I choose. I told her that was where all the fun is. I don't think she quite got what I meant.

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    1. Hi Walt. It sounds like you have an interesting niche, which can be a challenge that sucks the joy out of your writing life OR you can make like your protagonist and use your signature strength to overcome. Personally, I love Japan. I've only been there once, but it made an impression on my soul. Writing medieval Japan sounds like a lot of fun world building. Be blessed. Keely :)

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  34. Keely, a thought-provoking post. And a reality check. I write to give hope to others. I have a couple of litmus tests that I apply for myself when I'm in a soul-searching mood. 1 -- if money were no object, would I still write fiction, which has broken my heart more than once? Yes. I'd use the money to INVEST in my fiction, going to more conference, entering more contests, and buying A Decent Laptop. 2 -- Would I be happy writing a best-seller without Christ? No. Because it wouldn't mean anything. I live in Dan Brown country, seacoast New Hampshire, and I've seen his meteoric rise as an author and the money he makes but I would still not want to be him, which is okay because he wouldn't want to be me either. Nope, I write to glorify God.
    My core message has developed as a central message of forgiveness, for yourself and others. And the core of my core message is "coming home" -- to who God wants you to be, to His forgiveness, to your physical home, and because these are romances, to the other half God has set aside for you. Whew, a lot to think about on a Tuesday. I love the concept of "coming home" and have woven it into just about everything I've done, including my Speedbo WIP which is the first in a three-or more book series about the fictional Hilltop, New Hampshire. My tagline for the series is, "Welcome to Hilltop, the Town That Heals."
    Keely, I come to Seekerville primarily as a writer, although I'm also a reader. I don't think I'm ready for your book launch book, so please put me in the (hat) (cat dish) (Waterford crystal bowl) for one of your novels.
    This is a good post and a good dialogue, may be back later.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Hi Kathy. It's good to hear you write to glorify God. I'm like you--I wouldn't want to do anything without Christ. Your stories sound interesting! Be blessed. Keely :)

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  35. Thanks, Keely! I find most of my stories also have the "trust in God" theme. It's a good one and everything else falls into place, like forgivness, repentance, etc, when we trust. :)

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    1. Amen, Angela! May God bless your writing! Keely :)

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  36. Hello Keely and as others have already said, thank you for this excellent, thought-provoking post! I know my core message is: God meets us exactly where we're "at" and He's all about second chances. So I write about second chances, forgiveness of ourselves and others, and that He's always there no matter what a mess we've made with our lives. I'm not pubbed yet so would love to be in the draw for your journal, or to receive one of your lovely books. Your covers are gorgeous! I only hope I can achieve the depth in my stories that my head and heart envision when I start writing them. Enjoy your day here!

    Laurie

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    1. Hi Laurie. "He's all about second chances." So true! Praying God's best for your writing. Blessings, Keely :)

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  37. Hi Keely! I too am equal parts fiction writer and fiction fangirl. As a writer, my message is that no one is beyond God's long arm of redemption. As a reader, I love stories where I see a character come to that realization. Usually through suspense as a personal preference.

    I enjoyed what you said about growing up watching Little House on the Prairie. I'm guilty of that. Even had the Laura Ingalls braids as a kid. :)

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    1. Hi Sharee. Yes! The Laura Ingalls braids! I had those too. (Still do sometimes!) Love your message. I'm personally very thankful for God's "long arm of redemption" as you put it. Blessings, Keely :)

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  38. Good morning Keely. I don't know what theme I write. Cheering for the underdog (or hope) and forgiveness.
    But like you, in my first story I simply wanted to entertain. Be a respite for a reader after a long day kind of thing. As I've gotten older, I don't like stressful tv shows or movies. I want to smile and feel lighthearted by the end.
    Now I'm targeting LIS so maybe that's not exactly true of my writing. I want my reader to have difficulty falling asleep.
    Who knows!

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    1. Hi Connie. I agree. Some days I read to escape stress and some days I read to watch a character escape death. It's all good. May God bless your writing! Keely :)

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  39. Welcome, Keely! May I first of all say I LOVE your name! :) A while back one of my daughters and I were discussing names, and she'd seen the name Keely and we agreed it was cute.
    Very thought-provoking post - - thank you for sharing with us today. I tend to write with the theme of "dreams coming true" - - in God's timing and in His way. Some of my heroines have to learn that even with all the odds against them, there is still hope and their dreams can be achieved (although not the way they'd originally planned).
    I've baked another Georgia peach cobbler, so please help yourself if you need a snack today. ;)
    Blessings, Patti Jo

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    1. Thank you, Patti Jo! Isn't it fun to make our characters' dreams come true--even if it's not the way they pictured it? Your writing sounds interesting, and YES I'll have some peach cobbler. Mmmm. :) Keely

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  40. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed hearing about how you found your common message - and what an uplifting message that is. I also loved thinking about your core readers and it's wonderful to think how our writing could touch others' lives. Blessings to you, in your life and writing.

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    2. Thank you, Dana! Blessings to you too. :) Keely

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  41. How fun to see you at Seekerville, Keely!

    And such a good question, one I had to step away and contemplate.

    I've always been drawn to stories about people who've led very broken, messy lives because I love to see God work in that brokenness. So that's what I write. The core message then, is that God meets us right where we are. He doesn't point to an unblemished spot and say "Come here" rather he steps neck-deep into our muck and loves us. I love to reach those who feel that they're too broken, that they've done far too many bad things for God to love them, and help them see that we're never too far gone for His love.

    Alongside that core message, God is molding me too as He challenges me to look past the rough exterior of a person and see--love--the heart that He sees and loves.

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    1. Hi Brenda! Fancy meeting you here ;) Your core message definitely shines through your stories. I've been that broken mess and tried to clean myself up before going to the Lord. Thank God He allowed that brokenness and met me there! All things are possible with God. Have a great day! Keely :)

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  42. I think if I had to really dissect my stories and find my core message it would be to not give up when it feels hopeless, to never give in when everything falls apart. Press on through the hardships. Persevere when the going is rough. Because that is what my characters do even though I put them through the wringer. They don't give up and even though they go through the worst of the worst they will get their Happily Ever After... eventually.

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    1. Hi Nicki. That's a great message. Perseverance brings proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint. Be blessed. Keely :)

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  43. What a great question, Keely! I'm impressed that you know so much about your readers. I only have two books under my belt, and the second one doesn't release until August. I haven't thought much about a core message, but off the top of my head, it does seem that each book has a theme of second chances, not just having a second chance with God but also giving God a second chance. Your book launch journal sounds incredibly helpful. I'm going to look at it now. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Meghan. Congrats on the two books! Second chances are so important--in fiction and in life. I need second chances and third chances and fifteenth... May God bless your writing. Keely :)

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  44. Thank you, Keely, for the worthy post. I hope to encourage readers through my characters, who grow to acknowledge nothing touches our lives that God doesn't allow. That means EVERY THING is covered by the providence of God. Just knowing it's not about me, but Him and His grace gets me through life. It's always good to step back, take a breather, and examine what we're doing and Who we're doing it for. If I didn't write, He'd have me doing something else, though I can't imagine what at this moment.

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    1. Hi LoRee. It really is all about Him. Blessings. Keely :)

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  45. Beautiful post, Keely. I am bookmarking it for the times when the negative people get me down, to remind me why I write, which is for God. I always pray that He will help me write what He wants me to write, to minister where He wills. Most of my books have the core theme of trusting in God, because He is bigger than your circumstances, and that redemption and forgiveness are always possible.


    Speedbo check in- I am at 16,027 words for Speedbo so far.

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    1. Thank you, Dana. It's no coincidence that His providence goes hand-in-hand with our redemption. Such great themes. May God bless you as you minister where He wills. Keely :)

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  46. Oh, and I forgot that I would love to be in the drawing for the book launch book. Sounds great.

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  47. Over the last couple of years I have looked at the books I've written to see if there was a common theme or message, so your post today is something I can relate to. What did I discover? My stories seem to be about Christians who have strayed somewhat away from God because of circumstances. My message seems to always be that God has a path and plan for you. You need only to seek His ways once again when you stray. And I would love to be in the drawing for the book launch book - sounds intriguing.

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    1. Hi Paula. When we stray, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Great message. Blessings, Keely :)

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  48. Hi Keely, welcome to Seekerville and thanks for sharing. I'd love to be included in the drawing.

    What a great experience to go through your stories and realize the core of each story is, You Can Trust God! That is truly awesome!

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    1. Thanks, Jackie! God has taken hold of my right hand and guided me with His counsel. I'm grateful. Be blessed. Keely :)

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  49. Such a lovely post, Keely! I enjoyed reading about your readers. Sounds as if they're the same folks who enjoy Amish fiction. The draw seems to be the simple life enjoyed with family, a firm faith in God, a love for the land and a strong work ethic.

    When I'm brainstorming the next story, I ask God to inspire me to write something that will touch that one person who needs help/support/encouragement. Hopefully, a few more folks might pick up my books as well, but the one person who needs to read what I've written is my target audience.

    Waving to Jeanne! James Rubart said something similar in a workshop I attended at ACFW last year. He said every minister has one sermon to preach. It's the core message he's been called to proclaim. James then said that authors are the same. We have one message that resonates in our stories, just as you mentioned, Keely.

    Early on, I thought I was writing the same book because the message, the truth, if you will, remained fairly constant. I was glad to learn that it's the message I'm call to proclaim, just like those ministers.

    My message is the healing of past wounds that must take place before we can embrace life fully. So many have mentioned forgiveness today, and my message is certainly one of forgiveness. My character has to forgive those who hurt him. Even more difficult, he must forgive himself for the mistakes he made. It's what Michael Hauge talks about as the protagonist puts aside the masks he's worn and becomes the person he was created to be. That idea resonates with me and never gets old!

    Bless you for sharing so deeply today, Keely. Your message has touched my heart!

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    1. Hi Debby. Keep proclaiming that message. Blessings, Keely :)

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  50. A wonderful post, Keely. As I was reading it, I found myself wanting to hear your voice. :) I'll have to examine my stories for a core message. I like for my characters to make stupid decisions and bad mistakes. Often they not only hurt themselves but others too. Much like real life. Years ago God gave me Acts 4:20 for my writing. It works for my NF and my fiction, but that's sort of MY writing instruction from God. You've given me much food for thought. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jessica. Great verse! May the Lord bless you as you obey Him in your writing. Keely :)

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  51. Well done, Keely!

    Like you, I'm both a reader and a writer, although I have been writing only nonfiction for a while. My Speedbo challenge is to write, edit (reedit, reedit etc) and submit 5 Chicken Soup for the Soul stories this month. I've only ever submitted 5 before in my life but they were fairly recent and haven't heard back on any yet. even if they don't accept any, writing them has been a great experience.

    Please enter me in your drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis. Wow, 5 stories in a month! That's amazing. I pray God's best for your writing. Keely :)

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  52. I keep hitting my internal editor over the head with a stick, but it must be a glutton for punishment because it keeps rearing its ugly head. On the plus side I've managed to get my Speedbo assignment for today done and then some.

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    1. Hi Nicki. Those pesky internal editors. ;) Congrats on your writing. Blessings, Keely

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  53. I loved the questions you posed about your core message. Reading about your audience was very touching. Sometimes I can see that kind of thing when I'm writing: The broken person who needs to hear something that God allowed me to drop into my story. That thought is beyond exciting, but I would still write, I think, even if it was just for me.

    The story I'm working on now has a few minor themes, but I think the major theme is: God is enough. Whatever you're going through, whether it works out the way you wanted it to or not, God is enough.

    I suppose the books that touch me the most are the ones that demonstrate a very specific aspect of God being enough: specifically His sufficiency in the face of rejection and failure.

    I'd love to have my name in the hat, though I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for a book on marketing :-) I've got a few things to learn and a lot more writing to do between now and then. So, if it's a choice between the two I think I would prefer the novel. Thanks for the blog!

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    1. Hi Lara. Your story sounds beautiful just from the theme. May God bless your writing. Keely :)

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  54. Welcome to Seekerville, Keely. Great, thought-provoking post!

    I'm not sure that I can answer this succinctly because it seems my books mean different things to different readers (and maybe even to ME!) and the core message one person gets out of one of my books might be different to what someone else takes away.

    It's like 100 people hearing a sermon, but every one of them has a different takeaway. And even the preacher might not know exactly what message he's imparting.

    But if I could try to pin that elusive core message down it would be that I hope to point others to Christ, to his forgiveness, his grace, and his lovingkindness not matter where we are along this path called life.

    But I don't intentionally try to put that message there. It just is.

    I hope.

    PS... I typed this up to send hours ago, but we were under a thunderstorm and the internet went out. Thankfully, I copied it before I hit send, knowing it was probably going to swept away on the wind. Pun intended!

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    1. Hi Pam. I'm so glad you and your copied text made it through the storm. Many blessings, Keely :)

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  55. Thank you all for having me here today and for your thoughtful comments. I've had a blast. Keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Much love, Keely :)

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  56. Great post, Keely. I am also a fiction writer and fangirl.
    While I don't write Christian fiction, I do write with God's blessing to write the best I can. My wip focuses on the effort it takes to make a relationship work, and hold. So, I would say perseverance could be one of the core messages of my book. Love and faithfulness is the reward.
    Please enter me in your drawings. I'm sure I'll reap the rewards of either on of them.

    Blessings, Marcia

    p.s. Debby Guisti, I speak your prayer every time I begin to write...so inspirational!

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  57. Loved this, Keely. I'm unpublished as yet, still finding my way. This gave me much to think about. Thank you

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  58. Keely, Thank you for the post. You're very inspirational, and thanks for creating a book launch journal. Having marketing ideas and book launch info all organized in one place is so useful for authors going through the countdown to publication.

    As far as the comments about Little House, my daughter loves the book as there is a character named Carrie and another named Caroline.

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  59. Keely, what a thoughtful way to look at our writing. Your theme is perfect. Thinking of my writing, "God gives us strength" seems to be the theme. Thank you for giving me some very interesting to things to think about.

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  60. Hi Keely, your post has given me much to think about. I've worked on themes in my fiction writing, but I am still figuring out what my core message as a writer is. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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  61. Keely, I love your questions and your picture of your reader. I am still a dreamer writer so I don't really have a handle on it yet, but one thing I know for sure, I have seen a little Romans 8:28 in several of the short stories I have written for me myself and I "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

    Thank you for the encouragement and insight.

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  62. Hi Keely, you really made me think. I think and hope my message to readers is no matter what is happening life is better with Jesus.

    Please enter me in your drawing.

    SpeedBo check in: I'm meeting my goal every day plus a little more which puts me at over 7,000 words

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  63. Keely, I'm late to the party. But thank you for this beautiful, inspiring post! I loved all you said. I've always known I tend to write with a couple of main themes. But I bet if I dig deeper I can figure out one unified message.

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  64. Finding theme is a challenge. I appreciate your insight. I see the theme running through my novels is putting our past behind us and trusting God for the future. Whether it's forgiveness or surrendering control. Love the reminders you shared.

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  65. I love your inspiring post, Keely. I think the core message the Lord has given me to write has to do with breaking the chains that bind us--those physical chains created by things like slavery or human trafficking or oppression of peoples such as Jewish people during the Holocaust, but also the chains we forge in our own lives and minds--guilt, lack of forgiveness, fear, etc. Only God can do such a freeing work, so I love pointing to Him. That's so interesting that you asked what we would write if we thought no one would read it. For me, that is the book I just finished. I wrote it through my cancer journey and it was a book that contained many things I simply love--stories and children and a young woman finding her way through all the things she thinks she wants to the things and One who really matters. There is so much of me in this book, and I believe the Lord allowed me the time and space in life through cancer to write it. Of course, now that it is finished, I hope lots of readers will want to read it. : ) Thank you for paying attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life and writing, Keely. You have greatly encouraged me today. God's blessings for you!

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  66. I am a reader and I am beyond thrilled that the Christian fiction market is thriving today. Reading is a passion and I'm glad that my moral guidelines won't be compromised by explicit sexuality, profanity and excessive violence because it is a proven fact that that what you read implants in your mind. As I live and grow in my Car walk, I want pure thoughts to be in my mind!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Car walk? Drat that autocorrect! Meant to say Christian walk!

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  67. Hi Keely. Wow, you pack a powerful punch in your writing. I have thought about a core message, but just in those fleeting moments. Thanks so much for this! Also...Speedbo is still rocking. I hit my book's 75% mark last night and am grinning form ear to ear today! Blessings to you all.

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  68. Your post is very informative and makes me think. As a reader & a writer I am always looking for new information.

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  69. I write that importance is not about who you are, but following God's heart in whatever circumstances you are in. As a reader, I'm not sure what I look for. I'm going to have to think about it.

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