Monday, November 13, 2017

Waking Up and Getting Traction: A Benefit of In-Person Writer Support



Missy Tippens



I recently had a wake up. I’m talking about the kind of wake up where you didn’t even realize you were asleep.

You see, I hadn’t attended a writing conference in about two years. And I had barely attended chapter meetings for my local ACFW and RWA chapters. I’ve been a primary caregiver for some family members during that time and hadn’t felt I could risk signing up for something and then have to cancel. I also haven’t had time free to attend the chapter meetings.

But earlier this year, I took the risk and signed up to attend the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference, a fantastic conference that Georgia Romance Writers puts on each year (I had gone to M&M without fail in the past). I had friends praying that all would go well so I could attend. And, thanks to God, it did!

Lunch with Cara Lynn James and Fran McNabb

While at M&M, I attended many workshops and took lots of notes. I had time to chat with friends new and old. I spent time in the hotel room, writing. I took a nap! I enjoyed dinner with old friends and talked business. And I celebrated Maggie Award victories with fellow writers after the banquet (and okay, this may have also involved some dancing). :)


Dinner with (L to R) Debby Giusti, Connie Gillam, Pam Varnado, Fran McNabb, Cara Lynn James, and Lindi Peterson

One writer I spoke with that weekend was struggling with whether her writing and publishing schedule was interfering with the care of her family. She seemed burdened by guilt. I shared with her how my youngest used to stand at the door beside the babysitter, refusing to wave, sobbing as I left to go to my monthly critique group. I shared how my precious daughter wrote me a pitiful little note in phonetic spelling saying she didn’t like it when I went to “kirtek grup” (translated: critique group) because she was sad when I was gone. :)



Those were tough times when rejections were rolling in and contest scores were crushing my spirit. And I felt like I was taking money and time away from my family. I almost quit several times out of guilt, but God brought encouragements big and small along the way at just the moment I would give up. (One of those big moments: I had decided that it must be time to give up writing, had been crying my eyes out, and a few minutes later I got the call that I was a Maggie finalist).

I shared with my hurting writer friend that when my kids were young, I promised them that if they would let me write for a while each day, I would buy them a new swing set when I sold my first book. I resorted to bribery! (As an aside: please note that by the time I sold that first book my youngest was 11, and her feet would have dragged the ground on a swing set! Instead, they got dinner at The Melting Pot to celebrate. :))



Once I shared all that with my friend, she said she was surprised. She thought I had it all together and that all had been well in my home at the time. I learned some things through that conversation:

1.   You never know what might be going on in someone else’s life! I learned I need to be more open about my struggles. We all need to be honest and real. I think it helped my friend to know that others have and are struggling with some of the same issues. Spending time in-person allowed the opportunity to connect in that way.
2.   Again, you never know what may be going on in someone else’s life. Chances are, the people we run into (writers and otherwise) could be facing trials. Assume the best about others and SHOW GRACE.



Other things I learned at this conference…

3.   I really needed that time away from caregiving. I needed my husband to cover for me for a couple of days so I could focus on the conference and on the writing. You may need time away from caregiving, or child-rearing, or your day job or.... We can all use time away to focus on our writing careers.
4.   Meeting with other writers in person is more important than I thought. I hadn't realized what I had been missing until I got back to a conference. I know we have a wonderful online support here at Seekerville, and I treasure that. But I was reminded how motivating it can be to hang out in a room with a bunch of people who think like I do (translated: a little wacky).


After I got home from the conference, that excitement continued. A few days later, on the way to dinner with my husband, I realized I felt as if I’d come out of a long, hazy sleep. I felt more alert, like my mind was zipping again. I was finally making a little progress on my manuscript, felt like I had traction after so long spinning my wheels.

I know a conference isn’t possible for everyone due to location or finances or family/day job situations. But I encourage you try to find at least one writer to meet with in person. (Come on introverts, you can do this!) Or go to a workshop at your local library. Or see if your church will start a writing group. Anything to put you in touch with other writers. And start saving up to attend a conference sometime in the future. I think it’s worth the investment, not only for networking, but also for reigniting the desire to write.



Giveaway! For a trip down memory lane, I’ll be giving away a copy of my very first published book, Her Unlikely Family, a story (previously titled Michael’s Surrender on the contest circuit) that I wrote while attending my “kirtek grup.” :) (Please note, this will probably have to be an e-book copy or else a used print copy since I don’t have extras any longer.)

Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to be entered. We’d love to hear from you today! What do you think about attending conferences? If you’re not a writer, what inspires you and keeps you motivated for your job or daily life?

 *******************
After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com, https://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.

113 comments :

  1. There is nothing like the motivation of hanging with your peers. It re-energizes you to be among your tribe. The people who speak your language. No matter how hard we try to make others get it, no one gets it like another writer.

    There are many wonderful tribes in this world.

    Reader/Writer tribes.

    Family tribes.

    But there is something miraculous about your own writer tribe.

    See you in Denver RWA 2018!

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    1. Tina, that's so true about speaking the same language. We do get each other!

      I sure hope to see you then!! I plan to attend a conference next year but must decide which one.

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    2. You know, Tina, reading your comment made me realize that when I'm not communicating with other writers--or anytime I'm not at my computer actually writing--I sort of lose track of that part of me. Like, when acquaintances at church and elsewhere ask if I'm working on a book or how the writing is going, I do a mental double-take. "ME??? You're asking ME??? Wait--oh, yeah, um, I guess I AM a writer!"

      DUH.

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  2. The ladies at my church keep me going! I know I can talk to any one of them when I need to, they will not only keep confidences but they will encourage and pray for me. They uplift me and I enjoy being around them. Like Tina said above, they are my tribe :-)

    My husband also is a great inspirer and someone I can talk to about anything. He brings a new perspective to a situation and looks at things differently than I do sometimes. He keeps me motivated and lifts me up when I'm down. He always tells me how proud he is at what I am doing for the family and that he couldn't do all that he does without me. I happen to think we make a great team!

    They say it takes a village to raise a child, well I say it also takes a village to have a healthy support system! My family and my church do that for me! God placed me exactly where I need to be :-)

    Missy, please add my name for a copy of your book (I don't mind a used paperback), though I do have a Kindle. What a great motivating post...thanks for sharing!

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    1. Trixie, I love my church friends, too! It's so nice to have friends who we know will pray for us and would do anything for us.

      That's wonderful that you have a supportive husband. Mine is as well. He's spent many weeks at home with kids (and/or pets) while I've attended conferences. :)

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    2. Oops, Trixi! It's late, and I'm sorry I spelled your name wrong!

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    3. Trixi, you're so right. That support system can be clutch in so many ways.

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    4. Missy, no worries on the name ;-) People have spelled it all kind of ways...lol!

      Re-reading through the post this morning and a statement popped out at me. I'm sure I read it last night, but like you said, it was late (not real late my time) and I was ready to go to bed. "Assume the best about others and show grace". I do this as often as I can, especially people I just met. It reminds me of scripture where it talks about esteeming others above ourselves. I think extending grace is important, after all God has done that for us far more than we deserve!

      Ruthy, your write the type of books I love because you reflect that support system in your characters lives. I think of the Double S Ranch and how each person plays a part in the "family" and the camaraderie they share. Now the brothers might fight some, but it only means they love one another and want the best for each other. They a tight knit group! I absolutely love that in a book :-)

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  3. Would love to be entered for a copy of your book. Thanks for the inspiring words. Some days, I don’t feel very motivated to go to work but His gentle reminder that His purposes are being fulfilled when I work with a glad and thankful heart gets me through.

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    1. MH, sometimes it's tough to be motivated for the day in and day out of a job. I totally get that. But what a wonderful spirit you have!

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  4. Decaff coffee is on for us late night arrivers!

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  5. Thank you for being so candid. Oh, how I can relate, kids, caregiving, etc. I've been in a deep sleep too and also found refreshment at a writer's retreat this fall!!

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    1. Carla, I'm so glad you had you had your fall retreat! It really does make a difference. I think in a way, it reminds us who we are (as writers).

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  6. Hi Missy,

    I loved your post, and I agree with every word of it. :) I've never regretted making time to meet with writer friends, go to chapter meetings or attend conferences, but I always regret when I don't.

    And I absolutely agree with you about the importance of seeing writers face to face. Every time I attend a chapter meeting or writing conference, I meet another amazing person (or two or three, etc.) and they are added to my writing tribe. And the tribe can never be too big, can it?

    Happy writing, and I'm so glad you came to M & M this year! I hope to see you at the GRW meeting this Saturday! :)

    Jeanine

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    1. Jeanine, I agree that the tribe can never be too big. The bigger the better. :)

      I've got the meeting in my calendar. Sure hope I can make it!

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  7. I loved your story about the swing set, Missy. I appreciate your honesty in this post. The guilt that sometimes goes along with putting our writing first, especially while caring for aging parents and working a full-time day job, can be overwhelming at times. During my Remicade infusions, a fellow writing bud and I chat all things writing for two hours, while receiving our treatments, it always a nice escape. No need to enter me, I've got my own copy of Her Unlikely Family...loved it!

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    1. Jill, I think having your treatment with a writing friend is a wonderful way to face it together! Such a great idea. My writing friends are some of my closest friends.

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  9. Hi Missy, this is a good way to begin the week. I've been in all sorts of critique groups over the years. Right now I've refined it to one crit partner, who is great. I had my last crit partner for 20 years before she moved, and she was a lifeline.
    There are seasons of life, aren't there? I would give anything to have my parents back, even if I had to take care of them. Love finds a way.
    I also enjoy conferences and hope to attend one in 2018. It's like crit partner on steroids, hundreds of people of like minds who want you to do well.
    It's especially important for Christian writers to link up with others, because Satan WILL TRY TO BRING US DOWN, and discouragement is one of the things in his toolbox.
    Off to my temp job, may check in later.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Kathy, you're so right about love finding a way. Family is top priority for me, which is what made those moments with my daughter so tough! But I should have said also in the post that she was fine the next day, after times with the babysitter and today remembers her fondly. :) She's 21 now and laughs about that little note when we find it on occasion.

      As far as the caregiving, I hope I didn't sound resentful in my post! I consider it a privilege and am thankful for my family members daily. It's just tough sometimes. And it's nice to get away on occasion for a writer event. :)

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  10. Good morning, Missy -- your post is so true! Real writer-people time can be so energizing. Because of the day job, expense of conferences, distance to be traveled, and limited vacation time, I seldom get to attend a writing conference. And the nearest ACFW monthly meetings are likewise hours away in a big city. But I do so love meeting other writers and "talking shop." Even though physically tired when I'd return from conferences, I felt spiritually and emotionally re-energized for my writing. Inspired by the energy and encouragement of other like-minded writers!


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    1. Glynna, I sure hope to see you at a conference again in the future! I agree about how inspired I get. Making those connections whenever possible is a great thing.

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  11. Missy Tippens, this is the best reason for a conference! To fire us up, to re-engage, to get re-charged.

    If you're already charged up and not searching out new publishers, I think conferences are fun but not necessarily a great return on investment... BUT... if we need that re-admission into the daily writing or just to recharge our batteries, that's a huge thing. Look what a difference it made to you! And because it was a regional conference, you didn't have to go crazy with spending.

    You Are One Smart Cookie.

    I think writer retreats can do this sometimes, too... but I think the excitement and vigor of conferences is an even better igniter!

    And why does the word igniter look WRONG????

    I wanted to spend it with an "or"...


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    1. LOL, Ruthy. That word DOES look a little funny--now that you mentioned it. Gee thanks! haha

      You make a good point about the cost of a large conference. Yes, local conferences are a lot more affordable, so that's something to take into consideration.

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  12. Good Morning, Missy!

    We all need a 'break' from our daily lives sometimes. I do think it's critical for writers to have those breaks and talk to other like minded people.

    And taking those breaks helps us cope with our daily lives in a better mind frame. I'm glad you are out of your 'fog'!

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    1. Rose, I agree about refreshing our frame of mind. Having a time to rejuvenate on occasion is important to our health and also for how well we care for others.

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  13. Missy, great insights! Thank you!

    So much of this resonated. Your are so right - we do not know what might be going on in others' lives. While there's the wish to be "real," to some regard, we also want to maintain privacy. Choosing what to disclose and when is a tough call sometimes. Thanks for speaking to this.

    Care-giving is indeed not for the faint of heart. Been there. Am there again.

    Also, when writers have littles still at home, that adds another dimension. We want to be available, yet we also have an intrinsic desire to create and the need to mix and mingle with other creatives.

    To preserve our sanity AND move forward with our art, we MUST make time. So important and so necessary. Kudos to you for getting away!

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    1. Cynthia, I'm always so private. It was tough to even write this post! But I realized if we keep smiling and don't share, then others think they're alone in their struggles.

      I like what you said about making time for our art. I'm very independent and hate to ask for help. But I realized if I wanted to go to a conference again, I would have to depend on others. My husband was great about being on call!

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  14. Although I was not the primary caregiver, your story took me back a bit, when my father was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes and finally passed away. It was a difficult time, with its ups and downs, also a time of drawing closer to Dad and to the Lord. But it was extremely hard to write and nearly impossible to make time for getting together with other writers. I'm doing both more now--making the time on purpose. Other writers encourage me and I hope I encourage them back. Seekerville is a source of encouragement. Thanks for today's post. :)

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    1. Oh, Missy, and I also meant to say that when you share your story, as you did about being primary caregiver, it does encourage others, such as myself, who have gone through or are going through similar things. We remember that we're not alone. So thank you.

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    2. Dana, I'm so sorry for your struggles and loss. I'm glad the post can be a help to others in similar situations. Thank YOU for being an encouragement to me today!

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  15. Hi Missy,

    You touched my heart today. I'm so glad you made the time for M&M and were rejuvenated. I'm so glad you didn't give up writing. And I'm so glad you're still excited from M&M.

    I hadn't planned to go to ACFW this year mostly for financial reasons. My hubby and I discussed it over and over. He'd say we could afford it, and I didn't feel right about spending the money. But I kept feeling a little anxious about my decision not to go. In the end, I went and had a great time. I left elated from the time spent with sweet friends and time worshiping and learning. I'm not sure what 2018 looks like, but it was what I needed this year.

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    1. Jackie, I'm so glad that you got to go to the ACFW conference! Isn't it wonderful to have that rejuvenation? Maybe we'll meet up at a conference in 2018. )

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  16. This was so good, Missy. Really encouraging. My empty nest leaves me with lots of time to write (and procrastinate) and I get easily bogged down in front of my computer. At a chapter meeting this weekend my eyes were opened when a best selling author told me she hadn't had time to write in months. That really made me appreciate my blessings. "Stage of life," she said.

    Spending time with other people can really open your eyes. It can also get your eyes off of yourself and that never hurts either.

    Thanks for an uplifting post.

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    1. Barbara, amen to getting our eyes off ourselves! That is so true, at least for me.

      Empty nest can be tough in its own way. I rattled around the empty house trying to find myself again. I even recently wrote a short story about that time period that'll be published next year (not sure if I can share about it just yet).

      We all have stages of life that bring change. God will empower us to do our best at each.

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  17. Missy, your post is spot on! Writers need other writers. Sometimes it's hard to be transparent when others seem to have it all together. But seem is the operative word. Life keeps most of us from an hope of perfection. But that's okay. So glad you go to attend M&M and see Seekers and other friends who get you.

    Janet

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    1. LOL on the typo perfection, Janet. :) I love Lenora Worth's FB post on her hilarious typos. haha

      You know, "seems" is the operative word. We all have backstory and off-the-page lives!

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  18. That should read any hope of perfection. Even my typing isn't perfect. LOL

    Janet

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  19. MISSY, this is a great post! Self care is SO important. Recently I was able to connect with a dear group of friends. I felt like a dry sponge. I soaked up ALL their love and hugs.

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    1. Caryl, the dry sponge is such a great comparison! I love the vision of you soaking up love and hugs. Wonderful! :) I'm so glad you had that chance to connect.

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  20. Aw, Missy, I love this!

    To hear other peoples struggles, especially how they overcome, let's me know it's not just me.

    Socks hanging on the line. LOL. I've never seen that cover. Love it!!!

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    1. Isn't it great, Connie! They had me add a cat to the story so we could use the cover. :) I think cats and dogs help sell books (at least they did back then). Who knew!

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    2. By the way, after I first got a look at my cover, my daughter started calling it my sock book. :)

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    3. You had to add the cat. That is so funny...

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  21. Good morning,
    Missy what an encouraging post. I have the mommy-writing guilts on a regular basis. Writing, working outside the home and trying to be wife and mom, it's not an easy juggling routine.
    I live wayyyyy out in the cornfields so getting together with other writers doesn't happen nearly enough but when it does, it's a precious time. Just being around others to laugh and lift those burdens is healing. And I'm a total nerd so going to conferences and taking copious notes is one of my favorite things to do.

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    1. Sharee, I'm a nerd that way too! I go to almost every workshop session and have my iPad ready to take notes. :)

      I'm glad you make it in from the cornfields on occasion to get your writer friend fix. :)

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  22. Missy, I loved Her Unlikely Family and it remains on my keeper shelf. This is such a timely post. I've had some circumstances in my own family that have taken time away from my writing. Worse than that is how caregiving has drained my motivation and dulled my creative spark. I'm saving for what I hope will be my first writers conference next year. I so agree that being with other writers helps rejuvenate our writing spirit.

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    1. Chris, you made my day to know a book of mine is on someone's keeper shelf! :)

      I totally understand that dulled creative spark. I often think of Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. In the book, it recommends having artist dates--time away to refill the creative well. I used to do that when the kids were small. My husband would watch them and give me a few hours to go do something creative. I remember signing up for a flower arranging class at Michael's. And also going to the library. And to the bookstore to look at how-to books. Such wonderful times to spark creativity!

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  23. Thank you for this post. It is an encouragement.

    The ability to meet with other writers in person has long been a dream. There is a writers conference near me but the cost is equivalent to a months income from Social Security. I have prayed for the Lord to open this door when it is His will and timing. It is so rare to have a writing group in a small town and to my knowledge there are no Christian authors in my town. I am part of the Nanowrimo onine group for Western NC but it looks like from al their posts that they are not Christian.

    I would appreciate prayers. I am feeling numb all over and really weird. I see a specialist this afternoon. I have had mystery pain in the abdomen region for over a month and have had 4 trips to the ER because of this. I am getting tired and would love some answers. I do know this is no surprise to the Lord and He knows exactly what is going on.

    Even though I started a new book for Nano. I havve stopped writing due to all the pain and I am okay with not finishing Nano. I just want to get better and then I can go back to writing.

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    1. Wilani, we'll pray for you to get some answers and to feel better! And also that you can connect to some Christian writers near you.

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  24. Hello Missy! Thank you so much for sharing your story and your struggles. I'm probably a little too open about my own struggles, lol. You're post is also a reminder to get more involved in my own local chapter. I'm really involved with my online chapter, but rarely attend chapter meetings because I babysit my granddaughter. It's okay for me to miss a weekend here and there for writing. Like this weekend, for example, Michael Hauge is coming to Tucson and I get to spend the entire day with some wonderful writing peeps (some of them Seekers!!!).

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    1. LeAnne, have a wonderful time next weekend!! I'm envious! :)

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  25. Missy, your post hit home with me. As a writer, I'm an introvert, but when I get outside my box (Office), I'm a bona fide social butterfly. My FB is set on Private, and few people know I write. My other half isn't the least bit interested in what I do in my office, and never offers encouragement. I don't know what I would do without my two CPs, whom I Skype with almost weekly. They are a lifeline to me, and I appreciate them so much. I have another writing friend who I swap pages with via email. And, Seekerville, what a blessing. No one judges here, and they are quick to offer the encouragement I need at any time. I can't say enough of the blessings I get from this blog. God Bless you all.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. Marcia, what a great idea to have a weekly skype session!! I think that's just about as good as in-person meetings. It's like face to face but with virtual hugs. :)

      I'm so glad we're able to support each other here.

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  26. Missy, I so appreciate this post. You're so right. Meeting with other writers—in-person—is so refreshing. To talk story, characters, heartaches . . . to be encouraged and to encourage . . . it just fills a girl up. I already know I'll be cutting back on conferences next year (upcoming expenses), so I am going to be intentional about meeting with other writers. Because you're right, it really wakes us up!

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    1. Jeanne, you're so smart to plan ahead and make time for those face to face meetings. Enjoy!

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    2. Jeanne, I loved meeting you in Nashville last year. It was an added bonus to a great trip for CFRR 2016!

      And we all understand expenses and return on investment and kids growing up.... oy vay, there's a turn and twist around most every corner, isn't there???

      So if you can stay motivated locally,. that's pure bonus, Jeanne!!!

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    3. Missy, we all learn the value of planning ahead, don't we? :)

      Ruthy, I loved meeting you in Nashville too! So much fun! And yeah, with the boys in secondary school, there are more expenses . . . and an international trip with one of them in 2019 . . . hubs and I have already begun to talk about how to pay for it. :) But I'm already imagining all the great writing fodder I'll get on the trip.. ;)

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    4. Jeanne, I wouldn't trade all the school trips I had the blessing to chaperone for anything in the world. Such amazing memories made. I'll always treasure those times with my three kids.

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  27. We just went to a retreat organized by a wonderful member of the Seeker community, and we laughed as hard as I've laughed in years! Amazing what that does for the soul...(Wink, wink, Yvonne, Sharee, LoRee, Mary, Jennifer, Dawn, Diane & Kathy :)

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    1. Sherri, we heard how fun it was! I'm always jealous when I hear about the Nebraska retreats! I always tell Mary she has added years to my life from the laughter. :)

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    2. Sherri, that's so cool. I expect you guys had a ball, I'm pretty sure you woke the monks/friars with your giggling and I think it's a wonderful opportunity to share writing talk, peace, love and joy.

      I'm so glad you guys were able to do that!

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    3. Laughter is so good for the soul! I need to schedule a cp meeting. We've all been much too busy to meet. Alone at my computer, I rarely laugh.

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    4. I'm pretty sure we scared the monks. But oh wow, did we laugh.

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    5. We weren't banned from returning....so I'm calling that a win! The Bible says there's a time to laugh...it was our time :)

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  28. Missy, thank you so much for this encouragement! I wrestled with guilt for 11 years before I finally decided to write. I had every excuse when my children were young, when I had a stack of senior essays to grade, when my mother was diagnosed with cancer (again). I admire so many Seekers who've shared their struggle to balance writing and other obligations...but who didn't quit writing...like I did!

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    1. Don't be too hard on yourself, Karen. The decision was probably the best one for you at that particular time. Now it's time to write! YAY!!!

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    2. Karen, sometimes we just need to focus on family (or whatever is pressing). I think often we see later that God knew what was best at the time. God knows what we can handle, and of course enables us for that.

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    3. Hey, Karen, I expect we've all quit a time or two! And then we get back on that horse, darlin'. :) Saddle up... ride on out.

      In all honesty, though, it's not for everybody. And that's okay. As we see the publishing changes we have to know that those changes will have some kind of affect on all of us... so we'll muster on or we won't but change is going to happen. So if you hop back on that horse's back and stay in that saddle, then who knows what the coming few years will bring????

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    4. Debby, Missy, and Ruthie -- Thanks for that encouragement. Truth is, although I felt guilty about not writing, I'm just not sure I'm the write who can push through. I feel things very deeply, which is a strength when I do write...but not so much when I'm tangling with life and my emotions are being drained! :) So, yes, Debby, I do think it was the best decision for me at the time. Thanks! You ladies rock.

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    5. I think this is one of those things we all have to learn about ourselves... my mother was a brilliant woman and her writing makes mine pale in comparison.... but she wasn't equipped to sit down and pen a story once life hit her broadside.

      BUT she passed that talent on to each of her daughters. My oldest sister writes a Nascar column and loves it... my next oldest is a political rabble rouser with great writing skills, taking on the establishment in her part of the world on a very regular basis... and a sister who loves writing but HATES CONVENTION so she'd do a ceremonial burning party if she ever got a revision letter because changing her work isn't part of her vocabulary. :)

      The fourth one is a letter writer, an absolutely lovely, lost skill these days...

      And I write my sweet books.

      I don't think it matters how we use the talent. It just matters that we got it and what a special gift that is... and one that may pass down to future generations and they'll write the books of tomorrow.

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  29. Oh, Missy, this is such a bull's-eye, my friend, especially with point #1 -- You never know what might be going on in someone else’s life!

    I'll never forget the ACFW Conference where Francine Rivers was the keynote speaker. She was everyone's author idol, especially mine, so when I heard her say she doesn't enter contests even though her publishers wanted her to or even look at her royalty statements (her hubby handles that), I was gobsmacked (I needed a word stronger than "stunned" because it was THAT stunning to me!).

    Say, what??? Not enter contests or look at your royalty statements??? Uh, to put it point blank -- I thought ol' Francie was nuts. I later learned a few years after publication that ol' Francie was not only NOT nuts, she was dead-on.

    What does that have to do with your post? Well, here I was thinking Francine had the world by the tail when she had just gone through a season of her life that had been so painful, she quit writing for a while. And all this time I was sitting there wishing I could arrive like she had. And you know what? I did.

    I came to a place where I took a sabbatical to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing, laying things down like contracts, contests, and stalking Amazon. It was the best thing I ever did because not only did I draw closer to God and family through it all, but I understood true success so much better. It's God's plan for you that matters (and truly satisfies), not your own. Which brings us back to your point that what we see on the surface is not always what's going on below. :) You never do know what's on the other side of that smile, but you DO know that God is drawing that person closer to Him through whatever it is.

    Great post, Missy -- got me thinking this morning, so thanks for priming the pump. ;)

    And, PEOPLE, you do not want to miss Missy's first book (or any of them), but her first is emblazoned in my memory, especially the first two lines, which I have quoted several times. :)

    "If there was one thing Josie Miller knew, it was the smell of a rich man. And whoever just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox."

    And if there's one thing I know, it's a great blog, and this is it!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, thank you for sharing this about Francine Rivers. Wow. It's so easy to think it's so easy for everyone else. What a great perspective Francine has. As for being "gobsmacked," I first read it as "Godsmacked" and thought, "Now that's an experience I've had once or twice!" :)

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    2. Julie, you're so sweet. And I love your quote! "It's God's plan for you that matters (and truly satisfies) not your own."

      I think I need that on a notecard on my computer!

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  30. Missy, I loved seeing you at M&M! I've never missed the conference since I first joined GRW, but this year, I wondered if I should attend. Silly me! M&M and being with other GRW writers is like a huge rush of adrenaline, as you mentioned. I came home energized and excited about my next writing project!

    Also, I vividly remember years ago, in my prepubbed days, telling my husband that I wondered if it was time to stop writing. We were riding south on 400, coming into ATL. When we got home, Carmen Green called to inform me that my manuscript was a Maggie finalist. Just like you, I took that as a sign to keep writing...and I'm so glad I did.

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    1. Debby, that gave me chill bumps!! Our journeys so similar! I love how God encourages us when we need it most.

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  31. Missy, such an important reminder of how uplifting and motivating it can be to have in-person time with other writers! Before moving to NC, I belonged to a strong and vibrant ACFW chapter, so my first priority was finding one here. I did, but eventually there wasn't enough support to keep it going. I heard later that my previous chapter also had to fold. Very, very sad. I really miss those regular meetings, and I haven't had the chance to attend a conference in a couple of years either. Must remedy that soon!

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    1. Myra, I'm sorry about your chapters folding! GRW is wonderful and has a lot of Christian writers. And my ACFW chapter is wonderful too! I've actually made two or three meetings this year.

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    2. Myra, I also meant to say I look forward to your post this week. :)

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  32. Hi Missy, I'm so glad you were able to go to M&M. Several writer conferences were my salvation also when I was in intensive caregiving. I always point out that God needed a rest on the 7th day so if He needs one, we of course do also. smile Happy writing. And hang in there. From experience I learned that even though caregiving is intensive and stressful, there are many blessings you receive from hanging in there. Hugs

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    1. Sandra, that's a good thought about God resting. :)

      I remember when you were caregiver for several of your family members. I also remember how blessed you were by it. Thanks for your support.

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  33. Hi Missy:

    What a great post! I don't think I've read one that I agreed with more or that rang more true with my own experiences.

    The most amazing eye-opening observation I experienced at my first several day writers' conference was seeing so many writers in one spot at one time. What was so amazing? As I looked around at everyone it was just as if I were in my wife's church. The same people were up there!

    These writers were not super-people born to be successful. These were normal people with a talent for persevering and working very hard to learn their craft and earn publication. No one found it easy.

    Everyone was also so very nice. At a lunch table with many writers, I could not tell which had published dozens of books and which were still unpublished.

    From your first book, I've always loved your voice the best. Now that I see what you had to sacrifice to write what you have I can understand how you get so much love in your works.

    I just loved the way your children did not want to part with you. That note needs to work its way into a romance. It would add a little reality to all those adorable kids.

    It reminds me of a dedication I read in a travel book that went something like this:

    "I'd like to dedicate this book to my husband who said I'd never get published and that I was wasting my time and to my mother who said I should be paying more attention to my family and not dreaming about faraway places. Proving you both wrong was all the motivation I ever needed."

    One other thing: never be worried about going to a writers' conference. The pessimists and unfriendly (unsociable) people don't go to these things.

    You also learn enough new stuff to make the event worth the money.

    No drawing. I have your first book. I believe it was the second Seeker book that I bought. It did a lot to sell me on Seekerville.

    Vince

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    1. Vince, I love your idea of including my daughter's note in a book!! I'll have to consider adding a small child to my next story. :) I wish I could share the most touching, loving, tear-inducing note she wrote to me this past mother's day. ON REAL PAPER no less! Wish I could include that in a story, too. :)

      That quote from the travel book is so funny! (And sad, too, because family support is so needed.)

      You're right about the people we see at conferences. Most are there to learn and meet other writers. And most are very excited about being there, which is inspiring! The keynote speeches usually fire me up for weeks. :)

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    2. VINCE LIKES YOU BEST

      Stinkin' brat!!!!!!!

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    3. But Vince, you are wrong about conference attendees... A wise woman seeks the happy people, the joyous, the open because there are a lot of less than happy people at conferences, just like anywhere.

      They might all like writing, but that doesn't mean they're all fresh off the cheerleading squad.

      And it's okay to like Missy best.

      :)

      She's a keeper.

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    4. LOL, Ruthy!!! I wish. But he actually likes my voice best over my other writing qualities! hahaha

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  34. Quoting you....God knows what we can handle, and of course enables us for that. Love that Missy....putting it on my desk!
    I worked in Church Admin. for 31 yrs. and every pastor's wife was a dear friend...I lift you up in prayer in that specific role. I have been a caregiver, and understand your big role there!
    Blessings on you and your family and writing...am anxiously waiting for your next book! I've read them all and loved them.

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    1. Jackie, you are so sweet to remember me in prayer. Bless you! I love my husband's coworkers at the church and call them friends. I'm sure you were a blessing to your church!

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  35. I brought pork chops and roasted asparagus and corn for dinner! And a chopped up fresh apple. Have y'all been enjoying the apples this fall? I sure have!

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    1. I'm still trying to absorb Vince's comment.... (SIGH.......)

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    2. LOL! I'm so glad you mis-read what he said. It gave me a big out loud guffaw. (if you're talking about liking me best) :)

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  36. I've never attended a writing conference, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to.

    Please enter my name in the drawing for your book.

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  37. Thank you, Missy - this was such an encouraging post! Although I'm late getting here, I'm so glad that I stopped by. Just what I needed to read.

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    1. I'm glad, Laura! And I'm glad you were able to drop by. :)

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  38. Missy, first of all, I love Moonlight and Magnolias. Along with RWA, it's one of two writing conferences I try to attend. I like talking to writers, finding out if they're plotters or pantsers, find out when they write, how they edit, I just like talking to other writers. And M&M is practically in my backyard :) I've been so fortunate. I've talked to writers from Australia, France, and Canada. I would also urge writers who attend conferences to volunteer if possible. It helps you meet people (and I am an introvert). One great thing is there are different sized conferences for people's comfort zones. I do plan on attending RWA2018 as well as M&M 2018.

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    1. Tanya, that's great advice to suggest people volunteer! I've done that many times in the past and had such a great time. Well, except for the first time-- when I introduced a speaker while the workshop was being recorded. That was pretty frightening. LOL

      Yeah, I'd definitely recommend trying smaller conferences first if anyone is anxious about attending.

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  39. I think that every one benefits from being with oeople who share their profession, no matter what it is. I always enjoyed attending library workshops and conferences to learn from and brainstorm with fellow librarians. There was never a time that I didn't return revived!
    Thanks for a great post and I would love a copy of your first book.
    Blessings!
    Connie

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    1. Connie, that's so true! I think getting together with like-minded people can be a great experience in any field. I'm so glad you got to enjoy librarian conference!

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  40. Missy, thank you so much for sharing your insight. I long to go to a conference one day. The key is definitely time. I went to She Speaks once but that was speaking and writing. I got there by declaring it and asking God to make the ends meet. He did. I'll see how my NaNoWriMo goes and pray about finding a conference near my new home in Michigan.
    PS - I would truly love a copy of your first book. It would be so neat seeing how you got your start!

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    1. Kelly, I hope you can find something nearby. Moving can be difficult with having to make new connections. But I've found writers everywhere I go. It amazes me how many people want to write books!

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  41. Hi Missy! I read your wonderful post fairly early this morning, then got interruptions and just realized I'd not posted a comment, LOL.
    Loved this post and your encouragement and tips. I really believe the conferences I've attended have helped me so much--not just in learning about writing, but the friendships with like-minded people have been amazing. So glad you were able to attend M&M this year---sounds like you needed a little time away, bless your heart. One of these years I hope to attend M&M!
    Thanks for sharing with us today.
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

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    1. Patti Jo, I sure hope you get to attend someday! We have a lot of fun and great workshops.

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  42. I can so relate. Being around other writers makes all the difference. I have been attending Write to Publish for over ten years. It's in a neighboring town which keeps the cost down. If not for WTP and entering a content there I would not be published today. I love my critique groups and meeting one on one with other writers. Over the years I've forged some wonderful friendships. Those friendships as so valuable when things get tough. Great article Missy. You inspire me.

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    1. Jubilee, I'm so glad you have your local conference and writer friends!

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  43. As another caregiver, I have been bombarded the last four years. Every time I get into a softer place, I get hit with something else. I started writing devotions due to time constructions. Writing is never wasted, even when it is not the type we dream of. I needed this encouragement. Thanks.

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    1. Niki, I'm glad you found encouragement. I'll pray for you.

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  44. So much wisdom here. I am glad you got away. I scrapbook with some women 1-2 times each year. It makes such a difference. I need the time away.
    Becky B

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    1. Becky B, scrapbooking sounds like so much fun!

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  45. Thank you for sharing Missy!

    I saved your image about assuming the best and showing grace. Need that today. Probably need it every day :)

    Have never been to a writer's conference but you have piqued my interest.

    Please do enter me in your drawing. A used print book would be great and I'd pass it on to my mom when I was done. She runs a free Christian lending library and the folks who patronize it can't afford new books.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  46. Missy, thank you for the post and reminder of the GRACE!!!
    I love conferences...they inspire, refresh, and lift you up!!! I am not a writer, but I'm in the committee who organizes conferences for Children Ministry. To share the Gospel, to inspire teachers and leaders, and to provide support - this is what keeps me going :)

    Thank you for the chance to win "Her Unlikely Family"! Blessings!

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