Monday, August 15, 2011

Finding Your Niche with Missy Tippens

Finding Your Niche (AKA: We Can’t All Grow Up to be as Funny as Mary Connealy)
By Missy Tippens

I recently received a newsletter from Mary Connealy. And once again, I totally cracked up, laughing out loud, making my family wonder about my sanity. All I could think was Why can’t I be that funny and entertain my readers like that?

Every time I read a Mary blog post or newsletter (and spew on the keyboard), or read a blog post or newsletter from another author I admire, I wish for…well, the impossible. Because:

I’m not funny Mary.
I’m not snarky Ruthy.
I’m not poised and calm Debby.
I’m not passionate Julie with her passionate readers (see her number of commenters every month!).
I’m not well read and up on things like Tina.
I can’t be one of those writers who pulls people in telling great stories about my family because I’m paranoid to talk much about my kids online.
I can’t share funny church stories because my husband is the pastor, and I don’t think it’s right to talk.
I can’t share amazing faith insights because I’m not comfortable being that personally vulnerable and open online. (I’ll talk away in person, though.)

I can’t try to be someone else or I’ll fall flat. So what can I do? What’s my “thing”? How can I reach readers and entertain them?

I have to try to be me. And hope it’s enough. (Yeah, I know. That’s the scary part.) I have to find my brand and stick with it.

I thought we’d take a little tour today to look at different websites/blogs, the ones that have stood out to me. Look for links highlighted. But please, you have to COME BACK to enter my giveaway. :) (Yes, I stoop to bribery.)

Of course, I mentioned Mary Connealy’s hilarious newsletter. (Mary, you do know that you’ll get a few subscribers from this post. No pressure, though.) ;) Mary’s just naturally funny. And I think what appeals to me is her self-deprecating humor. We can all imagine we’re in her shoes.

Another writer who totally cracks me up with her blog posts is Kimberly Stuart. Her books and blog make me want to have her as my friend. She’s funny and down to earth and talks about things that hit home with me.

Ruthy Logan Herne is great about engaging people by sharing her life on Facebook. I love to get glimpses of her home and puppies and childcare kids. You feel like you get to know her and that she wants to get to know you.

Talk about a fun and info-packed site with an amazing platform: The Pioneer Woman. I just saw Ree Drummond is going to have a new show on The Food Network. And she started out as a blogger!

Author Patti Lacy does something fun on Facebook. She shares what she calls Art Bites. She’ll share a piece of art and tell us about it. Very fun and interesting.

Talk about someone who’s found her niche and really honed in on it: Author Debbie Macomber! She’s actually become an empire. Her website stands out with information on knitting and with recipes.

Author Stephanie Bond has an excellent website, very easy to navigate and very professional. She has an MBA and is a former business owner as well as a programmer in the corporate world. She runs her writing business in the same way. So a visit to her website (and her how-to articles) is always interesting to me.

I also polled the Seekers to get some of their favorites (and found some that I’ve also loved):

Love Inspired author Shirlee McCoy’s wonderful blog shares about her life as a mother of five and about adopting children.

Author Cherry Adair’s website has all the bells and whistles and is definitely themed toward her suspense novels.

Two friends of Seekerville who have distinctive blogs are Keli Gwyn, with her Romance Writers on the Journey blog geared toward celebrating newly contracted and nearly contracted romance writers. And Pepper Basham whose Words Seasoned with Salt blog generously spotlights authors (with clever themes) and also includes words of inspiration in her thoughtful posts.

For fun, there’s a blog called Cake Wrecks where she showcases unusual and hilarious cakes.

Another for fun is Inky Girl who has a blog with cute cartoons for writers.

So you’ve visited some websites and blogs…and you came back!! Thank you! :)

 Did you see any (or maybe know of any others) that remind you of your own personality or writing? Did you get a feel for the type of sites that appeal to you as a reader, giving you clues of what you might like to focus on? This has actually been a good exercise for me! And has given me some ideas. I hope it has for you as well.

So now we ask:  What do I bring to the table??

If you don’t know, ask your friends to help. Ask them what makes your writing special? What makes you special?

And interesting to note: the word “niche” has origins with a word that means “make a nest.” So we need to find our place to nest!

And now I’ll ask YOU for help… What does a Missy book give you? What does a Missy post or comment give you? (Please tell me it gives you at least some little thing!!) :)

Please share something you discovered about your own niche today (or if you have any words of wisdom for my niche, I’d appreciate that input as well). I’m offering a copy of Debbie Macomber’s Knit Together: Discover God’s Pattern for your Life. Be sure to let me know you’d like to be entered in the drawing! Winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition.

Come hang out with Missy at her blog:


  1. I'm sorry my post went up late! I didn't realize the time. Was having fun adding more links!

    Oh, well. Lots of links. No photos. Hope you don't mind.

  2. Hi Missy:

    More than any other author I think your voice shows how much you love your reader. I would call this authenticity. I always feel most comfortable reading your books. I don’t think this is something you do. I think it is something you are. There is a natural, unhurried, richness to your writing that makes it unique. Your voice seems to speak not in words but in sincerity. It always seems that the wait for your next books is the longest wait of all.


    P.S. My words of wisdom: “Write in such a way that no one else could have written your story.”

  3. Well read and up on things? I love that I have you so fooled.

    So my niche is...

    Dabbler of All, Expert of None.

    Trying to think of a web page that celebrates that but I just keep coming up with a Mad Professor motif.

  4. Vince, thank you for your kind words! And yes, I really do love my readers. (I'm still just blown away that I even have readers!) Maybe I should try to focus my blog on that. Ways to thank them maybe? Ways to tell them what they mean to me?

    I'll be thinking on it!

  5. Hi Missy, dont enter me in this giveaway.
    You give abit of yourself with your post. I dont blame you for not wanting to share things online I to am careful with some things I share and where I share.
    I like your books they are warm and friendly and good stories. you can tell you feel for your characters in your writing style.

  6. I agree with Vince that your books show how invested you are in the story. Nothing hurried, nothing flat!
    And I like Camy Tang's Story Sensei, too!

  7. Tina, LOL on the mad professor. I'm picturing you with taped glasses and a pocket protector, hair sticking up all over :) I guess maybe I've gotten this image of you (not really as the nutty professor) from your serving up so much interesting info for us here on the weekend editions. You make me feel informed and up-to-date!

    You're the queen of mastering the internet and being in "the know."


  8. Virginia, thank you! Yes, that's one I forgot to include. Camy has an excellent site, and you can feel her fun personality on her blog.

  9. Jenny, thank you! And thank you for being a reader.

    You know, I'm probably too paranoid online. I should probably relax some about sharing of myself.

    My books often have a theme of wanting to be known or to belong. I should probably be more generous on my blog. It's tough, though, when so much of my life involves parenting (and I won't share my kids' stuff online).

    Oh, well. I'll eventually figure it out. :)

  10. Vince, you've got my brain clicking. Authenticity. How can I focus on that on my own blog and in my newsletters?

    Practical things where I share the good and the things that go wrong, maybe? (like the time I shared a b-day cake flop) :)

    I'd love any suggestions.

  11. Missy I can understand the protective side you are wise. I have to say I use to go to so many blogs now I have about 5 main ones I visit and almost all are group blogs with the exception being Kaye Darcus. she has a different theme for each day.
    I do love craftie ladies of romance to and the way they do there site only I then want the books they post about.
    Goodreads is a great way to mix with readers. The LIH board is really active and not just about Historical books. but Camy started one recently there and its fun. There may not be alot posting but its a good way for authors and readers to mix.
    Oh on Julie I know what you mean she came to my blog and I have over 100 comments. the next highest was 47 again a Julie interview!

  12. Missy, I think you're wonderful just the way you are. =)

    Thanks for including the mention of my blog. I feel it's only right to tell you that after a wonderful three years, I'm actually posting my final interview at the end of this month. I'll still be blogging on my personal blog, but now that I'm living with deadlines, I felt I could no longer do justice to my guests at Romance Writers on the Journey. The blog will remain archived with the interviews of my many awesome guests, including a number of Seekers.

  13. Missy, it was interesting how many of the blogs/sites you mention I love. I can't remember how I discovered Pioneer Woman but she, like Mary, has this way of writing that cracks me up.

    Having been in the church biz, I totally understand and respect your decision not to tell stories. It speaks volumes about your integrity. But it is a culture that makes it hard to know what and how to share. I bet if you put yourself out there, you would know just where to draw the line.

    As you said, your stories are about belonging and that is what got me hooked on your writing. You bring that to every post you write, a welcoming presence in a often unwelcoming world.

    And we share the love of a certain university! Talk about niches!

    Peace, Julie

  14. Missy, your books make me feel like I could curl up on the porch with you, drinking diet tea or sipping morning coffee, and gaze out at the town while we reminisce about what each person's doing as they go about their day. (which makes us a pair of old gossips, but I don't care)

    Your work is that charming, embracing and evocative. And I think what Vince said way more nicely than me is that you should WRITE FASTER.

    But then Vince is waaaaay nicer than I am, so of course he'd say it sweetly. ;)

    But Vince brought no food, so I'm dropping off fritatta, Texas Toast, homemade jam, fresh butter, juice and COFFEE!!!! OH MYLANTA, I DIDN'T GET MY MID-DAY COFFEE YESTERDAY AND IT 'BOUT NEAR KILLED ME....

    But then my beautiful niece/goddaughter stopped by with her cute hubby and two lovely daughters and I got amazingly better.


  15. Missy,
    I agree with "authenticity." You share a part of yourself in your blogs, your website, your comments and books. And it's always real. I appreciate that very much.

    Thanks for the links to some great sites!

  16. Jenny, thanks for reminding me about Goodreads. It is a good place to meet up with readers that's easy and not so "putting myself out there" as keeping a blog.

  17. Keli, I hate to hear about your blog. But I totally understand. It truly is time consuming. And deadlines now have to come first! :)

  18. Hey Missy,

    I enjoyed the blog tour. Hadn't visited most of them. I think I could be a professional blog hopper if I didn't have to work for a living!

    RE: the Pioneer Woman...has anyone tried that frosting for the red velvet cake? Flour in a frosting???? And regular sugar???? I might just have to brave and try it sometime.

    Missy, when I think of you I think of gracious Southern charm. Very welcoming...and serene. Are you a serene person? Because that's the cyber-vibe I get. Unflappable. :-)

  19. Julie, thank you. Y'all are really giving me a boost today! I always feel like my personal blog is such an unfocused bore. I was hoping to get some good ideas on what to do with it, and you've all been a big help!

    As for our love of a certain son will be graduating in May!! Yikes! Where did the time go?? We'll have to see if my middle child decides to apply there as well. He's a junior this year. :)

  20. Ruthy, you just need to head on down here and sit on the porch with me. Or better yet, the back deck. Much more comfy if not as interesting. :)

    Thanks for bringing breakfast! I totally forgot my hostess duties!!

    So how many cups a day do you have? I only have one in the morning. But every now and then crave another in the evening. Need to order a box of decaff for my Keurig!

  21. Edwina, thank you. And thanks for sticking with me and checking out the site links!

  22. Kav, I haven't seen that recipe! And I've never tried frosting made with regular sugar and flour. I've usually done those with powdered sugar. Will certainly try it!

    Unflappable. I like that! I guess in a way, I am. But inside I'm usually a mess! I just try not to let it show. LOL Of course, the good thing about being online is you have time to react and think through your response. Oh, and use those delete and backspace buttons! I'm good at that. :)

  23. Missy,

    I think Vince beat us all to the punch and summed up your niche perfectly. I agree with authenticity, and I'll add warmth. There's a sense of home and belonging in all your writing.

    I've been trying to define my niche, as well, as I'm working to develop a website. Friends and family have given me some great feedback, so the wheels are in motion.


  24. What about y'all?? Do you feel your blog or website represents who you are? Tell us about it and we'll check it out!

  25. Kirsten,

    You were one step ahead of me and already asked for help. You'll have to let us know when you get it up and running! We'd love to check it out. I have a feeling it'll have to do something with history and research?? :)

  26. Hmmm...You know me too well, Missy. :o)

  27. Kirsten, I think that would make a great site! :) I can't wait to see it!!

  28. Morning Missy, Oh how I can relate to what you are saying. It is a blessing to be surrounded by such talented personalities, but so easy to wonder how you fit in. I've wondered that myself on so many occasions. LOL

    But then God comes along and shows me how I've helped someone or blessed someone and then I know we all have our own gifts.

    When I think of you I think of family and as Kav mentioned, Southern charm. The fact you don't mention family shows how you love and protect them. And as a pastor's wife you do show integrity (as Julie mentioned). I'd feel comfortable sharing my deepest feelings with you because I know they would be honored and private.

    And Vince nailed it with authenticity.

    And if Ruthy gets to sit on your porch I want to also. Please, purty please. My mom used to say "Let's chair awhile" She said that was a Southern expression to sit on the porch and visit. Oh I can so picture doing that.

    Thanks for reminding us we all have our own blessed gifts.

  29. Missy, this post shows how 'relatable' you are. (Is that a real word? Not sure.) And it's easy to relate to your stories, too. Not all of us (me for example) can be funny like Mary or outgoing like Ruthy. We're not supposed to be.

    My niche is Gilded Age romantic fantasy.(All romance stories are fantasy!).

  30. Sandra, I love that! "Let's chair a while." I've never heard that expression! :)

    You know, I should probably be honest and admit I only have a small wrought iron set on the porch! Nothing comfy like I write about in my books. :)

  31. Cara, I love how your books make me feel like I'm part of this glamourous world! You do such a great job with all the little details.

    I love the fantasy of feeling rich and glamourous! So thank you for that.

  32. That's okay. If your chairs were too comfy we'd sit out there too long and not get any writing done. smile

  33. Oh Missy,
    You are so sweet! Thanks for mentioning my blog (which has been kind of slow going lately - but I see a glimmer of light at the end of the semester. hopefully it's not an oncoming train ;-)

    I like your books because they are endearing.

    And my niche?
    Gee, I've been trying to figure that out for years.
    I think I'll steal Tina's. :-)

  34. Ooo, what about 'writer of fiction with an accent' :-) That covers all sorts of genres and ensures people that they'll be a :-)

    Btw, Missy - we're featuring some very important pictures of the Seekers over at The Writers Alley today - from last year's ACFW!!! WOOHOOOO!
    And I gave Ruthy a BIG TIME shout out to prepare her for stalking in St. Louis.

  35. Pepper, I really think you could focus on writing your inspirational thoughts and your devotional type posts. You have such depth and insight. And that would fit with whatever type book you want to write if you're still playing with different genres.

    I love the idea of fiction with an accent! :)

    Am heading to the Writers Alley now!

  36. I like that idea, Missy. Now if I can only plan for more of those 'inspired' moments.

  37. LOL, Pepper. You mean you don't have them every single day??!! ;)

  38. I probably do - but then I either run out of time to write them down, or forget them by the time that I do

    You know...all those distractions :-)

    But, I will say I had a GREAT one this morning. My youngest daughter, Phoebe, really wanted to get something from Wal-Mart and I told her we couldn't. She said "That's okay. God makes me happy anyway."
    And she meant it.
    OH man, I need to remind myself of that EVERY SECOND!

  39. Kav, I make that frosting often. It's wonderful. A whipped cream consistency and I got the recipe years ago from Dave's Aunt Bea... Who is still making banana cake with this frosting for the big family reunion each July and she's seeing 90 eye-to-eye. Great gal.

    Missy, I agree, finding a niche is important. I'm a puppy. I like people, I kiss up big time, and I love to share myself.

    AND I LIKE TO FIX THINGS. Which is why I had to discipline myself to stretch out conflict because my mommy-urge is to fix, fix, fix.

    Can't do that in a book. Not quickly, anyway.

    And I love sharing vignettes of life at Ruthy's Place because my website is more formal. More information-stocked. At Ruthy's Place and on facebook, I can play. Be me. Chat it up with folks. I love that.

  40. Oh, man. Change of location. We're going to sit on MY porch. On the swings. Or the rockers. And since Jon chased the bat away from the roof, it's all good. ;)

    (Missy, it's okay to pretend that your website porch is where we'll sit. You get that, don't you, honey????)

    Grabbing tea and running before she smacks me.

  41. Missy, you are Southern sweetness, and as others said, authenticity, personified. And your books show that. I am glad to say I know you. :-)

    Hmmm. What is my niche? I realized a year or so ago that I hate to blog. Yikes. Right after I agreed to be on a group blog with other YA writers, and I ended up leaving them high and dry, unfortunately.

    I really just want to write fiction. Specifically, historical romances that encourage young women to be strong and confident in God. Historical romance is definitely my thing. I want to show romance the way God intended it, and through that, to show how much God loves us.

    That's all I got today, my kids' first day of school. I'm nervous for them. Please say a teensy prayer that they both have a great day. At school. With mean people. And scary teachers. And that I won't drive to school and lie and say they have a dentist appointment just so I can see them. Yes, I am that neurotic parent. Who is, at this very moment, near tears.

    Neurotic. I told you.

  42. Good morning, Missy. Love your books! And the idea of using your blog to bless your readers. Thanks for the links!

    I'm amazed your son will graduate this year! Wow!

    Keli, your Romance Writers on the Journey blog blessed debut authors. You certainly blessed me. Thank you! Wish I didn't have to wait so long to read your book. But the way time flies, it'll be on the shelves before I know it.

    Jenny, Goodreads is a terrific place for writers and readers to get acquainted. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Vince, I agree with everything you said about Missy's writing. Thanks for the P.S. A huge challenge.


  43. Pepper, that's so precious!!

    Ruthy, I do like to pretend the photo is real! Of course, in my newsletter, I sent out a real photo of my porch. Always too honest! :)

  44. Oh, Melanie, I feel your pain! I was like that last week as my youngest started high school and was sick!

    I'll be praying they have a great day, and that you can manage, too!

  45. Janet, with your books, I carry those characters with me long after the books ends. I can still hear their voices!! That's such a gift. I wonder if you could somehow tap into that for a website or blog??

  46. Missy,

    I read "His Forever Love" earlier this summer and here's what it gave me: characters who were so well drawn and likable that I wanted to meet every single one of them. Yet they had believable faults and weaknesses. I especially loved the hero. I have a soft spot for geeky heroes, and I wish we saw more of them.

    Just keep doing what you're doing.

    I would love to win a copy of "Knit Together;" I read a library copy last year, but I don't own it.

    melaniej_evans AT yahoo DOT com

  47. Before I get to Missy - Further confirmation that Pepper and I are two peas in a pod [trust me, ya'll, you really don't want to know all the other indications we've had]. The whole 'there's a light at the end of the tunnel!' 'hope it's not a train!' thing - I'm the only one I know who says that.

    Except Pepper.

    And she's about the only one who would get why Halibutshaw was funny. Even in the context of the conversation, no one else would ;).

    Okay - so Missy...

    Personally, I think you're intuitive.

    You posted several months ago about finding your voice, and I'd posted that day about some Seeker books jumping in my cart. You posted back that my voice is humor. Or something to that affect.

    If I could claim to be Mary funny, I'd be giddy.

    But I can't.

    But since you posted that, I've started and almost finished a rom com. It does still need funny punched up in a few places and a character who's prominent in the first chapter disappears after that and I need to toss a couple mentions in, but hopefully, this next go through is the final one with anything resembling substantive edits [at least until it sells ;)].

    Honestly, I don't know that I would have tried it without your encouragement, but the feedback I'm getting on it from friends and critique partners is really, really good.

    So thank you :D.

    No need to enter me in the drawing, but as I'm sure most of you have heard [it was on the main loop], keep Debbie and her family in your prayers. They found her son dead Thursday.

  48. Oh my goodness, Carol
    I had no idea about Debbie Macomber's son.
    How very sad.
    Will be praying!

  49. Melanie,
    Gotta pic up at The Alley ;-)

  50. Melanie E., thank you! I just loved writing my geeky hero! :)

    I've got you entered!

  51. Carol, I often picked up on your humor and really saw it on your blog. I'm so glad you're enjoying it in your story!! I can't wait to hear how submissions go. :)

    Yes, I had heard about Debbie's son. So very, very sad. I've been praying for the family.


    "I can’t share amazing faith insights because I’m not comfortable being that personally vulnerable and open online."

    That's the difference between you and me, Missy, I'm VERY comfortable making a fool of myself online, spilling my guts and exposing my foibles, and yet like Vince and others have said -- you STILL come across as authentic without being point-blank open. HARD to do!!

    When I think of you and your niche, I would say "Sweet Southern Surprise," because you have such a Southern charm and hospitality about you steeped in honestly and authenticity and yet ... YOU ... more than other Seeker shock me into laughter or tears at times with the things that you say and do, totally catching me off-guard!!

    You do the same thing in your books, too -- charm the reader with authentic stories with small-town feel and heart, then surprise them with a sudden jerk of the heart or a prick of tears. LOVE your work, my friend ... AND this blog!!


  53. Thanks, Missy :D. Have had a blast writing it [though not as much editing but you know... Sorry, Julie ;)]. Have two more plotted in this series and am working to plot out another 3 rom coms :D.

    Now to see if I can pull them off... ;)

  54. I think I've found a niche, but I'm not sure what you'd call it...

    In my non-fiction writing, I've been told that I'm encouraging and convicting. I'd like those same qualities to show through in my fiction writing, but so far I feel like the learning curve is going too fast to look at anything else!

    But Missy, I'd call your niche a "come along with me, sit yourself down, have some tea and we'll chat" kind of niche. You come across as a listener - which is really hard to do in print, don't you think?

    If I bring some lemon bars, can I join y'all on that northern/southern porch? Just save a comfy chair for me!

    Please enter me in the drawing!

  55. Missy I appreciate your post about finding your niche. I'm in the process of discovering that I think:) I love to write historical romance but also indulge in telling stories about growing up on a farm in a Northern Pioneering community. People seem to love those stories as trying to think of ways to combine those things I love:)
    By the way Missy...I love your books. You have a way of making me as a reader feel relaxed and that I'm part of the small community that you are creating.(I feel the same way when I read Debbie Macomber's books).
    thanks for links to other author's to see what other's are up to:)


    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  56. Oh, Missy, you really touched a chord with me today! How hard it can be some days to keep the envy in check!

    (And you certainly named some of my most envied authors!)

    But you're so right about finding our own niche. I need to be the "me" God created and just do my best at it.

    And let me add my thanks as well to Keli for her great blog, "Romance Writers on the Journey." You've encouraged so many writers as your guests have shared their stories. I'm proud to be one of them!

  57. I'm using my iPhone so can't talk much...

    Missy, you, your books, and your website all say the same thing to me...
    Graceful Southern Hospitality

  58. Great post, Missy. I enjoyed discovering some sites I haven't visited before. I could sooo relate to your feelings about blogging and putting yourself out there. Nice to know I'm not the only one. :) "Genuine" is the first word that pops into my head when I think of you. I hope your head will still fit out your office door after reading today's posts...big grin

  59. Missy, you so have to print these comments out and read them often or frame them :) I agree with everyone. Even though you may not share life's most intimate details you still come across as open, warm, and friendly. :)

  60. Home. Excited. Decompressing. Assimilating. Being Mom. I'll fill you all in about the conference once the crazies settle. Need prayer for my family, please. Rough stuff.

  61. Hi Missy! Just waving hello in the midst of a busy day. Congrats on your success. Yes, there's no getting past that vulnerable feeling when we put ourselves out there. Thanks for the great links!

  62. I'm back! I've been dealing with financial aid stuff. Gotta get those bills paid before school starts back!

    Also on hold for FOREVER at a doctor's office!

  63. Missy, I love that you hear my characters' voices after you're finished with the book. Just as long as they don't keep you up at night. LOL Not sure how to tap into that for my blog. Maybe I could write the post using a character's voice. Or trying to. Interesting idea.

    Pepper, your blog inspires me. Love it!

    Melanie, prayed for your children. Hope they have a wonderful first day of school.

    I'm saddened by the death of Debbie Macomber's son. Been praying for her family. Prayed for yours, Linnette.


  64. Gosh, y'all are being so nice to me today! I promise I wasn't fishing!! :)

    Ruthy's for sure going to come make fun of me. ;)

  65. Julie, you're such a sweetheart. And always know just what to say! Yes, you have a way with words. You should be a writer or something. ;)

    We all love to read how you do it in your books!!

  66. BTW, Jules, I hope everyone has noticed your amazing new photos!!

  67. Janet,
    Thank you. Really, truly!

  68. 66 comments later...

    I tried to comment earlier, right after you posted, Missy, but my network was acting up.

    I share a lot, nearly all of your issues, re: putting my personality into my blog. I have a heart for sharing good books and publishing industry information, especially promoting debut authors. I hope those two things come across.

    But I have been mulling over how to interject more of me into my blog. I even asked my blog readers, but I didn't get much input. So I continue to mull...

  69. Jan,

    I think you can definitely do that in your stories! Hurting, flawed characters will struggle, will feel God's conviction, and will grow. The reader will be encouraged that if your flawed characters can make it, then so can they.

    You could focus your online presence on being an encourager. And maybe form a relationship with your readers where you offer some type of helping hold each other accountable? I'm just thinking "out loud." :)

  70. Lorna, that sounds like such a unique niche! I think you can do a lot with those combined. I can picture a very cool website design and lots of interesting articles on there. Lots of cool photos. Sounds very exciting!

    Thanks so much for your kind words.

  71. Myra, I'm glad you understand! Yes, it's hard not to be envious. But then I imagine trying to send out a funny newsletter like Mary's and having my readers think I've lost my marbles (and not even cracking a smile as they think it!). :)

  72. Thanks, Anita Mae! I loved the photo I found for my blog and website. I think they convey just what I wanted. Now if I can just get the right content! :)

    I think you've done a great job on your blogs.

  73. LOL, Sandra O.! I'm just waiting for Ruthy to appear and cut me down to size. So never fear. ;)

    BTW, I love your new blog!! Y'all need to stop by. She just kicked it off with a fun post about her dog. :)

  74. Thanks so much, Eva Maria. Maybe I'll be able to make myself be freer with sharing. :)

  75. Linnette, welcome home. And we'll be praying.

  76. Christine, thanks for stopping by!

    Janet, I think doing character interviews on your blog would work really well!

  77. Patricia, I'm with you. I've been mulling for several years now! :)

    I think the main thing is to actually offer something to readers. And you do that. Mine...not so much. I need to work on that!

  78. Hi Missy!

    Hmmm... I can't help but be the Who God made me: mom to two teen sons with the heart of a romantic who gets all riled up with the state of affairs in our world today!

    Ha! At this stage of my game I feel as if I'm a piece of wood, being chipped at one sliver at a time so the real me comes through!

    And you are dear, and sweet, and sincere. That's what shines through in your books to me.

    Loved your post!

  79. Hi Missy:

    I think ‘authenticity’ is not something a person does but is rather all those things a person refrains from doing. The inauthentic person adds the wrong things, is affected, puts on airs, and often tries to be someone of something he or she is not.

    It is easier to write faster if you write inauthentically because you can use shortcuts and avoid saying things in the way you would have otherwise allowed them to flow naturally (if less quickly) from your heart.

    (Please note: Writers who write at high speed by free association can also be authentic. It’s who they are.)

    I would never suggest that you write faster; however, I would be in favor of you having more time in a day to write. (That may be a husband’s job).

    I also think it is a good idea for an author to have a private life. It gives more of the author to the reader and less those other people. It can also be a little distracting, even alienating (i.e., pulling one out of the story), if story characters and events are too similar to the author’s family (and you know about it). You have to balance the enjoyment of having ‘insider’ knowledge with the annoyance of being reminded you are reading a story. There are pros and cons here.

    About a website:

    I like the Five Scribes because those ladies are like philosophers. They just get right down to business and fire away!


    P.S. I’m hoping to hear you on the radio. How about a plug for that?

  80. Pamela, that can be a great platform! Especially if you're comfortable with that.

    Part of my problem is that so much of my time is spent being a mom, and then I shy away from talking too much about them. And gosh, when I do, they tell me I got it all wrong! LOL They accuse me of exaggerating. ;) But isn't that just storytelling?? hehe

  81. Oh my stars, all we need now is a pan-handler's cup for this gal.




    Oh my stars, I ain't seen this much sugar since stockpilin' in the second World War. Now that was some sugar, sugah!

    And all this attention and YOU DIDN'T EVEN BRING YOUR OWN FOOD.

    Or the porch, for that matter.

    Good heavens. Gracious sakes.

    I'm downing a new glass of diet tea and contemplating how you got all these good people riled up 'nuf to tell you how wonderful you are.

    I might have just thrown up. Just a little. A smidge.




  82. Vince, thank you for reminding me of Five Scribes! (Sorry I didn't mention it, Audra!) :)

    As for the radio interview, I'm scared to even mention it because I get so nervous! :) But for anyone interested, there's a link in yesterday's Weekend Edition.

    A local radio station has just switched over to being a totally Faith based radio station, and I'm going to be on one of the shows on Wednesday morning. She's not going to focus so much on my writing this time as church life and being a pastor's wife. I'd appreciate prayers for the right words to say! Although, the Dottie Coffman show is always fun. Dottie is an excellent interviewer.

  83. Hi Missy....I can totally relate to the pastor's wife hubby is a pastor, too. You really do have to be cautious about what you say, how you say it, and to whom you say it to! Especially in a small town like the one I live in! : ) I think it has helped me to develop my character, though, to be in this situation...I've learned to be more thoughtful about what I say and pray (a lot) for wisdom. The hubby also intentionally doesn't share much of what's going on with me...I can be free to claim that I had no clue about what was going on with so-and-so : ). My niche...hmmm...I'm so all over the place. I love humor because I love to laugh and have fun (I love the P-Dub). At one time I think I was kind of funny, but now I think it just comes in random spurts! I love to blog, share about crafting, homeschooling, and cooking. I also love real, true, complicated, British love stories...Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre are two of my favs. See...I'm all over the place! I'm also pregnant, too, so I'm really off the charts. I've enjoyed reading your comments on here and I hope to read one of your books in the near future! Blessings~Stacey

  84. Thanks for the great links; love your post today! Several commenters have said EXACTLY what I would say about you, Missy. Your sincerity stands out to me; I can tell you are the perfect Pastor's wife. (can you tell I worked 31 yrs. in church office?), and your writing does show you love your readers. Stay just as you are! Enter me in the drawing, please.

  85. This is something I talked about this last weekend--niche, authenticity and having your blog reflect who you are. As I scrolled through the comments, one thing I noticed was people simply loving who YOU are. That's made me stop and really think about your niche being you. It works for lots of us and I'd wager a dozen chocolate chip cookies it works for you more than you think. =]

    Another common thread throughout the comments seemed to be unhurried and sincere. Interestingly enough, the picture in your header ties in to those beautifully.

    Sometimes being authentic online can feel like you're living in a goldfish bowl, but you can be authentic and share life without specifics. I think your niche is just being yourself and letting bits and pieces of you and your life (without specifics when they aren't yours to share) flow over on your blog. Life with Missy sounds like you're already doing it. =]

    Sorry--I'll get off my soapbox and put these cookies on the porch with the lemon bars.

  86. Oh, Ruthy, I'm so sorry I didn't bring food!! So it's okay to hold out your tin cup if you provide sweet tea and a rocking chair??


    (Okay, y'all, I'll send you your payments as soon as Ruthy isn't looking.)

  87. Stacey, I'm writing a pregnant character right now, and her emotions are all over the place! :)

    You sound like you have a ton to offer!! I think readers love all the things you mentioned--homeschooling, cooking, and crafts. And with being able to do different pages on Blogger now, you can hit all those topics. :)

    Thanks for understanding the pastor's wife thing. :)

  88. Missy, because you are so otherly-focused, I KNOW you're probably cringing at all the compliments but they are so well deserved and so well-said.

    Talking with you is like drinking sweet southern tea. You are warm and sweet and just what we need in the moment.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been hurting or discouraged and so overwhelmed and busy, too busy to even reach out and ask for prayer. Yet here comes a message from you in my Inbox saying I'm on your mind.

    You are a TRULY caring person. I know that when you say you're going to pray for me, you really dig in and do.

    I think your niche is, as Vince and others said, who you are. Southern hospitality. Genuine care for others. True integrity. You have the most empathetic heart of anyone I know and that comes through your books to brush the souls of your readers.

    Thanks for the great post!

  89. Jackie and Patty, thank you! (and yes, your payments are in the mail, too). ;)

    You've all really given me a boost today. And have made me stretch my brain to look for ways make my blog and newsletter work.

    Gosh, I think it's time for a new newsletter! Gotta get busy!

  90. I can so relate, Missy! But your lovely personality shines right through. Just keep on keeping on. You're doing great.

    SO sad about Debbie MacComber's son. Suicide is such a difficult situation. Praying the family can find peace.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  91. Cheryl, bless you. Thank you for taking the time to comment when I know you have so much going on with your family right now.

    By the way, you're another one who is great on Facebook about sharing yourself! Such fun posts that really show your bubbly, happy personality. And almost always make me laugh or smile. :)

  92. Aww! Thanks, Missy. I think mostly my blonde-ness shows through but hey, whatever gives people a smile for the day, right? LOL!

    So sad about DM's son. I hadn't heard about it until reading the comments.


  93. I'm about to fire up the grill in a little while! I'm serving pork chops if anyone is hungry. :)

  94. I don't think of Tina as well read and up on things, Missy.

    I think of her as a force of nature. Wisdom personified. Powerful and a little scary.

    If I disobey her.

    But I'm too afraid so I'm good and there's nothing to fear.

    That's a slighly more fair desciption.

    Wait, I'd better get her permission to post this!!!

    We don't want her to be angry!

  95. You really think Ruthy is sharing a slice of her life?

    You mean she's not making all that up?

    I'm pretty sure she lives in a condo in Chicago...with one hairless cat. That's just who she seems like to me........


  96. Thanks for the prayers! Please keep them coming.

  97. BTW, my kids had a great first day at school! Grace said, "Mom, you were more nervous than I was!" Needless worry. Let that be a lesson to me.

    Thanks, Missy, and whoever else prayed for them! Y'all are sweet. No wonder I come here every day! :-) Well, that, and I have no life.


  98. Mary, really and truly, I think you owe me a new computer screen. I'm forever spitting on it as I burst out laughing!

    Ruthy and her hairless cat...OMGosh!! You're just too funny.

    Ruthy, by any chance is his name Mr. Bigglesworth? :)

  99. Mary, I think maybe you're right about Tina. I like that. A force of nature. I can picture the website with a photo of lightning arching through the sky. :)

  100. Hairless cat?



    Oh my stars, the condo sounds good. Are there snakes in the basement? Bats in the vents? Wasps everywhere? Small, grayish-brown rodents furtively examining every nook and cranny for the easiest access?

    BUT I HAVE MORE DELIGHTFUL FROGS, TOADS, TREE TOADS, BIRDS, CRICKETS AND CICADAS AND KATYDIDS than just about anybody on the planet, so I'm in my glory.

    Um, Mary. Since you've been GONE for like EVER.... Hush.

    Just hush.

    No one (finger wagging furiously in your direction) wants your sass. Unless you brought cake. If you brought cake, all is forgiven.

    And is the stroke Missy party over? Or at least almost over????

    And the truth is she made me come and insult her. Yes she did. Y'all were embarrassing her with bein' so nice to her an' all, and I said"


    And she said, 'please...'

    Now no one on the planet can turn down Missy Tippens when she says please. I mean, really, who could say 'no' to her?

    No one.

    I brought fudge. We were out looking at wood stoves tonight, and they had fresh fudge. Did you ever wonder why all fudge is advertised as 'fresh'... Like who would put up a sign that reads: "Old Fudge" or "Stale Fudge"

    But it's delicious. So their sign was accurate!

  101. Hey Missy! I'm getting on my computer LATE today (we moved our Son back to college...sigh...)but I knew visiting Seekerville would end my tiring day on a happy note. LOVED your post, and appreciate your sharing all those links! (I'm a regular Keli Gwyn blog follower---when she interviewed me on her blog back in May that made me feel so SPECIAL!). ~ I think your writing is great (not only your books but also your blog postings) and you seem to have such a sweet nature. Your blog style of writing is "down to earth" and easy to follow. ~ Thank you for being so open today, as I think most of us (if not all) can identify with comparing ourselves with (or longing to be more like) other writers. ~ Thank you again for sharing, and I cannot wait to see you in St. Louis! (you ARE going, right?!). Hugs, Patti Jo :)
    p.s. No need to enter me in the drawing, as I already have the KNIT TOGETHER book! ;)

  102. Ruthy, I am a little jealous of all your critters. It gives you wonderful things to post about on FB! :)

    We get scorpions in our house. I need to share that with y'all sometime. :)

    LOL on the stale fudge vs fresh fudge! You're so right. Isn't it funny how we always use certain phrases that make no sense. :)

  103. Patti Jo,

    Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the links.

    Sorry to hear about having to take your son back to school. That's always so difficult! This year, my son stayed and worked in NC, so he was never home at all except for vacation. It's hard to let go.

  104. Cheryl, the pork chops turned out pretty good! Just put barbecue sauce on them. Then we had green beans and mashed potatoes.

    If y'all haven't tried them yet, you need to try the already prepared Bob Evans mashed potatoes (in the refrigerator section). They're amazing. I don't think I've made fresh ones in over a year! The kids like these better. :)

  105. I just have to tell you guys that it was only 80 degrees here this afternoon! That is a cold front, people. It was so stinkin' pleasant. Very much like Missy Tippens's personality. A pleasant breeze in the midst of summer.


    I've had several reminders to day that I will miss you all so much this September. Have fun without me at ACFW this year. Excuse me while I go sob in the corner. But I'll get over it.

  106. Missy, your identity is all over your website, starting with the banner featuring a gorgeous, homey, inviting porch. That is pure Missy Tippens!

    I think I mix my own life in my blog, my website and my books. I live the Colorado life and really, I don't think I know any other way to express myself.

    I loved all the links you gave and all the examples. What a fun day!

  107. Melanie, I know!! On both counts. The cool front was amazing yesterday.

    And I'll be sobbing in a corner with you. I won't be at ACFW this year either. Maybe we should meet somewhere at the AL-GA border and pout together. :)

  108. Audra, your brand is definitely all you! You do a great job of it because you do live it. :)