Category: No Eye Has Seen

WCCW Conference 2015 Reflections

Time to Be Brave and Embrace the Call to Write!


Attending a writer’s conference is one of those things difficult to transfer onto paper (or screen.) You really have to be there to understand the full experience. From making face-to-face connections with writers and mentors you only known via social media to making new contacts with fellow writers or published, yet unfamiliar authors—there are many benefits beyond simply listening to the keynote speaker and attending workshops.

For one, there are those “Divine appointments”. The random introduction or impromptu volunteer opportunity that connects you with someone you may not have otherwise met. After arriving early to volunteer, yet unable to help with heavy lifting due to my back acting up, I was assigned the duty of door “bouncer” in order to prevent attendees from saving seats prior to the completion of setting up the auditorium. The job came with the added bonus of meeting a published children’s book author, Janet Ann Collins. After a few moments of light pleasantries, I found out Janet lived in Grass Valley. I then shared a bit about my current historical fiction series—which takes place between the Grass Valley area and San Francisco.

This prompted her to share that her parents had lived in San Francisco in the late 1800s and early 1900s and that her father had not only told her dozens of stories of his life there, but had even made her memorize the details as a child! Over the next hour, she shared tidbits of the stories and invited me to visit her at her home the next time I was in the area doing research. I thought we would have more time to visit in between conference events, but we never did. This was indeed the one moment we had to connect during the entire weekend. I look forward to hearing her stories and using the relevant facts to bring more life to the No Eye Has Seen series.

Regardless of the other information and inspiration I received over the weekend, this moment confirmed that God had a purpose for me being there. Not that I ever doubted this, but I had not really considered my expectations at that point.

Expectations.

This brings me to a deeper reflection and the theme of the conference. When we choose to write, to move beyond our fears of rejection or being labeled as “different”—our expectations do not necessarily need to be specific. We only need to expect that God will deliver on His promise that if we “show up”, he will bless our efforts beyond any expectations we would see as reasonable.

The keynote speaker, Kathi Lipp, was not only entertaining, but also authentic in her message. The moment she had my full attention was not when she shared about her simple success (she didn’t), but when she realized her family was not perfect. Was she still worthy of writing a book on Christian parenting even when her children were not making the best choices?

Wow, this resonated big time! There have been times where I doubted my call to write due to the imperfect lives of my children or the state of flux within my marriage. I mean—who am I to try to help and encourage people when I am still figuring it out?

Won’t people call me a hypocrite or think my faith doesn’t work? <—Click to Tweet

What if others don’t actually struggle with the same things that I do? Will I be opening a door to temptation or leading others to think they can stray and that God will bring them back on the path in due time?

Whether I share my real life struggles or convert them into fictional people facing similar feelings even if the circumstances are different—my goal is the same. I want people to relate, but even more, I want to give them hope.

Then, during a “lightning talk”, Jeannette Hanscome put this concept into a simple phrase—that like a picture—is really worth a thousand words:

“What do you have to say to free someone else to say, ‘me too!’

Looking back through my life at all the challenges, the utter chaos, the messes and the catastrophes that left me discouraged, hopeless, and questioning everything—I ask “What if?”

What if I had gone to college instead of becoming a teen mom at 17?

What if my two youngest babies had not been in and out of hospitals the first few years of their lives?

What if my husband and I had decided on getting divorced at one of three points in our 21-year marriage where that seemed like the only option?

What if I had not experienced the symptoms of fibromyalgia or chronic pain/depression three years ago and as a result, we never moved to California for a fresh start?

There are a million more examples, but these ones in particular symbolize major turning points in my life that delayed my call to be a writer. Yet, the experiences have given me the opportunity to transfer the doubt, pain, and fear I felt into stories. My goal is to share them and provide hope while allowing readers to see they are not alone as they face similar situations.

But sometimes I am afraid—I doubt that I will make a difference. Don’t people just want warm and fuzzy fiction? Will readers be turned off by the drama, and the fact my characters don’t always make the right choice first?

These are the thoughts spinning in my mind as I scribble notes from the conference. Then, during the final session, Kathi Lipp reminds us of Three Truths Brave Writers Always Remember:

  1. The brave writer doesn’t fear feedback (meaning seeking correction during the writing process).

  2. Brave authors don’t fear “free” (as in giving stuff away to readers, reviewers, etc).

  3. Brave writers remember what God has already accomplished.

The first two are points I have come to accept in the past two years since joining a writer’s critique group and learning the process of book marketing.

However, the third one is a daily battle. I must make a conscious choice to remember what God has already done in my life—and that it is all for a purpose. He has me here for a reason, and he has a definite purpose for my current book series. My expectations are only in His purpose alone. Whether it is to reach 10 readers or 10,000—all that matters is that I am faithful and BRAVE in accepting the call to write.

He will make a way for others to read my work and say “Me too!” <—Click to Tweet

My part is to show up, be myself, and to tell my stories to the world.

What about you? Even if you are not a writer, is there something you feel led to accomplish, but fear is holding you back? Are there people who need to hear your story in order to feel they are not alone? Do you feel that perfection is a requirement before you can help others?

What has God already brought you through? How can you remember what He has accomplished in order to be brave enough to take the next step?

My Broken Hallelujah

My Broken Hallelujah

Broken Hallelujah, The Afters [VIDEO]

…this is a time of rapid acceleration and growth all for the purpose of God finding pleasure in me…He is confidant to transform and renew rest—to release my weariness. He wants me to dream— to live on the border of fantasy and believe…and he will push me into a deep place of receiving from His Spirit…

”God said…” will be enough.

God wants me to depend on His desire to see me blessed.

Logic will not lead to my inheritance.

—Words from the Lord during a “Soaking Session”, November 15, 2013



I came across these words, written in a spiral notebook that had since been placed in the “scrap school supply” pile on a bookshelf in my house. During our recent move, I flipped through the notebook to see if there was anything worth salvaging before I tossed it into a storage bin.

I had to read it several times.

Then, I tore it from the spiral binding and placed it securely in the pocket at the end of my journal. So much had happened since I wrote that. I remember feeling so tired and worn that evening I almost didn’t take the 30-minute drive out to my friend’s house. But I knew I needed it. I needed to soak in God’s presence. I needed to hear Him, feel His promise that there was a plan and that my current circumstances were not permanent.

There was nothing highly tragic about my life at that point. My life was full from dawn until midnight with what had become “normal” trials and challenges. It was all about survival, obligations, doing my best even when nothing in me felt like putting in even the slightest effort.

Continue reading “My Broken Hallelujah”

NO EYE HAS SEEN Character Insight: Lydia’s Favorite Things

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At nearly seventeen years of age, Lydia finds excitement in the little things as a means of surviving boredom. She observes the change in seasons, enjoys talking to the animals she tends, and to her mama’s frustration—day dreams far too often. Read on to learn about some details that are not fully revealed between the pages themselves and get an exclusive glimpse into the heart and mind of Lydia Sinclair… Continue reading “NO EYE HAS SEEN Character Insight: Lydia’s Favorite Things”

5 Things I’ve Learned as a NaNo Noob

NOOB

It was October 31 and the deadline for submitting my final draft to my publisher for No Eye Has Seen: Book 1 Beyond the Valley. During the previous week, I had psyched myself about finishing Book 1 and diving right into Book 2 by participating in National Novel Writing Month 2014. Last year, I signed up but that was about all. But this year, I felt I needed to follow through. I had no idea what to expect, but having joined a few writing communities online, I felt I would not be alone.

I made my final edits and emailed my manuscript about 11am. The kids were still in school and I figured I had about four hours to set up for #NaNoWriMo before the Halloween festivities began. I was already tired, but the coffee was on and I was determined to stay up until midnight and dive in right away.

I downloaded my free trial of @Scrivener after watching the promo video on YouTube. Then, I transferred what I had for Book 2– the first five chapters and a chapter-by-chapter summary/synopsis for the rest of it. In under two hours I managed to learn the program enough to apply my summaries to the virtual cork board. I would be subtracting the 9190 words I’d completed already making my minimum total word count goal for November roughly 60K words. Continue reading “5 Things I’ve Learned as a NaNo Noob”

Expendable to the World, but Never to God

About a week ago, I stood at my writing desk just before heading off to work and said this prayer… Lord Jesus, please help me to have more time and energy to write for Your glory. I just don’t understand why this calling to write can be so strong, yet I have nothing left to give you by the end of the week. I could give You so much more if my body and mind were not so overwhelmed after giving so much of myself to my job.

Has your call to write been put on hold due to life’s obligations? Have you been at a loss regarding what to get rid of in order to have more time to write? For years, I was okay with putting my writer’s life on hold. When my five children were younger and my husband ran a business, I believed God would open up the writing door somewhere in the future. I trusted He would guide me little by little into His perfect timing.

Over the past three years, the vision and passion I had to write for life has slowly happened. One baby step at a time, I have been able to integrate writing in the “in between” times. In between working a day job, managing our home, our finances, staying connected with my husband and children, and facing numerous health obstacles, I have somehow managed to complete many writing goals. I self-published a non-fiction book in a subject where there was a great need. Then, I revised and expanded a fiction novel 25 years in the making—pitched it to a publisher and got a contract!

When I stop to think of all God has enabled me to accomplish, I am amazed at His grace and mercy. So many times, I made excuses and gave into other activities besides writing. My life is exhausting even without the writing life in the picture. And some days, I am simply burned out and cannot fathom sitting at the keyboard.

However, the overwhelming urge…desire…need to write has pulled at me more than ever in recent weeks. Some mornings I wake up feeling inspired, ideas running through my mind on how to tweak a scene or add conflict to the plot in my WIP. Then I look at the clock and sigh. Time to shift my mind to other matters, like getting the kids off to school and heading to work.

By the time Saturday morning comes around, I have every intention of diving in and acting on all the inspirations from the past week. But I sleep a little later than I intended. My husband and I take a walk. I decide to filter through all the emails I could not get to during the week. Oh, yah, I might want to eat something before I isolate myself from family and enter the world of Lydia and Dylan and all things unseen. Eventually, I make it to the keyboard, forcing myself to ignore the fatigue, the brain resisting thinking of yet one more thing, the list of things I still did not get finished—laundry, connecting with a friend, checking the kids’ grades…

Oh LORD, I want to give you my all but this week has simply drained me. Please give me strength and focus to get through at least a couple of chapters.

Deep breath. Activate Pandora and the Chris Tomlin channel.

Ready…begin…Repeat week after week.

I’ve been telling myself that one day; God will allow me more time to write. I try to imagine how much more productive and creative I will be—how amazing my stories will be once I have the freedom to keep them at the forefront of my mind day after day.

I imagined that day would come a few years down the road. You know, when I have a few novels under my belt and I get that call from a major publishing house wanting to sign me on with a huge advance as their next greatest Christian Fiction Author (winky face).

But until then, I was okay with the current state of my life. I accepted it as the way things had to be for now. I would work unto the Lord at my day job, but not invest more of my time and energy than was necessary—saving my creativity and new ideas for my stories alone. When I felt inspired to write, I would not feel guilty about what else I should be doing. I believed God would provide the opportunity for me to write more in His perfect timing.

What I did not expect was for Him to provide it in an instant—nothing of my own doing whatsoever.

This past Wednesday, I drove to work planning on an extended workday to meet a deadline. It was a short workweek because of the holiday, so I had a little catching up to do—my goal was to get ahead and not need to work on Friday. I generally stay a few hours later than all the part-time employees do. About 1pm, I was gearing up for a productive afternoon when my boss asked me to come to her office once I was at a breaking point.

Less than an hour later, I was packing up the personal belongings from my desk. My employers had decided to “eliminate” my position due to financial constraints.

Wait…what?

I was officially unemployed after devoting nearly 2 ½ years to this company. Not even a chance to say good-bye to my co-workers or train those who were keeping their jobs to divide all my tasks.

The reality of this is still sinking in. I gave 110% of myself to that job–often prioritizing it over everything else in my life to become a vital asset. I never imagined I was so easily expendable. The financial hit is one matter–my feelings will require a different approach.

However, the truth is loud and clear—God answered my prayers and made a way for me to put my call as a writer first. So I will not let the temporary things or people of this world define me in any other way. I am NOT expendable to God!

Have you ever experienced an unexpected change that demonstrated God’s calling to write on your life? I’d love to hear about it in your comments below.