Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DO-OVERS AND CLOWN NOSES … with Critique/Book Giveaway!!!

Yeah, yeah, I know—you’re scratching your head right now, thinking: okay, she’s finally flipped over the “edge” (pun intended). But wait—I actually have a method to my madness, both with the blessing of “do-overs” and “clown noses” and the connection between the two, so bear with me, please.

You see, I had the privilege and pleasure of co-teaching a writer’s workshop a few weeks ago with a very dear friend, Patti Lacy. Now if any of you have ever met Patti, you know she is an incredibly talented, sweet, laid-back ex-teacher turned author who, during a brief mental lapse, invited me (an over-caffeinated drama queen) to co-teach a fiction workshop with her at the Green Lake Writer’s Conference. Regrettably, Patti couldn’t be here with me today because she’s been traumatized by the twelve stacks of hand-outs I brought to the class (yes, there were actually twelve!) and is currently in rehab.

Seriously, we had a blast and between Patti and her wonderfully relaxed attitude and another author/speaker/humorist, Mary Pierce (also known as “the Laugh Lady and one of the funniest human beings I’ve met besides Mary Connealy), I came away learning WAY more at that conference than any of the students I taught.

What did I learn, you ask? Well, despite my intense anality (and yes, it is a word, created just for me, I think), I learned to take a deep breath and not to take things SO seriously, a lesson taught VERY well by both the laid-back Ms. Lacy and humorist Mary Pierce, who actually made us where clown noses. Yes, you heard me. But as stupid as I felt, it worked—easing the tension in my neck when we all looked around the room and laughed at each other. In fact, it tickled me so much, that I put my clown nose on again right before I opened my hotel-room door that night, surprising my husband who, lo and behold, laughed too! Need I remind anyone that laughter is good??

And … so are do-overs. You know, a chance to redo an action, redeem yourself, make it right? In some ways do-overs are just like clown noses—they ease the tension in your back, they allow you to take a deep breath and release it in a chuckle, and they give you a second chance to focus on what’s really important—honoring God with an attitude of trust and peace and joy rather than dishonoring Him with one that is crazed and stressed and riddled with fear and doubt.

And so, in the wonderful spirit of do-overs and clown noses, instead of posting the Seeker blog I had hoped to post today entitled “THE TEASE … Great Scene/Chapter Endings to Lead Your Readers On,” I will post that blog on Wednesday, Oct. 6, when we celebrate The Seekers birthday month. We’ll have little mini-critiques of your scene/chapter endings at that time just like we did in July on your hook openings during my blog entitled THE PERFECT PICKUP LINE … Or How to Hook a Reader, along with several critique and book giveaways.

Why? The reason is that TODAY I am doing a “do-over.” 1.) Because I ran out of time on researching/writing the above blog and would rather smile (i.e. clown nose) rather than stress out, 2.) Not all of the Seekers got their examples to me ahead of time (hint, hint), and 3.) Because the ACFW Conference is NEXT WEEK and I felt a very strong nudging to repost my CPR blog that talks about what I would “do over” if I were attending a writer’s conference for the first time.

For those of you who have already read this CPR blog, I intend to make today’s post worth your while by giving you my top five “do-over” wishes as far as my writing in the hopes they will help you ward off some of the regrets I have on my publication journey. In addition, today’s winner will have his/her choice of a 5-page critique by me OR a signed copy of either my new release A Hope Undaunted or “The Daughters of Boston” book of your choice. Simply leave a comment stating some of the things you would “do over” if you could, either in your writing life or your life in general, so we can all benefit from each other’s “do-overs.” Good luck in the contest, and be sure to leave a spam-free e-mail address such as janedoe(at)seeker(dot)com, and good luck!


1.) Go for an agent first/publisher second. I wasted two years and about 31 rejections on unagented queries to publishers, some of which took as long as three years to reply. In fact, within six months of signing with my agent, she sold me to a publisher whose slush file STILL contained an unagented proposal from me requested at an ACFW conference two years prior!

2.) Get a platform in place before publication. I wish I had known to establish more of a database a year before my book was released. My agent says you only have one shot at a debut novel, so you have to give it your all—via a loaded Web site, blogs, newsletters, etc., none of which I had until about three months prior to my launch. I attended an ACFW seminar where the teacher said you need to work on this at least 1-1/2 to 2 years prior to a book launch, which, of course, I didn’t!

3.) Pray more and worry less, and do NOT expect publication to be Easy Street or to validate you as a writer. I wish I’d known what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, wouldn’t it? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered (AGAIN!) that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on are high or low, which is why I CLING to the following Scripture from 2 Corinthians ll:3, praying it almost every day: Do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

4.) I would work harder to keep my priorities straight: God, Family, Writing. As Christian writers, we should be desperate to have God’s anointing on everything we write, but if our priorities are out of line with His, there’s a good chance that His anointing will not be there to the degree that it should be. And neither will the peace and joy and good relationship with our family.

5.) Writer shorter books. The longer the book, the harder it is to sell and the more expensive it is to print AND for readers to buy. Also, long books (as much as I love them) tend to scare a lot of readers off. Just ask Anita Mae Draper! (smile)

And now, without further ado, here is a “do-over” of my No. 1 “do-over” concerning writers’ conferences:

CONFERENCE CPR … Julie Lessman Style!

“Are you okay?” Someone shook me hard. I lay there, unable to speak, eyes welded closed.

“Are you okay” the voice came again, louder this time, more insistent. No answer. I felt the press of fingers to my pulse followed by a quick sweep of my mouth, clearing all obstructions. With a pinch of my nose, someone began to breathe life into me while a gentle hand compressed against my chest, finger on my heart …

Okay, just for the record—I did not choke on a piece of chicken at an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference or ever have to resuscitated in any way. Uh … that is … at least not physically. But emotionally and spiritually? Yep, I was a goner. Cried enough tears that I thought the housekeeping staff would think I was heisting their Kleenex. But something amazing happened to me at the very first ACFW conference I ever attended—I received CPR in a very unlikely manner, and I gotta tell ya, folks—it saved my life. So I thought since we are less than a week out from this year’s ACFW conference in Denver, it might behoove me to share about this life-saving experience I received when the Holy Spirit administered a heavy dose of truly miraculous CPR—Cry, Pray, Repent.

Oh, how I wish, wish WISH someone had told me what I’m about to tell you before I went to my very first writers’ conference in Houston, Texas in 2003. It was the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, only back then, it was ACRW, American Christian Romance Writers. I went by myself without knowing a soul, which is a hard thing to do, as so many of you are aware. Up until that point, I had done everything I could to put me on the path to publication—took fiction-writing courses at the community college, attended small writing seminars and local RWA chapter meetings, queried publishers until I was blue in the face, and entered contests until I was in hock over binder clips.

I knew in my gut that the time had come for me to venture far from home and interface with other writers of my ilk. I mean how difficult could this be? Although by nature I am a recluse of sorts, I have the misfortune of having an outgoing personality, so the word “shy” just isn’t part of my vocabulary. So I smiled and mixed and mingled until my teeth ached and made a lot of acquaintances, but no real “friend” that I felt I could connect with. Everything felt surface to me, and it seemed like everybody I spoke to was either published, had an agent, a contract in the works or fulls being considered.

That night I cried on the phone to my husband, and I’m talking major sobbing! I told him I felt lonely and jealous and like publication would never happen for me. He comforted me and prayed with me and told me everything would all right.

But it wasn’t. The next day I would attend a seminar, then go up to my room and cry, clean my face and go back down to smile some more. That went on all day as the loneliness and jealousy seemed to grow, and that night my poor husband got another earful of long-distance weeping. God love him, he prayed for me and encouraged me and told me to put my hope in God. Yeah, right, I thought to myself at the time, and how is that going to change these waterworks? That night I cried myself to sleep, rivers of tears seeping into my pillow.

What happened next is nothing short of supernatural. The next morning, even before my eyelids peeled open, my brain was pelted with hope scriptures in rapid-fire succession:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:12-14

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. -
Romans 5:4-6

No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. -
Psalm 25:2-4

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. -
Psalm 62:4-6

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. -
Psalm 71:13-15

Now, first of all, I wasn’t aware that I even knew that many hope scriptures. In fact, they shocked me so much, that my eyes popped open and I lunged for the Gideon Bible inside the nightstand drawer. I flipped it open to the first few pages where they list scriptures by subject and scanned the list for “Hope.” It wasn’t there, so I settled on the scripture for “Fear.” There were only two, mind you, and I quickly paged to the first one: Hebrews 13:5.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Come again? What does fear or lack of hope have to do with covetousness and ingratitude? Give me a break, the Gideons have TONS of scriptures to choose from and they choose this???? I blinked several times … and then the Holy Spirit nailed my butt to the wall.

I had spent the last two days of this expensive conference doing NOTHING but coveting other writers’ success and complaining that it would never happen for me. My husband had forked over $800 bucks (airfare, hotel room, conference fee) so I could fly to Houston and instead of being grateful, I was utterly lonely and jealous. Talk about a one-two punch! I fell to my knees and sobbed again, only this time my tears were tears of repentance. I told God I was sorry for being such a brat, and I prayed for every woman that I had been jealous of, that God would bless the socks off of them. I asked Him to change my attitude and give me hope and help me not to be lonely the rest of the conference.

For the umpteenth time that weekend, I cleaned up my face, put on my name badge and squared my shoulders to go downstairs. The elevator opened, and I flashed a smile to the couple in the back and turned to face the door. The woman gently tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You’re from St. Louis? I live in Illinois, just twenty minutes across the river.”

I turned around and will NEVER forget the look of kindness and warmth in that woman’s eyes—like an angel sent from God. She was an ACFW author named Diana Brandmeyer (who, by the way, has a GREAT new book coming out with Barbour next January entitled Hearts on the Road, so check it out on her website at . Anyway, she invited me to sit with her and her husband for breakfast. Trust me, conference food had never tasted so good!

Later that day, there was a contest for book giveaways. You simply had to write about someone who had positively affected you at the conference so far, and if the ACFW Master of Ceremonies (Brandilyn, of course!) picked your comments out of the hat, the person you wrote about won a free book. My eyes smarted with tears as I dashed a quick note about the kind woman in the elevator “whose eyes radiated love and warmth—Diana Brandmeyer.”

If you can believe it, out of over 350 women and like 2 men (grin), Brandilyn picked a handful of notes to read, and one of them was the note I had written about Diana, which referred to her “eyes full of love and warmth.” My heart jumped with excitement … until Brandilyn read my name instead of Diana’s. My heart froze when I realized I must have written my name down by mistake, thus winning a book for myself instead of Diana. Brandilyn called me up, and I was too embarrassed to tell her the truth, so I intended to return the book after the function was over. Imagine my shock when a few moments later, Brandilyn read another note about a woman “whose eyes radiated love and warmth,” only this one was the note I had written about Diana! Yes, you guessed it—two women who broke the yoke of loneliness off of each other in an elevator wrote almost exactly the same thing about the other. Go ahead, tell me that’s not a God thing!

That conference turned out to be a pivotal time in my career, not only because of the amazing friendship/critique partnership that Diana and I still share today, or even the very encouraging paid critique I received from author Tracey Bateman later on that day, but because of the invaluable lessons that the Holy Spirit taught me from the pages of a hotel-room Gideon Bible.

Yes, contests, writing classes and writers’ conferences are all important tools in traveling the road to publication. But the most important tools needed are spiritual—to keep your heart clean of jealousy by praying for those who incite it, to praise and thank God wherever you are in your journey instead of complaining, and to renew your mind with hopes scriptures instead of despair. Because the bottom line is, “hope never fails” … and neither does He.


  1. Thank you Julie for sharing your do overs list and for sharing about your conference experience. There's many things in life I could list as wanting to do over--but I think the "mistakes" we make in life are also a part of the life lessons that God has us learn from. I think one of the biggest do overs would be all the moments God brought up for me to share with my non-Christian coworkers--especially those times that I felt His tugging at my heart. Thankfully, this year I've had some opportunities to share with my coworkers about God and how He works in my life. He has emboldened me with courage and His wisdom during those times where in the past I would've chickened out and not shared. God is amazing when you let Him work in your life. :)
    I'd love to have a chance to win "A Hope Undaunted." Still trying. :) I'm asking for God's favor on this one. :) Thanks for your sharing.
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  2. ~~WARNING~~This is LONG!!!

    Boy, could I ever use a "do-over"!! I would like to push the rewind button and go back to March 20, 2007. That evening as I was preparing for bed, I went downstairs to the laundry room to get my clothes for the following day. When I got to what I thought was the bottom of the stairs, I took a spill. (Turns out that I missed the bottom step!) To make a long story short I broke my foot which led into a nerve disorder called RSD. In that short amount of time the disorder has spread throughout my entire body and has made me totally disabled, wheelchair bound, and in pain 24/7 I would do ANYTHING to be able to go back in time and have my life back.

    I would be happy to win a new book! Thanks for the chance.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. There are many things, that if given the chance, I'd do-over. But I'm no longer going to dwell on those. Instead, I believe I'm living my do-over. Praying more than whining, that kind of thing. But it's not always an easy thing to do. I have to renew each morning.

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. I laughed and I teared up. I love reading about 'God's winks'.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful time at ACFW. Maybe next year I can join y'all.

    Nancy, prayers are being sent your way.

  4. Oh, Julie, what a beautiful, beautiful post! You've moved me to tears. How often do I complain about where I am in life? How often do I take for granted the blessings God has given me? How often do I covet what others have and miss the gifts of a smile and a kind offer of friendship?

    I have so much to learn! At college it can be so hard to realize how wonderful it is to be going here when I have homework on top of homework, along with so many other things to think about. But there is ALWAYS time to spend with God if I'll simply take it--because what is the point of anything I do, whether trying for good grades at a wonderful Christian college, or trying to finish my manuscript, or trying to write inspirational posts on my blog, etc.--if I'm not seeking God first?

    I love MaryLu Tyndall's line that she uses at the end of her e-mails: "Live in the awareness of your eternal destiny." What would it be like to live every day, every moment, with eternity on my mind? It sure would put a lot of things in perspective!

    So now, here I am, sitting here after midnight in front of my laptop, knowing that another day of classes, going to the gym, homework, etc. awaits me. Through God's grace I don't have to look back; rather, I can look ahead and trust in His plan. Each day is a day to be cherished, and I don't want to forget that. I want to remember to be ever hopeful, ever trusting, and ever seeking after God and His will. What a patient, amazing Friend and Father He is!

    Thank you once again for this post, Julie. I am so encouraged by your honesty and the lessons that you have to share with us from your own life experiences.

    I would really appreciate a chance to have you critique some of my work. :) Thank you again and again!



  5. When I saw the photo I thought oh they have red nose day in America too but then realised it was for something else

    in australia red nose days supports sids (sudden infant death syndrome) and we pay for a red nose and wear it. (alot will buy the pin or pen or something) with all money going to the charity.

  6. Wow, Julie, this is a powerful blog. Funny and touching and very thought-provoking. And what a profound message I am taking from it...'in God all things are possible'. He freed you so that your natural warm and loving spirit radiated through. Awesome!

    As for my wannabe do-overs...oy...if I listed them all I'd clog up cyberspace! LOL. But, upon reflection, I'd say every one of them would stem from reacting in fear instead of looking towards hope.


    And it IS a good morning because 1.) We have another day on this journey called "life," 2.) We're not traveling alone (i.e. God) and 3.) we have absolutely PERFECTLY round, PERFECTLY light I-Hop pancakes (my favorite) along with warm maple syrup, rashers of bacon, crispy hash browns and Western omelets (the more veggies, the better!!). Dig in!

    I sat here this morning trying to figure out what would be my favorite breakfast, and I-Hop came to mind. In keeping with my "anality," I am VERY picky regarding my pancakes ... they have to be almost albino in color, and INEVITABLY, Keith always gets the light ones, which he promptly turns over since he likes his dark -- just like his preference of dark chicken meat to my light. Sigh, a match made in food heaven ...

    Thanks for joining me today, and I wish you a day of "do-overs" ... on the first try! :)


  8. CYNTHIA ... HOLY COW, you beat out Helen and Amber!!! Either you had insomnia or or you live on the West Coast!! :)

    Oh, EXCELLENT point that the do-overs or "'mistakes' we make in life are also part of the life lessons that God has us learn from."

    AMEN to that, my friend, and boy, do I feel like a remedial student repeating the same grade OVER and OVER again. But that's okay because we slow ones look like the Teacher's pet because He has to work with us so much, right??? :)

    Seriously, I admire you for being a light in your workplace, Cynthia, because God knows the world needs it!! When I worked at Maritz, we all sat in separate cubes, so I would envision shafts of life shooting up from all the cubes where Christians sat, and it would inspire me to pray and share with those cube-dwellers who sat in the dark like I once had. I would often pray, "God, let me touch someone's life for you today," and BOOM, it was amazing the opportunities that came my way.

    Do-overs or not, we are "Light" bearers called to pass out clown noses to a crowd that SO needs them!!

    Good luck in the contest, my friend.


  9. Julie,

    What a lovely and honest post. Thank you.

    If you asked me this question six months ago you would have received a blog full of despondency. I was suffering a full blown George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life) month of self-pity. And as far as I was concerned I’d want to do my life since college over. All I could see was what I didn’t have. Here I was at thirty-six with No husband. No children. (And it seemed a new wedding or baby announcement arrived daily). A job I barely tolerated. And a God I used to be so close to that now seemed distant and cold. But somehow He reached me through my childish fit and He said to start writing. I decided to put down on paper a story that had been playing like a movie in my mind. I wrote the first draft in three weeks, and had the best time of my life (and still am as I finish my second ms). But I still wasn’t satisfied, because yeah I was doing what I loved in the evenings and weekends, but everything else was still missing.

    Then in July, I went to dinner with a friend and her husband and I mentioned I started writing. They were so excited, and surprisingly he was the most excited. When she was away from the table he asked about my job and I gave him an earful about how they don’t use my talents and it’s so boring, etc., etc. He smiled and said, “That’s great though, isn’t it?” Resisting the urge to knock him off his chair, I intelligently responded. “What?” He explained that God was so good giving me a job that didn’t demand more than an eight hour day, and at times I can even write there during down times. “He gave you a job where you can earn the money to pay the bills, so you can do what you love with the rest of your time.” (I really hate when people make great points) His simple phrase got my mind thinking about all the other things and experiences that I questioned that now seemed to have an answer. Through it all He was preparing me for this moment and experience. So, when old jealousies and questions pop up (and they sure do) I just start praising God for knowing what I need even when I don’t. And while everyday isn’t Christmas I try not to dwell on the do-overs (a swamp that slows down progress), but the what do I do now.

    Wow, sorry this is so long! God Bless—Kirsten

  10. Oh, NANCYE ... I didn't expect to tear up this early in the morning, but girl, you broke my heart!

    I am asking EVERYONE reading this post today to stop for just a couple of seconds and pray for God to heal Nancye. He is Jehovah Rapha -- the God who heals -- so we are going to join forces today (and whoever wants to in the future, as I am writing your name on my prayer list, Nancye) to do more than tear up and empathize, okay?

    Let's pause while we pray ...

    Lord, we bind up this RSD in Nancye's body right now in Jesus' name and we loose Your healing from Your throne into this sweet woman. By Jesus' stripes, Nancye is healed, so we plead Your precious blood over her mind, body and emotions. Give the doctor's wisdom and deliver Nancye from the pain of this affliction ... in Jesus' name.

    Nancye, I'm not sure if you believe in healing, but I have tons of healing Scriptures on my website ( under the tab "From the Heart," which I would encourage you to pray on a regular basis. Sure can't hurt, right???

    I pray God's abundant blessings on your life, my friend.


  11. Jules,
    Thanks for the encouraging post and congrats on your presentation. I'm sure you did a GREAT job.
    Do-overs Needed Daily. Possibly hourly.

    I have that open-mouth-insert-legs-up-to-the-hips disorder.

    But I think this post/repost is incredibly timely with ACFW just AROUND THE CORNER. I've needed to pray and get my heart ready for whatever God might have in store with it - and though it terrifies me to really consider publishing (because of the time-demands), there's that faint glimmer of hope too.
    You know, like the light from the refrigerator in the middle of the night :-)

    Thanks for the encouragement, Jules. As usual.

    "I believe I'm living my do-over. Praying more than whining, that kind of thing."

    Well said, my friend ... looks like you're one of those kids that always skipped ahead in school, the smart ones who learn quickly ... unlike moi!!

    Renewing each morning -- absolutely ESSENTIAL, you little smartie pants, you. I wish you'd sat in front of me in school, but then you'd be REALLY old as well as REALLY smart! :)


  13. What an inspirational post!

    I am not an outwardly emotional person. I very rarely cry. But you had me swallowing hard on the second phone call to your husband. I think it was the fact your husband spent $800 trying to help you with your dream and he was still so supportive when you called him in tears. I can so relate...and so could my husband. I have to laugh at what we put these poor men through.

    If I had a do-over, it would be to quit waiting to live my dream. I'm not published, but I've told myself if I ever get the call, I'll write 3 hours a day (like I read Catherine Coulter does). I'll exercise 4-5 days a week because it can't be good sitting at a computer that long. And besides I want to look good if I'm to have those book signings. I'll take the rest of my day to clean the house and make sure the house runs smoothly.

    This is a vision I have IF I ever get published. Then a few days ago, it hit me. Why am I waiting to get the call? I don't work outside the home. I write and here and there, but spend too much learning and talking about writing instead of writing. Why not treat the rode to publication like I've already started living my dream? My husband is very supportive of me and I have the time. The only thing holding me back is me.


    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

  14. AMBER ... you say I encourage you, but young women like you who live for God with all the passion I write about in my books encourage ME big time!!

    You said: "But there is ALWAYS time to spend with God if I'll simply take it"

    DEAD-ON, girl!!! There IS always time ... right now while reading this post, eating breakfast or driving in the car. Spend it with HIM as a recharge, renewal, mini-retreat.

    I knew a woman who turned EVERYTHING she did into a prayer. If she poured herself a cup of coffee, she prayed, "God, pour your grace into my life today ..." If she did laundry, "Lord, cleanse my heart ..." POWERFUL STUFF!!!

    Which brings me to another do-over ... I would get my degree and hang out with people like Amber, which, come to think of it, I do now ... minus the degree! ;)


  15. JENNY!!! "Red Nose Day" -- I LOVE IT!!! And what an incredibly worthy cause, my friend! You Aussies are SO darn smart and fun, you know???

    KAV ... grin "clogging cyberspace" ... we may anyway, given all of our "do-over" stories today, but as long as it glorifies God, clog away, my friend!!

    And "reacting in fear instead of looking towards hope" seems to be a universal problem, but the good news is that we have a God who actually goes by the title of "The God of Hope," so what does THAT tell you???? That and the 2 billion "fear not"s in the Bible ... :)

    KIRSTEN ... WOW!! Application of God's precepts in the flesh!!

    You said: "So, when old jealousies and questions pop up (and they sure do) I just start praising God for knowing what I need even when I don’t."

    And "a full blown George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life) month of self-pity." Grin. Been there, done that ... very well, as a matter of fact!! :)

    Self-pity is a cancer, so I really admire you for turning that around. It is SUCH an insidious sin, almost invisible until the damage is done, but praising God in the face of it is HUGE!!!


  16. Morning Julie, As usual a great post.

    I have lots of things I think I should do over, but have a feeling Cynthia is right when she says the mistakes we make are part of God's lessons. Hindsight gives you that wonderful persepective. smile

    But I do agree that if I had to do anything over it would be to focus more of my life and attention to God. If I had, my do-over list wouldn't be so long. LOL

    Delicious pancakes. And the western omelet hit the spot.

    I brought some chocolate velvet coffee. Enjoy the conference.

  17. I just love that story, Julie. So sweet! Only, at the beginning of the CPR stuff I thought you were describing the time I passed out. Yikes. Deja vu. Ah-hem.

    Julie, not only are we a lot alike, but are writing journeys are really similar. We both got tons of rejections but kept persevering and it paid off. :-) Now we are in that blissful, Eden-like place called published author-dom where there are no problems and we go blithely through our days, skipping to the computer to write our next masterpiece, then skipping to greet our family at the door at the end of the day.

    Okay, sorry, I slipped into creepy overworked, this-marketing-stuff-is-going-to-drive-me-nuts mode.

    Love the clown noses! And Patti Lacy is SO SWEET, isn't she???

  18. Forgot to list my do-overs. There are too many from my teen and early adulthood years for me to name, so I will skip that.

    If I had it to do over, I would not take a sleeping pill at my first conference. I also would not have been quite so aggressive about pitching to editors. (Blushing over that one still, especially since I'm not normally an aggressive person.) I would have also tried not to be so nervous and uptight and would have tried to relax and enjoy the conference instead of focusing overly on pitching. But all in all, my conference experiences have been very positive and wonderful and great memories!

    With my writing, I don't think I really regret anything. It was a long haul, and I worked really hard, and it all worked out. Plus I learned SO MUCH about writing and even about spiritual things and growing closer to God. I don't think I would change anything about it, even though it seemed to take forever to get published! I will talk a little more about that in my post here on Friday!

  19. Oh Jules,
    I just did a post on The Writers Alley about 'hooking' the reader at the middle and end of chapters. Great minds....
    Yours will be much better - especially if you have examples from all the Seeker gals. WOOOHOOO! Can't wait to read it.

  20. PEPPER!!! Oh, I just had a spurt of joy at the realization that in a little over a week, I will get to meet you for the very first time ... and hug you ... and giggle with you ... YEAH!!!!

    You said: "Do-overs Needed Daily. Possibly hourly. I have that open-mouth-insert-legs-up-to-the-hips disorder."

    You crack me up, kiddo!! :)

    "The only thing holding me back is me."

    OUCH!!! Go for the jugular, why don't you, Con??? :)

    Thanks for the reminder, my friend, because that is SO TRUE!!! Sooo glad you figured that out ... took me decades to realize that, but then I am obviously the slow study in this group of over-achievers today! :)

    And you said: "I have to laugh at what we put these poor men through."

    Shhh ... don't remind my husband ... we don't want to incite any self-pity, you know ... :)


  21. SANDRA SAID: "If I had (focused on God), my do-over list wouldn't be so long."

    Grin ... amen to that, sistah!! And chocolate velvet coffee??? Ooooo ... way to kick in the caffeine, girl -- THANK YOU!!

    MEL SAID: "Now we are in that blissful, Eden-like place called published author-dom."

    Uh, yeah, we ARE both a lot alike, Mel -- both weepy and delusional, not a pretty combination, but makes for GREAT emotional storytelling, eh???

    Mmmm ... you may just have the best conference do-over of the day,girl ... DON'T TAKE SLEEPING PILLS!!! :)

    And, YES, Patti Lacy IS "sweet"!!

    Looking forward to your post on Friday, Mel!

    PEPPER ... Drat, you beat me on that one, you little brat! But scene/chapter ending hooks are HUGE to me and something I notice that a lot of people don't really work on, so I figure it's a subject that can bear repeating!


  22. Speaking of do-overs. If I had it to do over again, I'd never agree to do this speech I'm suppose to give today.

    Soooooooooo not a public speaker.

    But I'm off.

    Just say a little prayer, because for me to give a speech definitely take direct intervention from God.

  23. WOW. Can I just say "Wow!"? Thank you for sharing from your heart and your experiences, Julie. I love how God was working in you and with you at that first conference!

    If I could go back and change anything in my writing life it would be this: I would have studied the craft more before I sent that very first "I have no idea what I'm doing" query to that big-name, dream publisher. I'm sure they laughed heartily over it and I hope that when I do it right next time they will have forgotten my name.

    Do overs in life, in general? I wish I could have had a real, true relationship with Jesus as my Lord when I was a lot younger. But I don't know how I would've gotten there without walking through many trials first, which is what I did.


    "Soooooooooo not a public speaker."

    But you ARE "soooooooooo" funny, my friend, so everyone here KNOWS you will be a hit!

    But prayers winging your way nonetheless! Knock 'em dead, girl!! (Not literally, of course, like you are prone to do in your books ...).


  25. Hey Julie, you are not gonna believe this... I have not looked at a single blog since the end of Aug because I'm determined to have my wip done before ACFW. I mean I haven't even commented on the Inkwell Inspirations or Prairie Chicks (except for blogging last Thurs).

    And this am, I was editing my wip and I get this nudge... Go to Seekerville. But I pushed it away, because I'm on a roll and how can I favour the Seekers and not my own blogs, right?

    But the nudge pushes and pushes and so I come over and voila! you've mentioned me in your post.

    Julie! will I ever live that down? LOL. I tell you, girlfriend, your extra-long extra-passionate inspirational tomes have won me over!

    And speaking of Patti - she Facebooked an invite for me to have coffee with her in Indy. Yippee! I finally get to meet her.

    I can't wait for next week!

    As for a Do-0ver... One of the reasons I'm scrambling with this wip is because I spent so much time perfecting the front half, I'm running out of time to bring the back end up to the same polish. So my do-over would be to stop playing with my words, stop procrastinating, edit it all first, then worry about the polish. Does that make sense?

    Anita Mae.

  26. Wonderful post, Julie! So much of what you said ministered to me. There are times I need daily do-overs. The amazing thing--with God I do!

    Putting on my clown nose, filled with hope and anticipating ACFW!!


  27. Thanks, MARY!!

    And you said: "If I could go back and change anything in my writing life it would be this: I would have studied the craft more before I sent that very first "I have no idea what I'm doing" query to that big-name, dream publisher."

    Move over, girl, because I'm right there with you. Sometimes it seems the writing biz is one big "DO-OVER," but then I suppose it is because you have to submit over and over before a sale and you have to revise over and over before you get that final nod from the editor, so it's definitely part of the process.

    You also said: "I wish I could have had a real, true relationship with Jesus as my Lord when I was a lot younger."

    OH MY ... truer words!! I can only imagine the pain we would have been spared ... but then, as I point out in Emma's story, A Heart Revealed, pain is the most powerful way to learn ... especially for we thick-headed types! :)

    ANITA MAE!!! Gotta LOVE those "nudges," don't ya though???

    Oh, and GOOD FOR YOU, girl, in making sure the back half holds up as well as the front half. That is a PPP of mine (personal pet peeve), where a really good author grabs me and keeps me 3/4 of the way through the book, then just drops off a cliff with a lackluster ending. I suspect a lot of that comes from entering contests where one polishes the first part of the book till it shines, and the last part ends up being a dull penny by comparison. Good luck with the revisions, my friend, and you've got a giant hug coming your way next week, you know ... :)


  28. Love your top 5!!!
    In life, I'd get more of a spine and be less afraid. At the same time, I'd like a muzzle for my mouth, please. :-)
    In writing, for do-overs I'd be proactive at conferences. And try to be less nervous.

    Okay, make sure you enter me for that crit!!!!

    jessica_nelson7590 AT yahoo DOT com

  29. Love the clown noses picture! Hmm, I think I'd stress about results less and enjoy the process more.

    forgravebooks at gmail dot com

  30. Julie, your post really touched me this morning, and I'm not usually this long-winded. Sorry.

    Last April, my husband found out that he was changing jobs within the school system where he works, which meant a pay cut, but also less stress. It also meant six weeks between the last paycheck of the school year and the first of the current one, making a major hole in our budget. He has planned for me to attend ACFW for the past year, ever since I typed "the end" on my manuscript. What was one of the first things he said to me when we found out finances were going to be an issue? "You're still going to ACFW. We'll find the money somehow." And we did. God is good.

    So, I feel like I'm getting my "do-over" in spades. For the last year I've been angst-ridden about my job, circumstances, etc. In the last few months God has been speaking. He's telling me to "BE STILL and know that HE is GOD." He's reminded me of the verse I claimed as a teenager, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." He knew I'd need it more now than ever I did, then.

    So thank you, Julie, for reminding me, once again, to relax and let GOD do the worrying over this thing called "the road to publication."

    I'd love to be in the drawing for a critique!

  31. Julie, I may be on the good side of forty, but there are days, when I feel old. But I'm renewing, right? This is the time of the year I start praying for a hard freeze.

    What a blessing it is to read your prayer aloud for Nancye. So powerful. Dh is going to be singing Word Of God speak this weekend at one of the town festivals, and for some reason your prayer reminded me of the chorus. All I'm going to say is, "AMEN!"

    reneelynnscott at gmail dot com

  32. Thank you Julie - you've run me through the ringer this morning. Wshew. Excellent post.

    My wise and intelligent husband (no really! he is!!) says that if we don't get the lesson the Lord gives us the FINE OPPORTUNITY to repeat until we get it.

    Gotta love it.

    Reading through your post and the comments makes me realize that we can learn from each other and perhaps not have to do the do-overs that others have already done done, thus causing us to become undone. I'm done.

    Connie (8:42 post) - AMEN lady. Supportive husband, time to write, thing holding me back is me.

    **Just a note - sometimes I tend to take for granted that the Gideon Bible will be there for me when I need it. Some hotels aren't putting them in the drawers any more. So of late, we are making a real effort to thank the hotel for having it available.

    All of these examples are reminders for me to keep the Lord first. He has promised to direct our path - even to picking out 2 cards out of the basket (WHAT a story - if you'd written it in a book, people would think you'd made it up!) He LOVES delighting us doesn't He?

    Praying for you too Nancye - for an encouragement - you might check out today:

    Mary - you ARE funny and you DO have something to share. God has given you things He wants YOU to share with your audience that only YOU can do it. And He will use what you say, no matter how you think it goes. You'll do GREAT! Let us know!!! Prayers for you too!!!

  33. You sneaky thing. So I'm not the only one with surprises! A bloggite told me the noses had made another appearance.

    Okay, soulmate, if you're gonna write shorter books, you're gonna hafta start with writing shorter blog posts!!!

    Girl, you just hang your heart out like a shingle. And I love you for that. Thank you for your ministry right here at Seekerville as well as through your wonderful books.

    Love you,

    And a few other things!!!

  34. I think is Mary can use 'soooooooo' then soooooo can I.

    Just sayin' :-)

    And since you called me a little brat, Julie. I'm feeling a bit like Katie O'Connor. :-)

  35. Julie,

    Thank you for your inspiring words, as usual.

    I could so relate to your conference experience. I think that's part of the reason I've held off putting my mind to going. Being the shy, quiet type, I picture myself eating alone, basically walking around in a daze alone!

    I'm going to make a huge effort to start saving for next year's conference. I think it's time for me to go to one. Plus I'd love to meet all you lovely seeker women. Talk about inspiring!

    Regarding do-overs, I wish I'd stuck to writing when I was young. And that it hadn't taken 3 or 4 years of writing in solitude before I found other writers out there!

    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot)ca

  36. What a great blog - Julie's comments dovetail into what God told me this morning. I'm trying to find time to post it on my blog, and I'll let everyone know when it's there. Probably for no one but never know.

    Things I would do over if I could:
    how much space do I have? The biggest thing would be to listen to God sooner about what He wanted me to do with my life. Granted, everything has been used by Him to help me grow, but I do wish I had started writing sooner.

    I would love to win one of Julie's books!

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog!

  37. JANET ... "daily do-overs" ... oh, man, what a concept!! Plastic surgery comes to mind when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror!!! :)

    But for all it's glory, I don't think I would "do over" youth because I've learned too much good stuff the hard way, so I'm glomming on to that precious knowledge while age gloms onto me. :)

    Seriously, "daily do-overs" with God is THE KEY, isn't it, though??? Thanks for the reminder, Janet ... gotta head down to the prayer deck ...

    JESSICA ... LOL, a "spine" and "a muzzle," eh? Mmmm ... I know at least one of those that my husband would like for me to have ...

    And less nervous at conference??? Honey, come hang with me ... once you see how "crazy," I am, all your nerves will melt away ... in gratitude, no doubt! :)

    SARAH ... you're reading my mind, girl!! You said: "I think I'd stress about results less and enjoy the process more."

    As my husband likes to say, "Smile, Julie, you're living the 'dream."

    Uh, yeah.

    But seriously, he (and YOU!) are absolutely right. We need to stop and enjoy the blessings of God along the way WHILE they are going on because too often the stress robs us of the joy God intends for us to have. It's called a grateful heart, and I gotta tell you, I COVET IT!!!!


  38. REGINA SAID: "Julie, your post really touched me this morning, and I'm not usually this long-winded. Sorry."

    Don't apologize, girl -- have you read my books and blogs??? When it comes to being "long-winded,"I'm the one who should be "sorry"!!

    And, oh man, you made me tear up, Regina, with your ACFW story. That is ONE amazing man, my friend ... go send him a love e-mail right now!!

    And your reminder to "BE STILL and know that HE is GOD"???

    Be still???? Wow ... what a novel concept ... and one both God and my husband wish I would apply a little more often.

    Thanks, Regina -- I SOOOOOOOO needed to hear that this week, my friend!!


  39. Julie,
    Thanks so much for your do-over tips. Very helpful. And your conference story that I related to on many levels.

  40. RENEE ... Sigh ... any side of 40 is good to me ... or 50, for that matter.

    Thank you for your kind words, my friend. I hesitated typing that prayer because I am one of these down-to-earth, no-holds-barred type of Christians adverse to coming across as too preachy (I would have NEVER been won to the Lord by someone like that, so I am very sensitive to that). But, I really felt a nudging to go ahead and let it fly because sometimes (actually ALL the time), obedience is better than peer perception, something which should be obvious in my life because I shoot my mouth off so often ... :)

    KC ... "through the ringer"??? That's the second time I've been told that this morning (a friend e-mailed me that she just finished A Hope Undaunted), so if that's true, then my job here is done! :)

    Gotta LOVE the ringer, though, don't you??? Makes us SO pliable in the hands of God! :)

    And your husband's comment? "if we don't get the lesson the Lord gives us the FINE OPPORTUNITY to repeat until we get it." Smart man ... but then that's stating the obvious since he married you, right?

    Nice touch with the Gideon Bibles, girl -- I may have to steal that from you (not the Bible, the technique of thanking the hotel).


  41. PATTI ... GREAT, you're out of rehab!!! :)

    "If you're gonna write shorter books, you're gonna hafta start with writing shorter blog posts!!!"

    You little brat you, you sound like Keith!!

    "Heart on a Shingle" ... mmmm, sounds like a book title to me. Or a really nice breakfast of creamed chipped beef ...

    Thanks for stopping by, my friend -- ALWAYS love seeing you! Hugs coming your way in Indy ...

    PEPPER ... honey, you are not just "a bit" like Katie O'Connor, girl, you are a spittin' image ... except for the hair, of course. Which explains why I love you so much, right???

    SUE, oh girl, I'm right there with you on the sticking to writing when I was young. Heck, if I had kept writing when I started at the age of 12, I'd have almost as many books as Mary Connealy by now!!

    And the "shy, quiet type ... eating alone, basically walking around in a daze alone"??? No way, my friend -- you have a standing invitation to stick with me because not only will you not be "eating alone," but you will actually be able to eat because I do all the talking! ;)

    Can't do too much about the "daze," though. Let me know when you figure out a remedy, will ya??

    And about the "sticking with me" part next year -- I'm DEAD serious, you hear???


  42. Oh, EDWINA, don't you just LOVE all the "dove-tailing" God does in our lives??? Make sure you post the link to your blog, so we can check it out after you write yours. And, YES!!! We MUST get one of my books in your hands, girl, so hightail it over to my website 'cause I have TONS of giveaways posted and yet to come!! :)

    ANN ... you don't fool me a bit, you know. You're here for the free book and critique, aren't you???? :)

    Ann has already won two books from me in the last two weeks on various blogs, so it's just a matter of time before she catches up with Sherrinda, who five books from me last year!! Thanks for your bulldog tenacity and support, my friend!


  43. Julie:

    My current do-over is that I'm going to bed earlier, trying to become a day person UNTIL AFTER CONFERENCE! Figure my night hours won't fit there.

    This post was as enjoyable as the first time I read it. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm so looking forward to meeting Seekerville friends in Indy.


    P.S. Don't you love the location for next year's ACFW conference?

  44. Here's what I love about do-overs - that God hands them out freely and on a regular basis!

    My do-over when it comes to writing would be this: in 05 I won a publishing contract for my first novel. I was green and to this day have no idea how I won - but I WISH I had taken that excitement, that desire and just ran with it instead of questioning and thinking I wasn't good enough for 'real publishing'.

    Please enter me in the contest!

  45. Clown noses??? My first thought was, Julie's had her hubby Photoshop another photo. Then I read on and realized they were real!!! You gals are insane!!!

    Do-overs. I have too many to mention.

    But there's one thing in my life I would NEVER want to do over, and that's connecting with my FABULOUS Seeker Sisters!!! You gals have been and continue to be among the greatest blessings in my life, and I can't wait to see a bunch of you again at ACFW! I only wish we were headed for another great all-Seeker reunion like we had in Denver.

  46. Hey, just so y'all know, I got my end-of-chapter hooks to Jules the FIRST DAY....

    And yes, I'm braggin' on myself, like usual, but I love the do-over idea so it's worth a second shot.

    Writing do-overs?

    OH YES.

    I would have learned to shup up sooner.

    I would have held onto my early manuscripts until after I worked with Sandra a while and worked out KINKS THE SIZE OF A BALL DIAMOND.


    Did I mention I would have learned to shut up sooner? That the Internet is NOT my living room?


    But grin, too.

    Because we've all been there, done that with one or more of these do-overs and you know what?

    We learn from them. We become the voice of experience, the voice of reason.

    Which doesn't make Teeeena any less smart or bossy, by the way.

    Hey, Colorado girls, Audra and Tina, huge prayers going out for control on those fires. So, so sorry for those people, those firefighters, expecially the ones whose homes burned while they were striving to save others.

    Just so glad everyone is safely evacuated and praying for safety for the firefighters there. God bless them all.

    Pancakes, Jules....

    With apple topping, please? And whipped cream?

    I'm very happy right now.

  47. Julie, your story brought tears to my eyes. Wow! Isn't God wonderful? And He cares about our heart's desire even more than we do.

    Love your list of do-overs. I agree wholeheartedly. It's hard to scramble for a list of people to send influencer copies to, isn't it?

    I can't wait to see you and your warm eyes at ACFW in a week. (I love saying that)

    P.S. I loved the clown noses and think laughter is the the most important thing to pack for a conference.

  48. The CPR post on Writer's Corner was my introduction to Julie and ultimately to Seekerville. And, I can't say how thankful I am to have found it and so many wonderful people. I loved reading it again and the Do-Overs as well.

    Thoughts and prayers to each of you today.


  49. What a wonderful post! Do-overs, there are a lot of them I could list, BUT I just started home-schooling my 15 1/2 yr old and 14 yr old on my own instead of going through a virtual program, if I could do it over, I'd never do the virtual program, this is so much better!


  50. I just lost a message in cyber space. Ignore this one if it's a duplicate!

    As I wrote earlier...

    I'm wearing a clown nose and working on a do-over. Thanks for reminding me to smile and find the joy!

    Looking forward to seeing everyone at ACFW. Shall we wear clown noses?

  51. julie ...

    you are the best :)

    a fabulous posting...

    loved the picture w/ the noses :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  52. Thanks for sharing! It always helps me to read this kind of thing. :)

    Do-overs for me? Pray more, stress less, and be more disciplined with my writing time.
    Thanks and blessings,

  53. Julie you are a blessing. Your testimony and love for Christ just shines through in everything you do and I couldn't be more blessed to have the chance to read this today. I could see me in a situation like that, crying over the mountain of jealousy for the unknown and known even. Publication is so vast and deep and scary, but so entoxicating and mesmorizing, a dream I can't let go of, even if I wanted to. I know that when I attend my first ACFW conference someday I will think of this post and praise God for the preperation He was giving me years down the road through you. Bless you Julie!

    And I want to know: how in the WORLD did you go to ACFW on only $800?? Is that even possible?? I would guess it isn't anymore. :)

  54. Thanks for the great post, Julie. I loved your prayer for Nancye; added her to my list, also. I love your please enter me to win! Guess my do over would be to attend college.

  55. Oh, Julie, I'm teary eyed and believe it or not that is not common for me. Thanks so much for sharing about your conference experience. My biggest regrets are times when I've been disobedient to God and times when I have let fear keep me from achieving my dreams.

    As for writing, I'm not sure what I would do differently yet. I guess at this point its just being obedient to Him along the journey. For instance, my children are 2 and 5 and I just began homeschooling my daughter. So now is not time to seek publication, but its easy to get caught up in that with following all the blogs, writer's websites, etc. I guess my task right now is just to work on my writing and learning the craft as God allows.

  56. My biggest do-over.... My grandmother passed away yesterday and I regret that I don't have a single picture of her with my little boy. I don't know how i let that happen!
    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

  57. HELEN!!! I cannot get used to these new hours you are keeping, woman!! I expect to see your sweet, little face first thing, but I totally understand the need to acclimate to sleeping at night during a conference.

    And I am SOOOO excited we get to meet you and so many other of our Seeker buds, so make sure you show up at least once after 9:00 PM in the lobby bar, you hear???

    And, YES!!!! Next year it is in my hometown of St. Louis, so I am already planning a big shindig for the Seekers, many of whom will probably be staying at my house.

    Helen ... do you live in St. Louis???


  58. Bluerose, deepest sympathies. Grandmothers are SO dear...

  59. Julie:

    I live about 100 miles south of St. Louis.

    I'm meeting someone in St. Louis to ride to Indy.


  60. Julie,

    You said: "you have a standing invitation to stick with me because not only will you not be "eating alone," but you will actually be able to eat because I do all the talking!" I just may take you up on this! I'm laughing thinking about all us "Julie groupies" following you around like little ducklings!!

    So next year is in St. Louis (Missouri?). Is that on the east coast? (Sorry, geography is not my strong suit.) How lucky it's in your hometown! You and the Seeker gals still have to hang out in the bar, though, kay? Or I may have to follow you home!

    Funny! I love this blog because it always gives me a smile for the day.

    Take care, y'all (practicing to sound American).


  61. STEENA ... do you mean that you didn't take the contract offered to you??? If not, you can STILL take that excitement and desire and run with it, you know ... it's never too late with God (a sub-theme in A Hope Undaunted). I mean, come on -- anybody with a blog entitled "Chocolate Reality" needs to be published and often! :)

    MYRA ... no, honey, I only have Keith Photoshop under my chin and eyes, not clown noses. Oh, wait ... I did have him "endow" Charity a bit more on the cover layout that Revell originally sent me ... :) And I totally agree -- connecting with The Seekers is definitely a "do over again and again because you want to" type of do-over, not the mistake kind!! :)

    RUTHY!!! Yes you did, sweetie, got those hook endings in pronto, so thank you!! And I laughed out loud at your comment:

    "Writing do-overs? OH YES. I would have learned to shup up sooner."

    Grin ... I haven't learned that yet, but then we have already established that I'm slow ... And, I'm with you on those prayers for the Colorado fires too. Lord, douse them, please!!


  62. Nancye & Bluerose,

    So sorry for both of your sorrows.
    Nancye, how unbelievable is that, to have your health go downhill just like that. Julie's prayer was lovely and I pray it works even a little for your healing.

    And bluerose, so sorry about your grandma. It's amazing how time just slips away and before you know it, there's no picture. I thank God we took some video of my daughter with my grandmother when she was a baby. It's wonderful to watch. Maybe some family members might have a picture you're not aware of. Put out the word and see if one doesn't show up.

  63. LORNA!!! I can't wait either, girl, and I've had a note written to send you money for that ACFW Central ad you did, but it's still sitting on my "to do" pile, so forgive me. Maybe I will just give it to you in Indy since we will be at the same dinner, right??

    Aw, CINDY, thank you!! And I'm thankful we found you too!! No question that our extended Seeker family is one of the very best things about this blog!!

    LAURI ... Now that's one do-over I would never do over again -- make consider homeschooling my kids!! I actually thought about it for a nano-second once, but then I decided I loved my kids too much to do that to them. As a result, I am in total awe of people like you, Lauri, who are gifted enough to teach their own kids, much less teen kids 15 1/2 and 14 yrs. old!! In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I think homeschooling kids may be the first step to sainthood ... :)


  64. Great post Julie, I love that story. If I could do my first writer's conference all over again, I would have definitely spit out the bright blue chewing gum before pitching my novel to an agent. :)

    Joy Tamsin David

  65. DEB!!! Oh, wouldn't clown noses be fun??? Except I've already been traumatized having pictures taken of me in Green Lake!! Not sure my vanity could handle it twice ... but maybe!! I tell you it's like a dream come true being able to see you and most of the Seekers again ...

    KAREN K ... funny, I think the exact same about you, my friend. You are a doll, you know that???

    KAREN L ... Your do-overs are pray more, stress less, and be more disciplined with your writing time?? Okay, you are obviously clairvoyant because you are reading my mind, girl!! Twins separated at birth, perhaps??? Yeah, by about fifty years ... :)


  66. CASEY!!! I love seeing that darling over-the-shoulder smile, my friend -- it always brightens my day!

    And you said: Publication is so vast and deep and scary, but so entoxicating and mesmorizing ..."

    Oh, AMEN to that, sistah, and I got a strong suspicion you WILL find out what it's like ... a roller-coaster, let me tell you. But, hey, if your partial to Six Flags and the like, you will LOVE it!! :)

    Yep, $800 -- for airfare, hotel and conference fee, I'm pretty sure. But keep in mind that was over five years ago (maybe six!!), so that would make sense.

    JACKIE S ... Thanks, sweetie, I appreciate your kind words. And you want to hear something weird?? I only attended a year of college, but I never regretted not going back (I had a strained relationship with my dad, so I wanted out of the house and quit school to get a job) until my kids away to college. It just seemed like they had so much fun and that it was such a broadening experience, I just wished I had had the chance too. Maybe you and I will go back someday, you know? A a belated "do-over"!

    JULIA ... thank you for the incredible compliment, my friend, but we both know it's the goodness of God that brings tears to our eyes!! And, oh, your following statement REALLY resonated with me:

    "For instance, my children are 2 and 5 and I just began homeschooling my daughter. So now is not time to seek publication."

    To everything there is a season, and God's timing is perfect, although it doesn't always seem so at the time. Sometimes I wonder why it took me until I was over 50 to start writing, but then I realize my kids kept me too busy to read, much less write, and you know what? I'm glad. They are a priority to God and so they should be a priority to us. And keep in mind that God "honors those who honor Him" ... mmm, with a publishing contract down the road, maybe???:)


  67. CASEY!!! I love seeing that darling over-the-shoulder smile, my friend -- it always brightens my day!

    And you said: Publication is so vast and deep and scary, but so entoxicating and mesmorizing ..."

    Oh, AMEN to that, sistah, and I got a strong suspicion you WILL find out what it's like ... a roller-coaster, let me tell you. But, hey, if your partial to Six Flags and the like, you will LOVE it!! :)

    Yep, $800 -- for airfare, hotel and conference fee, I'm pretty sure. But keep in mind that was over five years ago (maybe six!!), so that would make sense.

    JACKIE S ... Thanks, sweetie, I appreciate your kind words. And you want to hear something weird?? I only attended a year of college, but I never regretted not going back (I had a strained relationship with my dad, so I wanted out of the house and quit school to get a job) until my kids away to college. It just seemed like they had so much fun and that it was such a broadening experience, I just wished I had had the chance too. Maybe you and I will go back someday, you know? A a belated "do-over"!

    JULIA ... thank you for the incredible compliment, my friend, but we both know it's the goodness of God that brings tears to our eyes!! And, oh, your following statement REALLY resonated with me:

    "For instance, my children are 2 and 5 and I just began homeschooling my daughter. So now is not time to seek publication."

    To everything there is a season, and God's timing is perfect, although it doesn't always seem so at the time. Sometimes I wonder why it took me until I was over 50 to start writing, but then I realize my kids kept me too busy to read, much less write, and you know what? I'm glad. They are a priority to God and so they should be a priority to us. And keep in mind that God "honors those who honor Him" ... mmm, with a publishing contract down the road, maybe???:)


  68. I just lived a do-over today...or at least a want to do-over!!!! I had this feeling I should swing by the Christian bookstore on my way home from work today BUT it's raining and cold and I don't have a car so I take the bus and that would have meant two more transfers so I didn't. Humph. When I got home I had a message on my machine saying that my copy of A Hope Undaunted had just come in and I could pick it up any time!!!! Gahhhhh!!!!! If I had just followed my instincts I could have it in my hot little hands right now. Grrrrrrrr. Picking it up tomorrow for sure! I can't wait...especially with the weekend coming up. Whoooohooooo!!!!!

  69. more conference ideas:

  70. BLUEROSE (TAMMY), I am so very sorry, my friend, for your heartbreaking loss. My prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time, and I just wish there was something I could do to make this do over a possibility. It does boggle the mind why we don't think of things like this at the time, but please know that your experience will help somebody else to think of it so they won't need a do-over like this.

    Major hugs,

  71. I figured the only way you made it on that little back then was because it was so long ago. Sigh. I have a loooooong way to go.

  72. Julie,

    I'm late to the party today but wanted to say how much I enjoyed your blog today. Very inspirational!

    Loved the picture with the clown noses.

  73. Julie, thanks for the wonderful post! You always bless me with your words.

  74. Oh, HELEN, whereabouts -- Cape Girardeau??? I just LOVE it when I find out friends I meet online live close! :)

    OMIGOSH, SUE ... "Julie groupies"??? Hardly!! Trust me, I'll be hanging on to you 'cause believe it or not, inside I tend to be a loner looking for a friendly face most of the time.

    And St. Louis on the east coast??? Boy, your geography is as bad as mine, girl, and that's a cut!! :) St. Louis is smack dab in Middle America, in the Midwest. And trust me, the Seekers will ALWAYS hang out in the bar at ACFW. Wait, that didn't sound so good, did it??? :/ One last question, Sue -- why do you have to practice to sound American???

    JOY!!! That is a hoot, girlfriend -- I can just see that cute, sassy face of yours, cheeks rolling and snapping with gum. Of course, blue is my favorite color ... :)


  75. KAV -- BUMMER!!! But look at it this way, sweetie ... it'll be you and Cluny this weekend, right??? ;) And gosh, I have to admit that the reviews I've gotten so far are so good that even I want to read it again :) ... of course it is my favorite and then again, there IS Cluny McGee ... sigh.

    KC ... thanks for the link on the 4 P's for conferences!! Everybody, all you have to do is copy and paste the link in your browser.

    CASEY ... a word of warning, if you will. Never ... and I repeat NEVER ... use the term "so long ago" with a woman about to head into another decade, okay?? They tend to be a little bit sensitive about that age thing ... ;)


  76. #1 Do over on my publication journey: Join ACFW back in 2005 when I first attended the conference, instead of waiting 3 years. By joining, I made friends. By joining, I became part of an awesome critique group. By joining, I no longer travel this journey alone.

  77. Julie:

    I'm down here by Sam Baker State Park and Clearwater Lake. Piedmont


  78. Thanks, MISSY!! I always appreciate seeing your sweet name at the end of the day. :)

    Oh, SHANNON, isn't THAT the truth!!! ACFW has been such a Godsend to most of us that I simply cannot imagine being without it, can you??? Talk about the best writer's tool in the box -- providing services, teaching, blessing and most of all -- wonderful friends!!

    Oh man, HELEN, I don't even know where that is -- I am SUCH a geography zero!! Well, I'm glad we're within close proximity anyway. :)


  79. I hope I'm not too late to get in on this drawing. I've been thinking quite a bit about things I wish I'd done differently this week, so it was great to read about someone else's do overs.


  80. Julie:

    I'm about 60 miles from Cape, 50 from Poplar Bluff.


  81. HOLLY!!! You're right on time, sweetie, 'cause I won't draw until tomorrow or Friday, so good luck!!

    Aw, HELEN, you're a little too far away for coffee, but at least I'll get to see you in Indy! :)


  82. Mine would be a conference do-over. My very first conference and totally new to writing, I pitched a story to an editor I hadn't written yet. Then I found out how hard it really was to write a story, LOL! Why a do-over? Because I wasted that woman's time. She came with a purpose and I didn't understand the business from her point of view.

  83. Oh yes, there are many days I wish I could do a "do over". There are many things in life as well that I wished I could do over. The joy is that each day we can have a do over with God. (I have to keep telling myself that too!). I think we have to look forward to the "do its" and not dwell on the "do overs". Looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for giving away a copy.

  84. Boy, DEB, you said a mouthful, and I'm sure that's one of the reasons editors are a little gruff about their time and want aspiring authors to adhere to guidelines, know that publishers market and come prepared with a full ms.

    I made a somewhat similar mistake at my first conference (or maybe it was the 2nd), where I pitched my story about an Irish-Catholic family (A Passion Most Pure) to a publisher who does NOT publish anything Catholic or with any specific denomination mentione. I got about 9 words out--“Well, you see, it’s a story about an Irish-Catholic family ..." before she stopped me cold. I wrote about the experience in a Seeker blog (Buckle up ... it's going to be a bumpy ride), giving "mile markers" on what I did on the road to publication. Thanks, Deb, for coming by and good luck in the contest.


  85. PATSY SAID: "I think we have to look forward to the "do its" and not dwell on the "do overs".

    PREACH IT, Patsy!! You are dead-on, which is probably why Nike built a whole ad campaign around "Just do it."

    Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the contest!


  86. This is kind of trivial but I would do over giving up clarinet playing when I went to college. I didn't have the confidence in myself that I could still play at a college level.

  87. WENDY!!! Nothing "trivial" about music, my friend, and you know what? Bet you could pick that clarinet back up and get started again ...

    It's never too late ... at least with God (a sub-theme in my latest, A Hope Undaunted!). :)


  88. Julie,

    Thanks once again for the encouraging words. Blessings to you today!

  89. Thanks for sharing your do-over list. There are a lot of things I wish I could do-over. Such as life though. We just have to make the best of those experiences and pray they make us better people. Continued blessings on all of your endeavors.

  90. Thanks, JULIA -- appreciate you stopping by, my friend! Looking forward to our interview on 9/24-25!!

    VANESSA ... Thank you for your kind words and I TOTALLY agree with your statement: "We just have to make the best of those experiences and pray they make us better people."
    Amen to that!! :) Abundant blessings to you as well. :)

    Hugs, Julie

  91. Most of my "do overs" would probably have to do with things I say . . . I either mess up or think of something I should have said after the fact. =/ I remember one time at a home-school field trip to City Hall and of course, wanting to ask a good/hard question, I asked a rather pointed, assuming question regarding one of our mayor's projects (that was a bit controversial because of how much money would be going to it) to our tour guide, who was working for the mayor. Being a young student, I didn't have my facts correct, to my embarrassment. On the other hand, I never forgot that moment, and now I always try to be aware and careful about how I ask my questions . . . especially in regards to politics and such. =)

    Thank you for putting this contest together! I'd love to win an autographed book . . . as of now, I've dreamed of writing a book, but have never started . . . if I do though, I'll have to read all the articles on this site --they have such good advice!


  92. Okay, Julie! Now you've made me cry instead of laugh...all the way through your blog. We are such soul partners where it comes to emotion and feeling it deeply. That's a good indication to me that the Holy Spirit is alive and well within our hearts...and that is what makes you such an incredible talent with words and placing them just right. To me, writing is not an austere experience, lacking in color and depth...I've tried to read some books that are like on earth did they ever get published! There is so much I'd like to express, but I'm coming from a different place than most people; yet very much the same. Sorry for the diabolical extreme. Your points of instruction were very helpful and I find I have developed a couple of them on my own. Your conference story is what I call a Godincidence...and that wasn't a coincidence. How beautiful our Lord is - he's all knowing...we must learn what our real needs are so that we can accept them for fulfillment in God's timing. That makes his gifting us so much easier for him. LOL I'm consistently in prayer about whether God is behind my desire to write...and since I haven't yet been able to put words constructively on paper - I haven't received his answer..or heard it when he answered. I have some things to do I say it so others can learn what God intends?

    Thanks, Julie, for urging me to express, I'm wiping away the tears and showing you a smile :) LOL I am blessed by your words.

    Sharing God's Love,
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

  93. LADY DRAGONKEEPER!!! Good to see you here, girl, and man, if you're talking "hoof-in-mouth" disease, then move over, sweetie, because I'm infected BIG TIME, so I totally understand! And I would LOVE for you to win an autographed book, so good luck!!

    BARB!!! And I am blessed by YOUR words, sweet friend and Baby Boomer soulmate!!! I love your word "Godincidence" -- can I steal it???
    You really should start writing, Barb, because you sure have the passion and drama pouring out of you, girl!! ;)


  94. I loved this interview and synapsis on the book!! So very interesting