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My Writing Journey (Part 1)


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

It's getting to be that time of year again when my speaking calendar begins to fill up. And when I'm speaking, I frequently share a little bit about my writing journey—when I started, how long I've been writing, and the path I've taken to get to where I'm at.

After recently sharing about my writing journey in a couple of local talks, I realized I've never bared my past on my blog! So I thought I'd take a couple of weeks to give a personal glimpse into my writing journey for readers here.

My Writing Journey (Part 1):

Like many writers I was born with a pen in my hand. I filled notebooks with stories when I was growing up.

My mom was the most influential person in my writing career. When I was young, she helped facilitate my love of writing by reading aloud to me, giving me good books to read, and providing the kind of environment that fostered my creativity (in fact we didn’t have a TV for a number of years). She always believed in me, encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and rode alongside me cheering me on.

My passion for writing followed me into adulthood. I wanted to be an author. But like most aspiring writers, I struggled to know how I could use my gifts and abilities in a career. When my college years came, I knew I would need a career that could pay the bills while I worked on my novels. So I went to Taylor University in Indiana and then eventually to the University of Wisconsin in Madison where I got my Masters in Social Work.

I kept writing and learning about writing during the years when I worked as a social worker. And it was during those post-college years, when I was working and before I had kids, that I really studied the craft of writing. I read every how-to book about fiction techniques I could get my hands on.

During that pre-child time, I also wrote five books. The last of those five books garnered attention from an editor at a publishing house but was eventually rejected. So I knew I was getting close to being ready for publication. While the rejection was discouraging, I also knew that most writers have to write numerous books before they’re finally good enough for publication. I never looked at those early books as wasted attempts. Instead I viewed them as preparation and training for growing into a skillful author.

But as life (and God) would have it, I ended up taking a long writing hiatus. Shortly after the birth of my twins, I set aside my writing completely for about seven years. As I now look back over those years, I can see how much the hiatus helped me grow personally, spiritually, and deepened my life experiences.

During my break, I also gained ideas and fuel for future stories. Because about that time, I started homeschooling my children. During the course of our history lessons, I began to learn a lot about some of the great heroes from history. I was particularly fascinated by the wives of these great heroes, especially those who were long forgotten by our modern world, women who had stood by their husband’s sides during dangerous times and had helped shape those men into the heroes they became. I wanted to bring these women to life for our modern generation.

But it wasn’t until after I’d had my fifth baby, that I started to feel the urge to write again. Around that time, I read a biography about John Bunyan, the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress. I discovered a tiny excerpt about his second wife, Elizabeth, and it stirred my curiosity.

My imagination turned on in a way that it hadn’t in many years. I began to think about this particular woman (one of those strong woman who had been obscured by the popularity of her husband). What had life been like for her? And what was her real story?

So the first book I wrote after my seven year break was The Preacher’s Bride, a book inspired by the life of Elizabeth Bunyan. At the time I wrote the book, my youngest two children were still very little, so I had to sneak in writing during nap time and in the evenings after their bedtime. In all, the book took me about a year to complete, writing only about 500 words a day.

The book went on to become my first published book, hit the CBA best seller list, and won multiple awards.

Come back next week to find out how many agents rejected The Preacher's Bride, how long the manuscript languished in slush piles, and how I finally got my big break . . .

So, dear readers, do you have any question for me regarding my writing journey so far? Ask away! And now tell me something about you! What was your college major or line of study? Did you end up using your degree or did you do something different?

45 comments:

  1. That's a really great story, Jody. I wish I would have known I wanted to be a writer sooner. I went to college and got an English Ed degree, loving to read popular fiction that whole time, but it never, ever occurred that I might be able to write one of those books I loved so much.

    Of course, it doesn't help too much that universities mainly study literary fiction. Who wants to read (or write) books about how dark and depraved humanity is? Or books where everyone dies at the end. Ugh! Give me happily ever after, please.

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    1. Hi Naomi,

      I'd considered majoring in English too. (And journalism). But I couldn't see myself doing anything with either of those because what I really loved was writing novels!

      So did you end up using your English Ed degree by teaching high school or did you do something else completely?

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    2. Ha! Nope. I didn't teach until this year, when I started homeschooling my oldest. I got married right out of college and ended up pregnant (and pretty sick) shortly thereafter. It wasn't until my oldest was 1 1/2 and taking pretty long naps that I started writing my first novel. Things went rather quickly with me from there. I had my first contract in 2 1/2 years.

      Now I have two kids who don't nap anymore, one published novel, three more under contract for 2014 release, and a "for fun" novel that should be finished within the next two months. So yeah, my life has definitely changed from the days when I wrote because I was half-bored and wanted something challenging. But I love my family and my writing and I wouldn't change any of it. :-)

      But yeah, an English major without the Educational part seems like it would be harder to use when looking for a job. And non fiction (such as journalism) has never really interested me.

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    3. Thanks for sharing, Naomi! It's been fun to get to know a little bit more about your background (and everyone else too!).

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  2. What a wonderful part one, Jody. It feels like those seven years were a gestational period; an incubator. I've recently come to realize that I incubate a lot of things in my life before birthing them.
    Field of study: journalism, because there was no other writing program at the college I could afford. It didn't jive with me, and I didn't finish college. I discovered I was a really good organizer and analyzer, which landed me in the administrative professional/office manager realm.
    I wrote in my free time - stories and poems - but that was "just for fun." I also rediscovered my love for performing, so most free time was spent on stage, right through 2008 (which led me to write and produce five plays). Then Reiki found me in 2009, and I started blogging about it, and about life, which reminded me how much I love to write.
    Balancing all life's aspects and not neglecting that love in favor of more pressing concerns is hard. I'm working on it. And so it goes.
    I look forward to part two. :-)

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    1. Hi Ellen,

      You summed it up perfectly! Our breaks are like gestational periods/incubators in our lives. We can let those times really build in us a wealth of story ideas and rich experiences to draw from!

      And how interesting to hear about your journalism degree flop! I had considered journalism too, but quickly realized that it wouldn't satisfy my desire to write my novels.

      Sounds like you've had a very creative journey! And all of that really does come together to shape our writing!

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  3. It's funny how you went to college in Wisconsin and now live in Michigan because I went to college in Michigan and now live in Wisconsin :-) I got my degree in psychology/family studies, worked in that field for just over 2 years, then went back to school and now work in the medical field.

    My question for you is about the 5 books your wrote in the beginning. I believe you've mentioned that you don't have any interest in pulling out any of those old stories and re-doing them to try to get them published. Why is that? Is it because you really don't see any potential in them? That you've moved onto a different genre? I'm curious because I took a story I wrote years ago, totally re-wrote it, and am still re-writing it all the time, even expanded it into a series. Not that it's the only story I'm ever going to write but I don't feel finished with it yet. It keeps pulling me back. But I also want to write other stories as well because I think the experience of writing several books before seeking publication is invaluable. But how do you get past that love for one story and face the realization that it may not be "the one" that gets your foot in the door?

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    1. Hi Shelly!

      That IS funny! I lived in Wisconsin growing up and loved it too! My father's family still all lives in north central WI. So I have fond memories of the state (and it is very much like Michigan)!

      Great questions, Shelly! There are a couple of reasons why I probably won't ever pull those early manuscripts out. First, they're contemporary. And I've moved onto historical as my genre of choice. At this point I have no desire to switch back. Two, they're so amateur that they would likely need complete overhauls and that's just something I don't want to do. On the other hand, IF I felt passionately about one of those plots or characters, then perhaps I would go back and rewrite (likely starting from scratch and implementing all that I've learned over the years).

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    2. That is so neat! I didn't realize you grew up in Wisconsin. Where did you grow up? I'm from central WI (Marshfield area) and if you have family in north central WI you probably know where that is :)

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    3. I actually lived in southern Wisconsin in the Janesville area and later in Beloit. For a few years I even lived in Madison (which I loved!).

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  4. It's so fun to hear your journey, Jody! It actually sounds very similar to mine. I was born with a pen in hand and my mom fostered that love of words in my life by reading to me as a child, and later, we also didn't have television, so I filled countless notebooks with stories. I was homeschooled for many years and she also helped foster the love of history in my life by bringing me to our local historical society to volunteer. I put down my pen for a few years after my twins were born, but last year I decided it was time to get serious and I finished my first complete novel, which has gained some interest. I'm still on that first (pre-published) leg of the journey, but it's been an amazing ride so far - a lot of hard work - but, amazing. Looking forward to reading Part Two of your journey!

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    1. Gabrielle, are you sure we're not twins separated at birth or something? :-) How fun to see what we have in common!! Wishing you all the best as you continue your amazing journey toward publication! :-)

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  5. That's impressive that you were able to find time for writing; I think it's great that you disciplined yourself to write 500 words a day. That gives me hope that I can finish my manuscripts too.
    I majored in English when I was in college, but I didn't actually take a creative writing class until I was a senior. I was too shy to show anyone my writing before then, and that class didn't make it any easier. The stories I wrote weren't very good, but the atmosphere in that class was even worse (though it wasn't the teacher's fault). But I kept writing anyway.

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    1. At that particular time in my life, 500 words a day was VERY challenging! It was literally all I could eke out both physically and mentally. But it does show that a little bit every day eventually adds up to a completed book . . . if we persevere!

      I had also considered majoring in English, but then didn't really know what I'd do with the degree after I graduated (besides teaching, which I didn't really want to do). Glad you persevered and kept writing in spite of the atmosphere!

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    2. You know, I took advanced writing (think creative non-fiction, like a magazine article for Woman's Day or something) and then a creative writing class for my English Ed degree. I was really surprised how much I DIDN'T learn about writing novels in either of those classes. They taught me how to polish something I wrote and write a good query letter, but little to nothing about tension that can sustain an 80,000 word story or what makes a compelling character for a popular fiction novel.

      Looking back, I think it's because universities teach literary fiction, not popular fiction, and the two are very, very different. One of the biggest points of literary fiction is the message the story conveys about humanity (which is usually dark and a bit depressing). Popular fiction usually doesn't convey a strong message, and a lot of the messages are pretty common (love conquers all, growing up can be hard but lead to valuable life experiences, etc).

      So I'm totally not surprised by the other writers who find journalism and creative writing classes unhelpful when it comes to writing popular fiction. That's certainly been my own experience.

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  6. Jody, our beginnings are a bit similar. :) We didn't have TV for years either, and my Mom read all the Little House books to me during my little sister's naptimes.That's probably one of my earliest and best memories.

    Just last year I ended a four-year writing hiatus due to family needs. And I really hope the book I just entered in Genesis does well when it's time to shop it to agents and editors.

    My question--those five books you wrote before your kids were born--were they historical fiction as well or did you change genres?

    Thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. Hi Sally,

      The home environment is so important in fostering creativity in kids, isn't it? I continually battle now to protect my kids' creativity from being overtaken by too much media. There are some weeks when I'd like to throw out the TV (and wish we could!). Even though we're pretty strict with limiting screen time, it's still a battle.

      And yes, I did switch genres. My earlier books were all contemporaries (with the exception of one historical which I didn't finish). So I really have no interest and going back to rewrite them. I can't see myself switching to contemporary, but if I ever did there's the possibility that I might use some of the plot ideas, but then again, times have changed so much since when I wrote those books, that they might be considered historicals by now! ;-)

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    2. Jody, I just want to point out there are OTHER ways kids (And adults, for that matter) creaitivity is comprmoised if not outright ENDANGERED that has nothing to do with television, texting, or even the infamous Facebook.

      I can't speak to those who are home schooled, but my school experience left a lot to be desired, and this was before the current lust (For lack of a better term) in recent years especially for academics FIRST, emotions and life later, if you're lucky...

      I strongly recommend reading "Seeing Past Z" by Beth Kephart. Before you parents begin the push for "College, College, College!" if you haven't already, read that book first. I've seen too many family bonds destroyed because of the exeptectations parents and teachers who stop seeing students (Especially in HS), as well the WORLD at large for college, and these students weren't illiterarte or ignorant, but just were fed up with so many people around them seeing them as only a student, not a human being who has so much to offer beyond what academics alone can represent about you.



      My heart goes out to the kids who feel (Either from teachers and parents or society at large) their GPAs matter more than their dreams and needs outside the classroom, beyond any other interests they have.

      It's great that there are more alternatives and outreach programs for kids and teens now, but for those of us who too old (18/20+) for those alternatives, we feel alone or just forgotten about.

      It feels like there's nothing for those of us past 21 who didn't drop out because they stopped caring, but were for academic and personal reasons didn't make it on the traditional path.

      Even if they're prepped, I know there are many students who aren't academic marvels, but it doesn't mean they're lazy or wanted success any less than any "genius" you can name. We can't chalk up all solutions to this problem with ONLY "working like a dog and zen-level patience" sometimes that's not enough. What can you do then, Jody?


      Jody, I know you said you home school your kids, but how do you put emphasize the benefits of education in general, without pushing too hard? How would you have talks about "Going to college" without resorting to scare tactics or looking so far into the future the present pain of the pressure to excel is irrelevant?

      Do you think there's more to college apprehension than simply finances or the mandate for college graduates in future careers? How do we teach preparation without overwhelming students?

      How do we show students, especially "late bloomers" like me (Though I don't always like that term, but it's most positive way to express what I mean)they CAN DO IT and not torture themselves to do so?

      For my own sanity, I have to believe "I'm more than what my GPA was" but from a realistic POV, I NEED to further my education, and just getting my GED is hard, and despite those who found that an easier path, for me it's just not, and this year will be my second attempt.

      My first attempt was last year after trying and failing adult ed. to get my HS diploma the semi-traditional way years ago (when things fell apart in 10th grade for so many reasons) so wish me luck. I WILL NEED IT!

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    3. Hi Taurean,

      I think the educational system in general has to conform to an assembly-line type of education in order for teachers and students to function. It's unfortunate, but in teaching classes myself, I can see how it's difficult to reach each student's individual and unique needs and gifts when you have a classroom of 25-30 students. Those who are ahead often have to slow down and those who lag behind (for whatever reason), often get left behind.

      I personally look at each of my children individually. For example, one of my daughters is really interested in hair styling and is more artistic. So will I force her to go to a traditional college? Absolutely not. But my oldest son is interested in chemical engineering. So I'll be helping him to pursue his dreams by getting him the best education possible for his interest.

      And I agree that their are LOTS of other ways to foster creativity besides limiting media. Creativity can be endangered through our the nature of our educational system. But if we're aware of that and work hard to encourage our children's dreams and aspirations and special giftings, hopefully we can keep that love of learning alive!

      Thanks as always for your thought-provoking comments!

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    5. Typos before-

      Thanks for replying, Jody. I'm glad I didn't offend you, I'm not anti-parents or teachers, but I know it can look that way because I don't mince words on this issue.


      I don't argue to logistics of what you said, I just know if we just stopped using shock-value and cruel scare tactics on kids and teens, we can cut the dropout rate down significantly, I would've graduated on time or a year later than my peers if I'd been given less pain and pressure.

      I'm glad your kids don't have to be victim to those scare tactics. I just feel like we value GPAs and Phds more than the PEOPLE who earned them.

      It just feels that way, and in my personal experience, that pressure made me anti-education for so long, and this was before I knew I was a children's writer, which inherently has a foot in the door of education, even if you aren't writing for teachers or education markets specifically, you know?

      Thre are hard working college graduates who can't get jobs, who're thousands of dollars in debt there nowhere near paying back, and NOT because they don't want to.

      Those who say any job is better than none at all, don't get that student loan debt is a KILLER, emotionally and financially, and working at Costco won't erase that. Period. I'm struggling to just get my GED and I see this pain play out across the world, why can't more parents and educators get that.

      Period.

      Anyway, I wish you and your kids well, I would not want to be kids in school now, and if you can't see them beyond grades, you've already done them a inhumane disservice.

      I'm not a teacher, but I that much, I just know it's real.

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    6. Taurean, I missed seeing your comment back in March, but I think it's still relevant to say your educational experience probably wasn't unique, but neither was it common. I was a teacher before retiring, and among my friends and colleagues I don't know of any who would have resorted to "shock-value and cruel scare tactics" to convince students that they needed to excel in their academics. We're teachers primarily because we love helping children discover and learn, build confidence and develop to their full potential, wherever that may lead them.

      The fact is, today an educational degree at any level is no guarantee of finding a good job, but conversely, a lack of one is a huge disadvantage. Overcoming that disadvantage takes initiative and determination, and I congratulate you for your desire to persevere.

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  7. There's a wonderful song by Jason Gray called "Nothing is Wasted." I think your story (and many of ours) reflects that truth--that the breaks we took, or the things that seemed like roadblocks, or the 'failures' end up being part of our eventual success. They contribute to our depth and unique 'take' on the world. I know my truncated career as a teacher has certainly influenced my writing for children and other 'how-to' pieces I write. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story!

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    1. Hi Violet! I absolutely agree. Nothing is ever wasted!! Everything comes together in the melting pot of our minds and brings richness and spice to our stories. As you said, even our failures can add depth and flavor to what we write.

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    2. Does that hold true, even if you just DON'T want to write about a specific "failure" experience?

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  8. I can relate to much of what you said. I remember filling notebooks with stories and then forcing my parents' friends to read them when they came over. I guess I was desperate for an audience even then! Sometimes I wish I had those stories back. Or maybe I don't. :) I majored in Mass Communication, emphasis on journalism, in college, because really, I didn't know what else to do. When it came time to choose a minor, my newspaper advisor suggested creative writing. (Hello! Why didn't I think of that?) My first assignments were terrible and more journalistic than creative. But in the middle of college, God got a hold of me and changed my life. My writing turned around after that and I promised Him I would use the gift for His glory. Now I'm in the early childhood years (a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old) and I'm sloooowly pounding out my first novel. Perseverance is what I'm aiming for right now. To finish it and learn more and keep writing. I just joined ACFW, too, for the added accountability and encouragement and education. Thanks for sharing about your journey. Will any of your first 5 novels see publication?

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    1. Hi Lisa,

      You're not the first commentor today to have a major in journalism (or in your case an emphasis). Interesting how so many writers don't know what to do for a career and end up in journalism or English or something else book-related!

      Sounds like you're making steady progress with your writing career! It is possible with little ones!

      And LOL about the 5 novels! That seems to be a popular question today! :-) As I mentioned in an above answer, I don't think those novels will ever see the light of day! They were practice-novels only and would require complete overhauls if I were to ever go back to them!

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  9. Great post, Jody--and I love how learning about obscure history prodded you on to write a book. I feel the same way about my beloved Viking woman, Gudrid--you want that part of history to be TOLD and brought to light. And homeschooling can teach us so much as mothers! I think I'm finally beginning to make sense of algebra (in some very small way!). It's great that our children are learning about these things that might not make it into standard history books.

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    1. Oh, I tell you, Heather! I've learned SO much in teaching my kids history! It's been incredible! And it's spurred my love of learning in a way I never experienced when I was younger. Total blessing! :-)

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  10. I've been feeling so discouraged lately because I haven't been writing my fiction at all. It's so hard with a toddler, and even since she was born my productivity has gone down. I know you took a 7 year hiatus and say it was worth it, but did you ever feel down on yourself for not producing work during that time? Also, I'm afraid that if I stop, I'll never get back to it, even though I have plenty of stories brewing in my mind.

    I also plan on homeschooling our children and dread trying to find the time to write!

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    1. Chantal,

      First, not everyone has to take a break when their kids are young. That's just what I did. After my twins were born, I was just WAY too busy to do anything. Between my twins and my 2 year old, changing diapers became a full time job! ;-) But when I was writing The Preacher's Bride, I still had a one year old and three year old. So it wasn't easy, but I just set realistic goals (like 500 words a day), and I was able to slowly keep going.

      Second, if you do decide to take a hiatus, you will definitely be able to pick it back up. I refreshed myself by re-reading some of my favorite how-to books and notes I'd taken years earlier. I liken it to riding a bike. Once you know how, you never really lose it. You might be a little wobbly once you get going, but it doesn't take long to be riding (writing) smoothly again! :-)

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  11. Jody, did you work with an agent during that first query process? Can you expand more on your experience with your agent?

    I recently went back to school for a Historic Preservation Certificate. It gives me an excuse to delve deeper into a subject I've always loved: Architectural History. When I was younger I dreamed about floor plans and drew them in my journal. I've also taken some horticulture classes, and this is an area I explore in my WIP.

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    1. Your career path sounds super interesting, Jenni! I think if I had to choose again now, I'd likely pick something history-related to help me be a better historian.

      As far as my agent situation, I'll be sharing more about that next Thursday! You'll have to stop back by and let me know if I answered your question then! :-)

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  12. Also, Jody--just noticed you were a Genesis contest finalist. Would you elaborate on how/if that affected your career? Just been wondering about that lately.

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    1. LOL! Heather, I'll be sharing about that next week as well! How's that for a tease? :-)

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  13. Inspiring story! Your journey mirrors mine in some ways, except mine was a two-year hiatus after a car accident and pregnancy. Now I've got three little buggers at home and can't even write during nap time because they won't all settle at the same time. So I've joined the ranks of night writers. I also homeschool and have also been inspired by some of these historical figures we're learning about, even in first grade. I'm intimidated by historical fiction, but someday I'd like to write about my grandmother's life in the 1930's and 1940's as someone who conquered Polio.

    I loved what you said about your early novels being practice, not a waste. I admit I've been disappointed not to be a prodigy and instantly get published after six novels. But looking back, I have to agree with the lesson you just laid out: experience matters. I'm working on my seventh novel now, and putting some of my life experiences to good use. :) I'm looking forward to the next installment of your writing journey.

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    1. Hi Katrina,

      Ah, that's frustrating to have staggered nap times!! I remember working so hard to get 30 minutes to an hour of "downtime" a day when my kids were younger! I needed it for my sanity! :-) Even when my kids weren't napping I had them have quiet time in their rooms.

      But anyway, I think most of us cross our fingers and hope for overnight success! :-) Even after we're published we hope to break the mold and have a bestseller on our first book or hit the NYT list right away or get a movie deal or whatever! But I recently read a Pin over on Pinterest that said, "Overnight success takes about fifteen years." :-) We just have to keep working hard and putting in the time.

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  14. Jody,
    I'm enjoying your stories and the inspiration found in your blog!
    As far as my youth, I always had my nose in a book and often received books as Christmas gifts. I loved to daydream, but didn't really start toying with plots until I was about 17. Fear of failure, lack of accountability, and a lack of incremental goals kept me from doing anything with my desire to write. I did some sign language interpreting and read some books on the craft of writing fiction until the girls came along. Homeschooling this year kept me feeling like I couldn't really start a writing career. However, I find your discipline inspiring! I was amazed to see you are homeschooling a houseful and still making time to write! I'm feeling the itch to put pen to paper again and am making contacts in search of a Christian writers group in my area. I think it is time for me to set aside my excuses and start working toward a daily word count goal. Thanks for the nudge! Jessie B

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    1. Hi Jessie,

      So glad that my writing story can be an inspiration to you! I'm not sure that I could have started writing my first few years of homeschooling since that took so much time and energy! But once I got into a routine and knew what I was doing, I eventually had more room in my life to devote to writing. And now my husband and I have a system worked out that gives me even more writing time. But it's been a long time coming!

      Wishing you all the best as you figure out what works for you! :-)

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  15. As a second gen. homeschooler, I don't really find myself overwhelmed by teaching so far. I do, however, tend to sign my girls up for more field trips and events than are actually necessary! Prioritizing the rest of my time wisely is what I need to work on. I'm so glad you've found ways to work writing into your schedule and that your husband is supportive of your interests. I've seen some moms, such as my own, seem to set aside their dreams entirely during the homeschool years. I'm glad to see it is possible to attain personal goals, in addition to being a homeschool mom! Guess I need to get creative :-) Thanks again! Hope your weekend is restful and rejuvenating! -Jessie B

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  16. It always helps to read instructional books on fiction techniques because being a writer is a continuous learning process.

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  17. It's interesting to hear your story from the beginning. I started out majoring in English, then went into teaching with a focus on the elementary grades. I stopped teaching (at least, the working in a school part) when my children came along. I wrote poetry from childhood, then began journalling and writing occasional devotionals and book reviews for our church magazine. I had NF articles published, but I didn't take my novel writing seriously until much later. I wish I'd realized then what I know now -- about how long the publication of fiction can take -- and I would have started sooner. I have my fifth novel in the works now, but my enjoyment is in the writing. I'm not trying very hard to do anything with it.

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  18. Hi Jody,
    I recently found you through another article on blogging. The writer mentioned you were a Christian/spiritual writer (opposite of herself) so that piqued my interest. I noticed you went to Taylor University where some of my friends and their kids have gone. I even looked at attending Taylor, myself, many moons ago but ended up attending Evangel University in Sprfld, MO, where I studied education and minored in history. I then taught in China. I presently live in Bloomington, IN where I've been home bound most days due to extreme chemical allergies/eczema. I had to quit teaching five years ago, so I've been exploring the blogging world and trying to educate myself before either creating a website or blog. I've always loved to write and have had many, a unique life experience of which most would not believe. I just am trying to figure out when to take the "big jump" into this arena. I enjoyed your story of your "beginnings" and wish you many blessings!

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