Inspire Member Spotlight: Xochi E. Dixon

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I joined Inspire in August 2011.


What prompted you to join Inspire?

Chris Pederson, a fellow member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators invited me to check out the Inspire website. Then, I connected with Beth Thompson through Twitter.

Being a part of a writing community devoted to the Lord and dedicated to encouraging and equipping His people was an answer to prayer. So, I joined and signed up to serve during the Write to Inspire conference.


When did you first know you were a writer?

I was born a storyteller. In elementary school, I won a Young Author’s contest with a picture book called, Sonny Otter and the Four Seasons. The book was accidentally trashed along with a box of memorabilia. But the seed was planted.

After I invited Jesus into my heart, He watered that seed. I stumbled into my spiritual gift of encouragement through a card ministry. My catch-phrase became: “I have a card for you.”

When I saw how God used those cards to encourage my sisters in Christ, I prayed for opportunities to serve as I learned to worship the Lord through my writing.


Describe your writing career high point and low point.

I like to start with the low points so I can end on a hopeful note.

I attended a SCBWI conference, reluctantly choosing to put writing aside to help my husband with our small business venture. A woman stood up during a share time and said, “I don’t know who this is for. But, you have no right to sit on a gift that God gave you.”

Over the next few years I didn’t make time to write. We lost our business. My marriage was challenged then strengthened. During this waiting season, God pruned me before He prepared me to attend the 2010 Writing for the Soul conference, with my husband’s blessing.

My high point, so far, would have to be the 2011 Mount Hermon conference. One divine appointment after another led me to pitch my doggy devotional, which at the time was just a spark of an idea and a few random blog posts. I submitted that project to an editor at the beginning of March. I also sold three short stories for teens, as a result of the conference.

Why are these high points when it sounds like I’m all over the place, crossing genres and pitching on the fly?

I learned not to limit God. He showed me how to be flexible when He opens a door that looks nothing like what I was expecting. I’m hoping to keep riding that high through the duration of my time on this side of eternity.


Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

The story God’s crafting through my life, which somehow weaves its way into my work.


Describe receiving your first book contract.

I have yet to receive my first book contract. But when my first short story was accepted by ENCOUNTER – The Magazine, I praised the Lord, did a random Snoopy dance, and prayed for the readers. It’s a big responsibility and privilege to point to God through the stories I write.

I thank the Lord for my amazing Inspire critique group. He uses them to help me take my writing to a higher level of quality. In His perfect timing, I’ll let you know how I react when I receive my first book contract.

I hope I’ll respond in the same way I did when my short stories were accepted for publication.


What project of yours is gathering dust?

Years ago, my son complained that everything I wrote was for girls.

I started a YA Fantasy. The protagonist is a teen boy who is competing for the hand of a princess he can never have and running away from the love of his life. He’s trying to steal back the crystal shard that will save the kingdom from an evil warlock and is forced to face an enemy that has the power to infiltrate his mind. Dating drama sprinkled with dragons, magic and archery. Fun stuff.

I’ve written a rough outline and about seven chapters. I’m not sure when, or if, the Lord will nudge me to pull out the files and get working on that story. For now, the project continues to moonlight as a used Swiffer duster.

What’s next for you?

I’m planning to pitch my doggy devotional and my Contemporary Teen Fiction series (for girls) at Mount Hermon this year.

During last year’s conference, Steve Laube inspired me to invest time in the ministry of writing for magazines. I would like to learn more about the process of submitting articles. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve through the ministry of ENCOUNTER – The Magazine and hope to submit to other magazines for teens and women.


What does it mean to you to be a writer?

To me, writing is an expression of worship and a tool to communicate God’s power, love and grace. I’m a child of God who loves teaching His Word through speaking and writing, hoping to encourage and point to Jesus with passion, and a little humor.

I view rejections as God’s divine interventions. As I learn to trust the Lord during the ups and downs of my writing journey, He uses those experiences to help me to grow in Christ-like character.


Was there a book that changed your life?

HA! Finally, an easy answer.

The Bible.

The more I read God’s Word, the more I fall in love with Him. As a result, I’m learning to see myself and others through the light of His perfect love.

Life changing.

There are a couple of novels that touched my heart, though I wouldn’t say they changed my life. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers ties with Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

Totally different spectrums? I know, right!


Describe your writing environment. Or better yet, include a photo.

We went through a short-sale in December 2011 and had less than a month to find a rental and move in before Christmas. My beautiful desk doesn’t fit in my new upstairs office. So, I use my son’s old, plywood corner-desk when I type. Since my new desk is rickety, I write on a four-foot folding table from Costco, set up in front of a window in my office.

Having something to remind me of God on every wall helps me practice His presence and invite Him into my writing process.

Piles are common, but not permanent. I have colorful plastic folders, a great filing system, and four bookshelves to help me stay organized. Organization does not come naturally to me, but it stimulates my creativity and productivity, so I force it.


What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

Make your relationship with God your first priority. Make your family your second priority. Treat writing as a job, not a hobby. Be teachable and join a good critique group.

Inspire has helped me apply all that great writing advice within a safe and encouraging community of writers. How cool is that?

To connect with Xochi, visit her website:


Design and Distribute Your Business Card for Maximum Impact

“Do you have a card?”


Even as an unpublished and inexperienced writer, I was ready for that question when I attended my first Christian Writer’s conference. I had taken an online workshop on how to prepare for the event.


I walked into the 2010 Writing for the Soul Conference, business cards in hand, and networked with confidence.


At first, it was a bit intimidating to declare my dream on paper. If I had a business card, I would have to be serious and committed to facing rejection.


It doesn’t matter if we’ve been published or not. A quality business card is a vital networking tool that shows we’re serious about our craft.


To design a card for maximum impact, keep it simple.


There are four things that will make your card look professional, even if you print them at home.


1. Quality printing.

– If you run out of ink or your photo is blurry, do not use the cards.


2. A quality headshot

– Mine was taken in my living room by my awesome teenage son.

– The photo will help people associate your face with your name.


3. A reader friendly font and text size

– If you can’t read the information at arm’s length, adjust the font size.

– Script is often hard to read, so stick to something like Times New Roman.


4. White space, even if your background is not white.

– Avoid a clutter of information.


What information should go next to your great head shot on the front of your card?


1. The name you use as your byline

– Bold letters, in a larger font size than your contact information, attracts the eye.


2. Title directly under your name

– Keep it simple.

– Use “Author” if you’ve had a book published.

– Use “Writer” if you are unpublished or have smaller pieces published.

– Include “Speaker” if it applies.


– White space before you add your contact information is refreshing.


3. P. O. Box or mailing address, including the zip code


4. Phone number, including the area code


5. Email address

– Think professional, not cutesy. (i.e.


6. Website address

– To make it stand apart, skip a few lines after entering your contact information.

– Use bold letters and the same font size as your contact information.



How can you have fun distributing your card with consistency and a smile?


Keep your networking tool in several easy to reach places. A pocket, that won’t cause the paper to bend, a quick access area in a binder or a side pocket in a purse are good options.


Some conferences provide plastic sleeves for name tags. Behind a name tag is a wonderful slot for at least ten business cards just waiting to be whipped out as you introduce yourself.


Maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking with and finish your handshake before you get your information into their hand.


The beginning of the conversation is the best time to ask, “Do you have a card?” Once the exchange is made, you have a conversation piece.


What if your new friend doesn’t have a card? Don’t hesitate to give them yours.


A good business practice is to hand your card to a person every time you meet them, until they can associate your face with your name.


The most important thing to do is relax and enjoy meeting the people God has placed on your path.


I pray the Lord will build your confidence and your network as you share your professional business cards wherever He leads you.


You never know if that contact will lead you to a divine appointment.

Why do you think it’s important or not important for writers, published or unpublished, to have and distribute professional business cards?

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Xochi (so-she) Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and digging into God’s Word. Living in Northern California with her hubby, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy, Xochi has a heart for prayer and enjoys encouraging women, teens and fellow authors. She writes Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Teen Fiction, poetry and devotions. You can visit Xochi’s author website at and fellowship with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Marta Burden

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I joined in January 2012


What prompted you to join Inspire?

I decided it was time to take my writing seriously. I wanted to become part of a writing community.


When did you first know you were a writer?

My first endeavor was a short story I wrote when I was maybe in second or third grade. It was titled, “Mystery of the Giant Foot Prints.” But I spelled it Prince instead. I can’t tell you what it was about.  Fast forward many moons. Each time I go to Israel, I journal my adventures in an email blog. After several people told me I should write more, I started believing them.


Describe your writing career high point and low point.

I’m still so new at it. I guess I could say every day I write, I experience high and low points. I’m on top of the world when at the end of the day I re-read my work in progress and see potential. Other days, however I know I’ve wasted my time doing everything else but what I set out to do in my writing. That is a low point knowing I’m not doing what I feel God has called me to do.


Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

My one and only (so far), Martha’s Place, about a widow and her boarding house for single women. I’ve gotten to know these characters, and they’ve become part of my family. When discussing them with my husband, outsiders would think they are real people. I think they are.


Describe receiving your first book contract.

In my dreams. I’ll update you when it happens.


What project of yours is gathering dust?

I have several devotional and children’s books ruminating in my mind.


What’s next for you?

I’ve begun the sequel to my first book. I’d also like to begin fleshing out the children’s books.


What does it mean to you to be a writer?

I have a great responsibility and I don’t take it lightly. I’ve been called by God to represent Him correctly in my writing. I can’t just write down words to garner attention. What I say needs to reflect Him in a manor worthy of His character.


Was there a book that changed your life?

I can’t say off hand one in particular right now. But then again I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. I have a notebook with quotes I’ve gathered from books along the way. If a quote is worthy to be written down in my notebook, it’s had an impact on my life.


Describe your writing environment. Or better yet, include a photo.

My environment is transient. Sometimes I use my dining room table and other times my couch. Thank goodness for laptop computers. My dream writing space is a little dollhouse cottage in the backyard with a desk and comfy couch.


What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

It’s a quote from my favorite author, Jan Karon. “If God has given you a dream, you’d better get cracking because He wants you to use it.”

The mechanics of writing are available through classes, workshops and conferences. But if you have something to say and you feel God has given it to you, get cracking.

You can connect with Marta at

"Edit"–A Four-Letter Word?

What do you think of when you hear the word “edit”?

Manuscripts bleeding red ink, perhaps, coupled with the desire to weep, wail, or consume copious amounts of chocolate as you mutter dark things about the editor, critique partner, or contest judge who gave you the constructive criticism?

Or do you get excited, knowing that putting our work through an edit will make it better?


I used to be employed as a copy editor, so can you guess which response I have?

Nope. I don’t do a happy dance. Not at first anyhow.

Here’s the four-step process I go through when I receive edits.

1. Emotional response. During this phase I often experience doubts and discouragement. This may last a few hours if the suggested changes are minor or a few days if major work is needed.

2. Adjustment period. In this step I set the comments aside and allow my feelings to bleed off while my subconscious gets to work processing the input.

3. Return to reality. At this point rational thought returns, and I’m ready to tackle the revisions. I read through them and form a plan of attack.

4. Excitement ensues. Because I enjoy editing as much as, if not more so than, writing a first draft, I have fun figuring out how to carry out the needed changes and watching my story improve. By allowing myself the adjustment period before diving in, I’m able to be more objective and make the myriad decisions required

My agent, Rachelle Gardner, addressed the importance of editing in her post, “Master the Craft of Writing.” She believes more of the editing responsibility is going to fall on writers as publishers are forced to reduce their editorial staffs and advises us to keep working on craft so we can produce quality stories readers will enjoy. She also discusses the importance of getting the best editing or proofreading we can afford.

The editor in me rejoiced when I read this post. I’ve long believed that we writers would be wise to learn everything possible about copy editing our own work, because agents and editors are more likely to be interested in manuscripts free of minor, avoidable mistakes.

I’m thankful there are many great blogs where we can do just that. Two more awesome resources are the Chicago Manual of Style, which most fiction publishers use, and the Associated Press Stylebook used by non-fiction and magazine publishers.


How do you respond to feedback from critique partners, contest judges, etc.?

Do you enjoy the editing process, or is it something you merely endure?

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Novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville in the Sierra Foothills. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She enjoys visiting her fictional worlds, the Coach outlet store, and Taco Bell.

Keli’s debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, will be released by Barbour Publishing in July. She’s a member of the El Dorado Hills Inspire group.

Learn more about Keli by visiting her blog. You can connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Empowered by the Vine: A Prayer for Fruitfulness


“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, NIV



Thank You, Lord, for nurturing us with Your truth, dwelling within us, and empowering us to enjoy a life of fruitfulness.

Cultivate grace and courage in our hearts.

Prune us with gentle hands so we will bloom, as we obey Your Word and praise You with reckless abandon.

Like a row of lush grapevines, intertwine our lives as we support, encourage, and offer accountability to one another in love and truth.

Saturate us with Your presence as we stand firm against the storms that come our way.

When we can’t see the fruit of our labor bursting forth, help us continue to plant and water the seeds faithfully, trusting You are working to grow from the root.

Give us peace and rest as we draw near to You.

Strengthen our resolve, Abba. We want to be nestled in the center of Your will.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

How can serving in faithfulness grow our faith when the fruit of our labor seems scarce?

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Xochi (so-she) Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and digging into God’s Word. Living in Northern California with her hubby, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy, Xochi has a heart for prayer and enjoys encouraging women, teens and fellow authors. She writes Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Teen Fiction, poetry and devotions. You can visit Xochi’s author website at and fellowship with her on Facebook and Twitter.

4 Steps toward Productivity and Peace

I enjoy my eggs scrambled, but I sure don’t like dealing with a scrambled mess of unfinished writing projects.

As a creative writer, I often have multiple ideas stirring in my mind. If I’m not careful, I can start numerous projects and finish none.

We serve a God of order and creativity. And in His power, we can nurture order in our creativity.

There are four steps that keep me from scrambling around so I can experience peace and productivity as I diligently work to meet deadlines.


I spend time with the Lord before I start working. I ask Him to show me my next step and help me finish the task He leads me to start, even when I feel intimidated, weary, afraid, or inadequate.


I create a list of my projects and assign due dates, posting that commitment sheet where I can see it daily.


As I’m praying for God’s guidance, He brings the right idea to mind at the perfect time, not one second before I’m truly ready to communicate the message He intends.

If a new idea pops into my mind while I’m working on a project, I jot down the details and file them. This keeps me from becoming distracted or tempted to start another project when the one I’m working on gets challenging.


I make a habit of periodically stopping to pray and obey.

If I’m struggling with a project, I step back and pray over it. Sometimes, I’ll get away from my office or move to the next project on my list until the Lord directs me differently.

A stall is often a nudging from God, reminding me to slow down or switch gears until He’s equipped me to finish well.

The Lord understands I have a tendency to try to rush ahead of Him. That’s why prayer is top priority in my writing process. But being still enough to listen and wise enough to obey are even more important. I have to be willing to bend to His will instead of insisting He approves my plan.

As I prepare for the 2012 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, God is helping me unscramble my thoughts so I can be ready to let Him lead my steps.

I ask Him to remind me daily that productivity and success in His eyes doesn’t always meet my expectations, or the standards other people might try to place on me. But, when pleasing Him is my greatest desire, I can experience peace and productivity as I worship Him with every word I write.

Lord, thank You for being a God of order. Help us reign in our creative juices and commit to finishing that project You have placed on our hearts. Help us seek You and obey Your leading as You unscramble our mess of ideas and priorities, aligning our wills to Yours. Help us work diligently and courageously, writing with excellence and clarity, for Your glory and according to Your timeline, not ours. In Jesus’ name, Amen

What helps you experience productivity and peace in the midst of creativity?

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Xochi (so-she) Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and digging into God’s Word. Living in Northern California with her hubby, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy, Xochi has a heart for prayer and enjoys encouraging women, teens and fellow authors. She writes Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Teen Fiction, poetry and devotions. You can visit Xochi’s author website at and fellowship with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Writing for Your Readers

Who do you write for?

The reader, right?

I used to think I did, but I was wrong.

I went through five stages during the first five years I was writing. I’m going to be brutally honest and tell you what they are in the hope that you can learn from my experience.

Before moving on, let me clarify something. None of the stages are wrong. I learned something from each of them. The danger I see is remaining in one of the first four stages too long.

Stage 1: Writing for myself.

I wrote five historical romances in my first two years of writing. The first one I wrote for myself—the story of my heart. Those 250,000 words gushed out. I’m talking spring runoff bouncing over the rapids.

Benefits: The process was exhilarating. I had a blast. I completed a story.

Potential Pitfalls: I wrote what I wanted with no clue as to whether or not the story would be marketable. I learned at my very first pitch sessions two years later it wasn’t when the agent and editor both got “you’ve got to be kidding” looks on their faces when I told them my idea. That manuscript is buried in the recesses of my hard drive.

Stage 2: Writing for my contest judges.

After completing the first two manuscripts, I joined Romance Writers of America® and discovered writing contests. I saw them as a way to get feedback on my writing, so I entered some. (OK, there are those who would say that 36 is more than some, but you get the point.) Being an obedient oldest child, I quickly learned what contest judges were looking for, and I did my best to produce stories with those qualities.

Benefits: I learned heaps from my contest judges. Their generosity, kindness, and honesty helped me immensely. And I experienced the thrill of my first finals.

Potential Pitfalls: We writers can focus so much attention on polishing the opening of a story that the rest of it doesn’t get the same attention and, therefore, doesn’t live up to the beginning. We can drive ourselves nuts trying to follow all the “rules.” In addition, we can become addicted to contests and the high a final brings.

Stage 3: Writing for my characters.

I’d completed five stories when I learned that not a single one of them was marketable. I rewrote one of them, but I made a mistake. I let my characters take charge. They “talked to me,” and I listened. I wasn’t in charge of the story. They were.

Benefits: I got to know my characters intimately, and I really liked them.

Potential Pitfalls: At a subconscious level I used my “go where the characters lead” (aka pantser) style to excuse my lack of a compelling plot. By not exerting my authority and accepting my responsibility as the author, I ended up with a lackluster story that meandered. Sadly, I had a clueless, whiny heroine and a too-perfect hero. Because I was overly attached to my characters, I was blind to their weaknesses—or lack thereof.

Stage 4: Writing for the publishing professionals.

Despite the fact that the story had some flaws, my writing had improved technically. I entered some contests and ended up with an offer of representation. My excitement was tempered by reality, however, when I received my agent’s revision notes and learned that I had to rewrite the final three-quarters of the story. I set out to deliver a marketable story with all the necessary elements.

Benefits: I learned the value of working with a publishing professional who knows the business. I learned the value of plotting a story so I know where I’m heading and where the major turning points are before I begin. I experienced the rewards of producing a marketable story and the thrill of a first sale.

Potential Pitfalls: This is hard to admit, but I lost some of the joy at this point. Writing became more work and less fun. Once I had my contract, I experienced a debilitating case of Second Book Syndrome. I suffered a loss of confidence in my ability to produce a good story.

Stage 5: Writing for the reader.

I pushed through what my agent refers to as Sophomore Book Paralysis by writing. I plopped my backside in the chair and wrote even though I didn’t feel inspired. As I did, a wonderful transformation took place. I stopped writing for myself, contest judges, my characters, or even the publishing pros and began writing for the reader.

I found myself asking questions like these:

What can I do to make this scene more interesting for the reader?
What would make a delicious surprise for the reader at this point?
How can I increase the tension so the reader experiences a delightful rush?

Benefits: Writing, while still work, became fun once again. I picture the enjoyment the story will bring the reader and the resulting satisfaction that will bring me as its creator.

Potential Pitfalls: Inability to pull myself away from the computer to fix dinner, do laundry, or clean house because I’m having too much fun writing stories I hope will keep a reader from wanting to do the same because she’s enjoying the read.

Have you experienced any of these stages?
What have you learned from the stages you’ve been through?
Which stages have brought you the most enjoyment?

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Novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville in the Sierra Foothills. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She enjoys visiting her fictional worlds, the Coach outlet store, and Taco Bell.

Keli’s debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, will be released by Barbour Publishing in July. She’s a member of the El Dorado Hills Inspire group.

Learn more about Keli by visiting her blog. You can connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Jenny Lundquist

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I’ve been a member for several years.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I first began attending Inspire several years ago when there was only one group meeting at Warehouse Christian church. But my younger son was still a baby and not sleeping through the night, and by the time the critique group started (it was held at night) I felt too exhausted to really engage. So I dropped out.

Then a few years ago, I woke up one morning and really felt like I should pray for God to bring more writer friends into my life. After I finished, I checked my email and saw a message from Beth Thompson that a daytime group was opening up in El Dorado Hills and would provide childcare. My son was in preschool by this time, so for me the Inspire group was a direct answer to prayer.

When did you first know you were a writer?

I don’t know that I had an “ah-hah” moment when I realized that, yes, I am a writer. It’s taken me a while to be able to claim the title of writer. But I did have a moment when I was at a birthday dinner for a friend and someone gave her a journal. Something in me just “clicked” that night, and I remembered how much I liked to write as a child. Soon after I started writing, and I haven’t stopped.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

The low point was finishing my first novel and realizing that, although it was decent first try, it wasn’t good enough for publication. The high point? Getting the email from my agent that Seeing Cinderella had sold, definitely. It’s hard to describe how incredible that felt.

Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

That’s sort of like asking me which of my sons is my favorite. I love each story uniquely. My first novel occupies a special place in my heart solely because it was my first try. Seeing Cinderella means so much to me in terms of the storytelling, and I love my third novel, Plastic Polly, just as much as the first two.

Describe receiving your first book contract.

Exciting, confusing, overwhelming, and thrilling. It was—and continues to be—an emotional roller coaster. But one I’m so incredibly thankful to be on.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

My first novel is gathering dust. It’s been condemned to the dusty recesses of my hard drive. Someday I may want to pull it out and try to rewrite it, but for now it’s moldering away in manuscript purgatory.

What’s next for you?

I just finished revisions on my second novel, Plastic Polly. It’s about a girl who’s the second most popular girl in her middle school. Many of her classmates call her Plastic Polly behind her back. It’s inspired, in part, by a phrase I heard a lot growing up, which is, “She’s so fake.”

That statement has always intrigued me, because what does that even mean? To an extent, we all wear masks, and yet we’re all authentically who we are, and so I wanted to write a book from the perspective of the girl many people didn’t like in middle school.

But, I also need a lot of fun in my projects, so Polly ends up having to coordinate a talent show competition between her middle school and their rival school. She finds out that only the popular kids (as opposed to the most talented kids) are being selected to participate in the competition, and she has to decide what she’s going to do about it.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

So much. My favorite verse in the Bible is Ephesians 2:10 which is, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

When I finish one project, I’m always asking God, what is the next “good work” He has for me? Right now, He has me writing mainstream middle grade novels, and I’m excited to see where He’ll take me—and take all of the Inspire writers—in the years to come.

Was there a book that changed your life?

The Harry Potter series had a huge impact on me. I read J.K. Rowling’s work and I’m mesmerized by her ability to develop a world so completely. She makes me want to be a better writer.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

The best writing advice I ever received came from Laura Jensen Walker who told me I should, “Make my writing fit around my life, not the other way around.”

I feel really grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from such an established author. And as I navigate through launching Seeing Cinderella this month, finishing revisions on a second book, and drafting a third, I realize how true her words are.

I’m really lucky to be where I am, but my family has to be first, and writing has to be second. Some days that’s hard to remember with all the deadlines and “to do” lists on my desk, but I’m trying.

You can connect with Jenny at her website.

Mark your calendar for:

Seeing Cinderella Book Launch Party
March 31, 2012 1-3pm (Saturday)
Barnes & Noble
6111 Sunrise Blvd
Citrus Heights CA 95610
RSVP on Facebook if you want

Riding Out the Mid-Conference Crash

You arrived at Mount Hermon excited and ready for all that God has for you. You’ve learned a ton already, made (or reconnected with) friends, been inspired by the speakers, and even stepped out of your comfort zone a few times. Then out of nowhere, one of the following happens:

  • You feel like your brain will short circuit if it takes in one more piece of information.
  • Everything that comes out of your mouth sounds stupid, especially around editors.
  • You’re positive that you are the only one not accomplishing his/her goals.
  • You’re considering going home early.
  • You don’t want to talk to anyone. If you do you’ll just start crying.
  • You resent everything about the publishing business.
  • You hear two faculty members laughing and imagine that the joke has something to do with your manuscript.
  • You suddenly feel like a two-year-old who skipped her nap.

What is going on? Why can’t you shake it off?

It could be happening because . . .

  • You got some discouraging news (a rejection, a disappointing critique, a less-than-enthusiastic response to a pitch, heard that nobody is interested in your genre).
  • Your story is very personal and people aren’t responding to it as you hoped they would.
  • You’re on information overload (so your brain is about to short circuit).
  • You’ve been running non-stop since you arrived.
  • You aren’t used to being around so many people.
  • God is working in your heart on an issue that has nothing to do with the conference, or He is nudging you to give something over to Him (such as your dreams).

Whatever the reason, and at whatever point it hits, be assured that . . .

  • It’s normal. Writer’s conferences are exhausting, even in the excitement.
  • You’ll get through it. Hitting a spiral doesn’t mean the conference is ruined or that you shouldn’t have come. It just means you need to slow down and ask God how to handle it.
  • God can use it for good. Low points often end in surrender and new direction.

What to do:

Instead of hiding in your room for the rest of the day, beating yourself up, or ignoring how you feel, try one or more of these remedies:

  • Take a nap or go to bed early. Sometimes we just need sleep.
  • Skip a workshop to rest your brain. Get some fresh air or spend some time alone.
  • Spend time with God (especially if you are questioning your purpose for attending, need to re-evaluate your goals, or know that your heart needs some healing).
  • Talk to a friend or faculty member and ask them to pray with you.
  • Ask God to turn your day around in a way that only He can.

After you’ve rested, emptied that well of emotion, refocused, or all of the above, you will enjoy the conference in a new and deeper way.

Jeanette Hanscome has written three books for teen girls with Focus on the Family and over 400 published articles, devotionals, and stories. She is a regular contributor to Walk Thru the Bible’s Tapestry, Standard Publishing’s Encounter—the Magazine, and the Girls, God, and the Good Life blog. ( One of her passions is teaching and coaching new writers.

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