By lifting others, we all rise. People are always more important than problems. Problems can bring us together, or tear us apart. In this case, being vulnerable and authentic, sharing my heart work has brought me closer to family, friends, and a whole new community.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Not long ago I found myself crying alone on a bridge. As there are many bridges in Seaside, that isn’t as odd as it sounds. I still haven’t decided if I was crying because I was heartbroken, betrayed by my own people, or just plain furious. You see, writers make a grand joke of rejection. We are experts at querying agents and publishers and being told our stories are, “Not what we are looking for,” or “you don’t have a large enough following,” or even, “your work needs more work.” But this rejection was personal.
I was told by an editor that my work contained characters who were members of my religion, and no one buys books with characters of my religion. They just don’t sell. And so, they’d voted and wouldn’t take any more novels that weren’t secular or contained characters who were members of my church.
In a knee jerk reaction, I offered to obliterate my religion from my story and thankfully they declined. You see, they said, my followers already know what church I belong too, and it was too late to go back in the closet. So, I countered, I read Anne Frank’s Diary, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and would have read 7 years in Tibet, except Brad Pitt starred in the Move, so I watched it 2 or 3 times. People read novels with religions in them. But, apparently, they don’t sell.
So, channeling Brene Brown, and in the spirit of authenticity and vulnerability, I am perhaps one of the few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be rejected by an unnamed publisher for writing about characters that belong to the aforementioned church.
Most authors would just counter, oh well! That’s rejection number 666. Then they would either take out their religion or keep submitting. But, not the very successful authors and members of my critique group. Sometime in the evening, wearing pajamas and reading our work to each other over Google Hangouts and chatting over Facebook Messenger, I confessed – rejected because some of my characters went to The Church.
Immediately, I got the best advice of my life, “Wait by the gate.”
I replied, “Wait by the gate?”
The reply was a quote from a song.
“They came to a place which was named, Gethsemane
And Jesus saith unto his disciples, sit ye here while I pray…”
In those few lines, I experienced greatness. You see, these lines came from a fellow author who also writes about characters in The Church who navigate the challenges of life, are regularly misunderstood for their beliefs, and yet cling to them. She waits by the gate, true to her beliefs, authentic, honest, hilarious, and a true friend. We write about what we know.
I decided to join her and wait by the gate. I will be true to my beliefs, to who I am and I will keep the strange little bishop who interferes with the love interest in my book and the funny lady who has never had a cup of coffee, but… well you’ll just have to read the book.
I don’t know what you believe in, but I hope whatever gate you choose to camp out at, you are faithful to it. I hope you are brave, honest and honorable about who you are and what you believe. If you write a book, I will read it.
As for me and my friend? We will be waiting by our gate, with laptops, good books, good friends, family, laughter, and tears of joy. Because it isn’t about how many books we sell (Okay, we keep score and compete a little) as much as it is telling a great story. Not the greatest story ever told, yet. But then, you’ll just have to read the book.
CONTEST CLOSED! WATCH FOR NAMES OF WINNERS!
Enter Mrs. Lady Wordsmith’s giveaway of my novel, Safe House, and Carried by Michelle Schmidt and Angie Taylor. You will love Mrs. Lady Wordsmith’s website. She shares clean literature and more.
Have you ever lost someone? Are you navigating life challenges and wonder how you will make it thought? Carried is the uplifting story loss, hope, and miracles. It is also the story of a woman who lives by faith.
I am enjoying Deseret Book’s audio version. Michelle shares a lifetime of faith, including marrying a musician.
It is my great privilege to be able to participate. I look forward to sending the winners signed books. What else would you like? If you could win anything from an author what would you ask for? Name it! Let’s celebrate Michelle Schmidt’s story and Mrs. Lady Wordsmiths quest for quality books.
Carried on Amazon
“On October 19, 2016, Michelle Schmidt’s plane landed in Oregon, where she was meeting her daughter, Annie, for a camping trip. But Annie didn’t show up at the airport to pick up her mother as planned.
Thus began a season of searching and coming up short, of miracles and frustrations, of love poured out and faith tested, until Annie’s body was finally discovered more than three weeks later in the Columbia River Gorge, where she had fallen while hiking.
As Annie’s mother opens her heart to tell her story, her husband’s story (Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys), and Annie’s story, she writes: “It is my hope that my journey of being tutored by God to trust Him more—not only through the loss of Annie but through some of my most vulnerable and personal past experiences—will be the means of bringing strength and hope to anyone suffering at this time.”
When the unthinkable happened, Michelle Schmidt made a choice: to trust in God. This remarkable book will give readers the courage and inspiration to make that same choice.”
For my birthday, I want to give you a gift. The SAFE HOUSE kindle version is 0.99 cents for the month of January. Thanks to a very special editor and my critique group (who shall remain nameless until they approve the final copy!), I am editing away on the final draft of the next novel in my clean mystery-suspense series, set in the same coastal location, with the same beloved characters. While I work, I wanted to share the first story, set in the small town of Necanicum where the winds blow and the rain falls.
So enjoy the winter storms that roll in over the ocean or the snow that falls on your lawn. Snuggle up by the fire and READ! I know I will…when the edits are done.
My oldest daughter, nicknamed E.R., lives in Farmington, Utah with her husband and 4 children. A few days ago, I called E.R., and she answered the call on Bluetooth in the family car. The call went something like this:
Maddy: I want to buy a cow!
Haley: We're buying water!
Maddy: But, I want to buy a cow!
Haley: We all decided, water!
"Look! It's a fender bender in Bethlehem! You see, everyone is so excited to see baby Jesus, so of course there are lots of cars," Elliott said, as he proudly showed me his arrangement of our Nativity scene.
I have been gifted with some of the best friends an author could have! We have a critique group of geeks who happen to be authors. We work hard together. Okay- we also laugh and chat about kids, cats, books, jobs, and a few other things. The best part of our little group is getting to preview some very talented author’s current works in process while wearing pajamas and eating pancakes. Several of us will be launching our books over the next few months.
Deb Goodman is launching her new book, The Billionaire’s Christmas Fling: A Sweet Christmas Novella (The Billionaires of Gramercy Book 1).
Buy the Kindle version on Amazon HERE.
Meet Deb Goodman, Sweet Clean Romance Author, and one of my favorite geeky authors.
I asked Deb to share 10 things about herself. I love this list and getting to know Deb.
Ten Things You May or May Know about Author Deb Goodman:
*She must have missed something in kindergarten because she can’t cut a straight line to save her life.
*Some of her favorite authors include Lucy Maude Montgomery, Josi Kilpack, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Barbara Kingsolver, Shannon Hale, Jane Austen, Jerry Spinelli, Gail Carson Levine, and Heather Vogel Frederick. But, come on, who doesn’t love them?
*She is 4’10” tall. She has to use an actual hook to grab the laundry out of the bottom of the washing machine and ask random strangers to reach items on top shelves in stores. It’s embarrassing.
*She just published her first book, The Billionaire’s Christmas Fling, and has written three more that are in various stages of development and will be out soon. She knows you’re dying to read all of them.
*Her household consists of four terrific kids, one top-notch husband, a little dog, and balls and other sports equipment (depending on what sport is in season) that fly past her at all hours of the day and night.
*She thinks the secret to becoming a better writer is to join a critique group or two. They force you to pay attention to deadlines, take constructive criticism, and better analyze what works and what doesn’t in your own and your partners’ texts. Plus, they help you grow great relationships in this often solitary writing life.
*Cooking is one of her hobbies, but her fear of undercooked meat means she burns things way too often. Sorry, kids.
*One of the things she wishes she could change about her writing habits is her propensity for procrastination. She’s working on that, though.
*Because she grew up in Idaho, she got to take two weeks off of school in the fall and work long days in the “spuds.” The summer after high school, she worked in a potato processing plant where she spent eight hours a day cutting rotten spots out of potatoes. Good times.
*She’s wanted to be an author for as long as she can remember. Writing makes her happy. And writing romance makes her the happiest.
Here are some places you can find Deb Goodman:
Today, sleep eluded me, and I was up and on my knees talking to my Father in Heaven. Just like so many of us, I was feeling overwhelmed with my list of responsibilities. I felt I was failing. I listed the things I am thankful for and asked for a few massive miracles. On my list was, “Please give me more hours in this day.”
I am in the middle of editing my next novel, Finding Hope, and it is taking much longer than I thought it should. Editing is a long process for me. Errors don’t jump out at me, they hide. I have to hunt them down by reading my entire book out loud. I beg saints to be beta readers who correct a copy which I integrate into my master copy. And then, after another read through and a second, third, fourth, edit I can send it off to a professional editor.
At 4 this morning my brain woke me up to think about editing. I had a whole conversation with myself. It went something like this:
Me: You should just get up right now and edit until work and then through the next night. You could get it all done.
Also Me: Right….like that time you were writing in the night and woke up to find out you had typed a whole paragraph of a dream? Editing is not something a sleep-deprived person like you should be doing.
Me: I can push harder. Let’s see. Editing from 4:30 to 7:30, Workout 7:30, work 8:30 (looking really bad), Editing from 5:00 to Midnight. See, it can work.
Also Me: Why am I am so anxious. Why isn’t it done? Everyone else in the whole world, I mean every single person, could do this faster than me.
Satan: You’re not good enough. This is a waste of time. You should be spending time cleaning the house or with your family. You should just quit. Quit. Quit.
It was at that moment that I decided to roll onto my knees and give all my worries to my Heavenly Father.
One of my favorite spiritual leaders, Deiter F. Uchtdorf said,
“We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.”6 In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.
Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.”
This morning, I didn’t get my answer on my knees. All I could do was give my challenges up in prayer, say Amen, and get on with my day.
I work at a nonprofit that sits a few blocks from the ocean. Weekly, we have the gift of a wellness hour with free yoga. Today, however, was bright and sunny so I opted to take a walk. I put my headphones in, turned on a good book and walked to the beach.
Somewhere on the walk, I remembered I needed to call Deseret Book and update my platinum membership. Ironically, I am on a tight budget, but it felt important.
Because I was walking, (And I am a new age girl who can walk and text), I googled the customer service line and got on with an Operator.
Me: Hello? I think I need to renew my platinum membership so I get Bookshelf for less. I might have been charged more this month. Someone there called me last month, but I forgot to call back. My name is Shannon Symonds.
Operator: That was me! I called you last month. I remember because after we talked, I bought your book, Safe House, and read it. I have been wanting to tell you I loved it. It was good. I think it will help people.
Me: You just answered my prayer! I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I was pretty discouraged this morning and wondering if I was doing the right thing.
Operator: You are! Keep writing.
Me: Tears of gratitude for a Heavenly Father who answers prayers and for a sweet woman who listens to the spirit and blessed my life.
When it feels like you are overwhelmed, and your burden is too hard to carry, remember the operator. Call Heaven and ask for help. Maybe you will get the operator, maybe you will get a miracle, or maybe, if you are patient, you will find a mountaintop and look back to see the Lord was with you every step of the way, and the journey was for your own good.
Wait! Did I use too many commas, not enough? I should edit this again.
Do you want to see this author geek out? Just tell me you read something I wrote in a newspaper. It is like Christmas morning! Yes, I wrote the article. Yes, I thought it might be published. And yet, every time I cannot contain my joy. It is like opening a new book and smelling the pages (Confess true book lovers, you know you’re closet book sniffers).
The Deseret News Mormon Times (I know- didn’t we all rebrand ourselves?) published an article by several authors detailing the way they prepare for General Conference. It is filled with wonderful ideas. But, as for me and my house? We prepare with Celestia Sappenfield’s Cinnamon Rolls, lovingly known as Mom’s or Grandma’s Rolls. They have kept us together for General Conference for more than 40 years.
The only person happier than me to see the newspaper story was my dad, Jeffrey Sappenfield. You see, there is nothing my father loves better than reading a newspaper. Not on a Kindle, but a real paper newspaper. The kind that is thrown on your porch.
Growing up, my brother’s and sister’s knew that for my father, his mother, and all of the relatives, newspaper reading was to be taken seriously. All pages were to be read. Every front page story was to be discussed. And then the paper was folded lovingly for the next reader. My job was to cut out all the good political cartoons and paste them in my notebook.
We also knew that dad came home after 5 PM. He would walk in the door with the paper. He would sit in his lounger and read, cover to cover. if we wanted the keys to the car, we let dad finish the paper before we asked. It felt like an eternity.
Today is my father’s birthday. I won’t give away his age, but I will say the older I get, the younger he seems. It may be silly, but seeing an article in a newspaper about his family by his daughter (me!) was the perfect gift. Tonight, when I say my prayers, I will thank the appropriate person.
And here is the recipe!
Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls
Preheat Oven to 425
In this century – Use parchment paper on a thick Costco Baking Pan
In a very large bowl (Yeast hates metal) add 1 and 1/2 cup water. Make sure it is 110 degree (Yeast likes warm)
Add 3 Tablespoons Yeast (Rapid rise is okay – use fresh new yeast)
Add 4 Tablespoons….or more…sugar
Let this rest for 15 minutes. Yes – the ENTIRE 15 minutes. Let the yeast have a party.
Add 2 eggs
3 Tablespoons oil (I like to use melted and cooled real butter)
Add 2 cups warm milk – 110 degrees (Not too hot! You will kill the yeast)
Take 1 Tablespoon of Salt and add it to a cup of flour and set it aside.
Gently mix in 4 cups flour
Add your 1 cup salt and flour
Add 3 more cups until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl
Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Let the dough rise until double.
On a clean surface (There is more dough than you think) roll out the dough until it is a thick rectangle. Pour melted and cooled real butter allllll over it.
Mix a bag of brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. Sprinkle it generously all over the butter. Roll the dough and slice into cinnamon rolls.
Place them on the parchment paper on your baking tray and let them rise for a few minutes.
Bake 12-15 minutes at 425 degrees
Frost with a mixture of powdered sugar, 1 TBL real butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and water. Serve hot with MORE butter.
Next week- The Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cinnamon Bun recipe for me…sigh…
Do you believe in answers to prayer? I do! Recently I discussed cover art with the talented author of the Buxton Peak series and other clean adult fiction, Julie L. Spencer. She gave me some great tips. I hung up the phone and wondered how I would ever get cover art done in Seaside, Oregon on the edge of the world?
I actually prayed out loud, a name came to mind and the phone rang. One of those rare friends, the kind you meet and feel like you’ve known a hundred years, was calling – Haley Miller of HisNames.org and Captures Photography. She said, “I’ve been thinking about you. How can I help you?” I felt like Angels were in the room singing.
Haley was there for me when I launched Safe House. I was so happy to see her!
Today we went to a little known local spot. I had the privilege of watching Haley, a talented photographic artist, create the cover art for my next novel, “Finding Hope.” She asked about the characters, the story, the feelings, and went to work. I can’t wait to reveal the cover.
Finding Hope is a clean stand-alone novel which takes place in the same beloved town as Safe House with everyone’s favorite characters, Grace and Officer Joe Hart. Maybe this time Grace will find love.
17-year-old Hope Experience Flanagan thought she was escaping danger when she walked away from the Yeti Haven Trailer Park and the Rat. But, the world is a dangerous place, unless you have Grace and a little help from friends. Grace James and Officer Hart work together to help Hope find her mother and a place to call her own before she becomes easy prey for traffickers and finds herself in deep water.
So I leave you with this thought, Can Grace find Hope, while Hart saves Grace?
Comment below if you want to know the location of the shoot and maybe, just maybe, I will share one of my favorite local (and often missed) beaches on the Oregon Coast.