Tag Archives: dena.netherton.me

How to Persevere and Succeed

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I’ve been writing since Spring of the year 2000.

The first seven years of writing were such fun. I wasn’t involved in any writing groups, I wasn’t trying to get anything published, and I didn’t feel any push to carry my writing to a higher level. Writing was an avocation when my vocation was teaching music.

I wrote for the sheer joy of putting stories, which had been clamoring to be expressed, on paper, and discovering that characters develop minds of their own, and lead me in mysterious and delightful directions.

In 2007 I finished my first novel. Flushed with the feeling of victory that comes from this achievement, I immediately registered for a writing conference. (I heard that’s what one does in order to meet agents and editors.)

 

I met with several agents, and one expressed interest in seeing some of my writing.

I thought, this is easy. I write a book, find an agent, get a contract, then the agent will quickly find representation, maybe with Harper Collins or Random House, etc. Within a few years I’ll be another successful and well-known author. My books will immediately sell well. I’ll have no trouble selling subsequent books. Marketing? What’s that?

At the conference, I heard lots of talk about platform, whatever that was. Uh, maybe that’s just for non-fiction writers.

Nope, that’s you, too, you ignorant fiction writer.

The nice agent eventually rejected my novel proposal. Surprise.

That’s painful. It’s like walking into a an invisible wall. Maybe that’s where we get the expression: you nose gets out of joint. I wanted to yell, or something:

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I kept praying. And writing.

Wake up call for me. Just writing a book does not guarantee immediate success.

Join a writer’s group, or two, I was advised.  I joined three, just to be safe.

Each week I drove 100 miles from Estes Park, Colorado to Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Made some writing friends, listened to lectures on the craft of writing, practiced.

Two years later, I submitted an article to a Christian publisher. And got published!

I kept praying and studying God’s Word so my own words would pour out helpful and inspiring stories. And kept writing.

Feeling more confident, I attended another, bigger writer conference in Denver. Rejected again. I have to say that, though agents and editors are busy—and I understand the frantic pace of their work—they barely listened to my pitch.

I went home and finished writing book number two. Submitted more articles and got lots of them published. I found another writing group and met wonderful people like Amanda Cabot, Jane Choate, Audra Harders, Leslie Ann Sartor: all great writers.

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I kept praying and studying, and serving in church. And writing. You can’t stop.

I also started entering writing contests. Little by little, over about a five-year period, my entries started doing very well. My scores went up and up.

I published more short stories and articles. Found an agent. Almost got my first book published, but at the last moment, the publishing board voted to reject my manuscript.

Back home, I parted ways with my lovely agent and struck out to independently seek publication for my now three-book series.

By now, I’d been in several critique groups, had written, re-written, edited, re-edited my books at least ten times. I still have several old versions on my computer. (It’s kind of bittersweet to read some of my earlier attempts.)

One day, I checked my email and noticed that Anaiah Press had contacted me. “We like your book and would like to publish it.”

Unfortunately, I was sitting in the food court of my local mall drinking a Starbucks Americano so I couldn’t  jump up and do the Snoopy dance. Well, I could’ve if I didn’t want about a hundred women to steer clear of me, glancing sidewards, clutching their purses close to their chests, muttering to their children, “stay away from that funny old woman.”

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Little did I know that the next six months were going to be intense with edits, re-writes, emails back and forth between the editor and me.

A month later, Write integrity Press offered me a three-book contract on my suspense series, The Hunted. More intense and long hours.

FRONT Havens Flight

Then, the books released on Amazon, within a few weeks of each other. I thought I’d lose my mind, what with all the marketing activity, combined with all the volunteer things I do in the community and my church.

I remember someone—a published author— telling me, “Once you get published, your time will never again be your own.” At the time, I kind of sniffed at her words. Easy for her to say. She’s published. She can’t relate. She’s forgotten the angst and frustration of trying to get your first book contract.

But, you know, that writer was absolutely right.

My fourth book will release in the beginning of 2019. And I’ve got another one just about ready to be submitted. And I’m working on two other manuscripts, as well.

Back story: Near the end of 2015, I had sat down before God and said, “Lord, I’m just about all in with this trying-to-get-published thing. If I don’t get a contract within a year, I’ll know you’re telling me to hang up my skates. I want to do only those things that are pleasing to you and are building up your kingdom. So please don’t let me waste time if it’s not going to happen.”

Six months later I landed my first full-length book contract. God is funny, that’s all I can say.

And now a few words on perseverance—the Christian way, that is:

As you’re doing the thing you hope to succeed in—it doesn’t have to be writing. Good grief, it could be learning a language, or trying to be an astronaut—here are some God-things to be doing simultaneously:

  1. Read and meditate on God’s Word. Every day.
  2. Pray for wisdom and understanding.
  3. Mindfully connect your daily trials—and your joys— to the truth of God’s Word.
  4. Now that you know what the Word of God says, practice obeying it.
  5. Make a daily habit of praising and worshiping the Lord.

These activities are not some magical way to manipulate God into doing things your way. Instead, this is the way to grow in seeing your life the way God sees it, and growing in your desire to bring Him honor.

I wish you God’s best. His ways are higher and better than our ways. Commit your way to the Lord.

God bless you as you persevere in working—yes, it is work— toward your goal.

Col. 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (NIV Version)

Word Spreads

We moved to our new house about five months ago. And since then, I’ve put up a hummingbird feeder. One dominant male hummingbird owns that feeder and won’t let any other hummingbirds feed off of it.

And then, I temporarily set up a plate—taped to the bannister—and daily replenished the black oil sunflower seeds that juncos, chickadees, and various types of finches love. Even crows.

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There must be a grapevine among birds, I’m sure. Because, when I first set up the feed stations it took a couple of days for the first birds to show up.

Within a couple of days more came. And more. And more.

Then came the battle with the squirrels. I was more than happy to feed them, too. Yet, I had no idea that they would prove to be absolute gluttons, leaving no bird seed for the little feathered creatures. One rather mangy-looking squirrel jumped onto our bannister and ate and ate and ate. He did this day after day. Eventually, after a minute of this gorging, I’d run out and scare him away.

But he kept coming back, getting fatter and fatter.

Enough is enough, I told myself.

I purchased a squirrel-proof feeder that uses the squirrel’s weight against him. Today, I watched him reached out and place his little paws on the bird perches of the feeder. (I wish I had gotten a picture of him, but he was too quick.) When his paws came to rest on the perch, his weight pressed the feeder downward while the inside canister, holding the seeds remained stationary, effectively preventing him from reaching the seeds.

When I was still using a plastic plate, Mr. Squirrel could help himself:

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Now that I’ve switched to the squirrel-proof feeder, Mr. Squirrel can’t get the food, and word of my feeder is spreading to the entire neighborhood of sunflower-eating birds. And my, how they are enjoying the meal. They’ll easily finish off an entire canister of seeds in one day.

I don’t know how they do it, but birds are really good at communicating with other birds.

I wish my book marketing worked as well. I have three books out there on Amazon. Really good stories, in both ebook format and paperback. If you haven’t seen my books, you can go to the top of my website and click on “my books” to see the covers and back-cover blurb. There’s also a link for each book that will take you to Amazon.com.

The books are selling, but it seems that my readers are not spreading the word. If you’ve purchased and read Haven’s Hope or Haven’s Flight or High Country Dilemma, I sincerely hope—and ask you—to please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. The stories are God-honoring and each has an inspirational and redemptive message. Wouldn’t we all like books like this to get into the hands of readers?

It’s really easy to leave a review. Get onto Amazon.com. Type in the title of my book and my name. This will bring you to the book page. Scroll down until you see the words “leave a review.” Write a one or two sentence review. It could be as simple as: “I liked this book, and you will, too.” Then rate the book on the one-to-five-star rating scale, with five being the best.

That’s it. Just like birds, word will spread about my books. Yippee, hooray!

Thank you so much!

A Nature Day

I knew before I even opened my eyes this morning that Spring was going to make a showing this morning.

I was not disappointed. The fog dissipated, crocuses on the front yard are opening, birds arrived on my porch, looking for black sunflowers in the bird feeder. It’s empty. Another errand to do this morning.

And I’m not going to apologize for getting exercise. Yes, I need to get writing done.

But first….. a long walk.

I drove down Fairhaven Parkway and found a place to park. Took the Interurban trail down to Marine Park. When I got there, a bunch of older guys had suited up and put their kayaks in the calm waters. I got a good photo of them as they paddled off into the sound.

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On my way back from the park, a freight train neared. I love to stand up close to trains as they pass and be bowled over by their size and the blaring horns at the crossings. I guess I’m still a kid inside.

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A little farther up, I encountered these sleeping ducks. They didn’t mind me at all. Even the train didn’t rouse them. I wish I knew what that big whitish fellow is on the top right. Oh, and a flock of white geese flew overhead, going north. Perfect V-formation. Does anyone know what they are? Not Canada Geese.

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And on my walking route back to my car, I passed this old building. It’s name makes me chuckle. In case you can’t read it, it says, “Bailey Brothers Building and Loan.” A reference to the building and loan business of the same name in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. One of my all-time favorite classic movies.

 

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I went to Lowe’s and purchased an enormous bag of black sunflower seeds for my birds. When I went out to my porch to refill the squirrel-proof feeder, I found ample evidence of the squirrels’ displeasure. They’d been foiling me in my attempt to save some seeds for the birds. So I bought  a hanging feeder that uses the squirrel’s own weight to press down on a lever that prevents the squirrels from extracting seeds.

They’re awfully mad at me, as you can clearly see by what they’ve left behind.

 

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Oh well, it’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining. I’ve had a five mile walk, and finished it with a delicious cup of coffee from Tony’s Coffee House.

Not to mention, I got lots of time to pray during those five miles. Thank you, Lord, for this unusual chunk of time for refreshment.

 

 

 

Cactus Underwear or Cascade Mountain Lake?

 

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A very wise man, Dennis Prager, has said that the most grateful people are the happiest people.

And even though Dennis Prager is not a Christian (he is Jewish), he adheres to the biblical theology that people are made in God’s image, made for His purposes, to reflect Him in all we say and do.

The Bible is filled with accounts of God’s people singing, dancing, playing on lovely and loud instruments, verbalizing their praises in both speech and song to God.

Praise Him, all ye little Children

Because gratitude, rightly understood, involves thanking someone outside of ourselves, it lifts our minds and hearts away from our poor, poor selves, and focuses it on someone else, on the giver of the gift, even if temporarily.

Gratitude is an outpouring of faith. Without faith, it is almost impossible to thank God for hard times. Because faith says: “God, I don’t understand, but whatever comes my way I will trust you, because I know you are in control and you are working out a greater plan for my life than I can imagine. Thank You.”

I’m a pretty thankful person, most of the time. Probably because, growing up, I didn’t have too much, I very much appreciated what I received. My parents weren’t wealthy, and I was well aware of their struggle to provide for us kids.

In my church and in my community I know both grateful and ungrateful people, and let me tell you, there is a huge difference between them. People who only focus on the negative things that happened to them in their day aren’t too pleasant to be around. These are often the same people who complain whenever something isn’t exactly what they want. Their attitude is ruled each day by what they did not get, what other people aren’t doing to please them, or how the weather or traffic conspired to cause them grief.

Do you know people like that? I do. Sometimes that person is me, temporarily.

But I try to get out of that attitude quickly, because it’s not a pleasant place to stay. It’s like living in cactus underwear. Prickly, scratchy, get-me-out-of-this! And who wants to be too near a cactus?

And, being an old woman now, I’ve come to know that my best days are the days when I’ve taken the time to get my eyes off myself, to look around and list the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with. I call days like this, “Cascade Mountain lake days.” Could anything be more lovely and inviting?

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I recently purchased a sweet little journal called, “A Life of Gratitude.” The book, by Lori Roberts, takes you through daily written exercises where you list blessings, or positive thoughts, or beautiful things, etc. It’s not necessarily a Christian book, but since I am a Christian I prefer to do these exercises while lifting to God in gratitude each thought that I write down. After all:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James1:7, NIB Bible)

 

Here’s what I’m thankful for today: Jazz music woofs from the speakers down on the lowest level of the house. Because my loving husband is actually home this week, working in his office. He usually travels, but today he’s around. I’m thankful for him.

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It was cold this morning. I slipped warm socks on my feet and marveled at how God constructed my size 6, double E width feet. How they take a daily pounding under my 125 pound frame, but they’re still ready to carry me on the next 10-mile hike.

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It only takes seconds to notice something God has provided you, then utter an awed prayer of thanks to Him.

It’s a great habit to cultivate. And I mean to keep cultivating it each day.

“And whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17 NIV Bible)

Haven’s Hope Launches

Haven's Hope
Click here to purchase the book through Amazon

Reader friends, it’s been a long time coming, but Tuesday, Feb. 6th, 2018 is the day of release. Haven’s Hope is the thrilling, adventure-packed sequel to Haven’s Flight. It will be available on Amazon.com as an ebook and a paperback.

Just look at that cover. Doesn’t it make you feel kind of tingly and nervous? Aren’t you curious to see if Dade Colton actually captures sweet Haven and imprisons her in his mountain hideout?

Haven’s Hope: Feel the Fear – Savor the Romance

HAVEN’S HOPE gives one woman’s answer to these questions:

  • Does God still love me even when bad things happen?
  • Is good really more powerful than evil?
  • How can I be freed from guilt?

Haven Ellingsen has escaped the man who relentlessly hunted her in the Cascade Mountains. But when an old friend from her dangerous past shows up unexpectedly to warn her that Dade Colton is determined to re-capture her, Haven makes the only safe decision: to go into hiding once more. But where? Who can she trust? If only she could tell someone about her tragic secret. But Dade’s threat to kill anyone who helps her would put that person’s life in jeopardy, too.

Dr. Petter Eriksen saves lives every day at Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Driven by guilt after the accidental death of his little sister, he can’t believe in a good God. But when a beautiful and mysterious young woman moves into the cabin on his uncle’s Christian Retreat, Petter wonders if her love and simple faith have the power to shatter the barrier he has erected around his heart? And can he save her from a madman?

Sometimes you hide; sometimes you stand and fight.