Monday, August 10, 2015

I'll Be Your Mississippi: Guest Post, Patricia Beal

Hi All! This is Angie. I am pleased to introduce my new writer friend, Patricia Beal. We found each other on Twitter...my newest social media! Wahoo for trying new things, and finding new authors! Enjoy Patricia's guest post.
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Hundreds of writers are preparing for the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference next month. This will be my second ACFW and the highlight of my writing year.
But already things are not going as planned. 
I want to share a story with you that I hope you’ll tuck away and use in case of emergency. I want you to know that it doesn’t matter how badly your plan falls apart, God’s plan will still stand.
Did you guys watch “Annapolis”? It’s an underdog-makes-good movie about a young man from the wrong side of the tracks, Jake Huard, who gets into the U.S. Naval Academy but soon begins to wonder if he can measure up. 
His classmates sense his weakness and before long he’s down to one roommate, a sweet kid from Arkansas who’s addicted to Twinkies and can’t complete the obstacle course. His nickname is Twins.
Twins: You want to know why I stay in this room? 
Jake Huard: Yeah. 
Twins: Cause Jake, you're my Mississippi. 
Jake Huard: I'm your what? 
Twins: People who live in Arkansas, you know what their favorite state is? 
Jake Huard: No. 
Twins: Mississippi. Cause Mississippi's the only thing that keeps Arkansas from being the worst state in the whole country. 
Jake Huard: I'm Mississippi? 
Twins: Well you sure as hell ain't California. Listen, Cole and Whitaker are so busy tryin' to run you out they forgot about me. As a matter of fact, they've forgotten about every other plebe in this whole company. That's why I stay in this room Jake. Cause if Mississippi quits, then all of a sudden Arkansas is the worst state in the whole country. 
Disclaimer: I don’t have anything against Arkansas or Mississippi. If you’re from one of these states, please feel free to share something lovely about it.
But you get the gist.
Come along and let me encourage you. I’m your Mississippi, and here’s why.
Last year while I attended my second Spotlight On session on the very first day of my first ACFW, my grandmother, all the way in Brazil, took her final breath.
Back home people get buried fast, so a trip there wasn’t an option. The following day, I watched the funeral and cremation ceremony from my room.
I can safely say my plan for the conference I’d prayed about for more than 1 year went out the window.
But God orchestrated meetings that comforted me and that moved me closer to His will, and His plan stood. 
On Saturday I met Les Stobbe, and two weeks later he became my agent.
So if your plan for ACFW 2015 falls apart, don’t be discouraged. God’s plan will stand.
My ACFW 2015 plan already fell apart. It fell apart last month when I realized my new manuscript wouldn’t be polished in time. I’ll have to pitch my first manuscript in Dallas.
Some editors have already seen that first manuscript and either don’t need it or don’t like it. My options are limited, the enemy says. 
But are they? How about living by faith, not by sight?
The truth is that there are editors who haven’t seen it, and it takes only one “yes.” A lot has changed since the last rejection: opening, word count, comp titles, bio, endorsement, contest nod, and platform numbers.
I feel like God is already taking over ACFW 2015 and that’s really, really exciting.
It reminds me of a devotion I read last month. I ripped it out of the book and stuck it to my kitchen wall, where all the important stuff goes. 
Pastor Barry Farnsworth wrote that fathers teach kids how to shoot a bow by kneeling next to them and placing their left hand on the kid’s left hand and placing the right hand on the kid’s right hand. 
From a distance it looks like the child is shooting the bow, but in reality, the father is doing all the work.
By DIVIDSHUB on Flickr
Jacob, while blessing Joseph in Genesis 49:22-26, uses this very image: “But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.”
God’s hands on the bow prospered Joseph, Noah, Abraham, Moses and every servant of the Lord since time began. Why would it be any different for us? And how cool and comforting is that?
I want to show up in Dallas representing well the gift that God gave me, but without the stress—just humble, teachable, ready to be a blessing to others, and expectant. What’s God got up His sleeve this time? How’s He going to work the bow?
In addition to knowing that God’s plan will prevail, there’s one more thing you should do to de-stress and be strong out there. Ask yourself the question we all loathe: What if I never get published?
How big of a deal is it to you and why? We’ve all at some point desired publication to feel special. I know I have. You probably have, too.
If you’re still feeling that way, please read The Search for Significance by Robert McGee. It freed me from dry wells and got me walking toward publication for the right reason: to be in the will of my accepting audience of One.
Once you have your motivations in check, dream big, pray big, and pursue publication with wild abandon. 
If your strategy falls apart mid-conference, don’t sweat it. Pray and worship. God’s plan will stand. 
And remember I’m your Mississippi, and Mississippi isn’t quitting. I’ll be out there with the manuscript that was once rejected on the West Coast, East Coast, and London on the same week.
How about you? Are you attending any conferences this year? Have you found success in the middle of chaos? 
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Patricia Beal is a Christian author, Army wife, and ballerina. She writes contemporary fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist.
Patricia is from Brazil and immigrated to America in 1992. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature.
After an internship at the Pentagon, she worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for 7 years. The stories she filed from Guantanamo Bay during the early days of the detention operation there gained national attention. Two years later she received a Keith L. Ware award in print journalism for a feature on a day in the life of “Bad Luck Squad” in Iraq.
She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.
Patricia is very active online and would love to connect with readers.

10 comments:

kaybee said...

Patricia, this is so true, and it marks the difference between those writing for Christ and those who aren't. We all want each other to succeed, even if it means being a "Mississippi" for a while. Conference plans can go awry, writing plans can go awry, because we walk by faith and not by sight. But it doesn't mean we should stop planning or doing. Thank you for a great post.
Kathy Bailey
Hey, I'm from New Hampshire, people have plenty to say about us!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Patricia, I so appreciate your post. And the idea of someone being a Mississippi . . .the way you described Mississippi in the movie made me feel sorry for the guy. :)

I am planning to attend ACFW. My MS is not nearly as polished as I'd like it to be. Life happens. And I got behind. But, I'm trusting God to do what He will with what I have to offer. And I think finding success in the middle of chaos comes from holding onto my own plans with a very loose grip, and asking God to have His way in my life. And then letting Him, and trusting Him.

So nice to see you here, my friend!

Patricia Beal said...

Hi, Kathy! That's it right there: don't stop planning or doing. Four talents or ten talents, the Lord was well pleased with both--both planned something and did something. Just don't bury the talents. New Hampshire makes me think of autumn leaves :)

Patricia

Patricia Beal said...

Hi, Jeanne! Oh, poor Twins. His whole story is so sad. He's from a small town, and when he makes it into the Academy the town gives him a car, throws a parade, and then he struggles so hard... I feel for him. Jake's the hero, and you know he'll make it in the end, so I was less concerned about his fate. I pray we get to be the hero of our own stories :) You'll do great in Dallas. I look forward to seeing you there. You're the only one I know in the Genesis romance final, so I hope you win!

Patricia

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Really great post, Patricia! I know for me, I have seen God move the most when I surrender my expectations and control and trust that he's got it! He really does! :)

Patricia Beal said...

Hi, Amy! It's scary, but you're so right. I was just reading some notes on Dr. Wilbur Chapman's meeting with General William Booth, and Dr. Chapman came to a very similar conclusion: The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender. So true. Congrats on your WildBlue Press deal :)

Angie Dicken said...

I am so glad to have you here, Patricia! Your story is amazing...the real life one and your fiction! :) Can't wait to see what God is ready with at ACFW this year. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Ruth Douthitt said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to ACFW but experienced some frustrations this summer. The MS I plan to pitch isn't polished and I haven't had time to work on it, my current publisher isnt replying to my emails about the book i sent her, and other things. But I trust in the Lord. I'm just going to enjoy the classes I've signed up for and meet new people. God has a plan!

Patricia Beal said...

Hi, Angie! Thank you for the kind words and for having me here. I love The Writer's Alley. This is a dream come true :)

Patricia Beal said...

Hi, Ruth! I'm sorry about the frustrations but glad you're still looking forward to the conference and keeping your eyes on the Lord. There are so many great classes at the conference that on Saturday I want to be in three different places at the same time--four if you count Casey Miller's white board. Hey, keep in mind some agents (http://www.acfw.com/conference/appointments_agent) and editors (http://www.acfw.com/conference/appointments_editor) are willing to talk to authors with works in progress. Follow the links and look for those who don't mind WIPs. You could probably also benefit from a mentor appointment. From what I hear they are great and extremely underused. I'll try to get one this year: http://www.acfw.com/conference/appointments_mentor. If you spot me, come say "hello" :) I'll be wearing pointe shoes and a ballet costume for the genre dinner.