Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Special Guest - Kelly Marstad

Hello Friends,

Please join the White Rose Authors in welcoming special guest, Kelly Marstad as she talks about Guidelines. But first.....A little about Kelly.....
Kelly has been a writer for eight years. She is published both in eBook format and print through two separate publishing houses. She boasts six titles under another pen name in the mainstream market, all of which came out in 2008 and two which found their way to the top of the bestseller's list.

With the recent conviction that God did not intend her talents for the mainstream market, she has switched gears completely and is now pursuing the inspirational genre without regret. Kelly is the wife of a vicar, mother of two children, a life-long Christian, world traveler, student of human behavior and of the writing craft.
Kelly also does line and content editing for several publishing houses as well as individual authors. Find out more about Kelly at her website and blog or email her at:
Now....Here's what Kelly has to say about Guidelines....Ah. Guidelines. We love them, don’t we. No, don’t argue. Let’s say it together, “I LOVE my guidelines.” Right, well, work on it for me, okay?

So here’s the thing. We write. We lurve writing. If we don’t write, our brains get so occupied with writerly thoughts that our real-to-life issues may suffer and clog like a big, hairy drain. We write because we have to, because it satisfies us, because it is the gift God has given us. And it is a gift which is why we sometimes get frustrated when guidelines stifle us. I think it’s safe to say that much.

A while back I did an article for the Seekers blog about my frustrations in transferring from the Mainstream market into the Inspirational market. It stemmed around the differences in ABA and CBA guidelines, and admittedly, I got a bit snarky (though, if you know me, you’d have laughed because I’m almost always snarky in a well-intentioned kind of way. Seriously. No, seriously. *sigh*). But I am here to eat my words—oh, for Pete’s sake, even I can’t say that with a straight face. How about, “I am here to modify my words”? Hmm. Yes, that sits better.

I had a tough lesson recently. It was about obedience. 1 Peter 2:13-17: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men…live as servants of God.” I squinted when I read this. I figured if the words were blurry it didn’t apply so much. I might have convinced myself, if it had not been followed by Hebrews 13:1-5. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…”
Oh, bother. Even squinting couldn’t get me past that one.

My lesson was submitting to the senior pastor at our vicarage church (husband is a seminarian ie/pastor in training). Long story, but basically I could not do enough to please him, join enough, commit enough, to the point where I was asked to keep record of how often a day I pray and read my Bible. Now, I admit it did ease my mind to know the seminary agreed with me and wasn’t pleased with his ongoing requests for which he held my husband’s passing grade captive. But they asked me to submit.

The official line was, obey, apologize, commit, submit. Do not defend yourself or explain yourself for it would only anger the pastor. Submit because then you have done everything in your power to make the vicarage work. A tall order for me. I prayed. I ground my teeth. I prayed some more and then went to a meeting with him. And do you know? God came with me. I submitted. And in doing so, I learned just how much God’s people mean to me regardless of whether or not I agree with the institution placed before me.

What does this have to do with writing? “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority.” Even publishers. Even editors. Even *gasp* (dun-dun-dun-duuuhhhhhh) guidelines.
You are doing it for the Lord’s sake, not your own. You are doing it because He asked you to, not because the publisher wanted to be rigid (well, okay, maybe they do, but that’s beside the point). He gave you the gift and you serve Him.

Your obedience is all that is required here. Beyond whether we think topless-Joe is okay in a book and the publisher disagrees, beyond topless-Joe and svelte-Sally in an embrace, no matter how chaste, beyond topless-Joe having a beer with his non-alcoholic friends at a backyard barbeque, you must submit to the authorities over you. Not for your pride. For the good of your soul, mastered by your Heavenly Father.

“…he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…” Are you rebelling? I was. Did. Still do, at times. I struggle to submit because I do have success in the mainstream market. I can make money writing with them. My editors and my publishers still want me back. And do you know, they will send me emails from time to time checking in with me, seeing if I meant what I said when I told them all good-bye and shut down my pen name.

My submission is to God, not my wallet. My submission to the Heavenly Father who gave me the ability to write in the first place and knowing that in my obedience to Him, He might use words from something I’ve written to touch even one of His blessed children. And because of that obedience, He will look at me with pleasure. Wow. Wow-wow-wow-wow-wow!

You know what’s even more freeing? I’m off the hook. I don’t have to like the guidelines, but I don’t angst over them either. Not anymore. I don’t have to wonder if my words carry purpose or carnality. Not anymore. I don’t have to wonder if I please God. Not anymore (sidebar: anyone else in here channeling Margie Lawson’s rhetorical writing?). Not when I do as He asks and submit my will to His. I’ll let Him worry about the details of whether or not I make it in this market. He’s a much better planner and publicist than I could ever be.
Interesting story and great advice, Kelly!
Watch for more special guests coming soon.
Until later....take care, Be BLESSED! and remember, White Rose Publishing is GIVING AWAY a Sony Ereader and it's NOT too late to enter the contest!


Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Kelly, what a great post! And kudos to you for making the switch from mainstream to inspirational romance. You are a true inspiration to us all!

Blessings, Teri

Teri Wilson ~ Romancing the pet lover's soul

KellyMarstad said...

Thank you Teri! It has been a real challenge to say the least. And humbling. To go from fanbase to zilch eats at your confidence.

The Lord willing, it will all work out. :)

Kara Lynn Russell said...

Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure you'll have loads of fans in the CBA market in no time.

Laurean Brooks said...

Kelly, did you say, sub-b-b, Yeah, I vaguely recognize that word. LOL

Your sassy personality comes through your blog post. I like that. It's when the editor cuts your personality from your writing, that I might get upset. Let me say this up front. That Does NOT happen at TWRP. That's what I like about this publisher.

I did grieve a little (okay, a lot) over 40 pages that were last minute cuts. But after re-reading the story, I agreed that it flowed better.

Once I submitted a heart-wrenching story to a major "Christian" magazine. I calle the editor to see if I could still retain rights. She said, "Yes, because after I finish with it, other readers probably wouldn't recognize it as the same story."

Hmmm.I had always wondered why all their stories sounded the same. Now I know.

So in all my blathering, what I really want to say is, "Thank you, TWRP for allowing each author her/his? own personal style. We love you for it, and I believe our readers agree with us."

Keep up the good work, Kelly. And please add me to your prayer list for sub-b-b-b-b mission! There! I said it!

Have a great day! I am.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Kelly. Thanks for the great post and more power to you for taking on the inspirational genre by storm!
Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

Kenzie Michaels said...

Wise words, Kell.

KellyMarstad said...

ARGH. I had some clever stuff to Kara and Laurean about submissions and talked about pressing on but blogger ate it. Sigh.

So let's pretend I said them along with that thank you which blogger choked on. :) But seriously, thank you all for your support and kind words. Should I eventually take anything by storm, let's hope it's with a sturdy umbrella. heh.

KellyMarstad said...

oh and PS. That picture is a bit dated. TRY THIS.

Donna B said...

Nice post! Isn't it wonderful to know you're in His will...lean not unto your own understanding! God is good! May He bless you in your calling.

KellyMarstad said...

Thank you to the White Roses in Bloom blog for inviting me to post yesterday. I really enjoyed hearing from all of you.

Beyond anything else, He has a plan for us. All we need to do is listen and obey. Blessings to you as you continue in His will.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Kelly, sorry I missed you. I've struggled with obedience my entire life but always come around to His will eventually.