Monday, September 14, 2020

Your Promised Land


Remember the story of the twelve spies sent out by Moses to scout out the Promised Land? (Numbers 13:17-33) The idea was to figure out the lay of the land and the strength of the opposition so to be familiar with it when God gave the command to “Go!” This was promised land. Promised by God Himself. Yet ten of the twelve returned quaking in their boots, certain this land could never be conquered. It was filled with giants!

When I taught this story to my elementary level students, we pooh-poohed their lack of faith and applauded Joshua and Caleb for holding on to God’s promise. We pictured ourselves as if we were the Two Heroes, determined to carry on and serve the Lord, to take Him at His Word.


Have you ever found yourself in the same camp with the Timid Ten?

What has God promised in your life? In your writing?

In my life, God has promised several things to me. Some of those promises are now fulfilled, a marvelous part of my personal history. Some of them I’m still waiting on. For some I’ve been given directions as to when to move; others, I keep listening for instruction.

When God added to my passion to write, He promised support. He gave the command to follow that dream and promised He’d be there to help me learn and progress and publish. He didn’t promise multimillion-dollar bestsellers (He didn’t nix the idea either!). He didn’t even promise which book, if any, would be published.

He has kept His promise. I’ve had short stories published. I write a blog and contribute to other blogs on occasion. I’ve written articles for the local newspaper.

And yet. There are moments when I question the promise. I earn maybe two hundred dollars a year from writing. Should I be contributing to family finances—even though we have enough right now? I mutter, “I’m not a real author. Who am I fooling?” And Satan answers, “That’s right. You’re a fake. You can’t write books that people want to read.” And I freeze. Not with writer’s block. With fear. I join the ranks of the Timid Ten.

At that point, I must make a decision. Will I stay in that pit of doubt inviting God’s wrath, or will I face the giants, who appear so intimidating, and barrel through them? God already told me He has my back. I can barrel through without fear! Once Joshua and Caleb received the go-ahead from Jehovah, their army blew through Canaan like a series of tornadoes demolishing one city at a time.

We, too, can seek the Lord’s will, listen for His answer, and follow His directions to victory. Consider what giants might be intimidating you, whether it be a writing project or a life situation. Has God made any promises concerning that project? Has He promised to stand before you and behind you as you face difficult circumstances? Then stay constant in prayer. Move when He says to move. Wait when He says to wait. Write when He says to write. And rest when He says to rest.

Join the ranks of the Two Heroes and enter your promised land.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Inspiration from a "robot call"

Imagine my surprise to discover a warrant had been issued for my arrest . . . by the Social Security Administration.

“Ha ha, yeah, right,” I murmured, chuckling, as I hung up on the “robot call,” the nickname my grandson has assigned to those annoying, often laughable spam calls. My husband never answers unless he clearly recognizes the number. I can’t help but think I may miss something or someone of great significance should I resist the urge to pick up the call. So, usually I do and did this past Tuesday morning.

After the brief interruption, most of my brain returned to its prior task, but a stream of consciousness meandered down the path of suspected criminal activity. What if such a thing were to happen? An intriguing premise for a novel perhaps . . . 

Ms. Brown wakes up one ordinary morning to discover her mild-mannered universe thoroughly mired in a thick, crusty plot to discredit her honest-Abe reputation, to sully the family name, and to plunge her very existence into a bottomless pit of accusations that will drain her mental and physical fortitude. Can she clear her good name and right her world or will the forces of evil corruption forever dog her remaining days?

Truth be told, this is not my kind of story. While some of my fellow Scriblerian writing partners could whip up such a tale with one typing-hand tied behind their backs, I could not. My forte in the storytelling realm lies in character-driven, contemporary tales wrapped around the complexities of real life. Those not associated with Social Security fraud.

While I can construct a modern-day, ordinary-sort-of-life story world without much distress, I would be hard pressed to craft an espionage-driven backdrop or an other-worldly setting.  My head would ache causing my eyes to glaze over if I attempted to create the rich, vibrant story world such a yarn would need to snare readers.  

Creating an appropriate world in which to house a story, any story, is key to engaging the reader. Present day Madison High School in Pine Crossing, Indiana, where my YA  novel series takes place. A long ago, simpler-time-and-place when one-room schoolhouses dotted the flat, dusty landscape. Or, a far-off planet in another galaxy one hundred years into the future. These fictional worlds are tasked with transporting the reader to a specific story world where this particular saga can unfold.

On November 7th, ACFW Indiana will welcome Jill Williamson via Zoom to talk about worldbuilding. Jill, who describes herself as a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms, resides in Oregon with her husband and two children. Growing up in Alaska led Jill to a love of books, and in 2010 her first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves presenting writing workshops. Which is great for us!

Mark the date on your calendar and watch for more details in the coming weeks. And in the mean time, gather up your questions about worldbuilding.

To satisfy my curious nature--a common writers' trait, wouldn't you agree?--please comment below as to whether your telephone-answering habits more closely resemble mine or my husband's. 


Beth immerses herself in the world of YA via substitute teaching, by connecting with the teenage staff and patrons at the fast food joint where she claims the back booth as her office, and by reading YA fiction.


She's a "cheerleader" for saving sex for marriage and an even bigger supporter of "renewed waiting" because it's never too late to make wiser, healthier choices. She welcomes questions and topic suggestions for the “Waiting Matters … Because YOU Matter” blog that inspired the Waiting Matters series. Check out her Choices Matter YA series that follows Preston and Maggie as they navigate the choppy waters of high school, guy/girl relationships, and sex. 

Beth is also active in the adoption community where she writes and speaks about her experiences as a "foundling" who located her birth parents and is enjoying making up for lost time with her biological family.


Connect with her at for all the news on upcoming releases. Find her on Facebook at BethSteury, Author; on Twitter @Beth_Steury; and on Instagram and Goodreads. She loves to hear from readers! Write to her at



Saturday, September 5, 2020

A Writer's Day in 1958

Writer’s Digest is celebrating its centennial this year by reprinting selected articles from their archive. One that caught my attention was written by Kirk Polking in 1958 and titled, ”The Best Job on Earth.” She’s referring to the job of freelance writing.

Several things piqued my curiosity as I scanned the piece, such as the difference in economics. (For that year, Ms. Polking’s income as a full-time nonfiction freelancer was just over two thousand dollars, and her total expenses came to just over $2,600. “Those were the days, my friend…”)

However, what really caught my eye was her daily schedule. When she gave up her salaried staff job to become a full-time freelancer, she had to wrestle with the same temptation that most self-employed people encounter: the temptation to waste time. So she devised this daily schedule:

1. I will get up every morning at 7:30 and be at work no later than 9:00.

2. Each day, something must go in the mail.

3. Each week I will write at least 1,000 words just to improve my style and facility.

4. Because pictures are so important to many articles and they add to the writer’s income I will learn to improve my photography.

5. To organize my time, I will line up interviews on the same day, library research on another, and telephone calls another, so I can write uninterruptedly for longer periods.

6. I will get some exercise each day if only a walk—to keep healthy and get a change of pace from mental work.

7. Since I no longer have the social contact of an office, I will find other ways of meeting people, cultivating friends outside “the trade."

Sixty-two years later, her schedule still has a lot of merit. And it served her well. She later became editor-in-chief of Writer’s Digest.

How does your schedule look? Do you even have a schedule, or does it consist of a list of tasks on a yellowing Post-It Note that begins with the item, “Plan Schedule”?