We gathered, stiff and quiet and rather nervous, in that small room at the 2011 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. For most of us, it was the first time we’d ever been to a writers’ conference. We were four new novelists, each working on our first major manuscript. And we were about to have our first mentoring group meeting with Lauraine Snelling, bestselling author of historical and contemporary fiction with over seventy books under her belt—and one of my favorite authors.
I for one was highly intimidated. And I didn’t know these other three writers surrounding me, of various ages and backgrounds and from three different states, none of them mine. For all I knew, I’d never see them again after this week.
Little did I know I’d just met three of my best friends.
Today, those women are my critique partners, prayer partners, sisters in Christ and beloved friends. Though dispersed to the four corners of the United States, we email each other often multiple times a week, sharing prayer requests and writing news, swapping chapters to critique, and sharing the ups and downs, laughter and tears, and crazy stories of everyday life. Oh, and the stories we make up too—after all, we’re novelists. 🙂
Three and a half years after that first conference, we’re not quite such newbies anymore. All of us have agents, and two are contracted for upcoming publication. All of us are on at least our third manuscript—I am, that is, the others are all ahead of me! We’ve got a number of writers’ conferences under our belts and, while we still have a ways to go, have learned an awful lot about this whole writing business over the past few years.
I remember Lauraine saying that first year at Mount Hermon that God had put our group together for a purpose, though I had little idea then how true that would be. And I think I’ve only gotten a glimpse as yet of what He might want to do through bringing the four of us together. But I’m so incredibly grateful for the presence of these three amazing women in my life.
And today, I’d like to introduce them to you!
Marilyn Turk writes historical romances with tenderness and grace, with characters who gently challenge us to examine our own faith and prejudices. She is a strong and faithful woman I’m grateful to call my friend. Her passion for and extensive historical knowledge of lighthouses weave through all her books…including her Civil War series debuting in 2015! Check out Marilyn’s Lighthouse Blog for weekly stories about real lighthouses (and their keepers) around the country. I’m continually amazed at the historical treasures she digs up to share with her readers: http://pathwayheart.com/
Sandra Barnes writes Young Adult fiction with characters so delightfully real I think I might meet them sometime—and I’d definitely recognize them if I did! Her stories make me laugh yet touch deep in my heart with their spiritual poignancy and power. So many times Sandra has spoken the Lord’s encouragement to my heart when I’ve been down, and she continues to teach me about faith as well as issues of racial reconciliation, a burden on both our hearts. Watch for her debut novel coming out next year, and check out her website and “Otherwise” blog here: http://sandrabarnesauthor.com/
Sarah Tipton writes YA fiction as well and is our resident editor and superwoman. Not only does she write incredibly-crafted stories with dialogue and prose that snaps, sparkles, and even makes me cry, but she homeschools five kids, runs more miles than I’ve ever walked, and finds time to mentor other writers to continually higher levels—including me! And guess what: you can start reading Sarah’s writing right now, as she publishes a new episode of “The Two Worlds of Sydnee Cameron” once or twice every month. Click “Sydnee Cameron” on the top left bar of her website and get to know a young girl caught between two families and ways of life (Or subscribe to be notified of new episodes! That goes for all these ladies’ blogs, actually): http://www.sarahtiptonbooks.com/
So there you have it—you’ve met my critique partners, or as we like to call ourselves, the C-Peeps. I hope you will take the time to get to know them too…because since I did, my life has been exponentially blessed.
Thank you, Kiersti, for such a beautiful post! It made me tear up in a happy way, reading about how God brought us together not-so-long ago and how far He’s brought us since. Miss all of you, dear friends!
Aw, thanks, Sarah! Miss you too! But not for long… 🙂
Hi Kiersti, Sweet fellow-historical writer and C.Peep Sister! Thank you for talking about our special group. I ditto everything you said about us and how we were put together by God for a reason. Or maybe more than one reason, like you named – praying, supporting, critiquing encouraging, sharing, inspiring, enlightening. I’m reminded of the Bible verse “Iron sharpens iron,” which I believe is symbolic of what we do for each other. I’m so thankful I met you and our other C-peeps!
So true, Marilyn. I’m so thankful too! You ladies are so precious to my heart. 🙂
Thanks for the shout-out, Kiersti! You ladies are a great bunch, and I wouldn’t trade you. So true about the special friendship that has developed so quickly beyond the purpose we initially thought. Isn’t that just like God to weave unlikely paths and generate unique relationships? Feeling blessed today and every day to have each of you in my life!
Same goes for you, Sandra! How blessed we are, indeed. Love you! 🙂
Thanks for sharing Kiersti. I step back now and then and stand in awe of how many people God has put in my path. Published authors whose work inspires me to dig deeper, learn more about the craft of writing, and keep putting my fingers to the keyboard; people who know the ins and outs of publishing, social media, platform building, editing who are willing to share their expertise; but the ones I treasure most are those who took the time to pray and help me hone my first book.
I’m still looking for my writing team. Maybe I’ll meet them at ACFW next September. Maybe they are already in one of the writing groups I belong to. Only the Lord knows where those next steps and friendships will be take me.
So true, Jessica–it is indeed humbling to see all the people the Lord brings into our lives and our writing journey! It’s certainly not a path to walk alone. Thanks so much for sharing!