I Must Be Crazy – NaNoWriMo and Other Fall Things

We’re knee deep in autumn here in Middle Tennessee. Leaves are an impressive array of golds and reds and oranges, the breeze is a little cooler every day, and pumpkin has permeated everything from our porches to our coffee cups. Halloween has come and gone, ushering in what, for most of us, is the busiest season of the year. As the saying goes, the New Year will be here before we know it.

I Must Be Crazy: NaNoWriMo and Other Fall Things

So, November naturally serves as the perfect time to take on a massive new project, right? Along with several author friends, I have accepted the challenge to once again participate in National Novel Writer’s Month, referred to as NaNoWriMo, and write 50,000 words during the month of November. I must be crazy.

I do have my reasons (she said behind wide eyes and a racing heart). I’ve signed on the be part of a very exciting novella collection set to come out early next fall! I will join hands with five other Christian authors to bring you some unique stories sure to satisfy your love story cravings. I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon.

You won’t be surprised to know that I’ve not written steadily for quite some time. Book two of the Laurel Cove series is still in need of a lot of attention! But this novella has really inspired me and I’ve decided to let NaNoWriMo give me the chance to hammer out the first draft. If you’ve been with me for a long time, you may remember that the first draft of Someplace Familiar was written during NaNoWriMo way back in 2013! If I can stick with it, it’s a really fun and exhilarating experience.

The novella needs to be only about 25,000 words. So, book two might just get the chance to grow a little, as well. I toyed with the idea of cramming in a Christmas novella, like I’d announced I had plans for a while back. But I’ve learned the hard way recently that life sometimes throws wrenches into the mix. Back in September, my husband joined one of the national tours of Hamilton! We’re so thankful for the opportunity, but that leaves me flying solo at Fort Tysinger. Less time for myself and a few more responsibilities. The days feel shorter and to-do list longer.

Have I said how crazy it is to take on NaNoWriMo right now?

But, we serve a BIG God who somehow empowers us to do much bigger things that we consider ourselves capable of managing. Often times, it’s just saying “Yes, God” today, then tomorrow, then the next day. And having grace with ourselves on days we need to take a breather and rest in Him.

If you’re still hanging on, I’d sure appreciate your encouragement and prayers during this crazy month. How can I pray for you?

Back in the South Again

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve likely seen that my family and I recently made a big move. We packed up and left the summer furnace of Texas for the rolling warm hills of Nashville, Tennessee.

And my Southern-loving heart couldn’t be happier.

While a new job opportunity for me sparked the move, there is so much to be thankful for being back in the Southeast. Here are my top five reasons this relocation has me feeling all the feels…

  1. We’re closer to my family than we’ve been in 20 years. Ever since I left for college back in 1999 (gasp!), I’ve not lived closer than 8.5 hours to my parents. Now, they are a short and easy 2-hour drive straight down I-65! What’s better? My sister and nephew are not much farther, too! So long to the days of planning flights months in advance, boarding the dog, and TSA security lines just to hug their necks. We’ve already seen my folks several times and my mom is even here this week helping take our daughter to VBS while we work.
  2. I can now commune with my muse. (Wow, what a cheesy line. Sorry. LOL) My author tag line is “Charming Southern romance inspired by grace.” While many consider Texas to be a Southern state, it’s got nothing on the charm and small town culture of this region. Now, my office building is on historic Music Row near downtown Nashville, so I’m not claiming to be front porch rockin’ all day long. But the surrounding rolling hills, blue grass music, down home meat-and-three meals, and friendly hat-tipping are what the stories in my heart are made of. Can’t wait to see how this place inspires me to get back to regular writing.

    IMG_8040The gorgeous (and green) view from our new porch!

  3. The food scene is insane. Now, to be fair, we had zero complaints about the food in Fort Worth. No arguments from us that Texas knows how to do BBQ, Tex-Mex, and margaritas. But, Texas ain’t got nothing on Tennesee fried chicken, Southern sides, cobbler, and sweet tea. We lunched at the famous Puckett’s Grocery in downtown Franklin after church this past Sunday and might end up regulars. Don’t take my word for it, let the picture of my lunch prove it.

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    To top it off, you’re hard pressed to find an eating establishment in the area that doesn’t offer sensational live music. I mean, it’s “Music City” for a reason and everyone is good.

  4. We are within driving distance, once again, to some of our favorite places. When we lived in North Carolina, we were used to being able to drive a few hours and be in numerous different states, destinations, landscapes, etc. Then we moved to Texas and felt a tad land-locked. There were a lot of great places to see in Texas, but we love the ability to get in the car and take a day trip to some of our favorite places: Atlanta for a Brave’s game, Gatlinburg for fall festivities, Chattanooga for family fun, and just about any direction for some of the best outdoor exploring through hiking trails, waterfalls, scenic views, and more. We can’t wait to get out there again!
  5. The charming, small town culture warms my heart. Really similar to number two, this final reason to celebrate our new home really hones in on the sort of family experience I love. We’re settling in Franklin, a quaint but fast-growing town about 25 minutes outside of Nashville.

    Downtown Franklin Main Street_0Photo courtesy of tnvacation.com

    You may have heard of it as a top choice for celebrities looking for some anonymity to raise their families without being hounded by paparazzi. (I’m keeping my eyes peeled for Natalie Grant, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, or maybe Carrie Underwood and will report any sightings!) But, there’s a lot about Franklin I’ve wanted for my family for a long time…things like a mix of country/city, lots of festivals, steeped in American history, Saturday markets where folks stroll and engage in friendly catching up. I know Franklin doesn’t have the market on this sort of place — maybe your town is the same! But the DFW area of Texas was more metropolitan than I care for, and I’m excited to enjoy this new pace of life.

While I’ve got your attention, be sure to pop over to Faithfully Bookish where Beth is talking to one of my favorite authors, Courtney Walsh about her favorite book cover fonts. So excited and honored that Someplace Familiar made Courtney’s list! There’s some great other covers as well as a giveaway of Courtney’s latest release, Just Let Go.

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Embracing Freedom (Not Guilt) When Taking Control and Doing Things Your Way

Embracing Freedom (Not Guilt) When Taking Control & Doing Things Your Way

When I blogged earlier this week, it was for the first time in months. If you’ve been a long-time follower, you know that there have been other seasons when I’ve backed away for various reasons. Life happens, people. I have learned a great deal about myself through the process of blogging, writing at my own pace, seeking traditional publication, and ultimately choosing to independently publish my book.

In many ways, I’ve gone against the flow of some of my peers enough now that I’ve learned to let go of the guilt and insecurities and instead embrace the freedom that comes with realizing I’m in charge of my own life.

Now, before I go on, let me be clear. I am in NO WAY saying that those who find themselves on the more well-paved path of any journey in life are going about it the wrong way and giving up control. In fact, just the opposite. Whatever you do, whichever road you take — be it paved in gorgeous cobblestones or totally uncharted — you’re the driver. Own it.

Some things I’ve learned about myself through the last year of navigating my path I’ve actually known deep down for a long time. I just never wanted to admit it. Because in my head, what are actually truths about me were being filtered through some crazy cultural (maybe emotional, too) machine that spewed out a distorted lie. Here are a few examples of lies I grew to believe and the truths I’ve had to rediscover.

LIE: I am lazy.
TRUTH: I have high standards and feel paralyzed when I feel overwhelmed.

LIE: If I can’t produce (book writing) on a regular schedule, I am a failure.
TRUTH: My value is in Christ and not in my accomplishments.

LIE: I am too emotional and irrational.
TRUTH: God made me a highly sensitive person and He has plans to use it for good.

I like those truths much better. They give me life instead of stealing my joy. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that not working at the same energetic pace as my husband, for instance, who can get more done in the blink of an eye than I can in a whole weekend, made me less-than. I convinced myself that being emotional most of the time equated to weaker.

Kill the Spider by Carol WhittakerA while back, I read Kill the Spider by Carlos Whittaker. In this straightforward personal account of battling demons, Carlos shares the brilliant concept that we’ve got to stop simply sweeping away the cobwebs and finally find and kill the spider producing them. (I admit to feeling gobsmacked by such a simple yet profound analogy!) I’ve realized that I’ve been feverishly sweeping away the cobwebs made up of lies like the ones listed above. But where was the spider spinning the webs? What does it look like and where does it hide?

For me, the spider is false identity. I’ve been putting my identity in things other than the Truth:

  • Teresa the Overweight
  • Teresa the Emotional Basketcase
  • Teresa the Lazy
  • Teresa the Overwhelmed
  • Teresa the Less-Than
  • Teresa the Out-of-Control
  • Teresa the Quick-to-Frustrate

There are so many to name that the resulting cobwebs became too thick to sweep away. And, so, my true identity became hidden behind a thick, sticky mass of cobwebs.

I lost sight of my one true identity:

  • Child of God, which makes me the Princess of the King of Glory!

Wow. Sounds like a WAY BETTER perspective to live by. It is the ONLY identity that matters. It is the true identity that informs all other parts of me. And living into THIS identity leaves me no choice but to cast off the lies and take joy in being in control of who God made me to be.

There is FREEDOM, friends, in doing things the way that feels right for you. I needed to take time off from writing until God placed back upon me the desire to create again based on His prompting. It may take me another three years to write a book, like it did the first time around. And if it does, that’s OK. I’ve got a lot of life going on in the background that’s just as important.

On Choosing Truth

On Choosing Truth | TeresaTysinger.com

I’ve been seeing a wonderful, divinely-matched-with-me therapist for several months now. She has helped me work through a lot of baggage that I didn’t even realize I’d been carrying. Generally speaking, she approaches our time together with kindness, compassion, and patience. She gently guides me to discover things on my own. Except for those times I’m just not getting it. In these instances, she hurdles truth bombs at me with the grace and strength of an Olympic shot-putter. A smirk and crooked eyebrow raised heavenward follow her overhanded delivery of truth and I know it’s time to stop talking and listen.

Have you ever realized how stubborn we humans are? Beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we are told things just to turn around and test the truth for ourselves. “You say I can’t have this fruit? Nah, it’ll be fine.” We grow into taller, more educated toddlers who need daily reminders of basic truths. God loves us fiercely (John 3:16). With Christ on our side we can do really hard things (Philippians 4:13). All of our mistakes and sins can be completely forgiven (1 John 1:9). We are never too far away that God can’t reach us (John 10:27-28, Joshua 1:9, Matthew 28:20). At our lowest moments, God not only is with us but God can take even our hardest, most awful emotions (Romans 8:26).

But something else has dawned on me recently. God’s steady, constant voice is often a whisper, even when he wants to get our attention.

Then He said [to Elijah], “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

But, the voice of the Enemy is different — persistent, incessant, annoying, hard to ignore. And one of the hardest things about being given free will is that we must CHOOSE to listen for God’s whispers over the noise of lies.

"We must choose to listen for God's whispers over the noise of the Enemy's lies." | Quotes from TeresaTysinger.com

This quote from Jess Connolly stopped me in my tracks last week. “Don’t play telephone with the Enemy’s lies.” I sat with the following words in her Instagram post and let it sink in…

"Don't play telephone with the Enemy's lies." - Jess Connolly

You know when you hear that horrible thought? The one that’s so obviously a lie from the actual enemy of your soul? Maybe it comes via a thought, a spoken word from another human, or maybe even your own mouth. But as soon as you hear it: you know – this is some CRAZY STUFF that should not be repeated.
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But you know what I find myself doing? Repeating it. Telling someone else what I heard, processing how it made me feel, journaling about how real the lie seems even though I KNOW it’s not true. I was doing this just last night during worship, playing the refrain of a lie that I knew to be a lie – but still thinking on how painful it was, rather than thinking about how good my God is. I wanted to say the lie out loud, I wanted someone else to hear how bad it hurt – but I already knew THE TRUTH. And Holy Spirit said: You don’t have to play telephone with the enemy’s lies. You don’t have to pass that message around. You KNOW it’s some crazy trash, so why don’t you just stop thinking about it and replace it with some truth.
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We’re not always going to be able to tell truth from lies on our own, sometimes it takes the Word of God or a friend getting in our face and reminding us of the truth – but let’s stop playing telephone with the lies that we KNOW are lies. They just get murkier and more busted as we pass them on, replay them AND as we relay them. If it doesn’t line up with what God has written over you: stop repeating it. If it goes against the knowledge of a good and gracious Father who made you in His image: you can keep talking about how it makes you feel or you can just replace it with some TRUTH. The telephone game never did anybody any good and at some point if we want to live in the light, we’re going to have to put true words in our mouth and have our minds stayed on Him. Amen?

I’m tempted to outline my list of lies for you, but they DO NOT BEAR REPEATING. That gives them fuel for constructing walls high around and within my heart. But, no, that’s a place where God dwells. A place He keeps wide open and swept clean. I’m currently working on handwriting the Truths of God’s Word that whisper of my priceless worth like the lullaby of a mama rocking her treasure to sleep.

Only your whispers, God.

On Being Brave

On Being Brave | Teresa Tysinger, Creative & Encourager

Do you ever see or hear something repeatedly, enough times that you start to wonder if God’s trying to tell you something? It’s been like that this week for me. In fact, it’s like He’s standing on the side of the road wearing one of those bright orange construction vests lined with reflector material while holding a neon sign and screaming through a bull-horn. The message?

BE BRAVE.

Continue reading

You Won’t Remember the Pain: Birthing a Book

BirthingABook

I’ve heard authors compare publishing a book to childbirth. Metaphorically, of course. But on that vein of thought, I think I’m in the throws of birthing pains, friends. Someplace Familiar is my “first born” book. She’s gestated for three years, not counting the decade or so I dreamed of her…the possibility of her.

Like all new mothers, one of my biggest struggles as I wait for the book to come to life is self-doubt. Before I had my daughter eight years ago I worried if I had the capacity to properly care for her – her body, her spirit, her happiness. I could barely handle those things for myself. Oh, self-doubt is a quiet, sly foe.

I came across this quote about birthing from Barbara Katz Rothman that made me stop and think…

Birth is not only about making babies.
Birth is about making mothers –
strong, competent, capable mothers
who trust themselves and know their inner strength.

What if we rewrote this for the circumstance of an author publishing a book?

Publishing is not only about making books.
Publishing is about making authors –
strong, competent, capable authors
who trust themselves and know their inner strength.

No child will grow up perfect and without flaws – it’s not in human nature. Likewise, no book will it make it to the digital or brick-and-mortar shelves without mistakes. There will be typos and sentences that could’ve been written better. We authors must remember that if we focus too much on unattainable perfection of our books we risk missing the lessons we learn along the way about our own abilities and strength.

These talents are God given. Placed upon your for such a time as this, in your lifetime and within your influences. You wrote a book! I mean, that’s huge. What’s more…we authors have worked hard on the books to get them to the point of publishing. No small feat.

My daily prayer as I grit my teeth through these labor pains of publishing is that God will help me focus on the journey, and find joy there where exhaustion and hard work threaten to dissuade me from noticing victory.

Once the book is “born,” my newest baby, I’ll forget the pain it took to get her here. Like my own cesarean scar from eight years ago, the memory of trauma will fade and will be replaced with joy and anticipation of what God will do with her life…how she’ll impact others…how she’ll leave the world different, better, than it was before she came.

That’s my prayer. I’ll forget today’s pain.

I Gave Up Writing This Week

gaveupwriting

I stepped in dog pee the other morning, just minutes after grumbling at my relentless alarm. It was the perfect sour cherry on top of what was shaping up to be a top-notch-awful-week sundae. Frustrations at work…laundry held hostage in the dryer…a master bedroom that housed my 8 year old on the floor in a sleeping bag most nights…friends whose birthdays came and went too quickly without a card making it into the mail…boxes of Girl Scout cookies left to sell…graying hair in need of coloring…a thickening waistline…and nagging deadlines for editing my first novel (that needs to be successful and renowned  by all who read it – ha). It all swirled in my head with a dizzying effect.

My wet foot dripped and “You’ve got to be kidding me!” cries filled the otherwise serene, still-dark living room. Something had to give. And soon.

Later that day I sat in my car during my lunch break and brainstormed what I could do to simplify this overwhelming life. I eventually circled around to my writing. Maybe this just isn’t the season of life to realistically achieve the goal of publishing.

Mixed Messages

Part of my problem is constantly trying to decipher the mixed messages to women of our culture:

Your top priority should be raising independent, well-adjusted children.

You have both the right to be an working professional woman, and the responsibility to continue paving the way for the next generation.

While you should not feel obligated to wed, if you do then your spouse should feel desired, encouraged, and taken care of.

You need A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, and P name-brand products, but should also be able to find a way to be debt free and ready for retirement by the age of 40.

How in the world do we wade through all of these voices? While the little white ball called “balance” winds this way and that, ping-ponging between work, home, family, friends, education, professional enrichment, personal goals, and others’ expectations we grow tired. Dizzy. Unsure which way to look and for how long.

This passage from Present Over Perfect by  Shawna Niequist struck a nerve.

I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college “adult” person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I’d become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that’s when life will really begin.

Can you relate?  For me, the life that has begun often doesn’t reflect the life I envisioned long ago. It’s more hectic. More demanding. More distracted. And, frankly, often less fulfilling.

My Plan for Taking Control

The lunch break in my car resulted in a plan. I didn’t want to give up being a good mom or wife or employee. My daughter needs me on my best game. My husband needs me to be less stressed and more attentive. My job deserves me to be more focused and dedicated.

So the writing can wait.

I made the decision sitting in the car that I’d find ways to write here and there whenever time presented itself. Just for fun. Maybe keep writing my short stories for my newsletters. But the book publishing would need to wait. It didn’t make the cut.

With a sigh of relief and to-do list suddenly much shorter, the week went on.

But something unexpected happened next.

The 30-Second Game Changer

Later that evening, after the kitchen was cleaned, homework was reviewed and fixed, bath time was overseen, and clothes were picked for the next day, my daughter called me into her room.

“Can I read you something, Mama?”

“Sure, but then it’s lights out.”

“Ok. I just wrote this…” She proceeded to read me a poem she’d written. It included metaphor, imagery, emotion, and a simple plot. It was good. My tired, overwhelmed heart flipped.

“Honey, that’s really good. I mean, really good.”

Then the kicker.

“I get it now. Why you write. This feels amazing. And I can’t wait for your book to come out,” she said with and understanding in her eyes that stopped me dead in my tracks.

In the simple 30-second exchange with my daughter over a six-line poem written in pencil in a ratty journal, the plan I’d made earlier in the day to give up writing suddenly didn’t make sense.

Publishing this book isn’t just a self-indulgence. Not just a hobby I’d love to share with others. It has purpose, meaning beyond my own desires. The process, not just the end result, is important for my daughter to see me go through – not for the struggle, but in spite of it. This renewed awareness of purpose in the process reminds me, too, that the story’s message of hope and grace and forgiveness (to each other and yourself) is one I believe God placed on my heart to tell others. If that’s not a priority worth keeping on top, I don’t know what is.

Life will still throw me curve balls. (Just in the last 24-hours, for instance, I had a flat tire, spilled a full glass all over the living room, and had to catch my dog’s urine in a bowl for a specimen to take the to vet.) This is life this side of heaven. Messy, frustrating, and overwhelming. But it’s also filled with 30-second blessings that remind us why we do what we do: because we are who God made us each to be.

I gave up writing this week. But I picked it right back up again.



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If not, go here. Each issue includes book news (mine and announcements from other authors), monthly installments from the Blue Ridge University short story series, and other fun stuff like recipes, photos, and more.

 

Resurfacing, New Release & Announcement

Well, hello, friends. It’s me. Finally managing to claw my way out of the busiest time at work and home of the whole year to check in. (Can I get an Amen?)

In the last few weeks I’ve finished up a huge 365-day calendar design project, written a few short stories, edited for a few fellow authors, attended my very first hockey game, traveled to and from Alabama by car from Texas (!), and somehow managed to not lose my family or friends among all the craziness.

In more fun news, the next short romance installment of my Blue Ridge University Series releases in just a few days!  “Just By Chance” will reach inboxes on December 1 to those who have subscribed.

jbcpromo

Not Subscribed? Fix that HERE

The email will also include some fun Christmas goodies, so don’t forget to check your email that day. (Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.)

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

authorsopenhouse_christmas

This is SO EXCITING! I’ve got a huge line-up of Christian authors stopping by to visit each day from December 5-9 for the next Authors’ Open House: Christmas Edition. Each featured author has a Christmas book that just released or is releasing soon! They’ll each share something special about the holiday season, reading, writing, and much more. Here’s the line up:

Monday, December 5: Angela Ruth Strong
Tuesday, December 6: Carrie Turansky
Wednesday, December 7: Melissa Tagg
Thursday, December 8: Sarah Monzon
Friday, December 9: Terri Reed

Check out my first Authors’ Open House here (links to each at bottom of post).

Well, I’m off to the next task. I’ll be posting an update soon on some big plans in the works. So, don’t be a stranger.

Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness

Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness via https://teresatysinger.com

Last week I lost track of the days and didn’t get September’s newsletter out on time. I’ve also been off-schedule a bit with posting here. I promised last week that I’d get out the September newsletter over the weekend. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll notice that didn’t happen. My heart hasn’t been in it to create. But I’m a writer. Creating with words is what I do. It’s how I contribute — why I’ve carved out this little area of the universe. Continue reading

Help Me Name My Newsletter

So, that ACFW Conference report I promised you? Yeah, that didn’t happen. You may have also noticed that September’s newsletter, which should have gone out yesterday, is MIA. Strike two. Since we’re friends, I’m going to pull the excuse card. I’ve spent my week recovering from a colonoscopy on Tuesday. (How long does anesthesia linger in your system?) Pretty sure that’s a free pass, right?

So, we’re going to multitask, m’kay? This weekend (probably Sunday) I’ll send out September’s newsletter WITH some conference news in it! Two birds, one stone. We’ll just pretend like the crickets on the blog where yesterday’s post should have been are just the late-summer, soothing soundtrack for you to enjoy during your busy week. (See, it’s all about perspective, people.)

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Those who get my newsletter will get the chance to vote on a name for my newsletter. Who doesn’t love to give their opinion on such important decisions?! As much as I love giving updates on my writing journey, book reviews, and such…I’ve felt led lately to use the newsletter for more encouragement. So, in addition to announcements and such, future issues will also offer faith reflections, words of encouragement on our daily walk together, and hopefully support that helps you feel like you’ve got a friend in your corner (me!).

If you’re not already signed up to receive
my monthly newsletter in your inbox…

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Thanks, friends. For understanding when life get’s too crazy to keep up with….for supporting me on my journey…for walking through this life with me.