I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Prize Winner

Hi, this is Roxanne Sherwood. My husband and I recently watched a DVD of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. It’s based on the true story of Evelyn Ryan—a mother of ten whose winning jingles keep poverty at bay during the "contest era" of the fifties and sixties.

Evelyn's husband, Kelly, is an abusive alcoholic who can't keep a dime in his pocket and resents her success. Though she cheerfully cares for her large family, she lacks intellectual equals. Late in the movie, Evelyn is contacted by a group of other contest-entering housewives. She's dying to meet them, but she doesn't drive and her husband won’t take her.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Evelyn finally makes the 100-mile trek to visit the other contesters. At last, she’s surrounded by kindred spirits. Women who understand her passion. Women who share her talent and encourage each other.

I turned to my husband and said, “That’s what it’s like when I’m around other novelists. That camaraderie is how the Ponderers started at a MBT Retreat. That’s what my San Antonio writers group meant to me.”

Like Evelyn needed kindred spirits, I need writers who share my dream. Writers like me, who are passionate about telling the stories God’s laid on their hearts.

I am blessed to have relationships with a lot of authors, both published and those still hoping to be. But in the beginning of my career, I didn’t know anyone. One day, I stumbled onto an internet writing community. Through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), I developed an online friendship with Lisa Jordan, and we became critique partners. I also showed my work-in-progress to a long-time friend, Beth Vogt. Lisa and Beth have been my cheerleaders, urging me on when I've doubted myself. Then, I met writers in San Antonio who became cherished friends, including Allison Pittman, who mentored me.

Are you lonely as a writer? Susan May Warren understands. When she began writing, she and her husband were missionaries, living in Siberia. Can’t get much farther from civilization than that! Voices is a wonderful on-line writing community—the one Susie wishes she’d had in Russia. So, if you don’t know any other writers, visit Voices, join ACFW, or look for local writing organizations.

Today is my birthday, and in honor of that momentous occasion ;-), I want to thank my wonderful family--especially my husband and best friend, Steve and my sister, Alicia Murphy--and all my cherished friends for their support and encouragement along this writing journey. I am grateful for each Ponderer, our mentors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, and for my group in San Antonio. (I can't go to Panera without thinking of you. I miss y'all so much!) So many people have encouraged me. I am so blessed!

Who’s blessed you along the way?

~Roxanne Sherwood
photo of me on my 9th birthday


  1. Happy Birthday, Rocky!!
    Who has blessed me along the way?
    I can remember back when our kiddos were little, how we shared our "one day maybe there will be time to write" dreams.
    And then when I called and said, "You're not gonna believe this, but I'm trying to write a novel," you didn't laugh. You didn't tell me to be realistic and stick with what I knew -- nonfiction. You believed in me and read so, so many rough drafts and offered suggestions.
    Thank you.
    And I too can voice the value of the Ponderers and the Voices and Susie and Rachel ...
    My prayer is that every writer finds a community like we have. If they're looking, I'd suggest starting with MBT, or ACFW or looking for a local writers group.

  2. Roxanne, this is sweet, honest, and beautiful. Among other gifts, as Ps, we're so rich in the things that count most. Years ago I won several jingle contests--a man's wrist watch, a pair of ice skates, but now pouring those energies other directions--like WIPs.
    And Happy Birthday, Roxanne. You, and Beth, and Lisa, and Pat, and absolutely every one are wonderful gifts! (I'm going to look for that movie, too,.)

  3. Happy Birthday, Roxanne! Loved this post--it left me with a lump in my throat for you. You have been blessed in your friends!

    Beth was my first encourager for writing. I shared the story God placed in my heart at a park one summer day. She told me I should write it. After praying and talking wtih my husband, I embarked on the writing journey. Of course, I met you at Story Crafters, and so appreciated getting to know you some. You are an encourager. I've also met other writers along the way, including Susie and Rachel, who have shared truth and great ideas for making my story better. I wouldn't still be on this road without those words that spoke life into my heart and my story. :)

    Hope your day is wonderful!

  4. When I first started writing, I had absolutely no one to encourage me. Looking back, I'm surprised I kept writing. But I did and submitted the first short story I wrote toWoman's World. (I didn't know any better) The guidelines stated 2,500 words. I sent 4,000. God blessed me with a fantastic editor, Nancy McCarthy, who liked my writing, bought the story, and cut it to the required length. She also continued to encourage me over the next few years.
    Since then, He's put many encouragers in my life--critique partners, Ponderers, friends...
    Great post, Roxanne!
    and Happy Birthday!

  5. Happy Birthday Roxanne! I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes and a hole in my heart as I read your post. I so understand being far away from your precious writing buds.

    Some of the people God has used in my writing path to encourage and help train me are Jeff Gerke; Allison Pittman; the Ponderers; Susie May Warren; Cheryl Wyatt; Natasha Kern; all those anonymous contest judges who took the time to show me how to improve my entries;writer John Robinson; and my faithful prayer partner, Peggy Bell, who covers all the WIPS.

    Thank you for pointing us to a day of thanksgiving for those God has sent our way as guides and encouragers on this precarious path. And a heartfelt thanks to those precious people who've helped us.

  6. Happy Birthday! I remember that picture. I can still see you in that little girl. I remember reading so many stories that you started as a teenager. I am so glad that you went back to writing. I'm glad that you are able to feed that passion. You are a good writer and you are a success in my eyes.

    And, really, it's ok to call me Jeannie. I love you, sis!

  7. Roxanne,
    Who has blessed me? I have to start with my husband. He has encouraged me from the start to reach for my dreams.
    Next would come Susie. She is an exceptional teacher and mentor. Then I can't go without mentioning the Ponderers or my associations with writers like Debra Clopton and Linda Goodnight. They have kept me going when I thought I'd quit.

  8. The Ponderers, Susie, and Rachel are some of the best supporters ever! Even when I had to take some time off due to illness, they've patiently waited for me to get the brain cells firing again.

    I also have a precious friend, Shelly Dippel, who "gets" me. Hours spent with her go by like minutes.

    My daughter and mother are also by my side supporting me. They are the reason that I am dipping my toes back into the writing waters.

  9. Aww, you are so wonderful, Roxanne! Happy birthday. I love that I get to call you friend.

    Who has blessed me along the way: Definitely, definitely my parents and grandparents. And like others have said, the Ponderers, Susie and Rachel. And I'm loving getting to know new friends online as well. And here in Iowa, I've got a few local friends I just love getting together and brainstorming with.

    When there are that many "ands," I know I'm crazily blessed!

  10. Thanks to Beth, Dee, Jeanne, Pat, Paula, Jeannie, Jennie, Teri and Melissa for your birthday wishes.

    I wrote it in my post but I can't say enough how grateful I am for each special person God has brought into my life. Thank you!

  11. Hey, Roxanne:
    Do you still have that Barbie?


  12. Happy birthday! I've had a whole host of people encouraging me along the way: my husband, my parents, family, friends, and new online buddies. I have been especially encouraged when someone who is farther down the road takes the time to encourage me and teach me something.

  13. Beth,

    It's actually Skipper. Do you remember Barbie's little sister? I think my sister finally inherited our old dolls for her daughters. My girls kinda skipped Barbie and played with American Girl dolls, which I still have.

  14. Lindsay,

    It's always great when someone farther along in the journey reaches out to help you. But it also feels satisfying when you're in the position to help out a new writer.

    I'm glad you have a team of family and friends who encourage you!

  15. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Roxanne!!

    I echo many of the other voices here when I say I've been blessed and encouraged by Susie and the Ponderers. Every single Ponderer has loved, encouraged, inspired, and/or blessed me in a unique way and I am grateful for each. ACFW has also been instrumental in my journey, and the 2009 conference was where I first found "my" people. I was so amazed (I don't know why!) at how incredibly supportive all the other writers were...even those I considered to be "famous!"

    In addition, my husband and teenage sons and a few "non-writer" friends have been my biggest cheerleaders. My friend Chelle has encouraged me for over a decade to go back to writing, buying me journals and writing books for birthdays and Christmases. Another friend, Chris, has also supported my desire to write. She pushed me to join ACFW and gave me my first year of dues for my birthday in 2008...without which I probably would not have gone to the 2009 conference or met the Ponderers!

    Thank you, Roxanne, for reminding me to appreciate the people who support and help me every day!! (And thank you for being one of those people!!)

  16. Faye,

    I'm glad you stopped by. Thanks for your birthday wishes!