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, December 14, 2012

Guest Post by Lindsay Harrel

Lindsay and Melissa...everybody say aww!
Note from Melissa: Earlier this year, I got an email with the subject line "Hello" from a gal named Lindsay Harrel. I had no idea then that Linds would become one of my closest friends. I think we "talk" almost every day now--text or email or Twitter or Facebook or phone. She's amazing. I asked her recently to be today's guest...and, yes, I might have teared up a little (or a lot) when I read what she sent me...enjoy!

The Best Surprise Gift Ever

I am a big fan of giving gifts, so it’s no surprise I love Christmas-time (for other reasons too, of course!). I love thinking about the perfect gift to give a friend or family member, especially when the gift is a surprise.

The look of joy on their face when they open it is priceless.

Well, this year, I received the best surprise gift ever.

And it—or rather, she—was straight from God.

I’m talking about my critique partner, Melissa Tagg.

(And no, she isn’t ghostwriting this post, LOL.)

Seriously, though, when I went looking for a CP, I wanted someone who would…well, critique my work. Help make me a better writer. Give me advice.

At the MBT Wild West Pizza Pary
I got that.

But in Melissa, I got so, so, SO much more.

Like someone I can email, text, tweet, or Facebook message with prayer requests. A lot.

Or who understands what I mean when I say, “This working full-time and writing thing ain’t so easy!”

Who talks me off ledges when I don’t think I can do this or when my scenes stink or when I think I’m the worst writer ever to walk the planet.

Who shares her own triumphs with me (and she’s had so many awesome ones this year!).

Who lets me whine and complain when I need to.

Who gives me godly advice.

Who will do the Charlie’s Angels pose with me in a cowgirl hat.

Who sends me awesome gifts that speak to me just when I need them to.

Who stays on the phone for three hours brainstorming MY book when she’s got her own to write.

Who sits up late with me at conferences and has a deep conversation about...life. Even though we’re both seriously tired.

Who totally and completely gets me because we’re like basically the same person.

Who I can’t imagine my writing life—or life otherwise—without, and who I hope will be my partner in crime for many, many more years to come.

So yeah, God pretty much rocks for putting Melissa in my life. She truly is one of the best gifts—and one I so didn’t expect, which makes it all the sweeter.

Your Turn: Do you have a CP or close writing friend who has been a gift? How?

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.A. in English. In her current day job as a curriculum editor for a local university, Lindsay helps others improve their work and hones her skills for her night job—writing inspirational contemporary fiction. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of six years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training.

Twitter: @Lindsay Harrel: https://twitter.com/LindsayHarrel

27 comments:

  1. I love this post, what a special friendship!

    I love to give gifts too. On Saturday we celebrated Brooke's 3rd birthday. My son, Scott, took a break from finals and came home from college to join the party.

    When Brooke opened Scott's gift (which he had not clue what it was), she looked at him and said "It's just what I wanted."

    It's always a special moment when you know the recipient will enjoy the gift you picked out.

    I wonder if Jesus knew how much I'd appreciate his gift to us?

    I hope you both have a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. Jackie, that is the best feeling ever, when you know you've chosen the perfect gift.

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  2. Great post, Lindsay. I know M-Tagg is an awesome friend and crit partner. I have several really great crit partners. Johnnie Donely, Renee Osborne, Chandra Smith, Rob McClain and Dee Topliff. They've all talked me off ledges and encouraged me so much. (They aren't the only ones, but it's 6 a.m.)

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    1. Talking us off ledges seems to be one of the most important roles of a CP. ;)

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  3. What a joy it was to read this post about the gift of friendship ... especially because I know both of of you, Lindsay and Melissa!
    I've always told my three daughters that we gals need our girlfriends -- and this post explains why in such a beautiful way!!
    And, hey, I want to see a photo of that Charlie's Angel pose. I'm staring at a photo of me and my 2 BFFs striking the same pose ...

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    1. Okay, I texted it to you! :)

      And yes, the gift of girlfriends...one of the best ever! I'm grateful you're one of mine, Beth.

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  4. Okay. I was going to leave a comment earlier this morning (yeah, early riser here), but when I tried to answer Lindsay's question about how my CP (that'd be her!) is a gift, I just got all speechless (type-less?).

    I believe so strongly that God dropped Linds into my life right when I needed her most. It's not that I didn't have other writing friends. The Ponderers, the MBT team, other writing friends I've met online have been massive, huge blessings and I love them like c-r-a-z-y. But everybody needs that one person who just...gets her. Who, for whatever, reason speaks the same heart language. And Lindsay is that! She prays for me, encourages me and inspires me. I see her faith at play in her life in huge ways. And hey, she's an awesome writer with an awesome writing career ahead of her! Her critiques, feedback and story input are priceless. And I know I can vent to her about writing woes, dayjob craziness or just life in general and she won't think I'm an emotional trainwreck. Haha!

    So...those are just a few of the "hows" of my CP being an amazing gift. :)

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    1. First...what a boring subject line for our first email. "Hello"? Haha.

      Second...aw, friend! Pretty sure I vent and whine to you more than you do to me. ;) Your words here bless me, so much.

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  5. LindsAy, I love this post. I loved meeting you at ACFW for the first time, and I love reading your blog posts. I love Melissa so much, so it's easy to see why you two hit it off so well. Your partnership is a blessing to others. Thank you for having such a well-deserved, Melissa-inspired, God-ordained post!

    I've been involved in crit groups and had a variety of people read my stuff, but I prayed for years for that one person who I could connect with on a regular basis....I prayed for a Rachel. A Rachel, you ask?

    Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck have an amazing friendship and writing partnership. They help each other to craft stronger stories. I've admired their relationship with a tinge of envy...I wanted that.

    A couple of years ago, God answered my prayer with Michelle Lim. Michelle gets my writing. She believes in me, prays for me, encourages me, and cheers for me. Sometimes I feel like the slacker in our relationship. Her strengths are my weaknesses, so she's really helping me grow as a writer. Lakeside Family would not have gotten written without her generous input.

    I have a solid tribe of support, but I needed the one person I could go to without feeling like I was being a bother and say, "Hey, this isn't working...how can I fix it?"

    I do have a couple of other writing friends who get my voice and are so willing to help out when I ask. I'm so thankful for them too.

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    1. Lisa, I feel the same way about you. There are people in our lives who inspire, encourage, and teach us. You are one of those of those people. Then there are those times when we need a Cliff Whisperer. The person who brings us off of the edge of a cliff in our writing career, that point at which we want to give up, or think we are losing our minds. In those moments they bring us back and ground us. Thanks for being that way in my life, Lisa! I couldn't do this journey without you!

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    2. Lisa, your comment made me giggle because Lindsay and I like to call ourselves a Susie/Rachel-sorta-duo. It's been so neat to see what Susie and Rachel share and to think God has given me my own version of that. :) And I think you nailed it when you said you needed "the one person I could go to without feeling like I was a bother." Not that any of my other writing friends have ever made me feel like I'm a bother, definitely not! But it's so cool to know there's someone I can email/text/tweet multiple times a day, even, for support and encouragement--and hopefully offer the same. :)

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    3. I know exactly what you mean, Lisa. I KNOW I wouldn't be where I'm at with my writing journey without Melissa. She has soooo much wisdom to offer. Seriously so talented (I often feel like the slacker too, like she's got way more to offer me than I do her!). It's so neat to see how God puts people together to work toward a mutual goal.

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  6. Loved the post! I have a best friend who has been so close my whole life that we consider ourselves sisters. She's an only child, and have no biological sisters. Our parents fostered our friendship by allowing us to spend lots of quality hours (including overnights) together. She now lives within walking distance! We have so many similar loves: Bible studies, books, music, etc. Her name is Becky.

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    1. Shared hobbies make friendships all the deeper!

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  7. Lindsay and Melissa,

    I love this post. God has given me just the right (write) friends and critique partners when I've needed them. I am so blessed and so thankful!

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    1. God seems to provide just the right people at just the right times, doesn't He?

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  8. Lindsay, I loved this post too. It's beautiful to see yours and Melissa's friendship grow and deepen. That is truly a gift. :) I have life friends and writing friends who have helped and encouraged me during times I need it.

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    1. I love seeing how quickly we became good friends. A year ago, we didn't even know each other. Isn't it neat how quickly someone can be cemented in our lives?

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  9. Maybe because we're writers and put our hearts out there on the page, it's easier for those who can get us to "get us." I'm blessed w/ 2 best friends and counting from MBT, one from the first SC (first person I laid eyes on) and the other from the first DT, though I didn't realize yet how significant. In cases like this I'm surprised and super-blessed. Critique partners? It may have started there but has gone far beyond.

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    1. That's so awesome! I know I'm so thankful that Mel and I are so much more than CPs. She is one of the first people I think of to tell about any successes in my life, writing or otherwise!

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  10. Oh, what a wonderful post!! I remember last winter-ish (spring-ish?) "overhearing" Lindsay on the Books and Such blog say that she was talking and praying with someone about possibly becoming critique partners. It's been so fun to watch the friendship and partnership between you two unfold-- two such giving, talented women!

    I've been so blessed this year to find that heart-friendship/writer-kindred-spirit thing with Joanne Bishchof. I'm so thankful for her, and your words of thanks resonate with me on that level, Lindsay. Our God is so good to bless us with such people, eh?

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    1. Indeed, Amanda! That's so neat that you and Joanne relate to each other like you do. You are both such wonderfully humble and quiet spirits. But so strong. I love the depth of your faith and both of you bless ME with your friendship too!

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  11. Beautiful post, Lindsay. The both of you are so blessed to have one another. It's so refreshing to see such a great relationship in the writing world. We all need that special someone to encourage and critique.

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  12. You ladies rock! :) I'm so blessed that you've allowed me to come alongside and go on part of the journey with you. You both encourage me and help me be a better writer, too. You're definitely two of my favorite writing gifts!

    Last year, before God nudged me to go on this crazy ride, I had no idea what I was getting into. At first I felt like I was an island sitting alone in a vast sea, but I soon discovered there were hundreds of smiling faces waiting for me on the other side of the island - and they were having a party! I was so grateful and overwhelmed with the welcome I received from all of you - and I am still amazed and I count each of you as blessings. :)

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    1. So glad you joined the party, Gabe! Can't wait to hang with you in February and June!! Ye-ah!

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  13. I rejoiced when I heard that you and Melissa were forming a critique partnership, Lindsay. I'm glad it's such a great fit.

    I've had one CP for going on five years, so I know what a tremendous blessing a CP can be--a sister of the heart.

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