Advice & a Giveaway from Susan Meissner

I’m quite confident that every writer has, at one time or another, struggled with envy. I’m also confident that many young mothers, especially the writing-variety, feel overwhelmed at times.

Not only does award-winning author, Susan Meissner, have some advice on avoiding the ugly green-eyed monster and balancing our busy schedules, she’s giving away a copy of her newest release, The Girl in the Glass. 

Triple bonus!

To be eligible to win, all you have to do is leave a comment. A winner will be chosen by 9 pm CST on Thursday.

Without further ado, let’s dive in…

Susan, what would say if you could travel back in time and give your unpublished or newly-published self one or two pieces of advice?

First, be assured that if you write, you’re a writer. Getting published doesn’t make you a writer, it makes you published. You became a serious writer the moment you got serious about writing.

Second, I confess I’ve struggled with envy. I can sugar-coat it and say I just want God to favor me with book sales like he has other people, but I know deep down what it is. And I am sure the hard-working unpublished person who has done their homework and paid their dues and has waited patiently knows this feeling, too. I am learning to not let envy spoil the joy of writing. In the end a writer needs to write for the joy of writing. There are too many aspects of the publishing side of writing that you simply cannot control, just as there is in your unpublished life.

You and I can only control how much effort we expend at the craft, how much we are willing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite to get it right. That’s what we can control. Envying someone else’s book sales is like envying their height. It’s pointless. It doesn’t change how tall I am. And I am learning to be happy for those whose books sell way better than mine. Being happy is so much nicer than being envious. I like it.

I agree. Jealousy is no fun. Neither is feeling overwhelmed. Any tips for busy mamas trying to balance a career, a family, and ministry?

The hardest part of balancing family, career, and ministry is keeping God at the forefront. When my relationship with Him is my first priority it’s pretty amazing how everything else falls into place. I’ve discovered having time to nurture your relationship with God is not something you find, it’s something you make. There are always too many things to do and not enough time. I really do get to choose how I divvy up the minutes of my day. I can spend 20 minutes dialoguing with God or 20 minutes doing just about anything else. I always have a better day and a better outlook on my day when I’ve connected with God before I dive into it.

Since we’re giving away a copy of your newest release, could you tell us what the novel is about?

Meg Pomeroy is a disenchanted travel book editor unsure of her father’s love, still smarting from a broken engagement, and whose normally cautious mother is suddenly dating a much younger man. Her perspective on everything that matters is skewed. She escapes to Florence, Italy, on a long-promised trip, believing her father will meet her there. True to form, he’s a no-show, but the trip allows her to connect with Lorenzo DiSantis, a writer she’s met only via Skype and e-mail, and Sofia Borelli, a tour guide and aspiring writer who claims she’s one of the last Medici, and that a sixteenth-century Medici granddaughter, Nora Orsini, speaks to her through Florence’s amazing statues and paintings. When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives are indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what it has to be?

Where did the story come from?

For our 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago my husband and I took a much-anticipated eight-day Mediterranean cruise. One of the ports of call on the Italy side was close enough to Florence to hop on a bus and spend the day there. When I stepped onto Florentine pavement I fell head over heels in love. No joke. There is something magical about Florence that I didn’t see in Rome, or even Paris if you can believe that. The beauty created by the masters of the Italian Renaissance is jaw-dropping and it meets your eye no matter which direction your turn. Florence  was the perfect place to bring a disillusioned present-day character who needs to re-invent her life. That’s what Renaissance means: rebirth. I went back a couple years later with my mom, daughter, sisters and nieces and knew I just had to set a story there and somehow involve the infamous Medici family.

I can’t wait to read it! I absolutely loved The Shape of Mercy and A Sound Amongst the Trees. Thanks for visiting today, Susan. And for sharing your wisdom with those of us attempting to follow in your footsteps.

Let’s Talk: If you could travel back in time and give yourself advice, what year would you travel to and what would you say?


You can find Susan on her website, her blog, Facebook, and on Twitter (@SusanMeissner). She sends out a newsletter via email four times a year. You can sign up for it on her website. She loves connecting with readers! You are the reason she writes.

On a personal note, I would LOVE to send you a welcome packet if I haven’t already. To sign up, simply scroll up or down. There’s a sign-up button in both directions.

26 thoughts on “Advice & a Giveaway from Susan Meissner

  1. Katie Ganshert

    Congrats to Laura Marcella! You are the winner of Susan’s latest book, The Girl in the Glass!

  2. Can I say a double wow! I really needed this advice and reminders about life, writing, and God right now. I’m also now going to have to add The Girl in the Glass to my list of books to read!

    As for what great words of wisdom I would tell myself if I could travel back and talk with my own awkward high school self- “don’t worry so much just keep doing your best and it all works out! Maybe spend a little more time on homework though!”

  3. Janice Boekhoff

    Thanks for the great interview, ladies. After the conference I especially needed that lesson on envy.

    If I could go back, I’d tell myself to give up on all the bad boys and pay attention when, at 12, my friend invited me to church. I wasted so much time trying to find love in all the wrong places and it took me almost 20 more years to find Jesus. But praise the Lord, it wasn’t 40!

  4. Enjoyed the interview. If I could I’d travel back to 1982 and encourage myself to stay true to who I am and not worry so much about fitting in. Big problem in high school for many.

  5. Laura J

    I would go back to when I was a teenager and tell myself not to worry about guys! 🙂

    Laurelprincess12 at gmail dot com

  6. Great interview, ladies! Especially the advice about keeping God first. Thanks for that reminder. I would love to be entered in the contest. Thank you.

  7. I’d go back to July of 1984, in Fortaleza, Brazil.
    I was DEEPLY guilt-tripped into eating lettuce that was home grown.
    The resulting parasitic infection destroyed my pancreas and I was diagnosed with severe hypoglycemia.

    It took 25 years, that’s TWENTY FIVE YEARS to eradicate the parasites from my body.

    I cannot tell you how important it is to NOT force rookie missionaries to eat the raw veggies!!!

  8. I’ve read & loved several of Susan’s books. It’s been a while, but I remember Blue Heart Blessed really satisfying the romantic in me, and A Window to the World was unputdownable. This latest release sounds like a great story!

    Let’s see… if I could travel back in time, I’d go to the morning I was in labor with my second child and just found out I wouldn’t be getting my scheduled epidural. (The anesthesiologists on staff were all busy with unexpected c-sections). I’d tell myself to hang in there and NOT to be afraid of natural childbirth. Oh, and that there is absolutely no need to be cussing like a sailor just because you’re in the most intense pain you’ve ever been in. Yeah… I assumed I would be in labor as long as I was with my firstborn (8 hours with an epidural) and the thought of enduring pain for that long scared me to death. It turns out with natural childbirth it went much quicker (2 hours). Had I known this, I wouldn’t have been such a beast of a patient, lol. Anyway, it was a bad scene and I really wish I could have a do-over.

    1. Susan Meissner

      unputdownable is our favorite word! Right, Katie?

      1. Katie Ganshert

        You BET!!

  9. “You and I can only control how much effort we expend at the craft, how much we are willing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite to get it right. That’s what we can control.” I’m always saying that! It’s so so true.

  10. Dana McNeely

    It was great to see you again at ACFW, Susan. Loved retaking your class on plotting – always a difficult part of writing for me. If I could go back in time, I might go to any year before 2012 and say STOP PROCRASTINATING AND HOPING FOR MORE TIME THAN YOU HAVE NOW. Approach Writing in the same way you do your day job, and quit wishing you didn’t need one. Give yourself challenging but attainable goals and deadlines. Track your writing by word count and by hours with seat in chair. No editing until you are done with your first draft, then edit the draft yourself 2 or 3 times, and then share with a critique partner.

  11. Wow, great question…I think I would go back three years and tell myself this: Even if God doesn’t make all your dreams come true, even if life gets really hard, he has not abandoned you. It’s been a lesson I think I finally learned, but it would have been nice to know before the heartache…

  12. In the past 18 months, my responsibility as a mom and wife has doubled, at least. But as I’ve put God first, I’m amazed at how much I’m able to do. And at how easily it’s done. But when God gets forgotten, yep, everything seems to fall apart.

    You’d think I’d learn. :/

    I would go back to 2006, after I’d just been offered representation by a very good agent, and tell myself, “Don’t start marketing. Keep writing!”

  13. Yay, I love Susan. She’s one of my favorite authors. 🙂

    I guess I’d go back to any time period, really, and remind myself that PEOPLE are more important than ACCOMPLISHMENTS. I still struggle with that one.

    1. Susan Meissner

      Mr. Rogers was always stuff like that. Jesus, too…

  14. Susan, it was so great to meet you here in Anchorage 🙂

    If I could, I would travel back to 1995 and tell myself to finish my book ideas before the kiddos came–and I forgot them all! 🙂 I’d also listen more closely to the older women in my life in those years.

    1. Susan Meissner


  15. This book sounds wonderful! As a mom of 6 there was a lot of balancing in our household. The biggest lesson I learned was that you don’t have to do it all—it’s ok to say no and kids don’t have to have scheduled activities 24/7.

  16. Such good advice, Susan…balancing writing (which is a JOB, even if it pays nothing yet!) and family is so hard.

    And if I could go back…I don’t think I would. All the mistakes I made (read: toads I dated) steered me toward the RIGHT choice that changed my life for the best–marrying my husband. Although I LOVED my childhood, so I might go back just to be eight again for one glorious, care-free day!

    Would love to win this book!

  17. Great questions!! I missed you at the ACFW, Susan. I wish I had taken a photograph!

    Yes, putting the Lord first is the challenge in all this, isn’t it? Making Him the top priority seems to challenge me the most.

    If I could travel back in time I would go talk to the 18 yr old me and smack some sense into her! That’s when I walked away from the Lord…and after 2 long years I returned a broken young woman.

    Great interview!

    1. Susan Meissner

      “If I could travel back in time I would go talk to the 18 yr old me and smack some sense into her!” Wouldn’t that be cool if we could do that! For just five minutes so that we don’t mess up anything too bad!!

  18. Love Susan! And this wisdom is rich–learning to not let envy spoil the joy of writing.


    Okay, so I’d go back to my years in college and scream, “Do over. Just do it over, Wendy!”

    ~ Wendy

  19. Lauren

    What a great interview. 🙂 I honestly don’t know how much I would go back and change. While I have made many poor choices, it’s helped me get to where I am at now and made me appreciate things in a way that I am not sure I would have. If nothing else, I guess I would tell me, back in high school, that I am a good person and can do whatever I set my mind to. Too many years thinking otherwise.

  20. Hi Katie, Susan,

    What a lovely premise for a book! I’m looking forward to reading it, Susan.

    I have an adult daughter who is coming up on her 1 year wedding anniversary. I’m watching and remembering… and I must admit, there are things I wish I could go back and do differently. Not because I did things WRONG, but maybe so that I could instill just a little more self-love, a little more confidence, a little more deeply-rooted love for Christ in my heart . And yet, those things have come slowly to me…and mean all the more to me because of how hard I’ve had to fight for them. This is a tough question…

    I think I’d go back 25 years and tell myself to NOT put writing aside to get a real job.

    I’m just glad the Lord has provided the opportunity now. He loves 2nd and 3rd and more chances, doesn’t He?



    1. Katie Ganshert

      Amen, Becky! He sure does! It’s something I’m learning AND it’s something my heroine in my next novel is learning too!


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