Some Advice from Elizabeth Musser

Hi friends!

Last night, I left work and headed straight over to Decatur to attend a book reading by author Elizabeth Musser. She writes inspirational fiction (i.e. fiction with some overarching or even dominant Christian themes), and I just finished reading her most recent novel The Sweetest Thing. My goodness, people, this is a FABULOUS book! In the narrative, Musser does what I only dream of doing:

She reconciles the dirty, messy facts of life (and, sometimes, the downright ugly) with the relevance of God's Word (as a side note: during the Q&A session, I asked Musser how she did this so well and she said, "Jesus was a storyteller. He didn't beat people over the head about this or that. He met them where they were." You're welcome, fellow attendees. I was pretty proud of that question...and her answer!).

Musser's novel is about two young girls, Dobbs and Perri, living in Atlanta in the early 1930s, going to school during the Great Depression, and learning about life, love, and faith together. It's so much more than that, but I want you to go pick it up and read it for yourself. Trust me...you'll love it.

The first half of the twentieth century is incredibly appealing to me, and the figure on the front cover (as you can see) pretty much defines the 20s and 30s, with her finger waves and delicate lace. I picked up the book at Barnes and Noble and promptly purchased it after discovering a photo of the (FABULOUS!) Fox Theater on the back.


Another Atlanta writer? I thought. Sign me up!


And I fell in love with yet another author...which brings me back to last night.

Musser was a funny speaker. She greeted us in French because she and her husband have lived the last 30 years of their marriage in Lyonne, France, working in the mission field. She went on to talk to us about growing up in Atlanta, and the details of her novel. Having attended the Westminster School (which grew out of Washington Seminary, the school Perri and Dobbs attend in The Sweetest Thing), Musser understood a few things about wealth and social status in the prestigious area of Buckhead. Her grandmother, Alice, was a student at Washington Seminary in the 1930s, and she was the inspiration behind Perri. After Musser's grandmother passed away, the family found a trunk filled with her old diaries, where she had kept a record of all the social events she'd experienced during the years of the Great Depression. What a treasure!

Musser's grandmother's diary...lovely vintage!

The white arrow is pointing to a photo of
 Elizabeth Musser's beautiful, and stylish,
 grandmother in her 1931 yearbook from
Washington Seminary.

May Day festivities!


I enjoyed the reading because I saw a little of myself in Musser, who loves God and writes well. She made a comment about growing up in Buckhead, "where Jesus and Jaguars go hand in hand", and how her life in missions was truly about God allowing her to need Him in order to survive. Musser talked further about growing up in comfort, but realizing, as she spent her first tough years supporting dried-up little churches in France, that "the Lord will keep us in a place where we need Him so that we don't forget it". I scrambled for a pencil to write that down, because it's so very, very true. But isn't it comforting? That Christ will always prove His faithfulness to us if we let Him?

Before we left, I met with Musser at the signing table, where she wrote a greeting inside my book, and I told her that I, too, am a writer.

"You want some of my quick, two-second advice?" she asked sweetly, after I told her a little about my struggle finding an agent.

"Of course!" I chimed, happy like a little school girl.

"Go to a writer's conference," she replied, handing my signed copy of The Sweetest Thing over to me. "You'll meet agents and publishers and get critiques on your work. You may even find an agent there, if they like what you've given them."

Um, OKAY!

Needless to say, it was quite the night for me. I'm starstruck easily, and meeting Elizabeth Musser was the highlight of my past few overwhelming weeks. She reminded me how much fun it is to write, and it's a lesson I won't soon forget.

"I write fiction," Musser said to her audience,"but what I ultimately want to convey is the truth."

Until next time,

Wendi

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