About Jo Ann Fore

Jo Ann Fore is married to a really cool magician and she's raising her grand-daughter, a pink-loving Princess. She's also a popular blogger and the author of When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts & Using Your Story to Make a Difference. Connect with Jo Ann online at www.JoAnnFore.com and @JoAnnFore.

When Fear and Doubt Keep You From Your Dreams

who told you that

You’re a silly little idealist; you’re not smart enough to do something like that.

There it was again, the dream-killer—haunting my thoughts, pushing down my hopes.

You’re doing it wrong, you know. Why don’t you quit now before you embarrass yourself?

Since I was a young teen, I dreamed of crafting words of hope and encouragement that would change the world. But I’m not the only one. Many of us want to be authors, writers who make a difference.

The dreaming is easy. It’s the pursuit that’s hard—harder still when the voice of lies sacrifices our dreams. If you don’t try, you can’t fail.

God accomplishes his will on earth through truth;

Satan accomplishes his purposes through lies.

Warren W. Wiersbe

This fatal falling for lies was modeled for us long ago in a beautiful garden where Eve was tricked, deceived.

Eve—the first woman, first wife, first mother, and the first one of us to fall for an ugly lie. That day Satan met Eve in the garden, he brought a convincing argument—one intended to lead her, and any of us who would follow, away from God’s truth.

I mean, really—the woman was in a beautiful, perfect environment with the perfect man. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than a clean house and a great husband who loves you. Eve had both. Not to mention that there wasn’t another woman alive to compare herself with. Truly heaven on earth.

Yet Satan found a way to convince her she deserved more. That somehow she didn’t measure up and God was holding out on her. If we aren’t careful, we allow these triggered-by-others insecurities to rewrite our life stories, to shape our lives so negatively that we lose direction.

Our mind is the control center of our lives,
and Satan wants control.

Consider the impact that someone else’s opinion had not just on Eve, but also her husband. After the famed fruit-sharing, Adam was quick to lay blame and excuse away his actions, “I was afraid . . . I was naked and I hid.”

Who told you that?” God asked.

I just love the question. God well knew the source of their shackling guilt, but I believe he wanted them to consider that someone else, a shrewd and conniving Enemy, had influenced their beliefs. The winds of accountability fell fresh among the trees in the garden that night.

That same wind stirs now as God asks us the same thing, “Who told you that?”

Who told you that you are doing it wrong?

That you aren’t good enough?

That what you say doesn’t matter?

No matter the messenger, we must wrest ourselves from these grips of doubt and fear that keep us from our God-sized dreams.

Let’s reclaim those stalled dreams. When these negative thoughts start rolling around in our heads, let’s smash these warped lies, reframe them with truth by reminding ourselves what God thinks about us.

When I’m stuck, when I need to redirect my thoughts, I use a simple question: Is there another way to think about this? 

As an example, what if I’ve jumped to a conclusion {which I tend to do}, and fallen into the mental trap that people won’t listen to me, may even consider me dumb? Without facts to support this assumption, I interpret the situation negatively, anticipating the worst. But I can reframe this thought with 1 Cor. 1:30 that says, “God himself gives me wisdom.”

God. himself. gives. me. wisdom.

Funny; Satan was right. I’m not smart enough to do this. When I write, it’s often bigger than me, smarter than me. That’s the sort of thing God does when we follow our dreams, depend on Him.

How about you: What lie are you believing that’s interfering with your dreams, even now?

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A Writer’s Flash-Point

Life is packed with flash-points, moments of ignition, moments when something contagious is sparked.

A few years back as a freelance writer for national and international magazines, I nurtured an until-then-dormant desire in the recesses of my heart: I wanted to write a book. I had no idea what book, but it sure sounded glamorous. Jo Ann Fore – Author.

I envisioned days penning words in a secluded cabin surrounded by soaring mountains and pristine lake waters—which would lead to countless fans, best-seller lists, and media engagements, of course.

My fantasy lived a number of quiet years before I joined the ranks of thousands of others who had made writing a book an official goal. I was proud of my fearless move. I did it. I set the goal! That much closer to authorhood.

Funny thing though, verbalizing that goal always led to the inevitable question: What are you writing?

What am I writing? (Flashpoint One.)

I really didn’t know.  All I knew was someday I was going to write a book. I had dreamed of writing a book probably since I held my first crayon.  But, someday.  Someday when I had more time, when my daughter was grown, when life wasn’t so hectic.

My husband, Matt, taught me a valuable lesson about the word “someday.” When he and I dated, I was extremely commitment-shy after having escaped a not-so-great (okay, horrific) marriage. Today Matt and I joke about the countless pre-proposals he tossed out before he got to the real one. Consistently he asked, “Will you marry me?” This both warmed my heart and petrified me. Feeling a bit bi-polar each time he asked, I simply smiled and said, “Someday.”

Until the day Matt called me out. “Maybe you dangle it just far enough out of reach to avoid the reality. There’s really nothing intentional about the word someday.”

Once he was serious about his proposal, he let me know that “someday” was going to have to move to a set date. We just celebrated our seventh anniversary. If I kept saying “someday” I may have lost this amazing husband.

I was unknowingly sabotaging one of my greatest desires. (Flashpoint Two.) And now, I was doing the same thing with my aspirations to write a book.

It was time to drill this thing down. What am I writing? I want to help hurting women. I want to offer lasting hope and practical application. So, what is my message?

Once I articulated that, I could move forward. After I settled the premise of my work I was ready to write. (Flashpoint Three.) That was the day the book became more than a dream, more than a goal. It became an intentional laser-focused choice.

Along these lines, Huffington Post’s Complete Guide to Blogging offers a great exercise we can use to nail down the focus of our book: “What is your point? How would you explain your point to a batty, slightly deaf relative in one sentence? Write that sentence down. This is the gist of your piece.”

I would love to see your answers in the comments section below.

In the Wrong Place at the Right Time

This may not be the place to admit it, but I’m having an affair. We go on dates, doing things together that we love. Other times we pull down the shades, dim the lights, and cuddle up close. And–dare I admit–sometimes we whisper in agreement about our future.

Yes, I confess, I am having a torrid love affair with books. We were meant to be together. I believe in them; they believe in me. We’re inseparable.

The intimacy of this relationship explains the uncontrollable urge that surfaces each time I finish reading a great book, this impulse to write my own hope-filled book that leads women right to Jesus.

As a new writer, I used to scour the bookshelves coveting the author names on the spines. I traced my fingers across compelling covers and inhaled the new-book freshness as I dreamed of my very own name gracing the art. I envisioned countless days spent whittling my words and learning to be a master craftsman.

Later, as a career writer, I fell into a whole new world. Today’s publishing culture demanded I become an expert not only at writing, but marketing and social media as well. A bit disconcerting to a shy writer who simply wanted to write well.

How could I improve my craft if I had to concentrate on building my platform before I was ever published? How would I offer both a high-concept idea and a stop-you-in-your-tracks platform that agents and publishers couldn’t refuse?

It was time to reconsider. Instead of my name on a book spine, maybe, for now, my place was a magazine byline? While focused on writing books, I couldn’t discount that writing for magazines might help me reach my goal. I couldn’t ignore the platform-building opportunity that freelance writing offered.

While an average book may sell 5,000 copies, the readership of some magazines hits millions. Last month, I wrote a feature for Guideposts that offered me an audience of five million readers. My audience expanded as I cast my writing net a little deeper, a little wider. That article led to about 10,000 hits to my website within a very short period of time and connected me to some amazing new readers and relationships. Oh, and I sold books like crazy.

I didn’t start out with Guideposts, I started regionally. My first published print article was for a women’s magazine in my hometown—monthly circulation about 50,000. But from that article came a couple of joint ventures and writing assignments that led to later features in national and international magazines. Today, I have a healthy following of women with whom I am honored to share hope and inspiration on a regular basis.

Without taking time to go to where my readers were (to build my platform), I imagine my first royalty check would have come from a small base of hardcore fans (all relatives). Not only did writing for magazines allow me the chance to make new connections, but I also honed my craft while cushioning my bank account—not a bad deal overall.

Ready to get started? Here’s a helpful article I found online on how to break into the national magazines.

By the way, feed my curiosity. What book can you not live without?

Good Writing Comes From a Healthy Soul

Maybe God wants to use my story to help someone else? Perhaps that’s the purpose for the painful life experiences I’ve walked through.

We women feel the need to share story, don’t we? To offer insight and hope, to let others know they are not alone, to debate God’s redeeming hand with Oprah (okay, maybe that’s just me on the last one).

It’s true, though. The sound of story resonates from the caves of ancient culture into the modern storytelling centers of today. Since we could speak, we’ve used our personal experiences to influence, educate, and encourage.

The need for story is primal. It’s part of a selfishly Divine design. God created us for community; we are designed to serve vulnerable slices of our lives, heartrending wedges of emotional pain garnished with sweet slabs of healing. As we do, we nurture the raw places nestled inside of every woman. As others witness God’s transformation in our lives, they want to know more about the Transformer.

Early on I uncovered the need to weave my tale, tragic as it was. Like countless others my back-story is steeped in dysfunction, but it’s also a hope-filled story where God’s grace and mercy run deep. I felt compelled to share that hope and encouragement on a wide scale.

Problem was, as a soul-wounded woman I didn’t have a voice. My own language. I simply regurgitated the style of others, imitating what I imagined my voice should sound like on the other side of emotional wholeness.  Marry that writing style with a need to purge bubbling anger and my early readers cleaned a lot of (emotional) vomit from their computer screens.

Sometimes God calls us to write for publication; other times He simply calls us to write. I had confused the two—telling my story, and selling my story hailed from two different worlds.

I sought the validation of publication while what I desperately needed instead was voice lessons. As a novice writer, I heard much about the importance of voice. My. Own. Unique. Voice. Yet my voice was shadowed by the influence of others; my perspective skewed, buried in pain and not mature enough to be out on its own yet.

But God, in His grace, led me to write through that pain. Sort through the fallout of hurtful life experiences. Cut through the hard stuff. As I wrote I discovered His truth and redeeming principles, while uncovering my voice—my authentic personality. The raw journaling from that journey may never meet publication, but the voice that emerged has since been published nationally and internationally.

Our stories need to be dialogued, written out. An emotionally-expensive tutor, their words often light the path to a whole new perspective of Jesus. One wall of my office holds a well-worn sign to daily remind me, “Good writing comes from a healthy soul.”

What do you want to write about? What story is so important that you must share it?

 

 

Jo Ann Fore is an author, speaker, book-freak, and fun friend. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of women. Most noted for her authentic vulnerability, Jo Ann captivates her audience with faith-filled messages caramelized with a powerful promise of hope. Visit Jo Ann at Write Where It Hurtsa virtual community where women gather for support, encouragement, and practical tools to live a joyful, purpose-filled life. 

How Bad Do We Want It?

For years, I harbored a secret.

I wanted to be a writer. I longed to see my words in print. But persistent doubts and fear of failure often sidetracked me.

Desire and talent were two different threads. I wondered, “Am I truly capable of crafting words people will want to read?”

As a mostly self-taught writer, it was time. Time to learn. Time to network. And time to confess my secret.

Where to turn?

Three and a half years ago, feeling a bit Alice in Wonderland-esque, I fell into my first writer’s conference. Upon my arrival, I discovered a very weird yet indelibly native wonderland.

The mountains were filled with beginner, intermediate, and widely-read authors. And the land overflowed with editors, publishers, and agents. Finally, a sense of genuine community—these people understood. We spoke the same language, shared similar idiosyncrasies, and dreamed the same dreams.

But dare I fantasize they would help me—that they could help me—figure out which way to go from here?

Like water for a flower, the serendipitous environment seduced me to voice my dream. I whispered my idea into attentive ears. It was all I had—a simple, naïve, and undeveloped concept.

The faculty was incredibly helpful. Come-at-able (within respective boundaries). Attainable. These worldwide publishers, award-winning authors, national editors, and stellar agents were simply real people. And they didn’t bite! They wanted to help, and expressed a genuine interest in my success.

Words of encouragement and strong support overtook me. Transformed me. A newfound confidence wafted through the mountain air. I really can do this.

I packed my bags for home with a new resolve. I would return to next year’s conference with something tangible—my book proposal and sample chapters.

However, dark storms quickly absorbed this new perfume of confidence. I returned, instead, to the lie of the daily routine. Life as a mom, wife, and entrepreneur consumed my days. Not to mention various health issues that cropped up at the most inopportune times. I quickly learned inspiration alone doesn’t write a book.

Eight months passed. A fluorescent note on my Daytimer reminded me of the upcoming conference, only a few months away. The date pierced my heart. How bad do I want this?

I had found the courage to voice my dream. Now, would I really do what I needed to do? It was time to be intentional, time to register for the next conference. And time to start writing.

A couple months later, I returned to my writer wonderland. Determined now to find my way, I hemmed up my fears and laid out my work before eagle eyes. I coveted honest insight and constructive critique. The faculty didn’t disappoint; the feedback was invaluable and the support overwhelming.

In the end, I completed my first book. I also gained multiple offers of agent representation, found a fantastic editor/writing coach, and secured potential endorsements. That first writer’s conference was the gentle kick I needed.

 

Desire and talent may well be different threads but woven together they have the potential for a beautiful tapestry.

 

How about you? As a writer, do you ever feel isolated? Lack motivation or confidence? How do you stay on track? Have you struggled to marry your desire with your talent? (I would love to hear from you; we’re all here to learn from each other’s experiences.)