Archive for the ‘Coterie’ Category


I met Miah Oren through an online writers’ group called Story Sessions (now The Coterie), and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and watch the process of this story making its way into the world. Her first book, The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith, released on Tuesday, and you should all buy it immediately.  And yes, Mom and Dad, it comes in paperback as well.

1. I can’t wait to dive in to your book! Tell us about The Reluctant Missionary.

The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith describes my journey from idealistic young missionary to depressed, cynical teacher who was just trying to make it through each week. I had unrealistic expectations for myself, my team, and my hosts. And I didn’t know what to do when those expectations weren’t met.

2. What sets your book apart from other books written about mission experiences?

I haven’t read a book about missions that addresses failure. But I wish I had before going overseas. I wrote the book so others in missions and Christian ministry will know that they’re not alone in worrying about failure and that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

3. What was the biggest joy you faced in writing the book? The biggest hurdle?

The biggest joy in writing the book was discovering how all the pieces of that experience fit together. Even in draft 17 (of 23) I was adding characters. Of course they were there all along, but I hadn’t realized how their words and/or actions fully impacted my decisions.

The biggest hurdle was probably making the decision to publish in the first place. Originally this was an email to someone who was struggling as a missionary. Then I decided to expand the story “for posterity.” When I had 200 pages and was 95% done with the first draft, it finally occurred to me that it could be a book. But I was nervous about sharing the story because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I also know that my perspective probably isn’t correct. So many things I heard via rumors and gossip, through mangled translations from another language, or that I just misunderstood because I really wasn’t doing well personally. But this was the data I had at the time.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring mission workers, what would it be?

You are not responsible for any outcomes. It’s all up to God. Whether wonderful or terrible things happen, your obedience is more important, and you’re not responsible for “results” or “success.” Only God knows what success looks like. Whether fifty people come to Christ or no one, you are doing God’s important work by showing up.

5. What projects are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on the second draft of the mystery novel I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s about a girl who thinks she’s joining a convent, but it’s actually a secret international spy/detective agency.

Writing a memoir was hard. It’s a nice change to write about fictional characters whose feelings I don’t need to consider upon releasing the book.

I’m also working on a course called Photography for Writers. It keeps growing – it might be as long as a book by the time I’m done.

Miah Oren Photography-1-2

Miah is the author of The Reluctant Missionary, a memoir about the two years she spent overseas teaching English. She writes about learning to let go of perfectionism and embracing God’s plan for her life. She lives in Dallas where she dreams of someday having another cat. Connect with Miah online at http://www.miahoren.com.

Read Full Post »

photo 2 (12)

This was originally going to be the background to my 31 Days icon. I look sneaky. I like that, but I couldn’t get the right color of text that would show up in front of the books and the dark space. The writing group at Andilit helped me in my hour of visually challenged need to pick a better picture, a better font, and better spacing.

Large Icon With Text 2

Ah, yes. Much better.

I also received a lot of encouragement from my other online writing group, the Coterie at Awake the Bones. We had several people participating in the 31-day challenge, so we had a thread every day to help us keep up with each other’s posts.

I am thankful for my friend Michelle, my librarian friend and star of my Fandom Friends post. She will read anything I hand her, and she’s done so for as long as we’ve known each other. I need to clear out a place on my shelf where her books will go someday. You’re all going to love them. Also, I am pretty sure I got the idea of taking shelfies from her. I distinctly remember a picture of her with library shelves in the background, and I thought, “Shelfies. That would be a cute series.” So I’m officially giving you credit, Michelle.

Dear Maggie – here is another post where you are mentioned. It happens so often because, even though you are far away, you are still one of my main sounding boards for rants and stories, and a lot of those turn into longer rants and stories of book-ish length. Thanks for loving my rants and reading my stories and for being my partner in crime for NoHoNoPro (No Honor, No Problem) that one time.

I love being friends with Margarett, and I love that this series is sprinkled with stories from our friendship, from our one shelf of sanity to our obsession with Ethiopian food to our compulsion to acquire large numbers of books in a single bound. Thanks for never telling me I have too many books.

This month has made me especially grateful for my parents. My earliest memory is my mom reading Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer to me. She took me to libraries, encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on, and made me look up answers for myself. My parents insisted that I go to college, and that experience was instrumental in forming me into the person I am today.

Thank you, dear readers. Thanks for your likes and your comments and your emails and your encouragement. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. You make me make this face:

Excited party face

I wrote 31 Days of Shelfies!

Read Full Post »


Yesterday, I was planning today’s invitation post and put out a casual call to my fellow writers in the Coterie and the Andilit community for suggestions of books on entertaining/hospitality or cookbooks written by people of color, and they delivered. So now I’m buried in books and having the best time, and I’ll get back to you on that next week. Today, the group prompt from Andilit ties in nicely to invitation.

Somewhere in my neighborhood there lives a rooster.

He crows every morning between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. He might crow at other times, but I live around ten thousand college students who think they have to yell any time they’re awake (apparently), so if he does I don’t hear it. But at 6:30 in the morning, it’s blissfully quiet, and that’s when I hear him.

During the week, I’m already awake by the time he crows, but on Saturday and Sunday, he wakes me up. On those days, I lie in bed with my eyes closed and pretend that I live on a farm.

I imagine first that the hint of sunlight-to-come teasing the edges of my curtains is coming to me from across a field or a grove of trees instead of fighting its way over the top of the monstrosity of a building next door.

I imagine that my bedroom is in a farmhouse and look forward to having my morning coffee on the back porch.

I imagine what the view from that back porch would be. It’s a conglomerate image of my parents’ farm and vineyards and friends’ gardens and maybe it would look a little like this:


And once I had finished my coffee, I would go back inside, and there would be my favorite thing about living in a real house with real space and room to entertain.

My dining room table.

This is the best part of my morning dreaming.

I picture elaborate meals I could serve. I see people sitting around the table.

I see myself dusting off all my serving platters to host parties again. I remember times when I met some of my favorite people for the first time at one of my own parties. I picture the get-togethers I used to have – having as many people as I could cram into the space available – encouraging guests to bring their own guests, because there was plenty to go around.

I miss throwing parties.

I miss having the space to welcome a lot of people.

I miss my guests having somewhere to park.

I miss the peace and quiet after they all left.

It would be easy to forget how much I miss living in a place better suited to my soul.

It would be easy, except for the rooster. He thinks he is inviting the morning, but he’s also inviting me to make some space to welcome people in again.

I am still taking submissions for my Invitation to the Table series. Email me your thoughts!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: