|Linda Brooks Davis|
This week, we’re sharing some of our most popular posts from 2016, and it’s my pleasure to revisit this one. Have you ever prayed for something and then been surprised that God actually answered? Author Linda Brooks Davis shares how an unexpected and shocking phone call opened the door to publication. Enjoy!
When My Dream Became Reality
Miss Colombia, Miss Philippines, and I have next to nothing in common—not hair color, body or facial features, age, heredity, residence, or life experiences—except for one.
I, a 70-year-old grandmother, and those two goddesses have shared a This can’t be happening moment. Theirs occurred at the Miss Universe pageant last December when Steve Harvey announced Miss Colombia was the new Miss Universe … and then had to admit he’d made a mistake. The crown went to Miss Philippines, not Miss Colombia. Whoops. (http://bit.ly/1rI6aas)
|Miss Universe Pageant|
Watching that unwatchable-yet-can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it moment transported me back to January 2015 when I received word my Operation First Novel entry—THE CALLING OF ELLA MCFARLAND—had won first place.
My first words: “That’s impossible.” (I learned my entry had made the list of 11 finalists a few months prior. I told my husband if it had ended at 10, I wouldn’t’ve made it.)
I expected something akin to the words poor Miss Colombia heard: “Sorry but there’s been a mistake.” Any minute the Whoops call would come. But the clock ticked away what remained of the evening and the phone sat silent while I worked my way through believing the unbelievable.
The experience was traumatic—in a good way—but traumatic, all the same. I’ve read that when a person experiences trauma, the needle in the brain’s trauma center goes “KERBAM!” all the way to Full and beyond. That’s true.
My tank—or cup if that suits better—ran completely over.
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Couldn’t quit crying. I cried at each thought of it. Around 11:00 p.m. my husband asked if I was going to be OK. (He was eyeing bed but wanted to be awake if I had a stroke.)
Sure, I was OK. But I couldn’t stop pacing. Shaking my head. And weeping.
I slipped on my wool coat and sat on the porch. Deep breaths. The air was cold. The sky clear. The stars in their places. Moon, too. The earth hadn’t shifted on its axis.
And then the prayers of thanksgiving tumbled out. God was turning my dream into reality. He used Jerry Jenkins as His tool.
Johnny Cash’s “Why Me, Lord?” came to mind, reminding me my journey began in late 2006 when I stumbled across an essay contest. Adam McManus, talk radio host on KSLR AM in San Antonio, together with one of his sponsors, Jerry Jenkins, was offering the Christian Writers Guild Conference to the winner.
It wouldn’t hurt to enter. I wouldn’t tell a soul, so I wouldn’t have to answer questions. I could write an essay about why I should attend the conference. I’d been dreaming secretly about writing illustrated children’s books, after all. My daughter had carried delivered at 28 weeks a beautiful set of triplets (1 girl and 2 boys) in 2005. She had rejected the fertility doctor’s insistence that she abort one of the babies early on and had spent the better part of 21 weeks in the hospital experiencing every complication in the annals of at-risk pregnancy.
|Linda's 36-year-old Bible|
I wore my knees out in prayer. Daily when I arrived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and heard “They’re doing OK” I whispered a prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for honoring Lynn Lee’s trust in Your care.” A year later, another boy came along. Four babies in diapers—not your everyday baby experience—requires extra applications of prayer.
Fast forward—past joining several writers’ organizations, critique submissions, conferences, workshops, contests, mentors, tossing aside one idea after another, starting and stopping, reevaluating and going at it again, and even throwing in the towel for 6 months. I’d had it!
Until one morning in April 2014 when I woke with a story on my mind. Something akin to an ache around my heart wouldn’t let me go. I opened a document on my computer, typed CHAPTER 1 … and began to weep.
“I can’t do it, Lord. You’ll have to stand beside me.”
The Kleenex box grew lighter—the way it does when it’s getting to the bottom and a quick yank throws it up over your head. That’s the picture.
At times I felt Jesus beside me, whispering every now and then, his finger pointing to a pathway, urging me to get my heart in tune—in rhythm—with His, some of the most precious moments in my life.
I did my best to edit the manuscript but on the last day before the Operation First Novel deadline, I clicked Submit knowing it needed work. The consolation: Feedback would be valuable.
Did I expect the feedback I received on the following January 16? Absolutely not. Was I stunned and traumatized at first? Yes.
For whatever reason, the Lord chose this blessing for me. The story isn’t perfect. But neither am I. By the Lord’s gracious hand, I was granted some ideas and words and the freedom to put them together as I chose. My ancestors’ experiences are tucked into the story, and readers see my heart and soul laid bare. Mainly, I hope they see Jesus.
Writers, if I can do this, YOU can. Don’t give up!
Thank you, Lord.
Ella McFarland’s dream is a teaching position at Worthington School for Girls. But scandal clouds her family name and may limit her to a life of grueling farm labor in the Indian Territory. Her fate lies in the hands of the Worthington board, and there happens to be one strikingly handsome man with a vote. Will they overlook the illegitimate son recently borne by her sister, Viola?
1905 brings hope of Oklahoma statehood and the woman’s suffrage debate is raging, forcing Ella to make decisions about her faith, family, and aspirations. When she comes to the rescue of a young, abused sharecropper’s daughter, her calling begins to take shape in ways she never imagined. Education is Ella’s passion, but a new love is budding in her heart. Can she find God’s will amidst the tumultuous storm that surrounds her?
Linda Brooks Davis, first-place winner of the 2014 Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel award, has lived in multiple states and outside the U.S, but she speaks Texan.
Born and reared in Raymondville, a small farming town in the southernmost tip of Texas, Linda holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She devoted forty years to the education of students with special needs before settling down to her lifelong dream: writing. Set in 1905 pre-statehood Oklahoma, THE CALLING OF ELLA MCFARLAND, an inspirational historical with a strong romantic thread, debuted on December 1, 2015.
When not writing, Linda enjoys teaching 4-year-olds at church, reading, and researching genealogy. She and her husband dote on six grandchildren, three of whom arrived in 2005—in triplicate form. In her first published article, “The Choice,” which appeared in 2011 in LIVE, a publication of Gospel Publishing House, she chronicled her daughter's agonizing at-risk triplet pregnancy and the heart-wrenching choice her medical team placed before her.
You can learn more and connect with Linda here:
YouTube Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1VZcAi5
Publisher, Mountainview Books, LLC: http://bit.ly/1NqmYtF