Friday, December 30, 2016

When My Dream Became Reality by Linda Brooks Davis

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! 
~ Dawn

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. (

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.

Meme -   Quote from The Calling of Ella McFarland

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:

Twitter: @LBrooksDavis
YouTube Book Trailer:
Publisher, Mountainview Books, LLC:


Thursday, December 29, 2016

There’s a New Year Coming! by Terri Weldon

Do you ever look back at the year and wonder where the days, weeks, and months went? I do and typically I feel like I fell short. Maybe I’m too hard on myself or maybe my expectations are too high.

Already I have plans to write three romance novellas and edit at least two full length suspense books. Oh – I’d also like to write a new suspense novel. Now I work full time. Not working isn’t an option. My day job pays the bills. So I need to be practical. Can I really achieve those goals?

If I can meet my goals then more power to me. It would be wonderful to complete so much. If I can’t then I’m setting myself up for failure. In which case I need to take another look at my commitments and decide what I can achieve in my writing. Not fun, but it’s important to be practical. In the long run I’ll be happier and feel more productive. 

What about you? There’s a new year coming, so what are your writing goals for 2017?
The Christmas Bride Wore Boots:
Berryhill Brides Book 1

Pastor Jacob Thompson is in need of a director for the living nativity program and veterinarian Molly Kincaid offers to take on the job. The task involves far more than Molly bargained for, nonetheless she’d do anything to help out the man she secretly loves – even sew costumes or cast eight-year-old Wesley Simpson as an angel.
Jacob’s daughter Emma longs to have a mommy of her own, but the widowed pastor has vowed to never remarry, and isn’t ready to open his heart to love again. Molly dreams of filling the void in both their lives, but fears she lacks the necessary qualities to be a pastor’s wife.

As Molly and Jacob work together on the living nativity, their feelings for one another grow. Will Molly realize she is just what Jacob and Emma need in their lives? Can Jacob be released from his grief stricken promise? Could this unlikely duo prove to be a match made in heaven?

Amazon: The Christmas Bride Wore Boots
Kobo:  The Christmas Bride Wore Boots

Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an author by night. She enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in the Heartland of the United States. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA. Her novella, The Christmas Bride Wore Boots, released in December 2016. Readers can connect with Terri: Website: or Blog: Seriously Write

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Juggling Act: Working Full-time and Writing by Amy Clipston

Today, is a repeat of one of the most popular Wednesday posts from 2016. It's hard to balance all our responsibilities with a writing career, so I hope you'll find something in Amy Clipston's experience that will help you. Happy New Year! -- Sandy

Amy: People often ask me, “How do you work a full-time job and write books?” I resist the urge to roll my eyes, and instead I sweetly reply, “I just make it work.”

Unlike many authors, I work a full-time for a local government, in addition to writing four books per year for HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

While other authors may write for 14 hours straight on a Monday, I pop out of bed at 5:15 a.m. and rush to a job located 20 miles from my home. Since my husband has battled chronic kidney disease and endured two kidney transplants, my family depends on the health insurance and steady pay my job provides. 

Balancing two jobs has forced me to be disciplined when I am on deadline. Only once in my writing career have I asked for a deadline extension. My remaining books have been submitted to my editor either on time or early.

In order to meet my deadlines, I follow these rules:

1. Keep a calendar

I carry an old-fashioned day planner with a list of my upcoming deadlines taped in the back. Aside from the dates my books are due to my editor, I also set my own deadlines, building in time to polish the book before submitting it.

2. Stay organized

Most authors fall into one of two categories: Pantsers (seat-of-the pants writers) or Plotters. I am most definitely a plotter. When I write a novel, I begin with a synopsis, and after my editor approves it, I turn the synopsis into a detailed outline arranged by chapter and scene. While writing, I use the outline as a road map to prevent the dreaded writer’s block. The outline will change and grow while I am writing, but it keeps me on track.

3. Write whenever possible!

Some nights I write until midnight. I work on weekends, and I’ve been known to bring my laptop to Urgent Care and the Emergency Room when I’ve had to accompany a family member. It may seem trivial if you only have fifteen minutes, but even short amounts of writing time will add to your word count.

4. Ask for help

Contrary to the rumors, I’m not Super-Woman, and I can’t do it all on my own. I couldn’t balance this demanding schedule without my mother, who lives with my family and me. She keeps our household running so I can balance writing and working.

5. Find time to rest

When I need a break, I enjoy watching movies with my family, and I relish listening to audio books in my car while I commute to and from work. The downtime helps me relax and also recharges my inspiration.

6. Celebrate success

When I finish a draft of a book, I reward myself with doing something fun with my family. The journey through the first draft is mentally and physically exhausting, so I give myself time to relax and enjoy what I have accomplished.

Although working two jobs isn’t ideal and sometimes it’s no fun at all, I enjoy my reward when I hold a new book in my hands.

Even if you don't work another full-time job, how do you balance all that life and a writing career throw at you and still get in your word count goal?


Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than two dozen novels. She holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.

Amy Clipston’s current book, The Courtship Basket, is the second in her new Amish Heirloom series.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Focus on Joy by Angela Arndt

Each year we reserve the last week of the year to post our favorite post from our "day" and this year our Tuesday posts were doozies! So many that have touched my heart and seem so appropriate for this time of year. For example:
Joy on a Gate
The week after Christmas always seems like a bonus week to me. We're in limbo. Almost like we have a chance to redeem the year and prepare for the next. This week, I'm focusing on the word, joy, because I'd like to find mine before the new year starts. 

It doesn't take much to steal our joy, even at Christmas. An empty chair. A snarky remark. Wounded pride. And our perfect Christmas is ruined.

What is a Perfect Christmas?

But seriously, what is a perfect Christmas? Perfect food? Perfect gifts? Perfect attendance?

What was so perfect about that first Christmas? Being "great with child," riding on a donkey for days? Giving birth in a barn? Fleeing to Egypt in the night because the king wanted to kill your child? 

That'll change your perspective in a hurry!

The sweet little "babe in the manger" was God incarnate, born to die for our sins. Grief and pain has been rolled in with Christmas since it was first ordained. We celebrate Jesus' birth, not only because he was God on Earth, but also because His death redeems us. 

What is Joy?

Our salvation. God's unfailing love. Christ's perfect gift. He loved us enough to die for us. He loves us more than anyone else ever could. He will continue to love us, always. That is the joy we celebrate. 

Focus on what is good in life:  Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The good is there, change your focus.

John 1:5 reminds us, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Check out of social networks for a day or two. A shouting match on Facebook or Twitter never solved anything.

Instead, try calming your heart with another kind of creativity. 


You don't have to be an artist, try your hand at coloring. Drag out your children's colored pencils, markers and crayons. You don't even have to leave the house because here's a link to several free coloring pages with inspirational quotes


David calmed Saul's heart with music. English playwright and poet, William Congreve, said, 
"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak."  
  • Listen or sing along with soothing music. If you don't have a subscription music service, KLOVE plays positive and encouraging music - free. (Here's a link to their player. You may have to allow pop-ups to get it to play.) 
  • Create your own music. Create a SoundCloud account to sing or play. You don't need special equipment, just use your computer's microphone. 
  • Can't sing? Let Jam-a-Gram do it. Just read your favorite quote or message and it will convert it into a beautiful song snippet to keep for yourself or share. Here's my jam-a-gram, just for you.)

More Ideas

Here're a few other ideas to help you focus on joy:

  • Allow God’s love to heal your heart. Pray and meditate on His gift to you. 
  • Focus on today, not tomorrow and what-ifs. Focus on the present, not the past or what-could-have-been.
  • Seek God’s joy with all your heart. You can find several good online devotions through (where you can download a mobile app) or
God’s love can heal our hearts and help us find our joy again. What makes you joyful? What are your plans for the rest of "limbo week?"
About the Author
Angela Arndt writes stories of God's immeasurable grace to bring joy to those on the back roads of life, usually set in small Southern towns.

Coincidentally, she, her husband, and their three very large dogs: Beau the bloodhound, Harley (a very large dog in a 12 lb. poodle's body), and Buddy the Wonder Dog (we wonder where he came from) live in the middle of a big wood outside a small Southern town. She would love for you to visit her website, or her blog, where she hopes you can find your own Joy on the Back Roads

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Traditions by Mary Manners

Christmas Traditions

by Mary Manners

The older I get, the more I reflect on the earliest Christmas traditions of my childhood, instilled with the love of my parents. Not the big things, but those little things that lay nestled in my heart like spoonfuls of warm chicken noodle soup. As a child, the holidays were carefree and easy (at least from my perspective--I'm sure my parents felt differently). Memories laced with kindness, laughter, and sharing live on.
Weeks before the blessed day Mom commenced to baking mounds and mounds of cookies.  Sweet and flavorful ingredients, pans, mixing bowls and spatulas spread across our small kitchen table like platoons of toy soldiers ready for battle. Decorated tins were carefully filled with macaroons, thumbprints, peanut butter balls and sugar-sprinkled cut-outs. My siblings and I reveled in the sampling. The entire house bloomed with a fragrant warmth that remained for the season.
Dad's job was Head Tree Decorator. Not an easy task with five young, excited, and restless children in tow. No matter how cold or snowy, we always piled into our 1967 Chevy station wagon and ventured to the local tree lot to find the perfect spruce. Nearly five decades later the scent still lingers in my mind. After returning home with the prize, ornaments from age-old boxes were divided among our eager hands. We fidgeted as Dad strung the lights. Mounds of tangled strands never deterred. As a child, I believed Dad could untangle anything--both literally and figuratively. Following the hanging of the ornaments (one or two typically shattered as we placed them) came tinsel (yes, good old-fashioned shimmery strands) that floated like liquid silver as we tossed it at branches. Oftentimes it proved more fun to decorate each other than the tree!
For me, Christmas is filled with light...the crisp white luminaries that lined our front walk, a blinking plastic Santa peeking into the night through the living room window, scented votive candles. Even now, each time I light a candle I am transported back to those earlier days.
Through the years my family's traditions have changed. Children have grown and moved on; Dad has passed to his heavenly reward. The holidays are less hectic while memories sustain. Gone is the chaos of youth, replaced by a gentle peace that chases away the chill. Old traditions merge with new, creating new blessings and memories. It's at once the beginning and the end, bittersweet and beautiful.

When Emilee Lancaster’s aunt calls her home to Hope Creek for the holidays, Emmy readily agrees to assist with a charity event at the family theater—until she finds herself front-and-center stage with her high school flame, Jayson Taylor. She’s not thrilled about the pairing, but she’s made a promise to her aunt, and unlike Jayson, she keeps her promises.
Jayson Taylor makes his living building sets for Dahlia Brewster's Family Theater. When the Christmas show's emcee falls ill, Dahlia asks Jayson to step from the backstage and into the limelight. He's more comfortable working behind the scenes, but the country-singing superstar has always treated him like a favorite son, so Jayson reluctantly agrees. Center-stage at Christmas—especially beside dream-chasing Emmy Lancaster, who once ran off and broke his heart—is not where he planned to be.
But God has other plans, and what happens when the curtain falls and the stage lights dim truly reflects the heart of this holiday season.
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She has two sons and a daughter, as well as three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades teaching math and English to students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as a student at the University of Illinois, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that may be found between the pages of her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs—she’s completed three marathons—ocean sunsets and flavored coffee.
Find out more about Mary on her website: “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas from Your Seriously Write Team!

Merry Christmas wish against a snowy background*

Merry Christmas, dear readers and friends! Your Seriously Write hostesses/team are taking the week off to celebrate with our families. We wish you a blessed and joyful Christmas, and we’ll be back next week with more encouragement for your writing journey. All His best, friends! 

*photo credit: the awesome people at Pixabay.