Friday, August 16, 2019

A Labor of Love by JoAnn Durgin

Meme with the verse from Matthew 25:23

A Labor of Love

What’s the most difficult writing you’ve ever done? Perhaps it was a pesky piece of prose that wouldn’t come together. Or you lacked inspiration and the words wouldn’t flow. Or it could be the tears flowed freely because the words weighed on your heart. I recently wrote my greatest labor of love—the eulogy for my 87-year-old mother.

In fiction, we reveal the underlying layers of our characters because it makes them real and identifiable. In writing about my mom, I wanted to pay tribute to an inspiring woman from the unique perspective of being her daughter. Surprising things like how as a young, divorced mom raising two small children, she sometimes wore a black leather jacket, fire engine red lipstick, and big black sunglasses. She wasn’t rebellious, but she could be independent, feisty, and speak her mind.

When she needed a new car, she took me with her to a car dealership that advertised “Nobody walks away.” The salesman who waited on her suggested she come back with her husband. Mama, all of five feet tall, proudly rose to her feet and squared her shoulders. “Nobody walks away? Well, watch this!” Taking me by the hand, head held high, she marched out of the showroom. Then she drove straight to another dealership where she plunked down cash for a shiny new vehicle.

My mother took us on car trips every summer. With the windows rolled down, she’d belt out theme songs from musicals at the top of her lungs. She adored covered bridges and we’d travel over many country roads to find and photograph them. A fun and adventurous traveling companion, she took me to Europe several times and on a Caribbean cruise. She sent me to London for a semester. Mama did so because she wanted her child to view the world with its diverse people and cultures. The Lord knew her generosity would help make me the writer I am today. Later on, she visited the Holy Land, Egypt, Russia, Europe, Hawaii, and Alaska. After turning 60, she went whitewater rafting and parasailing.

My mother loved Jesus and studied her Bible daily. She baked countless cookies and volunteered for many projects with a wide smile and an even bigger heart. She taught kindergarten for 11 years and invested herself in her “children.” Mama gave talks to local groups, digging deep into her research and opening the eyes of her audience to topics such as human trafficking and the need for clean water in impoverished areas of the globe.

Finally, Mama was a voracious reader. She kept a journal for years where she faithfully detailed her thoughts, her life. She wasn’t perfect, but she did the best she could, and that was more than enough. If you earned her loyalty, you had it forever. If you earned her love, it was unwavering and steadfast.

This is the kind of real-life woman who can inspire a great fictional character! If you have trouble giving “life” to your characters, look no further than the people all around you. I dedicated my debut novel, Awakening, to my mother as well as my latest release, If You Believe, which was the last thing she ever read.

Portrait of JoAnn Durgin's Mother

For Mama~

You taught me by example to love words—
the wonderful images they create
and the senses they evoke—bringing
sight, touch, smell, hearing, and tasting
into glorious, vivid being.
I grew to love the way words roll off the tongue,
the way they sound.
How, when paired with other words,
words can bring new worlds to life.
You opened my mind to embrace ideas
and encouraged me to dream.
You gave me wings and
taught me to fly on my own.
You modeled strength, character, and
grace with dignity.
You showed me I could do nothing on my own
without Christ in my heart.
I’m doing my best to follow your example
and pray I’ll always make you proud.
Thank you for giving me life and
demonstrating how to live fully, confidently,
and passionately.
For that and so much more…
I love you now,
I love you always.


Who has inspired you in your writing journey?

Blessings, friends,

Need character ideas? They're all around you!
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

How JoAnn Durgin's mom inspired her writing!
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

If You Believe
If You Believe

From the author of The Lewis Legacy Series, If You Believe brings readers the story of Brendan and Edlynne. Can a man struggling with a terrible tragedy and a woman wounded by betrayal find love together?

In charming Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the shadows of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains, firefighter/paramedic Brendan Williams barely has time for himself much less a social life. After his world was torn apart by a family tragedy, the only woman he sees on a regular basis is Mimi, his beloved grandmother. When he meets a beautiful cake baker/decorator on his delivery route, he wonders for the first time if she could be “the one.”

Edlynne (“Edie”) Harris begins her days in a bakery downtown before dashing off to her job as a ticket agent at Asheville Regional Airport. Besides her two jobs, she volunteers for a ministry benefitting displaced and abused women. Then a handsome new delivery driver at the bakery snags her attention. She’s been fooled before, and the last guy she dated a year ago stole more than her smile.

When Edie and Brendan independently enter a Valentine’s Day contest, they’re challenged to plan the “perfect date.” For personal and unselfish reasons, they’re both determined to win the cash prize, but if chosen as finalists, they’ll be pitted against one another. Will the competition sour their growing attraction for each other, or does God have another plan? When the Almighty’s involved, anything is possible!

JoAnn Durgin
JoAnn Durgin is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty contemporary Christian romance novels, including her signature Lewis Legacy Series. A native of southern Indiana, JoAnn likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word” after living in four states across the country before returning to her hometown with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing, JoAnn loves to travel and spend time with their first grandchild, Amelia Grace. Feel free to connect with her at or via her website at


  1. Thank you for sharing what you wrote for your Mom. I wrote the eulogy for my Daddy's service in 1998. I miss him every moment. I am thankful I could speak about him at the service.

    1. Thank you, Melissa. I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. It is an honor to pay tribute to someone who meant so much to us, isn't it? I wasn't nervous at all. The Lord gave me the strength to get through it (it was rather lengthy), and I wanted to "do her proud" by paying a fitting tribute to a life well-lived. Blessings.

  2. Your mother sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks you for sharing her with us. My mom passed away in 1994 and I still miss her.

    But as far as inspiring my writing I'd have to credit my sister. She introduced me to romance novels which in turn inspired me to write.

    1. Thank you so much, Terri. I am very sorry for your loss, as well. I know there will always be a void in my heart for her until we are reunited again one day in heaven. I don't have a sister (one brother), and I'm thankful you were blessed in that way, especially since she introduced you to romance novels! Blessings in your writing.

  3. Beautiful story and tribute to your mom, JoAnn. Inspiration is all around us and it's especially sweet when it comes from those we love -- and miss.

    1. Thank you, Mary. Yes, when we know someone who has inspired a character, or some facets of their personality, it truly helps that character come "alive" in the minds (and hopefully hearts) of our readers. Blessings in your writing (and reading)!

  4. A lovely tribute to your mother!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by Seriously Write and leaving a comment, Edwina! Blessings.

  5. What an amazing mama! What a legacy she has left! Thanks for writing this, JoAnn.

    1. Thank you so much, Alice! Yes, she did leave quite a legacy, and I'm sure that's a primary reason I write about leaving a Christ-honoring legacy in my longest-running book series. My mother truly was an inspiration in all areas of my life. Thank you for faithfully reading and commenting on Seriously Write. We appreciate you!


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