that you did. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds
in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Julie here, and today I have the privilege to welcome a very special guest, Laurie Alice Eakes, whose story below is not only an amazing journey to publication, but all the more inspirational given that this precious lady is blind! So please join me in welcoming Laurie Alice today, and I hope her story inspires you as much as it inspired me! Without further ado, I give you Laurie Alice Eakes ...
When we’re children, we think we can do anything—fly, become rock stars, have all the power in the world once we’re adults. Then we become adults and our wings fall off, we’re too shy to get behind a microphone, let alone in front of a crowd and sing, and we realize that being an adult only means more responsibilities and an understanding of how little power we have. We tell ourselves that dreams are only for those who sleep and sleeping gets no one anywhere. In short, we become averse to taking risks.
That is the story of my life for far too long. I didn’t want to be a rock star; I wanted to be a writer. Books had been part of my life since I can remember and probably before then, knowing my family. Stories flowed through my head—with me as the heroine, of course—and I wanted to write them down. When I was twelve, I actually outlined and started writing what would now be considered a young adult Christian novel. I’d never even heard of a Christian novel at the time, let alone read one. I just knew it felt right.
Then my big sister got ahold of it, read it to her friends, made fun of it… And it went into the trash.
In high school, a teacher simultaneously encouraged and discouraged me from being a writer. On her advice, I read a book on publishing and realized I needed to do something more practical. Getting published was too unlikely. I couldn’t risk my future on these crazy characters running around in my head. I was on my way to being an adult. I’d forgotten how to fly, that I could be a rock star if only I got behind that microphone. Being a writer was just too risky. It meant rejection and people making fun of me; it meant being told I wasn’t good enough, and it meant little monetary reward for a great deal of work.
What I’d forgotten was that serving God more often than not means taking risks, facing rejection, being made fun of, often receiving little earthly reward for a great deal of work. I doubt David knew he’d be king when he killed Goliath. I’ll bet soldiers made fun of him when he walked up with a slingshot. And Peter getting out of the boat in the middle of the lake. Yikes! Sure the other disciples may have stared at him in awe. But don’t you think a few were snickering behind their hands just waiting for him to sink, saying, “Told you so” when he did? What was up with that guy Benaiah chasing after a lion? Chasing a full-grown lion? I played with a lion cub once, and that forty-pound kitty of a few months old took me down. We had fun, but he was declawed. I doubt Benaiah’s lion was either a cub or declawed.
The list of risk-takers serving God goes on and on and beyond Scripture. I picked two of the most famous here. We know what David continued risking after his feat with the slingshot—angering a king, often running for his life, a lifetime of battles to preserve God’s nation. Being king is a risky business in itself.
Peter was a fisherman not known for his eloquence. Yet he risked speaking in front of thousands and the kingdom of God grew because Peter dared speak out about the Resurrection.
Then we come to Benaiah. Although I’ve read the Old Testament several times, the significance of what Benaiah did meant nothing to me until I walked into a new—for me—church in the autumn of 2006 and heard a sermon series based on Benaiah that changed my life.
Not taking risks is risky. To serve God we often have to look foolish. Seize opportunities that come to us. In other words, answering the call to serve God is risky business. You can find the series here:
Chase the Lion.
Though I had had both of those important calls for an author—from God to be an author and from my agent saying I’d made that first sale—I’d been playing safe. In short, I hadn’t been writing anything else. A couple nasty rejections had left me gun-shy and I was only going to write what was safe, write what was a sure thing to get published.
Yes, I hear many of you laughing at me. A sure thing in this business? A sure thing in life period?
OK, as close to a sure thing as it gets—writing what I thought the market wanted.
Unfortunately, it was neither what I wanted nor what I liked, and the lackluster prose reflected it. I wasn’t willing to risk having my writer’s tender heart broken again with laying my true love out for the world to poke fun at, mock, all those things I feared that kept me from doing what the Lord wanted me to do—write for Him with all my heart.
Write for Him, not necessarily be published for Him.
“To win you have to risk loss.”--Jean-Claude Killy
And that was a risk in itself—to hang out with writers, let them know I was writing, and perhaps never sell again. Talk about looking foolish, looking like a failure. A one-book wonder and not even a Christian book at that.
Yet while risking the embarrassment of being a brief bride and then forever the widowed matron of honor in the writing world, I was imparting the wisdom about writing God gave me and the knowledge I gained in grad school. In other words, I was helping others achieve their goals, kind of like Benaiah being head of the army helping the king stay king, advancing God’s message to the world without receiving any of the glory. Humbling. I will even go so far as to say humiliating. Surely I misunderstood God and He really wanted me to do something else now.
No, I did sell another book and this time to a Christian publisher. My first secular book won an amazing award. A-ha! By-by obscurity. Unlike Benaiah, I was going to be king, not just support the monarch.
Worse than nothing happened. Two different editors questioned my ability to write. Safe mode: give up and risk not following God’s calling.
Risk mode: Accepting the idea that I was supposed to be serving God in a different way. I accepted the idea that I might never sell another book, accepted the idea that I was supposed to only serve God as an encourager and teacher, a mentor and prayer partner so others could have a ministry through publication.
And after risking that this was what God really wanted from me and nothing more, I sent off the manuscript for a story I’d wanted to write for five years. Then the proposal for a story I’d been wanting to tell for ten. Yes, I kept taking that risk of rejection because risk had become safe to me—my peace that, at last, God was in charge of my writing career. I then had one full manuscript and a three-book proposal with editors. Then we sent out two more proposals. “After all,” I told my agent, “what’s the risk? That they’ll buy all of them?”
Somewhere in my willingness, my eagerness, to serve God whatever the cost to my desires, I’d discovered that my wings hadn’t fallen off. They were a bit crumpled and squashed, but I was ready to try them out again.
No, I’m not a rock star, though, since 2008, when I finally put everything together and risked losing all my dreams to God’s perfect plan for my life, I have been given several opportunities to get behind a microphone and speak about my faith and writing.
And remember that slightly sardonic remark to my agent about the editors buying all my proposals? The joke was on me—they did. By January of 2010, I’d signed contracts for thirteen books to Heartsong, Avalon, and Baker/Revell, and in January, 2011, I signed two more for novellas with Barbour.
“Many great ideas have been lost
because the people who had them could not stand
being laughed at.” (Author unknown)
Whether you’re a writer or not, the same principles apply—not taking the risk of giving up everything you want to what God wants you to have is seriously risky business. I honestly believe if I hadn’t been willing to give up being published, and then risked sending out a few stories that didn’t quite fit into the mold of what I was told publishers wanted, I’d still be frustrated, probably even a little bitter, that others were succeeding whereas I was not.
It doesn’t end there, of course. Every day as a writer, every day serving God, has risks—the risk of being resented, of being hurt, of being laughed at. As difficult as I find dealing with all that is some days, I wouldn’t go back to my risk-averse writing for anything.
“A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.”
(John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic)
To celebrate the re-emergence of my wings, I am giving away a copy of Jersey Brides. This includes The Glassblower (2010 Carol Award finalist for best short historical romance), The Heiress, and The Newcomer, the sale to Heartsong Presents that showed me that God had been waiting for me to turn my writing career over to Him regardless of the consequences to my own dreams.
About the Author:
Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes wanted to be a writer since knowing what one was. Her first book won the National Readers Choice Award in 2007, and her third book was a Carol Award finalist in 2010. Between December of 2008 and January of 2010, she sold thirteen books to Barbour Publishing, Avalon Books, and Baker/Revell, making her total sales fifteen. Recently, she added two novella sales to that collection, as well as having her first book with Baker/Revell, Lady in the Mist, picked up by Crossings Book Club, and three of her books chosen for large print editions by Thorndike Press. She has been a public speaker for as long as she can remember; thus, only suffers enough stage fright to keep her sharp. In 2002, while in graduate school for writing fiction, she began to teach fiction in person and online. She lives in Texas with her husband, two dogs, and too many cats even for her. Laurie Alice's website is: