Hello, Seekerville friends. My name is Clari Dees. I am a former homeschooler who started volunteering at her second home, the public library, the summer after high school graduation. Within a month, that volunteer position had turned into a paying job. With a short-term exception around a major move, I have spent the last decade and a half enjoying my job as a small-town librarian.
While there are some patrons that are more difficult than others—oh, the stories I can tell—that’s neither here nor there.
Working in a library indulges my love of books and research, and for a while, that was enough. But my job could never quite fulfill that deeper need to create my own stories.
|"Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eyes off the goals." Henry Ford|
For years, I put myself to sleep acting out story scenes in my head, I just wasn’t sure what to do with the bits and pieces of ideas floating around my brain. Finally, I began to pray about it. (Duh, Clari, should have done that a long time ago.) I asked the Lord, if it was His desire for me to write, to show me what to write as well as how to go about it. I prayed this prayer for a couple of years, still too fearful to put my ideas down on paper, or in this technological age, the computer screen. However, I did put some tentative feet to my prayers and began to research “writing.”
During this time, my youngest brother, a homeschool graduate who’d struggled with school work, decided it was time to tackle college and pursue his own dreams. As I checked his college papers for him, marveling at his ability to get his thoughts on paper in spite of some mild dyslexia and watched him grow and excel as a student, I realized my “little” brother (he’s taller than I am, and he loves to remind me of that fact) was much braver than I was. He was refusing to allow fear to limit his dreams, while I, on the other hand, needed a good dose of courage. Either that or a swift kick to the seat of my motivation.
So I told the Lord, “If my brother can chase his dreams, I can too, but I need help and direction.” (When courage is lacking, sometimes sibling competition is the next best thing. Sorry, bro. J)
Then one morning, I awoke with an idea for a story and a scene that absolutely begged—no, demanded—to be written down, and I applied fingers to keyboard. I was following several writing blogs by this time (Seekerville among them), and although I was alternately encouraged by other writers and discouraged by how much I didn’t know, I continued to work on my story, trying to apply the writing instructions so generously shared by other authors. It wasn’t exactly easy, but I was finally doing what I had only dreamed about. I was putting a story on paper.
Several months later when I wrote “The End,” I knew I wasn’t done and spent more time rewriting and polishing before letting my family read what I had written. Now I know they’re not exactly unbiased critics, but they did give me some good feedback, and I polished some more. I was reaching the end of what I knew to do on my own and prayed for direction as to my next step—continue working on my current story or move on to something else?
Then Seekerville hosted another contest. A query letter contest. I had only just learned what a Query letter was but decided to stretch my learning and comfort zone. I would write a query letter. The cowardly lion had finally found a bit of courage!
I’m still amazed I took that leap–-an eyes-closed, don’t-look, audacious leap—but I did, and several weeks later I received an email saying my query letter had finaled and would be going on to Melissa Endlich at Love Inspired.
I was ecstatic and scared all in the same breath! I had actually written something that finaled in a contest!? Surely they’d contacted the wrong person? Ruthy must have made a mistake! (Not that I was going to correct her.)
I waited with bated breath (no, I wasn’t chewing on fishing worms, they were gummy worms, in case you were wondering).
Eventually, along came another email. The editor actually wanted to see my manuscript! Wow! Oh. My! My miserable lack of writing skills was about to be found out. By a Love Inspired editor, no less. To keep my mind off the waiting, I delved into a new story idea and tried to forget that I’d put my writing out there for someone outside my family to read.
When a couple of months had passed and I was wondering if my rejected manuscript was lost in the mail, I received another email. This one from Tina James, Love Inspired editor. She wanted to set up a time to call and talk to me about my manuscript. Every possible and impossible scenario ran through my head as I waited for that phone call. And the most impossible scenario happened. She wanted my story!
Please don’t wake me up if I’m dreaming! Because suddenly, against all odds, a deeply personal and closely guarded dream is coming true! A dream I’ve only shared with my family up to this point.
God has gently directed my path, graciously opened doors of opportunity, and given me the courage to walk through them, showing me the steps to take only when I was ready to take them. He has proved He does indeed give us the desires of our heart when we seek Him, even when we have all the courage of a frightened mouse. He also used the gracious and willing hands of Seekerville writers to encourage and provide those doors of opportunity, and for that, I offer an enormous…
I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m awake as I work through the list of revisions my editor sent me. The Marshal Meets His Match, will be published by Love Inspired Historicals sometime in the near future. I’ll keep you posted as to a publication date. In the meantime, I’m gettin’ my exercise with a certain white and black beagle…
I am not the cook in my family (I’d rather be reading or writing), but I can bake, and there’s plenty of piping hot apple-cinnamon muffins, strawberry muffins, orange juice and chocolate milk this morning. Enjoy!
Clari comes from a large preacher’s family that spent their vacations doing mission work. She has visited almost every state in the US, helped teach VBS on a Navajo reservation, laid concrete tile on a church roof in Rapid City, SD, and laid brick on a church in Kentucky. When she’s not busy saving the world as a librarian—okay, so maybe it’s only a school student with an overdue paper—or tracking down an elusive genealogy question, she can be found at her computer plotting incriminating evidence for hapless fictional characters, or enjoying her family and menagerie of animals in the country. She can be found online at cdeesbookshelf.blogspot.com