Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Did I Tell You About My Debut Novel?

Just in case you don't know about my debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), let me tell you about it.

To Dance Once More -- All Lydia wants is to travel the world before she has to settle down with a husband. But she may not have that choice anymore.

April 1886
Debutante Lydia Jane Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. But while her sisters happily learn the traditional tasks of women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn’t enough to hold her back.
Then one day Hamilton opens Lydia’s eyes and her heart to love. But before they can receive permission to court, Lydia overhears a secret conversation about an unscrupulous business deal. Worse, it has everything to do with her and her future. Now she’s faced with the biggest decision of her life—to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice…and, perhaps, countless rewards.
Passion. Friendship. A bitter enemy. A life-changing decision.

Set in Victorian-era Florida.

Watch the trailer!

Buy it on Amazon!

To Dance Once More Sneak Peek

Quote from the book:
“I guess sometimes it seems like God doesn’t even know who I am,” Lydia said.
Eliza, her eldest sister replied, “Of course He does. Just because things aren’t always as you want them doesn’t mean God is absent in your life. In fact, it may be His very presence in your life that makes you feel that way.”
“What do you mean?” Lydia put the skein of yarn in her lap.
“I mean that you may feel that way because some things you wish for do not come true. And it could be that God’s all-caring hand is guiding you down another path that He knows is better for you.”
“Oh,” Lydia said, quietly reflecting on Eliza’s words.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


What have I learned lately? You’d think since I’m no longer homeschooling I wouldn’t be learning much these days. Not true! I am doing a Bible study on the book of Philippians and am also reading lots of blogs and books by other authors while promoting my new book. I have been amazed at the things I’ve learned that have planted little seeds of wisdom in me. One book I am currently reading is The Prayer of Jabez by Dr. Bruce H. Wilkinson. Who is Jabez and what was his prayer? Jabez was just an ordinary man who is mentioned in a tiny section of the Bible. In the long list of names in I Chronicles 4, suddenly there is a break and Jabez and his prayer are mentioned. In verses 9-10, it says: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.” Jabez is not anyone of great significance. From the beginning of his life he was kind of marked because the mere mention of his name reminded folks that he caused his mother great pain while she was in childbirth. He was, however, more honorable than his brothers and I suppose it made God want to grant his request. This prayer inspired the book written by Dr. Wilkinson. I started praying this prayer at the beginning of September because I wanted God to do amazing things in my life and in the lives of my family members and friends. I didn’t start praying it because I wanted God to give me wealth or popularity. I wanted God to bless me with whatever He wants to bless me with. I want Him to enlarge my territory because that will enlarge His territory. The more people find out about me, the more I will be able to spread the Good News about Him to the world. I want His hand to be with me because I can’t imagine walking through this life without Him. And I truly want Him to keep me far from evil and to guide me along the right path so that I do not sin against Him and so I do not cause my friends and family to follow me down the wrong path. As soon as I began praying this prayer, God started answering it. It’s not a magic prayer. What it is though is a prayer that opens your eyes to the blessings of God that are already there in your life. It makes you watch out for opportunities in which you can tell others about Him. It makes you be more conscious of the traps that Satan tries to set up for you. It makes you see that as a child of the Father, you have an inheritance that compares with no other and blessings that are right there at your fingertips. James 4:3 says,“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We can ask God to bless us and to protect us and to enlarge our territories and to be with us always and when we ask with pure motives and with a desire to make Him be glorified, He will answer according to His will. Sherri

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Psychology, A Christian Perspective by Dr. Tim Rice

Dr. Tim Rice has done a wonderful job of explaining what Psychology is and has taken the fear out of studying it. He explains the difference between Psychology’s worldview and Christianity’s worldview and why we as Christians should not be hesitant to study Psychology. Since our minds were created by God, studying how the mind works can bring us closer to Him. Psychology affects all areas of our lives. The world would have us to believe that mental and emotional pain comes from anything other than sin and blames everything from chemical imbalances to bad parenting for the cause of it.

Dr. Rice’s chapters discuss the brain and the nervous system, sensation and perception, motivation and emotion, learning and memory, human development, consciousness, thinking, language and intelligence, personality, abnormal psychology, treatment, social psychology and research methods. At the end of each chapter you will find a chapter summary and a review to get students thinking about what they have learned. Included are photographs and diagrams to further the student’s understanding. This program will help students know their worldviews and will also help them answer questions about moral absolutes and more. The time to study this science is while our children are still home with us and before they launch out into the universities where they will be fed many views that are contrary to the views in our homes.

I highly recommend this program for your high school student!

Dr. Tim Rice

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Don’t you just love the change of seasons? Especially from winter to spring or spring to summer.

Summer to fall is always nice here in Georgia. The leaves fall from the trees and the wind blows all day long. Such a refreshing break from 98+ degrees!

Of course, once fall begins so does Daylight Savings Time and then the days are shorter and everyone gets depressed and moody. Then winter comes! It’s the time where we huddle up inside and drink lots of coffee or some other hot beverage and gain some weight…

There are also changes in other types of seasons in our lives. Like developing new friendships or rekindling old ones. Sometimes there’s a fizzling of friendships that once seemed to bloom so beautifully. No real cause for the fizzling except just people going in different directions. Some seasons involve job changes, moving to a new home, changing churches. Some changes are brought about by loss.

Regardless of the season you may be in at this time in your life, I say embrace it. For every change or loss, there is something new around the corner. A change or a loss may be sad or even devastating but it can only get you down – and I mean all the way down – if you let it.

The biggest change to me at this time is that for the first time in fourteen years I am not shopping for new school books. Usually, my summers are spent looking through catalogs and going to conventions, ordering the books and digging into them to plan out the year ahead. In a couple of weeks, I will be finished homeschooling and so I find myself feeling many strange feelings about this new season. I am thrilled to have homeschooled. And I am thrilled to have made it through without quitting. I am also excited to see where the Lord leads me after this and what He does with my children long term as a result of the homeschooling.

My husband and I are also taking the summer to visit around churches in our community other than our own. This has been a change that I didn’t really welcome at first but have now embraced and am enjoying meeting new folks and learning new things. We’ll see where this season takes us.

I don’t really like change – except change for the better. But I have had to endure much of it in my life. One thing that is for sure, God is always, always walking with me through whatever change of season it is. And He always knows what’s best for me and He knows the outcome.

All photos property of Kayla Johnson Photography

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Road to Publication

Many of you have asked me questions like: How did you get started writing? How long have you been writing? How did you find your publisher? Do you have an agent? How long does it take to get published? And the biggest question of all: When is your book coming out?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was about eight or nine, I wrote a story as an entrance exam to a children’s writing institute. I cannot begin to explain to you the joy I felt when I received the acceptance envelope. I am aware now that they probably wanted everyone that took the entrance exam; after all, that was how they made their money, right? The enrollment fee was far more than my family could afford, however, so I was unable to attend. I remember this as one of the most heart-breaking experiences of my childhood.

I did not give up writing, though. In high school, I wrote continuously, and took as many writing and literature classes as my school offered. I had high aspirations of becoming a journalist. I wanted to be the woman sitting in front of the camera doing the evening news or the woman with her own newspaper column. My dream was to go away to a college that had a superior journalism department. Because of my poor grades and a few other issues, I did not attend college, though.

Immediately after graduating high school, I began to work in an office as a secretary. I continued to write on my typewriter at work when there was free time. I actually wrote a 500-page Christian Romance novel but upon its completion decided it was no good. I burned it in the fireplace at home, and have regretted it ever since. You see, this was before the days of home computers and none of what I had written was saved on disk. I consider this one of my greatest professional learning experiences.

I married when I was twenty-one years old and a few years later, I had my first child. I continued to write Christian Romance but publication eluded me. Submitting manuscripts or even simple proposals was a time-consuming and expensive hobby. I took a break from writing for a few years because motherhood (my second child had come along) kept me busy. However, my mind never stopped spinning tales. These ideas gathered in file folders and patiently waited to come out when my children went to school.

My sister once told me: “An author is a writer who refused to give up.” So I held onto that dream.

Then, God called me to homeschool in 1997 and suddenly my plans were postponed for just a little while longer. After I got accustomed to the routine of homeschooling, the writing bug bit me again. Instead of fiction, I wrote articles for homeschool magazines about homeschooling and finally got my first phone call from an editor. I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when that call came in.

So I kept at the writing and got a few more articles published. I took a two-year writer’s course through the Christian Writers Guild and eventually wrote a few Bible studies, which I taught for groups at church. Then I wrote a devotional for homeschool moms, which I self-published.

One day, I received an inquiry from a church asking me to speak to a group of women. Never before had I done that, but I went. Looking back, I believe my talk was rather dull and quite long-winded, but God was gracious and I received other calls after that. I have spoken to homeschool groups and church groups for several years now and I enjoy it. However, writing is my love!

So throughout the years of teaching my children, God refined my writing skills. He opened my eyes to things that needed to be perfected in my works. I wrote several more Bible studies. And eventually wrote three novels – and re-wrote three novels. Because of easier submissions procedures, I submitted proposals constantly. Much to my chagrin, the ever-coveted contract never came. I even tried to find an agent multiple times, but had no success. I also tried to quit writing quite often, but had no success at that either.

I attended my first writer’s conference in 2003 and met several editors, who requested to see manuscripts. I have been told that this is the way to go. You have to attend the conferences in order to meet the editors face-to-face. For me, this was a one-time luxury because we were a one-income family. I could not attend conferences every year in hopes of finding a publisher. I left my writing career right where it needed to be – in the hands of God!

One day, I learned about a relatively new publisher, which had “stepped into the marketplace gap to provide dozens of writers with new opportunities…With other publishers choosing to focus on only a few “top name” authors” OakTara was looking for people like me – first-time, undiscovered authors!

So I immediately submitted my manuscript for To Dance Once More (my second “first” novel). This novel had made it through revision after revision and I was finally confident that it was ready. One year after submitting the manuscript, I received an email from Jeff Nesbit saying, “To Dance Once More is precisely the type of novel OakTara (then Capstone) is interested in — quality fiction, from a fresh perspective – and we’d like to offer you the opportunity to join Capstone Fiction’s growing stable of authors.” At first, skepticism ran through my body. I wanted to believe it but could not let myself. After doing more research than I have ever done in my life, I discovered they were legitimate and I accepted the contract. So I sat on ready for a while, neglecting practically every other area of my life. But time passed and I did not hear anything further from them and discouragement became a close friend of mine for a while. To make a long story short, the publisher was forced by another publisher to change its name and that put things on hold for at least a year. After the legalities were worked out and the previously published books had been reissued under the new publisher name, OakTara, they were back in business and started issuing new titles.

So you want to know when To Dance Once More will be available. I have been told that everything is moving along and it should be out by early summer 2011. My second novel, Song of the Meadowlark, will be following soon after. My third novel, After the Raging Storm, is still in the crock pot and I will submit it for their review when I have it as it needs to be. In the meantime, I am writing the sequel to To Dance Once More, entitled To Laugh Once More, and hope to receive a contract on it, as well.

The process for me began in 1974 with that first children’s story. 1985 marked the year of the first full-length manuscript, which perished in the fire. 1993 birthed To Dance Once More, which is just now coming to life on the page for you to read. 1997 began my journey through homeschooling and 2011 will forever go down in history as the year that I completed one calling (homeschooling) and launched the ever-awaited career as a writer – I mean, AUTHOR – for I never gave up!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Roller Coaster Kind of Spiritual Walk

I love roller coasters! I love to feel the wind in my hair and I love to scream and release all my suppressed emotions. My screams turn into uncontrollable laughter as the momentum of the train increases, giving me freedom of expression like I cannot get anywhere else in this world. My heart pounds in my chest at the anticipation of that next turn or loop-tee-loop. It’s hard to believe that a three or four minute ride could lift your spirits so high that you would feel exhilarated long after the ride is over and that you would yearn for the next opportunity to ride again.

Photo compliments of

My walk with the Lord is much like a ride on a roller coaster. Now I don’t mean it is full of ups and downs and high-pitched hills and drastic drops. Well, maybe it is a little of that. But what I mean is – well, let me explain.

You know how when you are riding along on that track and you know that curve or that upside-down spiral that scares you to death is coming up and you are convinced that you that you are about to have a heart attack?

You fear for just a moment, even though you know your thoughts are preposterous, like the train will come off the track? For a minute, you feel like maybe, just maybe, you are about to die. Of course, your fears are totally unfounded. In just a flash of time, you are whipped around that bend or thrust down that hill or twisted like a pretzel and then – finally – you are upright and back on the straight and safe track and you can catch your breath.

Well, that is how I feel about my spiritual walk with the Lord. When I am burdened about something or praying for something to happen in my life and it is just not happening swiftly enough, I get this desperate feeling. An urgency crawls up my esophagus and threatens to choke me. I start to feel like that curve is coming up and my life is going to fly off that track into oblivion. God is not acting quickly enough for my liking and I feel, just for a moment, that He is not going to save me from going off the track or, more specifically, that He is not going to give me what I want.

Here is the thing – as long as I am seeking God’s will for my life, He will not let that train go off the track. He will not let me fall. He will answer my prayers. His answer will be “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” He may allow the ride to go on a little bit longer than I think I can stand, allowing me to experience a few more loop-tee-loops or spirals or mountainous hills and deep valleys. But He is the conductor! He knows at which moment I need to have the things I have prayed for. He knows the perfect time to open that door I have prayed open. He knows when my heart has had all the anticipation it can stand and when I am ready for and in desperate need of that train coming to a bit of safe track.

In the last month, while I was fasting, I got to see the Lord do some amazing things in the lives of some of my friends. He provided house payments. He provided clarity on relationships for some. He provided job interviews for others and even a job for one friend. He provided a way out of addiction for another. He provided financial blessings for my family and even some great news from my publisher for me!

So I kind of like having a roller coaster spiritual walk with my Jesus. My heart gets to pound uncontrollably as I see Him working in my life and in the lives of those I love. My blood pumps ferociously through my body. I get to scream and laugh and even wiggle in my seat as I see His will revealed – even when the answer is not what I wanted or expected. And when that portion of the ride is over and it is time to get off the train, I am ready to stand in line for the next ride because a ride with the Lord is worth all the ups and downs, twists and turns, lunges and lurches. Oh, life is so exciting when you ride a roller coaster with the Lord!

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