Every month we'll highlight a reader in the Great Lakes Bay region and learn more about them, their work, and their reading life. We'll also discuss books and share a conversation about something close to their heart.
Our reader spotlight for May is Jeri Darby, a positive and inspiring spirit. In addition to being a nurse, she has spent years encouraging other wanna-be writers to take the first step and put words on a page.
Read on to learn more.
What inspired you to start writing?
As a young child, I believe that I read every fairy tale in our grade-school library. I began journaling at an early age. When older, while reading various books and magazines, the realization that, “I can do this,” spread inside me.
As a young Christian, I learned to recognize and trust the leading of the Lord. He instructed me to purchase a computer. This was years ago and I did not feel that I could afford one. I ran across a word processor which looked and operated much like a computer and grabbed it. I trained myself to use it effectively and soon received another instruction.
“Start telling others that you are a writer.” I had never before identified myself in this manner to anyone. All I had were journal entries. Satan had caused me to feel like becoming a writer was a lofty goal that only a few achieved. The next day instead of rushing out the door when church service ended, I engaged in a life-changing conversation with a minister.
He shared that he was starting a Christian publication. He described the types of information he planned to feature and added, “I will be needing submissions from writers. “I am a writer.” These words flowed effortlessly through my lips.
This was over thirty years ago, and I have been writing ever since. I have over 100 publishing credits for various magazines with stories in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul, a Second Dose.
I have published nine titles with some in Spanish, Kindle, and Audible. My coaching service for writers is, “I AM a Writer NOW! Numerous writers have become authors through my program. Each writer is instructed to begin their journey by declaring “I AM a Writer NOW!” I know firsthand the power of making this simple declaration over your life.
What book genre do you tend to read the most? Why?
Over the years books have been my salvation. Historically, I gravitated towards nonfiction works such as biographies, autobiographies, and self-help books. My past has been trauma-filled from my earliest childhood memory and continued during my adult years.
Reading about the past struggles and later successes of others infused me with hope. There were books on my bookshelves for years that I would grab amidst a difficult season. It was amazing how I would open it to the exact page and my eyes would land on the specific paragraph that spoke to that current situation.
Reading about the challenges of others that mirrored my own re-centered my faith. I emerged feeling like, “God you did it for them, so I know that you can do it for me too!”
If you had an opportunity to chat with an author, who would you like to talk to? What would you ask him/her?
There are many, but Maya Angelou has always fascinated me. Sometimes I go to a local hotel for a personal writer’s retreat. It is a great way to shut out the many distractions. I later read that this was a common practice for Maya also. I would ask her how did she remain true to the writer within with all the other life demands that were upon her. It is a challenge to prevent life’s challenges from burying this gift as we gradually give it a lesser priority.
What does writing give you?
Writing gives me clarity. When I go long periods without writing, I feel an inner crowdedness. It is an unpleasant sensation. The many things needing resolution in my life clash and fight and my inner peace is only restored by writing.
It also gives me a fulfilled sense of purpose. The Bible says that before God plants us in our mother’s wombs that He has already identified our role upon the earth. Because of the fierce struggle to survive, many never excavate the plan of God for their lives.
What do you hope your writing brings to others?
My desire is for my readers to experience a greater awareness that they are not on this journey alone. We each have an innate capacity to know the voice of God and we can trust His instruction. I want them to experience an increased level of faith, hope, love, and forgiveness of themselves and others.
Jeri reading one of books on forgiveness.
You have written books advising others on the writing process? How did that come about?
The number one statement I hear from those desiring to write a book is, “I don’t know where to start.” As a writing coach, I work with people during various stages in their writing process. My book titled, “Starting Points for New Writers,” is a workbook offering step-by-step guidance for outlining your book.
I am hosting a Writer’s Networking & Activation Seminar on June 4, 2022, 11-3 PM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Feeling stuck at the starting points has caused countless writers to lay aside book ideas in defeat for years. Some even discard their dream of authoring a book forever. I believe that when God is leading me and others to write, He has someone needing our message waiting for it to come forth.
What made you write for the singles audience?
I have been single for many years and am familiar with the struggles of singles. I wanted to identify and normalize some of the highs and lows experienced during this season. Many singles do not readily voice their frustrations, loneliness, and fear of repeated trauma openly. Often they feel like silent failures. Readers have responded by saying, “I thought I was the only one that felt that way.” This is far from the truth!
I have hosted single ministries, skits, and conferences over the years to offer inspiration to singles. We are a unique group of people living in a world that feels mostly geared toward couples.
What was your favorite book as a child? Why?
Grimm’s fairy tales. I loved reading through the assortment of fairy tales. Any story that ended with, “And they lived happily ever after.” It gave me hope during my unstable childhood that I could find my happy place.