What My Teaching Career Taught Me About Writing

By Jayna Morrow

Over the summer, something magical happens. The organization fairy pays a visit to my empty classroom and transforms it into the most magnificent, color-coordinated learning environment on the planet. Books are sorted, supplies are materialized, papers are filed, new draperies are sewn, bulletin boards are trimmed, and desks are placed neatly in rows. When I arrive for in-service week, my co-workers and I take in a few workshops and meetings, and then have lunch and reminisce about our relaxing summer vacations at the beach.


Christian romance author, Jayna Morrow, is published with Prism Book Group both in print and eBook formats. With a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas and elementary teaching certification from LeTourneau University, Jayna has been in the position of both teacher and student for many years. Her debut novel, Garrett, is the first in the Sweet Home, Texas series. The theme of Garrett is finding God’s purpose and trusting in God’s plan. Jayna makes regularl guest blogging appearances all over the internet, and has even been featured at eReader News Today, eFiction Finds, and Christian eBooks Today.

Did you pick up on the sarcasm in that first paragraph? In reality, I am my own organization fairy, complete with construction paper wings dusted with chalk. I spend several days a week during June and July in my hot classroom (there’s only air conditioning on certain days) sorting books by level and topic, taking inventory on supplies, filing and prioritizing paperwork, sewing new draperies and reading cushions, decorating bulletin boards, experimenting with different seating arrangements, and scouring yard sales for treasure chest trinkets, more books, craft materials, and odds and ends. Summer is also the time for the bulk of my lesson planning. Going through the TEKS and matching them up with fun projects and engaging activities, so I’m prepared for every teachable moment, makes me a better teacher.

And therein lies the key to success that applies to writing as well – preparation.

I’m a plotter by nature and that means putting on my teaching cap and doing a lot of prep work. I’d never take on a class of 22 students without a lesson plan, and I’d never take on a new manuscript without an outline. From characters and plot points to problems and solutions, I have a method for them all. Every day for a month, I uncover another layer in the pre-writing process. Then comes the rough outline and first draft. Finally, a finished product I can work with on many rounds of editing. In all, it takes me about 4 months to complete a novel. My goal is 4 books a year, so I’m working on efficiency to improve my productivity. Like my students, I have goals.

I have many writer friends who are pantsers, and all I can say about them is that they are like those gifted students who never have to study and make straight A’s. I commend them. Writing a novel is no easy task. I’m the kind of student who has to study a lot, take good notes, highlight important information, and keep a detailed binder on everything. Maybe that’s why I’m a plotter? Teaching and writing go hand-in-hand. It’s a process that spans a certain length of time, requires a fair amount of learning, and involves setting and achieving goals.

Have I accomplished all my goals? Yes, some of them. Then I set new ones. My experience as a teacher has taught me to set high expectations. I’ll let you, the reader, decide if I achieved those expectations.


“You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

What happens when you’re living the dream and things suddenly change? Micara Lee’s charming existence starts slipping away as land developers threaten the town she loves.

What happens when your dream doesn’t align with God’s plan for your life? Garrett Hearth finds out when an injury ends his athletic career. Disenchantment and wavering faith keep him from the life he desires. Micara’s beautiful spirit touches Garrett’s heart… but can she help restore his faith and convince him to live the life God has planned for him?

Their happiness and the legacy of Sweet Home, Texas hang in the balance. 

$2.99 Ebook/8.99 Print







I’ll be happy when

By Staci Stallings

Recently I was talking with some writer friends who are working on marketing their books.  Now stay with me because this isn’t about writing.
The conversation turned to sales and how many sales people had or didn’t have for that month.  I had been having some success in that area and mapped out the trajectory of my sales for the last few months.  One writer piped up and said, “I’ll be happy when I sell 100.”  Another joined in, “Well, I’ll be happy when I sell enough to get a check.” (Which is about 10.)
Ironically, I had just sold about 10 times that 100, and I could see the fallacy of “I’ll be happy when…” in bright, shining colors before me.  Why?  Because I had sold all these books, and in reality, life hadn’t changed all that much.
I still had (and have) laundry in the utility room to do and dishes in the sink and the living room needs vacuumed and dusted.  I need to get the oil changed in the van and the registration paid at my son’s school.  We’ve got to find time to memorize his multiplication tables, and I need to get the bills paid.  Oh, and my shower needs cleaned really badly, and I have several posts to put up on the blogs.
I would love to get some time to work on my new story, and I need to write the VBS plays.  The garage needs swept, and the clothes need taken to the homeless shelter.  I’ve got suitcases from our last visit home to clean out and all of those clothes to run through the washer.  Oh, and Sunday School is coming up again, and I need to practice for that.  There’s a gift certificate I need to get for a friend who did me a big favor, and trash to take out. At some point I would love to get some exercising in, and the bushes out front really need trimmed before they completely take over.
In short, I’ve sold all these books–more than I could have dreamed or hoped for in December of last year–and life is still life!
It was quite funny the day in February that one of my books was climbing the charts on Amazon, going all the way up to #11 in the Free Store.  I was watching the downloads, amazed.  At noon I went into the kitchen to eat and found several stacks of dirty dishes waiting for either the dishes-fairy or me to do them.  My husband happened to be home for lunch that day, and he said, “So how does it feel to be famous?”
I laughed as I started digging dishes out of the sink and said, “About the same as it felt to be not famous.”
See, I think that’s something we all get wrong in this life.  We think that something “out there”–a certain number of sales, getting that diploma, paying off this or buying that–is going to change everything and suddenly then we’ll be happy.
It doesn’t work like that.
In fact, a few years ago I was talking with a friend of mine who at the time was living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I told her that having money in the bank was not going to make her happy if she wasn’t happy now.  She scoffed that I just didn’t understand.
Well, guess what?  She got a contract, sold some books, got on a little better financial footing, and now has money in the bank.  The other day we were talking, and she said, “You know how you told me I could have money in the bank and that wouldn’t solve everything?”  “Yeah.”  “You were right.  I have money now, and I still don’t feel good about myself.  In fact, everything I’ve prayed for over the last five years, I have now, and it hasn’t changed anything.  I’m beginning to think it’s not about that stuff after all.”
What a concept!  She’s right… it’s not about all of that stuff.  It’s about YOU.  It’s about learning that God loves you and accepts you right where you are.  In debt, overweight, overworked, sales, no sales, famous or not.  When you begin to understand that and ask Him to help you to be happy now, when those other things show up, they are nice gravy to the situation. But it’s about the Giver, not the gift.  It’s about the Blesser, not the blessing.
So if you’re stuck in “I’ll be happy when…,” may I suggest you try “God, help me to be happy and joyful right now because You love me just the way I am.”  Then put all of those “when” things in His hands and let Him work them out as you willingly follow what He tells you to do.
It will make all the difference in the world!

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you today and tomorrow only…


April 18 & 19, Staci’s novel:

Deep in the Heart

“This is more than a romance.  The author cuts straight to the heart of God–love.  God is love. Even through unexpected tragedies.  And we can overcome evil with good–by His love.”

–Betty Anne Bantz

Can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart?
Available as a free download from Amazon!