Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Washed Up

Washed Up
By Ada Brownell

How old are you when you’re “washed up” as a writer—meaning you’re not producing anything better than smelly seaweed?

When I retired as a daily newspaper reporter, I was excited to get back into free lance writing full time. But big problems set me out in deep water. All the Christian editors I knew retired or moved on. Then I’d had hand surgery and using a keyboard was difficult.

I began thinking I was too old to “walk on water” with Jesus and spread the Good News of the Gospel anymore. I ventured out of the boat a few times and couldn’t seem to get my head above water. Why didn’t I know how to swim anymore among publications that needed good inspiring copy? I’d been writing for these publications since age 15.

I spent a year or more trying to produce curriculum. I’d written a little curriculum in the past by assignment, but stupidly tried to market “special projects” curriculum, disregarding Christian publishers’ practice of planning curriculum two or more years ahead with set themes.

I nearly retired my computer after I worked so diligently on the curriculum project and had to give up. It was disappointing because I enlisted my talented daughter-in-law, Michelle, to design a scrapbook project as part of the curriculum to inspire teens to keep a spiritual diary of their “Dynamite Decisions” – the curriculum theme.

Then I started writing Christian news on assignment, but soon knew that didn’t satisfy my calling to spread the gospel. Yet, I had wet my toes in the publishing waters without going under.

The breakthrough came when I began praying the Prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:10NKJ. I memorized the scripture: “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that your hand will be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”

 I discovered creating a blog is no big deal, so created one—my own little publication. Soon I had guest writers.

Then more assignments came from Christian editors and I had articles published. Opportunities for personal ministry also popped up around me.

I had a book for which I once had a publisher and his publishing company went bankrupt. After years of giving up on it, I marketed the book, Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, to traditional publishers and discovered I needed to be a pastor or a doctor with a huge following for this type of book. My qualifications as a Christian writer and teacher who spent a number of years as a medical writer for a newspaper didn’t carry much weight.

But after praying for my territory to be enlarged, I believed in the book once again and discovered Indie publishing. I knew about vanity publishing and thought it an embarrassing exercise in futility, but in this day of e-publishing, many well-known authors are going to Indie publishing because of the benefits.

So Swallowed by Life saw the light of day. It’s not a best seller yet, but my territory enlarged. Next, I took my out-of –print book, Confessions of a Pentecostal, published by the Assemblies of God and made it available for Kindle. About a month ago, my first novel, Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult became available.

Two completed books await publication. I’ve continued to sell to Christian publications and then the door opened to write op-ed newspaper articles.

 I’ve had birthdays, added numerous wrinkles, had cataract surgery, knee replacements, but kept exercising spiritually, physically and emotionally. I’ve done blog and speaking tours.

Perhaps “washed up” means “refreshed and polished.” After all, sometimes good things come in with the tide—like the time when we were nearly broke and a $20 bill floated almost into my hand. Even adults search for sea shells and beautiful things that wash up on the beach. When I was on the coast a few days ago a couple was out with metal detector.

I’m glad I didn’t “give up” on my calling.

©Ada Brownell 2013


Ada Brownell bio
A.B. Brownell has been writing for Christian publications since age 15 and spent much of her life as a daily newspaper reporter. She has a BS degree in Mass Communications and worked most of her career at The Pueblo Chieftain in Colo., where she spent the last seven years as a medical writer. After moving to Springfield, MO in her retirement, she continues to free lance for Christian publications and write non-fiction and fiction books.
Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult or
Swallowed by LIFE:
Confessions of a Pentecostal:
     Twitter: @adellerella

Enter an area where people are missing and radicals want to obliterate Christianity from the earth. After Joe Baker’s parents mysteriously disappear, he finds himself with a vicious man after him. Joe and an unusual gang team up to find his mom and dad. The gang is dedicated to preventing and solving crimes with ordinary harmless things such as noise, water, and a pet skunk instead of blades and bullets. Joe reads the Bible hoping to discover whether God will answer prayer and bring his parents home. In his dreams, Joe slips into the skin of Bible characters and what happened to them, happens to him—the peril and the victories. Yet, crying out in his sleep causes him to end up in a mental hospital’s juvenile unit. Will he escape or will he be harmed? Will he find his parents? Does God answer prayer?

Teens. No fantasy. No wizard. Suspense. Christian payload. Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult or
The book is also available at, and is listed at

To learn more about this author’s books:


stitchesthenovel said...

As writers, we are never washed up. If your words touch and inspire even just one person, you're a raging success! You just inspired me, so a big gold star for you! If we can still type, then we can inspire. When we can't type or see anymore, then we dictate our words to someone who can. The image you paint of someone with a metal detector sparked a whole secret story in my head for someone's dreams of a magnificent find. Keep writing Ada!

Courtney Pierce, author of STITCHES - A Novel.

TNeal said...

Thanks for lighting the way by sharing your discouragement turned exciting times as a writer. We all go through the dark times of doubt, but you've offered a story about the other side of darkness (a tip of the hat to Linda's first novel).

J.B. DiNizo said...

Thanks for sharing!!

Linda Rondeau said...

thanks for the tip of the hat, Tom!

Ada Brownell said...

Interesting comments.Thanks Linda for inviting me to be your guest.

Ada Brownell

Gail Kittleson said...

Ada, thank you for what you shared today. So heartening for me. And I WILL get that review written.....

Gail Kittleson

Claude Nougat said...

Thanks for sharing! No, as writers we are never washed up and now we have a new genre, Boomer lit, that is THE genre for us and our readers...

Ada Brownell said...

Sounds interesting! I expect all of you will keep writing. It's a decision, you know.