Monday, May 11, 2009

Dreaming With Leanna Ellis

It's my joy to welcome back an outstanding author and all around great gal, Leanna Ellis!

A Year of

What a perfect title for Jennifer’s blog this year, but also for my book, Ruby’s Slippers, and for me too! I’m always saying, “Go for your dreams.” I’m a big believer in pursuing dreams. When I was a kid my dream was to be a Highlandette, which was my high school’s dance/drill team. I would march around my house, kick my skinny legs and smile just like a high-stepping Highlandette. I remember going to the football games, watching the Highlandettes march out onto the field during half time. I dreamed I’d one day march onto the field wearing that red starched skirt and white boots.

For many years I took dance and started teaching at my local dance studio when I entered high school. So I was well prepared when the time came to try out for Highlandettes at the end of my sophomore year. For two weeks we practiced after school, learning the routines. The tryout was in two phases. Cuts would be made, then another tryout for the selection of 55 girls who would be the next Highlandettes.

I made it through the first cut. But some of my friends didn’t. They were crying, and I was rattled. Before I’d dried my own tears and finished hugging those cut, I was called to start the next phase of the tryout. My heart was back in the locker room with my friends. Suddenly I couldn’t remember the routine. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I marched out of the gym, knowing I hadn’t made the team. I was heartbroken.

For days I cried. My mother said, “Get over it.” And maybe I should have. But during the next year, I learned a valuable lesson. One week I would think, “I’m not going to try out again. No way.” But then I’d see my friends who were now Highlandettes performing, I’d remember my dream, and I’d change my mind. I did want to be a Highlandette. Slowly over the year, a solid determination formed inside me.

The end of my junior year in high school was my last chance to be a Highlandette. I started the two weeks of learning the routines. It was during one of those practices that I pulled my hamstring. It’s very hard to do a high kick routine with a pulled hamstring. But I pampered my leg, wrapped it well, and kept focused on my goal.

Nothing was going to distract me. Nothing. So the day of the tryouts, I prayed, “Please, God, no matter what happens, let me be satisfied with my performance.” You see, during the last year, that’s what had eaten a hole in my heart, knowing I hadn’t done my best in the final tryout. I didn’t want to have any regrets. I wanted to give it my all.

All these many years later, the lessons I learned during my last two years of high school have become almost a mantra for me in another dream -- writing. You see, I learned to focus on my goal. I’m talking laser focus. And I learned to never give up that dream. Hang onto it, nurture it, go for it with everything you have.

Well, I suppose you’re wondering how that tryout turned out. I will say that I marched out of the gym with a smile on my face. I was proud of my performance. I could live with that. No matter what. The next day, when I drove to the high school to await the names being posted in the school’s windows, I held my breath. Four posters were taped to the windows at exactly 2:00pm. I scanned each one, but my name wasn’t there. Lifting my chin, determined to be proud of my performance anyway, I turned to leave, stopping to congratulate my friends who had made the team. Then, a girl named Cindy called my name. She hugged me. She was crying and smiling. I could feel my heart breaking because I knew she had made the team as she’d been a Highlandette for a year. But she kept hugging me, looking at me strangely. My brain slowly clicked into what she was saying, “You made it!”

“No,” I told her. “My name’s not up there.”

So together we looked at the posters. “No,” she said, “down here.”

I hadn’t seen the fifth one posted on the last window. And there it was – my name – I was a Highlandette. The first of many of my dreams had come true.

I bet you have a dream too. Reaching a dream isn’t easy. It demands focus and giving you’re all. But it also requires you not to give up. So hang on, try again, keep trying until you see that dream become a reality.

To find out more about Leanna and her other books, visit her website at

ABOUT THE BOOK - Ruby's Slippers

When Dottie Meyers loses her ‘no place like home’ during a Kansas tornado, she wakes up to find a pair of ruby slippers left by her father who abandoned his family thirty years ago. With her sister hot on her trail to find the treasured ruby slippers, Dottie travels a yellow brick road with three friends to find her father. No wizard can solve her problems. Only the love of a heavenly father can heal her wounds and give her the desires of her heart.

There’s no place like … the heart for God’s healing touch.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Ruby's Slippers, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on May 18th. PLEASE NOTE: For this contest I can only accept entries from the USA. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!


traveler said...

Ruby Slippers is enchanting and wonderful. Thanks for this feature. I enjoyed the interesting interview. Best wishes. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

sherrinda said...

Leanna, your post really hit me. My daughter and her 4 best friends just tried out for the spirit team at her high school and she was the only one who did not make it. We were all devastated. My prayer is that she will be like you and later see that she can try out again next year and be determined and not give that dream. Thank you for the encouragement!
(I'd love a chance to win!)
sherrinda (at)gmail(dot)com

Jenny said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Leanna. I really needed to hear that today. :)

Thanks for the chance to win 'Ruby's Slippers', Jennifer. I've really been wanting to read it.

eviesmommo at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Leanna, thank you for sharing your story.

Jennifer, thanks for hosting the drawing and the review.


Linda said...

I've heard nothing but raving reviews for 'Ruby Slippers.' I would love to win this book. Please me to your contest. Thank you.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Nade said...

Great blog-- this is all new to me. Would love to read Ruby Slippers.

bigguysmama said...

What a great life lesson with her tryouts! I'm glad she let us know she made it! I'd love to check out one of Leanna's books! Please add me to the drawing.

Mimi B
mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

Jo said...

Thanks for sharing your story and the great interview. Would love to get entered in the drawing to win a copy of the book.


Carole said...

I loved Leanna's first book, Elvis Takes a Back Seat, and hope to read everything she writes. Ruby's Slippers promises to be just as good and I'd love to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

peachykath said...

This book looks really interesting and I'd love a chance to read it. I've been trying to win a copy and haven't had any luck yet. Please enter me in the drawing.


Cheryl said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. Please enter me in the drawing. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Jennifer AlLee said...

Great to see all you ladies here. The winner of Ruby's Slippers is... Jenny!

Hope to see you all again soon :+}

Leanna said...

Thanks, Jennifer, for having me here! Sherrinda, I ache for your daughter. Boy, do I know that pain. I pray too that she can try out again next year. God's teaching her. But sometimes it's oh-so-hard-to-learn. Congrats, Jenny! And waving hello to all the wonderful ladies who commented. What a nice place this is! Blessings, Leanna