An extraordinary gift

Senior Samantha Moran’s book shows a journey of faith, trust and love

Samantha Grace Moran always dreamed about being a published author. She never imagined that she would be one at the age of 21.


But that is exactly what she is.

“I’ve pretty much wanted to be an author ever since I was really little,” Moran said. “ I was writing ever since kindergarten, always coming up with stories. And I was like ‘I want to publish a book one day.’ That’s always been my goal.”

A senior from Richmond, Virginia, Moran’s first published book, “Dakota’s Gift,” released in stores nationwide this month.

According to Moran, the story follows the main character Dakota, a Native American young woman, as she discovers she has inherited an extraordinary gift, one that takes her on a journey of faith and love, one where she must learn to dare to trust.

“I’ve always loved Native American culture, (and) it’s always been something I’ve been interested in,” Moran said. “As far as the storyline itself, it’s all about trusting God despite your circumstances, … uncertain things in your future, and choosing are you going to give in to fear, or are you going to have faith that God is going to guide you and that everything works together for a reason?”

The story has also taken Moran on a journey of her own, as it has been five years in the making.

writer —  After years of persistent work, Samantha Moran’s work was published. Photo provided

Writer — After years of persistent work, Samantha Moran’s work was published. Photo provided

“For me, it’s just been an adventure, and I’m learning a lot more about God as I write about him,” Moran said. “I get my inspiration from all kinds of things — Christian music, or it could be the simplest thing as looking outside and seeing something God created, and that inspires me to write something, … I always think God wants us to be creative and use our talents for him.”

Moran, who is studying English at Liberty, said the book began as a short story she wrote for her 11th grade English class — one that she decided to keep writing.

“You’re growing together with it as you write it, especially as you’re getting older,” Moran said. “You learn more. You get different outlooks on different things, and you kind of add that into your writing. Different things in life would happen that would inspire me to write something different into the scene. (It) just kind of grew up with me, I guess you could say. … As I matured in my writing, my story kind of grew with it.”

Moran finished her manuscript for “Dakota’s Gift” in July 2014, but was not certain whether she was going to attempt to find a publisher right away.

Moran recalled her mother hearing about Tate Publishing, located in Mustang, Oklahoma, from an advertisement, then writing down the information to save for a later date. When Moran returned home from Liberty for the summer, her mother told her about the company and Moran immediately began researching and praying.

Much like her protagonist, Dakota, Moran dared to trust. She sent a copy of her manuscript to Tate Publishing and waited to see what would happen.

“It was a lot of mixed emotions,” Moran said. “I was really excited. I was like, ‘OK, this is the first time someone professional is going to read it. At least I’ll get their opinion on it and see what they think.’ I was really excited to hear back from them — I could not wait. I was just trusting God and like, ‘OK, if I get it (published), great. If I don’t, it’s just the first step. As a writer, I’ll just move to the next thing, or I’ll try again with something else.’”

Within a few days, she had her answer.

The company loved her manuscript and wanted to publish it.

“It was just shocking. It was so exciting. Something I’ve always wanted to do, something I’ve always looked forward to,” Moran said. “I was just praising God the whole time. It couldn’t have happened without him.”

Reflecting on the process of first words to final work, Moran laughed, remembering first drafts of the story.

“On my journey and on Dakota’s journey, it’s all about trusting God,” Moran said. “We both have a lot to learn, especially in the story, and in my own life.”

Moran debuted presale copies of her book at the Craft Fair that was held in the Schilling Center Dec. 6, 2014 — the first day she was actually able to see her
published work.

Moran said inspiration for her story’s theme came from Proverbs 3:5-6, where King Solomon is dared to trust his creator, Yahweh.

“It’s kind of been like what God is teaching me as I write … just to trust him no matter what’s going on in my life,” Moran said. “Even with the whole submitting to a publisher, just trusting him completely. … God’s already got our lives directed, and he’s going to guide us through each of our steps and everything.”

Since its release Jan. 20, “Dakota’s Gift” has been picked up by major booksellers like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. It has even found a home among some booksellers in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Although the writing process, like life, was difficult at times, Moran never quit.

“If it’s something that you’re passionate about, if it’s something that God has called you to, or you feel like that’s where he’s calling you, then just keep writing and don’t give up,” Moran said. “Don’t get discouraged when you have writer’s block, or when you don’t feel like writing. Just write anyway. Because sometimes, that’s when the best things can come out, because God will place something on your heart even when you don’t really realize it. … Keep trying, even if you get rejected by different companies if you start submitting. There’s always going to be a door open somewhere if that’s what God wants you to do.”

Moran said she hopes her words will reach people in the way that they need to be reached.

“From the get-go, I’ve always said that my writing is going to be a ministry,” Moran said. “It’s going to be what I use for God and his glory, not about me, but about him and what he can speak through me to write to others — a story that not only touches their heart or entertains them, but something that’s going to teach them about life and about God’s love for them and ways they can live their life for him.”

When she’s not writing, Moran can be found playing the banjo, reading, watching movies or embarking on some otherwise creative endeavor.

“In the story, I talk a lot about how there’s different things going on in your life, different people put in your life at different times, or situations,” Moran said.

“Sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re not so good on the outside, but God’s able to work them all together and make something beautiful out of it. And in the end, you see why he did the things he did.”

GRAF is a feature reporter.

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