Except pray.

My thumb fans recklessly through all these years until I find her—blank-faced, the tears a silent delight, the stoniness the only thing that can keep the rough barbs of a thirteen-year-old at bay.

There she is. My mother.

And there I am, small and stupid, because what else would you call a reckless mouth and a self-centered heart? I am young and growing beautiful like a rose rooted in poisoned soil.

I don’t know any better, and isn’t that the sweetest gift a person can receive?

But one day, I do know better. I’m in my late thirties like my mother used to be. I hit the gym, and listen to other parents wax on about parenting. I take my dog for a walk and try not to stumble on loose pebbles. I’m reaching the age of “she used to be,” while I’m still firmly footed in the “she is.” What can you say when your biggest adversary sprung from your womb?

I shuffle back there again, my finger holding the page to look at my mother’s face. I’ve hurt her again, but to hear me tell it, I’ve never hurt her at all. I love her, that I know, but I must be going now because sixth, and seventh, and eighth grade, onward and upward, offer all the things a mother can’t. And she knows this too. Maybe that’s why her suffering is basking behind her steely resolve. What hope is there in hoping for everything you’ll never be able to change?

I think of my mother’s prayers, each one braided like flowers in my hair. Each one anchoring me in the ground as the angels watched me drink my life away. I wonder about their eyes, round orbs, watching my next move, waiting on God’s. What will happen to this girl who thought she knew everything, hoarding nothing at all in the back of her mind?

But I didn’t die, and I suppose it was my mother’s reckless heart, breaking through any bit of stoniness, her steeliness, her frank understanding that nothing can be done, so nothing she did.

Except pray.

And now here I stand, heart for God as if I’ve cut it out and offered it in my trembling hand. How powerful those prayers were. I shuffle through the pages, gathering all of them, hoarding them in my empty mind for my own daughter, her face not close enough to touch.

© 2023 by Ericka Clay


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Embracing scary…again.

Not too long ago, I recorded a diary entry where I talk about embracing scary as a writer. This “scary” for me was leaving Amazon KDP forever to start my own bookshop on my website. I then backtracked and decided that was a bit too scary and left my books on Amazon.

But I’ve never felt settled there, and I think the main issue is that KDP gives you this nice little screen where you can see your book sales, and I’m just not into that anymore. As I’ve opened up all the doors and windows of my life and have asked God to take over every inch of it, I’m learning more and more about my sinful tendencies. And one of those tendencies is to see results ASAP.

Results aren’t necessarily bad. Assessing where you are in a process isn’t bad either. But what if that process was never meant for you in the first place?

Staying on KDP started to feel like how staying on social media always felt for me. I knew I didn’t belong there either, so every day that I continued to fire up my accounts and anxiously scroll was another day spending my time and energy in a space not meant for me.

KDP is the exact same thing.

So I’ve decided that it’s okay to go where I’m being led even though it seems a little strange. And as much as I’d like to sell my books, God’s been asking me to give them away for free.

I know.

A few months back, I was listening to a book called Angry Conversations With God. It’s a really great memoir about a Methodist woman who has to confront the fact that her image of God isn’t the true God of Scripture. She’s an actress, and there’s a part where she realizes God wants her to act “for fun and for free.” This makes her pretty upset considering she’s quite good at acting and all her friends get to be paid for it, so why not her? But she realized her path isn’t the same as everyone else’s. And that line? “For fun and for free”? It’s been plaguing me all these months.

And I know that was God speaking to me.

So I’m giving away my books in ebook form in the spirit of “for fun and for free.” I’m no longer weighed down by sales and marketing but get to do what I love and share it with some really great readers who have blessed me with their stories and struggles and have given me the opportunity to look outside myself and pray for them.

In exchange for free access to my books, I am asking that you subscribe to my blog. That’s it. Just enter your email below, and you’ll receive an email with a link to my free books. You can also directly download your books here.

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NOTE: If you’ve already subscribed but haven’t received the link to your free books, please contact me. You can also always purchase print copies of my books on Amazon.


Because story is necessary.

A while back, I started a series of testimonies that in-person and online friends sent me to publish. Life happened, so I didn’t continue the project, but recently, a good friend of mine wanted to share her story and asked me to help her with it. I suggested I lightly edit it for her and post it in this series.

It reminded me how important it is to share our stories when sharing Christ. And now that I have time devoted to my online writing ministry, I’d like to officially start this series back up again. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact me. I can either chat with you and write your story myself as I did for this testimony, or you can write one and send it to me, and I can edit and publish it.

All I ask is that this a redemptive piece that shows how God has been walking alongside you all along, even in the times you’ve forsaken Him. Because it’s in our weakness that His glory is revealed to the world.


This week’s posts.

Like a flower breaking earth.
How self-assessment can heal your heart.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

© 2023 by Ericka Clay


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Like a flower breaking earth.

You’re still here in all your flesh

and memory serves to correct me

on the little details caught up

all around me like dead skin in dust.

How often I look at photos memorizing

the ghost lines of a gone face,

paying my condolences to an empty casket

and curled consciousness, yellowed with the wear

of bringing you out and setting you in my sun.

And grief is a cruel mistress, keeping the dead alive,

or maybe the living just dead enough for me to still own you,

take your future captive,

to tell stories to my friends of the used to be,

ignoring that there is a right now going on in a universe

I don’t belong to.

And it’s only when I set my heart on my Portion,

On the lone One who knows the intricate weave of all the cells

I can’t see,

That I can see my right now, too, how it doesn’t have to be

darkened by the once was.

How I can bury you whole and still breathe,

watching you breaking through all my wrongs

like a flower breaking earth.

© 2023 by Ericka Clay

You might also like…
Forge me anew.
The elder’s wife.


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Learning to push pause.

I’m officially calling it. I’m pausing on writing my novel. I have quite a bit on my plate right now, which I’m loving, but having a huge looming project like writing a novel over my head isn’t helpful at the moment. BUT, I know summer will be here sooner than later, and instead of waking up super early to take my daughter to school, I can instead wake up super early to make myself some tea and get to writing and editing.

I think I’m learning not to strive for perfection. I’m learning that it’s okay to hit “pause” and to realize what season I’m in. And I’m also learning a lot about myself as a writer. I love reading fiction, and I’ve felt convicted to write a few novels for the Lord. But I feel there might be a shift in what I write after my next book. I think maybe instead, I’ll be thinking about writing a nonfiction book. I have no clue what that will look like, so can you do me a favor and pray that God confirms my next steps?

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. 
Psalm 90:17

I did want to mention I finally have a schedule down. Monday (blog posts), Wednesday (diary episodes), and Friday (updates like this one). Planting away and watching God grow this thing!

P.S. – If you’re wondering where you can listen to my diary, you can do so on YouTube.


Love edgy Christian fiction?

I’m doing a promo with a few other Christian novelists and thought you guys would love to check it out. These are Christian fiction reads that aren’t your typical Christian fiction–right up my alley! Click the button below to check out where you can purchase them! Click here to check out this promo.


This week’s posts.

Making changes, finding routine.
Finding faith through parenting.

“In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalms 4:8

© 2023 by Ericka Clay


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The peace I feel is surreal.

If you’ve been following the saga that is my life, you’ve probably been aware that peace isn’t something that I’ve had the past several months. I’ve been bogged down by my writing, the idea of marketing it, and this in turn has led to a ton of headaches and dead ends that have exhausted me.

But in truly submitting (and I mean TRULY submitting), I’ve seen God’s redemptive hand, and I’m blown away.

He’s blessed me with a diary (or my random ramblings into my iPhone), a blog I love, a book I won’t stop writing, and beautiful readers and friends who keep reaching out.

I’m starting to realize what my head and heart were so stubbornly set against for so long–the beauty of being in the journey and watching God transform my stupid mistakes into something that finally makes sense.

I have to decrease for Him to increase. And the fruit of something like that is amazing to watch blossom.


A little housekeeping…

I’m full-time on WordPress now, friends. I’ve created an updates section on my website, so instead of a Mailchimp newsletter, you’ll be seeing updates like these every once in a while. You can also read my creative posts on my blog and listen to my writer’s diary.

I do have a list of my email subscribers I’m able to download, so for book releases, I’ll be sending you a personal email from support@erickaclay.com.

Finally, a rhythm.

Thank you for all the kind words about Chapter Twenty-One of my novel I sent last week. I’ll send out the link to another chapter soon in one of these updates so be on the lookout!


This week’s posts.

Forge me anew.
My ultimate goal as a writer.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

© 2023 by Ericka Clay


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Forge me anew.

Sometimes in the space of my ribs or the span of my arms, I’m still three. I’m sitting on my grandfather’s lap, and he’s feeding me sips of his beer from his bottle cap. My grandfather’s hair is black and shiny and smells of V05 hot oil, and I’m the most important person in the world until my mother comes and takes the bottle cap away.

Sometimes in the space of my ribs or the span of my arms, I’m still five. The boy across the street comes over, and we swing on the swing set in my backyard. I’m swinging higher and higher and he twists and he twists his swing around until he sets himself free, and I see the trainwreck in the width of a second. He hits me hard as I fly high, setting out into the ether with no one to bring me home except the solid weight of gravity and the sick thud of my body against ground. My father shuffles him out to the tune of my wailings. I never want to see that awful boy again, and my father pats him lightly on the shoulder, knowingly nods, and in a quick glance, offers a lifetime of sympathy, knowing himself the shrill sound of the girl you hold in your heart.

Sometimes in the space of my ribs or the span of my arms, I sit shell shocked as my mother leaves us at the chicken sandwich place. My father and I gape, two fish at a table, the checkered tablecloth covering the nervous bounce of my knee. She’s never left me. She’s never walked away. And it’s only years later with a husband and child and two dogs that bark a nervous twitch in your eye that you understand the art of wanting to leave and the grace of coming right back.

Sometimes in the space of my ribs or the span of my arms, I’m a stupid teenager who did stupid things and loved a boy and lost all of it like the time I was three and I dropped the crystal bowl at Jones department store after my mother firmly told me not to touch. Everywhere there are shards of it, bits of story and one-liners, and lost smiles, sunflowers growing wild like weeds and every bit of happy I’m sure I’ll never have again.

Sometimes in the space of my ribs or the span of my arms, I’m a grown adult who spits in Your face. I do it like rhymed verse and broken characters and swooping storylines that lead to nowhere, and my hands are invisibly inked with the pain of wanting to lose yourself tub-deep but not even having the guts to start the faucet.

Sometimes in the space of my ribs or the span of my arms, I let go, my pride like broken diamonds crushing into the soles of my feet, and all I can see is the bright lights of the megachurch above my head, and that deep water, that filled tub, that turned faucet, and down I go, buried with You, until somebody’s strong arm brings me back, and I’m there again where I started, only it’s not the same place in the slightest.

And there You were, all in the thick of it, even when I couldn’t see You. I sometimes wonder, why didn’t You stop it? The hard parts, the pain, the constant whine in the back of my spine? That voice that licked at my ears and broke my heart? But then I know now, You were there, on Your knees, broken shards stabbing through the skin of Your palms, picking up my lost pieces, holding me close until it was time to forge me anew.

© 2023 by Ericka Clay


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And I didn’t even kill anyone.

Working with my father was the best and worst thing I ever did.

Best because it was with my father.

Worst because I almost died.


The first time, we worked on an all-girls school in Massachusetts. It was exactly like you’d imagine an all-girls school in Massachusetts to be. I remember it was made of stone and there were a lot of trees and the bathrooms felt like they were possibly time portals to the 1940’s.

Essentially, it’s pretty much the way everything is in Massachusetts.

My father was a waterproofer and so was his father, and even my mother’s mother’s father was a waterproofer who happened to teach my dad’s father how to waterproof.

And for the longest time, I had no idea what waterproofing actually was.

But that day, I got to learn.

Essentially, waterproofing is ensuring a building doesn’t leak. I can’t remember exactly what else I learned that day because at one point I was too busy trying not to die, and during the first part of the day, I was too distracted by what I was going to eat for lunch.

I’m one of those people who you see and say, “Well, my goodness, where does she put it all??”

Wouldn’t you like to know.

So, after a morning of attempting to stay fully planted in the year 2000 (even after I flushed the toilet) and balancing in the sky on scaffolding precariously hanging on the side of the all-girls school, we got to eat grinders from a sandwich shop in the downtown area that looked exactly like you’d expect a Massachusetts downtown to look like. We ate in my dad’s truck which always smelled like sweat and caulking.

I don’t remember what I ate, but it most likely involved salami.

After lunch, it was time for death.

I was up on the scaffolding doing whatever it is I was supposed to be doing (which I’m sure involved a strict set of important tasks that were shoved forcefully from my mind to make room for daydreams of Prince William) when I did the thing my father precisely asked me not to do: I attempted to die.

Well, actually, he just told me to be careful to watch my feet because there was one section of the scaffolding that didn’t have any boards. And I proceeded to forget this.

I went down quickly. I should have plunged from our thirty-foot perch straight down past the beautiful tall trees and windows to the time-portal bathrooms to my death on the pine-needly ground, but I didn’t. My hands reached out, and I grabbed blindly for a board that magically appeared and held on tight as my father helped me back up onto the scaffolding.

Needless to say, our work day was over, and I was forbidden by my mother to ever waterproof again. Which was a shame because, well, salami.


The second time I almost died was when I was working again for my father. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Either work or my dad is trying to kill me. I’ll perform more experiments and get back to you.

Anyways, this time, he worked in an office for a waterproofing company, and I was to be his assistant. This was great because never have I been more skilled in the art of Minesweeper or attempting to take a nap under a small desk sandwiched in a cubicle.

Pro tip: bring a coat. It makes a glorious blanket.

On one of these days, I decided to be helpful and make popcorn in the microwave. This ended up being partly unhelpful since I put the popcorn in for way too long, and we ended up meeting the Boston Fire Department.

They’re exactly how you’d expect the Boston Fire Department to be.

I didn’t die, and I didn’t even kill anyone.

But let’s just say naptime didn’t feel the same that day.


I have never since been invited back to work with my father. I’m not really sure why since I’m the sort of person who can sit quietly for incredibly long periods of time until I’m either plunging to my death or burning down a building. But that’s fine. His loss.

If he’s ever interested in hiring me again, he knows where to find me. Under this desk.

© 2023 by Ericka Clay


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Two souls on a skiff.

I live inside the secret world of my father’s ambition.

Maybe it isn’t so secret.

How to describe Mel? I don’t know. I suppose if being a child meant my mother being the sun, then Mel was the moon. There was something about him that lived in me too. Perhaps, our drive.

Our want to leave this world for a better one.


Mel lives inside so many different spaces in my memory. My favorite space is always the early nineties where I look my worst but feel my best. I’m long-socked and crimped-banged and fanny-packed and have developed an absurd need to find and marry Macaulay Caulkin.

I like to think I’ve grown.

Some.

And Mel’s there too. He’s the skinny guy in the trucker hat and short shorts at my grandparents’ doublewide in Pangburn. He has a mustache but doesn’t take that or himself too seriously. I remember him joking and laughing and everyone saying his name, the type of blessing you never concede as one.

And then there’s the fish, all hanging dead-eyed on the lines ready to be scaled and gutted. Mel works with an electric meat carver and the smell is metallic, the sort of smell that should turn you off unless it reminds you of someone you love.


As I get older, Mel becomes more elusive. He is the man whose plans went sideways yet he still manages a shade of greatness. He was supposed to be a lawyer and then the governor of Arkansas, but God rescinded the memo. He would have been phenomenal at those things. And I think maybe that’s why God couldn’t let them happen.

We yearn for greatness and then become it. So who’s left to trust but ourselves?

Instead, he becomes a businessman—a national sales manager—and he travels the skies in a metal bird. I think a sliver of me misses him when he’s gone but whose heart yearns for the moon when the sun is still around?

We go on trips though. We go everywhere. Disney World and California, out to the desert, and then travel the waters on big boats with all-you-can-eat buffets.

Mel comes alive in these pockets of time because who doesn’t cut ties with reality when reality wasn’t invited?

As an adult, I want to go back in time and ask things like: “Are you stressed?” “Do you need a hug?” “What are you worrying about right now?”

But perspective is never tempting to a child.


As I get older, I write and Mel reads it—Mel, who’s an incredible writer himself. I’d read all his books if he ever got to write them, but again, I think this is something God knows about.

It reminds me of a story a friend told me once. How this man knows he’s to lead people to Jesus but he only leads one man to Christ. But that man becomes one of the greatest pastors the world has ever known.

Is that what’s happening to Mel? Is he pouring out all of himself into me because it’s spilling over and all the glasses are dirty?

I know the feeling.

I have a daughter now myself.


I grow and we grow apart. How did that ever happen? Because even in the times when he wasn’t around, he was always around.

He’s there teaching me tennis and basketball. He’s with me when I do my report on Kareem Abdul Jabar and when I buy my Sean Kemp sneakers. He suddenly pops up like a lone flower in a field at my volleyball games with his infamous hand-held camcorder. And I’m brokenhearted for all the generations who don’t know what it feels like to be forever esteemed on VHS.

But we both know there’s a boy. There was always “a boy” in that flighty heart of mine, and how I wish I could go back there, down the bleachers and past the screams of sweat-stained parents to meet me on the court and rip that heart right out.


Time passes, and I get older. I hear that happens a lot. And I see the same things my father saw. We sit on that bright edge of darkness, weighing it with words. For so long we watered those seeds of ambition only to realize they grew nothing but weeds. We’ve pulled them out, the roots dangling in front of our faces, and buried them with all the hope and desire that haunt our human flesh.

They say you relate to God in how you relate to your father. So maybe that’s why I’m always in awe or talk to Him like we’re just two souls sharing a skiff. All the fish are alive and well and swimming.

But still, I can smell the scent of something we never lost but will never get back again.

© 2022 by Ericka Clay


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