Series: Keepin’ it real

Whether it’s underwater basket weaving, picking up used golf balls from an abandoned lot, counting worry wrinkles, or anything mundane you do to fill your spare time rather than get out and follow your dreams, you’re more than likely letting the BULLIES win.


Let me ask you… do you have a constant unfulfilled feeling in your gut?

You may be letting the BULLIES win.

Do you know without a doubt you CAN do something you are not doing, and it makes you sad not to be doing it?

You may be letting the BULLIES win.

Life is short. Do you really want to waste it by not following your heart’s desires?

I almost did, and if I had, it would have literally changed the course of my life.

What happened?

When I first began writing novels, a literary agent from New York publicly criticized the first ten pages of my first novel in a large seminar full of panting, idealistic, wannabe authors.

I almost fainted with excitement waiting for her to critique my pages. Immediately, she tore apart the vernacular I had used. What was it? Commonly used terms in the horseriding world and the Southwest. Next, she criticized the Navajo customs I was highlighting in my story.

Later, I found out that literary agent grew up in Chicago, had never been around horses, certainly did not grow up on a ranch next door to the Navajo Nation and the Apache Reservation as I had, and yet… here she was sarcastically shredding me to pieces in front of all those people and using my name as she did so. There were even some chortles and laughter around the room as she massacred my very first attempt to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing a real book.

I’ll never forget how the large group sitting at my round table, who had earlier been in awe of the Navajo series I was penning as my first author project, began to inch their chairs away from me because now… I was Miss Unpopular with the “important” literary agent from New York who had come to bestow her celestial time and opinions on we peons.

Lesson learned that groupies exist EVERYWHERE.

Wow! I was crushed. And embarrassed. And humiliated.

I really needed a herd, a tribe, a friend. I got one, and had it not been for her (my mentor, Chris Eboch, who is now my editor), I would have stopped writing novels right then and there. She talked me off the proverbial ledge, and, with new resolve, I returned to my project. Having the right person in my corner was akin to having a herd of elephants trumpeting me on to success while I wrote that novel *and more* as it blossomed into an award-winning adventure-mystery trilogy set on the contemporary Navajo Rez starring a sassy protagonist named Silki Begay.

Recently, one of those novels, SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT, won the first-place award for YA fiction in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Competition. Fancy that! Over time, many other awards for multicultural fiction, cover design, etc. came our way for that trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM, for example, won the Speakup Talk Radio Firebird First Place award for Multicultural YA Fiction this year.

Guess I showed Miss Literary Agent from New York a thing or two, huh? LOL!

The fact is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is she didn’t have the expertise to judge my style of writing, but she did, and that caused a whole room of judgment to rain upon my head. The BULLIES got me down and nearly trampled me into the dust that day.

That leads us to wonder if…

… the BULLIES who have halted your progress really have the chutzpah to do that to you. It’s a serious subject to consider because it’s ludicrous when one is expected to conform to some strange “PC Board” created by a group of folks who don’t know what they are talking about, and many so-called “experts” do not know what they are talking about. Fact of life.

If you know you have the ability and talent to do what is in your heart, then do it!

Always be realistic. Can we agree that wanting to be an opera star when you can’t reach a high note without your voice cracking is ridiculous? Be the judge of your own self. If what you have yearned for is truly attainable, and if you don’t give up, and if you WORK YOUR FANNY OFF, then let nothing stop you. Nothing great in life comes easily. We all do well to remember that.

What if I had listened to that woman’s sharp, uninformed criticisms? The answer is that I would have hung my head and quit, never to darken the hallowed halls of authorship again. Instead, with the help of a good mentor (part of my herd), and my own burning *sobbing* desire to accomplish my dream, I finished that novel and went on to write six more award-winning novels.

I’ll give that agent credit for this… she made me so stubbornly determined to be an exceptional author, I put in gallons of extra time and effort on every book I write. Honestly, I do, and I don’t regret one second of it. The shame of that day has been the gasoline in my tank for years.

Bottom line…

If the BULLIES are short-circuiting your path to accomplish your heart’s desires, get back on the elephant and ride it all the way to the big top. Be crazily determined to show those BULLIES who’s boss! You’ll never be sorry.

I would love to hear of your experiences with BULLIES who might have hampered your progress. Did they crush you forever, or did you put on your armor and fight back? Perhaps you are still trying to decide whether you are going to give up or get up. Want to tell us about it?  Who knows… just maybe we can join your herd and fight those BULLIES with you!

About Jodi Lea Stewart

Author Jodi Lea Stewart ~ Laughing Makes it All Worthwhile! ~

 Jodi Lea Stewart is a fiction author who believes in and writes about the triumph of the human spirit through overcoming adversity. Her writing reflects her life beginning in Texas and Oklahoma, later moving as a youngster to an Arizona cattle ranch next door to the Navajo Nation, and, as a young adult, resuming in her native Texas. Growing up, she climbed petroglyph-etched boulders, bounced two feet in the air in the backend of pickups wrestling through washed-out terracotta roads, and rode horseback on the winds of her imagination through the arroyos and mountains of the Arizona high country. Her lifetime friendship with all nationalities, cowpunchers, and the southern gentry allows Jodi to write comfortably about anything in the Southwest, the South, and BEYOND.

What‘s next from Jodi to you?


Another epic historical fiction novel that catapults the reader from Texas into Mexico, Argentina, China, Hong Kong, and Italy and into the epicenter of another action human drama Look for it in early 2023.

Click: Do you love stories set in Exotic Locations?

Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy will satisfy all your exotic-location cravings!


Author Note: Many folks, including some librarians, think this series is for kids only. Don’t believe it! Our feedback has proven over and over that most of the “Silki fans” are full-fledged adults . . . like you! There is an earlier version of these novels that leans a bit more toward younger audiences, but they, also, were not merely kid lit. The new, enriched series is for every age on the planet. Test me! ~ Jodi


Jodi Lea Stewart’s award-winning adventure-mystery trilogy, Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves, is set smack dab in the middle of the Navajo Nation, USA! Her stories feature unforgettable characters, mysteries at every turn, plot twists, humor, plenty of Native American lore & legends, a glossary of Native words, and surprise endings!

Jodi Lea Stewart - Silki, Summer of the Ancient

Jodi Lea Stewart - Silki, Canyon of Doom

Jodi Lea Stewart - Silki, Valley of Shadows







Other Recent AWARD-WINNING Publications by Jodi Lea Stewart

~ The Accidental Road ~

First-place Historical Fiction, Adventure-Drama, winner in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards ~


Kat’s almost-full-time job has become dodging the embarrassing tsunami of male attention aimed at her mother Ellie, a social butterfly who bears an uncanny resemblance to film star Marilyn Monroe. To add to Kat’s woes, her stepfather, Roy, has lately grown irrationally jealous of his beautiful wife. Kat buries her worries in movies and classical novels, but when Roy’s rants turn violent, she and Ellie plan an escape via Route 66 to the freedom of a new life in Las Vegas. Car trouble strands them in a dusty little town in Arizona where they encounter tales, treachery, and a slew of characters such as they have never met before, including mobsters infiltrating Arizona and Nevada in the 1950s. Can the road they chose bring them the life they’ve both longed for or was it THE ACCIDENTAL ROAD bringing them to a disaster they can’t escape from? Trouble escalates when Ellie attracts the eye of a mafia Caporegime who, along with Roy, is determined to have her at any cost.

Just Released on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and anywhere novels are sold.


TRIUMPH, A NOVEL OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT is a 2021 International FIREBIRD First Place Multicultural Fiction Award Winner 

5 Star Review - Triumph BookIf you loved To Kill a Mockingbird, and want a dramatic, different, and sometimes humorous version of New Orleans life, St. Louis, and Texas in the early to mid-century 1900s, wrapped up in plot twists and unforgettable characters, read TRIUMPH, a Novel of the Human Spirit by Jodi Lea Stewart.

TRIUMPH was a finalist in three categories in the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards contest, won a Readers’ Favorite with Reviewers, and is also a 2021 Firebird First Place Award Winner in Multicultural Fiction.


BLACKBERRY ROAD is an International CHANTICLEER First Place Multicultural Award Winner

Blackberry Road Book - New Cover

Trouble sneaks in one Oklahoma afternoon in 1934 like an oily twister. A beloved neighbor is murdered, and a single piece of evidence sends the sheriff to arrest a black man who Biddy, a sharecropper’s daughter, knows is innocent. Hauntingly terrifying sounds seeping from the woods lead Biddy into even deeper mysteries and despair and finally into the shocking truths of that fateful summer.

“Beyond the humor and entertaining antics of the main character, Biddy Woodson, BLACKBERRY ROAD has depth and meaning as it explores stirring universal themes that we expect in great literature” ~ D.B. Jackson, acclaimed Historical and Western author

BLACKBERRY ROAD is engaging, entertaining, and a book that is sure to linger with you . . . the trip is well worth the time ~ Cyrus Webb, Host of ConversationsLIVE, president of Conversations Radio Network, tv show host, author, and Amazon top reviewer