And Then There Were Eight

And Then There Were Eight

It’s been less than a year since I began contributing to Putting on the New. I’ve enjoyed getting to meet my new family, so far only online. Most of all, I enjoy sharing my thoughts about God and the Christian life, with the public at large and with my sisters who also contribute to the blog.


I have three other writing families as well, one of which is known as The Scriblerians. Nine novice authors who write mainly for young adults and middle grades. We are scattered across the USA and Canada, yet each of us has been able to personally meet with at least one other.


Recently, one of my fellow Scriblerians passed away. While Vanessa was battling illness, no one, not even her family, expected her departure from this world so soon. While I feel bereft, robbed of getting to know Vanessa even better over time, I still rejoice that the family of God is doing exactly what He wants us to do, weep with her husband and daughters, encourage them, and love them.


As a means of illustrating how the family of God works, I’m sharing my portion of our tribute to Vanessa followed by my favorite lines from the other “Scribs.”



                       Who knew back in 2009 how radically my teacher life was about to change when I entered the National Novel Writing Month challenge     just for the fun of it? God did.
Who knew a precious group of writers would invite me to join them as together we improved our craft? God did.
Who knew I’d be writing a tribute to one of our own within four years of joining the Scriblerians? God did.
The history of Scriblerian friendship can only be described as a God thing. The personalities of the nine members of “Scribs” clicked as instantaneously as our internet connections. When the ACFW conference rolled into Indianapolis, I had the joy and privilege of playing hostess to all Scriblerians who attended. Seven of eight — and we met the ninth.

Each of us had secretly feared that the reality of meeting in-the-flesh Scriblerians might be a depressing disappointment as compared to the online version of Scrib pals. What a relief to discover we liked each other even more! I believe 2013 cemented us. We all agreed: our group was a GOD thing.
Within a year, both Cynthia and Vanessa became published authors of full length novels. Celebration! Shortly after the milestone, Vanessa’s renewed war against illness began. Never sharing her burden unless we asked, she endured days, then weeks, of debilitating weakness. Our prayers wafted to heaven, encouraging words shot through cyberspace, but we didn’t know Vanessa’s battle was to the death.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have met Vanessa in person, to have read her book, Moonfall. Her love for history shines as she weaves Biblical, historical background throughout the novel.
Someday, I’ll get to see her again. Someday, every Scriblerian will enjoy a magnificent reunion. We’ll have all the time in the universe to plan the party.
Who knows when that reunion will actually happen? God does.


From Gretchen: One of my last memories of Vanessa will be a faint echo of the first one we’ll make in eternity. Worshiping God our Creator and Jesus our Savior together. How beautiful is that?
From Beth: Our connection as a group of Christians first, writers second, is so totally a GOD thing that I couldn’t help but rejoice in the fact that my life had crossed paths with Vanessa’s.
From Loraine: One word that reminds me of Vanessa is understated. Her writing talents were understated. She endured her pain silently. The only thing that was not understated was her love and devotion for Jesus.
From Lisa: Death is like goats on a school bus. Both caught me by surprise.

(I know it sounds irreverent, but her tribute was a wonderful walk down Memory Lane.)
From Cynthia: In addition to being a gifted writer and historian, Vanessa was a kind and patient writing buddy and personal friend.
From Tim: See you later, Vanessa. Here’s a big hug for you.
From Karen: You blessed me with your written words. Your kindness. But most of all, that beautiful smile.

Vanessa Morton

About Linda Sammaritan

For years, Linda Sammaritan tried to be perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect teacher and crammed so many activities into her days that twenty-four hours couldn’t possibly hold them all – perfectly. She now lives by the motto, “relentlessly eliminate hurry.” Newly retired, Linda keeps the freezer packed with homemade take-out meals for her full- time working husband when she travels to visit children, grandchildren, siblings, and Mom. Read more about her faith and writings at


  1. Linda, thank you for this moving post. I see the dolphin as Vanessa jumping into her new life. May the eight of you continue to go forward. ACFW has been very important to me in my writing life, too.

  2. Thank you, Jude. I had similar thoughts when I saw the dolphin photo.

  3. Janet K Brown says:

    Sweet tribute. Wish you all the best.

  4. Thank you, Janet.

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