Who is Jackie Lea Sommers?

I know my dear friend Ashley loves my blog– but she also knows and loves ME.  She suggested the other day that I let my blog followers in on who I am.  Sounds like a marvelous idea.

The details: Jackie Lea Sommers, 30 years old, as single as a girl can be.  I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I grew up in a small town of ~700 people.  I’m the recruitment manager at Northwestern College, the most wonderful Christian university in the world.  I’m also a proud alumna.  My degree is in English-writing.


I live with Desiree.  She is a math geek.  We are like yin and yang in that way.


My family includes my dad and mom, my sister Kristin, my brother Kevin, and Kevin’s girlfriend Samantha (who is essentially a part of our family!).


I am passionate about a handful of things: Jesus Christ, people, and writing & literature. 

Jesus: my REASON FOR LIFE, my gravity, my Rescuer.  Jesus is the lens through which the rest of my life makes sense.  I am so proud of my Savior, so proud of the cross.

People: so many wonderful people in my life … camp friends, college friends, favorite students at Northwestern, kiddos I’ve met through years of youth ministry, plus Emma, Ava, and Elsie, my littlest loves.

Writing/literature: I love to read, but I LOVE to write.  I finished my first novel this January, after working on it for nearly four years.  It’s a story about a girl with OCD, and it draws heavily on my own experience with OCD.  And now I am working on my second novel!  Favorite books:

yes, I really do have a wardrobe in my living room that functions as a life-size diorama of Narnia … nerd alert!

Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (whom I had lunch with this month!), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, all poetry by Billy Collins, and (new!) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

What else would you like to know about me?


13 thoughts on “Who is Jackie Lea Sommers?

  1. Hi Jackie! So nice to “meet” you. Your post inspires me to possibly lose my “Sunny” identity and share who I really am. Someday soon. When I’m ready.

    I’m married to a math geek so I get the yin and yang thing!

    I love that you are so passionate about your faith. Thank you for sharing that.

    I did not know that Northwestern was a Christian school. Was that the same school that Carrie Underwood went to?

    What do you like best about living in Minnesota?

    • Hi Sunny! Thanks for the comment and questions!

      My faith is central to my identity; in fact, I often refer to Jesus as my “gravity” because in some of my most OCD moments I feel disconnected from Him and I quite literally feel as though I am going to “fly away.” My relationship with Christ is my tether. OCD tried to chew on that rope!

      There are a lot of Northwesterns out there! The Northwestern I work at is located in St. Paul, and it’s a small Christian college (about 1800 undergraduate students). We were founded in 1902 by William Riley, and after he passed away, Billy Graham was our next president! http://www.nwc.edu 🙂

      I love so many things about Minnesota– I love the people especially. I know that “Minnesota nice” is not necessarily meant as a compliment (more as a way to describe people who keep up appearances and are passive-aggressive), but to be honest, I really think that people here ARE nice. MN is lovely, and even though our winters are often dangerously cold, I grew up here, and it’s HOME. The summers are HOT; the winters are COLD; the mosquitos are PLENTIFUL; and the road construction is CONSTANT. What’s not to love? 😉 Just kidding. It is full of incredible people, hard-working people, productive people, and while most people don’t talk like the folks in Fargo, I admit that my O’s are about a mile long.

  2. Hi, Jackie–It’s nice to meet you! Thank you for sharing about yourself. I understand the writing love. Me too, in a big way. I haven’t finished a book yet, but I’m working on it. It’s inspiring to read about people like you who have finished one and are starting another.

    What is your new book about? Do you have a regular writing schedule? How do you fit writing in with your other activities, including your job? I work as a newspaper reporter for a weekly newspaper. Sometimes it gets tough to fit it all in.

    I guess in Minnesota you have had much more of a winter than we have down here in Virginia. I lived in northwest Ohio for 5 years, and I miss the snow!

    • Hi Tina! I loved when I found out that you’re a writer too! I think you mentioned that in a comment on an earlier post I’d written about wondering if neuroticism went hand-in-hand with writing. 🙂 Tell me about the kind of writing you do and any projects you’re working on. Also, what are your favorite books?

      My new story is young adult fiction about three teenagers and takes place over the course of one summer. Here’s the way I just described it to my friends on Facebook: Seventeen-year-old Silas Hart and his twin sister Laurel move to a small town in Minnesota, where they meet Westlin Beck, the pastor’s daughter. West is immediately drawn to the siblings—to Silas, the goofy and gorgeous poet, and to Laurel, deeply depressed and self-isolated due to solipsism syndrome, a condition that causes her to doubt that reality is real. Silas and West decide to save Laurel from herself—with mixed consequences.

      I write most days, if I’m able. You’re right– it does get hard to manage everything, especially with a full-time job. My job requires me to work some odd hours and to travel a fair amount in the fall months, so that makes it even more difficult. I write a lot for my job (although it is soft professional writing, not all-out creative writing), but I try to write every evening, even if only for ten minutes. When I get stuck, my go-to un-sticking activity is to just do ten-minute writing exercises (thank you, Natalie Goldberg!) or to write a poem about Narnia (to satisfy my nerdy self). The other things that I have to do to keep enough time in my schedule to write is to 1) make plans with friends who ALSO write (or at least do homework), so that we can hang out AND write at the same time and 2) be very good at saying no. 🙂

      My big thing that I am always praying about is that I can be someone who is ALL IN to whatever I’m doing. To be ALL IN while writing, but ALL IN while I’m listening to my friend across the restaurant table, and to be ALL IN to my work while I’m at my job, and above all things, to ALWAYS be ALL IN to Jesus.

      It’s exhausting, yes. But WAAAAAAAAAAAY less exhausting than I felt while I was serving OCD.

  3. Jackie, I love your ALL IN philosophy. I have to admit that I am not always all in when I’m on the job.

    I write mainly nonfiction. I am working on a memoir about hope, illustrating it with my struggle with OCD and depression. I’m at the point where I have a lot of “stuff” written, but I feel like I need to get more structure into it.

    I also like writing essays, but I’ve never submitted any for publication . . . yet.

    For work, I write mostly about county government and the courts. I like taking complex subjects and explaining them in a way that the reader will find helpful. I have a lot of anxiety about my work writing. I’m working on that.

    Blogging has given me some much-needed accountability in my writing. My blog is about OCD, anxiety and depression. Some of it may go into my memoir. But I love the blog writing for its own sake, too, because of the connections I have made and the encouragement that I can provide to some.

    I love Joan Didion’s essays and creative nonfiction. I love to read good mysteries, by authors like Sue Grafton, Meg Gardiner, Kathy Reichs and Lee Child. I love to read memoirs and learn about other people’s lives. I love nature essays. I just plain love to read and write.

    I love Natalie Goldberg! She helped me a lot, too, with the freewriting she teaches. I even used “Writing Down the Bones” in an English class when I was teaching.

    I’ve been thinking of trying to start a writer’s group in my small town. The nearest one I know about is in Lynchburg, a nearby city.

    Your new book sounds good!

    Sorry this comment is so long! It’s so good to connect with a fellow OCDer AND a fellow writer.

    • Tina, your memoir on hope sounds FANTASTIC!

      I’m sorry you’re not part of a writing community in your small town; if you ever need feedback, I’d be happy to read some of what you’ve got written! (You sound like me … I write first, worry about structure later!) 🙂

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