What is a blog hop? I had to ask Carol Baldwin this question when she offered to add me to the Children’s Author Blog Hop she had been tagged in. I learned that a blog hop is a way author/bloggers can help promote one another and share a little from their writing experience. Carol tagged me at the end of her blog last week, and I in turn have tagged three more bloggers at the end of this post. I hope my readers will enjoy hopping around and finding other children’s authors through the Children’s Author Blog Hop. Now for the questions…
My major focus has been on writing Bible storybooks. I am working most intently on the book of Jonah, though I keep a few Bible stories rolling around in my head most of the time thinking about which ones will fit nicely into a picture book format.
I am currently wrestling with how I want to do my illustrations. My first book, The Creation, was illustrated with hand-appliqued quilt blocks – a plan I wanted to carry through for all of my books. But I have begun to feel intimidated with the process of creating quilt-able images. The illustration above and left is a design I am working on for a hand-appliqued quilt block. I struggle with trying to create the people, especially in action pictures.
I also have a couple of other picture books I hope to get published that I can take into the public schools on author visits. Most public schools won’t allow Bible storybooks. One of these books is Backyard ABCs. My grandson is a gifted artist who loves to draw pictures from nature. He has begun sketching out some of the pictures for this book. He is almost 15, so this is an enormous undertaking for him, but I hope it will work out. Here is a sketch he made last summer of one of the many cicadas that were in his yard. Perhaps you will understand why I want him to illustrate my book when you study this picture.
How do your Bible storybooks differ from other Bible storybooks you find in stores?
I think the first thing that sets my books apart is that they don’t look cutesy. In one way I have to acknowledge that I have given myself a drawback by avoiding cutesy, but I have a concern that even though cutesy sells books, it doesn’t help the child come to a point where he/she chooses to believe the content. I fear that cartoons tend to equate with fiction in children’s minds. I don’t want my readers to confuse my books with fiction or fairy tales.
Unique to my books is the Bible quilt connection. I hope one day to create or inspire a Bible quilt with multiple Bible stories on it. I envision children seeing the pictures at bedtime and asking to hear the stories one more time. My first book, The Creation, is illustrated with hand-appliqued quilt block pictures.
Another thing that makes my Bible storybooks different from those in bookstores is the amount of information I include in my storybooks. I choose to believe that children want to know more, and I carefully present the material in an easy writing style that helps them to both understand and to believe. I also include questions at the end of each page segment of the story for the child and parent, teacher, or caregiver to discus. These questions help children better imagine and put themselves into the situation in the story.
Why do you write what you do?
The writing bug bit me when I worked at the United Methodist Publishing House in 1970. When I saw the stories that were being printed in the Sunday school papers I knew I wanted to write them.
I grew up in the church but my knowledge of the Bible was very limited. When I learned to truly value God’s Word – something that didn’t happen until after I became a parent – I started reading the Bible for myself. And I wished I had learned more at an earlier age – there were so many adventures packed into the pages of the Bible with real-life lessons to guide me.
I know churches vary one from another, and I don’t want to make any blanket statements about what is being learned. But from my former observations as an elementary school librarian, I am acutely aware of how little children know about the Bible. My hope is that I can write books that parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others who care, will want to pass on to the children in their lives to whet their appetites to learn more about the Bible.
How does your writing process work?
It embarrasses me to even attempt to answer this question. It seems everything I do happens in spurts – writing included. Because I chose to self-publish my books, to the point of becoming my own publisher, I must wear a lot of hats. So some days I concentrate on writing, other days I concentrate on marketing and networking, and other days I focus on illustrations (or finding illustrators). With pockets as shallow as mine, I must also do my own bookkeeping and struggle through the tax processes on my own.
Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?
- Resolve to keep the fun in your work. I’m writing this to myself as much as to my readers. My blogging has slowed down because I struggle too hard to maintain a focus on the writer/publisher aspect of who I am in my posts. I am resolving right now to capture more of the fun as it happens as I did in my earliest days as a blogger.
- Get out of your office and away from your computer regularly (but not permanently). Stay involved in life around you or you will dry up.
- Have realistic expectations. It is highly unlikely you will strike it rich. Some do, but most don’t.
- Develop the art of writing for children. Don’t assume it is easy. Attend writing conferences, take writing classes, and read/study children’s books to understand the genius behind what makes them work.
Here are three more bloggers who I hope you will visit as they go on tour next. Click on their names to go to their main blogs.
Sally Matheny, is a contributing writer for the international children’s devotional magazine: Keys for Kids. You can also find her work at DevoKids, Christian Devotions and other publications. Promoting the work of others is a delight for Sally, especially if the work reflects Christ. Sally blogs regularly and her posts are both inviting and inspiring.
Angie Cherney, a homeschooling mom of seven children, will never run out of things to blog about. She aspires to write children’s books with three picture manuscripts on the ready and a novel in the writing stage. Angie’s second blog deals with the grief of having lost her oldest 16-year-old son.
Terri Forehand, feels God nudging her to follow her heart. Her passion for her family and nursing is strong but she also has a passion for writing, fabric and primitive crafts. Terri is the author of children’s picture book The ABCs of Cancer, and shares her passion for sharing with children about issues of sickness and death on her blog Heartfelt Words 4 Kids.