For some of you, it may feel out of the blue for me to publish a book. I was a high school teacher and theatre director for years before deciding to stay home with my kids. As a former English teacher, I was no stranger to writing, but something changed when I had my kids. I fell in love with books again. I’ve said this before (because it’s true). Required reading makes a lot of people stop reading all together. When I think of all the stuff I had to read in college and all the stuff my students had to read when they were in my class, it makes me cringe. I’m not saying there isn’t value in the classics, but I hate what they often do to readers. The books we make students read often makes reading a chore (usually a difficult one) instead of what it really is, the exciting exchange of ideas.
But when I had my kids, we started reading together. We made so many trips to the library, the staff knew my kids by name. We listened to books in the car. We read books in the afternoon and before bed and somewhere in all that, not only did I fall back in love with books, I became a writer. I noticed the books my kids couldn’t get enough of and the ones they didn’t connect with. I got really good at reading aloud to them and using my theatre background to do voices. (Though they’ll be the first to say my accents are still terrible.)
You may know that my writing journey started sort of by accident. My husband needed someone to do some writing for his company. I agreed to write the e-news and blog to keep customers and sales reps informed. Renewable energy is an exciting field, but I found that I enjoyed the process of writing the most. Around that time, my paternal Grandma passed away leaving us with a beautiful, hand-written account of her life. Over the next few months, Ryan worked from home every Monday and sent me to the library to write a middle grade novel that became “Silvery Moon” which is based on my Grandma's experiences as a young girl.
I found myself in this place a lot of writers do. I had a book, but no idea what to do next. I googled publishers. I don’t recommend doing that by the way. I got some very quick responses and thought for sure I’d be published in no time. I soon realized the responses were from vanity publishers who wanted to charge me an arm and a leg to basically print my book. So, I gave up for a while.
One night, I attended a Beverly Lewis book signing at my local library. I loved hearing her story, and connected with her when she said she started writing for middle grade readers. When I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I sent her an email asking for advice for someone wanting to get a book published. And I didn’t hear anything back. About six months later (just when I had completely forgotten about it) I got a response. She apologized for the delay, but she had been on a book tour. She recommended I attend a writers conference. I’d been to environmental energy conferences with my husband, but didn’t quite know what a writers conference was. I started googling and found one in Cincinnati that would take place a few months later.
I signed up and then began frantically doing research. I figured out what a one sheet was and ordered business cards. The day of the conference, I almost completely chickened out. I was about to get off the freeway to go to the conference and almost kept driving to my hotel for the night. I figured, “How often do I have a quiet night all to myself?” I quickly gathered up my courage and drove there.
When I arrived, people were being greeted with hugs. I assumed they already knew each other. “Great. I’m clearly on the outside of this club,” I thought to myself. The hotel was sounding better and better…until, that same person opened her arms to me. And if I could sum up that conference and all the other christian writers conferences I’ve experienced since, it would be that. A group of like-minded people at various levels of success who don’t all have it figured out yet, but they greet newcomers with a hug.
In the six years since that first conference until today, I’ve continued to write. I started this blog five years ago. I wrote a companion to Silvery Moon called Pocketful of Dreams. Both manuscripts have won awards, but they’ve not been published yet. To be honest, that’s around the time I was about to give up. Writing books is about getting published, so if that’s not going to happen, clearly I’m not in the right field. But God was teaching me so much about being faithful and I was blessed with so many new writer friends. So, I wrote the third book in the series, Keep on the Sunny Side. All three of the books follow a different girl living in the midst of The Great Depression learning about herself and God.
In the spring of 2021, I was looking for Earth Day books for my family for our seasonal book shelf. I was surprised none of them were about God since He made everything we should be protecting. He woke me up with a burden to write a picture book multiple mornings in a row. When I finally quit ignoring it, I had a manuscript for my first picture book, I Made the Earth. And wouldn’t you know? It’s my debut (releasing March 14, 2023). God’s plans are not always our plans, but they are always better. And when He’s ready to move, he moves. All I had to do was obey Him. I knew he called me to write, and I kept writing. On days when the words were flowing, I wrote. On days when it was barely a trickle, I wrote.
What is God calling you to do in this stage of your life? Maybe it’s something you never pictured yourself doing. I’ve learned that the more ill equipped I felt to do something, the more I was able to allow God to take the lead. My ego and training didn’t get in the way when I didn’t have either. If I could use my story to speak into your life, I’d say be open. Be open to whatever God is calling you to do. He will equip you when he calls you. You may not have what the world deems as success in everything you do. I have three novels that are still unpublished, but the lessons I learned while writing those books have made me who I am today. Also, if/when you read I Made the Earth, look for the words “silvery moon”. I hid them in there. You can pre-order the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook, or online at End Game Press. While you're there, you can pre-order my 14-year-old daughter Anna's book too. (More on that later.)
Thanks for taking the time to hear about this journey I’ve been on. This week, I’m praying you’ll start a journey of obedience that will give you more joy than you ever thought possible. God wants us to have an abundant life and if we simply say, “Yes”, we can expect an adventure. He could have chosen rocks and trees to tell the world about Him, but instead he chose us.