To begin with, I was drawn in by the awesome title, and when I discovered that its publisher was Sparkhouse, whose curriculum I use every Sunday morning, I knew I wanted to learn more. Continue reading
It was early on Tuesday morning when my phone beeped with an unexpected blessing. It was a little message from a children’s ministry colleague in Ohio. Kathy and I have never actually met.
‘Hi Glenys’, the message read, ‘our congregation hosts a summer literacy program in July called Camp Read-A-Lot. Each week we give books to the children to take home and keep for their own, mostly donated gently used books. This year we received a donation in memory of a local high school librarian to purchase a special book for each child. I was so excited to be able to purchase Love Letters from God from Church Source and a price that enabled us to purchase 170 copies! … I’m writing to you as I am wondering if you would be willing to share a few words of encouragement with our Camp Read-A-Lot kids…’
Wow! Would I be willing to share a few words of encouragement with the Camp Read-A-Lot kids? You bet! These children, gathered together in a United Methodist church in Ohio, are learning two of the most wonderful things in life: how to read, and how to know Jesus.
So I grabbed my phone, texted my bestie, and two hours later, we were sitting by a little lake in the sunshine, making this video… Continue reading
The countdown to Christmas is in full swing. with just twenty days left and little lights twinkling everywhere.
My Facebook feed is full of folks sharing their newly decorated Christmas trees, and just to add to the magic of the season, it started snowing yesterday, at least here in Michigan. I woke up to this wonderful world of white right outside my window.
Christmas is coming. Jesus is coming. That little baby, hope of the whole world, light of all life.. He is coming.
Christmas is simply the best time to begin making memories and establishing family traditions with our children.
At my final blog stop in the Christmas Love Letters from God tour, I’m sharing ideas for seven meaningful, memorable family activities to enjoy around the Christmas tree. Be sure to check out number seven… that’s my favorite one!
You’ll also be able to download your cute, cut-out Nativity scene, straight from the book, and, of course, enter the final Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway.
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and you’d like any one of my six titles signed for a Christmas gift, please come to my Children’s Story-time at Baker Books on Thursday 15th Dec. 10.30-noon.
And here’s my favorite story from Christmas Love Letters from God!
Happy Christmas! (that’s what we say in England!)
I’ll never forget the thrill of writing the dedication in my first book.
This book is dedicated to the oldest and youngest members of my family…. I wrote.
To my dad, Harry Hughes, who first told me the wonderful Story of Jesus. And to my grandchildren, Xander, Sam, and Brixham, who are just beginning to hear the wonderful Story for themselves.
When I penned those words I was nervous. I wasn’t sure whether my dad, frail at 90, would ever be able to hold that book, or turn its pages, or see that it was dedicated to him, or even remember that his daughter was the author. But he did. I have the photograph to prove it:
And how glad I was, because he never did get to hold my second book. He died while it was in the mail on its way to him, all wrapped up in Christmas paper, on route over the wide sea from Michigan to England.
If he could have opened it, he would have seen that I dedicated that book to my first granddaughter, newly arrived into the world.
For Colette, my first granddaughter, I wrote. How my dad would have loved to meet her, and lift her high onto his shoulder. But it wasn’t to be.
There is a time for everything, Solomon wrote, a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh.
Isn’t that true?
When the time came for the third title in the series, Christmas Love Letters from God, I was ready when my editor asked, Who would you like to dedicate this book to?
I knew, straight away, whose name would be printed in the front of this book, and why. And so when Laura Sassi, children’s book author, welcomed me to her blog, and asked me to share the story behind its dedication, I was happy to do so.
Do you know who I dedicated Christmas Love letters from God to?
Read the story to find out…
One of the most marvelous things about becoming an author is what happens next. And it’s marvelous because what might happen is totally unpredictable.
Time after time in this publishing journey, I have seen the principle of Ephesians 3:20 at work in my life. And don’t you just LOVE how The Message Bible puts it?
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
Oh, yes indeed! Here’s five things I never, ever, in my wildest or craziest of dreams, could possibly imagine happening:
- That when I sat down to pen the very first words of Love Letters from God, that book would one day become a series with its own brand.
- That I would walk in to a little British Primary school one May morning to see the walls literally covered with children’s love letters to God.
- That I would hear, time and time again, how adults have been impacted by these books, not just little ones. (Which I guess just goes to show that although my target audience is children, God’s target audience is the world.)
- That I would be able to dedicate Little Love Letters from God to my very first granddaughter.
- That Christina Embree, a United Methodist Children’s Ministry Director in Kentucky would take Christmas Love Letters from God and work out the perfect way for families to use it to journey through Advent and into Epiphany together. (I am the author, and I have never thought of using the book in that way!)
I don’t know what your dreams are… for yourself, or your children, or your future, but what I DO know is this:
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
There is nothing that our great God cannot do.
So keep believing! Let the wonderful, mysterious Holy Spirit keep working quietly and deeply within you.
Now, with titles like that, I wondered if she might begin our conversation with a fun question. And she did. Her interview began:
First, let’s get to know more about you. If you could have tea with any author, whom would you choose?
Ooh…I replied….that is a hard choice. Can I cheat and have tea with a family of authors?
So who do you think I chose? Here’s a clue…they’re British (of course).
But before you leave, let me share with you a wonderful little story from Kate, who won our last Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway. The winners are chosen at random, but I really love what she plans to do with her book. In her comment, Kate wrote:
Our church family has a special single mother with twin daughters who will be receiving this book on their doorstep (secretly!) on Christmas Eve in hopes that this book will be part of their Christmas Eve traditions.
I just love thinking about this…
that on Christmas Eve, there’ll be a secret present, all wrapped up in love, sitting quietly on someone’s doorstep, just waiting to surprise them on Christmas morning.
It reminds me that each of us can do our part in delivering God’s love letter to the world, and sharing the wonderful story of Jesus with those who need to hear it…
the story behind the greatest gift of all.
Here we go friends…. beginning this week I’m embarking on a virtual tour with my newest book, Christmas Love Letters from God.
Each week leading up to Christmas, I’ll be featured on eight different blogs where I’ll be taking part in author interviews, sharing ideas for creating Christmas traditions, and hosting a book giveaway at every stop.
There’ll be book reviews, a chance for you to download your own DIY nativity cutout scene, and ideas for using Christmas Love Letters from God as an Advent or Christmas devotional.
I hope you’ll join us at our first stop today with Vanessa Myers, a United Methodist Children’s Ministry Director, who shares some surprising thoughts about the book.
Here’s the entire blog hop schedule:
17th: Vanessa Myers: Children’s Ministry Director
24th: Denette Fretz: Children’s Book Author
31st: Christina Embree: Children and Family Ministries Director
7th: Kelly Ann: Mom Blogger
14th: Laura Sassi: Children’s Book Author
21st: Jenn Porsche: Homeschooling Mom
28th: Traci Smith: Pastor
5th: Noelle Kirchner: Pastor
Now head on over to Vanessa Myers…. you don’t want to miss reading what her young daughter wrote in her love letter to Jesus.. it is so precious! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway there too!
Here’s Mary, jumping out of the pages of Christmas Love Letters from God to help me announce the two lucky winners of the giveaway! Do you see how excited she is?
Out of the 43 people who entered, the winners are: Elizabeth Campbell, who said:
I think my favorite story will be Jesus Joy.
And Kate Robbins, who said:
I think Mary’s Song is going to be my favorite too!! I could listen to you read stories all day long!!
Thank you, Kate, for your kind words, and for everyone who entered.
If you didn’t win, don’t despair! Beginning October 17th, there’ll be eight chances to win the book.
Each week leading up to Christmas, I’ll be featured on eight different blogs as I hop on board a virtual tour. I’ll be taking part in author interviews, sharing ideas for creating Christmas traditions, offering a cute Nativity cut out scene, and hosting… giveaways!
And if you would like a signed, personalized copy as a special Christmas gift, please come and see me at one of my upcoming:
Happy Christmas! (After all, it’s only 80 days away!)
Congratulations! So you took the plunge, as I did, and registered for a great Writers’ Conference, like Maranatha.
Now you prepare, as thoroughly as you can. Here’s my top five tips to help make your Writers’ Conference worthwhile:
- Pray. Prayer should be the foundation of everything you do, as a writer, and a Christian. From the first words on your page, to the last step inside that conference door, PRAY. I love what Mark Batterson says about the role prayer played in the journey to publication of his first book:
I don’t just write books; I circle them in prayer. To me, writing is praying with a keyboard….I didn’t write that book; I prayed that book.
Pray: about the right conference to attend; the right people to see; the right words to say.
2. Research. Once you have chosen the right conference, do your research thoroughly. Research the faculty and staff in attendance. What publishers or agents might be interested in your genre? If they are offering one-on-one consultations (as Maranatha does), make sure you are booked in with them. If you can only attend for one day, choose the day when they will be there. Research the workshops offered. Sign up for all that interest you.
3. Prepare. If you have paid to attend a conference, you need to be wise about your investment. The last thing you want is to return from that conference saying, I wish I’d taken this, or, if only I’d done that…
Carefully prepare your book proposal to share with publishers and agents. For my book, I used a template from Michael Hyatt:
This free nonfiction book proposal template by Karen Porter is also very useful. Once you’ve written your proposal, consider having it edited by a professional. Children’s book author Crystal Bowman edited my proposal and offers a great editing service to children’s writers.
Once you’re satisfied that your proposal is the very best it can be, print off several copies on good quality paper and be sure to attach your business card, preferably one containing your photograph. (Publishers and agents are meeting with many people. You want yours to be the face they remember).
Finally, practice, practice, practice your pitch to the professionals. You don’t want to be stumbling over your words. You only get one chance to make a first impression… make it a good one.
4. Network. Once you’re at the conference, take advantage of every opportunity to network with other attendees and professionals. Swap business cards. Learn from others. Mix and mingle. Make connections. These folks will become invaluable contacts who will support and encourage you in your publishing journey, as you do the same for them.
5. Take Notes. You are a writer…. write everything down, whether on your phone, iPad, or whatever works best for you. I personally am one of those old-fashioned writers who use those two ancient tools beginning with p. Whatever you use, take notes on what you hear. You will quickly forget all that information once you return home.
And one final piece of advice… if you do manage to get your proposal in the hands of someone who’s interested, be sure to enquire (politely) when and how you can expect to hear from them. If they tell you to contact them after a certain period of time, make sure you have their contact details. ( I didn’t do that…and it was an agonizing wait).
I just registered for Maranatha. It’s not too late… perhaps I’ll see you there! And you never know, that one book offer might just turn into five, because after all, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20
What other advice would you give to aspiring authors? What tips have worked well for you?
I’m often asked, by aspiring authors:
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer as we try to break into the publishing world?
I’m usually tempted to say, learn to speak in a British accent, (since it’s done wonders for me). But instead, my singular piece of advice for those who don’t have an agent is:
Attend a Writers’ Conference.
I personally never wanted to.
I’d heard about writers’ conferences before, but I didn’t need to go to one. I decided I could do this myself. The thought of attending a writers’ conference intimidated and overwhelmed me. I’d seen the photographs of packed stadiums, brimming with people and bustling with activity. I was shy. I didn’t need, or want, to network with lots of agents, publishers, or other writers.
But it didn’t take long for me to figure out that there were only two ways to get my manuscript into the hands of Zondervan ( which was my goal). I either needed an agent, or I had to attend a conference.
That’s when I felt God nudging me to look at the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, taking place in Muskegon, on the picturesque shore of Lake Michigan.
Not only was this conference in a beautiful setting, but it appealed to me because of its size. Although described as the largest writers’ conference in West Michigan, it was ‘small enough to be personable,’ promised excellent faculty in attendance, and was able to offer individual attention to writers through consultations with agents and editors. I plucked up courage, prayed, and registered. It was a decision I would never, ever regret.
Maranatha really did have an impressive faculty list. As I prepared for the conference, I scanned through the names, and saw that a well-known children’s author would be attending, to offer workshops, and meet one on one with writers.
I checked out her website and noticed she also offered editing and critique services. So I contacted her and before we’d even met at Maranatha, she had critiqued and edited both my proposal and the entire manuscript. I signed up to attend her workshops, registered for individual consultations with several faculty, and printed off my newly edited proposal. God had been with me every step of the way.
I was ready to attend my first writers’ conference.
My experience at Maranatha was everything it promised to be. Not once did I feel intimidated or overwhelmed. I was welcomed with genuine warmth; found fellowship with new friends; attended life-changing, informative workshops; heard inspirational testimonies; walked barefoot on the beach; and prayed with a small group of writers on a wooden balcony overlooking Lake Michigan, as God’s voice whispered through the wind and the waves.
The children’s author who had edited my work agreed to endorse my book, and most importantly, I was able to meet one on one with an editor from Zonderkidz- a ten minute consultation that would forever change my life.
She went back to Zondervan carrying my proposal. I went back home carrying my dream—a dream that was about to become reality.
Little did I know that on a beautiful fall day, in that quiet, friendly, charming atmosphere of the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, a new chapter of my life would begin. Little did I know….but God knows it all.
God – the giver of the writing gift; the creator of dreams; the planter of seeds; God knows it all. Writers… pick up your pens, open yourselves to the creative power of the Holy Spirit, and register.
Next week on the blog: 5 Not-to-Miss Tips To Make Your Writers’ Conference Worthwhile.