The Story of Half a Book

It’s summer 2010. My first children’s book manuscript sits on a shelf. Half finished. Gathering dust. It’s been there a long time.

And it would have stayed there, had it not been for my husband.

Where’s your book? he asks one day.

Oh, that. It’s on the shelf.


Because it’s a waste of time, that’s why. Who gets to write a children’s book? Who gets to write a children’s book and have it published by Zondervan?

I had started Love Letters from God several months before, inspired by the beautiful words of Sally Lloyd Jones, as I read her Jesus Storybook Bible.

Every morning I would eagerly grab my pen, pour out my soul on the page, and be swept away by the beauty and mystery of the creative process. What began as an empty, blank sheet of white was somehow filled with life.

On those mornings, I think I knew how God must have felt when, from a desolate void of nothing, came a wonderful world of everything. It was good.

Then I stopped.

I stopped because I had a visitor one day. I never saw him, but I heard his voice whisper in my ear as he tapped me gently, but persistently, on the shoulder.

What are you doing? You can’t write a children’s book. You’ll never get it published. You’re wasting your time.

I listened to that voice. It was hard not to. Obediently, I put my half-finished manuscript on the shelf, where it sat. For a long time.

Enter David, my husband, whose middle name is Encourager.

me & David on cliff

Glenys, do you believe that God called you to write that book?

The answer to that was easy. I had known the truth of that since the very beginning.

Do you believe God wants you to finish it?

The answer to that was easy too, even though I didn’t want to say the word.

And then David says something I will never forget. It’s simple, and silly, and utterly life-changing.

Well why would you not finish it…

What would have happened if Noah had only built half a boat?

One of the reasons I married David is because he could always make me laugh. I laughed at the thought of all the animals falling off a half-constructed boat, and the impossibility of such a vessel floating. But even though I laughed, that silly statement was exactly what I needed.

I pulled out that half-written manuscript, blew the dust away, picked up the pen, and began to write. The rest, as they say, is history.

Love Letters from God would be published, four years later, by Zondervan. That one book would turn into a series of its own, and point the way to twelve other titles.

And I think about all those abandoned manuscripts, half-written, lying on dusty shelves, in hope-robbed rooms, and how God cannot possibly publish half a book.

I think about Jesus, and what might have happened if, half way through his ministry, he had given up. But he didn’t. He completed fully the work to which he was called, until finally, one day, he was able to say:

It is finished.

And wasn’t it only when Jesus had finally finished, that God could really start?

34 thoughts on “The Story of Half a Book

  1. Ann Cavera

    Hi Glenys,
    I’ve been writing for adults for many years, but I’ve always wanted to write novels for middle-school children. In fact, I, do have an unpublished middle school novel – one that I’ve worked on for many years. Just this week I have been debating taking this book to a writer’s conference to see if somehow it might be published. Your words provide the encouragement I need. Published or not, at least my part will be fulfilled. Thanks so much. Ann Cavera

    1. Glenys Post author

      Oh Ann…GO to that writers’ conference and pursue this! Perhaps my post was a God message for you. I will be praying about this as you come to mind.

      1. Ann Cavera

        Thanks Glenys, I’m working on the application and polishing my submission for conference review. Your encouragement supplied my “tipping point.”

  2. Jodie

    What a great perspective Glenys. Self doubt and insecurity can have a tremendous impact on us……..if we let them. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Patricia King

    Thank you for that post of encouragement. I have written through the darkest times, the Breath of God always there over my shoulder. He is creating something good out of chaos, as only He can do.
    He will win this battle too 🙂
    I think you have many more books inside you…
    & I pray they will live 🙂 Blessings to you and your steadfast encourager!

    1. Glenys Post author

      Anne, there are only two ways to be published by a big company like Zondervan. You either need an agent, or you can attend a Writers’ Conference. I did the latter. I did my research; found one that had a Zondervan editor on the faculty who was offering one on one time slots with writers; researched and wrote my proposal;, had both my proposal and manuscript edited professionally before we met; made a mock up of the book; and then pitched it to her at the conference. I then waited a year before they agreed to publish it. …..but it was worth the wait! !

    1. Glenys Post author

      Thanks for sharing it Mary. I just think about all those who must have started books and never finished them. I hope that my post might encourage them to pick up the pen again.

  4. Jean Hartman

    If you had not listened to God’s call through David my 40 Weekday Christian Education students would have missed the call to be on Team Jesus!! 3rd and 4th graders plus their teacher are so grateful to you for finishing this precious book!! We thank you!!

  5. Brigitte Brocato

    It took several years to finish my new childen’s picture book.
    I had finished the book and started the illustratios, when I was called to grand jury duty. I was devestated by what I heard. The grand jury duty was called to convict child molestors. The children that so bravely testified about how they were sexually assaulted by these criminals. Their images haunted me and I asked to be an alternaternate juror. I could not fathom how these children would and could ever lead normal lives, having normal loving relationships with family and members. I grew up in a loving family and my children and
    grandchildren were never exposed to such evil.

    May God look out for these children and for all adults raise
    awareness to protect these innocent children from such evil.

  6. Natalie

    All those times I wanted to sell my photography… hehe. Maybe after baby No. 2, I’ll sit down and get back into it!!! I had started an Etsy shop once, had stuff shown in a gallery, but never stuck with it because of, my reason, got to busy with life, work, etc.

  7. Carol Castagna

    I am so glad that you completed your Love Letters from God! And so are the myriad children who receive the beautiful message of God’s love for them. Imagine if you hadn’t! The Lord made it happen.

  8. Kathryn Ross

    Bless you, milady! I feel like that today as I try to power through the study guide to my own picture book designed for multi generational discipleship. I found writing and publishing mentors at conference who took me through the waters of doubt and half books, but this companion study guide is a tough one. Will kick that visiting voice out and get to it. Conference for me in three weeks!

    1. Glenys Post author

      Hi Kathy, thanks so much for commenting. I hope you have a wonderful, fruitful time at the conference. Which one are you going to?

  9. Brigitte Brocato

    Hi Glenn’s,

    I love your books.

    I reached out to friends, after being called to Grand Jury duty while writing and illustrating a new book; being devestated of what I heard during the testemony given by children while on Grand jury duty. It is a world, that thankfully I, nor my children nor my grandchildren or my family were ever subjected to.

    I finished my new book and entered the FLOWERCHILDREN children book in an International Competition, it received an Honorable Mention and because of this recognition it is listed at the Table of Honors web-site site.

    We have a responsibility as children’s book writers to make sure we give the right message to children to be kind and foster friendship.

    Initially I wanted just to write another educational book, this time on the color theory, I added writing it to foster being kind and offer friendship to other children
    rather than being mean spirited.

  10. Pingback: A Three-Book Giveaway to Celebrate My Three-Year Anniversary! | Glenys Nellist

  11. Tracy Sedens

    Not an author myself, your post resonated most with me on the power of one to encourage another.

    One good thing clearly lead to many others with each of your beautiful books. My new favorite Christmas book “Twas the Evening of Christmas” might not have found it’s way from your heart to the page, if “Love Letters from God” hadn’t first been completed.

    Encouragers of one have the potential to bless many-
    I pray God can use me the way He used your David!


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