Writing for Children—A Noble Calling

By Michelle Medlock Adams

When I was in first grade, Mrs. True made an announcement that would forever change my life.

“We’re having a poetry contest this week,” she said, “so use today and tomorrow to come up with your best poem.”

We had just studied the various types of poems, and I decided I really liked the ones that rhymed. In fact, I had checked out every book of rhyming poetry I could find from our school library, and I’d read them all—twice.

As my classmates wrote about their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, I carefully crafted the words to my poem: “I Love Penny.”

Penny was my 7-year-old wiener dog and my best friend in the whole world.

My poem went a little something like this: “Penny is my very best friend. I’ll love her to the very end. She’s a very special wiener dog. I love her though she smells like a hog…”

OK, so I wasn’t exactly a first grade Dr. Seuss, but my poem was good enough to earn first prize. (I guess the other first grade poets must’ve been really bad.) At any rate, I won a few sparkly pencils and the honor of going first in the lunch line that afternoon.  Mrs. True also displayed my poem in the front of the room for all to see. I stared at my winning poem all afternoon, and in my mind, I was already coming up with a follow-up rhyme.

That’s the day I became a writer.

I wanted to write all the time, and so I did. I wrote during recess while other kids played tag and climbed on the monkey bars. I completely fell in love with words.

I wrote a play in fifth grade that we performed for all of the fifth grade classes; I wrote short stories in junior high for a literary magazine; and I wrote many articles for my high school newspaper before majoring in journalism at Indiana University.

Though I began my career writing news stories for a daily paper, my career path took an unexpected turn when we moved to Texas so I could write features and personality profiles for an international ministry magazine. After a little while, the editor came to me said, “You have kids, right?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Great, you can write some kids stories for our children’s outreach.”

I remember thinking, “Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I know how to write for them.”

But I was a journalist so I began researching the world of writing for children, and I once again fell in love. Head over heels. That was more than 20 years ago, and I’ve been lovesick ever since. Creating stories for children—stories that teach, entertain, encourage and inspire—it’s a noble calling. It’s a calling I don’t take for granted, and neither should you.

No matter how you fell in love with writing for children, I’m just happy you did. Let me encourage you to stay the course. Never think your work or your words are less important or less powerful simply because they are for kids. Actually, they are more important and more powerful because they are for kids.

You’re a part of a very special club—a society of writers who woo children to fall in love with words and continue that love affair their whole lives through. You’re the writer who transports children to far-off lands and make-believe worlds. You’re the writer who causes children to dream a little bigger, laugh a little harder, feel a little deeper, and care a little more. You’re a children’s writer, crafting copy on the very hearts of your readers, so do it well, and do it with enthusiasm.

Click to tweet: “You’re the writer who causes children to dream a little bigger, laugh a little harder, feel a little deeper, and care a little more.” Michelle Medlock Adams. #amwriting #childrensbooks

Writing prompt: Do you write for children? Tell us why in the comments. We want to know!


Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, earning top honors from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hoosier State Press Association.

Author of over 80 books with close to 4 million books sold, Michelle’s latest children’s book, My First Da of School (Worthy Kids) won the Selah Award for Best Children’s Book in 2018, her fourth Selah for Best Children’s Book since 2012. In fact, in 2014 Michelle’s board book God Knows You not only won the Selah for Best Children’s Book but also won the esteemed Book of the Year honor over all other Selah winners.

In addition, her children’s book, I Will Not Be Afraid (Concordia Publishing House) earned “The Gold” Enduring Light medal for best children’s book in the 2018 Illumination Awards.

 Since graduating with a journalism degree from Indiana University, Michelle has written more than 1,500 articles for newspapers, magazines and websites; acted as a stringer for the Associated Press; written for a worldwide ministry; helped pen a New York Times Bestseller; hosted “Joy In Our Town” for the Trinity Broadcasting Network; and served as a blogger for Guideposts. Today, she is President of Platinum Literary Services—a premier full-service literary firm—and she serves as Chairman of the Serious Writer Board of Directors.

 When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities, politicians, and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers. Michelle is also a much sought-after teacher at writers’ conferences and universities around the nation. In fact, she has served as an adjunct professor three different years at Taylor University, teaching “Writing for Children.”

 Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff, and they have two daughters, Abby and Allyson, two sons-in-law, one grandson and another grandbaby on the way. She and Jeff share their home in Southern Indiana with a miniature dachshund, a rescue Shepherd/Collie mix, and two cats. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys bass fishing and cheering on the Indiana University Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies, and the LA King

Targeting Your Writing Dreams

By Jennifer Hallmark

What is your writing dream? Children’s stories, Guidepost, or traditionally published novel? Do you have it in your mind? Now, what in the world should you do with your dream? You’ve come to the right place. Or should I say the write place?

Inspired Prompt is a blog for writers created by writers. Last month, we discussed all types of writing you can put pen to like devotionals, travel articles, newspapers, technical writing, and screenwriting.

Throughout August, we plan to share posts that take the July topic one step further: finding who you want to submit your work-in-progress to and how to go about it. We have three special guests who will also help you out. Michelle Medlock Adams, an author with over eighty books published, will discuss writing for children. Laurel Blount will teach us what it takes to write for Love Inspired and Dianne Derringer will talk to us about writing for The Upper Room and Christian Devotions US.

An important question to answer for every writer is “Who will publish my work?” There are many online and print publishers of magazines, articles, blog posts, compilations, and books. As a new writer, I tried out many places from literary magazines to devotion sites to children’s books. The mistake I made was not digging deep enough to see exactly what each publication wanted and needed.

Take devotions. I wrote in one style and sent it to many. I’m sure some were quickly rejected because I didn’t follow the guidelines. I even sent a query to one agent, then in re-reading the guidelines, realized I would instantly be rejected because of an error I made. Inspired Prompt will hopefully help you not to make those mistakes.

So, don’t miss a Monday or Friday post in August. You’ll learn a lot and maybe you’ll receive an acceptance letter from a publisher. If you do, please let us know. We’ll Snoopy dance with you…

Click to tweet: Inspired Prompt helps answer the question: Who do you want to write for? #authorslife #amwriting

Writing prompt: Pick one publication you’d like to write for. Take a full day to study their website, guidelines, and check out some of their past publications. Then take a leap of faith…

3 Questions Wednesday with Lisa Worthey Smith

Happy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Lisa Worthey Smith. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Lisa: I like books that challenge me to think and to make a difference in the world. For entertainment, John Grisham is a master story weaver. I enjoy untangling the mysteries and trying to discern who is telling the truth along with the main character. His legal series still ranks high on my “favorites” list.

Joel Rosenberg’s fiction is amazing. His stories that weave in plausible scenarios of how the coming events in prophecy might take place, are very thought provoking. I always spend a good bit of time researching Scripture while reading his books to verify the authenticity of prophetic themes he uses. I find that he is always right on track with the Bible. His ability to mesh those prophecies into current day events always intrigues me.

Relatively new author, Jim Miller, has a great action-packed adventure series—The Cody Musket series. His characters show courage and faith as they fight for causes we see in the headlines today. His action-packed books have relatable characters with flaws that only endear the reader all the more. His books remind me that to be a hero only requires we take action rather than sit on the sideline.

I also like nonfiction books about people who have done extraordinary things such as Same Kind of Different As Me and Kisses from Katie.

Sounds like you read a good variety 🙂

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Lisa: I like to write about “ordinary” people and events, and find the profound within them. On my wish list, stories from preachers, teachers, and the first family—Adam and Eve. I am fascinated with the Jewish Pseudepigrypha with details about those early biblical figures. Although not canonized Scripture, I am using that information to make notes now about Adam and Eve and how they coped with life outside the garden for a possible biblical fiction book.

That would be an interesting topic…

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Lisa: Sprout, the olive tree who grew up in the Garden of Gethsemane from my biblical fiction/allegory The Wisdom Tree. He lived at a pivotal point in time and interacted on such a personal level with Jesus. If I were there with him, I would hope to see Mary—mother of Jesus. I would ask her to tell me about Jesus as a young man growing up and interacting with others. I would love to hear her thoughts, see Him through her eyes, knowing He was the Son of God. I can’t imagine having the words to express the emotions and wonder she felt.

The Wisdom Tree is a lovely book and meeting Mary would be enlightening. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

Click to tweet: Author Lisa Worthey Smith talks about favorite authors, the Bible, and her latest book. #TheGroundKisser #amreading

Lisa has graciously offered a print copy of The Ground Kisser to one reader who leaves a comment below.


The Ground Kisser

An inspiring story of sacrifice, courage, and perseverance, in the face of incredible odds. When you reach your promise land, you kiss the ground.

Saigon had fallen. With Communism breathing down their backs and their wealth and freedom wiped out, Thanh’s parents had to make an agonizing decision. Without enough gold to pay for boat passage for all eight family members, they had to choose whether to stay together and face whatever came in Vietnam, or risk separating the family to give a child a chance to survive. They had only hours to decide.

Under the cover of darkness, two weeks after her twelfth birthday, Thanh left on an overloaded riverboat set for Australia through the pirate-riddled South China Sea. If their boat could survive that, then Thanh would find a way to have her family join her Down Under.
But that would never happen. One after another, obstacles most people can’t even imagine threatened to take her life. 

This is the true story of Thanh Dương Boyer’s strength, courage, and perseverance in the harshest of circumstances to fulfill the dream of living under the banner of freedom. The Ground Kisser is a faith-building, flag-waving story that will inspire you to recognize the important things in life, treasure them, and take action to preserve them—even if it cost your life.


Long time Bible student and teacher, Lisa Worthey Smith is sometimes called “The Parable Teacher.” She often uses ordinary events to explain a biblical truth. In fact, her first book was about an injured hummingbird she rehabbed. Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird was voted into the international list of “50 Indie Books Worth Reading 2016.”

The Wisdom Tree followed in 2017. One of the Vietnamese boat people who now lives in the USA read The Wisdom Tree, and asked Lisa to help her pen her memoir. The Ground Kisser released in 2019, placed in the NGCWC Georgia Peach Awards, and is an Amazon bestseller.

3 Questions Wednesday with Leigh Ann Thomas

Hello, friends! Today, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, author Leigh Ann Thomas.

Welcome! Tell us, who is your favorite author?

Leigh Ann: Oh, this is tough! I have favorites in different genres. For example, in women’s fiction, I love to devour novels by Eva Marie Everson or Deborah Raney.  If I need a suspenseful rush, I reach for the works of Lynette Eason, Jodie Bailey, or DiAnn Mills. But if I must choose, there’s one author I read every day.  Oswald Chambers challenges my thought processes and points me to Jesus. I love his voice and his passion for God.

A great choice. Now…

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Leigh Ann: If my mind worked like Steven James or Lynette Eason’s, I would love to explore the world of mystery/suspense. I’m fascinated by the way suspense authors weave a complicated tapestry and bit by bit, reveal these crazy-tangled layers underneath a story.  Amazing!

I don’t see how they do it

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? 

Leigh Ann: I was fascinated with Ted Dekker’s early works, including The Circle Trilogy (before Green came along). I would love to spend a day exploring the Colored Forest with Thomas Hunter and Rachelle. The author paints with such vivid strokes, and if I’m enjoying a breath-taking autumn scene, I sometimes make believe I’m in Dekker’s imaginary forest of intense color.

Make-believe is a writer’s bread and butter 🙂

Click to tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday with Leigh Ann Thomas. Learn about her new book, Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone. #authorslife #amreading

Readers, if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Leigh Ann’s book,  Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone, leave her a comment below. Keep reading for information about the book. Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask Leigh Ann a question!

 


Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone

The infamous middle years:

  • Children move through school, fly the coop, and return home bringing more children
  • “Natural” highlights are—in reality—gray hairs
  • Clothes-shopping in Juniors brings guilt and undergarments get sturdier
  • Children need us less, parents need us more
  • Questions abound: Who is that woman in the mirror? What is my purpose? Where do I fit in? What now, Lord?

Over 40? No problem. With joy and transparency, Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone uses scripture, prayer, and the power of story to show women in midlife how being smack-dab in the middle of God’s plans and purposes is the best place to be.

With the Lord’s guidance, this packed-with-transition life season can be infused with growth, discovery, and edge-of-your-seat adventure!


Leigh Ann Thomas is passionate about encouraging women to seek God’s best. She has penned four books, including Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone: Inspiration for Women in the Middle and is a contributing author in 12 compilations. A staff writer for the parenting sites, InTheQuiver.com and Just18Summers.com, Leigh Ann has also contributed to Southern Writers Magazine, Power for Living, Charisma Magazine, and others.

She is married to her best friend, Roy, and they are thankful for the gifts of three daughters, two sons-in-law, three amazing grandsons and a grand-princess.

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Are You a Writer Trying to Break into Publication? One Word of Advice

By Jennifer Hallmark

Know that writing is hard work.

I see your puzzled look. That’s my advice?

Yes.

Writing is hard work. To be a successful writer, you need to be patient, persevering, and have a strong work ethic. Why? Some days you’ll grow tired of waiting. Tired of keeping on. Tired of the endless work.

Successful writers don’t only write. They study the craft, practice, try different ways to get published, study, then write some more. And let’s not even talk about marketing. Click to tweet: The job of writer is an endless journey you never arrive at. The journey is the destination.

If you truly want to be a writer, be prepared to do certain things over and over again.

  1. Write. Articles, blog posts, short stories, novellas, or novels. Pick your poison and practice, practice, practice.
  2. Rewrite. Once you’ve written whatever it is you needed to write, the rewrites begin. Read the article, story, or novel out loud and find ways to make it better.
  3. Practice humility. When you finally break into publication, you’ll be edited. Given advice. Some you won’t like. So, you better learn to be humble now or your journey will be short-lived.
  4. Push past the pain, tiredness, or boredom. You’ll deal with all three of these at different times and sometimes at the same time. Just like any other career, you have to do the job when you don’t want to. As I’m typing away on my laptop, I’m a week away from the release of my debut novel, Jessie’s Hope. I did not want to write this article today. It won’t post until July 15th. But I have a block of time to write now and I know it’s better to get it done. Who knows what the future will bring?

Let’s say this out loud and together: Writing is hard work. But I am in this for the long haul. Writing is what I want to do. I seek publication. So, I plan to work and write and submit and study and learn until my time comes.

For I am a writer.

Writing Prompt: Your assignment is to tell one person this week, who doesn’t already know, that you are a writer. Get over it now. Then write some more.

Writer journaling in a book