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

Teeny Sweeney and the Mustache Cash by Amberly Kristen Clowe

Good morning, dear reader! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. I’m excited to have author Amberly Kristen Clowe with me this morning. Amberly is talking about the writing process and her children’s book,Teeny Sweeney and the Mustache Cash. Let’s begin with rituals.

Do you have any interesting writing rituals?

Amberly: This is a fun question, because my writing rituals are always changing. If it’s a morning writing session, you can bet there’s a cup of coffee within reach. If we’re talking afternoon, I’ve been starting with a few Hershey’s kisses lately. Brain food, right? I’m one of those writers who needs silence. So, there’s that. I always go back to the beginning of the chapter I’m writing, just to remind myself of the voice and what’s happening. I have zero social media browsers open. That’s way too distracting for my brain. That about sums it up. 😊

What is Teeny Sweeney and the Mustache Cash  about?

Amberly: My latest book is the first in the new Teeny Sweeney chapter book series for children, published with the wonderful Little Lamb Books. Teeny Sweeney is this fun, dynamic character. She reminds me a lot of Ramona Quimby and Pippi Longstocking. There’s never a dull moment with her. In this book, Teeny is assigned the task of creating a business plan. She does so, so much more in total zany Teeny fashion. There’s a best friend, a nemesis (naturally), uber wonderful parents, and a too-cool-for-school big brother. The second book is currently in edits. I’ll be releasing more details about this one through my newsletter peeps and then on my social media pages. You guys, it is a fun time.

Sounds like fun! What is your favorite part of the book?

Amberly: Hmmm … that’s tough to decide, but I’m pretty partial to the playground scene, when Teeny sells her very first mustache. Everything hinges on this moment with Jak. That was so much fun to write.

You have my attention. 🙂 Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?

Amberly: I really love the Scripture throughout the book. I love that Teeny is like a lot of us, just trying to better know God and understand how scripture applies to her own life. I pray that children will relate to the fact that life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty bow (more not than so, really). It’s messy, yet beautiful.

So true! Looking forward to the release. Where can readers find you online?

 Amberly: I’m active on Twitter and Facebook, under Amberly Clowe. I also post a Five Minute Friday each week on my blog at www.amberlykristenclowe.com. They are Bible lessons for families that take literally five minutes to complete. Readers can pop over to the same website and sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive another Bible lesson for kids and my latest bookish news.

Click to Tweet: Amberly Kristen Clowe’s latest book is the first in the new Teeny Sweeney chapter book series for #children, published with the wonderful Little Lamb Books. #childrensbook @InspiredPrompt


 Teeny Sweeney and the Mustache Cash

Third-grader Teeny Sweeney has been one-upped by seemingly perfect Amanda Mayweather too many times. When their teacher assigns a project to create a business plan, Teeny knows she’s destined for success. After all, with two entrepreneurs as parents, business sense is in her blood! The best laid plans, though, often go awry.

Teeny will have to learn that God’s plan is one she can always trust, and that with prayer it is possible to love everyone—even Amanda Mayweather. With Teeny, young readers will learn that even when things don’t seem to work out, you can always trust God’s plan.


Amberly Kristen Clowe loves to make children smile with stories, and if they laugh, even better. She is at home with a cup of coffee and a pastry. Amberly lives in Houston with her family, who just so happens to share her same zest for life. Amberly teaches both elementary and middle school students, and she hopes to learn at least one zany thing every day.

You can find Amberly at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Katherine Paterson – an Author Who Inspires Me

By Jean Matthew Hall at www.jeanmatthewhall.com

I am called to write books for children. I write board books, poems and articles for children’s magazines. I’m learning to write books for older children and enjoying each new step of my writing journey.

I especially enjoy writing picture books because they are more than books. Picture books are poetry and art seamlessly blended to give us a memorable story. Picture books create an experience shared between children and the adults who read to them.

The authors who most inspire me also write for children. There are several, but I’m focusing today on the award winning author Katherine Paterson, the author of The Bridge to Terabithia and many other children’s books.

She is also the author of several books to inspire and inform those who write for children. Most are out of print, so you’ll really have to search for them. My favorite is Gates of Excellence: on Reading and Writing Books for Children.

Paterson reminds me of why I write for children. She reminds me that this entire realm of creation was made by, and belongs to God. She reminds me that each person I write for is a special creation of God with His special purpose for their lives. She reminds me that my ability to write, and my gift of imagination are both gifts from God—gifts He wants me to use to glorify Him and minister to His little children.

If you need to be reminded of why you write for children, or read to children, or teach children look no further. Gates of Excellence will transport you back to that moment when, for the first time, you knew—you really KNEW—that you were meant to serve children. You were meant to share God’s truth, or God’s love, or God’s acceptance or forgiveness through the stories you mine from your imagination, or the information and lessons you draw from the complex beauty of God’s created world.

Here’s one wee bit of inspiration (for all writers) from pages 113-114:

…it occurs to me that I have spent a good part of my life trying to construct bridges. Usually my bridges have turned out looking much more like the bridge of Terabithia, a few planks over a nearly dry gully, than like that elegant span across the Narrows. There were so many chasms I saw that needed bridging—chasms of time and culture and disparate human nature—that I began sawing and hammering at the rough wood planks for my children and for any other children who might read what I had written.

But of course I could not make a bridge for them any more than I could conjure one up that night on Long Island. I discovered gradually and not without a little pain that you don’t put together a bridge for a child. You become one—you lay yourself across the chasm.

May I add my own humble opinion here?

As Christians who write we do not have to dot our manuscripts with churchy words, or Bible verses or references to Jesus for them to reveal the TRUTH to our readers. What we need to reveal to our readers are the eternal truths that we know about God, about the universe He created, about His love and forgiveness, about his power and beauty as it is reflected in His revelations of Himself in nature, in God’s Word, in Jesus’ earthly life, in our lives as His Holy Spirit lives and breathes through us.

We don’t have to tack on a good little Bible lesson to our stories to point readers to the Author of all Truth. We just have to be faithful to let that TRUTH reveal Himself through our words.

Paterson also says, “A writer has no life to give but her own.”  Give to whom? It’s noble to give our lives to or for someone else. But it is most noble to give our lives to Christ Jesus. Then, whether we write or illustrate, sing or dance, teach or manage, build or demolish, the products of our lives will reveal that Eternal TRUTH of God and His Word to our readers.


Jean Matthew Hall blogs Encouraging Words for parents, for writers and for picture book lovers on her blog at www.jeanmatthewhall.com. You can reach her on FaceBook at Jean Matthew Hall, on twitter at Jean_Hall and by email at jean@jeanmatthewhall.com.

Click to Tweet: As Christians who write we do not have to dot our manuscripts with churchy words, or Bible verses or references to Jesus for them to reveal the TRUTH to our readers.


Writing Prompt: Jalen chased the runaway ball. It seemed to have a mind of its own, bouncing over uneven ground, and down ravines. When would it stop? Where would it take him?

Louie to the Rescue-The Big Dig by Maria I. Morgan

I’m so happy to welcome my friend, author Maria I. Morgan, to our blog. She writes children’s stories and has a new one almost ready to release.  Let’s learn more about Louie to the Rescue-The Big Dig

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Maria:  My love for writing began with reading. My Mom read to my brother and me when we were young. Favorite books included anything by Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and HamFox in SoxSneetches on Beaches; as well as Aesop’s Fables.

In junior high I collected as many volumes from the Nancy Drew series as I could. Instead of just words on a page, each book took me on a journey – painting pictures of far-away places and introducing me to fascinating characters. I couldn’t get enough. I was hooked.

With a degree in Health Fitness/Wellness, it wasn’t until years later that I got serious about writing. As strange as it sounds, it took an accident to get me back to the keyboard (you can read about it here).

To date, I’ve had two children’s books in the Louie the Lawnmower series published (Louie’s BIG day!, and Louie & the Leaf Pile), as well as a 10-week Bible study for women, Outrageously Fruitful. And I’m super excited to announce the third book in my children’s series will release in December. A brand new yard tool will be introduced, setting the stage for an exciting adventure! “Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig” will be available on Amazon.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Maria: I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction. My Bible study, Outrageously Fruitful, and the devotionals I write for my blog are non-fiction and are geared toward women. Themes typically include: understanding God’s character, understanding God’s truth, understanding God’s plan, and writing tips & encouragement.

It’s fantastic to share the truths of God’s Word and have ladies respond to its relevance and timelessness – it’s powerful!

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12, KJV

Fictional writing unleashes the kid in me. I love writing stories that teach valuable life lessons. The Louie the Lawnmower series emphasizes character qualities (i.e. selflessness, kindness) through attention-grabbing storylines.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Maria:  Good question! Typically, for non-fictional writing I have a general idea outlined in my mind, but it can shift as I write the piece. If I’m writing a devotional, I may have a topic and several verses I want to include, but the life example may change as the theme evolves.

Children’s books allow me to be more creative. There are endless adventures I can dream up to highlight specific character qualities.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Maria:  Honestly, for me, it’s finding the right balance between writing and marketing. I’m not very good at working on several projects at once. So if I’m releasing a book – my focus is on all things marketing. When I’m writing a book, I’m not concentrating as much on social media.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Maria: I asked my husband this same question on our first date – many, many years ago! As an author, I’d like to have several more books published, and see Louie the Lawnmower become a video series similar to Veggie Tales. That’s a BIG dream!

Encouraging women in the Word is my on-going dream as well. I want to continue teaching Bible studies and pointing ladies to fulfillment in Christ.

Thanks SO much for letting me be a part of your Saturday interview!

Click to tweet: Maria I. Morgan’s Louie to the Rescue-The Big Dig #InspiredPrompt #amreading

Thanks for being our guest, Maria. Now for a closer look at her new book…


*The 3rd book in the Louie the Lawnmower series, “Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig,” will be releasing on Amazon soon!

Louie and the gang are fired up about the neighborhood yard competition. But when a sarcastic shovel arrives on the scene, hurtful words cause big problems. Will the newcomer succeed in intimidating Louie and his friends? Or will her plan backfire? Join Louie and the others and discover whose words win.

Enter to win: leave a comment below listing a character quality you’d like to see featured in a future Louie book, along with your email address, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to receive a copy of “Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig.” (Open to U.S. residents only. Contest will run through Saturday, November 4th. Winner will be contacted via email.)

Other books in the Louie the Lawnmower series:

Louie’s BIG day!

Louie & the Leaf Pile


Maria I. Morgan

Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She is the award-winning author of Louie’s BIG day! Regardless of the age of her audience, her goal is the same: to share God’s truths and make an eternal difference.

Contact Maria

Website

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

3 Questions Wednesday with Maria I. Morgan

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

Maria I. Morgan

Maria I. Morgan is “passionate about sharing God’s truth and making an eternal difference, regardless of the age of my audience.”

So, let’s see how she answers our latest 3 Questions–

Question: What inspires you?

Maria:  Reading! No matter what type of book I’m reading – fiction or non-fiction – there’s just something about getting immersed in the story that inspires the writer in me. I love imagining the setting, the culture, and lifestyle of the characters. I’ll let you in on a little secret: someday I’d like to write a historical fiction novel about people in the Bible!

Reading is one of THE best ways to gain inspiration (in my humble opinion). I look forward to reading your historical fiction one day!

Next question–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Maria: I’d definitely be a shade of orange – it’s my favorite color. The label on the wrapper around my crayon might read Outrageous Orange (to go along with my Bible study, Outrageously Fruitful about the fruit of the Spirit). Something bright and cheerful to bring a smile to people’s faces.

Orange is the color of youth, it’s fun-loving, and strong, especially when coupled with the word, “outrageous” — ha ha! Couldn’t resist. I love your color choice.

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Maria: Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I think I wanted to be a teacher when I was in grade school. Probably because my Mom was a kindergarten teacher and she made teaching seem fun. When I got a little older, I wanted to be a hygienist and actually worked as an intern at a dentist office when I was in high school. My husband still teases me about being the dentist’s ‘pet’ because I don’t have cavities!

Cute story! Thanks, Maria, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday. READERS – See below for a chance to win Maria’s book, Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig. And get to know her better by clicking the links below. You’ll find a wealth of information about her and her books on her beautiful website.

Click to tweet: What inspires Maria I. Morgan? Find out on today’s 3 Questions Wednesday #InspiredPrompt #3QW


Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig

Louie and the gang are fired up about the neighborhood yard competition. But when a sarcastic shovel arrives on the scene, hurtful words cause big problems. Will the newcomer succeed in intimidating Louie and his friends? Or will her plan backfire? Join Louie and the others and discover whose words win.

Enter to win: leave a comment below listing a character quality you’d like to see featured in a future Louie book, along with your email address, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to receive a copy of “Louie to the Rescue – The Big Dig.” (Open to U.S. residents only. Contest will run through Tuesday, October 31. Winner will be contacted via email.)

Other books in the Louie the Lawnmower series:

Louie’s BIG day!

Louie & the Leaf Pile


About Maria I. Morgan:

Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She is the award-winning author of Louie’s BIG day! Regardless of the age of her audience, her goal is the same: to share God’s truths and make an eternal difference.

Contact Maria

Website

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

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