It’s been almost two months since MRS. NOAH set sail, and as we turn our hearts and minds towards family time, gift-giving, and saying “Goodbye” to 2021, my thoughts turn again to thankfulness.
Here are just a few of the things I’m thankful for this year:
I became a grandmother for the very first time a little over two weeks ago, and he’s just the most precious thing! Baby Benny came quite early, so he’s spent the last two weeks in the NICU sleeping, eating, and growing! I can’t wait to meet him and hold him and tell him just how much Grammar loves him!
My youngest graduated from college back in May, and she’s working at a nonprofit job she loves helping teen moms through support, community, and love. I’m so proud of her!
My older daughter received a full scholarship to Wayne State University Graduate School of musical composition. She’s teaching full time too, and we just couldn’t be prouder.
My son and daughter-in-love are just the most amazing new parents! Their courage and faith as they’ve spent a month in the hospital while waiting for Benny to be born as well as the last 2 weeks with him in the NICU has been such an incredible thing to witness.
My family, in spite of some health challenges over the past few months, are strong and happy!
My first book launch has gone well and I’ve learned so much about marketing…something I was pretty nervous about…and I’m just so grateful!
I encourage each of you to find some quiet moments this holiday season to think about all you have and be grateful. A thankful heart is a happy heart! And in our house, the Joy of the Lord is always our strength.
What a month it’s been for our MRS. NOAH! Her story set sail on October 28th, and since then she’s been the #1 new release in children’s Noah’s Ark books on Amazon for nearly the entire month. She’s also been in the top 100 in a couple of other categories on Amazon and is continuing a strong showing in overall book sales on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You have been such a part of her success, and I just wanted to say a heartfelt, “Thank you!”
I know I’ve said it before, but if I could stand in front of you right now, faithful friend, I would give you a big hug and say, “Thank You,” for coming alongside me. Your support and words of encouragement are gifts I will treasure always. If you’ve ordered and received a copy of MRS. NOAH, I am so honored. If you love the book and have a minute over the next few days, stop by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Good Reads and leave a review. Reviews help books show up in search engines, and we want MRS. NOAH to stay strong! And remember, MRS. NOAH is a perfect book for gift-giving this holiday season and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop and wherever books are sold.
As you gather ’round your Thanksgiving tables with family and friends this year, know that this friend is giving thanks for YOU!
Sensibility- The writer’s journey is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, but as it says in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Sense- No matter how the writer’s journey looks for you, the point is that you ARE a writer. Be thankful for the gift and use it every day!
It’s finally here! MRS. NOAH releases today, October 27, 2021, and is now available for presale wherever books are sold! The long wait is over, as MRS. NOAH sails into a book retailer near you. Here are a few links where you can order:
I can’t believe it’s almost time for the release of MRS. NOAH (Little Lamb Books)! In just a little over one month, this book that began nine years ago with just a seed of an idea is about to be born! I can’t tell you how fun it’s been to watch it all take shape, and I so appreciate you begin with me on the journey. So, without further fanfare, here’s your first taste of MRS. NOAH:
I’m just in love with this cover created by Alice Pieroni, and I know you’re going to love each page of this beautiful book that is so dear to my heart. MRS. NOAH will be available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Little Lamb Books on October 5 and releases on October 19. So, mark your calendars!
Thanks for being on this journey with me!
Sensibility- Watching a book come to life is one of the greatest joys of any writer.
Sense- Being present in each part of the book creation process, from idea to drafts to done, is important. Take time, wherever you are on your journey to be still and recognize that this step, right now, is necessary and good.
I’m so excited to be one of the authors on the newest project from Little Lamb Books, ALL GOD’S CREATURES! 60 DAYS OF DEVOTIONS FOR ANIMAL-LOVING KIDS! Little Lamb Books has put together an amazing Kickstarter program to help fund the printing of the companion journal for this beautiful book. If you do your pre-orders through Kickstarter, you’ll be eligible for some amazing prizes. Click here for more information:
I’m excited to welcome fellow Little Lamb Books author, Amberly Kristen Clowe to Sensibility and Sense today! We’re celebrating the release of the newest book in her Teeny Sweeney chapter book series, TEENY SWEENEY AND THE COUSIN CALAMITY! Amberly Kristen Clowe, is a veteran elementary school teacher and writes from her home in Kingwood, Texas. She and her husband have two children, and two dogs, Roxie and Bella. Amberly loves cycling and coffee and spends her days crafting stories that share faith in a fun way with young readers. TEENY SWEENEY AND THE COUSIN CALAMITY is the second chapter book in the Teeny Sweeney series. Welcome to Sensibility and Sense, Amberly! Now, let’s talk about your new book:
TEENY SWEENEY AND THE COUSIN CALAMITY
PR: Since this is the first post about your new children’s book Teeny Sweeney and the Cousin Calamity, tell us about it.
AKC: Glad to. So, very early in the book, readers find out that Teeny’s cousin, Winston Waddlesworth, will be visiting the Sweeney household. Readers also find out that Teeny doesn’t really dig her cousin. This book was so much fun to write because there are many pieces at play. Not only is Teeny struggling to get along with her cousin, but there’s someone or something terrorizing the neighborhood. There’s a lot going on in this story, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how the setting changes throughout. Kids will visit an indoor waterpark, a food truck festival, one of my absolute favorite places—the library, the zoo, and more. How fun is that!
PR: Will we see some familiar faces, like Amanda Mayweather? Will we be introduced to any new ones?
AKC: Readers will get to hang out with Amanda for a little while in this book and meet one of her family members. There are new characters galore! I’m also really excited that we learn even more about Teeny.
Writing the Second TEENY SWEENEY Book!
PR: How did the experience of writing the second book in the series compare to the first?
AKC: You know, it was really fun to dive more into this made-up place, to learn more about the characters we knew, while introducing the many new ones. I did find myself referring to my character documents and making sure to not contradict what we had already established about the characters. That was super interesting. I have the best editor, so it was awesome to work with her on another project. My publisher is also so lovely. This year we started Zoom-ing, as opposed to phone calls, so I (like a zillion others) did set up a space to do that. Haha. It was such a treat to see the illustrator, Janet Samuel, put color to Winston and especially Mustard Steve the Mustard Seed, the hero from a graphic comic strip in the story. The first time I saw his little character in his little cape I definitely cried. Not gonna lie.
PR: What message do you want readers to take away from this book?
AKC: Honestly, I think the message, though packaged a bit differently with different scripture, remains the same. My goal for this series is to help young readers look to scripture to guide them in their everyday situations. I don’t want church to be on Sunday and life to be Monday through Saturday. It took me a long time to even understand that I was compartmentalizing. I would love for it to take readers much less time to not do that. We need God’s guidance every day of the week. Teeny isn’t telling anyone to do that, but instead, she’s showing them how. She tries really hard to always think about what does and doesn’t please God.
More TEENY SWEENEY Books?
PR: I hear that there are more Teeny Sweeney books in the works. Can you tell us what to expect next?
AKC: Hmmm … I can’t say too much, but I can say that I would LOVE to have some holiday Teeny Sweeney books and some short stories.
PR: At the end of every blog post, I like to leave a little sensibility and sense for the journey. Could you share some of your wisdom with our readers?
Sensibility- Remember to have fun. That can be easier said than done, when we have these constant ambitions.
Sense-Think about what you’re currently passionate about. Our passions can be super fluid. Dig into the things that excite you. Maybe it’s reading and writing in an entirely new genre. When I’m working on projects that pique my interest, I’m having fun!
Can it really be almost the end of January? As I look at today’s date and wonder where the month has gone, I can’t help but think that with each day that passes I’m one day closer to the release of my first fiction picture book, MRS. NOAH. I’m so excited! MRS. NOAH is the story of Noah’s Ark from Noah’s wife’s perspective. It’s a rocking, rolling, rhyming romp about all the work Mrs. Noah does to get the ark ready to receive all of the furry and feathery guests for their 40-day cruise. Mrs. Noah knows there’s more to creating a happy, floating home than just hammers, nails and gopher wood, but can she help Noah understand and lend a helping hand?
You’re probably wondering where the idea from this story came from. Well, it just so happened that I was packing and preparing my family of 5 for a big trip…we were celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with a cruise for 11…grandparents, kids, cousins…you get the idea. Anyway, it was our first cruise experience and I was running around like a crazy woman trying to plan for the two-day drive to Florida (we thought that would be fun?). So along with planning for the actual cruise, I had to book hotel rooms and make sure everyone had enough clean clothes and toiletries for the two days before and the two days after. Not to mention buying up enough pet supplies and snacks for our house sitter, stopping the mail, making sure everyone had a swimsuit and shoes that fit, plus paying all the bills and getting the house cleaned before we could leave. My husband, who is always very helpful, had to work extra hours getting clients taken care of so we could have this week away, so he was at the office until late every night leading up to the trip and wasn’t able to help me. And just 6 weeks earlier, my son had undergone a big surgery to remove a benign tumor from his skull base, so there were follow up appointments to get the all-clear just a few days before we left. Needless to say, I was a wreck.
Somewhere in all of the craziness, a thought ran through my mind… “If I’m this stressed out trying to get everything done that needs doing before we leave for our cruise, how in the world did Mrs. Noah get everything ready for an ark full of animals and the rest of her family? Lord have mercy!!” That thought made me laugh out loud. Here I was fretting and worrying and being frustrated because I had so much to do and no help, that I couldn’t enjoy the process. God started using Mrs. Noah even then to help me see that He is always in the details, even if I can’t see it at the time. Of course, the idea of Mrs. Noah settled in and stayed and by the time I got home from that wonderful trip, I already had the first lines of the story playing over and over in my head. God whispers seem to work like that.
Fast forward almost 9 years and many, many versions later, and MRS. NOAH is one step closer to being born. The target is fall of 2021, so I’m looking forward with expectation and joy. I’m so glad you’re here to join me on my journey! Watch this page for an official “countdown to MRS. NOAH” in the coming weeks!
Sensibility- The journey is almost always more important than the destination. Take time to stop and enjoy whatever road you’re currently on.
Sense-Story ideas can come from the strangest places. Part of being a writer is being aware so you can see, hear and recognize a story seed when it appears.
A few weeks ago I announced I was beginning a long-overdue middle-grade novel revision. Every journey begins with a first step, so I’m checking in today to talk about my first steps and why they are important to my overall process.
First, I read the beginning chapters of Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattison. In her novel revision guide, Darcy recommends reading two other books before starting the exercises in her workbook. These two books are:
SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS, by Renni Browne and Dave King, Harper Collins, 2004.
THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, by Noah Lukeman, Fireside Books, 2000.
I’ve started the first book and am re-learning and being reminded of many things. It’s always good to refresh your editing skills, especially if you are timid with the delete button and tend to hang on to words that need to be let go. Thankfully, I’ve become pretty ruthless when it comes to self-editing over the years. That means I’m rarely married to any sentence, paragraph or section; my chopping block is no respecter of words. So rather than digest the entire book before diving in, I decided to read the rest of it as I go and use it primarily as a reference tool. I have not yet started reading the second book.
The main reason for putting off reading the second book was because one of my long-time critique partners and friends asked if anyone in our critique group would be interested in swapping middle-grade manuscripts. We are a picture book group, but a few of us also dabble in middle grade, so I decided it was perfect timing for me and said, “Yes!”
I was so nervous. It’s been years since anyone that I’m close to has read my novel. Years! I had an agent interested last year, which is part of the motivation for this revision. So showing it to someone I trust as both a writer and a friend, was a huge step for me. We swapped, and within a few days she sent me her critique, and her comments have boosted my confidence in a huge way as well as helped me see the areas that need the most work. Whew! I could finally exhale, knowing I wasn’t wasting my time and that the story still had merit and was worth working on. I didn’t realize it at the time I sent it to her, but this was probably the best way I could have started this revision.
The second thing I did was take time to actually read my book again. I didn’t read all of it, because that’s what I’m doing as I go through and make changes, but I read enough. I needed reminding that what I started 10 years ago during that dark time wasn’t just therapy or a way to deal with emotions. I needed to see it with the fresh eyes of today’s me rather than the me of that time in my life. And you know what I discovered? I really like it. I’m excited to spend time with the characters and help them grow stronger and change where change is needed.
Without pausing for these few weeks of reading and reflection, I would have come to this project as just another task in my writing life. I would have opened my workbook with a sigh rather than a spark, and that would not have worked over the long haul. Revision takes time, and if you’re not motivated by a love of the work, it will quickly turn into drudgery and you’ll never finish.
So here’s to finding the path into the process that works for you. I’m glad I was able to see my way clear to doing these things before I ever added or deleted one word from my WIP. I hope today’s thoughts encourage you to find the just-right way to begin your next big project!
Sensibility-Take time to fall in love with your WIP again. You must be willing to spend time with the characters you’ve created, no matter where they are on their journey.
Sense- Not every path to revision looks the same for every writer. If you find yourself stuck in someone else’s process, stop, think, breathe and reflect on what you need to do to move forward.
“If we are not willing to fail we will never accomplish anything. All creative acts involve the risk of failure.” -Madeleine L’Engle