Those of you who know me know that I love learning about and writing about strong women! MRS. NOAH may not have done all the things I give her credit for in my book, but I like to imagine her coming alongside Noah, rolling up her sleeves, and getting the job done! Women who are strong, capable, fearless, faithful, wise and smart inspire me to try and be those things to the young women in my life.
That’s why a few years ago I started working on a picture book about Queen Elizabeth II and her life before she ascended to the throne of England. I’ve always admired her, but when I started researching her, I learned so much about her that I didn’t know that she instantly became one of my personal heroes. Underneath the quiet grace the world gets to see is a woman of incredible strength, wisdom, faith, and commitment to the job she’s been given. If you have a few minutes to read any of the wonderful books or articles about her that are available right now to celebrate her jubilee year, I promise you’ll be inspired.
Today, in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s 96th birthday, I’m giving away three signed copies of MRS. NOAH! To enter, simply stop by my blog before midnight tonight (April 21, 2022) and leave a comment about the Queen or about another strong woman in your life. Your name will be entered in a drawing, and I’ll announce the winners on Monday, April 25th on the blog!
Thanks for being with me on this journey!
Sensibility-“I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” Queen Elizabeth II
Sense-“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.” Queen Elizabeth II
It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of March and almost St. Patrick’s Day! I hope all of you are well, happy and looking forward to the beauty of spring that’s just around the corner. As a gardener, spring is one of my favorite seasons. It’s so much fun to visit my garden each day and see how my plants are getting on. The first thing to stretch its leaves towards the sun are the Lenten Roses. These brave plants don’t mind the leftover (or new) snow or the cold nights. They are determined to bloom by Easter, no matter what comes or what goes. These plants inspire me; their courage to be their loveliest in the face of challenges more delicate flowers can’t tolerate is a perfect object lesson for the writing life. Success in writing can often be summed up in just showing up and doing the work each day, in spite of rejection after rejection. My Lenten roses know what it takes to get the job done. Sometimes it seems the more difficult the spring, the more beautiful they are. The same thing is true about watching a story come to life and make its way into the world. The more difficult the struggle, the more satisfying the result.
I’ve shared with you the story behind the story of MRS. NOAH, and that’s why when wonderful things happen to this book the reward is all the sweeter. I found out a couple of weeks ago that MRS. NOAH is a Selah Award finalist in the picture book category! I was overjoyed to hear her name (and mine) read out during the finalists’ announcements. We’ll find out sometime in June if she wins an additional award, but to be a finalist is such an honor. I am beyond grateful!
In other news, I’ve opened back up to picture book critiques! If you or a writer friend is looking for a thorough and thoughtful evaluation of a manuscript for a reasonable price, please check out the PGWRites Critiques tab above for more information.
Thanks again for being on this journey with me! Here’s an Irish Blessing to take with you today:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
May the rain fall soft upon your fields and until me meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Sensibility-Recognition of the work it takes can often be a long time coming. But what a gift when it does!
Sense- Take time to research contests as part of your writing week. Contests are a great way to boost your confidence and get the word out about your work.
This week I am honored to be the featured writer on the Detroit Writing Room‘s blog! I had the privilege of participating in their recent awards program where my children’s book, IDA PLUCK’S CLUCK won first place in the Children’s Book category. You can read the post here:
After a several-month hiatus for all things MRS. NOAH, I’m reopening for picture book critiques! And for the very first time, I’m excited to offer 30-minute Zoom consultations as part of my Complete Picture Book Plus critiques! Click on the “Critiques” tab for information, payment, and submission instructions for all available packages.
So, if you have a manuscript that’s ready for the next big step, I’m ready for you! Thanks for considering a PGWRites Critique. I look forward to hearing from you!
Sensibility- There is a point when a story that’s dear to your heart needs to spread its wings and test the wind.
Sense- After you’ve written, revised, submitted to your critique group, and revised some more, it’s time to take that next step and enlist a new set of eyes for a different perspective.
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.
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 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.