Blog Archive

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Writing for Book Packagers: An Interview with Carolyn Larsen

What inspired you to write you Biblical storybook and devotionals for children?
When my husband and I raised our three children there were very few Biblical storybooks available for children to help them understand the truths of the Bible on their level. That realization coupled with God giving the opportunity to write the first book made the decision. I try -- when I know God is presenting an opportunity -- to take it. The adventure is always worth the fear or anxiety that comes with a new challenge.

When did you actually start writing your first book? How long did it take to write your first draft?
I started writing my first book in early 1994 and I believe I had about 3 or 4 months to write the first draft. It was 365 devotions for toddlers.

Who encouraged you along the way to complete the first book?
Nothing is more motivational than a deadline. However, I was working with a book packager who was a friend and he was very encouraging. My husband was also a great encouragement. He made certain that I had time and privacy in our busy household to work on the book.

What was your process like in getting your first book published? 

I was very blessed in getting started in my writing career. I worked in the office of a book packager who presented book ideas to publishers. When a publisher became interested in the idea of a bedtime devotional for young children, they wanted to see samples from several writers. My boss asked if I'd like to write a sample for him to present along with several others. I did. They chose mine and since that time I've published more than 50 books. 

The packager friend has done some of the legwork like an agent would do. I do not have an actual agent. Some of my proposals are rejected but I don't take those rejections personally. I view submitting kind of like a puzzle in which the publisher is putting together pieces that fit with their vision and goals. Sometimes my book idea fits and sometimes it doesn't. However, it was a learning process to not attach the rejections to my own abilities or style.

Are there any stories you’ve written that are l packed away that you hope will
get published someday? Anything you would like to share about them?

Yes, I have two that I keep wondering if God will have a place for someday. One is a book for children, encouraging them to look at the lives of Bible people and learn from them. It is a combination of modern day stories and Bible stories. The other "dream book" is a series of essays for adults about aging -- humorous and thought provoking. Someday . . .

Are you active with any writing groups? Who acts as the sounding board for your stories before they’re submitted to a publisher?
I have friends who I trust and can bounce ideas off of. I also have a daughter who is a writer and we have a healthy, honest relationship. She will always give me good criticism. But at this point I also am privileged to have a good relationship with a couple of different editors who will look at my proposals and give me good feedback.

What has frustrated you the most in the process of putting together the books? 
Writing is a lonely profession and it's easy to get stuck in my own head so that I become negative about my work and ability. 

What has pleasantly surprised you in the process?
Very often when I get stuck in that negative place, I will get an email or letter from a reader telling me how much a particular book has meant to them. I believe that is a gift from God and it's always encouragement enough to get me going again.

What are your writing goals? 
I try to write daily, though of course, there are days when that doesn't happen. My writing goal is to develop books that will encourage readers to have a close, honest relationship with God and to see the possibilities of the people they are becoming.
Do you think you’ll try any other genre?
I have enjoyed writing children's books, tween books and some teen books as well as devotionals for women. I hope to try other genres -- fiction and nonfiction life stories.

What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?
There are two good pieces of advice that I try to remember -- one is to just do it -- sit down and get busy. Realize that it isn't about me . . . it's about God. And the second is to tell stories. I try to make the things I write as real and practical as possible -- relatable.

What message would you like parents and children to take away from your books? 
I would like the take aways to always be . . . know God. Trust God. Don't be too hard on yourselves because the Christian life is a journey, not a destination. I'm currently working on a book about the basics of faith -- the things children need to understand about the faith they embrace.

That's all for today's interview. If you would like to learn more about Carolyn's writing and speaking engagements, here is her contact information.

No comments:

Post a Comment