Spirited Children’s Book Writing

What’s the secret of writing compelling children’s books? Learn tips from Emily Lim, an award-winning children’s author in Singapore. Watch the short video below for details.

  1. Be Less of a “Tell-Tale”
    Don’t narrate. Add dialogue, show action and create an emotional connection with your reader.
  2. Strong Beginning
    A compelling beginning will keep the reader turning your pages.
  3. Hopeful Ending
    Children need hope.
  4. Greater Purpose
    Don’t try to write a bestseller; try to write a “hope-seller.”
  5. Memorable Characters
    Characters should be realistic, relatable and possess a special quality that makes them stand out.
  6. Character Wisdom
    Your characters need to grow in wisdom. No one is all good or all bad. A good character should have flaws. A bad character should have saving graces.
  7. Clarity in Conflict and Resolution
    A good story has a clear story problem with solutions. Resolve your conflict satisfactorily by the end.
  8. Faith in Your Reader
    Don’t talk down to a child reader, don’t moralize as you write. You’re a writer, not a preacher. Have faith that your reader will take away some of your message.
  9. Truthful Voice
    Be authentic. Avoid cliches. Be true to why you’re writing.

Check out Emily Lim’s blog.

This video was shot by Team David Films at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

The Publisher’s Editorial Process

Here’s what the editorial process of developing a book manuscript looks like at one publishing house. Dan Elliott is editorial director at Tyndale House Publishers, based in Chicagoland, USA. Watch the short video below for details.

1. Read the whole manuscript without editing. Pay attention: what is your experience as the reader?

2. Establish relationship with the author. Learn about the author as a whole person so you can develop a good partnership.

3. Create a written review of the manuscript containing three parts:
a) Identify its strengths
b) Identify how it can be improved
c) Make specific recommendations
This review is confidential, for discussion and sharing within the publishing house.

4. Adapt the above review to create a personal letter from the editor to the author:
a) Offer praise of manuscript strengths
b) Be specific on what the author can work on
c) Focus on the big picture and clarify a time frame for next steps

5. Get the author involved and coach him or her on next steps.

6. Look at the big picture issues of the manuscript. Work with the author.

7. Edit the details of the manuscript. Work with the author.

8. Get the author’s approval of the final manuscript.

This video was shot by Team David Films at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

A light, switched on for the writer’s soul

By Grace D. Chong, Philippines

Writing is a calling that is both happy and lonely.

That statement seems to oversimplify my writing quotient. Let me illustrate through my own emotional pie chart. Writing is 100% grace, sliced into 96% happy and only 4% lonely—but that small number could be lethal.

Imagine my excitement, then, when I was told that Media Associates International (MAI), in partnership with Armour Publishing, has published the book Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 devotions by global Christian writers.

This, I thought, would take care of my aberrant 4%.

Written by contributing writers (of which I am privileged to be a part) from 27 countries, and illustrated by award-winning French artist and illustrator Didier Millotte, this book I would liken to sunburst on a cloudy day. The stories illumine and inflame all at once.

According to MAI, and I agree, “It is ideal for personal devotions of writers and would-be writers, especially those in hard places in the world; a resource in writers groups; workshops; and in mentoring Christian writers.”

For the book to last me one year, I should be reading one devotional article every three days—with enough time to bask in the glow of perspectives similar to mine. But the articles so surprised and stirred me I read the whole book in one sitting!

Much of the personal pain—conflicts, complications, dilemmas, obstacles, and yes, loneliness—of varied writers from varied backgrounds kindled my interest and indeed lit up my soul.

I now know that the Lord beams His Word in different ways upon different writers, but our responses are set at different timelines. In the end, and always, the fire to write overwhelms the temptation to stop.

If you are reading this far, I assure you that this book will help stoke your (or a friend’s) love for the printed word and keep it burning. For a copy of the book, contact MAI or in Singapore, Armour Publishing.

Without doubt, the book is a light, switched on for the writer’s soul.

Grace D. Chong is an award-winning Filipina author of more than 50 adult and children’s books. This article was first published on her blog, Leaves of Grace.

The Inconvenient Truth

By Josil Gonzales, Philippines

Like many Christians today, first century Corinthians believed that adversity was inconsistent with the Spirit-filled life. Paul needed to remind them that affliction, hardship, persecution and being struck down are part of the normal Christian life (2 Cor. 4:8-9).

Paul’s opponents claimed that God’s power is manifest best through signs, wonders and miracles. Paul maintained that God’s power is shown most effectively through hardship and distress. All our risks, dangers we confront, humiliations we face, and trials we endure are but opportunities for Christ to demonstrate His power in and through us.

This is a hard message for 21st century believers. But we Christian publishers, editors, writers and designers should share this inconvenient truth. We like to be in control and operate from a position of strength, not weakness. But Paul reminds us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

In parts of the world, Bibles are still being confiscated, churches are still being closed, believers are still being arrested and imprisoned.

Does God always bring deliverance in times of persecution? I wish I could say “yes.” Our brothers and sisters in the Persecuted Church tell us, “Yes, we go through suffering, but God is always with us and that enables us to press on.”

That is the way of the cross. Jesus walked the hard and narrow road. Paul walked the hard and narrow road. We too need to walk that hard and narrow road, and share the inconvenient truth.

Josil Gonzales IsraelPilgrimageJan14d 001Excerpted and adapted from a devotional message by Josil Gonzales at LittWorld 2015. Josil has been serving the Persecuted Church for the last 20 years. He works in two creative access countries in South Asia as country manager. A graduate of AB Journalism from the University of the Philippines, he also served as publications manager for OMF Literature Inc, and managing editor of Alliance Publishers Inc’s monthly pre-evangelistic magazine, Sidestreets. He is the founding chairman of Christian Writers’ Fellowship. An avid runner, Josil has joined numerous races including two 42k runs.

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A Legacy of Equipping Malaysian Writers

Kyrgyz woman and Stemmah by Jeam Wong

Stemmah Sariau (right) enjoyed fellowship at LittWorld 2015 with fellow writers and trainers, such as this Kyrgyz writer. Photo by Jeam Wong.

Stemmah Sariau from Sabah, East Malaysia, was a tireless trainer of writers, translators and editors in Malaysia. Even though she was nursing a bad cough, in early November she came to LittWorld 2015 in Singapore, because she was passionate about her calling and wanted every opportunity to hone her skills. Less than a week after her return from LittWorld, she was off to teach at the Sabah Theological College. Unfortunately, her lung infection never left her and, on the morning of Wednesday, November 18, after a light breakfast with her husband, she embraced him tightly then fell back on the bed and drifted away to be with the Lord that she loved so dearly. Stemmah left behind her husband, Pastor Richard Samporoh, their three grown-up children, and an uncompleted Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Bible.

By Lorraine Triggs

Stemmah Sariau was committed to equipping Malaysian writers, and especially women to pen their testimonies. “This is our legacy to our children,” she said, “If we don’t write, they won’t know what we’ve gone through and how the Lord has helped us.”

For the last five years of her life, Stemmah conducted workshops for women, frequently traveling to towns and rural areas in Malaysia’s eastern states. “In the 1980s, we used to have a lot of books published,” recalled Stemmah, “but then the restrictions came.” She pointed out that the situation is becoming quite risky for believers in Malaysia in recent months, with Bibles being confiscated.

Despite the risks, women came to Stemmah’s writer training, eager to hone their skills. An average of 40 women came to her trainings in East Malaysia, and 20 women in West Malaysia. “We didn’t want too big a group, and tried to make it affordable for any woman who wanted to come,” she said.

A practical bent was intrinsic to Stemmah’s workshops. “Don’t get too tied up with an outline,” she advised, encouraging the promising writers to practice “free” writing first. She always cautioned, “Look out for Christian jargon.”

Stemmah’s aim for these women was to write from their hearts. As the women discovered how to express how God had blessed them, the workshops were often therapeutic. “It was an added joy when their stories were published in books or church magazines,” she said.

Stemmah always felt torn between leading more workshops for women and working on other projects, including heading the women’s ministry for her denomination and a Bible translation project. But in all things, she gave of her best.

Lorraine headshot croppedLorraine Triggs’ writing and editing experience ranges from Sunday school curriculum to annual reports to electronic communications, but nothing brings her greater joy than interviewing people who are passionate about their ministries.