A Writer in Wonderland

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By Ivanova Nono Fotso, Cameroon

I know a young woman who has many grown-up responsibilities: university studies, work, chores, volunteering and church. Yet unbeknownst to the rest of the world, this young woman has a secret room in her heart. In that room, she revisits the world of a five year-old girl, filled with wonder at seeing a butterfly, running after a cat, dancing in front of the mirror and enjoying cartoons. That little girl also enjoys spending time with her invisible Father, telling Him about her day, and allowing Him to soothe her heart with His unconditional love.

This is my reality as a children’s author. It’s like sharing time between my young readers and the child in me. While translating Sunday school curriculum, the truth of a lesson, “God hears our prayers,” boosts my faith. As I write my children’s book, “Don’t Be Afraid,” I myself find peace. Even in the simple act of writing memory verses for Christmas, my heart dances in the tinsel light of truth affirmed.

Some people say to me, “You write for children? It’s a good start. Keep working, you will soon be able to write for adults.” They don’t hear the little girl in me chuckling. She knows she will always be ready to dance, skip and wonder.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Writing for children can help mold in us a loving and humble heart, an eagerness to learn, and trusting dependence on our Heavenly Father—all characteristics of little ones. Writing for children also gives us a glimpse of the greatest Wonderland, the kingdom of God.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me the privilege to write for children. Help me to seek you and to keep a trusting and humble heart.

This article was published in our unique book, Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 Devotions by global Christian writers.

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Ivanova Nono Fotso has written the children’s book, Même Pas Peur, short stories and articles for Jouv’Afrique and AMINA magazines, and parts of the comic collection Eclats d’Afrique. She resides in Cameroon.

Read more about Ivanova’s work in A Comic Strip That Borders Heaven.

 

A Comic Strip That Borders Heaven

Timazi Magazine of Kenya recently featured part one of “Big Day,” a comic stripcomic birthed by friendships made at MAI’s LittWorld 2012 conference. There John and Maggie Gathuku, who lead the Christian youth magazine, met Mexican illustrator José Carlos Gutiérrez (right in photo below) and author Ivanova Nono Fotso of Cameroon (left in photo).

José Carlos crafted illustrations for the comic script written by Ivanova, and submitted the comic to Timazi. When José Carlos’ computer crashed, Timazi’s designer in Kenya, James Njoroge, completed coloring the illustrations.

The seven-page comic, based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins, will be published in three issues of the magazine.

ivanova-jose-carlos-by-ian-darke-cropped-resized“This comic has a great emotional value since I started the drawings and sketches in a hospital room, a few months after returning from Littworld,” José Carlos said. His 21-year-old brother had been diagnosed with leukemia and began chemo treatments.

“He got saved in that same hospital as I prayed with him at the very beginning of his treatment,” José Carlos recalled. On the same day that his brother passed away, José Carlos completed inking the comic at the hospital.

Today comic books are the world’s most widely-read type of popular literature, capturing the interest of both children and adults. Christian publishers around the world are harnessing the genre to spread the Gospel.

Maggie hopes that “by reading this comic strip, students will understand and appreciate the message of our Lord Jesus Christ by preparing well for His coming.”

Failure stories in Christian publishing

“The only real mistake is the one we learn nothing from.”

 

Learning from failure within Christian publishing was the topic of one session at LittWorld. Ramon Rocha III, MAI’s director of publisher training, moderated a discussion between four notable publishers from different countries.

Panellist Tony Collins of Lion Hudson plc (right in above photo) in the UK spoke about his attempt to publish a magazine for the Church of England. “I thought I had everything figured out in terms of subscription, marketing and infrastructure, but it turned out that I failed spectacularly . . . What I didn’t reckon with was that while church members were loyal to the Church, they were not loyal to Anglicanism. The leaders I spoke with believed in the unity of the Church, but members had their allegiances,” Collins recalled. He had to sell his house to pay off the debt he incurred from the magazine’s failure.

Buma Kor, publisher from Cameroon

Buma Kor, a publisher and book consultant from Cameroon, described a bad experience with a writer. Kor had hired the writer to work on a mathematics textbook and invested a lot of money in its publication. Without Kor’s permission, the author reprinted the book in Nigeria and offered it at a lower cost than the original. The matter was brought before the police, who stopped the illegal sale of reprinted copies. Kor could have taken the writer to court but declined because of his Christian beliefs.

The experience was helpful to Kor, who says that he will never again hire a writer without detailed terms of agreement. “I have been a publisher for many years, but I am still a beginner,” he admits.

Anna Shirochenskaya of Triad Christian Publishing in Russia and Yna Reyes of OMF Lit in the Philippines were also panelists. Audience members opened up as well, speaking of their own failures and the lessons they learned.

What have you learned from your failures?

By Lekan Otufodunrin with Emma Stencil, MAI intern
Photos by Eric Gitonga

Check out photos and quotes from LittWorld 2012:
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