A Writer in Wonderland


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.

Order your copy on SALE until 12/21 for only $9.99USD with FREE shipping within the USA.  Place your order now. Email: [email protected] or call 630.260.9063.  Light_Writers_Soul_MAI_2D

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.


Unique challenges of creating kids’ books

A lot of people think creating kids’ books is easy. After all, they’re short, right? Not according to Stephanie Rische, senior editor and team manager for children’s books and nonfiction at Tyndale House Publishers. Kids’ books come with unique challenges. Watch this 3-minute video to learn more.

Consider the audience. For adult books, the same person buying the book is reading it. For kids’ books, a two-year-old isn’t going to walk into a store and buy the book. You must keep in mind three audiences:

The buyer. The person who will buy the book for the child. Is the title and cover appealing? Does the message appeal?

The reader. The person reading the book with the child. Books for kids have a “re-read” value. Unlike adult books, they can be read again and again with a child. Does the book appeal to the reader for re-reading?

The child. Not only do you want to communicate a message of faith, but one that’s engaging, fun and enjoyableStephanie Rische photo to read.

Register online now for Stephanie Rische’s upcoming MAI webinar, “Even Dr. Seuss Needed an Editor: The art of editing books for children,” on Tuesday, August 16, 8-9 a.m. CST.

This video was taken by TeamDavid at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

Beware of these blunders in writing for children

Avoid these common misconceptions when writing children’s books. Award-winning children’s author Emily Lim shared these points in her recent MAI webinar, “Writing for Children: Commandments to follow & sins to avoid.”

1. Writing for children is easier than writing for adults.ID-10057976
This is very far from the truth. Adults may be willing to stay with you through many chapters before they stop reading. Children lose interest easily. If you don’t grab their attention from the first few pages, you have lost them.

2. You need to include a moral lesson in your story.
Don’t write a book to teach a moral lesson. Children get a lot of that already – in school and from their parents. Write a story that entertains them and pulls them in. Weave in what you believe – hope, second chances and God’s redemptive love. But don’t tell them what to do. Don’t shove the message in their face. Show it through your characters and let them arrive at that conclusion themselves.

3. Children can think abstractly.
Young children take things literally. You may have a story idea about a lonely girl and a magic man appears and takes her on a fantastic adventure. Your young reader may take it that it’s ok to go on an adventure with a stranger. So be mindful, especially when writing for younger children.

4. Children are simple thinkers.
Children may be literal but they more sophisticated thinkers than we sometimes realize. So, don’t underestimate them when you write.

Emily LimWhat other lessons have you learned? Tell us.

Photo above courtesy Freedigitalphotos

Interview: Award-winning Children’s Author Emily Lim

Author Emily Lim of Singapore offers insights on her journey as a writer and tipsEmily Lim on writing for children in this exclusive interview with MAI. Enjoy this preview of her upcoming MAI webinar on May 20.

MAI: Your children’s stories have great characters and story lines. How do you come up with your story ideas?

Emily: My first four titles (which make up my Toy Series) were inspired by my personal journey and written very subconsciously. My first book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, about a teddy bear whose toymaker forgot to stitch him a mouth, was influenced bPrince Bear & Pauper Bear by Emily Limy me losing my voice to a rare voice disorder for 10 years and recovering it through my faith journey of coming to know Christ personally. The book themes cover brokenness, grace, second chances, redemptive love and restoration. I did not plan on the themes but uncovered them after writing the story.

Your books appeal to both general and Christian readers. Is this intentional? What advice would you give to Christian writers who want to target a general audience but incorporate biblical values?

Emily: I wrote intentionally for a broader market as I wanted to reach beyond the Christian market. My advice would be to write from your personal experiences, emotions and struggles through your own faith journey. Don’t tell your readers what to believe. Show them why you believe through your story and let them come to that conclusion themselves.

MAI: Are there any cultural or other particulars you keep in mind writing for an Asian readership?

Emily: No. So far, I gravitate toward universal themes in my writing, so it connects with my readers regardless of where they are from.

MAI: What advice would you give writers who want to try their hand at writing for children?

Emily: #1. Read as many books as you can of the kind of books which you are interested in writing about. Understand the market and your audience.

#2. Connect with other writers and form a writer’s group to exchange manuscript critiques. It can make a huge difference in your writing.

#3. Read up on expert advice from children’s writers who have written successfully in areas of your interest. There are so many free resources available on the net these days.

#4. Write from your heart and what you are passionate about. Don’t chase trends because any themes which may be popular today will have been overwritten by tomorrow.

MAI: How can people around the globe purchase your children’s books?

Emily: You can buy my children’s books from the online bookstore Closetful of Books and Finding My Voice as an e-book. You can also read more about my books and contact me through my blog.

MAI: We appreciate your generosity in sharing your time and talents with writers around the world, Emily.

<<Reserve your spot in our free upcoming webinar on May 20, 8-9 a.m. CST,  “Writing for Children: Commandments to Follow & Sins to Avoid” with author Emily Lim of Singapore. Register online now.

<<Watch a news interview with Emily Lim about the rare voice disorder that prompted her journey into writing.

You can create culturally relevant children’s curriculum

Have you heard of Corrie ten Boom? Hudson Taylor? These are household names in many Christian families. Why? Because someone told their stories. One of the most exciting ways to create culturally relevant children’s curriculum is to use true life experiences and heroes of the national church. Every country is filled with heroes of the faith. Author Jeanette Windle describes how to turn these stories into captivating curriculum.

1)       Biography

Example:  Go to the historical sites of the person being studied. Using a digital device, collect and record the history of the local church through interviewing the person herself or survivors who remember her.  Write a five chapter biography.

2)      True life experiences

Example:  A nine-year-old street child who is looking for the love of a family learns three important lessons:   1. You are created by an Almighty God, 2. God loves you very much, and 3. God is with you wherever you go.

Five simple steps for turning stories into curriculum:

1)      Choose a Bible verse

2)      Introduce the story

Example:  “Have you ever felt alone?  Is that true?  Let me tell you about a little girl who discovered she was not truly alone.”

3)      Tell the story

4)      Make the Biblical application

5)      Offer a take-away thought and activity

This LittWorld 2012 video was shot and produced by Good News Productions in Nairobi, Kenya, for MAI .