All posts by Sarah Maxwell

Part 2: The Book Writing Process

“I think it would be very educational (not to mention fascinating) for you to guide us blog readers through the process of writing a book. From the initial idea to the finished product, step-by-step.” A blog reader

To recap, I shared in Part 1 the beginning of the writing process:

  1. Ideas
  2. Outline
  3. Character Profiles
  4. Pre-Book Trial Run


The fifth and next step is very important.

First Draft! It’s with great excitement mixed with trepidation that I begin writing. WILL this story actually form? My heart fills with gratitude as the words come, and I quickly become engaged in the story. How can I ever doubt?

I use Pages for writing. I have a document with my complete outline (which I’ve saved multiple revisions of as I created it), and I begin a new document for my book. I copy a portion of the outline INTO my book document, so I don’t have to switch back and forth as I write. I can refer to it and then delete the outline portions as I write them. I love having a whole section done so I can copy in the next part! I save my work to iCloud, and I also save revisions by duplicating the document and changing the number.

The goal of the first draft is to get the story written. Period. The fine-tuning doesn’t happen right now! I become attached to my characters. I picture my scenes as if I was right there in them. I love seeing the story take shape, and I praise the Lord for His overwhelming grace!


I find a quiet environment to write in, preferably away from my normal desk. With Sunflower’s Christmas Miracle, I wrote a lot of it at Joseph’s house, when he was away on a trip. I’ve written Moody books on the bus (when it was stationary!), at Joseph’s house before he got married, etc. For my current book, I wrote most of it in our spare room, with a few days at my grandma’s house when we had roofers here.

I turn my phone on airplane mode and turn off WiFi. I can’t stress how important this is! My phone can be such a distraction. Going for several hours at a time without checking e-mail or texts gives undivided attention to writing. Even when I take a break, it’s better to chat with a family member then turn on my phone. If there’s something to research, I generally mark it in my document, because I KNOW if I turn my phone on, I’ll be distracted. I’m not perfect keeping it on airplane mode, but I am very happy when I do!

Ellie is an awesome buddy and enjoys napping while I write, but sometimes she wants to play!

I make writing a huge priority. When God gives me a project and a vision, I work my hardest to get it done. This sometimes means turning down invitations to do something I enjoy. Also, I find if I go out in the morning, it’s much harder to concentrate the rest of the day. (Mom has encouraged moms for years on thisthe encouragement to stay home! If you go out in the morning, you’ll find it’s hard to stay on track for the afternoon!)

If I hit a writer’s block or just a difficult section, it’s okay. Some writing days are slower, but my page count still increases. The goal is to keep writing, even when it’s hard.

Finishing the first draft is an exciting moment! I praise the Lord for His grace and mercy!


Writing on the 4th of July!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me…
But my God shall supply all your need according
to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:13&19).

A Bit Out Numbered

Over the past few days, we had the opportunity to watch Nathan and Melanie’s children so they could have a dinner out and then Christopher and Anna Marie’s. Without Anna and Mary, we are outnumbered, but we still have a blast and manage to get them all fed, cleaned up, play with them, and have Bible time! 🙂

I look at these kiddos and feel so very blessed to have them in our lives. They dearly love their aunts + uncles + Grandpa + Grandma, and it’s a delight to have them around!

Reading books

Dinner time

Tina does so well reading the Bible!

This Benji is such a cuddly “teddy bear”!  

A selfie

Now, onto our evening with Christopher and Anna Marie’s kiddos.

I got a kick out of where Ellie is. She’s very smart and knows where to be for the best positioning of crumbs.

Jesse really had quite a car race going with the girls, who loved it. They can really sail on the basement floor.

Joshua and Grandpa did their own thing.

Christopher and Anna Marie celebrated their 8-year engagement anniversary. What a cute family they have! Do you notice a lot of the kids looking down?

It’s because Arnold was there.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me:
for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:14

Jesse’s House Progress

I thought y’all might enjoy seeing progress on Jesse’s house. In between renters, he’s renovating the main bath and master bath!

Talking through things.


Some brotherly advice going on here.

I do not have a wide angle, and this is a small space, so it’s hard to show it all! This is the main bath above.

Nathan is there in the master bath.

I love this picture. Drew stopped in with his mommy and was looking around at things.

Abby did a great clean up job!

“I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”
Psalm 77:12

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

We can’t forget the extreme sacrifice and bravery our forefathers displayed for us in laying down their lives so that we–the United States of America–could be free from Great Britain and stand alone as our own nation. They gave us independence; they gave us freedom; they gave us liberty. At the greatest cost. Their own lives. Yet that freedom was freedom in a beautiful way. A freedom to live God-fearing lives, honoring our government, obeying the laws of the land, and creating a country we could be proud of. That freedom has restrictions.

In the same way, I’ve been reflecting on our freedom in Christ. Yes, Christ set us free, but it’s not free to live however we want. Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

No, it’s the most amazing, beautiful freedom. It’s to be a bondservant in Christ. Mark 8:33: “… Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

That, my friends, is true liberty.


PS: This is a powerful quote from CH Spurgeon: “We must know that our time is short, and that our life will soon come to an end, and yet we fail to know it practically, for we are not as earnest as dying men ought to be. In this the arch-enemy is not as foolish as we are, for he so well knows that his time is short that he remembers the fact and is motivated by it.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
John 8:36

Random Life, Summer in Full Swing

Happy July! Wow. I am shocked at how fast June went. I spent a lot of time writing, and it’s been exciting to see the Lord’s blessing upon this first draft!

My sisters are doing well. Thank you so much for praying! As those of you know who are involved in ministry work, there is often great spiritual warfare. Satan does not want to lose! This last week was super intense for them, but God brought them faithfully through! They have return tickets to come home in two weeks, and we’re excited to see how the Lord will continue to use them, and yes, I confess, anxious for their arrival home.

Soooo, without my sweet sisters and their presence, I thought this Random Life might be harder to pull off. But, again, the Lord brought together all kinds of pictures to give you a peek into Maxwell life.

It was an exciting month, with Jesse buying his house debt-free! Seeing my brother become a home-owner and now his mind turning into all-things-house has been great to see. He’s jumping into a quick remodel, and Dad and brothers have lent some help. You know how Anna and Mary are with these projects, so they’ll be happy to assist when they get home!

Dad and Mom have enjoyed early-morning-long walks before it gets too hot. Summer came very quickly here in Kansas, but we’re grateful for ALL seasons!

Okay, enjoy a peek into the last month.


Christopher and Anna Marie and all five kiddos flew to Washington to visit Anna Marie’s family. What an adorable family!

Whew, what a small crew we are without Anna and Mary. We took a Sunday evening walk in Weston, a state park nearby.

Abigail trapped a raccoon who had been taking her chickens!

This munchkin can ride a real bike now! Super cute.

Jesse signing a paper for his house.

Ha, ha. What it takes for me to write! Even Ellie! 🙂

These two.

Miss Calia loves to “wash” dishes.

When Christopher and Anna Marie were in Washington, they visited a place which holds a lot of memories for them exactly 8 years prior–when they started their courtship!

Jesse working on his house

After one of their long walks.

Loving my writing!

Stopping in with a Father’s Day gift.

This Benji is total cuteness!

Dad keeps our grass mowed! Those yellow leaves have to do with the fact we’ve had an extremely hot June with little rain.

Look where Mr. Arnold decided to go as I was doing laundry. He’s a curious guy.

Nathan took a mini-trip with his girls.

Ellie met the kittens! Pickles (the gray + white one) didn’t like Ellie at all and hissed at her. Tiger, on the other hand, thought she was okay.

Ellie’s kinda used to the bat-at-her-thing from Arnold! 🙂

Cleaning out Jesse’s car on a Saturday.

Joshua’s favorite place in Washington is at the Pike Place Market.

More house stuff.

Taking photos one Friday evening for a local church event.

Miss Elizabeth is really growing up!

Melanie with her two little guys

Dad and Mom stopping in to see Jesse’s progress.

Ellie still takes to being a lap dog.

Making tortillas with my nieces.

Mom with Kyle.

Trying to fill in while Anna and Mary are gone.

Mom was a creative grandma for Aunties’ playtime. She had each of the children write down their favorite game and put it in a basket. Then, they drew a paper and would play whatever game it was.

“The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.”
Psalm 146:15-16