Part 5: 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 read the first four parts, see these links: Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. To recap, we’ve looked at steps 1-8 of my book writing process.

  1. Ideas
  2. Outline
  3. Character Profiles
  4. Pre-Book Trial Run
  5. First Draft
  6. Editing
  7. Illustrations
  8. Test Families

Step number nine is copyediting. We’re so grateful for the copyeditor! When I’m writing first draft or beginning to edit, I check with the copyeditor and see if the date I’m thinking of to send the book to him will fit into his schedule. The copyeditor works through grammatical issues, edits parts that may need clarification, and gives the book a thorough scrub, looking at all the details carefully. He tracks the changes in Word.

Blog reader question: What/who sets the deadlines and what is the reason a writer can’t just finish a book on their own timeline?

A personal preference for me is to set a deadline because that makes me push hard and stay focused.

To set the timetable, I consult the calendar to determine the ideal ship date for the book and then backtrack. The printer generally needs about 3 weeks, but if there is any hitch along the way, there might be another few days or even a week. We need time to lay out the book in the final format before it goes to the printer. The copyeditor usually needs 2 weeks, etc. For Finding Change, my copyeditor date was October 1st and the press date was the 31st.

Mary working on the cover

Step number ten is the cover. With Finding Change, we originally wanted a photo of my main character to be on the cover but the potential options pursued didn’t work. As I researched what other kids’ book covers looked like, I discovered most of them had illustrated covers. Mary worked diligently sketching concepts to first see if we could get that idea to work, and then she jumped into the real thing. It took her about a week from sketching concepts to finishing the final illustration. There was no room for messing up because she used colored pencils. After the illustration was completed, we scanned it in and did the final layout, which included using a combination of Photoshop and Indesign.


“Prepare thy work without,
and make it fit for thyself in the field;
and afterwards build thine house.”
Proverbs 24:27

Grandma’s Bookbag

Follow the Trail Trucks is a Dorling Kindersley book. This book has lines to be finger traced, taking a truck from one destination to another. I wasn’t sure that the children would find this book interesting enough, but they usually choose it from the book bag and greatly enjoy following the trails. My grandchildren observe with me how the two-year-olds take short cuts with the trails, while the three-year-olds want to follow the loops in the trails backward, and the four-year-olds have it all down perfectly.

Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. This is one of my favorite picture books, and I am delighted the children like it and pick it often. In the story, Bear has a cold, and all the animals are doing what they can to help him feel better. We enjoy reading and saying together the phrase repeated through the book, “And the bear feels sick!” In the end, bear feels good and is ready to play, but then all his friends are getting sick. Bear tells them he will take care of them like they took care of him.

All the links in this post are Titus2’s Amazon affiliate links and bless the ministry. See our privacy policy here.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget
not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:2

A Week of Maxwell Dinners

We had a request to share some of our main-meal menus. We keep those in a Google Spreadsheet that the cooks can access from their computers or phones. I copied a week from there to post here.

Saturday 2/16 Instant Pot ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans
Sunday 2/17 Burritos, green salad, homemade whole wheat tortillas, chips, salsa
Monday 2/18 Salmon patties, buns, green salad
Tuesday 2/19 Leftover vegetable beef soup with pasta, homemade whole wheat bread
Wednesday 2/20 Leftover enchiladas, green salad, chips, salsa
Thursday 2/21 Vegetable ham soup with pasta, homemade whole wheat bread
Friday 2/22 Ham pot pie, green salad
Saturday 2/23 Ground beef skillet, green salad

About two years ago, we started having our bigger meal at lunch time. After the initial adjustment of more food preparation in the mornings, we have liked the switch. We talked about making this change years ago, but with homeschooling weren’t willing to give up our quality, morning homeschooling time for food preparation.

In winter, we often have homemade soup. Anna discovered cooking the pasta separately and then adding it to the soup portion keeps it from getting mushy as it does if boiled in the soup broth and then reheated for leftovers.

Trusting in Jesus,

“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee,
if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God”
(Deuteronomy 28:2).

Special Life-Long Memories

Charles Spurgeon in his autobiography tells a heart-warming story of his grandmother making treats for him with leftover pastry. A kneading trough was located in the kitchen, and in it was a little shelf. Charles knew if he came into the kitchen, he would likely find a pastry treat waiting for him, shaped into an animal with currants for eyes. 

One of my grandmas got up very early on Thanksgiving mornings to cook and bake. She had extra pie crust dough after her pies were all made so she rolled it out thin, brushed it with melted butter, and topped it with cinnamon and sugar. She cut the dough into rectangles, baked it until golden brown, and served it to her grandchildren. To this day, my family loves pie crust made just like that.

My other grandma welcomed my sister and me for visits by putting our Raggedy Ann dolls on our beds along with a little Tupperware container of her homemade fudge so we each had our own portion, along with a love note. When we arrived at her house, we hugged her and Pampie, and then ran straight to our beds!

Pampie and Meme

My children recall with fondness our read-aloud time. When we started homeschooling, I read a chapter from a book right after lunch. Eventually our read-aloud time moved to late in the afternoon.

Reading to John and Joseph
Reading to my grandchildren

They also greatly loved the season when they found an encouraging note under their pillow when they went to bed. Each week, I wrote one of those notes to a child, snuck into their bedroom during the day, and slipped the note under the pillow. I kept track of who had received the last note and worked through the children in age order so each would receive an equal number of notes.

A note I wrote about 20+ years ago to Sarah.

Simple things create life-long memories. They don’t have to be time consuming, burdensome, or expensive. They express love! 

You probably have some of those memories, too, and are building them for your children. Want to share them?

Trusting in Jesus,

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God;
and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).

Winter Workouts and Gear

“First, I have noticed that your family is into fitness, and I was wondering when the weather turns cold and snowing/raining, what do you do for cardio? Also, what are some of the things that you might wear in order to stay warm and dry?” A blog reader

This is a great question. We’ve had a lot of snow and ice this winter. It is true that we love to exercise, and just because it’s winter, well, that doesn’t stop us.

While we do most of our cardio workouts in our home gym, we still walk outside, and we girls also try for a weekly run. For walking, we like down coats, especially Eddie Bauer. They have different options of warmth and length available. My personal favorite I wear a ton is the Cirruslite Down Jacket. Jesse loves his North Face down jacket.

All three girls are wearing EddieBauer down jackets.
Jesse wearing a North Face down jacket while hiking. We’ve found down to be perfect for hiking too!

Under Armour Base Layer is another blessing. They come in varying levels, but their 3.0 and 4.0s are perfect for winter. Running gear we prefer to layer because down coats are too bulky and hot. Under Armour’s ColdGear turtleneck is one of my favorite options.

Under Armour ColdGear turtlenecks

If it is icy, YakTraxs are an option to wear over a running or walking shoe. They are a little hassle to put on, though. YakTraxs seriously make it possible to walk in otherwise impossible slippery conditions.

We’ve also found hiking shoes have more traction than normal running shoes, so if it’s slightly icy, but not enough to call for YakTraxs, those are a great option.

That being said, we’ve had so much ice this winter, that Dad and Mom have erred on the side of caution and not done as much walking. Instead, they’ll do a home workout, using the treadmill and the stairs. Then, they’ll finish out with a kettlebell workout.

Dad wearing an UnderArmour jacket and Mom wearing a Columbia coat. She’s since received (for Christmas!) a CirrusLite Eddie Bauer jacket mentioned above and loves it.

I hope some of these ideas help you to brave the winter weather!


“For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth;
likewise to the small rain, and to the
great rain of his strength.” Job 37:6

The Power of a Homeschool Schedule

Last week I spent a morning homeschooling some of my grandchildren while Melanie took a child to a doctor’s appointment in Kansas City. You know what? It wasn’t hard because Melanie has a solid homeschool schedule in place. All I needed to do was consult the schedule posted on the refrigerator, and then follow it. The children are used to the schedule, so they know what they are to do as well. They had even figured out how to compensate for the child who was gone for the doctor’s appointment and wouldn’t be there for her 1/2 hour playtime with Andrew and Benjamin!

Each child’s school morning is structured and interesting. The power of a schedule during our homeschooling years was vital for our success, and now it is blessing my grandchildren’s lives with productivity, direction, and peace (although I know it isn’t always peaceful with little children).

Trusting in Jesus,

Such a cute trio
This little guy is almost 2!
Drew reading to me

“Children’s children are the crown of old men;
and the glory of children are their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6

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