Tag Archives: writing

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

Part 4: 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 three parts, see these links: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. To recap, we’ve looked at steps 1-6 to how I write a book:

  1. Ideas
  2. Outline
  3. Character Profiles
  4. Pre-Book Trial Run
  5. First Draft
  6. Editing

Steps number seven and eight happen about the same time. We’ll call step seven Illustrations. I go through and evaluate the chapters to determine what might make an interesting picture for each one. Then, I’ll often run those ideas by others for their opinions. I keep a spreadsheet that lists each chapter, a short description of what it’s about, and then my picture idea (or multiple ideas until I narrow them down). Sometimes, I don’t have any ideas for a chapter, and the family will help me brainstorm possibilities. In Finding Change, I deviated from the Moody books one-small-picture-per-chapter, and instead, we did fewer beautiful, full-page illustrations, which required a lot of time.

The next step after choosing the illustration is to figure out a photograph that would depict what I’m envisioning for my illustrator to draw from. Two friends illustrated a number of my books, and now, Mary has done four titles (Christmas Comes to Sunflower, Sunflower’s Christmas Miracle, Colorado with the Moodys, and Finding Change). Mary is very talented, and she can work with a basic idea, embellishing it and changing it to what I want!

Mary, my great illustrator

We’ve done some interesting things to get pictures over the years. One involved going to a grocery store, with a nurse friend of ours, and asking permission from the store to break some eggs on the floor. They were great to accommodate us! Another time, we rented a U-Haul truck and used smoke balls to make it look like the engine was smoking. For the last book, I went to the town from which I patterned Main Street and took a few pictures for the scenes I wanted. A neighbor helped me out for another picture. Mary spends as many hours as she can sketching each day until we get the project finished.

Step eight is Test Families. Since I tend to work under tight deadlines, they generally have just 10-14 days to read the book and give me feedback. Since I’m still in the Editing stage at this point, I try to get the book in the best condition I can, as it hasn’t reached the copyeditor step yet.

My test reader are an enthusiastic bunch, excited to be the first readers! As they are reading, I’ll sometimes get e-mails from the moms, sharing what they’re loving. After they finish the book, they’ll e-mail back a questionnaire, which asks things like: What are the book’s strong points? What would you say the weak points are? Did your children have trouble understanding parts of the story? etc. I also ask for back cover comments and comments for the website.

One of my test families

There are still more steps to this exciting journey, but I’ll save those for another post! I’ll tell you now that I’m brainstorming ideas for Finding Change’s sequel, stuffing a Pages file with many ideas and plot themes, and getting close to forming an official outline.

Thanks for all your enthusiasm on the 2500 post! I’ve loved it!


“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without
wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”
Hebrews 10:23

Part 3: 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

(You can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.)

To recap, we looked at the first steps to writing a book:

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


The sixth step I will refer to as Editing. That one simple word entails so much more. Depending on my time deadlines and family availability, the way I accomplish this varies a little. One thing I plan on: editing takes at least twice as long as writing the first draft.

I jump in at the very beginning and start re-writing. Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. Some of the things I work on are making the story come alive, pacing it well, and ensuring a smooth flow.

The first edit is a rough edit round. I’m not fine-tuning yet.

As I’m in the midst of the rough edit, we begin a family read-aloud in the evenings, reading what I just edited. In the fiction/non-fiction authors’ world, they have critique partners, because one can’t possibly brainstorm all the possibilities by one’s self. I’ve been blessed to have all that in house!

I track changes while the family gives feedback, and then I implement their suggestions. From there, I continue to edit, rewrite, polish, edit, dream, and edit some more.

When I am down to the finish line with the text, Anna does an edit. She makes notes and comments about things I can improve and helps me on specific areas. In my current book, she’s responsible for adding quite the sparkle to different sections.

Mom also edits. Her fresh ideas are amazing. In addition, I ask Dad to do a paper read-through. He’s the practical, analytical mind, so if something doesn’t make sense, he’ll catch it.

Beyond this, I do more editing, bringing in the fine-tuning part. These rounds are on paper.

It’s thrilling for me to see the story become what I’ve dreamed. I can’t wait to introduce you to my newest book next month!

But there’s more to this book journey, so stay tuned.


My little nephew, Benji, and myself recently

“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”
1 John 1:4

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).

Part 1: 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

Book writing is a process, so I’m going to divide this into a series.

  1. Ideas! That’s where you start, and I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not overflowing with countless future book ideas. I have some, but not a crazy number, as some people do. The Lord is faithful to give me each story, and so I believe my lack of having a storehouse creates an even greater dependence on HIM! With my current book, my initial book idea completely changed about three months ago. I still may write that first book someday in the future but not now. As I work on ideas, I discuss it with my team. 🙂 See my team below. They are amazing! The ideas they come up with?! Whew!

2. Outline! So once I get the story plot concept, I outline it to see if it works in an actual story. This for me is the hardest part of the journey. One can only sit and brainstorm for so long! But I take my brainstorming in manageable chunks. Then, I go to my team of helpers and run through my ideas. Several in my family should be fiction writers themselves (seriously!). We usually discuss my outline after dinner and Bible time. They’ll give me suggestions of things I ought to change or that don’t make sense or fresh ideas.

I love this verse on my wall!

3. Character Profiles! This is a new thing I’ve implemented in my current book. To keep my characters unique and to help me as I really learn them, I have profiles listing out what kind of person they really are: their likes, dislikes, personality, etc. I’ve studied a book on personalities (there are many books out there!) which has helped me to create real-life characters.

4. Pre-Book Trial Run! This is another new thing. Although my family has critiqued and gone through the book, I don’t normally have others read it until about the time it goes to a copyeditor. But, this time around, I selected a number of people to FaceTime/Skype with, and I told them my story. Their response?! They loved it! It was also great for me to be able to articulate my book in 30-45 minutes of time and also to see what my weak areas were.

We’ll stop with those and delve into the actual writing process next time I share.


Brainstorming with coffee and my favorite dog :: a perfect combo.

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:
bind them about thy neck;
write them upon the table of thine heart.”
(Proverbs 3:3)

Four Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block

What are your tips for dealing with writer’s block? That’s definitely my biggest fear/frustration. 


This question came in a recent post about writing, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

  1. Pray. Yes, pray. I stop trying to write and pray. The Lord is the Author of creativity, and He knows exactly what the story needs! I’ve often found that praying gets me back on the right track.
  2. Leave the computer, and go do something. Even in the midst of tight deadlines, it’s okay to leave your writing for a few hours. Go take a walk, bake something, eat chocolate (ha, I do that regardless of writer’s block!), go run an errand, whatever. That break often gives the needed energy and drive to get back to writing.
  3. Ask others. It’s a common practice in writing circles to have critique partners. I’m so blessed because critique partners live right here! If I’m stuck, I talk through it with a family member. Seriously, sometimes in less than a minute, they’ll have the idea needed to move my story forward. Or, just talking through the scene gives me a fresh idea.
  4. Move on. If the first 3 points don’t work, I’ll simply skip the section I’m having trouble with and come back to it later. Eventually, I get it!


As tough as writer’s block is, it shows me my continual dependence upon Jesus. This story is not my own. It’s His. 

For those who write, please share your best tips on overcoming writer’s block in the comment box below to encourage others! I can’t wait to hear them.


“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
for ever and ever:”

Isaiah 30:8