Today we're happy to welcome Michelle Medlock Adams to the Six Pens blog. Michelle is a prolific author, teacher, and popular speaker at schools, writing conferences, etc. Today, we're talking about one of her new books, Dinosaur Devotions.
Dinosaur Devotions is a 160-page book geared toward grades 3-7. Each two-page spread introduces a dinosaur, then ties in characteristics of that animal with a Bible verse, journaling prompt, and "Digging Deeper" thought. The text is written at a level that is easy for kids to understand, with fun, colorful illustrations.
Welcome, Michelle! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Hoosier through and through—born and raised in Southern Indiana and a graduate of Indiana University School of Journalism. I began my writing career as a newspaper reporter, served as a stringer for the Associated Press, and eventually moved to Texas to take a feature writing position with a worldwide ministry magazine. That’s where I began writing for children.
One day my boss came into my office and explained that the writer who had been crafting the children’s stories was moving to the Internet department. Then he said, “You have kids, right?” I nodded, “Yes, I have two little girls.” “Good,” he said. “You can write the children’s stories then.” I remember thinking, “Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I can write for them.” But I’m a researcher so I read every book I could find about writing for children, and I joined the local chapter of SCBWI and began learning. I fell in love with writing for children during that season, and it’s been a love affair ever since.
How did Dinosaur Devotions come about?
Well, my youngest daughter, Allyson, wasn’t your typical girly girl, growing up. She loved dinosaurs and lizards. In fact, she had an African Fat-tailed Lizard for almost a decade. His name was Rocky. Anyway, because she loved dinosaurs so much, we checked out lots of dinosaur books from our library. And, I discovered I was also fascinated with dinosaurs. Since we were living in Texas at the time, we were able to see dinosaur footprints and fossils near Glen Rose, Texas. It was very cool.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago…I was writing another devotional book for adults on the theme of nature, and as I wrote about various animals, I started thinking about how fun it would be to write devotionals about dinosaurs. I liked the alliteration of “Dinosaur Devotions,” so I I made that the working title and pitched the idea to an editor friend of mine. She loved it! That was the confirmation I needed to move forward. I truly believe God started me on this Jurassic journey many years ago.
What's your favorite dinosaur?
I'd have to say the Parasaurolophus. It was quite an odd-looking dinosaur. It had a hollow tube-like crest on its head, and that crest often grew 6 feet long. Here's the coolest thing--it made a musical sound sort of like a trumpet! Some experts say the crest made a low B-flat sound, sort of like you might hear from an elephant, and that’s how it communicated with other dinosaurs. This dino had its own musical instrument attached to his head. I think that's really awesome!
You have written adult and children’s books. Which are harder and why?
Writing for children is much harder but it’s also way more fun. It’s more difficult because you have to say so much in so few words. And you have to write it in such a way that kids won’t be off your lap and down the hall before you’re done with the book.
If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?
Relax and enjoy the journey a little more. When I was younger, I was always looking to the next deadline, the next contract, the next conference. Today, I still plan ahead, but I am enjoying this writing journey a lot more. I feel so blessed to get to do what I do fulltime.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The money we spent so that I could attend the Write-to-Publish writers conference at Wheaton College in 2000. That conference was life-changing for me. I pitched a book to the late Denny Boultinghouse at Howard Books, and he rejected it within the first minute of our 15-min. appointment. So, to fill the time, I told him about another book idea I’d had while reading a magazine on the plane. “That I like,” he said, and proceeded to help me outline the book. The following year, that book, “Living the Love Chapter” was published and earned me “Writer of the Year.” It was a career-changing moment for me.
What tips do you have for writers wanting to break into the children's devotional market?
First off, study the mechanics of devotions. As you'll see from reading children's devo books, most have sort of a pattern--a scripture; a thought for the day; a journaling exercise; a prayer; and of course, the main story and teaching. And, often devotional books for kids are themed. This goes for adult devotional books, too. I actually teach a course on Serious Writer Academy called, "The Do's and Don’ts of Devotional Writing" that would prove helpful to any writer wanting to learn more about devo writing. As far as finding markets, "The Christian Writers Market Guide 2019" will help you identify magazine and book markets for your children's devotionals.
Thanks again, Michelle!
To learn more about Michelle's books and events, visit her online at any of the following places: