Bible, board books, Publishing

COVER REVEAL: Introducing MY TENDER HEART BIBLE by Laura Sassi

MONDAY JOY! I have bible story board book coming out in February 2023 with Paraclete Press and the cover is just starting to pop up on the web, so I thought I’d share it here too.

The book is called MY TENDER HEART BIBLE and it’s something I was working on this past spring. It was the joy of each day. Hasn’t illustrator, Sandra Eide, done a marvelous job of capturing the wonder of meeting Jesus?

Here’s the scoop from Paraclete Press:

With sweet, rhyming text and whimsical illustrations, this sturdy board book, My Tender Heart Bible, offers a collection of the most loved and classic Bible stories for beginner readers. Simple yet creative paraphrasing of Old and New Testament re-tellings are paired with a “Heart Moment” for families to read aloud and act out. Scripture references are noted with each story that tell of God’s redemption plan.

My Tender Heart Bible:

• Makes the Bible memorable and accessible for young readers

• Helps kids think deeper about what the Bible says about God’s creation, His plan for humanity, and His love for all of people as His children

• Is perfect as bedtime reading for your toddlers and little ones, especially during the holiday season

• Offers details in the artwork for little ones to enjoy and find for “point and learn” discovery

• Serve as a base for introductory Bible discussion

• Includes an inviting padded cover and sturdy pages for little hands

• Makes a great gift for Easter, new baby, christening, baptism, baby showers, new grandchildren, curious toddlers, and boys and girls ages 0 to 4 years old

From Creation to Abraham to Moses and Jesus, God’s story of redemption is told through each individual story and as a collection. Look in the mirror and thank God for making you unique—what makes you different from others you see in your neighborhood? Can you count the stars and make your hands twinkle? Flap your arms like the dove that appeared when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. How many coats and blankets can you spread out for Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem? Let’s read the stories and celebrate God’s perfect plan from the marvelous beginning of Creation through Easter’s glorious hope made known by Jesus’ resurrection.

Thank you, Paraclete Press, for bringing this one into the world. I can’t wait for it to release.  

If you are thinking of adding this to your own collection or giving it as a gift, will you take a moment to pre-order a copy of MY TENDER HEART BIBLE today and/or mark it as “to-read” on Goodreads? Those are two wonderful and easy ways to help a new book make a lovely little splash when it releases.

Thank you, and, happy reading!

Note: If you enjoy knowing the latest about my booksand more, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice (and occasionally three times) weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!

board books, faith, Publishing

FUN NEWS: TWO-BOOK Deal!

This painted rock that I spotted in Surf City, NJ last summer is the perfect visual for today’s fun news. I’ve hinted a bit on social media recently about something special that I’ve been busy working on — namely something that rhymes and touches on themes very close to my heart. Now, finally, the announcement has run in Publishers Marketplace and PW Religion BookLine, so I can share my news! 

Here’s the official announcement from Publishers’ Marketplace:

And here’s the announcement in Publishers Weekly Religion BookLine’s Book Deals for June 22, 2022.

Thank you, Charlotte Wenger, for representing me so skillfully and kindly in the process of making these two new books a reality.

Thank you, Paraclete Press for saying “yes!” to not just one, but to TWO new board books that point little ones to God. 

And I’m over the moon with their choice of illustrator.  Take a peek at Sandra Eide’s work for a preview of the delightful artistic talent that will accompany the text.  I can’t wait for these two new books to hit shelves everywhere. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long. The tentative publication dates are February 2023 and September 2023!

What’s my writerly take away? Keep writing from the heart and follow your heart. Keep honing your craft.  Stand firm in your faith and the things that are important to you and marvel at how things unfold. Happy writing all!

board books, Publishing

FUN NEWS: New Board Book Deal!

I’d like to take momentary break from all things December, to share some fun Easter-themed news. I’ve been keeping this to myself for a little while, but the announcement ran in Publishers Marketplace so I think I can finally let out exuberant, “Hip-hop-hooray!” 

Here’s the official announcement:

Thank you, Charlotte Wenger, for representing me so skillfully and kindly in the process of making this a reality.

And, thank you, Zonderkidz for saying “yes!” to this new board book that is rooted in my love of Easter traditions, but always with a heart towards pointing kids to the real meaning of Easter.

I can’t wait for you to meet Bunny as she hops through her day searching for what Easter is all about. You won’t have to wait long. The tentative publication date is February 2022! 

P.S. The bunny pictured at the top is a little wooden bunny my mother painted for me, and which was part of my Easter basket in, gulp, 1980. Both at Easter and Christmas, she always did a great job of blending fun with meaning. I’d like to think I am following in her foot steps. I now keep that Bunny in an antique printer’s tray that hangs in our downstairs powder room. It’s full of all sorts of tiny treasures from my childhood. Remind me to share more about it in another post. =)

Thanks for helping me celebrate! Now back to December. =)

Interview, Picture Books, Publishing

SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Danaé Sanchez, the TRANSLATOR of LOVE IS KIND! (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

I was delighted last Spring to learn that a Spanish edition of LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) was in the works and couldn’t wait for its release this past December. Titled EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO and published by Vida Editorial, the Spanish division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, it’s a beautifully done edition. I’ve been practicing reading it aloud nightly in preparation for a live story time later this week and in doing so I’ve really come to love the charming flow of the translated version. This does not happen by chance! It’s the result of the efforts of a good translator. A close look at the copyright page of the Spanish edition revealed that the translator was a woman named Danaé Sanchez. I gratefully connected with her social media and asked if she’d be up for an interview. She was! I know you will enjoy her lovely spirit and keen insights into the translation process as much I have have. Here now is our interview, with my questions in bold. Enjoy!

Welcome, Danaé.  Please tell us a little bit about your journey into the book world.  How did you come to be a translator?

All my life, I had wanted to a graphic designer and when the time came to choose a career path, I applied twice for the best Design College in the country and was rejected –twice. I pouted. But God had a plan all along.  As a child I had prayed that God would use me for His Kingdom and I have a memory of finding a book by my mom’s bedside table. I opened it up and it read, “Thomas Nelson, Nashville”. I loved Nashville and said, “I am going to work there.” God was weaving His purpose in my life.

Years later, after being rejected twice in the Design school, the Lord spoke to me through my dad, suggesting that I major in translation/interpretation. I did. When the time came to do my internship, I started working with a friend who translated books for a Christian publisher. I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life! 

Three years later I started collaborating as a freelance translator with Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and other Christian publishers, and since June of 2009, when my journey with books began, I have translated over 70 books. Each book has been a gift from God! I am so thankful for each and every book and author I have translated.

Wow, what an amazing path your journey you have had. I’m glad you listened to that voice. And I’m so delighted with the way you translated LOVE IS KIND.  What is your process for translating a book?

First of all, thank you, Laura! I enjoyed so much translating LOVE IS KIND! 

When I get a book to translate, I normally read about the author first to get into their world –I find it very important to immerse into the world of the author. Next, I read through the book in the original language to get familiar with the book as well. 

Then, each day as I sit down with the text, I pray for my job to be excellent, and for God’s grace to be able to convey the heart of the author for their audience in the translation. 

When I finish translating the book, which might take a couple of weeks or months, depending on the genre, the length and the topic of the book, I do a first read-through to check any grammar mistakes or anything that I might have missed. Then I do a more profound check to edit it, to find a better word I could have used, and to polish the whole text. Finally I print the text to do a final proofreading because sometimes there are mistakes or typos that are not visible for the eye on a screen!

Before turning in my work to the publisher, I pray again for the book and the author. It is a blessing to translate such wonderful material to make it available for people around the world!  And I always get giddy when I get the book in my hands and see it in print for the first time!

It strikes me that, as an author, I go through many of the same steps as you do to make sure that each word is just right and captures the heart of the story I’m telling. Thank you for sharing your process.

What challenges do you face when translating a book? 

Every book sets a challenge for the translator –but these are lovely challenges! There are books that set a challenge in terms of formatting, others set a challenge in terms of the topic or the nature of the text. There are books that present a challenge for the translator when the original material hasn’t been edited or proofread, and the translator needs to re-edit the translated book so it can be easily read in the target language. 

“El amor es bondadoso” was a challenge in terms of rhythm and vocabulary. When translating a book for children, you need to find words that a child can understand, without breaking the feel or the style of the author. That is why a translator must love words and be a good reader! In this case I found a lovely “song” in the prose that I didn’t want to disrupt. So, in this case, the challenge was to try to reproduce the song, the rhythm, and to come up with an ideal term in Spanish for a couple of places where you made up words. 

The example that stands out is “tooth-er-ific” which appears in the scene where Beaver finds Little Owl’s coins and thinks the tooth fairy brought them.  Beaver is so happy that Little Owl decides to let him keep the money and wishes him a “tooth-er-ific” day.  Fortunately, in this case I found two words in Spanish that mean exactly the same. Tooth: diente. Terrific: grandioso, magnífico, genial. I chose “magnifico”, as it merged better with “diente”. So, the word I chose was: dientífico!

I love that word! It’s so much fun and definitely in keeping with the feel of the story.  And here’s a picture of both the English and Spanish pages featuring “tooth-er-fic” and “dientífico in case readers are curious for a peek:

As you reflect upon your time translating the book, is there a special moment in EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO that is your favorite? 

Yes! Little Owl’s soft heart made me cry! I cried from the very first page, because Little Owl had saved his coins to honor his Grandma on her birthday. I too have a very close connection with my Grandma and love that Little Owl honored his Grandma –which is something that children need to learn and to live now: a culture of honor. 

Little Owl’s honest heart also impacted me so much– to sacrifice for the other. When he could have spent his money to finally buy Grammy her gift, he instead used it for the good of Mrs. Mouse and her baby! (I cried again!) And why do we do all those things? For love. 

Little Owl, as Grammy said, spread love everywhere he went. I think sometimes we think that to love is to do something outrageous, when in fact, simple love can make the most impact. Being together is love. I was impacted by the message of selfless love that we need so much in this time. 

And… the illustrations are sooo lovely! They melted my heart!  I really enjoyed so much translating your book, Laura! Thank you for writing such a delightful book!

Oh, thank you, Danaé.  And I hope Little Owl’s heart melts others hearts as well, so that love and kindness overflow. 

One last question before we close.  In addition to translating, you are also an author. Tell us about your book(s). Any other works in the pipeline?

I LOVE books, but I never thought I would become an author! About seven years ago, I wrote a book about what God has done in my life. I was bullied when I was little and lived through several things that threatened to hinder His purposes for me. I didn’t know who I was, and accepted so many different names, such as failure, loneliness, depression, suicide… and those were not mine to take! But God worked through those trials to show me who I am in Him and fulfill His purpose for my life. The title of my first book is “When He Called My Name”. It’s currently only in Spanish, but I am working on translating it.  Woven into the text are stories of Bible characters who went through trials that showed them who they were in God. 

I am currently writing my second and third books. My second book is going to be a follow-up on the first book and the third book is going to talk about prayer, and the importance of knowing the Word of God, and how to pray the Word of God –a journey I started with God 7 years ago. 

Thank you, Danaé, for sharing your journey with us today. It’s been fascinating to get an inside look into all that goes into translating a book.  You remind me a bit of dear Little Owl, for like him, you put all your heart into your work, be it writing or translating. Thank you for blessing your readers in this way.

Follow Danaé here: 

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @danaegabrielasanchez

BLOG: danaelivingtheword.wordpress.com

YOUTUBE CHANNEL: Danaé Living the Word

TWO LAST THINGS: First please tune in this Wednesday, April 1st at 7pm ET for my Facebook Live! reading of EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO over the the Vida Editorial Facebook page. Here’s the lovely graphic they created for that:

Finally… THE GIVEAWAY! If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Editorial, December 2019) post a comment below. (NOTE: Must have U.S. mailing address and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway is sponsored by Vida Editorial and ends Monday, 4/6/20 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced next week! 

Picture Books, Publishing

GOOD NEWS: New Picture Book Deal!

I’ve been keeping this to myself for a little while, but the announcement ran in Publishers Weekly yesterday, so I think I can finally let out exuberant, “Baa-aaah!”

Thank you, Beaming Books, for taking on this project, one of my favorites. I can’t wait for you all to meet Little Ewe and share in her adventures as she counts her way farther and farther from Shepherd. You won’t have to wait too, too long. The book releases in November 2020!

Here’s my writerly takeaway from this latest fun news: Keep writing.  Keep subbing. Keep honing your craft.  Be true to yourself and good things will come.  Happy writing all!

author spotlight, Publishing

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Writing on Assignment with Children’s Author Shari Barr (and a GIVEAWAY!)

There are many paths to publication. And today, I’m delighted to have children’s author Shari Barr as my guest, sharing her experience writing on assignment. I found her post so encouraging and I hope you will too. Thank you, Shari, for sharing your experience! (And thank you, also, the giveaway opportunity!) Take it away!

My First Big Break—Writing on Assignment

by Shari Barr

Breaking into traditional publishing isn’t always easy, but there are lesser-known ways to get your foot in the door. Many major publishers develop series in-house and then hire authors to write it. I landed my first fiction deal in a work-for-hire agreement.  

Not only was it great fun, I also learned tons about the publishing world and walked away with four books to my credit.

Several years ago I learned about Barbour Publishing’s new Camp Club Girls mystery series through a Christian newsletter I received. After contacting the editor and expressing interest in possibly writing for them, I was invited to submit a sample chapter and subsequently contracted, along with five other authors, to write the 24-book series.

Each writer was assigned one of the six main characters in the series. My books were all written from the viewpoint of McKenzie Phillips, a witty, thirteen-year-old from Montana. Each writer was given a brief synopsis of our assigned books, but we were able to make each one our own. Since I’m a farm girl and saw the need for more farm related stories in children’s literature, I created McKenzie’s character to fit the mold of a modern farm girl. Of course, a few plot elements were inspired by some of my most memorable childhood stunts, except I made her a lot more fun. 

The characters in the series meet while sharing a cabin at church camp. In book one the roomies use their individual skills to solve a mystery they’ve encountered at camp. In each of the following books, two girls meet at various locations around the country to solve a mystery. The remaining four girls help sleuth by using cell phones and computers. Oh, and I must give credit to Biscuit, the wonder dog, who uses his canine detective skills to provide clues.

My first three books of the Camp Club Girls series, McKenzie’s Montana Mystery, McKenzie’s Oregon Operation, and McKenzie’s Branson Brainteaser released in 2010 and 2011. McKenzie’s Montana Mystery was reprinted in Get a Clue! Camp Club Girls, a special 3 stories in one volume, and released in 2012. Camp Club Girls: McKenzie released April 1, 2019, a four-in-one volume containing all McKenzie titles, including my fourth book, McKenzie’s Iowa History Mystery.

I may not be a household name, but when fan mail comes in from little girls, it’s all worthwhile.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Shari Barr always dreamed of being a writer. She was raised on a farm spending many summer days hiding in her treehouse, reading her stack of library books. When her pile dwindled (usually the same day she checked them out,) she made her own adventures, unknowingly creating plot elements for future middle-grade novels. She has published numerous articles and devotions and wrote Sunday school and Vacation Bible School curriculum for David C. Cook. In addition to the Camp Club Girls series, she wrote Memory Maker Bible Crafts for 2nd and 3rd Grades, published by David C. Cook in 2008.

She and her husband live on a farm in in southwest Iowa not far from where she grew up. Since their son and daughter are grown, she spends her free time taking photographs of farm life and spoiling their stupendously handsome and intelligent mutt, Hank.

To view her photography, feel free to follow her Facebook page “Mama Barr’s Farm” at https://www.facebook.com/ShariHarnessBarrAuthor/

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!

Shari has kindly offered one copy of her newest book with Barbour, “Camp Club Girls: McKenzie” to one lucky winner. If you’d like a chance to win her book, let me know by leaving a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Wednesday, 7/17/19 at 12:01 am EST. The giveaway is now over.

Guest Blog, Picture Books, Publishing

THE AGENT SEARCH: SIX Questions for Picture Book Authors

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the organizers of the Write2Ignite Conference to write a post offering tips for seeking an agent. That post is up today. For those of you who are seeking an agent, I hope my thoughts are helpful. You can find them here. And while you are there, you might want to look into their upcoming September conference as well. It looks like a great opportunity, especially for writers with faith-themed stories, to learn more about the world of Christian children’s publishing.

As timing would have it, since penning this post, I find myself between agents, so I will be taking my own advice… at some point.

However, my first goal for the summer is to take stock of where I stand as a writer, set goals as to where I would like to be in five years, and then dedicate the summer to writing, writing, writing, with the primary joy-filling goal of building up my picture portfolio with brand new stories.

Happy Summer, all! May it be filled with the joy of seeing the world through writer’s eyes.

P.S. Remember, this journey as a writer is not to be rushed. That’s one of my core bits of advice and a good reminder for me (and maybe you, too) on this sunny spring day. And if you want to read more of my thoughts on that, read here and here.

Awards, Picture Books, Publishing

DIVA DELORES Earns FIRST HONORS in the 2019 Best in Rhyme Awards!

WOW! Delores is delighted to receive first honors in the 2019 Best In Rhyme Awards! Watch the official announcement on KidLit TV and thank you to Angie Karcher and her team of judges for their hard work over the last few months analyzing entries and winnowing the list. Congrats to winner Sue Douglass Fliess for her delightful MARY HAD A LITTLE LAB and second honor winner Josh Funk for his picture book MISSION DEFROSTABLE!

Hooray for rhyming picture books and lovely occasions like this when we get to celebrate them! Happy Monday!

Inspiration, Publishing, Writing

SPOTTED FAWN: Thoughts on BRAND NEW Stories

IMG_7589Look what I spotted on my early morning walk. It’s a brand new fawn curled up in the dappled shade of a neighbor’s front lawn – so tiny and fresh, with soft baby chestnut colored hide and bright white spots! She’s the third such fawn I’ve discovered over the last few years, hidden – in plain sight – on the lawns of our suburban New Jersey community.

The first time I saw a fawn curled up like this with no mama in sight, I thought it might be abandoned or lost.  I’ve since learned that it’s standard practice in the deer world for a mama to leave her brand new (or nearly new) baby snuggled up like this in a quiet open space. She does this because when newly born, fawns are still wobbly and too little to keep pace with the older deer. Mama also needs to forage on her own for food so she has what she needs to properly nurse and care for her baby.

And – if you haven’t figure it out yet – yes, this sweet fawn so tender and new has gotten me thinking about writing. Seeing her this morning reminds me how, as a beginning writer, I was often tempted to submit my stories to publishers way too prematurely when what they really needed was to be left alone to rest and grow in a quiet place while I went about my business of reflection, revision and nursing those stories with plenty of quiet restful breaks in between feedings, until they were truly fit and ready to send.

I think ALL writers, seasoned and new, can benefit from this reminder every once in a while  – and what cuter way to be reminded than with the image of a sweet young fawn snuggled up in a quiet front lawn.

Happy writing… and remember not to rush the process.

author spotlight, Inspiration, Publishing

Keynote Speaker Tami Charles’ Words of Wisdom

My wonderfully talented author friend Tami Charles was the keynote speaker at this past weekend’s NJSCBWI Annual Conference. She was so inspiring and this lovely post by author Naomi Gruer captures the spirit and light of her speech so well! Be inspired!

Bmore energy

Author Tami Charles

Charles delivering her keynote speech at the NJSCBWI18 conference.

Inspiration for Everyone

Tami Charles, whose middle grade novel Like Vanessa debuted in March, delivered a keynote speech at the NJSCBWI18 conference this past weekend.

She talked about the value of hope. “Somewhere between no and yes lies hope.”

She talked about rejections. “The word no has empowered me, broken me, and put me back together again.”

She talked about persistence. “You keep writing. You don’t stop.”

And she said, “Step into your greatness.”

Thanks, Tami, for words of wisdom that ring true for me as a writer and also for anyone trying to reach a seemingly insurmountable goal.

Click here to watch a short video about Charles and Like Vanessa. Take one guess which book I’m buying as gifts for some important tween girls in my life.

In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa…

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