Greetings from Arizona!
Nikole, I appreciate your invitation to stop in and share my journey to become a children’s author.
For as long as I can remember I was going to be a nurse. Although I had been more successful in English than in other classes and I had always preferred words over numbers or science projects, becoming a writer never crossed my mind, until I neared my thirtieth birthday.
I met Bob Hodgson soon after I graduated from high school and we married that same year—1972. In 1975 and 1977, I gave birth to daughters, Amy and Sara.
In 1983 Bob was a deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department when the four of us attended a retreat for Law Enforcement families at the Forest Home Conference Center in California. That’s when I had my first encounter with a bonafide writer!
Carol the writer interviewed Bob and me for a magazine article. I remember sitting across the table from her, listening to her questions, watching her fiddle with her tape recorder, and jot notes. I began to daydream. Hmmm! A writer?
When I asked Carol questions about becoming a writer, she recommended I pick up a copy of The Christian Writer’s Handbook by Margaret Anderson. I found the book in the conference center bookstore and read it. Next, I saw an ad in a Christian women’s magazine for The Christian Writer (bought out and now available as The Christian Communicator) and I promptly subscribed. I was fascinated by the thought of ordinary people—people who didn’t live in exotic locations or lead fascinating lives—writing for publication.
Doubt and fear plagued me and I embarked on what I call my Jonah journey. In the fall of l984, I enrolled in a nursing program. Before the end of the first year of college, I laid in a hospital as a patient. Watching a nurse switch out a bag of fluids for my I.V., I realized a nursing career, though a noble one, wasn’t for me.
Writing! My thoughts always came back to writing. In the summer of 1987, I responded to an ad for a correspondence course offered by Christian Writers’ Fellowship International. My instructor recommended I enroll in the unit on writing daily devotionals. In November 1987, my first acceptance letter and non-acceptance letter arrived in the same envelope from The Secret Place, a quarterly daily devotional.
In early 1988, a realtor responded to our Open House sign and stopped by the house. When I told her I was a writer, she said, “I sure hope you’re writing for children because we need good books for children.”
I’m ashamed to admit it, but my shoulders squared and my chin raised. “No,” I said, “I write for adults.”
Yes, well, God has a mind of His own, thankfully, and He had other plans.
While looking out the window into my back yard, I spotted a roadrunner. The fiction writer’s big question posed itself. What if? What if that roadrunner were zipping and zooming across the desert when he stumbled over what he thought was a rock, and it turned out to be a tortoise. One critter has a feathery tail, the other wears a shell. One is fast-paced while the other is content to mosey. Could the roadrunner and the tortoise become friends, despite their differences? That story question led me to my first published book, Friendly Differences, one of twelve Desert Critter Friends Books.
What a gift to once again embrace wonder and think like a child. I wanted to share the truth of God as Creator of the world and of mankind, but I didn’t want to come across as preachy. I wanted to entertain my readers in the process. That’s why I use whimsy and exploration in my best-selling I Wonder Series picture book series. In I Wonder Who Hung the Moon in the Sky, I Wonder Who Stretched the Giraffe’s Neck, I Wonder How Fish Sleep, I Wonder How God Made Me, I Wonder How God Hears Me, and I Wonder What I Can Give God, a child who serves as the narrator uses his imagination in a playful discovery of truth.
Bedtime can be one of the most stressful times of the day for a parent or grandparent of a toddler. My best-selling picture book, Bedtime in the Southwest is a rhyming bedtime book that features desert critters and their avoidance antics but ends in a sweet hug. And hopefully, sweet sleep sounds.
I have a heart for beginning and emerging readers. I combined that with my love of the Southwest desert to write Thank You, God, for Rain and The Best Breakfast, two Zonderkidz I Can Read books.
My desire to look at daily life in light of scriptural truth led me to write two devotional books for children: Hide and Seek, a desert critter devotional on the Fruit of the Spirit for ages 5-9, and Real Girls of the Bible, for girls ages 8-12.
Why do I write children’s books? Truth. Christian values. God as Creator. God’s Presence. God’s Grace made possible through the Jesus Christ. Personal relationship and communication with God. Live out grace in interpersonal relationships. Use your God-given imagination for His glory. What you think matters. Those are recurring themes in my books. I want to meet a child’s need for entertainment, and at the same time showcase God’s sovereignty and His love, His heart as Creator, His provision for him or her. I want to help parents and grandparents instill biblical values into the hearts and minds of their children. I want to come alongside teachers and help them grow spiritually strong children.
Twenty-eight children’s books and eleven years later, WaterBrook Press published my first book for adults, Two Brides Too Many, Book 1 in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series of historical novels. An exciting milepost in my journey as an author, but I still love writing children’s books.
My upcoming children’s book releases, include . . .
Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, A Zonderkidz Faith Girlz book, available December 11.
The Princess Twins and the Puppy and The Princess Twins Play in the Garden, Zonderkidz I Can Read books, available December 13.
Look for The Princess Twins and the Birthday Party and The Princess Twins and the Tea Party in April 2012.
What is it that God has placed on your heart to do? What is He nudging you toward?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5&6, KNIV
Thank you for spending this time with me. May your Christmas celebration be joyful, and your new year full of blessing.
MONA HODGSON is the author of more than thirty-two books for adults and children. Having just completed four novels in her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Books—Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride (Working Title), Mona is starting her second series of historical novels with WaterBrook Press. Her writing credits also include The Princess Twins and the Puppy, The Princess Twins Play in the Garden, The Princess Twins and the Birthday Party, The Princess Twins and the Tea Party, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, Bedtime in the Southwest, contributions to eleven books for adults, and hundreds of short stories, articles, and poems in newspapers and magazines. Check out www.monahodgson.com for free resources and to sign up to receive Mona’s free quarterly updates. You can follow Mona at http://www.twitter.com and become a fan at http://www.facebook.com, Mona Hodgson Author Page.