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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy news...I have a new agent!

I am excited to announce that I have switched literary agents.  

I am now agented by Drew Chamberlin of Credo Communications.

I received the completed paperwork yesterday... Merry early Christmas! 

I am very thankful to God for this turn of events, 

and I look forward to 2018 and its new opportunities and new beginnings.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Look what came in the mail!

This little mouse arrived in my mailbox today as a gift from Rebecca Angus!  It is so darling and was such a day brightener.  I'm really looking forward to the release of MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT in October, 2018. Hope you are, too!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

5 Minute Friday (or Saturday) -- ONLY

If only...   two sneaky words that can rob each day of joy!!

Recently I read and studied author Shannon Popkin's Bible Study Control Girl.  In it, she reminded me that "Transformation begins in our thought patterns."

She continued, "When you reflect on truth, you wear new grooves in your mind."

"Thoughts are powerful.  What we believe shapes the direction we take in life.  So to change direction, we must change our thought patterns."

She tied it in with Romans 12:2 which says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

So how does that apply to the key word "ONLY" for 5 minute Friday?

Lately I have gotten into a bad habit of thinking "if only"

If only _______, then I could really have joy and/or be happy.

If only _______, then life would be fair and/or better.

If only _______, then I would really have it all together like "insert name of person I can't quite be as perfect as." 

You get the picture.  But the problem with "if only" is that I am wallowing around in the darkness and missing out on so many current experiences of JOY!  Time to stop that, and start being transformed by the renewing of my mind!

My "if onlys" may never happen.  (and probably won't).  So what is it in my present situation that I can give thanks for?  Many, many things!  There's the big stuff like...

  • my salvation
  • my husband
  • my kids
  • my job
  • my fantastic students
  • my friends
  • God's provision for my needs

Then there is all the beautiful extra blessings that happen along each day...

Such as... (I love details, don't you?)

  • Doug (my husband) putting up the Christmas light this year--they make me smile.

  • Going to the movie Coco with my daughter and loving all the great Día de los Muertos tie-ins for class.

  • Facetiming my daughter who is in college.

  • Getting to analyze an Agatha Christie novel with my son as an assignment for his class.

  • Coffee with a student from our former youth group where I had the privilege of hearing about her trip to Africa and all of her adventures.

  • A light sprinkling of snow this morning.

  • My students--I love our conversations in Spanish and English...they make my day brighter EVERY day!

  • God's voice to me through his Word as in the Control Girl study.

In conclusion:

I need to spend time reflecting on truth.

I need to stop saying if only and start living in the joy-filled NOW.  What about you?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Author Interview with Denette Fretz about upcoming title I WANT YOUR SMILE CROCODILE

I am thrilled to have Zonderkidz author Denette Fretz with me here today on my blog.  She is the author of the Next Door Series, PIRATES ON THE FARM and CONRAD AND THE COWGIRL NEXT DOOR.  Today we are going to discuss her newest book I WANT YOUR SMILE, CROCODILE.  Here is a picture of the cover!  So adorable...I love it!

This book will be released in April, 2018.  You can preorder it now at this link:

Preorder on Amazon

And now to start the interview...Here we go!  
Hi Denette!, Thanks for joining me.  First of all, I notice that you include a lot of humor in your writing.  What inspires your humor?

Hi Mindy, glad to be here.  As a picture book collector, most of my best-loved stories are humorous.  If I had to name a favorite book, it would be Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day--but at the top of my list would also be Mercer Mayer's Little Critter series, Helen Lester's A Porcupine Named Fluffy, and Jon Klassen's This is Not My Hat.  I love humor, but kids do too--which make it an excellent vehicle for teaching biblical principles without sounding preachy or hackneyed.

I love humor, too.  Do you have a favorite page in the story of I Want Your Smile, Crocodile that makes you chuckle each time you see it?

I brought a sneak peek into the book.  Here it is!

Oooh! Thank you so much for bringing that!  

The main character of I Want Your Smile, Crocodile is a spunky meerkat named Jack.  Illustrator Jackie Urbanovic did a fantastic job of introducing the reader to Jack.  With one illustration, she captured Jack's attitude, while making him cute and loveable.  Her portrayal always make me smile.

Truly adorable.  I can see why that is a favorite!  My next question is in regards to writing technique.  Do you have any writing techniques that you use that help you to add bits of humor into the story?

If you were to read any of my manuscripts as straight text, the humor would be intermittent.  It is the complement or contrast between text and illustrations that generate humor on almost every page of my three books.  My favorite humor is when the text contradicts the illustration.  For instance, in I Want Your Smile, Crocodile, Jack believes if he has a crocodile smile, kids will "stand in line and wait" for him to grin; however, the corresponding illustration portrays chaos as zoo visitors flee his new look.

To create humor, I start by knowing my main characters, setting, and problem very well.  I then imagine detailed pictures of unusual or unexpected circumstances for the character in his setting.  Because much of my humor is reliant on these visualizations, I juxtapose text and illustration suggestions when submitting manuscripts.  I don't think I would have sold any of my three now published manuscripts had I not relayed the pictures in my head.  Of course, none of the humor would work without excellent illustrations.  I have been blessed by two fabulous illustrators.  Jackie Urbanovic and Gene Barretta, who brought to life characters and humorous situations through their wonderful, unique interpretations.

Thank you for sharing that helpful information.  And I agree, you have had two fabulous illustrators!  Another question I have is in regards to theme.  In your previous books, your theme was "Loving Your Neighbor." What do you hope that your readers will take away from your newest book?

In I Want Your Smile Crocodile, Jack covets features of other zoo animals, but discovers that "God's great heart designed each part" of him.  Every child is gifted by God for a purpose.  My hope is that Crocodile helps readers understand that they do not need to imitate others, but are fearfully, wonderfully, and uniquely designed by their creator.

That is beautiful and such an important take away.  I see that you are an elementary teacher.  Do you use your books in the classroom? 

I do! When I taught first grade, I used my Next Door Series books as read-alouds, at the listening station, and to help teach the concept of loving your neighbor. Now that I teach art, I use my books to talk about the career of illustrator.  Also, at the beginning of each school year, I use the characters, setting, and plot from Pirates on the Farm to speak to third grade students about story elements and arc in fictional writing.

I bet your students love to see and hear about your books.  I know I would if I were them.  I can't believe its time for the last question already.  I was wondering, do you have any other projects "in the works" that you are able to share about?

Although I don't currently have any other titles being published, I am working on new adventures for hopes that readers love him as much as I do.

Well, best wishes in all that you do.  I want your smile, Crocodile looks like a beautiful book full of heart and a great underlying message of truth for kids.  I really appreciate you being willing to take the time to join me today on my blog.

If you would like to stop by Denette's website, here is a link.

Denette's website

About the author:
Denette Fretz's passion is creating imaginative, engaging stories that help children understand and apply biblical principles.  A veteran elementary educator, Fretz resides in Medford, Oregon with her husband, a sassy cat, and a spastic Jack-A-Bee.

Other titles by Denette Fretz:

Friday, December 1, 2017

5 minute Friday -- NEAR

What is near?

It is a calendar date?  24 days until Christmas...Christmas is near!

2 months until my birthday is near!

But that type of nearness is relative.  Near could be a day away.  A week away.  A year away.  You get the picture.

But to be near is also "nearness of presence."  Nearness of proximity or physicality.  Your house is near mine because we are neighbors.  Another example, "Put the couch near the bookshelf."

So what about the verse in James 4:8, "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

That gets my attention.  Especially when you consider that one of God's attributes is his omnipresence.  He is everywhere present.

Not to get too deep, but is there a nearness that is nearer than being near? Don't laugh. :) Stick with me.

I think what I mean is a nearness of relationship that is deeper than a nearness of proximity.  God is always near.  But, is there something more that happens when we make an effort to draw near to God through reading our Bible, journaling, prayer, and being still before him and listening?

"Come near to God and he will come near to you."

I think that could be what the verse is talking about.  I know that I long for God to draw near to me.  I want a nearness of relationship with the Savior of the world.

He promises that when we seek him we will find him.  

I'm going to take him up on that promise!