I find it amazing that you’ve written from over 40 countries to tell me that you like the books I write and the people who are my characters. I’m delighted and so is my husband Roy! If you want to know a big secret, some of those characters are amazingly like our Scandinavian relatives! (Don’t tell them!!!) Because of our family histories, it’s a special pleasure for me to have the Scandinavian Gift Shop in Alexandria, Minnesota sell my books in their store and through their website. The owners, Sandy Sheets and Heidi Bergerson, are heartwarming sisters who have managed the Scandinavian Gift Shop for five years. Heidi’s husband, Chad Bergerson, builds their website and fills online orders. You’ll find that link when you order my books online. When you write please tell Sandy, Heidi, and Chad thanks! for giving me more time to answer your frequent request– please, Lois, write more books!
My husband, a long-time teacher, who is now taking it easier, often wakes up saying, “Oh! I missed the yellow school bus this morning!”
How about you? Yes, June, July, and August are over. And maybe someone who helps you learn is asking you, “What did you like most about summer?” Or “What’s your favorite thing about being back in school?”
Seeing your friends again? Or are you in a new school and find that all your friends are gone and all the new people and things to learn are scary? Or what is your teacher (who could also be your homeschooling mom or dad) asking you to write about?
Well, I’ll give you an idea and you see if it works:
If you were the main character in a story what qualities would you need to have?
I’ll name just one and let you take it from there:
An important character, often the main character in a story, needs to be a do-it-yourselfer.
So what is a do-it-yourselfer?
Someone who thinks creatively: Bree when she realized that the boy she had just saved from drowning pronounced his name in a different way—not the way her Irish family would say it. It opens a world of clues. (Raiders from the Sea, chapters 1 & 2)
Someone who knows how to make something work: Jordan when he needs to escape captivity. (Escape into the Night)..Someone who figures out how to do something, even though they might not have done it before.
Someone who knows how to be safe, even when faced by a dangerous situation:
Anders when Kate faces a dangerous bull. (Chapter 6, The Disappearing Stranger)
Now you take it from there. Okay?
Sometimes we feel uneasy because of the things we see happening around us. If you feel uneasy (often a jiggly kind of uncomfortable feeling) about something, ask yourself why. Is someone asking you to do something wrong—something that could get you into trouble? Or is someone leading you to do something unsafe?
For instance, if you’re at a party, maybe one with high school kids, and you see or know that someone has slipped something alcoholic into the punch, it’s important to be uneasy. You might even be afraid of what could happen. Or if kids are acting in another way that makes you uneasy, stop for a moment and think what you want to do about it.
You’re smart enough to know that you don’t want a ride home with someone who’s been drinking and will be driving. You also don’t want to stay where the behavior around you makes you uncomfortable.
So go to a quiet place (a bathroom can sometimes be good) or text with your cell phone in your pocket. Hopefully you’ve made an agreement with your mom or dad that if you call at any time of the day or night, they will come get you and give you a ride home. If you don’t have that agreement, make it very clear that you need that ride home NOW.
Then think about something else. Do you enjoy being with Christian kids who make great choices? Not every Christian kid makes great choices. But search out the kind of friend who does make great choices. Discover what it means to have that kind of fun. How can you make choices that bring you into those kind of friendships now and for the years ahead?
How can you recognize when he is telling you something you need to know?
By spending time with him every day. By reading your Bible every day. By using a daily Bible reading plan. By keeping a prayer journal (a notebook where you write down what you need to know). Be honest with God. Tell him what you’re concerned or worried about. Ask about something where you need guidance. Ask the Lord to show you what he wants you to know. Then start reading where you left off the day before.
Watch to see what Bible verse or verses the Holy Spirit brings alive. Pay special attention to a verse or verses that seem to jump off the page. Or the words may seem to have a bright spotlight around them. The words in the Bible fit with what you’re facing. You might even think How did the Lord know what I needed to know today???!!!
When you learn to “hear” God in your daily devotions, you will also learn how to hear him in your daily life. Uneasiness can give you a signal. What is wrong? What should I do to avoid that problem? Or walk away from being involved in it?
Peace gives you another signal. Learn to recognize that peace. The one thing that satan cannot imitate is the peace of God in your life.
Tell the Lord, I want to know what you want in my life. I want your love and forgiveness and salvation. I want you to lead and guide me.
To each of us Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14) Jesus explains the job of a shepherd. He not only knows his sheep. His sheep recognize his voice—his leading—and follow him.
You may live in a city and not know any sheep or any shepherds. But you know what it means when you hear the voice of a friend, or a parent, or a teacher—someone you can trust. And Jesus is the most trustworthy Friend of all time!
Maybe you’ve had the privilege of growing up in a home and church where you know what it means to follow the Lord’s leading. You can help others learn how to know him. But if you don’t know Jesus in that way, start now. Ask him to help you know him and hear him.
Jesus loves you. He will also love giving you his help!
Thanks to all of you who have e-mailed me from Germany. What fun it is to hear how much you like the 10 mystery novels in the Die Abenteuerwälder — The Adventure Woods series!
I’ve also heard good reports from those of you who are learning German. In addition to your language study you’ve enjoyed reading the Northwoods novels in German. The cliffhangers at the end of every chapter make it fun for you. You’ve liked Kate, Anders, Erik, and the entire Northwoods family. You’ve been great detectives, solving the mysteries. It’s been fun for you, and you’ve also grown in your understanding and use of the German language.
Now whether you live in Germany or want to learn the language you can read more novels in German— Der Abenteuer Fluss — The Adventure River series. Before Christmas the first German novel came out and is called Der flught in der Nacht, Flight During the Night. Those of you reading in English know this series as The Riverboat Adventures or in the new Moody edition, The Freedom Seekers series, and the first novel as Escape into the Night.
For Christmas some readers in Germany received Escape During the Night. Lois has received heartwarming e-mails from some of them. But there’s also something else that’s exciting! Some of the readers of Lois’ novels in English have grown up to become her editors. But Franziska Sägesser, who lives in Switzerland, is the first reader to become the translator of one of her books! Presently Franzisca is also translating the second novel in the series.
Whether you’re studying the German language or reading in English, you’ll like seeing the cover of the first German novel in this series. Andreas Fett is the graphic artist—the illustrator—and has created an amazing view of the Mississippi River waterfront (also known as the levee) in 1857. Take a good look at the majestic steamboats of that time. Study the people and what they’re doing. Look for the mud clerk, a young man who would be standing in mud if it rained. He collects the fares from steamboat passengers. Look for a girl with white-blond hair in a pink dress. Could she be Libby’s friend Elsa? What different kinds of things are the people doing?
And enjoy the lovely colors in the painting. Colors that will draw your attention and then warm your heart!
Minnesota students, Judd and Jeremiah, needed to do a school project with a missions perspective. They chose the Viking Quest series and portrayed Lois as a missionary going to Norway through her books. They didn’t know that long ago when she was disappointed about not being able to teach writing to Christians in India, the Lord made Acts 2:8 real to her. Check it out!
Ask yourself, What are my motives for writing?
Write because you cannot help but write. Write because you want to help people through your words
Yes, I’ve noticed that often I’m reluctant to turn on the news. Maybe you’re feeling the same way. While I want to know what’s happening in the world, I sometimes find it overwhelming. You too?
Then I remember something I’ve had to learn—how the Lord can make a difference in what I hear and know. That is, if I’m honest with him about what is bothering me. If I turn to him it’s like getting a hug from someone I love.
It helps me to follow a daily Bible reading program. The one I use lists a chapter from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and a Psalm or chapter from Proverbs. If no one can hear me, I begin by singing—worshipping the Lord. Then I tell him specifically what is making me afraid. I write down my question and fill in the blank, asking, “Lord, what do you want me to know about…….?”
I never grow tired of seeing what he does. It’s as though a verse or thought jumps off the page—illuminated by a holy spotlight. A gift of encouragement straight from the Lord—something he wants me to know for that day. I call it finding the promise.
Years ago, when I was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer I wondered what would happen to my husband and our children. As fear threatened to overwhelm me, I prayed specifically for them. The Lord answered by spotlighting the words of Philippians 1:6: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
I took hold of that promise, praying, “Lord, that’s for me! I’m taking you at your word.” Then I prayed the promise, saying, “Lord, you have said you will bring to completion a good work begun in me. Whether I live or die, I believe your promise. In the name of Jesus I ask you to take care of my husband. Carry on your good work in the lives of our children. Bring all three of them to mature Christian adulthood. I trust you to do that.” In the time since, he has!
Sometimes the Lord’s peace in my heart lasts two hours, three, or four. Then something happens where I need to go back to the promise I received that morning. I call it standing or kneeling on the promise. I repeat the words the Holy Spirit brought alive to me until they seem real again.
Maybe we all need to memorize Psalm 91 right now.
Yes, it can be very hard work. I like to begin every day by having devotions—reading the Bible and praying. That helps me get started, and often my best ideas come out of that time. When writing goes well I’m so delighted and think I wouldn’t want to do anything else on earth.
Look for Writer’s Market in your favorite bookstore or the reference section of your public library. Sally Stuart’s Christan Writers’ Market Guide is also available in some stores or check out her website: www.stuartmarket.com. Because the information changes so often, both of these books are published annually. Before submitting anything be sure you’re read publisher samples, know what they want, and submit only your very best work.
It depends on your age and experience and how much you’ve worked at writing. Where are you in your schooling? Seek out good writing courses. Keep improving your writing. Understand the importance of timing.
The most important thing is not getting published but learning to write. If you’re still in school you might find a magazine that accepts writing from young people your age. Or perhaps you can write for a group at your school or church. One girl told me she wrote short articles in her local home-schooling newsletter. A number of students have published their own newsletters or magazines, and they’re GREAT!
Here’s another idea: You’ll learn a lot about writing by reading good books, then writing reviews. It helps you think through what you like about a book and then what you’d like to include in your own writing. Recently I discovered a girl named Jessica who reviewed two of my books, Escape into the Night and Race for Freedom, online. Not only is she accurate. She also creates interest in a novel and doesn’t spoil the secrets in a story by giving away cliffhangers or too much information. She’s already a great reviewer, and I hope that she continues writing. Christianbook.com offers a good opportunity for readers to write reviews. Be accurate so people can trust what you say. Be fair. Be enthusiastic. Give a specific reason why you like a book. And don’t forget that your church newsletter may need someone to review books for young people your age.
All these ideas can offer you great experience in writing to fulfill a certain need. That’s what you want to learn to do. But remember—look for the right timing about getting published. It’s important to understand the right sequence in your writing. Have fun with it. Learn and grow. And publication can come at the right time.