Orange Berry Book Tours has gratefully granted me this spot on this tour to feature a guest blog by the author herself, Suzanne Anderson. So read along and enjoy!
About God Loves You. -Chester Blue
What if when you most needed help, a blue bear appeared with a note from God?One night, Miss Millie of Blossom, Ohio turns her face to the stars and asks God for help. The next day, a package arrives on her doorstep containing a blue teddy bear and a very special note.
Over the course of a year, this remarkable blue bear travels across the country, showing up just when he’s needed most.
During his journey, Chester Blue helps a young girl trying to impress her big sisters; saves a sailor caught in a terrible storm; reunites two constantly fighting brothers; helps a cowboy become a rodeo clown; and aids a father and daughter in bonding after divorce.
If you ever needed a message from God, it’s here…
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Genre – Religious / Historical Fiction
Rating – PG
What are the challenges you face as a writer in your genre? Writing Children’s Books for the First Time
When I decided to write God Loves You. – Chester Blue, it wasn’t because I had a burning desire to write a children’s book. It was because Chester Blue, the blue teddy bear, modeled after the first teddy bear I sewed myself, needed a story to be written about him. Second, at the time, I was fascinated by stories about inanimate characters that ‘just appeared’ bearing mysterious messages. In the case of this story, crafting the message was easy: I wanted something inspirational. If this was to be a message that appeared out of the blue, than why not make it an encouraging message from God?
So, I had the character, I had the premise (what if you received a message from God, just when you needed it most?) the question was, who was my audience?
It seemed obvious that Chester Blue would appeal most to children. After all, who would better relate, than a child, to a blue teddy bear magically appearing carrying a message from God?
How would writing a book for children differ from writing for adults? Would I have to change my writing style? Were there specific dos and don’ts that I needed to adhere to?
The first answer is that I only asked these questions after I’d written the first draft of my book. And I think that’s very important. I believe that it is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics, the ‘how to’, of creating the story that you research the thing to death and never get around to writing or worse, completing, your book!
Once I’d written my story, these questions sent me off to one of my favorite hometown haunts, our public library. There I spoke with one of our incredibly knowledgeable librarians from the children’s section. She walked me through the rows of books and piled my arms with children’s books that would become my teachers.
The two books that had the greatest impact on me were The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, and The Heavenly Villageby Cynthia Rylant.
What I learned from Kate DiCamillo was that you don’t have to write ‘down’ to children. Yes, the concepts and perhaps even the plot lines will be simpler, but the language can be as rich and textured as any novel for grownups. This is absolutely the case in Edward Tulane, which is so beautifully written that it can be enjoyed equally by children and adults.
Cynthia Rylant’s Heavenly Village taught me that children’s books can deal with difficult topics, such as death and the afterlife, if treated with gentleness and respect. Cynthia Rylant is a master of both in her beautifully written book that treats a scary topic with love and even the occasional laugh.
The lesson learned, which I believe would apply to writing for the first time in any genre is this: write your story. Then take the time to read from the masters of your genre to see how expected touchstones are handled with skill and experience. The combination of both will lead to a satisfying story for your readers. I hope I’ve accomplished that in God Loves You. – Chester Blue.
About Suzanne Anderson
I was born in Fort Lauderdale, attended the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship for swimming and then worked on Wall Street. I left the bright lights of the big city fifteen years ago and traveled the world. I now live in the mountains of Colorado, where I pursue my dream of writing novels.
where this author will be talking about her latest release!