My Journey as a Writer
Over time, I have come to realize a deep passion for children's books. I love reading, writing, and editing. I love working with authors to transform their stories. I love getting to know characters (and authors through their characters). My writing has always been one of my ministries. My time at Zondervan was transforming.
In 2011, I became the middle grade editor for Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. My time at Zondervan included some of my all-time career highlights (so far). I had the opportunity to edit and work with some of the best in the industry, including A Plague of Unicorns by Jane Yolen; Body & Soul by Bethany Hamilton; Game Changer by Kirk Cousins; The Ether by Laurice Molinari; and so many more amazing authors, as well as God Moments, which you can read about in my Slush Pile Stories. While at Zondervan, I edited and helped write Wacky Bible Blockheads and Wacky Bible Gross Outs. Plus I got to contribute to Our Constitution Rocks, by 14-year-old, Juliette Turner. Read more about Juliette in her previous Author Feature, and learn more about the making of the book in Slush Pile Stories. And see her latest book, Our Presidents Rock.
Two months after I started at Zondervan, it was announced that HarperCollins (Zondervan's parent company) had made a bid for and eventually purchased Thomas Nelson, creating the HarperCollins Christian Publishing Division, of which Zondervan and Thomas Nelson are now imprints. So I got to be a part of the merging of these companies, and of the eventual combined HarperCollins Christian Publishing Division.
This video was first shown by CEO and President, Mark Schoenwald, during one of the early employee meetings after he entered this new position. From this video, I learned more about the impressive history of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. It is also an excellent presentation of the evolution of the print and publishing industry, from the printing press to today.
Thanks to continuous advances in technology, he was addressing both teams, my team in Grand Rapids, and the Thomas Nelson team in Nashville via video conference, when the video was first shown. What really struck me, besides being inspired and encouraged that we were making a difference in peoples' lives, I was also awed in its demonstrations of the evolution of how books are made.
I've always had a passion for "shadow boxes," which are actually old printers boxes. My kids and I each have one for saved trinkets, and I've shared how the boxes were used originally. (Needless to say they weren't nearly as impressed as I was.)
On March 31, 2014, in a complete leap of faith, I left Zondervan to freelance from home. I continue reviewing for Girls' Life, which I've done since the magazine's debut in 1994, I offer freelance editorial services, while I continue working on my own writing. And I have continued to work with excellent authors in polishing their work. I find great joy in helping other writers get published.
I have worked in a variety of publishing roles for nearly 25 years. Before Zondervan, Girls' Life, and Childress Ink, I worked as a bookseller, reviewer, writer, and editor. I began writing stories at age four, on stapled, plain, white paper, written and illustrated my with pencil sketches. I was at the library daily. In sixth grade, I received a trophy in the science fair for a story I wrote, A Planet Called Cravon. (Yes, there was a writing category in the science fair). The following year (7th grade) I was selected to attend a young author's conference. And so began my career in the publishing industry.
In college at Ohio Wesleyan University, I helped found a student-run, "rag" newspaper called The Righteous Times (think The Onion). During college I was a summer intern for Hamptons magazine. After college I worked as a reporter and newspaper advertising salesperson for The Greenwood Gazette. I also worked for a landscaping company, real estate title company, ice cream store, movie theater, and a fruit-and-nut kiosk. I also worked as an ear-piercer at the mall, a waitress, a hostess, and more. Until I found my calling -- children's books.
From there I was led to work as a bookseller at Kids Ink Children's Bookstore in Indianapolis, where little did I know, I would be mentored by one of the best in the industry, owner and founder, Shirley Mullen. Since then, I have published more than two hundred articles and short stories in books and magazines. I've had many adventures and met many amazing people.
I also built and maintained a successful freelancing career while raising four children through diapers, broken bones, graduations, and all the adventures that come with raising a large family--some of which I wrote about in the Focus on your Child parenting newsletters.
But my passion, my calling, my ministry is writing, editing, and reviewing children's books.
In 1992, at the Midwinter Children's Literature Conference at Butler University, I was called to this profession. Hearing Patricia MacLachlan speak inspired me deeply, and I thought of myself as a child, how I rode my bike to my library nearly every day, and how books saved my life during my tumultuous adolescent years. I decided right then I would write for children.
I began immediately, writing articles on anything that interested me, like termites and carpenter ants, and I started submitting. To learn the market, I began working at Kids Ink Children's Bookstore in Indianapolis. I worked as a bookseller for seven years, and I absolutely loved every minute! And my bookselling experience led me to become the book editor for Girls' Life magazine, where I have reviewed books since the magazine's debut in 1994. ChildressInk began in 2009 as a book review site, a space where I could share more great books.
I include ideas for self-promotion, marketing plans, and digital platforms--because an internet presence is crucial in today's publishing industry.
With nearly twenty-five years in publishing, I love talking books. I love writing, and I love helping other writers. I am committed to being a writer and editor of excellence, and to finding and sharing some of the best in children's literature.
For more information on my services, please contact me.
Thank you for checking out ChildressInk.com. I hope you enjoy your experience and discover a new book.