This is a reprint of an article I wrote for the Fellowship of Christian Writers newsletter “The Ready Writer”.
It never occurred to me that I would ever be writing an article on this topic. In fact, when the idea was first proposed to me, I was going to say no. I have not really been “published”, at least not in the conventional sense that most people think of. I also don’t think of myself as a writer (in that conventional sense again).
Writers are novelists. I have never written a novel. I have two or three ideas for novels but I have a hard time getting traction with them. I am more of a story teller and a short story teller at that. Actually, I never set out to become a writer. I just wanted to tell Bible stories to kids in Sunday school. Let’s step back for a bit to see how that started.
I have been working with kids in church for a long time. I have worked in Sunday school and AWANA. The part I always liked best was story time where we got a chance to hear all those marvelous stories from the Bible. I love those stories and wanted the kids to love them too. The problem was that the stories usually got told in a way that was so dull and boring that the kids didn’t listen -or- learn anything.
All too often, the adult telling the story was as enthusiastic as a rock. It seemed like it was just a chore that had to be done. I wanted the stories to come alive for the children. That could never happen if the adult telling was as animated as a corpse.
I had already discovered that kids love to be read to. They love having stories told to them but, the stories need to be interesting and teller or reader had to inject some life into the telling.
I began offering to do the story telling because I thought I could do a better job. I had a background in theater so; I could read or tell them more dramatically. That worked well as long as I had good material to work with. But that was not always the case, so I dabbled in writing my own.
I volunteered to tell stories to first and second graders. My enthusiasm was quickly dampened when I realized that the material in the curriculum was really only designed to entertain the kids and not really tell them the stories from the Bible.
Out of frustration, I began to write out the stories myself so that the kids could hear the real story from the Bible. I thought that it would also be a good idea to tell the story from the point of view of a child in the story. I would write and read/tell my own version of the story that the lesson was based on. I got so that I enjoyed the writing as much as the reading. The kids would always sit quietly (mostly) and listen as I read my stories. That told me they were listening.
I also volunteered to tell stories to the fifth and sixth grade boys in AWANA. I would read/tell some of the same stories to them as well as write new ones for them as older boys. They were so well received by both the boys and the leaders I became encouraged to try to get them out to a wider audience.
I began looking for some way to publish them but they were the wrong size to fit into any magazine format that I could find.
Then I heard about the short story contest at www.short-story-time.com. The lady who runs that site is a Christian so I entered my story of Jairus Daughter and I won. Having no other outlet for my stories, I began to submit others to her for publication on her website. She told me how much she enjoyed them and they received a number of good comments from readers.
She approached me with the idea of taking my stories and publishing a book in Kindle format on Amazon. I was very intrigued by the idea and she offered to get the formatting done and acquire artwork to go with the stories.
I was thrilled. I spent time re-editing the stories (a number of you all in the FCW critique group helped me with that.) I sent them to her; she had her eleven year old daughter do the artwork. We went through the Kindle Direct publishing process and, about a year after we first talked about it, “The Kid Inside Bible Stories” was published on Amazon.
I have received a number of kind comments about the book. It has not been a best seller but, the stories have been purchased and read by children on three continents.