March is reading month in my daughter's elementary school. All month long, they make a really big deal out of books, which kind of feels like the excitement of Christmastime to me. There are reading contests, mystery readers, book orders and the big one - a visit from a real, live author! This year, the guest was Michigan author, Wendy BooydeGraaff, who read her book Salad Pie. The teacher sent home a flier with the date of the presentation, and mentioned if we wanted to buy a copy of the book ahead of time, the author would sign it that day. We ordered the book that very afternoon. I emailed the teacher, asking if I could come listen to the author's presentation. I do a bit of writing here, and I know this getting-published thing is a BIG deal. The author did a great job interacting with the kids; telling them the background for the story idea, what it was like working with an illustrator she didn't know, and reading the story to them. I was in my glory listening to all this. Afterward, my daughter was one of three 3rd graders to stand in line to have her book signed (she was also the only one with a mom bouncing from one foot to the other while she stood in said line, but whatever). She handed the book to Ms. BooydeGraaff and I asked if she would take a picture with my daughter as well. I said,
We make a big deal out of authors in our house. They're practically famous!
Without further ado, I want to tell you about some friends of mine, who also happen to be writers published in a real-live book, and you'd better believe that makes them famous - to me. They're all part of the "Redbud Writers Guild," and I met them when I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in 2016. This group released their first book, Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives. It's an anthology written by women who bravely share their hard stories about adoption, self image, mission trips, stolen property and illness, to name a few topics.
There's my friend Dorothy - Who visited with me the afternoon before the writing conference in Grand Rapids began. She told me about a book she was writing about marriage. What she didn't tell me that day, but I learned here, is she used to photograph Red Sox games. Be still, my baseball heart!
Bronwyn Lea - Has the coolest accent! Her piece in this book is masterful, tying her experiences with California's redwood trees in with a thing or two she's learned about relationships.
Ashley Hales - I first got to know Ashley through writing a few guest pieces on her blog. She's as delightful in person as she is on the page. In her article, a scary health concern reminds her of our great need for God.
Nicole T. Walters - It's always a pleasure talking with Nicole, because we share similar church experiences, and she also enjoys exploring ancient Christian faith traditions. I loved her vulnerable piece about God opening her eyes and heart to Middle Easterners the day after 9/11.
Aleah Marsden - The entire time we were in Grand Rapids, Aleah kept checking on the score for the NBA Golden State Warriors. I like it when I befriend fellow sports fans! In her Everbloom piece, she tells about a couple she spent time with named Gene and Frances. Oh, Aleah, Frances is my faith hero too!
Ronne Rock - She's a larger-than-life kind of gal, and I love reading about the work she does with Orphan Outreach. Actually, she wrote about a mission trip experience in her article for "Everbloom." So beautiful.
Tammy Perlmutter - The big heart behind The Mudroom Blog, and one of the most accepting women I know, Tammy is a real treasure. She has quite a powerful story of her own, but for this book, Tammy offers up a poem about Jesus in "The Advent of Hope."
Congratulations friends! You're all famous in my book. Now, readers, thanks to my friends at Paraclete Press, I'm giving away two copies of this book, written by my friends and others we can all meet online. Mother's Day is coming up, and this book would be just the right gift! Enter to win below (U.S. residents only please):
I received a copy of Everbloom from Paraclete Press in exchange for a blog post promoting the book. They're providing the giveaway copies too! A big thanks to them for giving me this opportunity.