Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Very Warm Welcome to Lydia Harris!


Lydia is the author of Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting: For Grandparents at Any Stage of the Journey from AMG Publishers, October 2010, a 212 page book. If you'd like a chance to win it, please comment and leave your email address!

How long have you known you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?

I often said, “Some day I’m going to write a book.” But I was busy raising a daughter and son. Then in December 1996, with an empty nest, I sensed God’s nudge: “Lydia, it’s time to begin writing.” So I began writing for publication in my early fifties.

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

I write nonfiction devotionals, articles, book reviews, stories, and a regular column, “A Cup of Tea with Lydia.” I also write recipes for children and adults. Recently, I’ve had a Bible study published.

Sounds as if you keep very busy. How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day?

Most days I invest time in writing, speaking, or promoting my book. The time spent varies depending on what’s due. I write early in the morning, often starting at 5 a.m. Now with a published book, I speak each month, so some of my time is used preparing to teach or speak and make other connections to promote my book.

Marketing is a fulltime job in itself, but a necessity! Tell us about your new book. What is the spiritual message in it? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

I’m thrilled that Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting came out in October 2010. It’s not only for new grandparents but also for grandparents at any stage of the journey. This Bible study affirms grandparents in their important role and gives them practical tools to become fantastic grandparents and pass on a legacy of faith. The numerous grandparenting stories, quotes, and practical tips and charts make it a fun, practical resource to refer to for years to come. Grandparents who have studied it individually and in church and community groups have said, “I loved it,” “It made me a better grandparent,” and “I gained confidence as a grandmother.”

A book that should be in the hands of every grandparent in America. How and where can readers buy your book?

  1. The book can be ordered from bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble or Family Christian Bookstores.
  2. It’s also available online through Christianbook.com and Amazon.com.
  3. My Web site (http://www.preparingmyheart.net/) also lists numerous places to order it under “store.”
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer.

When I started writing for publication in 1997, I questioned whether I would get published. But since I began by writing mostly assigned book reviews and articles, I didn’t receive many rejections. I spent twelve years writing hundreds of short pieces for dozens of publications, including Focus on the Family. These short pieces were like sprints that prepared me for a longer run.

In contrast, writing a book was a marathon. Without God’s help, many prayers of others, and my supportive husband, I wouldn’t have completed thirty Bible study lessons in thirty-six weeks. The biggest hurdle was the deadline. I soon learned nine months is a short time to complete a 212-page Bible study and have it tested by grandparents. Also, the word “grandparentng” doesn’t appear in the Bible, so I spent much time doing biblical research and interviewing grandparents. The ongoing pressure to write each day from morning to evening became wearisome at times. But the completed book and encouraging responses from readers make it all worthwhile.

It does, doesn't it? Who has inspired you the most?

In writing the Bible study, my niece, Ann Marie Stewart, has inspired me the most. My study is part of AMG Publishers “Preparing My Heart” series. Ann wrote the first three books in the series on preparing for Advent, Easter, and motherhood. As I wrote the fourth one on grandparenting, Ann mentored me throughout the process and answered questions. But my biggest encourager in writing is my husband, Milt Harris. He’s the president of my FAN club.

When it comes to writing in general, two organizations and their conferences have been invaluable: Northwest Christian Writers’ Association (http://www.nwchristianwriters.org/) and Oregon Christian Writers (http://www.oregonchristianwriters.org/).

Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “eeny, meeny, miny, moe?”

I met Dan Penwell, editor at AMG Publishers, at the Oregon Christian Writers conference and saw him there year after year. Since my niece had written Bible studies for AMG Publishers, I asked Dan if he was interested in a study for grandparents. He was. But it took me years to research the topic and write a proposal. When I finally submitted it to Dan, he was seriously ill and soon retired. He left my proposal on his desk. Before long, his successor contacted me and sent a contract to write the study. God’s hand and timing were evident in it all.

Now that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

I’m thankful I could prepare a tool for God’s use. But sitting back—no. Just as new babies need care and nurturing to grow and develop, authors need to invest in their new books to make them visible and help sales grow. I spend time networking, speaking, and doing many things to promote my book.

Besides book promotion, I continue to write short pieces, such as recipes and my tea column. I’m also working on other book projects. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I want to complete what God has prepared in advance for me to do. And that doesn’t seem to include sitting back.

Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests?

I love to serve tea and go out for tea. For our fortieth wedding anniversary, my husband suggested we go for tea for-tea (forty) times in the next year. It took us 2 1/2 years, but we reached our goal of forty tea outings. I enjoy spending time with Milt, my husband of 44 years.

Of course, our five grandchildren, ages one to twelve, light up our lives. One was born while I wrote this book. It’s our privilege to spend time with them and intentionally pass on our faith. Later in August, we’ll have the four older ones here for a sleepover and celebrate their spiritual birthdays together. My study includes dozens of creative ideas like this one, which combine fun and faith.

Reading, writing, cooking, and music bring joy. Worship and building relationships with family and friends is also a high priority.

You have many of the same loves that I do. Finally, would you give us your blog or Web page so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

You can learn more about my book at www.PreparingMyHeart.net. Under “free,” you’ll find a complete table of contents and sample pages of the study. Grandparent’s Day is September 11, and this book would make a great gift for grandparents. The book can be used alone, with a spouse, or in church and community groups. It’s a wonderful tool to spur each other on to pray for grandkids, invest in their lives, and pass on a godly legacy. Grandparents can learn and grow in their roles as they study it alone or together.

Although this was the hardest writing assignment I’ve ever done, I felt privileged to complete this God-sized project. Now it’s a joy to see God use it to impact future generations. To God be the glory!



Thank you so much, Lydia, for visiting this week! I think your book sounds fantastic!
Readers, if you are a grandparent, becoming one, or just would like to give away this book, please leave your comment and email address.

Blessings!

12 comments:

Lydia Harris said...

Carole,

Thank you for hosting me. I'm thrilled to share my writing journey with others.

Yesterday I had the joy of meeting with a group of grandparents who had just completed my Bible study. They shared how God used it to impact their lives. To God be the glory!

I look forward to the comments from readers and to sending one of them a copy of my book, "Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting."

Lydia (Grandma Tea)

Digging for Pearls said...

Hey Carole,

How's the writing going?

I'm not a grandparent yet, but could be in the near future. My oldest was married in May of this year. Sounds like an intriguing book.

Blessings,
Jodie Wolfe
digging4pearls(at)comcast(dot)net

Jo said...

It looks like I am the first one to sign. Great interview. I am not only a grandma but a great grandma!

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

Deborah said...

I am a young grandma (43) of 6 grandkids....proud of my grandkids, but it has been tough. My children are not married, it has been an amazing journey one that is complicated and filled with a miracle all in the same story. But my grandchildren were created on purpose and my husband and I are walking with Christ and we intend on praying over our grandchildren and sharing our faith with them every chance we get. Winning a copy of this book would be so wonderful!!! Thank you for sharing your story with us and for the chance to win! Blessing to you as you continue to write and share your talent with others!
Deborah

dleathers36(at)yahoo(dot)com

Karla Akins said...

I'm a 50-year-old grandma to 5 beautiful granddaughters! What a wonderful book!

Lydia Harris said...

Thanks to each of you who have responded.

Deborah, it's wonderful that you want to be intentional about sharing your faith and praying for your precious grandchildren. This book provides practical help to do just that.

Jodie, readers say this book is useful for anyone who works with children. Plus, it's exciting to plan ahead for future grandchildren.

Jo, congratulations that you are a GREAT grandma.

Karla, may God bless you as you grandparent your five beautiful granddaughters!

God bless each of you.

Grandma Tea
www.PreparingMyHeart.net

Linda Kish said...

Someday, I hope to be a grandma. They keep saying not yet.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Lisa Lickel said...

Waiting---waiting---waiting! Thanks for the encouragement.

Kathryn Page Camp said...

Like Jodie, I'm not a grandmother yet, but my daughter and son-in-law are working on it. Sounds like an interesting resourse for what's (hopefully) to come.

kcamp1951@aol.com

Patricia said...

Lydia, Thanks for sharing your writing journey. It's really good for those of us new to this business to hear that it's OK to publish lots of little items--that we don't all have to write novels in order to fulfill our goal of writing for Him. BTW I have 9 grandchildren. pgrau (dot) ggi (at) gmail (dot) com

Lydia Harris said...

Thanks for leaving comments.

Linda, Lisa, and Kathryn, you can study the book while you wait. Kind of like "whistle while you wait," except you can do something more beneficial--prepare while you wait. The section on preparing to model a godly life is good to start immediately. And it's never too early to pray for future grandchildren. Maybe we need an FGA group (Future Grandparents of America).

Patricia, how wonderful you have nine grandchildren! Each one is unique and precious. We love our five. And yes, God didn't call us all to write books. Short pieces in magazines impact more readers than most books. My tea column has a circulation of nearly 3/4 million. But it's not about numbers, it's about obedience to our specific call. Anyone who obeys God's call is a successful writer. Keep learning and writing!

Happy grandparenting and future grandparenting!

Grandma Tea

Lydia Harris said...

Congratulations to Jodie for winning the book! I pray it blesses you.

Grandma Tea