Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Laura Allen Nonemaker, author of Catie’s Dream, to Dreams Coming True! Tell us a little about yourself, Laura.
I began writing as a child growing up in Bermuda. When my seventh grade teacher had one of my essays published in the local newspaper, The Royal Gazette, a seed was planted in my spirit of becoming a “real writer” someday.
During the summer before my senior year, I met my first husband, Bob, on a blind, double date at the beach arranged by my best friend and his best friend, who were already dating. We soon fell in love, but he was to be discharged from the Navy the following January. We married a year later and moved to his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After our three children were grown, we decided to start a business at our kitchen table and ran it for eighteen years. Meanwhile, I joined a writing critique group and began to attend conferences and workshops. I became more consistent with my writing and was published a few times. We got involved in short-term missions and had a dream of becoming long term missionaries. Sadly, it was not to be. Bob succumbed to cancer before we could fulfill our dream. Following Bob’s passing, I joined a Grief Share class at church. There I met the man who was eventually to be my second husband. Paul and I became good friends, a friendship that turned into marriage six years later. We retired to Florida and spent six wonderful years together, until he unexpectedly went to heaven in September 2013. Paul was my biggest cheerleader and would tell me how proud he was of me. The memory of his encouraging words helps to keep me focused on continuing to develop my ministry to children through God’s Secret Garden Adventures.
When did this creative dream begin?
The first book in the God’s Secret Garden Adventures series was birthed in 2010, while I sat in my own secret garden praying for God’s direction for my writing. A little rabbit ran down the stone path, not an unusual occurrence, but this time, a scenario began to materialize in my mind. I immediately went to my computer and within minutes the basic story line for my first children’s book, Benny’s Angel, was finished.
How did the idea for Catie’s Secret get started?
Butterflies have a lot of symbolism for me, especially as they relate to new life and new beginnings. A friend introduced me to raising monarch butterflies and I became fascinated with the transformation process. I was looking for a topic for another book and my daughter suggested a story about a butterfly.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
Catie’s Secret is not just a colorful, entertaining children’s book. It carries within it a message that is timely. These days, bullying is one of the most serious social problems among children—and adults—in today’s society. Catie’s Secret uses the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly to show young children that it is unkind to tease or bully someone who looks, sounds, or acts different from them. The story teaches that God has placed a special secret—a plan—within every child.
My intention in writing Catie’s Secret and each of the God’s Secret Garden Adventures is to instill sound biblical values in young readers at an age when they are absorbing and storing away more information, whether good or bad, than they will at any time in their life.
How does this series create community?
My dream for Catie’s Secret and all the God’s Secret Garden Adventures is that they will become valuable tools for character formation in children’s lives.
Many have creative ideas but have trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
I suggest writing out your vision for your idea. Detail what you want your idea to accomplish, and how it will benefit others. Set short term and long term goals for the process. Find an accountability partner who will support and encourage you in your progress.
What are some ways you promote your project?
I promote my books through social media, including my website, blog, Facebook and Twitter. I produce an e-mail newsletter that keeps people on my address list posted about new projects, my event schedule, giveaways, etc. I research author events, holiday festivals, bookstores, mom and pop stores, coffee shops, etc. where I can promote my books. I also do book readings, some with crafts that involve the children.
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?
I have had to face the fact that although my publisher points me in the right direction, ultimately I am responsible for following through and showing up. Yes, it is a lot of work, but it is very rewarding at the same time. I think the secret is to be organized and to be realistic about the time commitment involved.
Where do you see God’s Secret Garden Adventures in five years?
I would like to have an app for God’s Secret Garden Adventures, with a lot of actions a child can initiate, such as the transformation of a butterfly, a flower opening and closing, a frog leaping, etc. Of course, there must be sound, too. An activity book is another dream I have for the series, and I have a concept for a board game.
Tell us about the next book in God’s Secret Garden Adventures.
Fred D’s Amazing Escape is in publication right now and will be released in early 2014. Fred D is a very determined little frog (D for Determined) who wants to explore outside God’s Secret Garden. In spite of warnings to stay in the garden where it is safe, Fred D disobeys and finds himself in trouble and very scared. He makes it home to God’s Secret Garden by the skin of his teeth, and he is determined never to disobey again.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
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Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway, a copy of Chasing God, Connie Hendryx! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize!
Leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy of Catie’s Secret. Winner will be announced in two weeks!