From Picture Book to iPad App: Step 8

Yikes, we have been busy! Kate has been cranking out the final scenes and animation pieces. Nur has been coding like a mad man. I’ve been tweeting, facebooking, Google+ing, writing press releases, working to set up the website for Purple Carrot Books…blah, blah, blah. Are we there yet?

Step Eight:
A. Run to the Finish
We are technically in alpha test phase. Nur has been sending regular app builds and we have been putting it to the test trying to break it or find issues that need tweaking. Of course passing it off to our 4-year-old mini-app-testers is part of that too.

Not much else to say here except this is when it gets pretty exciting. We begin to see all our hard work coming to fruition as the app comes alive with all its fun animations and interactions. It puts a smile on our faces.

B. Get the Word Out
As with all products, it may be the greatest, but if no one knows about it, how can they buy it?

I’ve subscribed to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to receive requests for queries from reporters needing qualified input for articles being developed. I’ve done one interview with Alice Walton, associate editor for She was fascinated by my story of beating genetic cancer with my diet. You can read more about my journey at

The Purple Carrot Books website is live. Go to Watch the book trailer and sign up to get email alerts when The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is launched in the App Store.

You can help spread the word by sharing on Facebook and Twitter. At go to the orange box below the book trailer and select Facebook and Twitter to share the website on your Facebook and Twitter feed.

Also, please go to the Purple Carrot Books Facebook fan page and LIKE it to get regular updates. And please tell your friends and family about The Prisoner of Carrot Castle iPad app coming soon. Published by Purple Carrot Books.

Follow @prplcarrotbooks on Twitter to get news about the launch and watch for and tweet #CarrotCastle.

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Chris Pedersen and her husband live with a chocolate lab named Brandy in the beautiful Sierra foothills in California. Chris writes for children and loves crafting nonfiction stories from real life. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is her first iPad app. Her other work in process is a chapter book titled How I Survived Third Grade.

Published work includes Work and Wag, about dog jobs, in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and A Saving Transformation, in THE DOG NEXT DOOR published by Revell. In addition, since conquering cancer with diet, Chris blogs about health, her heart passion, at Healthy Journey Café where she dishes out recipes and tips to achieve optimum wellness. Her writing journey is chronicled at Paws and Ponder.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Joanne Kraft

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

Four Years.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I desired to take my writing more seriously and found Inspire on It was there I discovered that they had a critique group. I built up some courage and attended. One of the best things that I ever did!

Was there a particular moment when you knew you were a writer?

It took a few years and a couple published articles before I considered myself a writer. I’ve since realized that a writer is a writer long before they’re ever published. A writer writes. Period.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

Writing career low point would have to be when my publisher rejected all of my book titles and went with one of their own. My writing high point continues to change because I have had a lot of them. Getting a book contract was a high point, but so is every time I have an article accepted and published.

Describe your most memorable interview.

That would have to be when our local newspaper showed up at our front door and I’d forgotten our appointment. I’d just returned from a three mile walk and hadn’t even showered yet! Their photographer took lots of pictures and I wanted to crawl under a rock when my photo made the front page of the paper!

What did you do when you received your first acceptance or publication?

Jumped up and down, laughed, and grinned from ear to ear for about two weeks!

Describe receiving your first book contract. Or agent contract.

As much as I couldn’t wait to share the news with my husband, it was Beth Thompson who got the first call after him. I think she was more excited than I was.

When I landed my agent, Rachelle Gardner, I was just as happy. I already had my book contract when she found me, so I can’t wait until I give her my next book proposal and see what she can do with it!

What project of yours is gathering dust?

Well, right now it would have to be my book proposal. I’ve been busy marketing my book, Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and remodeling our kitchen. (Which looks fabulous, by the way!)

What’s next for you?

I have a feeling there’s lots still in my writing future. For now, I’m speaking to women’s groups/MOPS groups/women’s ministries. It’s been a real joy to encourage women. I absolutely love it!

What have you read recently that you couldn’t put down?

I am one of those people who read lots of books at the same time. I am reading the memoir by Rhoda Janzen, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. Just finished The Lovely Bones and didn’t much enjoy that one. The book that I had a hard time putting down was Ginny Yttrup’s novel Words.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

Being a writer is an amazing charge to keep. Thoughts, experiences, tiny moments captured in words—what a blessed career to have.

Was there a book that changed your life?

I can’t say there was just one. As a little girl, I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and the many Judy Blume books that showed me the power of story and the escape a good book brings.

Describe your writing environment.

My writer environment is pretty schizophrenic. Some days I write at my kitchen table, other days I’m on my couch, and there have been times I’ve written at my favorite coffee shop. My absolute favorite place would have to be my girlfriend’s cabin in the woods. God meets me there every single time.


To connect with Joanne, visit her blog:, friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter

Christmas Letters that Get Read

With the Christmas season approaching, each of us will receive our share of letters filled with family cheer.

Do you wonder if yours will get read?

As Christian writers, we take this opportunity to encourage and inspire. Here are some tips I’ve learned that make my letters fun to read:


I use a four-page newsletter format with a catchy title, columns, pictures, and lots of white space between articles, and at least one-inch margins all around. My title is “John and Sue’s Yule Log 2011.” It is always the same except for the year.

Small, fancy fonts on dark colored paper do not impress anyone and make letters hard to read. I use common fonts (Times New Roman or Courier) for the body of my articles, nothing smaller than 10 point. White paper and bright holiday graphics make my letters attractive and cheerful. I use two online image resources–iStock Photo and Plus! Image.


Instead of writing a rambling journal of things I did during the year, I make an outline of topics for my letter. Then I make each topic a subtitle for an article, using large, attractive fonts in bold print.

The feature article is my Christmas message. Whether it is devotional, inspirational, or humorous, I give it a strong beginning (hook), a cohesive middle, and a clear conclusion.

I also write family articles that highlight special occasions, events, and accomplishments. Children and grandchildren like the attention they get when I write about them, especially when they see their pictures with the articles. I enjoyed writing about my grandson who entered the Coast Guard, my niece who served in Afghanistan, my grandson who played in the Little League All Stars, and my daughter who placed in her first triathlon.

Relating to current events in my articles gives my letter a point of reference. For example, in the years following 9/11, I included people in our family who served in the armed forces in harm’s way. In 2009 I covered the Sacramento Tea Party and included pictures of my friends and me.

Although my newsletter is for and about family, not everyone in the family makes the spotlight every year. But over several years, all family members get their time in print.

Keeping my letter positive is important. If a family member has suffered from injury, bad health, or loss, I give an update and thank people for their prayers and support.

While style and design are important, my focus is on content. I want to make my newsletters inspiring and encouraging. My Christmas letter is one chance I get every year to highlight my family and share the meaning of God’s gift of His Son.


I carry my digital camera with me during the year to capture memorable moments. When it comes time to write my annual letter, the pictures are on my computer. Each snapshot is documented with names and dates, giving my letter more credibility. Every article doesn’t have to have a picture, but they are available if I need them.

Putting it Together

It takes about five minutes at the most to read my annual letter, but I have worked throughout the year, collecting information and photos. It’s fun to add recipes or poetry.

When I have gathered all my material, I craft a cheerful design and write my Christmas message and family articles. Then I send my letter with love.

More people will want to read our Christmas letters if we focus on making the content positive, inspiring, and encouraging. It’s another way we show love for the ones who matter most to us, but they have to read our letters to appreciate that love.

What about you? What do you think are the two most valuable ingredients of the Christmas letters you write and/or receive?

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Author of more than eighty articles and stories, Sue Tornai lives with her husband John and dog Maggie in Carmichael, California. They enjoy camping and fishing at Lake Almanor and the Feather River in Northern California. Sue has taught elementary Sunday school for more than twenty years. Her most rewarding experience as a writer is when someone tells her that something she wrote touched a heart or changed a life. “That’s why I write,” Sue says. “I write to inspire people about God’s amazing love. I write for His glory.”

Visit Sue on her website at




Take Control of Your Book Marketing

When my first book contract arrived, that cliché about drinking water from a fire hose made complete sense. My nonfiction parenting book Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical was a joy to write. Seriously. I thought that would be the hard part. It wasn’t. The learning curve came when I realized marketing this book fell squarely on my shoulders.

My book was released in June. Since then, my unnaturally patient husband has heard at least a trillion-bazillion times, “When my next book is published, I’m going to do things differently. Yesiree Bob. Lots differently next time!”

Not all marketing people are writers, but all writers must learn to be marketers. It’s not always a comfortable fit, but in a world where you Facebook your Tweets and Tweet your Facebook—it’s an area we must learn and grow in. I’ll be working on book number two very soon. My personal next time will include working on my marketing plan right alongside my book proposal.

Have you lost your appetite yet? I hope not. You’re a writer. You have a gift. Once you find a publisher to wrap your words in a cover you need to find a way to launch it so it lands softly into the waiting hands of the very people who will benefit from it.

I thought I’d share a few things to help make your first time my next time:

Brainstorm Media Sources

Even before you receive your book contract, begin thinking of ways you can market this book to your readership. Everyone wants a good write up in their local paper. So, what are you going to do to put that information in the media’s hands?

My next time? Create a marketing plan that includes a detailed marketing calendar.

Media Kits

The party favor of marketing. If you don’t know what a media kit is click here. I’ve emailed media kits, mailed media kits, and even packed up the kids in triple-digit heat to hand deliver  media kits in pretty packages to local radio/TV stations. I landed two call backs from the hand-delivered efforts—a  radio interview and morning TV show gig. I consider that successful.

My next Time? Work on media kit six months before book release. Oh, and start saving. Each of my media kits that I handed or mailed out, cost at least $20.00 if I included a copy of my book.

Book Trailer

It’s nice bling to add to your media kit, but I wouldn’t waste my money on that again. It cost me close to $400.00 and I really wasn’t thrilled with the end result.

My next time? DIY or hire a teenager.

News Release

I write nonfiction. I had no idea how to write a news release. Thank God for Google and a girlfriend in my writers group ( who works in PR. She guided me to Pitch Engine—a media site where you can put up your own news releases. The media (social media especially!) will take your news release and help send it into cyberspace. It’s free for the first thirty days. Try it out and see what you think. After that, it’s about $40 a month.

My next Time?  Write news releases months in advance, save them as Word docs in my media arsenal to grenade-launch weekly about three months before my release date.


Use chunks of your book and create articles that will appeal to your readership.  A gifted author-girlfriend of mine wrote a book for pregnant moms. Her publishing house landed her an article with MOPS magazine the same month she’ll be selling her book at the MOPS convention. Brilliant.

My next Time? I’ll create and submit an article from each completed chapter.

Social Marketing

Facebook, Twitter, blog regularly. Do it.

My next Time? Do it sooner.

Follow-up & Follow Through

If you leave here with nothing leave with this: Walk through every open door. Period. Reply, respond, call back, send letters, homing pigeons, smoke signals—whatever it takes to follow-up and follow- through.

My next Time? This is my most powerful marketing strategy and the one thing that has brought the greatest marketing dividends.  I do this pretty well.

Remember Your Manners

Please and thank you are still golden words to use no matter what your age. Make sure to send a thank you to each reporter, blog reviewer, TV/radio producer.

My next time? Have more postage on hand!

And lastly, if I could think of one thing outside of my faith in God as my ultimate marketing agent for my book, it would have to be the networking and help I’ve received from Inspire Writers, my agent Rachelle Gardner and my Wordserve family.

They’ve been incredible.

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Joanne Kraft is a recovering too-busy mom and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. A writer and sought-after speaker, Joanne’s articles have been published by In Touch, Thriving Family, ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, and P31 Woman. She’s appeared on CBN News, Focus on the Family’s afternoon show—Your Family Live, Sacramento & Co., and The Harvest Show.

To connect with Joanne, visit her blog:, friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter

Inspire Member Spotlight: Elizabeth M Thompson

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

Since March, 2004 when I invited a handful of people to join me on this journey of starting a writers group.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

Something magical happens when Christian writers get together. I experienced it at Mount Hermon and again at a Christian Writers Seminar. I dreamed of a community of writers where we could experience the fellowship, the personal and professional growth and the encouragement of those events, but on an on-going basis.

Was there a particular moment when you knew you were a writer?

I was shy in High School and refused to read my work in front of the Creative Writing class. (I was afraid of rejection even then.) One day my teacher said, “Your writing is powerful and the class needs to hear what you’ve written. If you’re not comfortable sharing it, I will.” I relented and read my piece that day and consistently after that. The affirmations I received from the teacher and students helped me begin to believe in myself as a writer.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

One of my high points came when I submitted an article via email and received an acceptance from the editor within a few hours. He said he wept reading it and shared how it ministered to him. Knowing something I wrote resonated with a reader and met a heart-need encouraged me to keep writing.

My lowest point in my writing? My first book proposal rejection. Yep. I wept like a baby. I’m not too proud to admit it.

Which of your stories is the closest to your heart?

That’s not a fair question. It’s like asking which of my children is my favorite. I love different things about each of my stories. Whispers on the Wind’s main character is thrust into a spiritual journey that mirrors part of my own. So, I’m quite attached to her.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

I’ve outlined several novels and at least a half dozen non-fiction books. I like to think they are percolating, not gathering dust. They are simmering on the back burner while I work through those on the front burner.

What’s next for you?

Getting a book published. I have one nearly ready which I plan to pitch at Mount Hermon this spring.

What have you read recently that you couldn’t put down?

I loved Words by Ginny Yttrup. In it she deals with deep, life-gripping pain with redemption and life-giving hope. Another page-turner I read recently was They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti. It kept me up late.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

As a writer, I play with words, creating them and strategically moving them around in an effort to connect to the heart of my readers. If I do it anything close to well, my words will hold up a mirror and help readers see themselves more accurately and more importantly, to see themselves in light of God’s love and His redemptive plan for them. That’s what my favorite writers do and what I aim to do.

Was there a book that changed your life?

Yes, many. None has changed me more profoundly than the Bible. But they have changed me. I read The Chosen by Chaim Potok during a dark and lonely valley in my life. And I got it! It was the first time God spoke to me through a novel. Telling Secrets by Frederick Buechner challenged me to live more authentically. I recently read Lost and Found by Ginny Yttrup. God is using Ginny’s words to free me from the trap of people-pleasing.

To get to know Elizabeth better, you can follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook or peruse the posts here on the Inspire blog.