From Picture Book to iPad App: Step 9

You might be thinking by now that the steps to developing an iPad app never end. Well… it sometimes feels like that to us too. Since none of us have ever done an iPad app before, there’s been a roller coaster learning curve and unforeseen setbacks in the schedule. Each of us on the team (Kate, Nur and myself) moved. Kate moved completely across the country last summer and I moved over Christmas.

Step Nine:

A. Beta Test
Now we’re back on track and actually in beta. For those who think I’m referring to a vitamin, a beta test is when your product moves (look at that.. even the app moved) from in-house testing to actual user testing. I have volunteers with young children using the app to see if they encounter bugs or any speed/performance issues needing to be addressed before we go to launch.

Preliminary input from our testers look good on the bug front—no crashes or obvious errors. I few tweaks have been suggested to make the user experience more satisfying.

B. Fix and Upload to App Store
Based on input from our beta testers, we’ll fix any problems that came up, adjust a few details in the presentation and tweak a few activities (I have a list). Then we upload it to the App Store for approval and launch.

C. Tell the World
Then I get to work contacting reviewers, telling everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, notifying  newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and alerting my writer’s network to spread the word to their contacts and on their blogs.

You can help by going to Purple Carrot Books and signing up to get an email when the launch happens.

Do you have experience at spreading the word about a good product?

What’s your best technique to get something out there for the “world” to know about?

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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.

Proper Perspective: A Prayer for 2012

Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of writing for Your glory. As we step into 2012, help us focus on You, the Giver of our gifts.

Help us remember writing is a tool for ministry, as we worship You with each stroke of our pens and each tap on our keyboards.

Please guard our hearts from discouragement and fear. Empower us to step out of our comfort zones and follow wherever You lead.

Thank You for reminding us that You are a God of order and peace. Help us organize our ideas and write with clarity, courage, and passion founded in Your Truth.

Give us an extra measure of grace and diligence to meet deadlines with excellence of craft. Nurture a humble and teachable attitude within us as we do the hard work of learning the craft and encouraging other writers.

Please continue to bless the ministry of Inspire and each of the members You hand-selected to be a part of this incredible extension of the body of Christ.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.   Psalm 90:17 NIV

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Xochi (pronounced so-she) Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and digging into God’s Word. She lives in Fairfield, CA with her hubby, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. She enjoys amusement parks, baseball games and reading. Currently working toward a BA in Christian Ministry through Regent University, Xochi serves within the Youth Ministry at First Baptist Church of Vacaville. She writes Teen Fiction, Non-Fiction for women and teens, poetry and devotions.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Dina Preuss

How long have you been a member of Inspire?

I came to Inspire in September 2009, but due to neck surgeries in Oct 2009 and again in Dec 2010 I was unable to return until recently at the 2011 Write to Inspire Conference when I finally became a member.


What prompted you to join Inspire?

I wanted to be with like-minded people to build genuine friendships that have the support and encouragement of one another in their work for what the Lord leads.


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

Twenty-five years ago while living in West Germany I used to make-up stories to tell my three toddler sons, and realized I really enjoyed telling stories.


Describe your writing career high point and low point.

I began writing poetry in 1982 and I won the “Golden Poets Award” in 1989 and was to be presented with my award on National Television by the renowned comedian Bob Hope! Unfortunately, I was stuck in West Germany with three toddlers and that trip did not work itself out, so I got a plaque instead. Needless to say, that in itself was both a high and a low!

Then, I began writing fiction in 1990, but had some setbacks in 1998 due to some family tragedies which included my mother’s illness and death in 1999, so I shelved all of my work and didn’t begin writing again until after I moved here to California in 2006.

I talked about my love of writing with my new husband and took it up again after a fall down a flight of stairs landed me at home on temporary disability with not much else to do in 2009. Ed’s been a huge encourager and a great support.

My second setback came after I underwent two separate neck fusions in 2009 and 2010. Because I’ve experienced varied complications from my injuries (not the surgeries) I haven’t been able to write much. I spent most of 2010 with severe vertigo.

The “High Points”… I remember the first time a story idea popped into my head and I fell in love with the idea of writing it. I told my father, and he mailed me some writing technique books he had in his own library. I remember the thrill I felt when I first opened that small box of books from my dad. I remember pulling each book out and looking at it, and then realizing that “I am going to be a writer.

It was pretty amazing… thanks Dad.

That was 22 years ago. I tell people I’m taking the scenic route to publication.

I’m in a great critique group and am looking forward to celebrating another High Point of publication some day with my friends at Inspire!


Which of your stories is the closest to your heart?

The story I’m currently working on, because it has entwined my love for sharing my Jewish faith and revived my love for writing.


What project of yours is gathering dust?

That would be my First Love… the first novel I began to write after I decided I really wanted to be a writer is called Freedom’s Call. It’s an espionage book that takes place in East and West Germany just prior to and at the time the gates were opened into Czechoslovakia allowing East Germans to escape to the free world.

I lived in West Germany during that amazing time and was fortunate to meet many of the East Germans who wanted to tell their stories. My novel was birthed from that experience.


What’s next for you?

I’m focusing primarily on writing, and then polishing my current Biblical-fiction novel, and when that’s near completion I’ll begin my search for an agent.

I’m also trying to get tech savvy enough to run my blog, “Blue Jeans and Chocolate.” Eventually I’d like to begin a Messianic Believers blog as well. But for now I remain computer-challenged and am inching my way through learning to blog.


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

Winter Haven by Athol Dickson

Athol’s books have won several awards, and if you read his writing you will soon see why. He is a brilliant, captivating author. This book is Gothic style, which I don’t normally read, but I just can’t get enough of Athol Dickson!


What does it mean to you to be a writer?

Being a writer for me, is a way to share a part of who I am as a person; to leave behind a legacy of who I have been. It’s a way for me to share my Jewishness with my Christian family, a way to share where God is leading me as He walks with me through this thing we call life.


Was there a book that changed your life?

My goodness, there are so many… twenty years ago I read Hinds feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. It was pretty enthralling.

More recently, I’d have to say perhaps Our Father Abraham, by Marvin R. Wilson.


Describe your writing environment.

Well, I do have a laptop which I use while out in our living area if I’m bored with being in my office space or if my husband needs the desktop for some reason. But usually I write during the day while he’s at work, so I’m in the office, and since I can’t type for long periods of time in one setting I use my Dragon Naturally Speaking system and simply talk into my microphone and my computer types what I say as I dictate. (Don’t get too excited, it does make a lot of mistakes so I have to go slowly and fix them as we go along.)

You can get to know Dina better by visiting her blog or her member page.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Karen Foster

How long have you been a member of Inspire?

Since September, 2011.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I was invited to a critique group in Auburn, and saw firsthand the value of being with like-minded people. The more I learned about Inspire, the more eager I was to get involved. It’s a win-win.

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

I wrote my first story for a children’s magazine contest when I was seven years old, and ever since then I’ve written for pleasure, my profession as a journalist, and now free-lance publication.


Describe your writing career high point and low point.

The high point was attending Jerry Jenken’s writer’s conference where I pitched a nonfiction book proposal called Lunch with Loretta: Feeding a Soul Hungry for God. Two editors expressed an interest in the book which raised my hopes that I’d see it published.

The low point has been waiting for their response and hearing people say the odds are slim of getting published in today’s economy unless you’re famous or infamous.

Describe your most memorable interview.

A few years ago, I interviewed a retired songwriter, Stan Zabka, who lives in Grass Valley. He worked in the entertainment industry since World War II and composed the song, “Christmas Eve in my Hometown” and the original theme music to “The Tonight Show.”

Which of your stories is the closest to your heart?

I wrote a children’s book (haven’t pursued publication) based on my childhood years when I’d visit my grandmother in a poor, rural town in Mississippi during the 1960s.

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

I might as well have won the Pulitzer. I remember raising the letter up in the air, grinning from ear to ear and saying aloud, “Yes! Thank you Jesus!”

Describe receiving your first book contract. Or agent contract.

I’ll let you know when it happens.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

Dust? I’d say there are cobwebs too. I wrote a romance novella called Deferred Hope and sent it off to Barbour books. When it was rejected, I never bothered to send it to another publisher because by then I’d moved on to my next book idea.

What’s next for you?

I continue to polish my book manuscript Lunch with Loretta in hopes of going to the Mount Herman writer’s conference with the proposal. Meanwhile I continue to write devotions that get published, and created a website and Facebook blog in order to build up my platform which now includes speaking to women’s groups.

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

I love reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and David Copperfield aloud just to hear the words roll off my tongue.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

Lately, being a writer is lonely, hard work that requires a great deal of self discipline. However, when I try to walk away, my thoughts gather inside of me until I feel like I’m going to implode. So being a writer means “I must write” even if it’s for an audience of ONE.

Was there a book that changed your life?

Francine River’s book, Redeeming Love showed me Christian literature could be well written and thought-provoking. It was also an answer to prayer when I needed confirmation of God’s unconditional love towards me. It’s one of the few books that I’ve bought as gifts for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Describe your writing environment.

I predominantly work in a cubby hole with a built in desk next to the laundry room at the rear of the house.  It’s a cramped space, but I’m surrounded by photos of my family, manuscripts, writing books, and my Bibles. There’s a window over my desk that looks out on my back yard, and the back door is glass so there’s plenty of natural light. However, I prefer writing outdoors when the weather is nice because I can sit next to our man-made waterfall.

You can read more from Karen at her website:

And check out her new blog,

Or connect with her on Facebook: KarenFosterMinistry


Throw Your Spaghetti!

Parents are known for their one-liners, and mine were no exception. “Do it once, do it right, then forget about it.” Wise words imprinted on my heart as my military father explained how to mop the kitchen floor.

Now, with four children of my own, I’ve discovered there are a few one-liners I’ve batted around long enough to stick with my four kids as well. My personal favorite?

Throw your spaghetti!

I use this saying to encourage family and friends to knock on every door in their path, and walk through and follow-thru when that door opens.

This saying originates from the traditional Italian way of testing pasta. The cook throws a handful of spaghetti noodles against the wall and if a few strands stick the pasta’s ready. If the noodles fall to the ground—the pasta remains in the boiling water.

Here are a few life examples of what “Throw Your Spaghetti” looks like:

While attending a writer’s conference, I was surrounded by hundreds of wannabee-authors like myself who dreamed of a coveted publishing contract. When I had the chance to talk with some of them, I was amazed by their talent, awed by their creative ideas, and immediately anxious about ever being good enough.

One of those gifted writers spoke with me, “I just got back my edited manuscript. It’s full of red ink. The editor suggested I talk with another publisher.” She moped.

“So, what are you waiting for? There are lots of publishers here you could talk to.” I reminded her.

“I don’t know. I really had hoped this editor would want it for her publishing house. I’m thinking it’s not meant to be for me.” She mumbled.

“Are you kidding? You have a gift, and you’re going to let a rejection from one publisher hold you back from your dream? C’mon get out there and meet with everyone you can. Throw your spaghetti!”

My college-aged daughter called to share, “Mom, I just found out about another college that offers a fellowship for creative writing. But, the problem is, I’m not sure if I should stick to my number one school choice in Iowa, or try for this one too?”

“Honey, there are no guarantees you’ll get into your first choice, so I’d apply for both. Throw your spaghetti!”

I’d flown cross-country to attend a women’s conference in the hopes of sharing my book idea with a few publishing houses. By divine miracle, my late registration didn’t hold me back from appointments with publishers.

I called my husband to share my progress. “Paul, I just met with a gal who taught a workshop about pitching my book idea. She said what I have isn’t good enough for a book.”

“I’m sorry, who told you? Did God tell you that?” Sarcasm oozed over every syllable.

“No, God did not tell me that!” Irritation got the best of me.

“Well then, I suggest you keep your appointments with the publishers and pitch your book idea. Throw your spaghetti!”

He was right. I kept both of my appointments. Each publisher gave me the green light to send in my full book proposal. Months later, those same publishers emailed rejections. But, I did what I do best—I threw my spaghetti and submitted my work over and over again.

What manuscript have you buried for lack of follow-thru? What gift have you ignored because you believe you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough? Start working on your follow-thru, and perseverance, and throw your spaghetti.

Oh, and that book idea I was telling you about? You can find it on Amazon.


What holds you back from trying one more time?

Who encourages you to throw your spaghetti?

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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.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Lara Van Hulzen

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

About 6 months.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I wanted a writer’s critique group and Beth is amazing so I knew Inspire would be also.

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

Not specifically. I used to sit with my mom’s typewriter and tap out stories.  When I went to college, I took a creative writing class and I realized what I wanted to do with my life.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

High Point – Finding my agent and feeling I can move forward.

Low Point – Taking ten years to get my first book done and having it rejected.

Which of your stories is the closest to your heart?

My first book – it is a based on my mother finding out she is adopted.

Describe receiving your first book contract. Or agent contract.

I felt like there was actually a chance to move forward as a published writer. And it felt incredible to know someone in the business side of things actually liked my story.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

My first book was, but I just re-wrote it and am going to try and publish it as a romance.

What’s next for you?

Trying to publish my first book as a romance and then finishing my YA fantasy I am almost done with.

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

Firethorn by Ronie Kendig

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

Everything. It’s the only way I know to work through what I see, feel, and know about life.

Was there a book that changed your life?

The Poisonwood Bible is one that made me think and stayed with me for years.

Describe your writing environment.

I have a home office, but I move around.  Sometimes I set up in my dining room, sometimes outside, and sometimes in my kitchen. It depends on my mood.


You can connect with Lara at:

Or on Facebook: