A Word from Sue
I love reading interviews with authors and illustrators. It’s an opportunity to catch an up-close “behind the scenes” peek at the work of talented creators, and I always come away feeling like I’ve learned so much. So, I was excited when I was asked to interview Laura Sassi, children’s book author and former Write2Ignite Master Class presenter. When it comes to preparing board books for Christian families, Laura’s passion shines.
Welcome, Laura, and congratulations on the launch of your brand-new MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK!
Sue: Please tell us the story behind the writing of the My Tender Heart series. What were your goals as you set out to write the books?
Laura: I have a special morning routine that I’ve had for years. Waking up early, I tiptoe downstairs, fix myself a cup of tea or coffee, then have a quiet hour to connect with God through writing, reading and prayer. When my kids were little, and inspired by this special morning time, I wanted my children also to experience the joy of knowing God, so I began reading or telling them my favorite Bible stories, sharing my favorite verses and praying together.
Fast forward fifteen years—my kids were now grown and almost grown—and reflecting back on their childhoods and remembering the joy of introducing them to God through storytelling, I decided in Spring 2022 to pitch an idea to Paraclete Press for a collection of 12 rhyming Bible stories for youngest readers—that together or on their own would point to God’s redemptive love.
Imagine my delight and surprise, just a few weeks later when they responded with a yes! MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, the book that resulted from that pitch, released this past February.
That offer, however, came with a request. Would I be willing, the team asked, to make it a two book deal and have the second book be a collection of poetic prayers to take a child through the day? Of course, I said YES!!!!
That prayer collection was due mid-August of 2022, so my joy last summer was transforming my morning routine—which, as always, included tea, Bible time, writing and prayer—into a summer-long jam session in which I wrote the prayers now included in MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK.
And what were my goals and hopes for both books? That’s easy. To point little ones to Jesus!
Sue: Any feedback you can share that you’ve received from parents or children?
Laura: So far I’ve gotten wonderful feedback from parents, children, as well as teachers and children’s ministry workers. The parents I’ve spoken with appreciate having engaging go-to books that they can read in small snippets at bedtime or throughout the day to plant seeds of faith and prayer. Children love the simple rhymes and pointing to all the details in Sandra Eide’s illustrations. Several teachers and those in the ministry have noted that both books make wonderful resources for those small moments in Sunday school, chapel, or class when you are looking for something quick and meaningful to share. For example, before snack or play time, a teacher could share one of the prayers from the book.
Sue: If you could give your 12-year-old self one piece of writing advice, what would you say?
Laura: Oh, what a fun question! I would tell my 12-year-old self to write creatively and just for fun and not to worry about making it “perfect” the first go-round. Just write from the heart, letting the ideas flow. The revising and editing can (and must) come later, but first, just let yourself express those thoughts without critiquing each word and sentence as you go.
Sue: Please finish these thoughts:
I love the power of story to connect us and serve as a spark for conversations about things that matter deeply like our feelings, our circumstances and God’s great love and provision in whatever comes our way.
I want to see how God will work through each of us to point others to Him!
I was hoping you’d ask what’s next book-wise for me? I’m delighted to share that there will be a third book in the MY TENDER HEART series. MY TENDER HEART DEVOTIONS, a collection of daily devotions with 52 Bible-based readings, releases in Fall 2024. With everyday experiences and objects, each daily reflection prompts conversation about God’s goodness and love. I hope families will collect all three!
Thank you, Laura, for chatting with us today. And thank you, readers, for joining us here at Write2Ignite. Make sure you visit Paraclete Press’s website and obtain free resources to accompany the books.
Laura is generously giving away a copy of MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK, and we’re happy to pass this along to one of our readers. Please leave a comment by October 23 to enter.
Sue Irwin is a children’s book author and educator. She reads funny stories, mystery adventures, and fascinating nonfiction for fun, but more than anything, she enjoys sharing the story of God’s love with kids.