Tag Archives: Interviews

Hobbit devotional author Jill Richardson tells how she first published

Christian author's devotional based on The Hobbit and LOTR characters.

Once again, I have a very timely guest on  How I First Published. With the last of The Hobbit movie trilogy premiering in a few days, we have the author of a teen devotional based  on characters from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings–Jill Richardson! Welcome, Jill! So interested to hear your story!

What was your first published book?

Friend of a Friend, a historical romance published by Barbour in their Heartsong Presents line. It’s about a young woman living in southern Illinois just before the Civil War who has to balance her father’s Southern sentiments with her leaning toward an abolitionist young man and her faith.

I wrote it ages ago when I was in seminary and had two toddlers. Can’t believe I had the time!


Jill Richardson, author of  Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World  of  Middle Earth
Jill Richardson

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie? How did that come about?

It was traditional. At that time, indie wasn’t really even an option. I know no one will believe this, but–Amazon did not exist!

How did this make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?

Ecstatic. And odd. I had never considered myself a fiction writer, and I still don’t. Before that, I had been published in dozens of magazines with strictly nonfiction pieces.

The idea for the book came to me in a dream—really. So I followed it, and suddenly I’m being offered a contract. Surreal, really. I’m not even sure twenty years later if it was any good, but it did help me pay the bills during grad school!I think it also helped me find that fun, creative part of my brain at a time when it was otherwise full of writing heavy papers on theology and theories of mission work.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

I followed that up a few years later with Making a Name for Myself, a book of biblical monologues for church performance. That’s now transformed into individual scripts on the Lillenas website people can purchase. Some are also in a compilation, I love that they’re still being used.

Then I concentrated more on articles during the early child rearing years of life. Shorter attention span, and all. Some of those also were chosen for a compilation on missions put out by Christianity Today.


My most recent books have been Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids: Short Term Missions for Your Whole Family  (with a more secular companion, Please Pass the Fish Head: Planning a Volunteer Vacation with Kids,) and Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World, a teen devotional based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters (2013, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

The first one  was shopped around by my agent for a while, but though publishers loved it, they felt it was to “niche” to sell. So I self-published it on Amazon. It’s close to my heart, because one of my ministries is to encourage parents to minister as a family, and to empower their kids to be ministers, not spectators. So I told the story of our own family’s trip to China and gave a pretty exhaustive education on how to plan one’s own trip.

The second book was born of my love for literature (especially Lord of the Rings!) and teenagers. Again, I really want to help kids think for themselves and develop a worldview that sees Christian faith as relevant to their minds and hearts. I want to keep them engaged in the church.

So I took these characters from the books/movies and talked about one characteristic that makes them unique and related it to Scripture. Then application brings it close to home. Youth groups have used it, and parents have studied it with their teens. I love nothing more than to get an email from someone who tells me their child was drawn closer to God through this book. And I do get them.

Right now, I’m working on a Young Adult novel about illegal immigration, as well as a team written book about Millennials and church. I’m kind of eclectic.

Where can we find your books?

On my website, http://jillmarierichardson.com.

Also at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KI4P0C





Christian counselor overcomes her own fears to publish first book

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I’m so excited to have licensed counselor Judy Lair as my guest today on  How I First Published.  She shares not only valuable information about the technical  process she went through to publish her first  nonfiction book, From the Other Side of the Couch, but about the process of overcoming her own fears and  doubts to be able to publish. Here’s her story!

What was your first published novel?

From the Other Side of the Couch is my very first book! It became available on Amazon June 2014.

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?

I chose to go indie because having control over the process gave me the ability to be flexible and respond to the market in a timely manner. My purpose in writing From the Other Side of the Couch is to share the same message of hope and transformation I offer to my counseling clients every day. I’ve always loved creative writing, but all the hoops to get something published traditionally seemed very daunting. Having control of every step of the process has allowed me to make all the decisions in how, when, where, and what to do with my message.

How did that come about?

Many years ago, God put it on my heart to write a book based on the godly principles I was learning in my healing journey. Every few years I’d attempt to put pen to paper, but self-doubt, negativity, and fear always kept me from getting past the first couple of chapters.

Last fall, one of my clients told me about NaNoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month). This site’s mission is to help writers get past the internal and external hurdles that keep folks from writing. Every November, NaNoWrimo challenges writers to write a minimum of 50,000 words towards their writing project. Feeling strongly this opportunity was meant for me, I signed up and committed to writing 2,000 words a day (yes, I’m an overachiever and wanted to finish early!). I’d see clients at the office during the day and evening, then come home and begin writing at 8-9pm, spending about 4 hours an evening to get my word quota down. NaNoWrimo strongly advocated no editing while writing the first draft, and that was extremely helpful advice. Many authors begin with an outline or storyboard. I couldn’t conceptualize my book in those formats. Instead, I had a list of Bible verses and concepts that were important to my message and just started writing. On November 25, 2013 I uploaded my 50,152 words to NaNoWrimo and received my “Winner” certificate. That was one of the proudest moments in my life!

Over the next few months I decided on a structure and took all those words and arranged them so the reader connected to me, found inspiration in my story, learned how to apply important godly principles to their life, and embraced hope for change. I bought a template from Book Design Templates which made the process of uploading my manuscript to CreateSpace very easy. As a winner, I took advantage of the discount for a year membership to Bibliocrunch, an experienced group of writers who guide folks through the entire process of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. They helped me find beta readers and an editor. I chose to hire a wonderful graphic artist to design my book cover, author photo, and book graphics. On June 17, 2014 my book went live on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

How did this make you feel?

Each step of this process has contributed to seeing myself in a new light. In C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardobe, Peter describes himself as “just a boy from Finchley.” At various points in the story, he had the opportunity to return to his old life and stop the transformation process. Each time, he bravely chose to move forward and become High King Peter of Narnia. That’s exactly how I’ve felt this past year. All along the way doubt and fear told me I was “just Judy.” Why did I think I had anything to give anyone? Maybe I’d get stuck and stop again, too discouraged or frustrated to finish.

But God’s timing is perfect. I had a message, a helpful framework, encouragement from family, friends, and clients, and a mustard seed’s worth of faith. Finishing the book was exhilarating! Editing and revising was an intimidating chore, but I could see the finish line and I really wanted to see my book in print. The shoot for my author photo and my book signing party were additional pivotal points in this journey. They were opportunities to celebrate my accomplishment and commemorate moving from “just Judy” to Judy Lair, author!

Since the book’s release, I’ve been undergoing a crash course in social media marketing. I expect my primary audience to be my counseling clients and those who attend my speaking engagements. But I know there are a lot of other folks in the world who want to embrace my Roadmap to Freedom model, so I’m learning how to let them know about the book. Once again, God has provided the resources I’ve needed. There have been excellent blogs and books I’ve read related specifically to the Christian population. I’m also very grateful to Lorilyn Roberts and the John316author group for providing information, resources, and encouragement.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

I’m super excited to announce my second book, Moving from Fear to Freedom: Stories of Healing and Hope, will be available Spring 2015!

Once again, I’ve taken advantage of the Nanowrimo format and written my 50,000 words. This time my process was a bit different. God gave me a very detailed outline of the contents, so the writing was less intimidating and the editing is going smoothly. Each chapter will address a specific anxiety (PTSD, OCD, Social phobia, etc.) told in story format. Readers will connect to the struggles and find help and hope in the clinical information I provide. Please email me to be put on the mailing list for publication information.

About Judy:

Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com