This month is a special treat. January is a long month (even though it seems to be going by so fast), and on this blog, a long month equals not one, but TWO Writer’s Spotlight Wednesday (WSW) features for the month! Whoo hoo!
For our second WSW of this month, I am happy to highlight the achievements of:
“Don’t give up!”
Evelyn has devoted her life to helping others through her writing. She has authored/co-authored over 42 educational puzzle books, and also writes for children’s magazines. I had the opportunity to learn more about Evelyn and her craft as she answered some of my questions below.
Q: Why do you write?
A: I write educational puzzle books, and the primary reason I write is because I love to create resources to make learning fun for all ages. I was a teacher by profession, but even more important, I’m a teacher at heart. I have a doctorate in math education, and my career plan, after being home for ten years when my children were little, was to teach math methods to prospective teachers at the college level. My teaching experience had been at the high school level. Since I was going to be telling elementary teachers how to teach, I felt it was important to have some experience at that level. I thought I’d do that for just a couple of years, but I fell in love with the little ones and stuck with that age for the rest of my teaching career.
My first elementary teaching was at a Montessori school, and I think that really influenced the direction my writing career took. In a Montessori school the primary channel for teaching is the materials, rather than the teacher. With wonderful examples all around me, both the traditional Montessori materials and those created by the team of teachers I joined, I also became adept at creating engaging, effective materials for the classroom. I loved using my creativity to come up with new ideas for helping students to learn. On vacations, riding on trips, or at family reunions, I always had materials along to color, cut, or paste, because creating materials was such a passion for me.
A natural next step for me was to share my materials with other teachers and parents, and that’s how I got into writing for publication.
Q: Tell me about your new book that’s just been released.
A: My newest book, Kentucky Puzzles: Bluegrass Brainteasers for Ages 6 to 106, is from The History Press. I’ve had 42 books published and this is one of my favorites. I’m especially excited to see it make its debut, because it took me 9 years to find a publisher for it. So if you’re having trouble finding the right home for a book you love, please don’t give up on it.
I particularly like this book because of the variety in it. Puzzles range from easy to complex, and every page has a different kind of puzzle, each based on some aspect of Kentucky’s history, geography, or culture. It’s great for individual enjoyment, family fun, classroom challenges, and cooperative group problem-solving—a delightful gift for puzzle lovers you might know who have lived in Kentucky or had a connection to it.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about your career, and how do you address it?
A: Finding publishers for my manuscripts is the most challenging part of my career. I address it by spending lots of time researching potential markets. I network, I’m active on Verla Kay’s writer chat board, I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), CBI Clubhouse, and Working Writers Club, I subscribe to newsletters like ICL’s free Children’s Writers eNews, and I belong to two local writers’ groups. I long ago decided that helping other writers by sharing the results of my research with them was a good thing to do, so I have on my website both a list of Educational Markets for Children’s Writers (http://evelynchristensen.com/markets.html) and a list of magazines at my Writing for Children’s Magazines ezine (http://evelynchristensen.com/mags.html ).
Q: What is your personal motto or mantra?
A: “My God shall supply all your need.” (Philippians 4:19) I’ve had the opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness in keeping this promise in a fresh way in recent months, when I lost much of my vision due to an antibiotic that caused optic nerve damage. I faced the very real possibility of no longer being able to continue my writing career. God would still have supplied my needs if that had been the case, but I’m thankful to him that I’ve been regaining my vision these past weeks.
Q: What inspires you?
● Children inspire me. I love children, and creating materials that will help them learn and, at the same time, will be fun for them, brings me great joy!
● Games and puzzles inspire me. I grew up in a family with five siblings before the days of internet, computers, and even much television. We played oodles of games and challenged each other with all kinds of puzzles. That laid the foundation for me of thinking in terms of puzzles, and, of course, being a math major helped, because doing math is very much like solving a puzzle.
● Customers inspire me. Nothing is more special to me as an author than having someone say, “My kid loved your book!” Two of my upcoming books are actually the direct result of customer inspiration. A customer emailed me saying her family loved my Addition Adventures and Subtraction Secrets, and wanted to know if I’d done a book on double-digit addition and subtraction. The resulting two books, Double-Digit Decoders: Addition and Double-Digit Decoders: Subtraction, are being published by MindWare this summer.
● God inspires me. I can’t tell you how often ideas come to me that truly seem to be gifts straight from God. Being creative makes me feel especially close to God. I think that’s because I believe in a Creator God, who made us in his image, so when I’m creating, I’m expressing some of that image of himself he’s put within me.
Evelyn, thank you for sharing your passion for making learning fun!
For more information about Evelyn and her work, visit: www.evelynchristensen.com
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
This is your chance to win your own copy of one of Evelyn’s books (your choice of one of the three books shown below). All you have to do is leave a comment below (before Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 at 11PM CST) and you will be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 3, 2014. *Drawing limited to United States residents only.*
Kentucky Puzzles:Bluegrass Brainteasers for Ages 6 to 106
Coin-Clue Puzzles (for grades 3 & up)