Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Blend of Inspiration and Practicality...Even in Summertime

What is the best way to start or end your day? Is it with romance on your mind, or is it prayer, or perhaps it might be a simple word of devotion about what you're going through as a homeschooling mom or dad not just some of the time but  365 days a year?

This week at A Pen for Your Thoughts we are blessed to be able to share Anita Mellott with you as she tells us about her books of devotion, one specifically that might just relate to you, and that special something that keeps her going as a homeschooling mom herself.

Welcome, Anita.  It's a joy having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts. Please tell us about yourself.

 AM: Thank you so much for having me, Shirley.

Tell us about yourself.

AM: I’m a wife, homeschooling mom, and caregiver to an aging parent who lives with us.  It seems like I spend most of my time chasing an ultra-energetic toddler or taking a talkative teen to various activities, leaving me to grab a few minutes here and there to put down ideas. I can’t believe that this fall, we begin our ninth year of homeschooling!

On the professional side, with post-graduate degrees in Communications and Journalism, I’ve worked as an editor with Habitat for Humanity International, headed the Department of Journalism at Mt. Carmel College, Bangalore, India, and done a stint in public relations and advertising. My articles have appeared in Homeschool Enrichment, Novel Journey, Crosswalk.com, The Christian Post, and publications in India.

SKC:  What inspired you to write this book?

AM: After homeschooling for four years, I attended my first homeschool encouragement meeting when we relocated to Atlanta. I left that first meeting comforted that I wasn’t the only parent who faced homeschooling ups and downs. Being with others who shared the journey strengthened me. That got me wondering what it would be like to have a daily reminder of God’s presence with us each homeschool day, along with practical tips. And so the idea of a devotional for homeschooling parents was birthed.                                     

SKC:  How has your Christian background affected the style of writing you do?

AM: To be honest, Shirley, for a long time, that really wasn’t a factor in my writing. I don’t mean that I wrote inappropriate things, rather I wrote what I wanted to. Four years ago, I began to sense a prompting to write what God led me to. While I worked hard to ignore that urging, I lost my job of 13 years as a write/editor with Habitat for Humanity International, and went through a high-risk pregnancy. When, against all medical odds, I held our baby in my arms, I surrendered to the prompting to “write to encourage others.”

Since then, Jesus is the inspiration and motivation for my writing. I write about life—especially about the valleys in life because I know that though “weeping may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.”

SKC:   You stay busy writing, I'm sure. What do you do when you get off track how do you get back ON track?

AM: My regular writing commitments and critique partners keep me on track. Most of all, realizing that I’m accountable to the One who led me to write, never fails to bring me back on track.

SKC:  Oh, I love how you share that, because it is so true. How often do you visit other authors’ blogs, and what do you learn from going about the web? Do you ever get distracted by the web?

AM: I subscribe to several author/agent/publisher blogs to learn about the craft and the industry.

Yes! Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging and e-mail are very distracting. So when I sit down to write, I log out of everything to help me focus. I try to check e-mail, FB, Twitter two-three times a day, and make sure it’s not during my writing time.

SKC:  A person really has to discipline herself or himself, it is true. Every writer goes through some particular trial when it comes to their craft. What is one that gets to you the most and how do you deal with it?

AM: Fear and doubts plague me. “Should I really be writing this book?” “Can I write fiction?” “What if the editor doesn't like this article?” “What about the readers?” “Maybe I shouldn’t write since it takes time away from my family...” Such thoughts are my regular companions. I constantly need to go to the Lord and His Word for reassurance. I daily pray for discernment to know truth from lies. Also, my critique group straightens me out a lotJ.

SKC:  What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far in your years of living about life since becoming a published writer?

AM:  That it’s all about Jesus. I’m only a broken vessel He has chosen to use. Nothing matters apart from Him. He is the reason I live, and I want to obey Him in whatever He leads me to—as a wife, a mom, a daughter, a writer—and do it all as unto Him.

SKC: Tell us more specifically about your book, Anita.

AM: The 180 devotionals cover every facet of homeschooling and include a good bit of parenting, since parenting is at the heart of homeschooling. Most of the devotions are a anecdotal, drawn from our family’s homeschool experiences, and those of others. They delve into a biblical principle, with a “digging deeper” thought-provoking section at the end. The devotionals are a blend of inspiration and practical help for each homeschool day.

SKC: I have enjoyed having you here. As we get responses from our readers and other writers, is there anything you'd like to offer to a name I will draw at the end of our time together?

AM: Judson Press, my publisher, is happy to offer a free shipping code for any orders of School Is Where the Home Is.

SKC: We really appreciate your offering to share one of your books with our readers. How else can our readers find you and your books?

AM: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway, and other on-line and retail stores carry School Is Where the Home Is. If anyone would like to read my blog, From the Mango Tree, they can do so at my website: www.anitamellott.com . I’d love to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for having me, Shirley.

SKC: To the readers of the blog this week who would like to get their name in the basket to win a book of their own. What do you look for in a devotional book, and why? (Please include your email address.)



  1. I look for devotions that speak to me, to my situation, to what I'm facing in my Life. If the devotions aren't related to me and my Life, I'm apt to not continue reading, and move on to something more useful. Sometimes I'll come back to a book at a later date, because my circumstances have changed, or my attitude has changed, or I have changed, and the devotions that were once "not for me" are suddenly relevant and fruitful.

  2. What do I look for? I look for devotions that speak to my heart, that say what I have not been able to verbalize, or perhaps address concerns/successes in my own life. I look for words that touch my heart and soul. This book looks wonderful. I'd love to win it! :-)

  3. I love devotionals when I'm not reading inspirational fiction. I think I would read just about any. Your devotional about children and the home sounds awesome.
    Diane Crater

  4. Thanks for featuring "School Is Where the Home Is," Shirley. Suzanne, Lisa and Diane, I enjoyed reading your comments. Thanks for sharing from the heart.

  5. I love all devotionals. Your interview was interesting. Would love to win this book too.
    Thanks to Shirley and thank you Anita.
    Karen M