Congratulations to TORI H., the winner of the random drawing for a copy of Ellen’s book, The Whispers God Gives. I sent you an email, so please respond ASAP with your mailing address so Ellen can get that autographed book right out to you!
How did I choose a winner? I use Random.org, and it generates a number based on how many entries. This time it generated the number “1,” and Tori was the first entry in this giveaway. That’s unusual but truly random.
If you did not win but would like to purchase this awesome devotional, go here:
Sadly, I disqualified about half a dozen entries. Why? Because “anonymous” entries cannot win. Neither can entries that do not include your email address in the box before you submit your comment (no emails should be posted in the actual comment). It would really help if contestants would carefully read the instructions that are posted under the “How to Enter the Giveaway.”
This is not hard to do. See the image below? See the boxes that say “name” and “email”? Fill in your name and your email before you click “post.” I have given these instructions before. Your email is never made public. Maybe next time?
I’m over-the-moon excited about sharing this interview with an Andi fan whom I have known for several years. Contest winner, contest judge, and ghostwriter, she’s been a strong right arm for me. Ellen is also the author of a devotional book for teens. She is giving away a copy of The Whispers God Gives to one lucky winner. Read the interview below, then enter the giveaway by sharing your favorite Bible verse or by asking Ellen a question.
- MRS. M: Hello, Ellen, and welcome to the blog! I am excited to be doing this interview with you. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our readers?
- ELLEN: Absolutely! I am a homeschool high school graduate, and now an English major and online writing tutor at Regent University. I have been a committed Andi fan for 5 years, ever since I got my hands on a used copy of Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision when I was almost thirteen. I loved that book so much (particularly the scene where the Carter brothers recover Andi after Jed has taken her hostage . . . I committed that scene to memory). Now, my favorite Andi book is Yosemite at Last: And Other Tales from Memory Creek Ranch.
- MRS. M: Tell us a little bit about your writing journey. When did you first start writing?
- ELLEN: I’ve been writing practically since I first learned how to spell. Even when I was younger, I was serious about publishing. I remember one dark, stormy night many years back, when my siblings, dad, and I were huddled in my sisters’ room to wait out the bad weather, I clutched the worn, crinkled stack of notebook paper upon which I had been writing my most recent story (about a teddy bear that came to life, I think) and promised Dad, “This story is really good. It will have to get published. It’ll just have to!” And Dad, being the wonderful, patient, supportive dad that he is, didn’t try to discourage me; he simply answered, “We’ll see.” Well, that story, like many of the others I started, didn’t get finished, and sadly, most of those unfinished stories found their way into the trash. (Advice to all the young writers out there: don’t throw away your work! Years later, you’ll want to come back to your beginning stories and see how far you’ve come, and how God could use even your childhood writings to grow you.) Much of my earlier work was cringey, but comical . . . like when I wanted my characters to hurry up and get married and have children, so I had the guy propose without even knowing the woman’s name. Oops. My writing has improved with age, of course, but I definitely still make my fair share of mistakes. But that’s what the editing stages are for.
- MRS. M: How has being an Andi fan impacted your journey as a writer?
- ELLEN: It’s impacted me greatly, and in ways I never would have even expected. I wrote my first fan fiction story when I was nine years old and entered it in the Circle C annual contest. My story didn’t win, and with good reason! As I already stated, much of my earlier work was pretty cringey. I had Andi eating Oreo cookies and PB&J sandwiches and drinking from bottles of grape juice! (If you would like to read that story and you’re in the mood for a good laugh, I posted it up on my blog at this link >> Check it out.) But then when I returned to the Andi books 4 years later, my life changed big time. God opened doors to amazing opportunities, and looking back now, I’m in awe to see how far He’s brought me!
- I started out as an anonymous fan on the blog in early 2017, reading every one of your posts but commenting only occasionally. The second official fan fiction story I wrote was “A Blessing from Tragedy,” which I entered in the 2018 Circle C annual contest (ages 10-13) and won second place. (click here >> and scroll down to page 44 to read the winning story). I was absolutely thrilled, to say the least. My next story was a fan fiction, Missing Scenes from Dangerous Decision >> (that story still holds a special part of my heart). Then I entered the 2020 annual contest and won first place in the 14-17 category with Lead Me >> (scroll down to page 77 to read it). Soon I was writing for you, editing some of your books, and then doing something I had only dreamed of doing for years: judging in the annual contest (ages 10-13 category). With every step I took in my writing journey as an Andi fan, I felt my confidence grow and my future solidify as I realized God was calling me towards something bigger than my own dreams: a B.A. in English and a career as an editor, two passions you helped me discover with your encouragement and support.
- MRS. M: What’s the hardest part about writing for you?
- ELLEN: Probably waiting on God to give me the words and inspiration I need. I tend to be someone who wants to get things done on my own timetable, but I find that He blesses my work more when I wait for and rely on Him to lead me . . . even if it feels like it takes a while.
- MRS. M: What’s one of your best pieces of advice for an aspiring author?
- ELLEN: Pray. I know this may sound like the cliché response, but I mean it from the core of my being. Pray about everything—pray for your content, your inspiration, your steps into the publishing process . . . and ultimately, pray that God will use your work to bring Him glory. And then (also very important) expect Him to answer your prayers, because He always does . . . sometimes in ways you would never even expect but will absolutely blow your mind away.
- MRS. M: That’s awesome that you wrote and published a devotional book while you’re still a teenager. When did you first start writing these devotions, and did you think you would publish them in a book someday?
- ELLEN: Thank you! It was truly God at work in me, though, because if I had listened to my flesh, it would have been several more years (if ever) before The Whispers God Gives was written.
- The process began when my mom suggested the idea of a devotional book for teen girls to me. “Think about it, Ellie—a devotional for teens written by a teen,” she said. “It would be a bestseller.” I nodded and promised to try, but my heart wasn’t into the project. So, when my first attempt at writing a devotional book fell flat, I had no issue pushing it away.
- Only a short while, later, however God showed me He had different plans in store for me. I was thrown into a harder season of life that left me drained, frustrated, and hurting. Desperate to find healing, I took a 40-day Internet fast and buried myself in God’s Word. It was during that time that God really pressed the idea of a devotional book on me and granted me the inspiration I needed so that I could pour heart and soul into writing it. A couple months later, The Whispers God Gives was complete (well, almost . . . the Epilogue was added on a year afterwards, right before publication). I knew from the beginning that I wanted to publish this book, but I wasn’t sure how.
Can you tell Ellen is a super-charged Andi fan?
The rest of the interview!
- MRS. M: Why did you decide to self-publish?
- ELLEN: I submitted a proposal for my book to a few different publishing companies but each one turned me down . . . one publisher took eight months to tell me, “Sorry, but your book isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now.” I had a good cry, then straightened my shoulders. I knew God wanted me to get my book out there, so I prayed about it and decided to forge ahead with self-publishing. I hired an editor (you) and planned my release date for April 21, 2020, exactly one year after my return to the Internet. Now, I am grateful I went with self-publishing.
- MRS. M: Were there any discouragements along the writing/publishing process? If so, how did you deal with them?
- ELLEN: Yes, like I said above, I faced rejection from publishing companies and the mark of a red pen on my manuscript. Waiting eight months to hear back from a publisher only to have them tell me “No” was discouraging. Later, I ordered the proof (print) copy of my book from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and it was fine. But when I went to make it available on Amazon.com, KDP suddenly informed me that my cover had an issue uploading. So, I did not get the print copies exactly when I would have wanted to. Also, I published my book around the start of the COVID pandemic, and the subsequent lockdowns squashed many of my initial plans for marketing. Through it all, however, God was continuing to grow me and using these discouragements to teach me that He is sovereign over every detail of my life and I have to have full dependence on Him.
- MRS. M: Tell our readers a little bit about The Whispers God Gives!
- ELLEN: There’s a quote that says if you want to read a book that doesn’t exist, you have to write it yourself. That’s essentially what I hope to have done with The Whispers God Gives.
- Prior to and during the time that I was writing my book, I searched for existing good, solid devotional books for teen girls on the market and the results surprised me. It should not be so hard to find a devotional book to which any teen girl can relate, whether she’s 13 or 19 (or any year in between), homeschooled or public schooled, and that focused on real, everyday issues teen girls face in a compassionate, understanding way that always pointed back to Christ . . . right? Apparently not. I wondered how many girls and their parents were disappointed by this.
- As I was healing from a broken friendship at the time, I knew how important it was to me to have someone who truly ‘got’ what I was going through. The same applied to any other problem I may have been dealing with, such as letting the past go, doing my chores without complaining, etc. I wanted to be real with my readers about my struggles and what God was teaching me through them. Since I was still a teenager, I hoped that they would find my words to be especially meaningful and encouraging.
- The devotions in my book are short, each taking no more (and probably less) than five minutes to read. I liked to use real-life stories to help hit every message home (e.g., my baby sister clutching a soggy pretzel and refusing to let go is like us holding on to our past and therefore not fully embracing all God has planned for us in the future). Reviewers have said the content in my book is clean enough to hand to a younger child and relatable enough to hand to older women as well as teens. It has blessed my heart so much to witness how God has used this book in others’ lives.
- MRS. M: What do you hope readers will take away from your writing?
- ELLEN: My earnest hope is that readers will walk away from The Whispers God Gives filled with a renewed sense of assurance that God can and does work through all things for our good and His glory.
- MRS. M: What do your upcoming projects look like?
- ELLEN: Right now, I am keeping busy with college classes. God allowed me to secure the job of online writing tutor at Regent University before I was even a college freshman, so I plan to work hard at my job (and at my classes) in the upcoming fall semester. At some point, though, I would love to write another devotional book and/or complete my first Christian fiction novel. But we’ll see where the Lord leads.
- MRS. M: One last-but-important question. Where can readers get their hands on a copy of your awesome devotional?
- ELLEN: I’m glad you asked. The book is available on Amazon right here >> in print and Kindle formats. (Note from Mrs. M. A very reasonable $7.99 for print and $1.99 for Kindle.)
- MRS. M: Thank you again for coming on the blog and chatting with me!
- ELLEN: It was my pleasure! Thank you so much for having me!
Enter Below to Win Ellen’s Devotional
Ellen is giving away a print copy of her teen devotional, The Whispers God Gives, to one lucky winner. Enter the giveaway by commenting with your favorite Bible verse or by asking Ellen a question (or both). Contest runs one week, Tuesday, August 9 through Monday, August 15. Winner announced Tuesday, August 16, 6pm Pacific Time. US mailing addresses only.
Important note: Do NOT forget to include your first name and an email address in the boxes BEFORE you submit your entry. Anonymous entries will NOT be included in the drawing.