22 08, 2011

Looking Back – and Forward


The idea for my series of Christian Biographies for Young Readers came a few years ago, in 2008, just before Calvin's 500th anniversary, when I was burdened by the lack of serious Christian biographies for children under 12 years of age. The books on t...

Looking Back – and Forward2011-08-22T23:45:03+00:00
19 08, 2011

Book Blog Tour


Athanasius, by Simonetta Carr
4th title in the series of Christian Biographies for Young Readers

The book is scheduled to be published by the end of August. I am giving everyone time to receive it and read it, then the tour will start! Thank you everyone who agreed to host the tour!
Wednesday, September 14
Book Moms
Friday, September 16
Christian Book Notes

Tuesday, September 20
The Reformed Reader
Thursday, September 22

Saturday, September 24

Monday, September 26

Wednesday, September 28

Thursday, September 29

Thursday, September 29

Saturday, October 1
Wednesday, November 9

Wednesday, December 7

Monday, January 2 2012

September 2012

Most of these blogs will also host a giveaway, so stay tuned for a chance to get a free copy of the book!
Book Blog Tour2017-07-13T05:17:12+00:00
10 08, 2011

Latest News


Since my website is down for a while, here are the latest news regarding my books.

1. Athanasius, fourth title in the series Christian Biographies for Young Readers, published by Reformation Heritage Books, will be out at the end of August. I am excited about this book! I think it will bring the Nicene Creed to life for children of all ages, raising relevant questions on the divinity of Christ and the importance of creeds and confessions. As in my last book, masterful oil illustrations keep the imagination alive while maps and photos confirm the historical facts. http://www.heritagebooks.org/products/Athanasius.html

2. Weight of a Flame, the Passion of Olympia Morata, is my first historical novel (aimed mostly at young girls), and the fifth title in the series Chosen Daughters by P&R. It will be out on September 20th. In the story, Olympia Morata, a young Italian scholar (arguably the most prolific woman writer of the Reformation), learns to overcome the pain of rejection, religious persecution, exile, illness, poverty, and war by resting her hope on God's promises. Although her circumstances may be exceptional, her responses and feelings are universal, and young girls will easily identify with her. It's a true story - dramatic, but also poetic and inspiring.

3. Lady Jane Grey, fifth title in the series Christian Biographies for Young Readers, published by Reformation Heritage Books, is under way! Matt has just started sketching the illustrations and I will be taking photos of our models in the next few weeks. I am also in the process of re-checking my manuscript. Professor Eric Ives, Emeritus Professor of English History at the University of Birmingham and author of Lady Jane Grey, a Tudor Mystery (arguably the most authoritative book on the subject), has graciously agreed to check my final manuscript. Dr. Diarmaid MacCullough, Professor of History of the Church at the University of Oxford, has also kindly answered my questions on the intriguing time of English history when Lady Jane lived. I could never thank them enough!

4. I am also working on a bite-sized biography of Renée of France for Evangelical Press. This is part of a series of books directed by Dr. Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The deadline for the manuscript is January 2012. Emanuele Fiume, expert on Church history and author of several books, has graciously agreed to write an introduction.

5. Besides these projects (and my normal workload as mother), I am also hoping to continue my series of articles on parenting for the Outlook, and I am trying to finish a Study Guide for my book on John Owen.

6. Upcoming interviews. An interview with White Horse Inn will be included in their September CD, which is sent out to their supporters. Another recent interview with the staff at Westminster Seminary of California bookstore will be posted on their website and other places on the web soon.

7. Book talks. I am scheduling book talks for my upcoming book, Weight of a Flame. The first talk will be held at the Mission Valley Public Library in San Diego. I will update this post when I receive the exact date.

8. Blog Book Tour. I am organizing a Blog Book Tour for my upcoming books. Details will be published soon.

9. Other Book Tours. I have been invited to speak about my books and about Christian books for children in general (and about the importance of teaching theology to children) in Indonesia! The tour will take me to Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali. My gracious host is Rev. Sutjipto Subeno, pastor of Gereja Reformed Injili Church in Surabaya and head of Momentum Christian Bookshttp://www.momentum.or.id/index.php/pages/2/en/. I will be leaving on October 23 and returning on November 8. The hero at this time will be my husband Tom who will be filling both his and my shoes!

I think this is all. On paper, it looks daunting. In reality, I am not doing much more than before. I am still driving my kids to practice, trying to come up with something original but not too strange for dinner, keeping the house somewhat decent, teaching Italian classes, and translating. Sunday is the highlight of my week, a day of refreshing in God's house, feeding on the means of grace.

Latest News2017-07-13T05:17:12+00:00
17 06, 2011

The Bishop’s Power – an Editing Issue


Originally, in my book on Athanasius, I had mentioned that bishops had more power than they do today. Since most of my young readers are probably not very familiar with the role of bishops, I had described them as "in charge of many churches." That created a problem. A Protestant child may think of a pastor, and what kind of "power" does a pastor hold? My editor, Annette Gysen, and I went back and forth with emails for a while discussing what power bishops held in those days (fourth century AD) and how to explain it to children.

I decided to ask Dr. Giorgio Corti, expert in patristic studies and author of the book Lucifero di Cagliari – una voce nel conflitto tra chiesa e impero alla metà del IV secolo, and he replied by giving the following examples.

1. The bishops' authority depended much on their strength as opposed to the emperor's strength. It was difficult for a bishop to oppose a strong emperor. Bishops like Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, and Cyril were strong personalities.

2. Bishops had a strong impact on their people because they lasted longer than emperors, who often died in battle, at the hand of traitors, etc.

3. Bishops had a better knowledge of their cities than emperors, who lived far away.

4. Bishops lent material help to their people. In Alexandria, bishops granted food to about 1500 people. In Milan, Ambrose rescued the prisoners after the battle of Adrianopolis with the church's money - for this reason, they were very popular, and emperors could not ignore them.

5. For emperors, the problems posed by bishops were some among many others, and could quickly lose importance in the event of more urgent matters. Bishops, on the contrary, were very tenacious in defending their title, because for them this was an essential matter. The bishops had their moments of greatest power when the emperors were busy with political or military problems.

6. Bishops were depending on the church's considerable riches, while the emperors depended on taxes, and were very unpopular for this reason, even with their own officers.

Annette and I realized then that the word "power" was not correct. The bishops didn't have temporal powers as they held instead in medieval times. The correct word was "influence." But how do you explain that to children?

Finally, after reading and re-reading my paragraph several times, the answer became evident. Instead of writing that the bishops were in charge of many churches, I should write that they were in charge of all the churches in a large area or a country. That was enough! If they were in charge of all the churches in a country, of course they had influence on the people, and I didn't need to add explanations.

I decided to post this little editing story here because Dr. Corti's explanation of the power (or influence) exercised by bishops at that time was very interesting.

The Bishop’s Power – an Editing Issue2017-07-13T05:17:12+00:00
17 06, 2011

More on the Black Dwarf


Yesterday, someone posted a comment to my blog post on Athanasius - the Black Dwarf. This person (who remained anonymous) seemed to suggest that I had some revisionist agenda in portraying Athanasius as an Egyptian rather than a black African. As I me...

More on the Black Dwarf2017-07-13T05:17:13+00:00
22 04, 2011

Illustrations and Text


Yesterday, my publisher asked if I wanted more illustrations in my books, and my first reaction was to say YES, of course! He then sent me another email, refocusing and redimensioning my thoughts. First, he pointed out the importance of photos. "I thin...

Illustrations and Text2017-07-13T05:17:13+00:00
23 03, 2011

Character Arc


The character arc is not one of my main priorities in short 64-pages biographies for children, focusing mainly on God's doctrines and His hand on His church. It's however important for the narrative and makes the characters more real and closer to us.A...

Character Arc2017-07-13T05:17:13+00:00
12 02, 2011

Human Yearning in Picture Books


Biographies for children today have for the most part deviated from fictionalized accounts to emphasize facts. There has also been a shift in purpose, from the raising of heroes to an attempt to help children to understand the development of history, personal choices, social concerns, and human experiences. There is an emphasis on accuracy, avoiding suppositions.

At the same time, as I wrote in a previous post, it's the element of human yearning that makes any story captivating. We want to know what moved the characters to do what they did. Since choices and human experiences are understood best through feelings, the author can give some hints, like "he probably felt..."
Of course, the best way to portray feelings in the context of a factual biography is by using actual quotes. For example, it was refreshing to read how young Athanasius, in the midst of all his problems during his first years as a bishop, started his Easter Letter to the churches in Egypt with a song of joy, "Come, my beloved, the season calls us to keep the feast … so that, when time has passed away, gladness may not leave us."
In pictorial biographies, however, there is another way to portray emotions and move the imagination without drifting too far from reality - illustrations! The masterful painting above is Matt's illustration of the dreadful time when Emperor Constans ordered all bishops to sign a paper denying the conclusions of the Council of Nicea regarding Christ's divinity and especially denouncing Athanasius. It's definitely hard for us to understand the feelings of the bishops who signed. It has been suggested that there was a general atmosphere of theological unclarity (after all, our "orthodox" theology was just in the process of being formulated at that time) rather than fear of the emperor, since martyrdom was still seen as a desirable death for a Christian. After that, we really don't know.
In the illustration, we find ourselves face to face with three pondering men - a bishop and two Roman soldiers, with the looming statue of Emperor Constans behind. We still don't know their thoughts, but they are in front of us and we find that all our prejudgments and rash conclusions are halted in our minds. This is, in my view, one of the main purposes of accurate biographies. They help us to understand or at least empathize. They draw us closer to someone else's life and thoughts and widen our own. They take us to another time as we would travel to another country and help us to sample it through another person's experience. And it's something our children need as well.
Human Yearning in Picture Books2017-07-13T05:17:13+00:00
4 02, 2011



Most books on writing fiction advise the author to find their character's yearning. There is a perceived need and a hidden need. The hidden need is normally the motivating force, the yearning that carries the character through the story, even if at fir...

31 01, 2011

Working with Illustrators


Years ago, when I was looking for an illustrator for my series, someone told me, "If you find a good one, hold him fast!" Someone else said that working with an illustrator is like a marriage. I think they meant the same - think well before you ...

Working with Illustrators2017-07-13T05:17:13+00:00
Go to Top