Author Interview with Danika Cooley from Thinking Kids Press: Author of Wonderfully Made (and a great GIVEAWAY!)

I'm super excited to share an author interview today. I love to have the opportunity to "get inside the head" of a children's author. Last year I reviewed a brand new book from Danika- When Lightning Struck!: The story of Martin Luther. Danika has also written the Bible Road Trip curriculum. Just recently she's released another new book- Wonderfully Made.

My review of Wonderfully Made is coming soon. So far I can tell you that it's a beautiful book designed to describe to children what happens from conception to birth, with a focus on how they are specially designed by God. In this author interview, Danika answers some questions about writing Wonderfully Made. After the author interview, you'll find an awesome giveaway to celebrate the book's launch, so keep reading.

Author Interview with Danika Cooley

1. What inspired you to write Wonderfully Made?
One of my kids' favorite stories has always been the story of how God formed each of them in the womb, how they're special and loved, and how anticipated their births were. They loved hearing about the day of their birth. I wanted moms in other families to be able to share that story with their children using science, Scripture, and beautiful illustrations.


2. What was your main goal in writing Wonderfully Made?
I want children to understand that they're individually and purposefully created by a loving God, and that there is a second birth into the Kingdom of Heaven available to them. Each child is unique and special, and each is loved dearly not only by their parents, but also by their Father in Heaven.
I also want a new generation of children to grow up understanding the marvelous truth of what happens in the womb, and when it happens. I want them to know what Scripture says about life in the womb--both the creation of life and the existence of life.

Both of those goals were heavy on my heart while writing Wonderfully Made, and I'm overjoyed to see the book available to families around the world.

3. Which part of researching Wonderfully Made was the most personally interesting to you?
Did you know that a baby's heart starts beating at four weeks? That's actually two weeks after conception. By eight weeks, six weeks after conception, all of the organs--other than the lungs--are working! And babies dream in the womb three months before they're born. How amazing is that? Learning about the development of babies in the womb was so much fun for me. I also loved going through the Scripture that talks about life in the womb.

4. What are you reading right now? What authors (living or dead) have influenced you most?
Right now, I'm reading Everyday Grace by Jessica Thompson, Pitchin' A Fit by Israel and Brook Wayne, Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, and the Gospels. Reading is definitely one of my favorite parts of my work--I read about a book a week for reviews, books with my boys, and bigger works on the side.

5. What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?
I was definitely a bookworm growing up, and I read everything I could get my hands on--some good, some not-so-good. This may sound cliche, but the book that has most influenced my life has been (and continues to be) the Bible. I've read it through many times, studied it, and it's changed me. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God's Word never returns void, that it accomplishes what He purposed it for. It has certainly changed me.

I also love reading biographies about Christians that have gone before us. I find it so encouraging to see how God has worked in and through their lives. I also find it really interesting to read their writings--it helps me get outside of my 21st century American bias when I'm thinking through issues with Christian living and theology.

6. Do you have a certain writing space, somewhere you go "just" to write your books? An office, a lake cabin, a hotel? What do you love about that space? How does it inspire you?
We have a library that I love to work in late at night, after everyone is asleep. It's nice to be surrounded by biographies and great works while writing. Also, I just really love the room--it's filled with artwork my kids have done, and we've stuffed little mementos into the open spaces on the bookshelves.

7. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing a book?
I love writing. Research can sometimes be tedious or overwhelming, but it's worthwhile to commit to researching well. I think it makes the story so much richer (and more accurate).

8. Did you always have a talent for writing, or is it something you wanted and needed to work harder to achieve?
I've always loved to write. That said, writing is a craft, and like any skill, it needs to be developed with practice, and through criticism and study. I've studied writing, I read widely, and I've had a lot of excellent input from some amazing editors and writers.

9. With all of the duties that you juggle, when do you fit in the time to write?

For me, finding time to write is the same as finding time to exercise, eat, or sleep. I consider it a necessity, so I work hard to make time for it. I've also sacrificed other activities to fit it in. I don't watch television, I prioritize my time, and I often write when I might otherwise be sleeping.

10. Is your writing style different now than it was when you first began? In what ways have you grown in your writing?I think it's taken me time to find my voice and hone my skills, and I suspect that I will continue to improve as a writer--we always get better at the things we practice.

11. How did you get your start in writing/getting published?
I attended a writing conference for beginners at a local Christian college six and a half years ago. A children's author graciously sat down with me and explained what I needed to do to write for children, and directed me to a local writer's organization. I began attending conferences with Oregon Christian Writers four times a year, and writing for Christian children's magazines. My first acceptance letter came three months after that first conference.

12. What do you recommend for others who are getting started?It's a good idea to find a local writer's organization and learn about the business. I think writing for magazines is a clarifying process, which I highly recommend. Also, if you want to reach people for Christ, writing for magazines can really extend that reach.

13. What would you say to a young person who aspires to be a writer? What advice would you give? Also, what would you tell his/her parents in order to help them be supportive in their child's efforts to pursue writing as a career?
The most important thing you can do is learn how to write. It's also important to learn about the industry. Find writer's conferences and workshops, attend, take notes, and really learn from the authors there. Don't let rejection letters stop you--just keep working on your craft. I'd also suggest finding a mentor--someone who is already writing for publication--and humbly following their advice. Also, read widely. Read many genres, from different time periods. Practice writing, but as you do, think about what you'd like to say, and who you'd like to say it to.

14. Would your advice be any different for an adult who would like to break into the business? How?
My agent, Chip MacGregor, always says a successful writer should have great writing, a great idea, and a great platform (the people who read your work, or listen to you speak). It's important to work on all three.

As far as platform goes, serve your readership. For my Christian friends, really work unto the Lord and glorify Him in all you do. He is sovereign over all things, and will open the doors He wants opened.

Really, writing professionally is a lot of work, but it's also a great opportunity to communicate, to practice your craft, and to get to know some amazing people. I feel humbled and blessed to be writing professionally.

15. What else do you want readers to know? Consider your likes and dislikes, interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to relax — whatever comes to mind.
I love to play board games with my kids, hike, paint (I majored in art), garden, and cook. I love my family, and I feel so blessed to be able to spend time with them. I homeschool my younger two, and that's just a gift. Teaching children about the Bible, theology, and Christian history is my passion--I hope to be a lifelong student, and a lifelong teacher.

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GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of Wonderfully Made: God's Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley, I am hosting a wonderful giveaway with the rest of the launch team. The giveaway includes a hardcover copy of the book, along with several other books and products your family is sure to enjoy. The total value of the giveaway is nearly $600!
  Wonderfully Made Giveaway

 Here is what you could win: 

Wonderfully Made: God’s Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley – hardcover $9.99 value

Wonderfully made is an excellent book that introduces a young child to the wonder of God's creation - the wonder and miracle of birth. From conception in the womb through the nine months within the mother's womb Danika Cooley takes us on a journey of discovery... the discovery of life. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Touch of Life First Trimester Fetal Models $89.95 value

Sculpted from real-life photos, these four fetal models representing weeks 7, 8, 9, and 10 after conception have a personality of their own, and the life-like feel of the skin brings home the humanity of the preborn baby in its first trimester of life. Accurately portrayed thanks to medical descriptions and photos, these little samples of life are a great educational tool for helping to understand the wonder of the early stages of human development.

Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum (includes Lower and Upper Grammar Notebooking Journals $60 value

The Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum is a 463-page digital PDF download of the full Bible Road Trip Year One curriculum for all five levels, preschool through high school. The Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum includes the Parent / Teacher Guide and 32 weeks of curriculum schedules for all grades.

$100 Amazon Gift Card $100 value

Enjoy shopping amazon.com with a gift of $100 + an adorable bookmark.

Big Bible Science: Experiment and Explore God’s World by Erin Lee Green (Ages 5-11) $12.99 value

Big Bible Science helps children and those who teach them to explore God's World and God's Word through real live science experiments. There are twenty-one different units taking students through scientific concepts such as Gravity, Friction, Animal Classification and the Nervous System. 

My 1st Books and More by Carine MacKenzie and Philip Ross (ages 4-7) $15.99 value   

Who is God? What does he do? Can I know Jesus? Why did he die? Children always have questions about God. They want to know what it means to be a Christian and who Jesus is. My 1st Books and More gives a year's worth and more of bible readings, devotions and memory verses.

Living Water in the Desert: True Stories of God at Work in Iran by Rebecca Davis  $8.99 value

One man was overcome by the missionary's kindness. Another was stopped by a vision of men in blue.  One became sick and tired of his own religion. Another saw a man named Jesus in a dream, coming to him on a donkey.  A girl found a strange book on the floor of the library and visited a secret prayer meeting. All of them eventually came to Jesus Christ for His full and free salvation, becoming missionaries to their own people. Seventeen chapters tell true stories of the Living Water pouring out on the country of Iran, even up to the present day.

Lights in a Dark Place: True Stories of God at Work in Colombia by Rebecca Davis (ages 7-12)  $8.99 value

Colombia has been known as a land of violence, but God is at work! Even though the Colombian people have reacted with violence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God has delivered people from burning houses . . . God has healed ones who cursed . . . God has given people dreams and visions . . . God has rescued kidnapers . . . God has conquered demons of darkness. Read fourteen true stories of the Light of the World shining in the land of Colombia, South America.

Jungle Doctor’s Monkey Tales by Paul White $8.99 value

The wisdom of monkeys is proverbially small. They never could remember not to get too near to the hind feet of zebra, nor to throw coconuts at Chewi the leopard, nor to look into the eyes of snakes. Luckily for his little nephews, Uncle Nyani, the only survivor of a family of seven, is always near at hand to tell them how they can live to be as old as he is!

Jungle Doctor’s Tug-of-War by Paul White (ages 5-11) $8.99 value 

Even by monkey standards, young Toto is pretty dim! Those baddies of the jungle, Crunch the Crocodile, Mbisi the Hyena, Slinki the Jackal, Vibi the Vulture and Gnark the crow look as though they are going to have an easy time finishing him off. However, Toto soon finds himself in the middle of a tug-of-war, for his real friends, Elephant, Giraffe, Parrot and Hornbill are determined to rescue him from the clutches of the jungle underworld.

The Bible’s Big Story: Salvation History for Kids by James M. Hamilton Jr. $4.99 

With easily remembered rhymes and Bible verses take your child through the span of Salvation History from Creation to the Fall, the Flood to the Exodus, the Exile to the Crucifixion and beyond... James M. Hamilton writes about real history, God's Salvation History, and our future.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership $97

1000s of topical pages, themes, and designs . . . Perfect for any subject or study A to Z! Art Study ♦ Copywork ♦ Character Study ♦ Famous Men & Women ♦ Geography (state/country studies, continental, world maps) ♦ History of the Ancient World, Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and Modern Times ♦ Music Study ♦ Nature Study ♦ Science ♦ Timelines ♦ and more!

Mom's Toolbelt Lifetime Membership $24.95

A customizable home management planner for every area of your life that craves order.

Hal and Melanie Young: Mom & Dad Special: Raising Real Men (book + audiobook) plus a free registration to both Boot Camp 9-12 AND Boyhood Boot Camp. $101 value

If this is God’s chosen gift to us, then why does it seem so hard? How can we prepare these boys to serve God when we can barely make it through the day? Isn’t there a better way? The answer is yes.

When You Lie Down: Lullabies and Scripture Songs CD $12.97 value

These twelve songs remind us that true rest, comfort and hope come from God alone. This music is an awesome way to experience God’s Word with your baby, kids and family. You will discover that this album will be a powerful addition to use in your personal time with God.

Seeds Onesie- Psalm 139:13-14  $14.97 value

Seeds Family Worship Onesie featuring Psalm 139:13-14 on the front with a small Seeds logo on the back.

Cultivating Responsibility: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 9-12 by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN $14.99 value

The later elementary age years are among the greatest times to build responsibility in children. Heart transformation takes place when parents use other tools than behavior modification.

Elementary Foundations: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 5-8by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN $14.99 value

Many new things happen during the ages of 5-8. Children start school, develop significant friendships, learn to think abstractly instead of just concretely, and have a greater ability to draw close to God. Parenting during this stage produces a number of challenges and opportunities so you'll want to be prepared.
To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, age 18 and older. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, April 20 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced at the Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party (winner does not have to be present to win, but we hope you'll be there!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You're Invited!

Join us for the Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party on Thursday, April 21. We'll have even more giveaways and freebies, too! The party begins at 9pm EST, and you can RSVP on the event page Please RSVP!

  Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party, Thursday, April 21, 9pm EST

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You can read my review of When Lightning Struck here.

When Lightning Struck by Danika Cooley

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