Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Shelly Roark {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Shelly...

Hello! My name is Shelly Roark—wife, mom, sweet tea aficionado, lover of old wives’ tales and writer. My husband Geoff and I have been married 26 years. We have three kiddos—all teens now. Katie is 17, Ethan is 15, and Gracie is 13. Our family also includes a black lab named Rosie and a kitten named Tigger.

Connect with Shelly...


Purchase: The Bubble Who Would Not POP! 

Get to know Shelly...

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing…

I loved writing stories as a child. But when I joined the newspaper staff in high school, I was hooked! Out of college, I worked for a local newspaper. After about 10 years, I began writing for ministries and nonprofits. I have been blessed to share the stories of so many absolutely incredible ministries that feed the hungry, save babies, shelter children, distribute Bibles and more. Today, I’m a senior writer for Focus on the Family. I absolutely love telling stories of people and for people . . . people are so interesting!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book…

My debut children’s book combines two of my loves—storytelling and children’s ministry. The Bubble Who Would Not POP! was originally written to share a simple message about prayer with kids in children’s church. I told it to my own children when they were very young before I even wrote it down. Some of the parts I made up as I went along. When all three were still, quiet and paying attention during the story, I knew it was a winner! I quickly wrote the early version down before I forgot it!

I love the character Billy Bubble—he’s brave and shows compassion toward the little girl who asks him to take her prayer up to God in heaven. He faces challenges but learns some very important lessons about the power of prayer on his journey, including that God ALWAYS hears our prayers. In fact, God knows our needs before we even pray about them! We are never told what the prayer need of the little girl is in the story . . . but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t want to put boundaries on what children might need to pray about and thought the kiddos might just insert their own needs into the story. God hears our prayers no matter what they are. Now, that doesn’t mean that we always get the answer we want when we pray for something. But the first step in living a life of prayer is to believe that God will hear you when you talk to Him. He really does! It is as simple as that. One of the Scriptures that inspired this simple lesson is “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24 NIV).


Let’s talk about your writing life…

How long did you write before you got published? 
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. But, professionally, I’ve written for about 26 years. The first decade, I wrote for a newspaper. Since then, I’ve been a ghostwriter for nonprofits and ministries. I write fund-raising copy, newsletters, articles, and even some books. For much of that time, I’ve helped out with children’s ministry at church just for fun. In that capacity, I’ve written little stories here and there, puppet scripts, skits, etc. One day a friend of mine encouraged me to send one of my kid stories to a new publisher. I did and God took it from there!

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? 
From a faith perspective, just know that God has your plan. He knows the desires of your heart, your giftings and talents . . . He gave them to you! So, be patient with His timing. Maybe you need to have some specific life experiences before He gives the green flag on your writing career in order to share lessons and encouragement with others. Just keep following your heart, ask His guidance and He will work out the details.

What does your writing process look like? 
The writing process for a children’s book is a little different than for an adult book I think. The message, setting and plot must be simple and easy to digest. They must work together with the visual to capture and keep small attention spans. So . . . when I get a thought, I let it bounce around in my head for a while before I write it out. I start with a simple lesson that I want to share and try to imagine it from a child’s point of view. It is also fun to start with a silly title and work from there.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share? 
I do love to listen to music when I write . . . especially Christmas music. I listen to Christmas music off and on all year long!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
Hmmmm. Well, something I’ve learned is that a great story doesn’t go very far if no one knows about it! Ha! Because I’ve always been a ghostwriter, I had no audience of my own to talk to . . . it’s been a little challenging to try and cultivate that. I would recommend anyone who wants to be published eventually to start developing a social media presence now by blogging/posting/tweeting.


September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
Since we are talking about children’s books, can I use The Grinch? It is from a classic children’s book. Hee! Hee! OR, Winnie the Pooh . . . love that little round bear!

What is your favorite fall snack food? 
This sounds so typical, but I LOVE anything pumpkin-flavored or cinnamon-flavored in the fall—pumpkin break, pumpkin muffins, spice bread, pumpkin-flavored coffee.

What are you currently reading? 
Well, my daughter just got Wuthering Heights to read. I haven’t read it since high school so I told her I would read it with her. It’s great because I have forgotten a lot of it (or maybe I just didn’t read it very thoroughly at the time).

Shelly has graciously offered up a copy of her book to one lucky winner! Enter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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