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Author Interview With Diana Waring

This week is the official launch of Diana Waring’s new Experience History Through Music series. This series includes 3 different sets of CDs featuring some of our country’s best loved folk music, as well as their accompanying books that tell the stories behind the songs. Our review for these fantastic products will be posted tomorrow. Until then, I would like to share a bit more with you about the author, Diana Waring, and an interview with her, in which she gives insight into her creation of this series.

About Diana Waring

DianaWaring_headshotAuthor of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

Author Interview With Diana Waring


1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?


I ALWAYS loved music. . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade.

I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church. . .

But music WAS in my grandparents’ lives. My father’s father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there — tell you later), and my mother’s father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.

Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings. . .

Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended.

Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm. . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings–but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!

Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring — and it was a JOY!!


2. How did you start writing history books?


The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of “America.”  As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)


One thing often leads to another.  Doing workshops on making history come alive using musicexposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.


All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992.  There were so many things I wanted to knowabout how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time. . . seeing the “secular” civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations.


I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions. . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making).  Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity toresearch and write!


Goodness!  I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much.  🙂


3. What is your favorite period of history?


My standard answer is that my favorite period of history is the one I am currently studying!!


I think the deeper answer, though, is that I have always been fascinated by the incredible drama of WWII and its aftermath.  I was born in Germany ten years after the end of WWII, and when it dawned on me as a fifth grader that my birthplace was at the epicenter, the reality that history HAPPENED engaged my heart and mind.


Add to that the fact that my grandfather was the chairman of the National Security Resources Board, appointed by President Harry Truman in 1951.  He was the man responsible for putting the resources of America to work if we went into another world warwhich was not a far-fetched idea in 1951 as we engaged in the Korean War and the early Cold War.  I still remember listening to my grandfather say, “Diana, we must always know what the Russians are doing. . .”  The Cold War was not a newspaper headline to him, it was VERY real.


So, with all of the personal family history, I think it is safe to say that WWII and the Cold War are, by far, the most fascinating to me.


4. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?


Yes!  All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!


My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician.  He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences!  He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!


Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice!  He wrote one of the most delightful songs I’ve ever heard:  “Round Trip Ticket to Samoa”. . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents.  🙂


Melody was my classically-trained musician.  She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists.  Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music.  I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother’s piano.  She loves, loves, loves music.  (The tragedy turned to beautywhen she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk.  She is amazing.)


5. Of all the songs in the three new books, which songs are your favorites?


I LOVE “Ho for California” in Westward Ho!  Somehow, this one became my favorite. . . I remember the day we drove across the Sacramento River as a family, on our way to a homeschooling event in California, singing at the top of our lungs, “Then, ho, brothers, ho, to California go.  There’s plenty of gold in the world we’re told on the banks of the Sacramento. . .”


“Gooey Duck”  was, by far, the most popular song that we performed in our concerts.  There is something so catchy about this song!  Also, as I was writing the original Westward Ho! book, I chatted with my grandfather about gooey ducks (giant clams).  He chuckled and told me that though they were plentiful in Puget Sound waters when he was a lad, they were SO ugly that people avoided eating them unless they were desperate.  That has tickled me ever since. . .


“Sweet Betsy From Pike” is another favorite, included in America. It is such a singable ballad, and full of humorous possibilities.  It was a delight to sing it on the recording!!



6. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?


In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don’t you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):


I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.

Switched to oboe in 7th grade.

Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!

Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.

Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, “Godspell.”

Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.

Learned to play banjo when I was 23.

But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven’s 9th symphony in Indianapolis!



7. Which of the songs in this series of books resonant the most with your life and why?

As a musician and storyteller, I love the possibilities of telling stories in music—ballads are an incredible art form.  “Old Settler” and “San Juan Pig War” are the two that I most enjoy singing for others, as they tell such memorable stories. . .


And, I love “Sweet By and By.”  We used to end our “Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale” concert with this song, and it never failed to bring me to tears. . .singing of our “bountiful Father above.


8. What value do you see in students learning America’s folk songs?

How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did?  As a real and normal part of our lives?  You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it’s music!


Plus, it’s part of our American heritage.  It’s part of our history.  And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into??  🙂

9. Are these Experience History Through Music products to be used as curriculum?  Is there a schedule to follow?

Though students can experience American history through these three books and CDs (and have a lot of fun in the process), it is not an actual curriculum. They are supplementary materials that can be enjoyed by anyoneThere is no specific schedule to follow, no tests to take. You might describe it as a sort of “stealth academics,” meaning that your kids will be having so much fun singing the songs, they won’t even realize they are learning.  But YOU will.


10. Do you have other books/products in the works?


Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, “Daughters of God.”  I am hoping to have it finished by this fall.

Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series.

Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time. . . including fiction—historical, of course!!


Apologia Biblical Worldview Curriculum: “What on Earth Can I Do?” ~ Review


Well-known publisher of excellent Christian-based science curriculum, Apologia Educational Ministries, has developed a Biblical Worldview curriculum series for homeschoolers in grades 1-6 entitled “What We Believe“. The latest installment of this 4-volume series, called “What on Earth Can I Do?” presents students with a Biblical view of stewardship. My family and I have had the opportunity to review the What on Earth Can I Do? textbook and accompanying supplemental materials, the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal, What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal, and What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book for the past few weeks, and I am happy to share our experience and review.

Components of the Curriculum

What on Earth Can I Do? hardback textbook ($39.00)

bookThis beautiful full-color textbook is meant to be read aloud by the parent, allowing multiple ages to learn together. It may also be read independently by older students. The text is broken down into the 8 following lessons:

  • Your Story or God’s Story
  • Who Put You in Charge?
  • Will You be Found Faithful?
  • Where is Your Treasure?
  • Where Does Your Time Go?
  • Whose Life is it Anyway?
  • Why Isn’t It Easy being Green?
  • What Will Happen When The Master Returns?

The textbook offers a sample lesson plan for completing the study, based on 3 weeks per lesson, at 2 class times per week. However, the structure of the lessons allow for a lot of flexibility in regards to scheduling, so that families can work through the study at a pace that works best for them. This flexibility is due in part to the lessons being broken down into several smaller individual components, which include:

  • The Big Idea: lesson introduction and overview
  • What You Will Do: lesson learning objectives
  • Short Story: a story illustrating the lesson’s concept, with characters children can easily relate to
  • Think About It: review questions pertaining to the story
  • Words You Need To Know: vocabulary
  • Hide It In Your Heart: Bible memory verses
  • Integrated Learning: articles integrating other subjects, such as art, math, science, and history
  • What Should I Do?: applying godly character traits to everyday life
  • Prayer
  • Parables of Jesus
  • Going Deeper: discussion questions relating to the parables
  • House of Truth: a “hands-on memory aid”


What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal ($24.00)


The full color notebooking journal corresponds directly with the textbook. It includes pages for students to record their answers to the “Think About It” questions, write definitions for vocabulary words, take notes, copy Bible verses, journal their personal prayers, and more. It also has fun word searches and puzzles to complete, as well as mini books to create that reinforce lesson concepts. Included at the end of each lesson is also a “Find Out More” page, which offers additional activities, resource books, and music and movie suggestions, for those interested in continuing their studies. This journal would be best suited for the older children of the family, who are able to write well without assistance. It also includes lesson plans, which would be especially helpful for children who like to work independently.


juniorjournalWhat on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal ($24.00)

This is a lighter version of the regular notebooking journal, intended for those students who can write, but perhaps aren’t ready for such extensive writing exercises. It includes most of the same activities as the other journal, but in a shorter form. In place of the more involved writing assignments (such as essay-type questions) the junior notebooking journal includes coloring pages that correspond to the lesson story, parable, or Bible verse. This journal allows younger students to work on the same thing as their older siblings, but on a level more appropriate for them.


coloringbookWhat on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book ($8.00)

This coloring book is perfect for the littlest learners who are not quite ready for written work, but need something to keep those little hands busy while listening to the lesson. It might also be used for older students who simply enjoy coloring, as these pictures are not contained within the standard notebooking journal, and only a limited number are found in the junior notebooking journal.



How We Used The Curriculum

We had never used any of Apologia’s “What We Believe” series, so we decided to use the recommended schedule we found in the book, of 2 class periods per week, covering a lesson in 3 weeks. My older son (age 12) used the standard notebooking journal, and my younger son (age 10) used the junior level. However, we soon realized that both of them are definitely writing at the regular notebooking journal level, so in the end, they ended up sharing it. Because my sons are on the older end of the appropriate age for this curriculum, I also allowed them to read sections of the lesson out loud, while the other (and I) listened. This encouraged them to be more involved in the lesson, and made completing the notebooking journal assignments much easier. My youngest also enjoyed coloring some of the pictures when it was his turn to listen to the lessons. Although neither of them are primarily auditory learners, the lessons held their interest very well, and both have commented on how much they have learned from this study.

Our Final Opinion

My sons and I enjoyed this curriculum. I think that the notebooking journals definitely add to the study, and I personally would not complete this curriculum without them. I like the fact that the lessons are broken down into smaller elements, as it allowed for the boys to really soak up the lesson, and gave them ample time to complete the notebooking exercises, without feeling overwhelmed or tired out by overly long lessons. For continuing the study, we definitely plan to break it down even further, as we prefer to work on a study daily, rather than only a couple of times a week. I do wish there was a suggested daily schedule as well, just to make my job easier, but tweaking the schedule is not really difficult. I definitely recommend this study to any parent in search of a Biblical worldview curriculum for younger students. We enjoy it so much that we plan on checking out the other volumes in the series!


For more information, please check out the Apologia website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!


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Mango Languages Homeschool Edition Review


Mango Languages is a fun, interactive online program for learning foreign languages in a conversational style. Mango Homeschool Edition is a yearly subscription allowing you unlimited access to as many of the 60+ languages offered by Mango Languages as you choose. In other words, you pay one yearly fee, which varies depending upon the number of students in your homeschool, and you get total access to as many languages as you want! The program works for ages 6 through adult, so anyone in the family can learn a new language with Mango. My family has been reviewing the beta version of the Mango Homeschool Edition for the past several weeks, and I am happy to share our review with you.

Cost of The Program

Mango Homeschool Edition’s introductory pricing is as follows:

  • 1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total
  • 2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total
  • 3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total
  • 4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total
  • 5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total
  • 6 or more subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group

Program Features

The Mango Homeschool Edition currently includes the following features:

  • Over 60 different languages
  • Progress Assessments
  • Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
  • Collaborative learning spaces
  • eNote messaging
/chat rooms
  • Access to embedded/downloadable content
Support from other community members
Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

In addition, Mango Homeschool Edition will be adding the following features over the next several months:

  • Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring – including seat time (for students and parents)
  • Goals and Personal Lesson Plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)
  • Resume and Portfolio Builder

How the Program Works

The first, and certainly the only difficult part of using Mango, is simply choosing a language! Mango has a huge course directory full of different languages to choose from, many of which are very difficult to find elsewhere. You can find everything from Latin, Greek, and Biblical Hebrew, to Spanish, French, and German, plus hard-to-find languages like Hawaiian, Bengali, and Kazakh, just to name a few! The great thing, though, is that with Mango Homeschool Edition, each student can not only choose which language that he wants, but as many as he wants as well.

Once a language has been chosen, the student is taken to the language’s landing page, and from there can then log into the Mango system. Each lesson is presented on a series of flash cards, which the student clicks to flip through.  When the student logs in and is taken to the first lesson, the first card then explains the conversational and grammar goals of the lesson.


The second card gives a conversation, which serves as an overview of the phrases to be learned in the lesson. First presented in English, the student reads along as the conversation is translated and spoken for them line by line. At any time, students can hover over each line of dialog in order to see it translated back into English. Once the conversation is complete, students can click the play button next to each line to hear it spoken individually, or hit the replay button to listen to the complete conversation again.


From there, the conversation is broken down into its components, which are presented on the remaining flash cards. Some cards present words and phrases from the beginning conversation. The phrase cards are color coded to make translating individual words very easy.  Students can also hover over each word on these cards to pop up a pronunciation helper. On both the phrase and individual word cards, the microphone icon allows students to compare their own pronunciation with the program’s to ensure that they are speaking properly.


Other cards scattered throughout the lesson present grammar or culture notes that provide students with further explanation of differences between the language studied and English language rules.


The remainder of the lesson flash cards ask students to translate a word or phrase presented by previous cards. On each card, the student is given a time clock that gives them a set amount of time to respond. At the end of that time, or if the student clicks “show the answer”, the proper translation is given so that the student can check to be sure that they responded with the correct phrase.


How We Used Mango

For our review period, we chose to try out European French. Because we were not completing a foreign language for credit, but rather for enrichment, I allowed both my boys to choose how far they would go each day with the course. On average, they were able to complete a lesson approximately every other day, beginning a new lesson the first day, and using the next day to review the same lesson before moving on. I think that by taking at least 2 days per lesson, they were able to retain the information more easily. The Mango website is easy enough to navigate that my boys were able to log into the program on their own, giving them a bit of independence in handling their own course.

In the files section of many of the languages, there is a written copy of each lesson that can be printed to use for further practice. We definitely took advantage of that feature, and even made some flash cards based off of the printouts so that my boys could study together. There are optional quizzes at the end of each lesson, which my boys also completed. I think that the printouts were especially useful as study sheets for upcoming quizzes.  Quizzes can be retaken if needed, so on one occasion when one of my sons was unhappy with a quiz score, he was able to go back to review the material and then retake the quiz in order to improve his score. This feature helped keep my boys motivated to learn, rather than feeling defeated with a less-than-perfect grade.

Our Opinions of the Program

My boys really had a fun time with the program. They used it individually for the most part, but sometimes had fun doing lessons together, correcting each others’ pronunciation and competing to see who could complete translations faster. The boys loved the fact that Mango made it very easy to set their own pace. They never felt pressured to complete assignments by a certain deadline, which helped them relax and enjoy the learning process. I believe that Mango Homeschool Edition has been a very effective program. I often hear my sons greeting each other in French, and they are eager to share their new phrases with family and friends. My only wish is that there were more written exercises to go along with this program. We did make our own flash cards, but it would be nice to have some written work built into Mango somehow. All in all, though, I think Mango Homeschool Edition is an excellent program for learning a new language. I think, for the unlimited access to so many languages, and the unique and fun way that the lessons are presented, this program is a tremendous value.

More Information About Mango

You can learn more about this program on the Mango Languages Homeschool Edition website. You can also keep up with Mango through their social media links below.

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Crew Disclaimer Algebra 1 Tutor Review

Math can definitely be one of the more intimidating subjects to teach children, especially upper-level courses. As homeschoolers, we often do so without the benefit of professional teacher instruction. However, has developed a series of instructional DVDs that feature teacher lectures, like those found in a classroom setting, which students can watch and learn from in the comfort of their homes. My family has had the opportunity to review one of‘s DVDs, Algebra 1 Tutor : Volume 1 with the accompanying Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheet CD, for the past few weeks with excellent results. These products, which cost $26.99 for the  Algebra 1 Tutor DVDs (or$23.99 for the download) and $21.99 for the Companion Worksheet CD, are an affordable alternative to private instruction or tutoring. I am pleased to share our experiences and review of these products with you.


About The Program

The Algebra 1 Tutor: Volume 1 is a 3 DVD set with a total of 10 lessons, which make up 7 hours of instruction. The DVDs are intended for those in 7th grade and up, but I believe they might also be suitable for younger students who are advanced in math, which is the case with my kids. The lessons are taught in a traditional way, with an instructor lecture and examples explained on a whiteboard. The Companion Worksheet CD includes over 600 pages of worksheets that correspond to each lesson, which can be printed out and completed by the student. Solutions, with explanation, are also included on the disk, making grading convenient, as there is no need to buy separate answer books or teacher manuals. Although this DVD set is titled, The Algebra 1 Tutor, they can be used for more than just tutoring purposes. The lectures are very thorough, allowing the DVDs to be used as a tool for review or reinforcement, or even as a primary curriculum as well.

How We Used The Algebra 1 Tutor DVDs

My oldest son began the program alone, but by the second week, my younger son had joined in with him. We began each week with viewing one lesson from the DVDs. Both boys watched the entire lesson, and took notes on the lecture material. I like the fact that note-taking skills can also be practiced and improved in this way. I then printed out the worksheets which corresponded to the lesson, which were then completed over the remainder of the week. If one of my sons hit a snag, or was unsure of a concept, even after reviewing his notes, he would then just pop in the DVD to watch the topic explanation again. There are no separate tests, as the worksheets themselves are what “test” students’ mastery of the concepts.

What We Loved About This Program

  • The most obvious benefit is the ability to watch lessons as often as needed in order to understand the material presented. Sometimes kids can whiz through some concepts, but need a bit more review in others. These DVDs offer students this flexibility.
  • Each lecture covers one main topic, which is then broken down into smaller concepts. It is easy for students to review only those topics in which they need further instruction.
  • There are no overly long segments covering multiple large topics. I think the lessons were long enough to explain each topic, yet short enough to be easily absorbed.
  • The teacher speaks in a very easy, conversational way. Neither of my boys felt a distance that can sometimes happen during video lectures. The teacher spoke plainly, without an overuse of difficult terminology. He spoke directly to the camera, engaging the boys each lecture.
  • The program is very customizable so that students can go faster or slower as needed. An entire lesson does not need to be viewed in one sitting, but instead can be broken up over the course of a week, or longer if necessary, and parents can assign any number of problems from the worksheets that the student would feel comfortable in completing.
  • has won several awards, which gives me confidence in their ability to do an excellent job of teaching my sons.


Our Final Opinion

My sons are in 5th and 6th grade (by public school age standards, that is) and both excel in math. They have already done fractions and decimals, and had done some pre-algebra concepts. I would consider these DVDs a perfect fit for children who are on a similar level. The first lessons do an excellent job reviewing pre-algebra level material before introducing more advanced algebraic concepts. Even the more advanced concepts are presented by the instructor in way that is very easy to understand. Because of this teaching method, my sons never felt intimidated by the material. In fact, it is the teaching style that prompted my youngest to want to join in the learning with his older brother in the first place. After catching one segment of the second week, he claimed, “Hey, I understand that! That’s easy!” He then grabbed his notebook and requested that we start the lesson over so that he could follow along as well. THAT is good teaching!

Both of my boys enjoyed these DVDs, and learned a LOT from them. During our use of the DVDs, it was our only math curriculum in use, and I think it was definitely sufficient as such. I would highly recommend this to any homeschool family, or even to those who don’t homeschool, but might have children who need a bit of extra help or practice in math. There are several levels of the DVDs available, with others in the works, so almost any family can benefit from the use of these DVDs. If you are looking for superior math instruction at an affordable price, I highly recommend! Please check out their website, or follow them on Facebook.

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Author Interview with Bonnie Rose Hudson

I hope that you all have had a chance to check out the upcoming book, Asia: Its People and History from some of my earlier posts. Just as a reminder, the book officially launches on Monday, February 24th. But until then, you can enter the launch giveaway for your chance to win a copy, plus other fantastic prizes. Or, if you want to pre-order a copy of the book, now is a great time to do so, since it is on sale from now until the 23rd. Just click the graphic below to order.

asia pre-order sale

To tell us a bit more about herself and her new book, author Bonnie Rose Hudson has kindly answered a series of questions posed by members of the book launch team. I hope you enjoy reading a little more about this talented author and this excellent study.

An Interview With Author Bonnie Rose Hudson

1. When writing a new book, how do you go about planning for it? Do you have a method you use, or is each one different? 

I’m a planner by nature. I love to lay out all the details and know where I’m going before I take the first step. But, I’ve noticed that God often likes to remind me that I’m not the one who is in charge of my life, He is! So I usually start a project with a hook and an outline. I need to know the heart of the project before I start. That’s what gets me excited about writing it. What will its purpose be? What will it illustrate? I write an outline, or have one in my mind, but the story or project always takes lots of unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes the research doesn’t pan out and I have to choose a different direction. Sometimes the outline doesn’t go far enough. I remember working on the first book-length project I tried to write. I had a beautiful outline for the entire book. I had covered the entire outline in four chapters! I had some major re-planning to do on that one!

 2. 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?

 I don’t have a writing space. I do have an office/library that I enjoy sometimes when I write because I can close the door and enjoy being surrounded by books! But I will write anywhere, anytime I get the chance, including on grocery lists at the store, in the car (provided I’m not driving, of course), on a notepad by my bed, it really doesn’t matter. I can get lost in an idea almost anywhere!

 3a. What would you say to a young person who aspires to be a writer? What advice would you give? 

Don’t give up. Write everything down that you feel God has put on your heart to write about. Twenty years from now, you might look back on a story you wrote and think it was really silly. I did. I started writing my first book when I was around 11 or 12. When I read now what I wrote, I see a lot of mistakes I didn’t see back then. But that’s not what matters. I wrote down the story that was on my heart.

As you learn more about writing, you will probably find yourself feeling frustrated and discouraged at times by all the rules and all the details. You might wonder why something you thought sounded just fine didn’t get published. The most important thing to remember is that being published isn’t what makes you a writer. If you are a writer, it’s because that’s what God has called you to do. You may get published; you may not. You may not make a living by being a professional author. But that doesn’t change God’s call.  Listen to Him, grow closer to Him, and obey Him. That’s what matters.

3b. 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?

4. Would your advice be any different (from question #3) for an adult who would like to break into the business? How?

5. What is your goal with writing? Is it the same with every book?

My prayer is that everything I write would honor God and help whoever reads it know that God loves them and that they are special to Him. There are days we don’t feel special. There are days we feel like no one knows who we are or cares how we are feeling. I want my readers to know that God does know, that He does care, and that they are more precious to Him than they could ever imagine.

6. What other projects will you be working on in the near future?

That’s a hard question to answer. I can tell you what I think I’ll be working on next, but as I said earlier, God likes to surprise me and rearrange my carefully laid plans often! Right now I’m busy writing curriculum for and an occasional article for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I wrote a children’s book that is waiting for an agent or editor to pick up so that it can move to publication. I am working on the process of querying agents and editors with it now, but it is a very long process. Meanwhile, my book’s main character, a boy named Jake, blogs every week on my blog Exploring with Jake ( In the next few weeks Jake will wrap up a study of India and start a series of posts about Christians who are being persecuted today for their faith in places around the world. I’d also like to continue creating copywork and printables for my website,

7. What is one lesson you learned from writing this book?

That God’s plans are far better and wiser than any we could make on our own.

8. What books have most influenced you?

Other than the Bible, that’s a tough question to answer. I have loved to read forever! When I was growing up, I could not get enough of the Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard. A little later, I fell in love with the Corrie Belle Hollister series by Michael Phillips, a series about a girl in the old West who wanted to be a writer. As a teenager, I read the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. I’ve read dozens of books by authors including Michael Phillips, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Janette Oke, Sharon Hinck, Francine Rivers, T. Davis Bunn, Gilbert Morris, and others that have left permanent impressions on my heart and changed the way I look at things.

9. Who is your favorite author?

All of the above!

10. Is there an author that you would especially like to meet?

T. Davis Bunn, Michael Phillips, and Robin Jones Gunn

11. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing a book?

Making the time to do it.

12. Did you always have a talent for writing, or is it something you wanted and needed to work harder to achieve?

I think it’s important to realize that there is a difference between a talent and a skill. To me, a talent is a God-given desire and gifting to do something. It’s part of who you are. I can’t not write. It’s part of me. If I don’t take the time to be creative and write down what is going on inside my heart or my mind, I get cranky–just ask my family! But just because I love to write doesn’t mean I automatically know how to do it right or just sit down and write perfect rough drafts! There is always more to learn about how to use the best words to express what you want to communicate, how to craft a story that holds a reader’s attention, how to avoid grammar mistakes, etc. Learning never ends, and most of the time, I wouldn’t want it to.

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

Time is always the biggest factor. The turning point for how I view my time and how it relates to my writing came at my very first writer’s conference. In 2003, I attended the Sandy Cove Christian Writers Conference in Sandy Cove, Maryland. I had no idea what to expect or what to do once I got there. I attended classes, mixed a little, and mostly tried to stay invisible. I felt totally overwhelmed. But in the middle of all of that, one day in my room, I remember praying and talking to God about what He was trying to show me about my writing. What He showed me was that up until that point in time, I had been writing on my terms, when I felt like it. I wrote often, but usually because I felt like it. If I got up some morning and didn’t feel inspired to write, I didn’t. It was my choice. What He was calling me to do at Sandy Cove was to make a change. If I believed He was calling me to write, I had to write on His terms, whatever that meant. If it meant writing when I had the flu or a headache, writing when I’d rather be watching TV, or whatever else, my writing directions needed to come from Him, not what I felt like doing.

I don’t mean that God never wants us to go to bed when we have the flu, enjoy a good television program, or do any of the other dozens of things He uses to bring us joy or rest. I only mean that for me, in that moment, I had to make a shift in priorities. From that point forward, I needed to write because God was calling me to write, not because I felt like it.

Time management looks different for every person. When I have a deadline, I do all the things people usually do—cook quick and easy meals, be extra-vigilante about social media time, let a few household chores go a little longer than I’d like. I always feel behind, and I always worry I’m not doing enough. But that’s where time with God and relishing in His grace are so important. I’ll never do enough to please myself because my expectations are flawed and broken, but by God’s grace, I will do what He is calling me to do.

14. Is your writing style different now than it was when you first began? In what ways have you grown in your writing?

When I started writing, I worked on novels for the Christian adult market. I wrote one historical novel and one contemporary one (both are unpublished). While I pursued writing novels for adults, I was also teaching Sunday School and vacation Bible school programs for the kids in my church. Much of the material we had to use was written for a wide age range. I was teaching mostly young children at the time, so I was always taking the curriculum apart, rewriting it to fit the age range of the kids I was teaching, and finding all kinds of supplemental activities to do with them in class. It never occurred to me until years later that I was learning how to write for kids at the time. When the idea struck me for a children’s book, I sat down and started working on it. I haven’t looked back! I love writing material in all genres for kids, and I found an even deeper passion and calling than I had found before.

That’s not to say I’ll never write another book for adults. I have a novel set in Ireland that has taken root in my heart and shows no sign of leaving! But it’s not something I am working on right now.

15. How did you get your start in writing/getting published?

One key to remember is that writing and getting published are never the same thing. A writer is a writer because that is how God fashioned them to be. Publication is exciting and can feel like a confirmation of that calling, but it’s not what makes you a writer. Alton Gansky recently wrote an incredible blog post about that topic. (HYPERLINK to his blog post:

The first thing I ever had published was a short story in 2005 called Nick of Time Heroes, which followed a string of rejected short stories and a novel. (HYPERLINK Nick of Time Heroes to I continued writing and continued receiving rejections. My next piece was not published until 2011. Shortly after that piece, I began writing for

16. What do you recommend for others who are getting started?

Praying and listening to God are the most important. He is the only One who knows the big picture. Work to learn the skills you need to learn, get used to letting other people read and edit your work, and be patient. You will never ever know everything there is to know! And even if you write a perfect piece (if there is such a thing) someone will have suggestions on how to make it better. It comes with the territory. Writing is an art, and just like any other art, there is a certain amount of subjectivity involved in judging whether a piece is the right fit for a publication or assignment.

Another thing that I have found incredibly encouraging is reading the stories of other Christian authors. I have a book that I bought years ago called Behind the Stories by Diane Eble. It shares the stories of dozens of well-known Christian authors. What touched me the most about the stories in the book was that no two stories were the same. God called men and women in all stages of their lives from countless professions and backgrounds. There is no cookie-cutter shape you must fit into as a writer. As I read and reread it, I think, “If God has a place for each of them in His plan, maybe He has a plan for me, too.”

17. Is there anything else that you would like readers to know?

Nothing is impossible with God!

18. What is the 10/40 window, and how did you become interested in it?

The 10/40 Window is a geographical area of the world roughly between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The significance of this area is that it is home to over 4.5 billion people, over 8,000 different people groups, and some of the largest groups of unreached people in the entire world. More than 80% of the world’s poorest people live in the 10/40 window. It is an area that many people are taking intentional steps to pray for and reach out to the people who live there. You can read an excellent description of the significance of the 10/40 Window on (HYPERLINK to this page, please:

Several years ago, God began to turn my heart’s attention to the stories of the persecuted Church. I had always had a heart for the persecuted in China, but I never grasped how widespread the persecution of Christians was until much later. I started reading about men and women who lived in Laos and Burma, India and Pakistan, and many other places. They were suffering terribly for their faith in Christ. This wasn’t the stories of the heroes of the faith of yesterday that I had grown up hearing about, or what I had thought were isolated stories from one nation. These were stories of families–including children–who were suffering right at that very moment for their faith.

Reading their stories gave me a burden and broke my heart. I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Writing and sharing about their stories gave me a way to process what I was reading and feeling and a way to hopefully encourage others to become involved and share their stories as well.


More About Asia: Its People and History

A couple of days ago, I shared a little preview of a soon-to-be-released Asia study called Asia: Its People and History. I hope you all have had a chance to read all about this resource, and to enter the giveaway going on in celebration of the book’s release on February 24th. If not, you can read more about the study HERE, or click HERE to go straight to the giveaway.

If you are still curious to learn more about this excellent resource, this video trailer will tell you all about it:

If you decide that Asia: Its People and History would be a great fit in your homeschool, the author, Bonnie Rose Hudson, has generously provided some bonus content to accompany the book! These copywork and puzzle pages add even more fun to this wonderful study.

If you are interested (and really, you should be!) in pre-ordering a copy of Asia: Its People and History, you can do so now. The book is on sale now through February 23rd! This is a really great deal on this fantastic resource. Just click the graphic below to pre-order your copy.

asia pre-order sale


Last Week’s Wrap-Up

A nasty stomach bug hit our family at the end of the week, so once again, our wrap-up post has been delayed. I didn’t want to skip it all together, though, since we had an excellent week in our homeschool.

We had originally intended to start a new Bible study this week, but as we were finishing our review of the Mere Christianity Journal, (review post coming soon) the boys REALLY started getting into the material, which spurred some pretty deep discussions and scripture studies. So, that more than covered Bible study for this week.

 photo trisms_graphic_zps0ff8bad7.jpgAs far as our other subjects, we revamped a LOT this past week. We implemented a curriculum called TRISMS, which is a chronological, history-based, research-focused curriculum. It incorporates several subjects all together, giving it an almost unit study feel.

We actually used TRISMS in conjunction with the Classical History we were already doing, which has worked out extremely well. For writing, we were already using IEW, which is the writing program integrated into the TRISMS curriculum, so the kids already had a good feel for what would be expected in their writing, with the added benefit of the writing assignments woven right into the curriculum.

Science and math are a part of the curriculum as well, but only to the extent of noting developments or important persons in the field. So, we will continue with our Apologia for science and Life of Fred for math.

Overall, the boys are really loving the way everything is woven together. It makes each subject more meaningful, since they can see how it all fits together. The curriculum also allows them to further research areas that are especially interesting to each of them. Another thing they really love is that, overall, school takes a LOT less time, since there is a lot less skipping from one subject to the next. I am also seeing a great increase in their amount and length of focus.

In other words, we are all loving this curriculum, and we had a pretty fantastic homeschool week.

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