Welcome to The Bookshelf Newsletter, Anita. Please tell us a little about yourself, outside the realm of writing and publishing. Who is Anita Mellott, the gal next door?
First, thanks so much for having me, Delia.
I’m a wife and mom, who has good and not-so-good homeschooling days. Life errs on the crazy side with an ultra-energetic three-year-old who never stops from the time her feet hit the floor at 6 am, a teen and a mom whose memory isn’t as good as it used to be. I love classical music, reading, and eating mangoes!
Well, it sounds like you have a very full life, to say the least! :) Congratulations on your new devotional, which I understand releases August 1st. Tell us about it.
Thanks, Delia. School Is where the Home Is: 180 Devotions for Parents actually released on June 15 instead! That sort of took me by surprise.
Early release is a nice surprise! Tell us a little about your journey from original idea to publication of this book.
About five years ago, I felt prompted to start writing. I thought it a bit odd since I was working as a writer/editor with Habitat for Humanity International. The difference, though, was “write to encourage others.” I ignored the nudge, wondering what encouragement I had to offer. In the following year and a half, I lost my job of 13 years, and faced a high-risk pregnancy. That’s when I decided it was time to obey.
Since I homeschool and lead an encouragement group, I know that homeschooling can, at times be challenging. I wondered what it would be like to have a daily reminder of God’s presence with us as we homeschool—that’s what birthed this book.
I sent out 30 queries, and received 27 rejections, and three acceptances. To be honest, the contract from Judson Press sat on my desk for several weeks because I was afraid of signing it…What if the book didn’t sell? Was I really the one to write this book? Until a critique partner gently reminded me that God was in the journey. As far as I’m concerned, this book is a testimony to God’s power to open a door no one can close.
If God is in it, it’s definitely right. What’s your favorite devotion from this book? Can you share it with us?
Wow…several are special to me, but here goes:
“Never Give Up!”
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)
On the first day of our homeschooling adventure, five-year-old Lisa and I walked toward our schoolroom, hand in hand. When she noticed something on the desk, she pulled away and ran ahead.
“Mama, Daddy wrote us letters,” she greeted me as I entered the room. Then she pushed her note into my hands. “What’s it say, Mama?”
I read it to her. As I ended with “never give up,” she chuckled.
Since then, Jim’s notes have been the highlight of every first school day. Without fail, the notes to Lisa end with “never give up.”
None of us ever imagined how special those words would become in our lives.
On the days when Lisa gets frustrated with schoolwork or struggles in an area of character development, I gently ask, “What would Daddy say?” Sometimes she rolls her eyes. Other times she smiles and says, “Never give up.” On the not-so-easy homeschool days when I wonder what I’m doing and if it’s worth it, I remember never to give up.
The year I felt God leading me to write again, rejection after rejection piled up. Every time I opened an envelope only to read, “We’re sorry. . . ,” doubts would cloud my mind. Am I supposed to be doing this? Did God lead me to write? But Lisa would come up to me, put her arms around me, and whisper, “Never give up, Mama.”
The Hebrew root from which the word perseverance comes means to remain steadfast despite obstacles. Never give up. Those words have become our whisper of hope in challenging times.
Digging deeper: What is your family’s whisper of hope?
Excerpted from School Is Where the Home Is by Anita Mellott, copyright © 2011 by Anita Mellott. Used by permission of Judson Press, www.judsonpress.com.
I love it! Actually, my favorite inspiration quote from Og Mandino is, “Never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER give up!” What one piece of writing advice has been most beneficial in developing your writing career?
“Just write.” If I don’t, I have nothing.
Great advice! I understand (from my peek at your website) that you have some serious and very painful health issues to deal with. How do you handle writing through the pain?
That’s a tough one, Delia. I ended up writing most of the book through pain—physical because of health issues, and emotional, due to something that happened to our family. I didn’t want to write during that time, but I had a tight deadline. I experienced something wonderful though—when I am weak, then He is strong. That time sent me to my knees as never before, because I knew I was in no state to write.
These days, I still deal with health issues and a treatment that leaves me fatigued. Though I don’t have as tight a deadline, I still have to push myself to write. The thought that God can use a flawed, broken vessel like me to write words of encouragement and hope, keeps me going.
That’s what keeps me going, as well. I love knowing that “when I am weak, then He is strong”! Do you have a favorite verse of scripture? If so, what makes it special to you?
I love Psalm 30: 5b, “…weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” It reminds me that storms and sunshine are part of life. Though there may be pain and sorrow, and though the night may sometimes be long…joy will come in the morning! (Because of Jesus and the hope He gives.) Hallelujah!
Wonderful scripture! Just for fun…if you could be gifted with your choice of one super power, what would it be?
To clean my house in a secondJ…just kidding. To remove pain from people’s lives.
Oooh! Great choice! Where can readers find your books? Do you have a website, blog, etc.?
Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway carry School Is Where the Home Is. For other books, feel free to stop by my website at www.anitamellott.com, where I also blog.
Thank you for hanging out at My Book Bag, Anita! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
Thank you for having me.
A homeschooling mom since 2003, Anita Mellott lives its joys and challenges. With post-graduate degrees in Communications and Journalism, she worked as an editor with Habitat for Humanity International, headed the Department of Journalism at Mt. Carmel College, Bangalore, India, and did a stint in public relations and advertising. Her articles have appeared in various publications including Homeschool Enrichment, Novel Journey, Crosswalk.com, The Christian Post, and magazines in India. When she's not homeschooling, she blogs at From the Mango Tree: www.anitamellott.com.