When God Says “Wait” Is Now Available! Gratitude! Links! Free Stuff!

Fourteen years is a long time to wait.

When God Says “Wait” hits bookstore shelves today! (Here’s where I stop typing and indulge in an embarrassing jig that can only be described as “Riverdance meets Rhythm Nation, but without the rhythm.”) I am SO EXCITED, but wow, what a long journey it’s been.

Fourteen years ago, a vicious case of jet lag kept me up all night and gave me a strange gift: an idea for a story I had to tell about characters I met that night, but felt I’d known always. By the time sunrise set the Atlanta skyline ablaze, I had penned the first two chapters of a novel and outlined the entire plot. By the time my fellow Atlantans were stumbling to their coffee makers, my career path had changed; life had changed. I was going to become a writer.

If you had told me that night that I would spend the next fourteen years pursuing that crazy dream (and seriously, writing is a crazy dream), I don’t know what I would have done. I suspect a truckload of chocolate would have been involved.

In the past fourteen years, I have written more hours than I could count (I suspect the hours actually add up to years of life at this point). Spent thousands of dollars on coffee and conferences. Run over one laptop with my car. (ACCIDENT. Seriously. I can explain.) Worked another laptop so hard it finally just choked and died.

Along the way I have indie published two books, The Thirteenth Summer and The Tender Years: Parenting Preschoolers (coauthored with my wonderful mom, Geri), and those valuable experiences taught me so much about hard work and the joy of simply sharing words, and life, with readers.

Meanwhile, after an agonizing struggle with infertility, Kevin and I had three kids in less than three years and lived to tell the tale. (The tale involved more poop and vomit than one sentence can describe, but even so, it was a life worth living. A tale (mostly) worth telling.) After a while we had a fourth child, because hey—what’s one more?!

Along the way I have discovered that my husband is THE BEST HUSBAND IN THE UNIVERSE. I always knew that, but now I know it more. He loves all of my work—even the stories aimed at twelve-year-olds. He has always taken this writing thing seriously, long before anyone besides him was ever reading my words. He generously gives me writing time. He sends me to conferences and views every dollar spent as investment, not expense. He tolerates my coffee habit, having accepted that creativity requires caffeine (and occasionally champagne). He doesn’t get hurt feelings when I trail off mid-sentence, lost in a sudden plot-twist revelation. When I get manic, he takes away my coffee and makes me take naps. And all the while, he’s just so daggum cute and funny and faithful.

Along the way I have found the greatest BFF-slash-writing-partner any writer could have, who knows what I want to say and how I want to say it better than I do; whose soul-stirring writing takes my breath away.

When God Says Wait in Barnes & Noble

This is my writing partner, Emma, in Barnes & Noble yesterday, with copies of my book! This is the same B & N where we met and have shared countless happy writing hours! Also, I helped her pick those fabulous boots. 🙂

In the past two years I have discovered the joy of connecting with people through words and scripture and silly stories right here on Lizzy Life. I cannot describe the joy this community has brought me. How I have loved sharing life with you here—giving you glimpses into our wacky world and hearing how our stories intersect with yours. You have helped me not write alone, not learn alone, not live alone.

Along the way I have found joy in writing with God. I cannot describe the intensely intimate and transcendent spiritual experience it was to write When God Says “Wait” with God. Every day writing was a day spent in constant communion with Him. Every day I prayed, “Fill me up and empty me out.” Every day, mystical as it sounds, He whispered words.

Along the way I have had the privilege to work with godly people whose courage, excellence, and giftedness blows my mind: my agent-slash-book-warrior Jessica Kirkland, who fights on no matter the odds. The entire team at Barbour: Kelly McIntosh, who is ever encouraging; Shalyn Sattler, whose heart and talent echo through every email; Mary Burns, who laughed and plotted with me and Shalyn and helped make marketing fun; Liesl Davenport, whose gifts for detail and design had me nearly weeping with gratitude; Laura Weller, copyeditor and comma-wrangler extraordinaire; Ashley Schrock, who designed the brilliant book cover; Jeane Wynne, publicist, cheerleader, and inspiring go-getter; my book launch team, who have made the “preseason” of the book launch such a joy with their enthusiasm and generosity.

Amazing friends have taken time out of their insanely busy lives to read and endorse the book—their generosity with their time and words has meant the world: longtime friends Chip and Pauli Wade, who we met when we were newlyweds and they were both cheerleaders at Georgia Tech; now they serve God in multiple capacities, as talented designers and HGTV stars; Lara Casey Isaacson, a writer friend whose ministry, example, and transparency are inspiring; Andy Lee, a local writer friend whose book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called is a beautiful blend of Bible and storytelling; beloved friend Laura Whitaker, who has shared so many waiting seasons with me, and whose work with individuals with special needs is heroic; and devoted friend Marilisa Schachinger, who has also shared my waiting seasons (she was even brave enough to babysit the three-under-three, way back in the day!), and now honors God with her work as a business owner and entrepreneur.

And then there are our parents, Sam and Geri and Bill and Glenda, and our delightfully quirky family members, who have not just tolerated, but supported and encouraged, from the beginning. They have fasted, prayed, babysat, read drafts, given ideas, and picked me up off the floor a thousand times over. My sister Alexandra was enduring a horrific waiting season of her own the entire time I was writing, and her struggle inspired and guided me as I wrote—her spirit, too, is on every page. I could go on for pages about every single family member, but I am every day thankful for every one of them.

And my fiercely loyal friends, who have prayed with me and chosen to walk this journey with me even when the whole process was just so weird and confusing, and they secretly thought I was nuts (and of course they were right). Every girl should be so lucky to have such friends.

And my church family, who have prayed and listened and cheered me on for years, who have not made comments when I showed up to midweek wearing sweatpants, a hat, and crazy eyes. (Sorry about that.) They even let me share their poignant waiting stories in the book.

Much as it pains me and humbles me to say it—this is me, eating my words; Father, are you reading this?—these past fourteen years have taught me the value in waiting. I have seen that good things—maybe even the best things—truly come to those who wait.

The victory is all the sweeter for taking so long. The joy all the richer for following so much rejection, heartache, and doubt. The satisfaction all the more meaningful because it has been shared by so many—and it would not have been shared so meaningfully had it not taken so long. I recognize that; I celebrate what unparalleled joy it is to share joy. The thousands of prayers others have willingly offered on my behalf are staggering. Humbling. Overwhelming. I owe a prayer debt I could never repay.

Above all, I am so grateful to God for allowing me to write this book with Him and for Him. It’s all for you, God… do with it as you will.

Want to download two free chapters of the book? Here’s a link!

Want to check out the book trailer, starring my beautiful friends, and put together by my brilliant brother-in-law? Here it is!

Want to order the book? It’s available anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, even in your local Lifeway. I’d love to hear what you think when you’re through—I deeply appreciate every response, every story, every word you send my way. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

-xoxo, Elizabeth

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The Simple Rule that Inspired My Kids to Love Reading

the rule that inspires kids to read via @lizzylit

You guys know how much I love books. There’s God, there’s family, and then there are books. I hoped, when I had kids of my own, that they would naturally adore reading the way I always have.

We’ve always had a simple family rule: No book, no movie. If you haven’t read the book, you don’t get to watch the film adaptation.

So we made a deal…

Click here to read the rest of my guest post on BonBon Break! 

I’m honored to be writing for BonBon Break’s “Inspire” theme for October. The theme is sponsored by OurPact, a fantastic app that helps parents monitor their kids’ screen time and social media usage.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy: 

The Simple Plan that Gets Game-Loving Kids into Books

What Moms Say Vs. What Kids Hear (post and podcast on BonBon Break)

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up

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5 Hilarious Picture Books Guaranteed to Make Your Kid Giggle

funny books for toddlers

We all know we should read bedtime stories to our children, but let’s be honest: some picture books get old quickly. (But of course our kids want to read their favorites EVERY NIGHT for 476 nights in a row!) There’s nothing boring about the five crowd-pleasing picture books in this list. All five books have been funny-bone-tested and giggle-approved by the four Thompson Crazies, who range in age from two to nine. I can’t decide who laughs the hardest when we read these books . . . the kids, or me!

Click here to read my full article, 5 Hilarious Picture Books Guaranteed to Make Your Child Laugh. (It’s posted on Mamalode, a fantastic site for moms!)

Want photographic proof? This is a shot of my six-year-old reading one of the books to our two-year-old. Priceless!

funny books for toddlers

Santa’s Coming Early This Year

Such a cute and festive cover, right? Makes me want to go sledding.

On October 8, Santa’s elves will be making an early stop to spread some Christmas cheer in bookstores near you, with the release of Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas! Why am I so excited about this book, you ask? I’ve always been a little obsessed with Christmas, but now, with not one, but TWO Christmas babies in our family, we go completely bonkers every December 25. (Okay, okay, technically one of our Christmas babies is a Christmas canine—our dog Cole was born on Christmas day, 2004; our (human) daughter Cassidy was born on Christmas day, 2005. But still. What are the odds?)

This is an old picture, but it’s too cute not to post. My two Christmas babies, Cassidy and Cole—this was taken just before their 2nd and 3rd birthdays.

Anyway . . . chapter 12 of Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas! recounts my family’s greatest Christmas miracle: the birth of my oldest daughter—the child we thought we’d never have. It’s one of those so-amazing-it-gives-you-the-chills kind of stories. And our story isn’t the only one. This book is full of true stories that will get you in the holiday mood—so grab yourself a cup of cocoa and start celebrating a little early!

Makes you want to snuggle up with a cup of steaming hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket, doesn’t it?

13 Myths About the Writing Life

1. If you write mysteries, especially whodunits involving murder, then you will somehow become embroiled in all kinds of scintillating local mysteries, and will become an expert police consultant. I blame Hollywood for this myth—Castle, anyone? (Love that show, by the way.) Or cast back a little further to Murder, She Wrote . . . I have a secret theory: Jessica Fletcher is the ultimate serial killer and con artist, and she herself committed all the murders she supposedly solved. There’s just no way one sweet little old writer lady could witness that many murders—I mean, come on, she lived in a teeny little town in Maine! How could she always just “happen” to be around when all those poor people got killed? Coincidence? I think not.

2. Writers get to go hole up in beautiful, secluded resorts with stunning vistas while they pen their masterpieces. Um, maybe this is true for a lucky few (except that poor writer in Misery, for whom the secluded resort was a horrible idea), but most of the writers I know are scrambling to find ten free minutes, and we’ll take them anywhere we can get them. I’ve been known to scribble on scraps of paper in the bathroom in the middle of the night, to be sure I don’t forget an idea before morning. Most of us are on a first-name basis with the baristas at our local coffee shops—my children think I work at Starbucks! And day in and day out, most of us end up sneaking time on the laptop at the kitchen table—we sit down, tune out the shouts of the children, and ignore the damp Cheerios as they crust over and glue themselves to the table, and our story whisks us away, wherever we’d like to go.

Exhibit A: No joke—this is what my table looked like as I worked on this blog post this morning. Sadly, the Cheerios were not staged for the purposes of this blog. (Ahem. I did clean the table later, but when you catch a free moment, you gotta grab it.)

3. Writer’s block. Do writers occasionally get stuck during the writing process? Sure. Do we sometimes need to take breaks from our stories? Of course. Do some stories turn out to be dead ends—at least for a while? Yep. But I’ve found that “writer’s block” is an exaggerated, borderline mythical phenomenon that makes writing sound more agonizing than it actually is. It’s like, if a writer claims, “I haven’t slept in days; I’ve stopped paying my bills; I’ve behaved like an ogre toward my family and friends,” and their friend asks why, as long as the writer answers, “Writer’s block,” the friend’s eyes will widen in sympathy and all will be forgiven. (But having said that, I still reserve the right to claim a whopping case of writer’s block, should I ever need a romantic-sounding excuse for why I’m not writing, or why I’m stomping around in a horrible mood.)

4. Writing is miserable. I think we writers, being the dramatic type, sometimes enjoy making our work sound torturous and darn-near impossible—perhaps because we have so little to show for the countless hours we labor at our beloved projects, and we want people to admire and appreciate our efforts. But for me, writing is my happy place. If I don’t write, then I’m miserable. Writing is an escape, a thrill, a joy—the thing I’d rather be doing than anything else in the world. And I think most writers—at least most writers who stick with this crazy career long-term—would give that a hearty “amen.”

5. Writers are angsty. Okay this one is kind of true, but not always. But I prefer the words “ponderous,” “sensitive,” “insightful,” “creative,” “artistic,” “talented,” and “soulish,” thank you very much. Many of us are drawn to writing because we are captivated by people, by the difficulties and intricacies of relationships, the deep questions of life . . . and so we experience life in neon, where others may see only primary colors. But does that mean we’re all self-absorbed drama queens? Only when we have writer’s block.

6. Writers are emotionally fragile people. Most writers I know exhibit a fascinating dichotomy: They have extra strings on their sensitive emotional guitar, and this helps them to experience chords of emotional nuance that others may miss—and yet they’re tough. It takes courage to write about real life without glossing it over. It takes even more courage to write the truth about yourself, and lay it out there for the world to see—even in fictional form. And if all that doesn’t do the trick, the competitive nature of the writing industry makes us resilient and forces us to develop thick skin—although when we get those lovely rejection letters and bad reviews, we reserve the right to cry and throw the angstiest of fits. But you know we can’t help but crawl back to the computer a few days later . . .

7. The writing life is glamorous. This one’s actually true—of course we writers lead the coolest lives on the planet. I mean, what do Brangelina and their 18 kids have on me and Mr. Tall Dark & Handsome and our adorable 3.5 children and dog and snail, I ask you? I mean, I sometimes wear sunglasses and black clothes and no makeup, too. Where’s my paparazzi?

Okay but seriously: Again I blame the movies here—and not just for the existence of Brangelina. Movies offer us this iconic stereotype of writers, hanging out in Manhattan in their cliques of well-dressed writer friends, imbibing liquids that children’s writers should not publicly admit to imbibing, and hobnobbing with intellectuals who bluster with large vocabulary words about such elusive concepts as existentialism and postmodernism. I’m sure there are such writers, but they’re the minority.

Mostly, we work like crazy on our books as we juggle family life and several other jobs—not exactly a glitzy lifestyle. And when my beloved writer’s group gets together, we hang out in our little coffee shop and critique each other’s chapters, in between admiring pictures of children and grandchildren. And yet somehow . . . it’s glorious.

8. Writers are rich. Ha! HahahaHA! I mean, some of us—I should say them—are, but most of us don’t write The Hunger Games or Twilight. Many of us work for years without seeing a paycheck. And here I have to give an enormous shout-out to all the husbands and wives and parents and friends and babysitters who support us in our pursuit of our writing—who choose to see it as an investment, not a money pit—because they believe in our talent and embrace the insanity of our dream, and give us the time and freedom to pursue, not just what we love, but who we are, whether we ever get paid or not. They understand that if we don’t do this, we shrivel up and die—so who cares if we ever make a dime? (Although a few million dimes in the bank would be nice.)

9. Writers naturally excel at grammar. I’m a total grammar geek myself, and yet I have to acknowledge that on some level—that’s what editors are for! Some writers easily “get” grammar, but others, for whom grammar is a challenge, are great storytellers—and they should still tell their stories! (The editor in me can’t help belaboring the obvious: Every writer should work to improve in the technical aspects of our craft, and should always submit manuscripts that are as clean and polished as possible. Duh.) I heard Henry Winkler (a.k.a. the Fonz, of Happy Days fame) speak at a conference this January, and he shared that because he has dyslexia, he never thought he could be a writer. But write he has! He’s written (in collaboration with coauthor Lin Oliver) seventeen novels about a dyslexic hero named Hank Zipzer. How great is that? But let me finish this point by saying this: Every writer needs an editor, no matter how grammar-savvy you are. If you’re going the self-publishing route, please hire a great editor to help you produce a professional product.

10. Writers can only write when they’re inspired. We all love those “aha” moments when our creative Spidey Senses are tingling—for me, these hyper moments usually happen when I have significant amounts of caffeine zinging through my veins, so I suspect that they may be deceiving me with a coffee-fabricated, imaginary sense of brilliance and creativity—but if you want to be a writer who actually finishes a project, you’ve got to learn to discipline your creativity. I learned this about a week after I started writing The Thirteenth Summer, when the initial rush of inspiration had worn off, and I realized it was time to buckle down and write the whole book . . . and it was going to take a long time. When you sit down and start to write—something, anything, no matter how awful you think it is—if you do it enough times, day after day, the creativity starts to come when you call it. You may not feel inspired, but once you start putting some words on the page . . . they’re usually not as bad as you think.

11. “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is merely coincidental . . . ” You know this disclaimer at the beginning of books? Yeah, that’s a bunch of legal baloney. (But if a lawyer asks you, you didn’t hear it from me. My blog was hacked.) Of course writers watch people and incorporate their personalities and traits into our characters. But actually, most of our characters are an amalgam of our own selves and many different people we know—so they’re not direct representations of a single individual.

12. Writers sit down, and out pops poetry. Every once in a while, you write a zinger of a line the first go-round, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Comparing your first drafts—or even second or third drafts—to polished, published work is just not fair. First drafts are just that: first drafts. Practice words. A way to get the story out and get to know the characters. Most of us don’t get a beautiful line until we’ve wrestled with it for a while. Revision is where the magic happens.

13. Writing is a solo sport. One of my favorite things about writing is the community: the way we all work together to advise, inspire, and even commiserate with each other. Writers are team players—especially children’s writers. We share ideas, tips, advice. Some of the most generous-spirited people I’ve ever met are seasoned writers who gladly share their wisdom and experience with new writers—or who give newbies a pick-me-up when self-doubt starts taking over. I have to close with a big shout-out to my favorite fellow writers: my writer’s group, which has stuck with me even after I’ve moved—Emma, Gail, Muriel, and Susan; and to my first and forever writing companion, who taught me to love language in the first place—my dad. Thanks for making my writing life a joy.

My bestie-slash-writing partner, Emma.

My bestie-slash-writing partner, Emma.