Writer’s Desk with Annette Whipple
Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder while exciting readers about science and history. She’s the author of many fact-filled children’s books, including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press), and Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (Reycraft Books) in the Truth About series. While researching, Annette held a huge Eurasian eagle owl and a Brazilian whiteknee tarantula and met more wild wonders. When Annette’s not reading or writing, you might find her baking for her family in Pennsylvania.
More about Quirky Critter Devotions
Quirky Critter Devotions is specially designed for curious minds interested in God’s animal kingdom.
Formatted to look like an explorer’s field journal, this book will encourage kids to embark on their own expedition and discover wildly weird animal facts with full-color snapshots, record their thoughts in the journaling space, and gain hands-on experience with zoo-tastic activities. They’ll discover a wide range of crazy-cool critters spanning seven animal categories―mammals, insects, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, and spiders. From familiar faces like turtles and honey bees to quirky creatures like the Goliath bird-eating spider, this devotional is sure to cultivate a passion for God’s Word and his creation. Each devotion features:
- Fast facts highlighting the animal’s scientific name, animal family name, size, and diet
- An animal-themed devotional bursting with astounding discoveries and spiritual truths
- Journaling space to unpack real-life applications
- A memory verse and sample prayer to connect with God
- A wild wonder fun fact with a humorous animal doodle
- A creature connection activity like a craft, game, or snacks
The perfect blend of Scripture and science, this exciting and informative devotional will expand the minds and grow the curiosity of your young ones. A fantastic gift for the little animal lover in your life.
Enter to win one of five copies of Quirky Critter Devotions.
*Due to shipping costs, the winner must have a US mailing address.
Q&A with Annette Whipple
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
AW: I’ll give you two (but I could share a dozen). I eat oatmeal (with peanut butter) daily for breakfast. And, despite swim lessons, I can only doggie paddle.
TG: Why did you write Quirky Critter Devotions?
AW: I wrote Quirky Critter Devotions to help children explore God’s amazing world while discovering God’s truths in his Word. I love to celebrate curiosity.
TG: Did you have any surprises or learning moments while writing?
AW: Hoatzins—stink birds—are amazing! (Said wat-SEEN) Actually, I discovered so many cool facts about so many of the wild animals while writing this. I had a cool research moment, too. I couldn’t find the answer to a question I had about marine iguanas. I listened to an expert who was a podcast guest. The podcast didn’t answer my question, but I emailed the expert who answered my question. The answer may have only added five words to the book, but I wanted to know the answer and suspected readers might, too, so it was worth it.
TG: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
AW: I want readers to celebrate their curiosity in this world and grow closer to God!
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
AW: I often hold a cup of hot tea while writing—year-round.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
AW: To be more productive, take sunshine or active breaks to get the mind moving. Or challenge yourself to just sit and do something for 20 minutes. And to be a better writer, READ! Readers make the best writers. But it’s not just about reading, it’s about studying mentor texts to help you be a better writer.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
AW: Nuts, raisins, and mini rice cakes…and loads of water and hot tea.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
AW: [Also my answer above about being more productive.] I almost always have multiple projects I can work on. I might be revising one project and researching or drafting another. I might have a newsletter to write or a blog post to revise. I’m also not afraid to set a project aside that’s not working. Quirky Critter Devotions is the result of several pivots but inspired by the same idea. But it took nearly a decade to get here!
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
AW: I mostly edit as I go and then major revisions at the end. For Quirky Critter Devotions, I researched and wrote about all the devotions for one kind of animal (bird, fish, reptile…) and then revised a few times. Then I’d send it along to my critique partners. But it was also important to revise the entire book at once, too.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
AW: Too many writers try to publish or get published too soon and without enough feedback. It’s crucial to have critique partners that write in your genre. Professional critiques can also take your manuscript to the next level. I also think writers worry about the business of writing (such as platform) before they’ve mastered the craft of writing.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
AW: Since I write nonfiction for kids, the best advice is to write like you’re talking to a child—not writing words for them. A workshop participant shared that with me in 2016. We’ve been critique partners—and friends—ever since!
TG: What book(s) are you currently reading?
AW: I just finished The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day. Wow! Such a witty narrative nonfiction book! I’m also reading the ghost story The Premonition at Withers Farm by Jaime Jo Wright which was written for adults.
TG: What is your favorite place on earth?
AW: Home with family or out among the trees in nature.
TG: Cats or dogs?
AW: Though I’ve written books about both, we’re currently a cat family with Kiwi and Soka.
TG: What is one thing you can’t live without?
AW: Hmm. Writing tools like a pen and paper or my computer…or chocolate chip cookies (even infrequently).
TG: What is the best song to blast when you need to be pumped up?
AW: Can I tell you a story? When I was a young teen, I was usually home alone in the evenings because of my dad’s work schedule. (It was just the two of us.) I’d often put on some of his 45s for company. And I remember dancing with our dog (named Dog) to “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. So that song always makes me happy every time I hear it since I think of my dad and Dog…though maybe not “pumped up” the way others might consider.
TG: If you could time travel to any point in history when would it be, and who would you be hanging out with?
AW: Probably the easy answer is I’d love to travel to when Jesus was active in His ministry so I could learn from him. But I’d also love to hang out with some of my favorite 19th and 20th-century authors who are gone. Some I think I would have been friends with if we were neighbors. Others…I’m not so sure.
TG: If you weren’t a writer, what job would you have?
AW: Well, I was a teacher. I still love teaching, but I no longer do it in the traditional classroom. Now I get to choose my topics at writing conferences, community and church events, and school visits. Funny thing: I didn’t have ANY desire to write until I was in my thirties. No one even encouraged me as a writer as a student—probably because I didn’t understand the difference between revisions and edits.
TG: Who is your dream co-author?
AW: This is a wild question I’ve never even considered. Maybe Larry Loftis (who does not write for kids), Candace Fleming, or Crystal Bowman.
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