The Writer’s Desk with Alyssa Clements
Alyssa Clements is a third-grade teacher turned book editor who loves pointing children to God through the incredible world he has made. After earning her undergraduate degree in English literature and masters of arts in teaching elementary education from Wheaton College, Alyssa taught third grade at a Christian classical school in the Chicagoland area. She then went to work in the Christian publishing industry as an acquisitions editor on the children’s and adult nonfiction teams at Tyndale House Publishers, where she currently enjoys creating faith-based books that inspire readers of all ages to love what is good, true, and beautiful.
Alyssa is married to Forrest, and they have two wonderfully curious young children. Their family lives in West Chicago, Illinois, and can often be found playing outdoors at their neighborhood park or curled up reading stacks and stacks of picture books.
More about The Size of Everything
This one-of-a-kind, faith and science picture book starts in the middle with the size your child knows best―their own body! Turn the pages to the left or right to discover big and small creations and science facts about God’s incredible world.
God created ginormous galaxies, itty-bitty quarks and everything in between―including humans. The Size of Everything captures the magnitude of God’s creation by setting everything on a size scale. Readers start in the middle with the size of an eight-year-old child and have the option to turn the pages to the left and explore cells, plants, and animals that are smaller than them. Or they can turn the pages to the right to discover creatures, landmarks, and planets larger than they can imagine! Best of all, children will see God’s power and creativity in all of creation.
- A one-of-a-kind book that starts in the middle
- Over 45 fantastic creations (atoms, cells, animals, plants, landmarks, planets, etc.)
- Over 80 brilliantly colorful illustrations and highly detailed photos
- Over 100 mind-blowing science facts, educational callouts, and funny tidbits
- A giant size index along the bottom of each page for children to track their progress
It’s a perfect faith and science resource for reading at home or an educational resource for home schools, Christian schools, and Sunday school classrooms.
Q&A with Alyssa Clements
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
AC: I grew up in northern California.
TG: Why did you write The Size of Everything?
AC: I wrote The Size of Everything because I saw a hole in the Christian children’s book market when it comes to books that tie faith and science together in an exciting, but scientifically rich way. When I was a third-grade teacher at a Christian school, science was my favorite subject to teach because it provided such a natural avenue to conversation about God. Kids love learning cool facts and having their minds blown by new, interesting things, and the study of science is filled with that. As they dive into scientific study, children are almost guaranteed to come across something that will lead them to respond, “That’s so cool!” Those moments are wonderful opportunities to respond, “Yes! And isn’t God so cool for creating it that way!” By studying the amazing world that God has made, children can easily have their hearts turned towards him—the Creator of it all. I hope that readers of The Size of Everything will each have a moment where they are stopped in their tracks by a fact about God’s world that sparks awe in them and inspires them to think about God in a new way.
TG: Did you have any surprises or learning moments while writing this title?
AC: I learned so many cool facts about God’s world! My research took me down so many rabbit trails, and the more I researched, the more I was fascinated by the intentionality, whimsy, and hugeness of God’s world. I was also reminded over and over again of the theme of the book, that of all these huge and tiny, marvelous and fascinating things, God says that people are his best creation. I obviously knew this before writing the book, but I was surprised by how much I still felt amazed by God’s love while I was writing. I hope it comes through to the readers!
TG: What do you hope readers take away from The Size of Everything?
AC: I hope they start seeing more of God and his character in the world around them. I hope that they want to learn more about who God is because they see that he is powerful, fun, creative, and loves them more than anything.
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
AC: I like to set aside several hours at a time to write. It takes me a little while to get in a groove, and once I do, I like to have the time to dig in. I don’t do well with writing just a half hour here and a half hour there.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
AC: I’ve found that creating an outline is super important. This gives structure from the very beginning and keeps me from wasting time on ideas that are interesting but that might not actually make sense in the book. Children’s books also need to adhere to strict page count guidelines. An outline helps me to stay within those guidelines and create a cohesive product from the beginning, without having to add or cut things later to meet the page count.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
AC: I normally choose hot tea, especially fruity flavors.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
AC: I like to get outside and away from my computer. Getting my body moving and in a different environment helps me to think through different options and see if I can come at what I’m stuck on from a different angle. I also like to talk through ideas with my husband. Sometimes it’s easier to find the words that I’m looking for when I’m speaking compared to just writing, and verbally processing can get me unstuck.
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
AC: I’m a “both” writer! I definitely edit as I go because I like to finish a writing session with at least a portion of text that I feel good about. But once I write a larger section, I also like to step away and then come back to edit it again a few days later with fresh eyes. This just means that I need to plan ahead when it comes to my deadlines!
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
AC: You have to know your audience. As a children’s book writer, it’s important to understand child development and how children are thinking and speaking at different ages. There are so many children’s books out there that are written for adults more than children, which makes sense because adults are the ones publishing and purchasing the books. But I would say that a truly successful children’s book is one that kids will come back to over and over on their own. These books are the ones that invite children in at their level, and they are often different from the ones that adults think they will be.
So if you want to write children’s books that children will enjoy, spend time with the children in your life! Pay attention to how they think and talk, and consider what words and experiences are known to them at different ages.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
AC: There’s a quote by Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I never planned to write a children’s book, but I knew the power of science in inspiring faith so thought I’d try to write the one that I thought was missing in the market. I was fairly confident that kids would like the concept because it was based off a lesson I used to teach my third graders, but I had no idea if all the gatekeepers I needed to get on board to get it published would catch the vision. I am honestly just so humbled that it is a real book out in the world. I’m glad I was willing to risk the rejection and go for it.
TG: What is your favorite place on earth?
AC: This may be a boring answer, but I’m a total homebody, so I have to say our home. It has lots of windows and natural light, and it’s the place where my kids are the most comfortable. I really can’t think of anywhere better than to be with them and my husband in the place that makes us all the happiest.
TG: Cats or dogs?
AC: Cats! Our family has a ten-year-old Tabby named Marmo.
TG: What is one thing you can’t live without?
AC: Plants. During the winter, you’ll find me tending to my house plants, and during the summer, I love being out in the garden, especially tending to my dahlias.
TG: What is the best song to blast when you need to be pumped up?
AC: “The Love of the Father” by CityAlight
TG: If you could time travel to any point in history when would it be, and who would you be hanging out with?
AC: I would like to travel back to the time when Jesus lived on earth and spend time with his mom, Mary. As a mom myself, I would love to talk all things motherhood and hear about her experiences raising Jesus.
TG: If you weren’t a writer, what job would you have?
AC: Besides being a writer, I’ve also been a third-grade teacher and book editor. I have loved each of those jobs in the different stages of my life that I’ve had them. I’m also a very novice gardener, and if I had the land and the time to invest in learning and planting, I would love to become a flower farmer.
TG: Who is your dream co-author?
AC: I would love to do a book with Steve Jenkins. His children’s science books are filled with fascinating information, and his striking, Caldecott-winning illustrations are realistic and interesting to look at. Our whole family loves them! However, his books do not have a Christian connection. He captures his readers’ imaginations, and after that happens, I wish I could come in and help turn readers’ hearts towards God and show them that learning science isn’t an end in itself; instead, it’s God’s joyful and gracious revelation of his character. Only with that perspective does it really matter.
Click, Save, + Share!