Jenny Mauter joins the spotlight today. As a Sunday School teacher for close to two decades, Jenny sought materials relatable to a wide-range of ages, yet still keeping her message on point, and relevant to her students’ needs.
She wrote Illumination Station, the first in a series, to do just that. Jenny’s delightful tale (pun intended) takes readers on a journey of love and forgiveness, misbehavior and misguidance, and crowns the characters in unmatchable growth, clearly reaching every student in her target audience. Spend some time with Jenny as she shares more about her book with us here.
Q) Jenny, your book, Illumination Station: The Big Adventure has a unique cover…I was particularly drawn to the cute artwork which made me want to read about two light bulbs. Describe the story, and your inspiration to write this particular piece.
A) I taught Sunday School for quite a few years. The last 12 years in a small church in East Toledo, Ohio. The children in my class ranged in age from 5 – 15 years old, which was a huge challenge. Many of the children had been in my class for over 8 years. I prayed for an idea that would excite the kids and bring them to class regularly. God jolted me awake with the idea of “light bulbs” that only illuminate with His Word. It took several years to get all the ideas and characters in place before I presented it to my class. Once I had that, the writing was fairly easy. I believe God gave me everything that I needed, because I am not a writer per se.
I did write a second lesson of the series which they also enjoyed. This one remains unpublished, although it was accepted by Tate as well.
I wanted to see how successful the first book was before I proceeded with another. I actually think that the second one is better than the first. It deals with anger. It is titled: “Illumination Station – Hurtful Words”.
Q) Tell us about your journey from concept to publication. How long did it take, how/why did you choose Tate Publishing, and how would you describe the process?
A) The concept took approximately 2 years to write and complete. I would write a little bit, then put it down and come back later, editing and re-writing until I was satisfied.
I wrote the manuscript and drew the characters on the computer so the class would have a visual concept as well. I also made coloring pages and games based on the characters to enhance the lesson. Some of the kids still come up to me in Church and say “keep your light on!”
It was really on a whim that I decided to send my manuscript to a publishing company. After reading forums online, I expected full well that it would be rejected. I researched publishing companies and decided to send it to Tate Publishing Co., a Christian publisher in Oklahoma. It was the only publisher that I submitted to, and I was completely stunned when I received the contract in the mail. They loved the unique idea and were very encouraging through the process, which took approximately one year from start to finish. They were wonderful to work with, very supportive and helpful through the whole process.
The worst experience has been with the marketing. As you may be able to tell, I’m not a very self-confident person and I believe that is extremely necessary to be successful. I have given away more copies than I have sold! I believe that you have to sell yourself before you sell your book and that is extremely difficult for me.
Q) Would you share something we would find surprising about your writing life? If we talked to your friends and family, what would they say about how this book has affected you?
A) My writing life is pretty simple (non-existent?) I wrote this for my Sunday School. I really had no intention of anything beyond that. The only people that knew about it were my Pastor and Sunday School class, and later my husband. I didn’t share it with family or friends because I considered it my Sunday School curriculum lesson and nothing more. As I stated above, I only submitted it on a whim, and really don’t know how I got up the nerve to do that.
I think if you talked to my friends and family, they would say nothing has changed about me. If they had to say something however, they might say that I do not have the assertive personality that is required to market my book. If I would have known that marketing was my responsibility, I would never have submitted the manuscript. I was very naive to think that it would sell itself.
I’m very grateful and blessed that I was able to share this with my Sunday School Class and to present a copy of it to my grandchildren. I have also donated copies to the elementary school library that my grandchildren attend.
That was a wonderful feeling and I thank God for allowing me to do that.
Thanks, Jenny! If you would like to get a copy of Illumination Station, check out Amazon or Tate Publishing for purchasing info. Below, you’ll find a few character coloring pages to print as Jenny’s gift to you!