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The story behind the story: How Ronica Stromberg found inspiration for her picture book


Christian Fiction Author Ronica Stromberg
Photo credit: Ronica Stromberg

Ronica Stromberg normally writes young adult books but wrote her picture book when she researched bedtime stories with guardian angels and could find none.

She is the author of two young adult novels, "A Shadow in the Dark" and "Living It Up to Live It Down"; a tween mystery, "The Glass Inheritance"; and her picture book, "The Time-for-Bed Angel." Her short stories appear in eighteen anthologies and various inspirational magazines. She maintains a blog and Web site at www.ronicastromberg.wordpress.com

I asked Ronica to share the story behind one of her stories. Here is her reply.

The Story Behind The Story:
The Time-For-Bed Angel

The idea for my bedtime story came at bedtime.

I was tucking my four-year-old son into bed again that night. He looked up at me with wide-awake eyes, sapping the little energy I had left. What could I say to get him to sleep?

“Josiah,” I said, a new idea coming to me, “what about your guardian angel? Don’t you think he’s tired from protecting you all day? Maybe you should give him some rest.”

“What’s a dard-yan angel?” he asked.

I sank onto the edge of his bed, realizing none of his books showed a guardian angel. Why did so many children’s books mention the “monster in the closet” but not guardian angels? Wouldn’t telling children about such angels reassure them and lessen fears of the dark?

I tried explaining guardian angels: “They have wings and watch over us.”
 
Josiah looked around the room.


The Time-for-Bed Angel by Ronica Stromberg
Photo Credit: Lion UK

“Well, you can’t usually see them, but remember the Christmas pageant?”

He shook his head. He was too young to remember. And, at his age, he needed to visualize abstractions such as the spiritual realm, God, and angels.

As I left his room that night, I pondered whether I should write a picture book about a guardian angel. I researched the market and could fine none. In the coming months, I developed an idea of an angel named Sam attempting to get a rambunctious boy named Andrew safely to bed. I wrote the story, compiled a list of publishers who might be appropriate for it, and began submitting to a few at a time.

Years passed. I had crossed more than 30 publishers from my list and was down to the last one when my husband walked in with an envelope from that publisher. Carefully, with my husband watching, I opened the envelope . . .

Another rejection.

My husband read the disappointment on my face. “What will you do now?”

“The only thing I can do.” With a laugh, I said, “Send it overseas!”

I no longer held much hope of the story being published but knew I would rest easier once I’d checked all possibilities. I researched the overseas market and submitted the book to the largest secular publisher and the largest inspirational publisher in Britain.

One of those, Lion-Hudson, responded with a positive letter asking for revisions. I revised and received a contract.

The Time-for-bed Angel appeared in print around the world in February 2008—eight years after I wrote it. U.S. distributors to the inspirational and regular markets picked up the book in September 2008. In late 2009, Finland and Denmark published co-editions. The book likely received far better distribution than it would have had I sold it to any of the other publishers on my list.

My son who inspired the book, Josiah, is now 12, too old for bedtime stories. But the book is dedicated to him, his younger brother, and the many other children who want to stay up “just a little longer.” To them, I say, “Rest easy. An angel watches over you.”

Visit Ronica Stromberg's blog and website 

Read Ronica's Take 5 Interview 

Read more Story Behind the Story articles 

Read more Take 5 Interviews with other Christian authors 

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