Why I Started Writing:
My first attempt at writing in fifth grade was a joint venture with my best friend, Laura, when we tried to write a Nancy Drew book. We wrote one chapter, plus a few pages. However, I didn’t realize I enjoyed writing until many years later when I wrote a gardening column for a local newspaper as part of my extension agent job.
After my daughter was born, I became a stay-at-home mom. First, I tried writing for magazines but didn’t know how to target the market until I attended my first writer’s conference several years later.
Then I tried art. I sold a few paintings but soon realized I didn’t want to be a fine artist. My dream was to write and illustrate children’s books.
That dream finally came to fruition with the publication of Annabella’s Crown in 2021 by Elk Lake Publishing. Although Annabella’s Crown is the first book I have illustrated, I have published several other books, which I’ll describe below.
As a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion, my goal is to provide resources to help believers strengthen their faith. Since 2011, I have operated a ministry called Heritage of Truth to help Christian families nurture lifelong confidence in biblical truth (https://jeannedennis.com). On the website and in my other writing, I try to promote the biblical worldview in compelling, inspirational ways for adults and in understandable, entertaining ways for children.
The website features Heritage of Truth TV, a podcast, and interviews, articles, and commentary on cultural, spiritual, and worldview issues. Heritage of Truth TV has featured over 500 interviews with authors, pastors, speakers, performing artists, movie producers, and other influencers.
The website also has a children’s section and a special page with enrichment activities for Annabella’s Crown at https://jeannedennis.com/annabella. As a speaker, my audiences have mostly consisted of homeschooling parents, Christian writers, and women. I also teach Sunday school to third to fifth graders and love doing it.
Authors Who Have Influenced Me:
In my early years of writing, Marianne Hering, Sheila Seifert, Beverly Lewis, and my Colorado Front Range Writers critique group were my best encouragers. Since then, dozens of authors have influenced me in person, including many in the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and the Christian Authors Network, too many to name. Several authors I have interviewed on Heritage of Truth TV also have become friends. Author friendships are precious to me.
Authors whose writing has influenced my personal, spiritual, and/or writing life are many. Some of my favorites are C. S. Lewis, A. W. Tozer, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer, David Platt, Erwin Lutzer, Gene Edward Veith, Leland Ryken, Chuck Colson, Oswald Chambers, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Nik Ripken, Cynthia Ruchti, Harper Lee, and Isaac Watts (because I write songs too).
Some of the many authors who have influenced my children’s writing include Frances Hodgson Burnett, Meindert DeJong, Patricia St. John, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Cynthia Voigt, Kate Seredy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jean Lee Latham, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Marguerite de Angeli, Crystal Bowman, Karen Whiting, and when I was growing up, the authors of the Nancy Drew series.
Books I Have Written:
Annabella’s Crown is my latest book and the first one I have illustrated. My daughter, Christine St. Jacques, is my coauthor. Her cats served as models for Leopold, the feline narrator of the story.
My first book, Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission, came out in 2000. This book was the first comprehensive title ever published about homeschooling during high school. It has stayed in print for twenty-one years. To write this book, I interviewed about 250 college admissions directors, college presidents, and college professors, as well as high school counselors, homeschooling parents, and homeschooled students.
Other books for adults I’ve published include Running Barefoot on Holy Ground: Childlike Intimacy with God and a novel I co-wrote with Sheila Seifert called Marta’s Promise. Marta’s Promise was translated into German as Elisabeth and sold in Europe.
The rest of my books have been for children. Matt’s Fantastic Electronic Compusonic was a picture book about a boy obsessed with a video game. I wrote that story before handheld video games were invented. It has been out of print for several years, but now a new generation of children will be able to enjoy the updated version, Matt’s Compusonic, which Elk Lake Publishing plans to release in 2022.
Stories of Danger and Courage, part of the Bible KidVentures series from Tyndale and Focus on the Family, has been available for a few years. This book, written with Sheila Seifert, is a compilation of four earlier books. All four stories are Bible-based and written in the choose-your-own-ending style. Everything in these books is strictly biblical. Only the accounts of the fictional characters are extra-biblical. This book won a Golden Scroll Children’s Merit Award.
My other books for children included The Clubhouse Mystery, Mystery at Crestwater Camp, and My Time with God 2. I also contributed fourteen stories to the book Family Funstuff Bible Stories: Elementary, which was a Gold Medallion finalist.
I’ve contributed to several other books, including We May Be Done, But We’re Not Finished by Deb DeArmond from Elk Lake Publishing.
What I'm Working On Now:
Now that Annabella’s Crown has released, I’ll be working on illustrations for another book Elk Lake Publishing will release in 2022. It’s called Kissed by the Sun, Hugged by the Moon. This picture book will provide gentle bedtime reading for parents, grandparents, and their children. I can hardly wait to make it available for families to enjoy.
In 2023, Elk Lake Publishing plans to release my book Joshua James Jehoshaphat Jones, a story about a discouraged boy trumpet player who derives inspiration from the story of King Jehoshaphat in the Bible.
For adults, I’m working on another Christian Living book, but I’m not ready to reveal its topic or title.