The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow

Joyce Magnin

Joyce Magnin is the author of the popular Bright’s Pond Novels, including The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, which was named one of the top five Christian titles of 2009 by Library Journal; and Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, releasing September 1, 2010. She is member of ACFW, The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, and is a popular conference speaker. Joyce also runs Narrative Destiny, a manuscript critique and evaluation service. You can also visit her blog at:

The Blessing of the Backpacks

Dixon Ticondergoa #2 pencils. Check. Highlighters. Check. Pocket folders. Check. Protractor, compass. Check. Three-ring binder, loose-leaf paper, marble notebook, erasers, small pencil sharpener with compartment to catch shavings. Check and double-check.

Yep, I took Adam back-to-school shopping the other day. What a wonderful time. For me the New Year is just beginning. Forget all the hype on January first—that’s just the middle of the year. September is when all the important stuff starts. And not just for students. Writers also experience a burst of autumnal energy as the new writing year begins. Agents who have been hoarding their gold all summer become heat-seeking missiles as editors fresh from vacations hunker down to read manuscripts and face pub boards. Fall conferences are planned and conferees are pulling out their sweatshirts and polishing their manuscripts. Brilliant ideas burst from every pore the second the kiddoes walk out the door for the bus or the walk to school. It doesn’t matter that it could still be 90 degrees outside, it’s September: the most wonderful time of the year.

I don’t know about you, but when I went shopping with Adam the other day I couldn’t resist purchasing a couple of things for myself—fresh notebooks, pencils to sharpen to a fine point, and of course I had to buy a six-pack of yellow legal pads. It was like Christmas at the store: Moms and dads with lists, children scurrying about begging for locker mirrors and the most expensive assortment of Sharpies available. I smiled when I overheard one student say to her mother, “Oh, no, Mom, that won’t work. I need lots of space to write. I love to write.” Then there were the kids—okay, boys mostly—who couldn’t have cared less if their new pocket folders had a puppy or nothing on the outside. “Yeah, yeah, it’s a folder, Mom. I don’t care.” This year puppies and purple unicorns are as big as ever, but I saw more kids going for bold geometric designs on their notebooks and folders. I still want to know why Post-It notes are so expensive. Sheesh. And you have to purchase the name brand—the cheaper ones simply do not stick. So frustrating.

And with every new year comes resolutions. I know, I know most people wait until January first to do that. Not me, and I suspect not most writers. September makes me want to clean off my desk, go to Ikea and buy do-dads to help me get organized—not that it will stay that way—but, hey, I try. The new school year makes me want to outline my new novel and spread it out on the floor or hang it on a clothesline, to make notes in a brand-new Moleskine, to write beautifully with a fresh excitement, and to gather all the receipts I’ve tossed haphazardly into drawers and baskets and boxes and organize them so that my accountant will applaud and maybe even shed a tear. I want back-to-school jeans and fresh Chucks—maybe yellow this year. I love that ACFW is in September—no better way to kick off a new writing season.

One of my favorite traditions of the new school year is the Blessing of the Backpacks. Every year, the church up the street gathers the neighborhood children on the lawn of the church where they and their backpacks are prayed for and blessed.

Then the kiddoes are sent out to study, do-well, pay attention, and avoid trouble. It’s a delightful time, complete with doughnuts, canolies, and coffee. Maybe if someone had blessed my backpack when I was in third grade, I wouldn’t have used it to knock Michael Denoia down after he pulled my hair. But, then again, I hated having my hair pulled because I wouldn’t fork over my butterscotch krimpet.

So I have an idea. Why not have a Blessing of the Computers day for authors? On September 7 I suggest we all take a minute to pray for all the authors, editors, agents, and publishers, and also for all the computers that will be used to write our stories, schedule our meetings, and hold our notes and dreams. How about it? September 7. Let’s feel the energy that day. Post it on FB, Twitter, your blog. And, hey, remember to get enough sleep. Eat your veggies. Don’t bully. Keep your shoelaces tied, and you can’t say you can’t play. We’re all in this together. Let’s make this a great year for Christian fiction.


Narrative Destiny

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow has been selected as one of the top five Christian Inspirational titles of 2009 by Library Journal.

Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise