Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Well, this is a fun interview for me. As a pharmacist dragged into writing by the Lord, I enjoyed reading Dr. Lainna Callentine’s story—a pediatrician dragged into writing by the Lord. Hmm. Dr. Callentine uses her background in medicine and homeschooling to teach anatomy and physiology to children—and now she has a series of books for children on these subjects.
Dr. Callentine, how did you get into writing?
I never had an interest in being an author. Crazy, right? This is not the way most authors typically start off an interview. It was not on my radar. I always had a love and a passion for science. I felt called to be a doctor at the tender age of four years old. I spent many days in the hospital as asthmatic child. Suffering from severe asthma kept me in the mix of medical professionals. I would watch the doctors and nurses care for me, and it inspired me to want to be a children’s doctor. God has been so gracious to allow me to care for the most amazing patients as a pediatrician.
It wasn’t until I had my kids that my heart began to turn home. I began to wonder what good is it if I am the best doctor in the world and lose my family by not being available. God called me home. I became a domestic missionary doctor (none paid) and began to homeschool my kids eleven years ago. My friends thought I had lost my mind.
In this new world, I found myself gravitating to teaching science in the homeschool groups. It was a great outlet for me. I soon found myself speaking locally and it grew to speaking nationally. I would take my mobile science lab on the road and teach people about the wonders, the science, and the creation that laid wrapped within their skin. I found myself on a new path. I know the information that I have learned and shared was available for everyone. I wanted to have a way to communicate this information and give people the tools to learn and share with others.
I also was a bit indignant when I felt God was calling me to write. I had a bit of an issue with speakers I encountered on the road who had written books. It seemed to me when you become an author then suddenly you “became someone” and were instantly granted the crown of expert. This irritated me. I asked God why He had called me to such a crazy thing. After all, having a book or even a nine-book series was not going to change my position or how I was to speak as He called. I have a great prayer partner who slapped me in the head and told me to get over myself. If this is what God was calling me to do then I better do it and get out of God’s way.
I love God’s recruitment tactics. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
It is a book series called “God’s Wondrous Machine.” The titles are: The Breathtaking Respiratory System, The Electrifying Nervous System, The Complex Circulatory System, and Elementary Anatomy: Nervous, Respiratory and Circulatory Systems Teacher Guide.
How did you get your first book contract?
Five years ago, I found myself at a National Homeschool Leadership Conference. I’d quickly thrown together a cheesy portfolio and pics highlighting my science programs. I went to a workshop sponsored by Master Books (New Leaf Publishing) in which the editor was sharing with homeschool leaders about how to use social media for their organizations. Once the presentation was over, I felt compelled to hand off my packet to the editor. Many people clamored for the editor’s attention after her talk. I had 30 seconds. Go. I hardly remember what I said to her. To sum it up, it was on the line of “Here is what I am doing. God called me to write. I hate writing. I am supposed to write a nine-book series.” I thrust my homemade portfolio in her hands and walked away. It certainly was not the type of pitch I would suggest any potential author make. I truly was authentic…maybe a bit too authentic.
I didn’t expect much. Actually, I even forgot that I had this brief encounter. A year later, I received a call from the editor. She stated that she had checked out the types of things I had been doing and asked if I would like to be an author with them. I was speechless. I told her that would be nice. She asked if I could send some of my writing to her. I said most definitely and hung up. Wait…I had no writings or etchings for that matter. I had no book or manuscript even prepared. I ran to the bookstore and library. I gathered as much info as I could on how to write a book proposal. I sat in front of my computer and designed a book proposal utilizing “How to Write a Book Proposal—for Dummies.” And the rest is history.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
I have become recently more active in promoting my books. I promote the books through speaking engagements and sponsoring my own science programs as well as social media. I have recently launched a new website and have set up an e-store to sell my books and product line.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change?
It was great to have a publisher to help with a good polished product. My nonfiction books are rich in pictures which would have been costly to me. I thought my publisher would be heavily involved in the marketing. This has not been the case. I recognize I need to be my own voice and the vision of the calling in my life. I am learning new ways to promote the books and what I do. It has been a real hurdle for me to get over. Initially, I felt it was like bragging. I look at it in a new way. I believe in the calling that God has on my life and I want to share it with others. It is something that people enjoy and find value in it.
Absolutely! What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
During a convention last year that I was speaking and vending, I had a special raffle. I was drawing families to have the honor of adopting Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches to give them forever homes. It was a hit! I had the winning families sign an adoption certificate. Together they would raise their right hands and site an oath to care and love their cockroaches. I can’t tell you how much traffic that generated at the booth.
Oh my goodness. I would have run the other way! But the kids must have loved it. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I had another promotion in which I had an assortment of flavored dried crickets. There were barbequed, sour cream and onion, and other flavored crickets. I dared the participants to eat one to win a special prize. I couldn’t believe the numbers of people who lined up for their little snack. The kids were hilarious in getting their fathers to participate.
That would have been fun to see. Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
This whole journey has been one open door by God.
It certainly sounds like it. Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
I am learning to have my own voice in my promotions. I am learning to take control of my business and always turning stones over.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Never give up. Pursue your calling and go boldly.
Thank you for a fun interview!
To learn more about Dr. Callentine’s books and programs, please visit Dr. Callentine’s website.
Writing for Him,