Naomi Wiedekehr is so busy I felt lucky getting her to sit down with me for an interview with Senior Living magazine. We met decades ago as members of the Fort Wayne Christian Writers Club. We talked often about our writing goals. I think it’s great that we’re both writing for children. She writes for preschoolers and I write for middle-schoolers. Naomi is also a member of the Bluffton Christian Writers Club. She’s a dear to everyone she knows. Enjoy getting to know her here.
Few writers nowadays have the patience and fortitude to use anything but a computer to produce their works. Most prefer the convenience of email and Spell Check and other time-savers to help perfect their work. Yet Naomi Wiederkehr of Berne has managed to write and publish hundreds of short stories and books for adults and children with nothing but an electric typewriter during the 20 years she has been writing.
Wiederkehr’s writing career began in 1982. As a Sunday School teacher of two and three-year-olds at First Missionary Church on Rudisill Blvd in Fort Wayne, Wiederkehr noticed a dearth of teaching material for that age group. “I purchased stuffed animals to convey the Bible message and ended up writing my own stories to accompany them,” she said. Desiring further education for her writing, she enrolled as a student of the Institute for Children’s Literature. After completing several courses, Wiederkehr, who majored in Religious Education at Fort Wayne Bible College, sent out religious stories written for children to Sunday school papers.
Wiederkehr also began writing devotions for adults and saw several published. She continued to write for children, studying children’s books while later working at the Berne Library. She also found encouragement and inspiration as a member of the Fort Wayne Christian Writing Club.
As a result of her efforts, Wiederkehr, 79, has been published more than 500 times in Sunday school papers for adults and children. The adult markets include The Secret Place, Devotions for the Deaf, and The Messenger. Children markets include Wee Lambs, Storymates, and Beginners Friends. “The editors usually work from a theme list which they send me,” she said. “I look first to see if I have written anything on those themes and send that story through the mail. If I don’t have a story, I’ll make up one and submit it to the editor.”
Her ideas are pulled from her reading novels, and talking to adults and children.
In 1998 Wiederkehr published her first book entitled, What does a pastor do? (WinePress Publishing) It was a 32- page non-fiction children’s book written in honor of Wiederkehr’s father, Clarence Wiederkehr. “After working several years at the Berne Library, I noticed there were books about the job of a farmer and construction worker and all kinds of other occupations, but no books explaining the duties of a pastor,” she said. “I wanted children to think of it as a possible occupation when they grew up.”
Wiederkehr’s 32-page book, The Missing Birthday Cake, is currently under revision with Rod and Staff Publishers, which has accepted several of Wiederkehr’s articles written for children. Another of Wiederkehr’s books with a main character named Ginger, 5, will be available sometime in 2011.
Currently, Wiederkehr is taking a more active role with some children’s books she has written. “One of my goals in life has been to illustrate my own books,” she said. When the art teacher at Swiss Village where Wiederkehr resides offered to help, Wiederkehr enrolled in a watercolor class at Swiss Village.
One of her books, written for 4-5-year-olds, revolves around a main character named Cherry Sue who has trouble getting along with a neighbor girl. “In the end Cherry Sue and her neighbor become friends,” said Wiederkehr who said the title should be available by summer.
Wiederkehr stays up to date with writing news by attending meetings of the Bluffton Christian Writing Club. She has this bit of advice for beginning writers. “Don’t let anything stop you from your dream of being a writer,” she said. “If you want to do it, don’t let age, money, or circumstances get in your way.”
For more information about Wiederkehr’s books contact her at 260.589.4553.
Cutline: Berne resident Naomi Wiederkehr has written three children’s books and published 500 articles for adults and children.