Inches is a successful children's book author, biographer,
and editor. In our interview, she explained how humility
has been the key to her career, enabling her to overcome
a hostile working environment, hear God's ideas, and
trust Him each step of the way.
When Bible Characters that you wanted to become a
children's book writer?
I knew in the 5th grade. I loved putting ideas that
came to me on paper. I still keep a journal.
How did you make this dream a reality?
I think when I began to be bold and willing to take
steps that were bigger than me. This was at the same
time when I was starting to turn to the Bible and
to God on a consistent basis. I remember reading Isaiah:
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will
help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right
hand of my righteousness" (41:10).
I had already left the business world because writing
competitive advertising studies did not allow me to
be creative. I had joined a newspaper to get a glimpse
of the journalism world, which rekindled my desire
to write. Then I applied to the Radcliffe Publishing
Program, which was a turning point in my career. The
competition was fierce, but I knew in my heart that
this was what I wanted to do, and I got in. I'm certain
God opened the door for me.
What happened after Radcliffe?
I went to career fairs in New York City and wound
up getting a job as an editorial assistant. The bolder
I got, and the more I trusted God's leading, the more
doors opened for me. I went from Editorial Assistant
to Editorial Director in six years. It didn't have
to do with me being an intellectual or being better
than anyone else. It had to do with pure motives and
a willingness to do whatever was set before me.
I remember a publisher turning an entire meeting
of "suits" over to me without any prior
warning. A Bible passage came to me: "Let the
words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart
be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and
my redeemer" (Ps. 49:3). All the ideas that came
to me were exactly what I needed. When I was put in
the hot seat, I could turn to God and trust Him to
tell me what to do. This happened over and over again.
Did you face challenges along the way?
Most definitely! I had so many people try to take
me down on my way up. Two women, in particular, tried
to get me fired and turn my boss against me.
How did you handle this kind of antagonism?
I prayed every day, even over my lunch breaks. Given
our equal status in the company, the first woman and
I shouldn't have been at odds, but from day one, we
started off on the wrong foot. This woman could "walk
the walk" and "talk the talk." She
seemed to cast a spell over the entire department
and got many to turn against me. My boss loved her
because she was so cool. But for me, this gal was
a classic bully. She made my life miserable, and at
times I felt so victimized. My boss loved my work,
and each time I handed something in, I thought, "Now
I'll be back my boss's good graces." But the
clouds would lower again as this woman continued to
criticize me behind my back. At times, I thought for
sure I would get fired.
Did any particular Bible passages help you through
this cruel treatment?
Every day I ran seven miles before work and prayed
the Lord's Prayer. I always found it a good place
to ground myself. It helped me get past my anger.
I would get so mad at this person because she was
so mean and so intimidating. "Thy will be done"
and "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our
debtors" (Matt. 6:10, 12) were particularly helpful
thoughts. I didn't know how God would work things
out, but I trusted that He was more powerful than
anything that would try to disable me. God's all-embracing
love could never be depleted.
Eventually others began to see through this girl's
veneer -- everyone except my boss. One day a colleague,
knowing what I was dealing with, asked me, "How
can you take this?" I replied, "It doesn't
matter. Her motives are so impure; I guarantee she'll
dig her own grave." And that's exactly what she
did. I don't know what made my boss see the light,
but when she did, she fired this woman immediately.
She had to leave that afternoon. Ironically, the person
my boss hired to replace her was even worse. She accused
me of things I hadn't done and tried to set me up
for a fall. She actually came into my office and told
me how she planned to frame me and what she had already
done to put her scheme into motion. She had thoroughly
convinced herself that her story was true. But I knew
it wasn't true, and I had learned not to be intimidated.
I spoke firmly to her, but this only made her start
swearing at me. I quietly left my office and took
my case to the president's office. The woman ranted
and raved as she followed me to the top of the stairs.
I shut the door and explained the situation to the
president. Things quickly came to light, and my boss
fired this woman when she returned the next morning.
All the respect my boss previously had for me was
restored. My purity was seen. I'm always looking for
that flawless purity. I really treasure it. I've learned
that it's extremely powerful and that no human element
or ego can touch it. This experience taught me that
we can never run from evil. We have to handle it like
Moses did when he picked up his rod that had turned
into a serpent (Ex. 4:1-5) -- no matter how scary
evil appears to be.
That's a nice restoration of harmony. I bet you
I did. It's interesting: My first office was in the
basement, and as I grew spiritually and professionally,
my offices moved up floor by floor. I ended up in
a top floor office with a mile long executive desk.
I felt like I was on the top of the world. My demonstration
was complete. God had lifted me right up. They wanted
me to stay, but I had gotten everything I needed to
move on to my next step, which was to become a full
time author. The higher I got in the job, the more
competitive it got. But by letting my light shine,
I was victorious. I held God's hand, and He held on
to me: "I have set the Lord always before me:
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved"
What quality would you say enabled you to survive
and allow your career to grow?
The absolute key to my entire career has been and
is humility. The more humility I express, the higher
How would you define humility?
Humility is that Christ quality that we see throughout
the Bible. Humility is that total selfless sense which
is so fully conscious of God, good, that there is
absolutely not one bit of ego or pride. Jesus' strength
was in his humility. No matter what anyone threw at
him, he never swayed from seeing the perfection of
God and man.
How has humility helped you?
Before I write, I take an inventory of the qualities
of God that I express, such as intelligence, creativity,
etc. When I feel a sense of peace, joy, and humility
permeate my consciousness, then the ideas begin to
dance, the office becomes a light place, and I have
no fear. The words just flow. This is the only way
I can write. If I let any sense of "Alison"
come into my work, I fall into a ditch immediately.
I remember wanting to be on "The Rosie O'Donnell
Show" so badly for "The Candy Bar Cookbook,"
which my husband and I worked on together. It kept
me from seeing other possibilities. As soon as I totally
let that go, I got onto a lot of other shows for the
Letting go takes a lot of trust, and it seems
like you've trusted God throughout your career. How
did you start your own business as a writer?
Talk about trust! After the whole situation with my
colleagues was resolved in NYC, I moved to California
and took a job at Lucasfilm. I had been hired to oversee
the editorial direction of the books based on the
new trilogy. I found out I wasn't that into the "Star
Wars" characters as I was into the Muppets when
I worked with them. Besides, what I really wanted
was to be a full-time author, but I had been too afraid
to quit my day job.
I remember getting on my mountain bike and saying,
"Don't try to figure out what to do next. Just
think about the allness and goodness of God."
Then and there, I dropped all the arguments and decided
to wait for God's direction. Shortly thereafter, a
conversation I had with an individual at Lucasfilm
made me realize that I needed to tell my boss how
I was feeling. My boss was thankful that I had told
her sooner rather than later. She still had time to
hire someone before the trilogy got too far underway.
I thought I was going to feel a sense of freedom after
I left, but I instead I felt scared. How was I going
to pay my bills? My first assignment as a full-time
author came to me a few days later.
How did you get your first book assignment?
Golden Books offered me a work-for-hire job that they
needed the following Monday. I wrote the book and
sent it in. They said that it wasn't what they wanted
and gave me 24 hours to rewrite it before giving the
job to someone else.
It felt like so much was on the line. I wondered
if I was really supposed to be an author. I turned
to God as never before. As I wrote, whenever I got
nervous or scared, I would lean back in my chair and
say, "Father, what do I do now?" Then I
would listen with all my heart. Whatever words came
to me, I would write down. Then I would lean back
again and ask, "Father, what do I do now?"
I finished at 10:00 p.m. and sent it in. They called
back the next day and said it was perfect. They wouldn't
change a thing! It was such a wonderful sense of validation
for me that I was doing the right thing. From then
on, each idea that came to me had fruition, and my
business grew. Again, humility was the key.
You mentioned earlier that the growth in your
career coincided with your decision to trust in God
and study the Bible. How did that come about?
I had grown up in a family where I was exposed to
religion, but eventually it became something I wanted
to find and make my own. When I was 18, I decided
to look at each situation and see how the Bible could
help me. The Bible has continued to be a great source
of inspiration for me. Often I open it and let my
eyes fall on a passage to hear what God has to tell
me. When I listen to God with all my heart, I let
go of any human sense of planning. I know that I am
not driving my life; God is. Even when I would make
what I thought was a sound decision but God didn't
think so, He would put something in my path that would
keep me from the wrong path.
Are there any particular instances that you can
share about God redirecting your path?
Sure. I was working in NYC, but my boyfriend was in
Colorado. I was ready to move out to be with him.
God put the Muppets in my path, and I couldn't refuse.
They were looking for a senior editor and had been
given my name. When I told them it was appealing,
but that I was planning on moving, they refused to
take "no" for an answer. It was the oddest
thing. I agreed to take the job for three months.
Right after I started, their amazing Editorial Director
left. The publisher came in and told me that that
I was Editorial Director. She also said that I had
to come up with a business plan and ideas that would
bring us back to profitability by the following year.
I worked there over Christmas and came up with seven
ideas. One of them was "Go to Bed, Fred!"
which I wrote that week. I asked the art director
to help me do mock-ups to go with the ideas. When
my boss came back, she wasn't very excited about the
ideas. I think she thought she was going to lose her
job. We planned to pitch the ideas to several publishers.
(We were a motion picture company and needed a publishing
partner to publish our book titles.) She picked the
hardest publisher first. Peter Workman of Workman
Publishing is notorious in the business for rejecting
ideas. He, his art director, and editor sat there
with poker faces as we talked. After the pitch, he
bought every single project except one. My boss and
I were stunned. Working with the Muppets, which I
did for a few years, gave me the muscle, strength,
and confidence to start my own business. I didn't
know I needed it, but God did.
What happened with the boyfriend?
It was very apparent that I wasn't supposed to be
in Colorado. Eventually he moved to the East Coast.
Then we broke up. We got back together when I moved
to California. Then, much to my dismay at the time,
we realized it wasn't right to get married. As soon
as I let go of that experience, I met my husband,
with whom I am very happy.
It sounds like your success comes from humbly
listening to God.
I make it a point to listen to what God says and try
to allow God to speak through me. I can't think of
anything I've done by myself.