Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Challenges, New Goals

No photos today. I got a new computer. I haven't even begun to put my files on this one. You see, as one of my friends put it, I have gone over to the darkside--from a PC to a Mac. Now, my husband and boys have Macs and love them, so I am guessing that I soon will be ok. But right now I'm the deer in the headlights.

I can tell you that I downloaded a couple things and it was fast. So fast and painless! I am having some issue with the keyboard, but I suppose I'll get used to it.

So, if there are glitches here and there, you will know I'm pounding my head bloody on the screen, but so far, painless. I'm still numb, I suppose.

I sat down last night and jotted some goals and dreams for 2008. Have you done this yet? Anything in particular stand out? One of my goals is to get into shape again and to eat with an eye toward health. Another thing I would like to do is find a time period each day to read my Bible (I have a plan) and pray specifically. I had gotten haphazard at the end of the year and wasn't taking care of my spiritual self. So, this covers body and soul!

Finally, for my emotional well being, I finally want to finish the romance I was writing and send it out. I can't control whether it will be sold, but at least by sending it out I have done my part. I also am starting another story that I have brainstormed with friends, Sabrina and Camy, so hopefully, I can get it down, too.

With a new computer, things have a way of being fresh and new.

Another thing I'd love to do is try scrapbooking. I haven't a clue of how to start but it is something creative and artsy and will help catalog all of these photos I have. I am going to clear out a place in my basement for this, I think.

What are your goals?

I have enjoyed reading the comments about your results to the tests. Those were fun! I'll let you know what I think of the changeover from PC to Mac. Stay tuned. All of my When I Was Just a Kid interviews are on my other limping PC, so....

Monday, December 24, 2007

And the Color of the Year Is...

Did you know that they choose a color of the year? Me, neither. This one has hints of purple in it and was chosen carefully for its peaceful, soothing qualities for 2008.

I find this whole choosing color issue intriguing because you know that "someone" chooses the colors used in fashions each season and that colors are very important in brand recognition. (The article I read mentioned several brands that use red, for example.) Pantone, the color people who make sure that colors have names and continuity in the dye lots are maintained, comes up with these things and then the fashion industry and even paint colors, follow the recommendations. Think about everything that has color in our world. Mind boggling, actually.

I've studied color and how it has been used over the centuries because I just find it intriguing. Color influences our brains, translating into moods and feelings. It harmonizes with our own coloring. We all have unique coloring in our eyes, hair, skin and even lips.

Sometimes you will see someone and she just looks like death warmed over. Like she's been ill for a week. She tells you she feels "fine." The next time you see this person,she radiates and looks "good," but she tells you that she hasn't felt that great. Probably it has more to do with whether she is wearing a color that harmonizes or causes her to look great. I think about someone who carries a great green handbag and you notice her brilliant green eyes (eyes that you didn't notice when she was wearing that nondescript coat.)

Writers need to be aware of colors, especially when describing the characters in their stories. One year in the Christy Awards the judges were commenting that if they read one more description of a heroine with flaming red hair and emerald green eyes, they would spew. (I could be exaggerating.) It's true, though, that as we read we picture the heroine or hero in our minds.

I think it's not only important in your writing to be able to use color descriptions, but also in your "brand" of writing. What colors do you wear to meet the public? The color you choose will "speak" before you ever do. The style you choose to wear is also your signature.

I've been trying to find colors that suit my own coloring. I've had color analysts try to determine which colors make me stand out. We all want to look our best. I usually fall back on the same colors--colors my mother was picking for me when I was a little girl. She was very much a "summer" and blues were her favorites. I had a tendency to pick out yellows. I bought her a yellow gold scarf one time that looked hideous on her--but it was a good color for me.

One of my friends is working on her book, her web site and the "signature" look and colors of her site. When I saw what she had done, I was thinking, "Perfect!" They were exactly the colors I think of when I think of her.

So, what are going to be your signature colors for this year? What colors do you wish to have in your wardrobe, on your blogs and web sites and even in your clothes?
I am leaning toward turquoises, warm citrines, yellows, chocolate browns, warm reds and yellow greens for this year. I have never been a "pink" person, so it is rare you would ever see me in it. I do like this Blue Iris, but probably wouldn't choose it to wear. Will it influence my purchases for this year? Time will tell. I will be looking for it, though, as the year unfolds, now that I know it is a color that was chosen especially for this year!

You Are a Yellow Crayon

Your world is colored with happy, warm, fun colors.
You have a thoughtful and wise way about you. Some people might even consider you a genius.
Charming and eloquent, you are able to get people to do things your way.
While you seem spontaneous and free wheeling, you are calculating to the extreme.

Your color wheel opposite is purple. You both are charismatic leaders, but purple people act like you have no depth.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The house I lived in from first through fifth grade in town

I've lived in a lot of different houses and places in Indiana growing up and now growing old, and lived in one place in Tennessee as a toddler. I don't think that I will ever live outside of Indiana again, but you never know. (My husband is a dyed-in-the-wool Hoosier who once said he would not cross her borders--but he did--so there you go.) One thing I've found out: I'm not much of a city girl. Put me in boots and jeans and set me down in the country.

For a bit of lightheartedness because there is so much gloom (the Indiana white-gray skies are upon us) and doom (lots of troubles with those around me,) I've been taking some of the fun tests. I see that Pam and Peg are also Blue Christmas tree people--yes, I love the movie, It's a Wonderful Life (and sometimes wonder if I'm close to getting saved by Clarence, too.)I dislike conflict. These tests, while meant for fun, have grains of truth in them. If you answer honestly, it really does peg you on points of your personality.

My husband is working on Christmas eve and Christmas day, so while he is doing that, I'm relaxing in the next few days and doing some end-of-the-year evaluations and goal-setting. Not sure if this helps, but surely it doesn't hoirt. Cara Putnam did the What City Should You Live In? test, too.

Here you go--try these. What city should you live in? I suppose if I HAD to live in a city (or visit another one, though Savannah, Georgia is my favorite city) Paris would be all right. I do like art and fashions and love food (and the best food I ever ate was in Las Vegas at a French restaurant!)

You Belong in Paris

Stylish and expressive, you were meant for Paris.
The art, the fashion, the wine!
Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...
You'll love living in the most chic place on earth.

And I must be in a Paris mood because I also should be spending Christmas there!

You Should Spend the Holidays In

France - where "Pere Noel" fills your shoes full of toes

And while I'm in a fashionable mood, here's my new funky hair color! ORANGE

Your Hair Should Be Orange

Expressive, deep, and one of a kind.
You pull off "weird" well - hardly anyone notices.

And oddly enough, French is the language I should learn. Hmmm. I do like creme brulee the best of allllllll desserts!

You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

Finally, my favorite book right now is Kissing Adrien by Siri L. Mitchell set where?? That's right. In Paris. Ok, maybe I'll look into a French language course...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Anniversary Day

at Irene Byron Hospital

Bill and Lillian in the '50s

These are my parents back in the late '50s. My mother was ill with tuberculosis and was confined to a hospital specifically for the disease in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.(The hospital is in the background.) Until she died in 1997, she still kept in touch with at least one other patient at that hospital, a woman whose in-laws were Amish and who were keeping her little girl. Mom said that they used electricity and stayed in this woman's house because the "little English girl" was used to that. That's a story I would love to use sometime, don't you think?


Anyway, what makes me think of all this today is because my parents were married on December 22 at exactly 12 noon. (About 56 years ago--you do the math.) My dad was an owner-operator long haul trucker and wherever he was in the U.S. at exactly 12 noon on December 22, he would stop and call my mom up to wish her a happy anniversary. They both are dead now, but that is a nice memory that I have of my parents. This was back before cell phones and finding a phone was something he would have had to consciously pursue to make it happen!


Missing my mama in a Tender Tennessee Christmas 

Little Crissy in the same time frame, Christmas in Tennessee

While my mother was Indiana in the hospital, my dad was working hard and making money for his family in the Midwest, I was with his parents and siblings in Tennessee. This is a photo that my grandmother staged and sent to my mother in the hospital, oh, so far away. My mother had lost 5 babies prior to me. The last time her baby died, she refused for about a week after they told her, to go in to get a D&C because she desperately believed that the baby was "ok." They had to make her go before she became ill or got an infection.So, you see, I was a much wanted baby, and she had to give me up before she'd even had me very long.

Mom told me that when she got this photo, she just cried. She thought I looked so sad and then they had put a photo of her in the picture by the Christmas tree. I think Grandmother wanted my mom to know that they were telling me about her and that I knew who my mother was--if only as a picture. I still have the picture that is in this picture and there is a story about that picture, too.

But,also, I wrote all over the letters that my grandmother faithfully wrote to my mother to let her know what was going on and she would cry, looking at those scribbles. (Even back then I wanted to write.) I also wrote all over my 14-year-old aunt's yearbook and on other books she had. Probably the start to my editor/book doctoring career, don't you think? (Smile.)


So, three days before Christmas, every year, at noon, I think about these things. I also feel a bit melancholy on this day. When I pull out Amy Grant's version of Tender Tennessee Christmas, it is a complete plunge into the feelings of that time way back then. ("I'll Be Home for Christmas" will do it, too.)

On to more lighthearted fare:

I took a test to see what color my Christmas tree should be, since I've been really thinking about color lately. Here's mine. Check yours out!

You Should Have a Blue Christmas Tree

For you, the holidays represent a time of calm, understanding, and peace.
You avoid family fights, and you don't get too stressed out - even when things are crazy!

You like to make Christmas about making everyone's life a little bit better.
You don't get caught up in greed or commercialism. You're too sincere for that.

Your blue tree would look great with: Lots of silver tinsel

You should spend Christmas Eve watching: It's a Wonderful Life

What you should bake for Santa: Chocolate chip cookies

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pray for Kristy

Normally, I talk about light topics and whatever interests me for the moment here in the Cafe'. Today I wanted to bring your attention to Kristy Dykes, a vibrant woman who breathes in and out her faith and exuberance for life--both here and THERE. She writes Christian romances and recently was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Since her surgery her pastor husband, Milton, has been writing on her blog and it reads like a romance novel. It is hot!

But today Kristy will be going to The Healing Room at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern time), Wednesday, December 19th.

Tracy Ruckman sent word and here's what she said: "Let's all join in prayer (and fasting if you feel called to do so) for God to heal her as He did Brandilyn Collins several years ago. Let's pray and watch Him touch Kristy and remove all traces of cancer from her body, then let us go forth as writers and spread the word of His great and mighty work. We've all prayed for a miracle this side of Heaven, and TODAY is the day!
P.S. If you've not heard/read about Brandilyn's healing from Lyme disease, you can read the miraculous story here: "

Who knows how God will use our lives? And why do we cling so desperately to life? Lately, there have been several people I have heard about (in my life) who are not clinging to life. In fact they seem to be pushing life away with both hands and making all around them miserable, as well. I wish those people could spend five minutes with someone like Kristy. Maybe it would turn their lives around. Maybe not.

Everyone has choices. People in POW camps chose to live in the hope of freedom. They clung to the breath of life, no matter what happened to them, what was said to them. People who lived (and many died) in the Nazi concentration camps, clung to the thread of life with not even a shred of dignity offered to them, but yet many held on and survived. The same happens here today. Someone is in an abusive situation, but is clinging to survival, without much encouragement. It is something that comes from within the person, and I can only explain it by saying God plants it into your soul, and only you can let it grow.

If you are suffering at this time of year, don't give up! Read about Kristy and give yourself a gift--a gift to hang in there. I do believe there comes a time to die for everyone. In the movie Braveheart the princess says to the dying wicked king, "Death comes to us all." The thing is, when that time comes, you want to be at a place that you face it with a peace in your soul, with a joy, not with hatred gleaming in your eye, or a "woe is me" attitude.

If you want to tag on to your prayers for Kristy today someone else who is struggling with life, whatever the reason, I think it will make the prayer that much more powerful. After all, a woman was healed by touching the robe's hem of Jesus as He went to heal someone else. (Luke 8:40-56.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Color Sense

I love talking about color, reading about color and it's something I feel passionate about. When I was a kid, my very favorite thing to get was a new box of 64 Crayola crayons.

I think it is because of the colors, but autumn is my favorite time of year. I live where the seasons change, and the colors of fall are my favorites. I always thought it would've been romantic to be married in autumn colors in October, outside in a blaze of color.

Every so often I do these tests, just because it is interesting to me. Well, I took this one, and believe it or not, I'm an autumn. (smile) Who knew?

Next is to figure out what colors to wear!

You Are Fall!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Room with a View

Much like the last 50 years, I don't know what happened last week! I'm behind on everything. Part of my problem was weather. We've had about 12 inches of snow,ice and today is very cold. Brrcheevies. No sunshine. I'm in a blue mood and feeling old. What can I do to motivate myself and cheer myself up? Don't know yet.

I live in the middle of nowhere and we have a satellite dish for our internet. It was moving slower than Christmas this past week! So, to get back on track, I have to announce winners of the books and coffee on When I Was Just a Kid, but I took a test about what color I should paint my room. Not that I'm going to paint my room, but it was mainly to see what I am like and what I like. I have to say, this is one of my favorite colors. And not only that, this is exactly what I need for the new year(what the color inspires.) Maybe I need to really paint my office yellow! I would like that a lot. Maybe if I just put up a lot of sunflowers and daisies and yellow accents? It's a thought.

What do you need to happen for your new year? What are your goals and dreams? I am thinking about this now.

You Should Paint Your Room Yellow

Bright and bold, yellow is truly the color of inspiration.
Your yellow room will drive you to think clearly, develop new ideas, and be organized.
Yellow is also energizing and very powerful. So don't expect to rest in there!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Woman Makes It to Half-Century Mark

December 11, 1957

The day started out as a blizzard. Her dad was a long haul trucker and had to work and was "on the road." Her mom had to make it to the hospital slip-sliding on treacherous roads. The snow stopped. The doc went outside to hunt rabbits while the young mother, who had lost 5 previous babies, labored. He told the nurse to hollar out the window when it was time. The state, Indiana, was celebrating its birthday, too.


The dad finally made it home and the baby was already here. The mom, drugged by something called "twilight" (awake, but feeling little pain,) cried and said, "I'm sorry, it's a giiiiiiirrrrrl."

The dad said, "That's ok. We'll keep her, anyway."

I miss them both today.




Wow, that's fascinating

Fascinating Fingers

Me,Imitating Bub Pope

Doing Mimicking, Even Back Then (Mimicking a guy named Bub)

It's a little cold in Tennessee

Always Stylish, even in the backwoods of Tennessee


Crystal around 4 years old Noblesville house

Had to Take Photos Outdoors--No Flash(Now that's old)


Crystal at 5

Winter Birthdays Were Really Cold If You Wanted a Photo! (Notice the milk delivery box in the lower right)

At dad's truck terminal in my dress made by Grandma

This Dress, which I still have, was blue and "see-through"(Grandmother Warren made it for me)


Hey, You! This is my doll.

Hey, You!

 Chickens are almost too close

I Still Look Like This in the Morning

Mom, Dad and me

Mom, Dad and Me



Thanks for Reading and Making My Day Great!




Monday, December 10, 2007

How About a Cuppa Coffee with that Book?

A few of you left comments on Teena Stewart's Kid Interview to have a chance to win her free book. Well! She decided to "sweeten the pot," due to getting ready to leave for a new adventure in missions soon.

Not only will you win a free book, but also free coffee and a mug! See, Teena and her husband, Jeff, are selling out in California and moving across the country to open a coffee house ministry. What if you could minister to those who might never take a chance to walk inside a church, but would go to a coffee shop to talk about Jesus?

Jeff and Teena wanted to do this and have years of experience as pastors and in ministry (thus, Teena's book on Small Groups) and now have taken a huge leap of faith to do this. You can help here, but Teena wants the winner to get the first cuppa coffee, thus throwing in the extra treat with her book.

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Sign up for a chance at that book and the coffee and pass the word along. Click here to sign up--I've added a few more days and won't draw a winner until Friday.

Successful Small Groups: From Concept to Practice(Beacon Hill) on small groups in stores and available right now.

Teena's latest book is for leading small groups in church and ministry:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book Drawings

I read a lot of books. I was a book reviewer for several years, so I got used to reading several books for each review I would write. I gave up book reviewing for every magazine, except I do occasionally review for Church Libraries magazine and also recently published a book review in Christian Communicator magazine. I wanted to have time and energy for my own writing.

These days I read manuscripts for a publisher. Even those I'm cutting down on, but I love working with authors and evaluating fiction. Still, after all this work in the publishing industry, I can't seem to stop consuming books and reading about authors.

So, these days I put some of that passion for printed words into my own writing about people (and a lot of them write books or articles or work in the publishing industry) when they were young. Right now I have two book giveaways going on at When I Was Just a Kid blog.

Mona Hodgson writes beautiful children's books and is giving away a gorgeous hard cover book called, How Did Bible Heroes Pray? Hop over to her interview and leave a comment right now to be entered into that drawing. Right now, there are only 2 people signed up.


How Did Bible Heroes Pray?


Would you like to win this beautiful autographed hard cover edition of  Mona's books? Leave a comment on her interview at When I Was Just a Kid and tell us what Mona's favorite Bible story was as a child--and your favorite Bible story as a child, if you had one. PLEASE leave your email address in this form Name[at]yourISP[dot]com and I'll email the winner whom I will draw on December 8, Saturday. (U.S. addresses only, sorry.)

Feel free to leave Mona a comment, even if you are not entering the drawing, too!

Also, look below as Teena M. Stewart has a book out called, Successful Small Groups from Concept to Practice (Beacon Hill.) If you are involved in small groups you will want to check this out.

Leave your comment at the blogs I've indicated and you could be entered into the drawing.

And come by When I Was Just a Kid blog for the next couple weeks--I have more children's authors lined up if you are looking for books to give for Christmas to kids.

Teena M. Stewart...Kid Who Grew Up to Be Expert in Small Groups Ministries

This photo shows Teena with her siblings before her baby sister entered the scene. She's the skinny kid in the dress.

Teena remembers about the photo: "We had a neighborhood 4th of July parade and there was a contest for best theme. My dad chose To Market, To Market to Buy a Fat Pig or something about a farmer taking pigs to market. I was the farmer's wife and my older sister, Vicki, was the farmer. I really didn't wear glasses. I think those were an old pair of sunglasses. Dad made pigs out of Clorox bottles and stuck them on my brother's and sister's heads.

When Teena Stewart was growing up in Virginia, she never expected she would ever leave. But one day she met an exciting American-Scotsman and married him, and it was off on adventures with her pastor-husband from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Colorado to California to Scotland, and who knows where next? Moss doesn't grow under the Stewarts' feet, and certainly not under Teena's. No matter how long she stays in one place, she is moving. Her next move? To head up a coffee shop ministry on the East Coast! She and husband Jeff are pulling up stakes in California to follow God's calling once again.

Today Teena, a writer who has penned over 1000 articles, as well as short stories, fiction and ezines, and then finds time to head up ministries from one ocean to the other, still finds occasions to dress up. If we could get her three grown-up kids to talk to us, they'd tell us of the many funny skits and "dress-up" occasions, like posing for the famous Stewart Christmas cards, to be much like what Teena's dad instigated in a Fourth of July parade.

But Teena is shy and humble about what she does--even though her lifetime of work thus far speaks volumes about her talents. She has a B.A. degree in fine arts and paints portraits of pets, furniture that would make Mary Englebreit feature her if she only knew about her work, and she designs anything--from logos that appear on blogs, to web designs and web sites--well, Teena is an artist, too.

So what can we find out about Teena Stewart as a child that molded a woman so extremely talented who has a new book out--Successful Small Groups from Concept to Practice ? She's still shy, even though she can speak in front of groups with boldness about the God she serves, and topics that drive her passions.

Childhood Ambition: To be a ballerina

Fondest Memory (then): Riding my pony

Proudest Moment (now): Becoming a mom

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: Extremely shy + severe asthma

My First Job: Clerical worker for the Department of the Navy in Arlington, VA

Childhood indulgence: Moravian Sugar Cake

Recipe from Chef Rick site:

Moravian Sugar Cake
1 package dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup hot, unseasoned mashed potatoes

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

5-6 cups sifted flour

Brown sugar



Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix together mashed potatoes, sugar, shortening, butter, and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir until blended. Cover mixing bowl and set aside to rise in a warm place until spongy. Stir in eggs and enough sifted flour to make a soft dough. Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and allow to rise until double in bulk--about 2 hours.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough in half and spread out evenly in 2 greased baking pans, 13x9x2". Set aside to rise again. When double in bulk, use your fingers to make holes 1 1/2" to 2" apart all over the dough. Fill holes with brown sugar and generous pieces of butter. Sprinkle cinnamon over entire cake. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Because of the size of the cake, it is usually cut in halves to wrap for giving. Cakes can be frozen and reheated for serving. Makes 2 cakes, each 13x9".

Favorite Outfit as a child:Dress up clothes--my mom's open-toed black heels and white curtain sheers with red lipstick to match

[Crystal editor's note: Wish we had a photo of her in that! Scarlett O'Hara, move over!]

Favorite Childhood Movie: Pinocchio

Favorite Childhood Book: Little Black, a Pony

Childhood hero: My Dad

Childhood pastime: Playing Tin Can Hide

While growing up, I never expected to: move away from Virginia

Teena Stewart writes a monthly column for DreamBuilders Ministry in Motion's MIM Ezine, a place where those in ministry--whether pastor or other staff members in churches--can go to find solutions, support and materials and ideas and ministry resources. What she didn't include in her information for me is that she created and continues to develop this ministry, and she then was able to recruit others into keeping it going. Don't know what your spiritual gifts are? Teena has answers. If you need some help and support on raising your teen, Teena (alone and with her sometime co-author) covers that.

If you are interested in writing for Dreambuilders, check out the writers' guidelines.
She has published and written numerous suspenseful short stories and fiction, and started a blog covering the topic of suspense fiction called Whispers in the Darkness.

And look into Java Journey as Teena and husband, Jeff, are getting ready to embark on a coffee house ministry.

Whatever Teena turns her attention to, you can bet she will soon be an expert, and her blog explores the gamut on fiction books and within the genres of mystery and suspense. If you have an interest in this type of writing, check out this blog.

Here is just some of her work that is available in book form:

Soul Matters for Mothers

The World's Easiest Pocket Guide to Marriage and Moneywith Jeff Stewart and Larry Burkett

God's Way book series

Her publication credits also include but are not limited to: Discipleship Journal, Leadership Journal, Minister’s Family Magazine, Ministry Magazine, Woman Alive, Woman's Touch and many other publications.

Teena's passions have caused her to write so many articles, she seriously has lost track of the number, but now she is turning her writing to books and Successful Small Groups: From Concept to Practice(Beacon Hill) on small groups was released in November 2007.

Teena's latest book is for leading small groups in church and ministry:

Order this book now or leave a comment and enter a drawing for this book which I will draw on December 11th. The names will be drawn from this blog and also the When I Was Just a Kid blog. Sorry, you must have a U.S. address.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kid Interview with Lori Z. Scott

Over at When I Was Just a Kid blog, I've interviewed a young mother, Lori Scott,  who has written a series of books for ages 4-8 about a little girl named Meghan Rose. Until Saturday, Dec. 1st, you can go over there, leave a comment and be entered to win one of two copies of her book, Meghan Rose on Stage! published by Standard Publishing, just in time for Christmas!

Meghan Rose on Stage! 


  • Details of Meghan Rose on Stage!
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Paperback: 79 pages
  • Publisher: Standard Publishing Company (July 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0784721033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0784721032
  • To win a copy (one of two) of Meghan Rose on Stage! leave a comment telling us what Lori's favorite indulgences as a child were (and name one of yours!) Check back here on Saturday for the winners.

  • For the first two weeks of this month I'm featuring Kids Who Grew Up to Write for Kids, and almost every interview will have a free book offered in a drawing (sorry, U.S. addresses only.)


    Lori as a kid at Indian River with her catch


    Hurry! You only have until midnight tomorrow to sign up for the book drawing on this book.


    And tune in for more books and authors at When I Was Just a Kid--one author is giving away her entire series!

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Sweet Caroline Turns 50

    Happy Birthday, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg

    Caroline, 50 on Nov. 27th


    Crystal, 50 on Dec. 11th


    When I was just 5 years old, a few weeks before I turned 6, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed (assassinated) in Texas. All Americans know this story, and anyone my age and older still around can probably tell you what he was doing that day.

    I remember it. We were living in Arcadia, Indiana, (well, just down the road from Arcadia) on a dirt road in a country farmhouse. (Cows, a pony named Star, and everything country.) My mother was in the living room folding laundry, watching her soap ("As the World Turns," probably) while she did the mindless chore, and a news bulletin rang out--"President Kennedy has been shot." There was a lot of terror and instability for everyone in that report.

    I was sitting on the staircase, trying to figure out how to reach this tiny porcelain horse figure on a shelf, just below the step on the wall. I was being disobedient. I had been told not to touch them, but I was sitting there on that step looking at it, and I finally realized that Mom was preoccupied, folding laundry and watching T.V. I just wanted to touch it. I adored that horse. (I'm a kinesthetic learner, ok??)

    I was just reaching out to just "look" a little closer, when I heard my mother gasp and turn up the T.V. I jumped up, sure I was caught! and ran down the stairs with my blazing hot hands behind me. I was all ready to 'splain myself, when I saw she wasn't even paying attention to me--she was watching the T.V. intently. All I really knew about it was that my mother was crying, and someone was hurt, and it was "real." I patted my mother's back and tried to understand, but I don't remember much else except the emotion and she being glued to the T.V. set--for days. (Like everyone else.)

    We all have seen John-John's photo, saluting his father as the caisson holding his daddy's flag-draped coffin went by, but mostly, we ignored a little girl named Caroline, President and Mrs. Kennedy's oldest child. I did not realize until recently how close in age we were. I could list a bunch of things, but here's some that I would have never thought about except for this significant birthday we share this year.

    When I was 12, I took guitar lessons from a genius teacher named Bill Myers. He was young, married and had a baby daughter and a big St. Bernard (who would come in during my lesson to lick my arm. They gave me a towel each lesson.) It was in his house and his wife was always there. And the dog. (I liked the dog, but for some reason her name escapes me.) The dog liked the way I tasted, I guess and slobbered me every time. ("She likes you! She really likes you!")

    He was a really nice person, but he pushed me in music. I learned something new every week and progressed quickly. He would make me do various fingerings, transposing, writing music and songs, and even sing while I played my lesson. He adored Neil Diamond, and would send his precious albums home with me, trying to get me to "hear" the different guitar pieces I was assigned. I did just about every song ol' Neil had out during that time. One of his songs was a number called "Sweet Caroline."

    This year Caroline Kennedy turns 50 on November 27,2007. I turn 50 on December 11, 2007. Her life was never the same after that fateful day, just 5 days before her birthday, her dad died and she had to move. I never thought about that before. Her dad had been nearly a 1000 days in the White House, and her last Christmas was there. The next Christmas after her birthday, she had to move.

    Neil Diamond recently sang "Sweet Caroline" for Caroline--and revealed he had written that song when he saw Caroline seated on a pony as a child.

    Crystal on her pony, Star, with Aunt Nell and little brother on the farm in Arcadia (I don't have the inspirational photo of Caroline on her pony)

    Nell and kids with Star

    Crystal in guitar playing days

    Crystal playing Neil Diamond Songs

    Neil Diamond playing Neil Diamond songs


    Even though my dad wasn't a United States President, I, too, had a pony(no body guards--I hit the dirt and picked myself up.) It is a strange feeling knowing that at the same age, two little girls who were so close in so many things including age, but so far apart in most ways, are remembering similar memories from two perspectives.

    From my perspective I got to have my dad for another 36 years and my mom for 34 more years. My little brother is still around. That whole time period was burned into my memory,but only because it made my mother cry and I don't remember her crying ever, even after I grew up. My mother maybe was like Jackie Kennedy in that you didn't see her reveal emotion in public, and she held herself regally, dealing with blows in a reserved and stoic way. And my dad has a bit o' the Irish in him,too (Rileys.)

    I don't really have much else to say about all this, but thought I'd share photos from the lives of two little girls who both turn 50 this year.


    Caroline and her daddy

    My daddy and me

    Crystal and her daddy


    Caroline and her little brother

    Noblesville, IN 1961 Crystal and Ricky

    Crystal and her little brother

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Kids Who Grew Up to Write for Kids

    Crystal, age 7

    I used to be a kid. (I know, hard to believe.) But when I was growing up one of the things I wanted to be(of a whole list of things) was a colporter. I don't even know if I'm spelling that right! I only heard the name as a child--never saw it in writing. But every single day in my little 4-grades-in-a-room Seventh Day Adventist school,(I spent 5 years of my schooling in a SDA school) we prayed for these people. From what I could understand, they were missionary book sellers and influencers. They went around trying to sell religious books and Bibles to people, and sometimes they even left books and pamphlets with people. (Some of you may recall seeing large blue Bible story books in doctors' and dentists' offices. This was a result of a colporter.)

    I thought this must be the best job in the world--even better than being a librarian. As one of these book missionaries, you basically influenced the reader into reading about Jesus or His followers. I prayed as fervently for these people as I did for my missionary aunt, uncle and 3 cousins in Nigeria. I prayed that God would let me be one of these people! And of all the stories my uncle told of being a missionary in Africa (Nigeria during the Biafran war and Ghana)I thought the most amazing one was smuggling Bibles into Communist Russia (before the Iron Curtain fell) to the Christians there.

    Well, in a way, God answered that childish prayer in many ways. For one, I was a primary grade teacher in Christian schools for many years. I taught kids to read and to pick out books to read.I was the department head to the children's Sunday school and ministry department in my church for years. I taught and ran Vacation Bible School. I read tons to my own kids. Have given away tons of books and money for books. I learned to write for publication, and while I never realized my dream to write for children, I have published many articles and columns and over 500 published book reviews. (I lost track of how many now.) I have been working on many (other authors') fiction manuscripts in the pre-published stage as a book doctor and professional reader, but I've also been doing a feaure called, When I Was Just a Kid on this blog. I've now moved the interviews over to a blog called When I Was Just a Kid with Crystal Laine Miller.

    Starting this week I am having a very special set of interviews on When I Was Just a Kid with Crystal Laine Miller. These are the Kids Who Grew Up to Write for Kids. Each one will feature a children's or teen's author, and a couple will be books written for adults who work with kids. For each one, either I or the author will give away one of his or her books. One author's book won't be out until spring, but he's such an interesting guy that I couldn't resist putting him into this line up now. We'll get his book when it comes out.

    I know there are other children's authors out there whom I didn't get something back from, and if you are one of these people, do email me or leave me a comment and we'll set something up. I love children's books. I know some of you do, too, and you probably have a special child in your life to whom you'd love to give a book this Christmas season.

    Each day that I feature a children's author, please leave a comment on that blog and an email contact because I will draw one name (in a couple cases, maybe two names) for a book winner. Unfortunately, because shipping costs come from my own pocket and I have three boys in college (and one on the way) I can only accept a winner within the United States.

    But for now, this is my small way of focusing on the great people who get to write for children--and also to answer my childhood prayer.

    Check the link above and come back every day as these will go fast and furious. I will set a time limit for each drawing, so check in! And be sure to let all of your friends and moms' groups know, too.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    My BFF Turns 50 Today

    My BFF, Chris, way back then, with his sister, Melba, and she is also my friend.

    BFF stands for "best friend forever" in text messaging lingo, and that would be my husband, Chris. Happy Birthday!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Writer Montage from You Tube

    This Writer Montage is on You Tube sent to me by a good writer friend. If you are a writer, you will laugh--and cry. Enjoy!

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Scroll of Remembrance

    I'm still waking up each day this month, and trying to say, "Here I am, Lord, your favorite one," but today I have been thinking about Malachi for some reason. Now, if you are drifting and feeling lethargy in your spiritual life, you turn to the book of Malachi. It's kind of a jolt of reality. You get into self-examining or wondering how God is thinking, there are places to look in the Bible--and Malachi is one of them. His name (Malachi) means "My messenger."

    Don't get too depressed as you are reading through all that apostasy of the people and admonitions. There is even a part where it talks about the evildoers prospering. They certainly do, but not forever. But there is this one part that is hopeful and makes me feel like I have so many with me.

    Malachi 3:16-17

    "Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard."

    Pause and just think about this part first.

    I've listened and not heard before--have you? When I was a first grade teacher my students would walk up to my desk (one-by-one) and do what I called "tattle-telling." It's one of those habits that probably grows into gossip. The main idea is to get the other person into trouble!

    "Just wait until Mrs. Miller hears this! I'm telling!" and most of the time it isn't something to be heard--it's just plain ol' being mean.

    It's hard when you are a little kid to know what should be told and what should be "let go." So, when a certain student who was the main tattler (rhymes with rattler) would hit my desk with a vengeance and a gleam in her eye, I'd take it with a grain of salt, most of the time.

    Maybe I wouldn't "hear" it, depending on what it was.

    My favorite one was, "He's looking at me! Mrs. Miller, make him stop!"

    I had lots of answers for that one like, "Well, just don't look back," or "David, pop out those eyeballs right now before you burn a hole through her with those laser looks."

    Usually, they didn't get the humor because frankly, first graders take everything you say in seriousness and literal language. Remind me to tell you THOSE stories. Ack.

    But back to God. He listened and heard. Not only that, but it says,

    "A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored His name.'They will be mine,'says the LORD ALMIGHTY,'in the day when I make up my treasured possession.(Me! You?) I will spare them just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.'"

    I was thinking about this today. I'm getting older. I was thinking today about the obituary I wrote when I was 19-years-old (my own) in journalism class. We wrote our own obits to practice writing them for the newspaper. Back then I took a rather humorous approach to it. I made up all kinds of things I had "done" in my life. I had died when I tripped over my huge Colorado hiking boots by my bed, fell backwards out of our 4th floor dorm room, and was "billed" to death on my plunge to the ground by the ducks of the Ball State University duck pond (by our dorm.) (By the way, I rarely saw many ducks on the pond, but hey, even then I was interested in fiction.)

    Anyway, I had already faced death a few times in real life, but I still thought, "Well, God kept me alive through that, so hey, maybe I'll live a long time."

    These days I think more seriously about my approaching death and what I'd like to be remembered for. Maybe the best thing that could be said about me is, "She talked with those who feared the Lord, and she honored and feared the Lord. Her name is written on the Lord's scroll of remembrance."

    I've been reading through these interviews of my 93-year-old grandmother's siblings. She has outlived two husbands and one child (my father,)and her brothers and sisters. It is kind of humbling to think about. But in this little notebook of memories that my dad's cousin wrote down, she stopped to ask them what their favorite hymn was! I was blessed by that. Remembering the old time gospel hymns.

    I just hope that some of the nostalgia and memories here bless you.

    Now, what is your favorite old time hymn? I will have to think about that. I used to sing all the songs I knew at the top of my lungs outside (not anyone to hear them except God, most of the time.) And I happen to know that God considers me His favorite hymn singer. (ha, ok this goes back to the beginning--I'm God's favorite.)
    And the kicker to that one--who do you remember today who is now gone from this life? What do you remember most about that person?

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    When I Was Just a Kid Interviews

    Bonnie Bruno

    Bonnie Leon

    Camy Tang

    Candy Arrington

    Cara Putnam

    Carmen Leal

    Colleen Coble

    Deborah Raney

    Delia "Gatorskunkz and Mudcats" Melton

    Denise Hunter

    Diann Hunt

    Gail Gaymer Martin

    James N. Watkins

    Jan Coates

    Jane Orcutt

    Jill Elizabeth Nelson

    Judy Davis

    Judy Gann

    Karen Wingate

    Kathi Macias

    Kristin Billerbeck

    LeAnne Martin

    Lee Warren

    Lucy Adams Part One
    Lucy Adams Part Two

    Marti Kramer Suddarth

    Mary Connealy

    Mary DeMuth

    Michelle Sutton

    Missy Tippens

    My Mother--Lillian

    N.J. Lindquist

    Nancy J. Ring

    Nanette Snipes

    Paula Lindstam, Alaskan

    Rachel Hauck

    Ramona K. Cecil

    Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

    Robert Elmer

    Sarah Anne Sumpolec

    Sharon Dunn

    Sharon Hinck

    Siri Mitchell

    Susan K. Marlow

    Susan Page Davis

    Teena Stewart

    Tobi Layton

    Tricia Goyer

    Trish Perry

    Virginia Smith

    W. Terry Whalin

    Free books, Changes

    Changes. We all go through them, though some changes are very, very good (like what I'm going to tell you below) and some changes are eeek! (like the change from 49 to 50, or going from a mild-mannered doctor to The Hulk. Same difference.)

    Then...: Cute, A Natural Beauty

    Now...Photo Enhancements and Alarming Changes and I Don't Look This Good in Real Life

    Because I am shifting all of the When I Was Just a Kid interviews over to that blog, I will now be changing the list of interviews to a post entitled When I Was Just a Kid (and linking them both at the right and on the When I Was Just a Kid blog.)

    You still can check in here to find old interviews,what is going up over there, but I will remove them from the links at the right here on the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe'. Over there I offer FREE BOOK drawings and you need to check in often as I have a line up of Kids Who Grew Up to Write Books for Kids kicking off the last week in November through December, and you will want to check those out EVERYDAY as the authors and I have teamed up to give away free children's books. Things will be happening faster than a hot flash!

    As Martha Stewart says, "It's all goooood." (And you know how that went!)

    Be sure to check back here to chew on tasty morsels of fun dishes, nostalgia,writing news and tips, and visiting friends. Just because you're checking out personalities over there, things won't come to a halt over here.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Right or Left Brain?

    What do you see in the beans?

    Can you find the man in the beans?

    After you find the guy - it's so obvious. Doctors say that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds,your right half of your brain is better developed than most people.

    If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, your right half of the brain is developed normally.

    If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein.If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger, and yes, the man is really there.

    So--do you see the man? And how fast did you find him?