Monday, July 23, 2007

First Drawing Winners

Yesterday I had my first ever drawing for a book, when readers left their favorite hymn in the comments section of the interview with Lucy Neeley Adams to receive a free copy of Lucy's book 52 Hymn Story Devotions.

And the winner is....

Cathy S!
Cathy said, "I love many old hymns because my grandmother taught me to play the piano and assigned many of them for my lessons. She was an accomplished pianist who played for church.

More recently, a favorite hymn is "In the Garden" which was played at the funeral of a close family member."

Hymns draw an emotional response, and those of us who grew up with the tradition of singing hymns have favorites with memories attached to certain hymns.

I was so pleased with the many comments left by the readers that I drew another name to send a second free book. And the winner is....

Bill Yates!

Bill said, "I love so many hymns it's hard to pick a favorite. "And Can It Be," "Amazing Grace." and "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" come to mind readily. I could go on and on.. And one day we will!"

Thanks to Cathy and Bill and all who commented. I'll be getting Cathy's and Bill's addresses in order to send to them Lucy's wonderful book. And check back often to enter more drawings for books.

If you would like a copy of Lucy's book and weren't one of the winners, here is the information.

When I Was Just a Kid...Colleen Coble

When Colleen was just a kid, she wanted to be a Latin teacher. But if you think about it, it makes sense. She loves words. Period. Latin is the basis of much of our culture and words. Colleen conveys culture and words--in her own special way.

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles. So, if you think about it, long and hard, she went beyond her wildest dreams by writing her way into authorship.

Her over thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

And her eyes light up when she talks about her publishers, her career, but especially the words--the writing. She is not a self-centered, selfish, holing-up-in-her-lair type, either. Oh, no. She is a whirlwind of relationships--from family to friends to readers to professionals to geocachers (that last one the result of research for her book,Abomination, which was recently released.)

She lends out helpful advice for writers in the American Christian Fiction Writers organization and has won Mentor of the Year two years running, 2004 and 2005 (This year's award will be announced in September at the national convention.)She loves working with new writers as her schedule allows.

Here's a recent list of the awards Colleen's own writing has garnered:
2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational Romance
Without a Trace, Thomas Nelson
2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year Award
2005 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year Award
2006 National Readers' Choice Award - Inspirational
Distant Echoes, Thomas Nelson
2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Overall Book of the Year
Distant Echoes, Thomas Nelson
2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Suspense Book of the Year
Distant Echoes, Thomas Nelson
2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Short Contemporary Book of the Year
Shadow Bones, Steeple Hill Suspense

Let's find out what Colleen had to say about her childhood:

Childhood Ambition: To be a Latin teacher. LOL

Fondest Memory (then): Hula hooping down the steps along the hillside of my home

Proudest Moment: The day each of my children were born.
Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: Learning to talk to boys. LOL(Crystal Editor's Note: Not only did she get over that "talking to boys" thing--she has Dave to prove it--but she is not afraid to talk to anyone. I have stories...)

My First Job: I was an aide at a nursing home. It lasted all of one day. LOL Looking back, I often wish I'd stuck it out. The experience would have come in handy when I was caring for my grandpa during his colon cancer.

Childhood indulgence: Whoppers Malted Milk Bars

Favorite clothing as a child: Buster Brown shoes

Favorite Childhood Movie: The Miracle Worker

Favorite Childhood Book: Bambi's Children

Childhood hero: Paul McCartney

My Pet Hero:

As you can see, many things here influenced her writing today.
RITA finalist Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana and is generous about her discoveries and life. Recently, she found a way to alleviate the numerous occurences of her migraines, and logged her experience and sources on her web site. If you, too, experience migraines and are finding no relief, try checking what she has to say.

She is the author of Abomination, The Lonestar Sanctuary, The Rock Harbor Series, The Aloha Reef Series, and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. Visit her website to see descriptions and a multitude of recommendations for her friends' books--you'll never lack for something to read here.
To see a list of Colleen's books published by Thomas Nelson, go here.


A serial killer mutilates his victims, leaving the bodies at various geocaching sites with obscure religious references. When the killer targets Eve Andreakos, a woman he holds responsible for his wife's death, she barely escapes with her life. Eve flees to Rock Harbor with 2 year old Keri. Eve has just begun to relax when she and her friend Bree stumble on a mutilated body at a geocaching site. Eve knows the killer has found her again. Events spiral out of control when her ex-husband shows up and her long lost sister appears. Before it's all over, Eve will need to reach inside and find the strength to fight back before the killer destroys everything she loves. To read an excerpt go to this Christian Book store site.

Lonestar Sanctuary

Allie Siders is a mom desperate to help her daughter, Betsy, speak again as they struggle to escape from a stalker looking for revenge. She has a specific sanctuary in mind—the peaceful Bluebird Ranch, in the blue-bonnet blanketed Texas hills. Betsy hasn’t spoken a word in months and Allie is determined to do everything in her power, including giving up her dream of winning the barrel racing championship, to find a safe haven for both of them and help Betsy heal.

You can only get Lonestar Sanctuary through the book club, Crossings.

Colleen herself is a voracious reader and believes firmly in writing books you would like to read. Colleen says,"Write what you read. This is a pet peeve of mine. I can’t begin to tell you how many manuscripts I’ve looked at for aspiring writers who are trying to write something they don’t like to read. It never works! There’s something about reading that helps you learn to write. You subconsciously pick up how to structure scenes and the tension and conflict necessary to write in your favorite genre. What works in suspense doesn’t work in chick lit."

Good advice to heed, if you are an aspiring writer!

To find out more about Colleen you can check out her blog that she writes with author friends, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter and Kristin Billerbeck.

Go to this site to see an online interview with Colleen Coble and Lori Wick being interviewed on the internet program "Deeper Living."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rockin' in the Free Speech World

And the Award Goes To....

Cara over at The Law, Books and Life bestowed me with a Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. Whoo hoo! I am honored that anyone reads my blog. It's been a lot of fun for me--and I'm here for the fun!And here's an update: Sabrina over at Hijinks from the Heartland also gave me this award. Thanks, Sabrina! Sabrina lives close to me, too, like Cara and I think they both are awesome, so I'm very honored by both.

I'm not exactly sure how this works, but I'm now supposed to pass this award on to other Girl Bloggers--ones that I read, and maybe you'd like reading them, too. This is hard, because I do read quite a few. Cara already hit several I like with her award:
Sabrina's Hijinks from the Heartland
(Crystal Miller's Chat 'n' Chew Cafe)
Tina Forkner's She Plants a Vineyard
Gina Conroy's Portrait of a Writer...Interrupted
Candice Speare's The View From My Perch

So, I have to pick different girls. Here's some I read who are rockin'! I award the Rockin' Girl Blogger to:

LeAnne Martin at Christians in the Arts. She writes about Christians in the Arts(Well, duh, Crystal) and has interviewed some very talented people! This is a blog to watch because LeAnne really knows the arts and that world. I find it touches me deeply and I feel like being creative afterwards!

Nancy Ring at Anchors, Signposts and Wanderings: Exploring the Path Home often has me gasping at the poignancy and sheer wonder of life. She is literary and rare.

Michelle, the Edgy Inspirational Author, gives away free books!! (how rockin' is that?) and she also reviews them so you can check out if you want to read them. And she always knows how to do things like those slide shows. (How do you do it?)

Bonnie Bruno at Macromoments has the best photos (she takes them--check the Photo Buffet at the right) but her blog paints pictures with words as she takes simple moments and the passing of time and helps us to see the deeper spiritual meanings behind them.

Sarah Sumpolec at Girls and God is not afraid to be vulnerable. She speaks to the Girl in all of us female types!

To Delia over at Gatorskunkz and Mudcats for being such fun, and having the coolest title ever! I love Delia. You will love her and her rockin' crew over there, too.

I don't know if I'm allowed to award a bunch of editors, but I often read The Edit Cafe' and the "Barbie Girls." They are the female editors over at Barbour Publishing and not only can you keep up with the subtle joys of publishing, but they just write about things I am interested in. I don't exactly have anything I want from them, either--I just like their blog.

Teena at Whispers in the Dark talks about suspense and how to write it. I love a blog on craft and she's not afraid of exploring the dark!

Victoria Gaines at Light for the Writer's Soul writes about her commitment to Christ, and includes quotes, art and talks about publishing issues, as well as just has beautiful words to soak in. She also writes columns for the Comfort Cafe'.

Karen over at Inside the Classroom talks about teaching, and I used to be a teacher. She is a teacher's teacher.

Wow, I like reading a lot of the guys' blogs,too, but this is a girls only thing. You don't know how RARE this is for me! I have a husband and four sons (ages 16-22) and all of their friends. It is a High Male Zone where I live, so it's nice for me to be recognized as even being a girl!! Thanks, Cara and Sabrina!

From My Eyeball View

Update: Peg Phifer tagged me for this same meme! So,this is my reply for that. See her blog with her answers to these questions over at the Pegboard/Foxy Works!

I regularly read fiction writer, Robin Lee Hatcher's blog, I Was Just Thinking. She's an author I enjoy reading, and her blog is entertaining with everything from how she writes to who she thinks is doing well on American Idol. She has spiritual insights and shares things from her life like moving or downsizing her home.

She didn't tag me for this meme, but she did say it was ok to take it from her. I'm going to tag some people, but I would love to read what other people have to say on these questions. If you don't have a blog, feel free to share an answer or comment in the comments section. If you do, I'll enter your name into a drawing to win a Love Inspired title, The Heart's Forgiveness by Merrilee Whren. (Go here to read an excerpt.)And check back here every Friday for my "Eyeball View" and a free book drawing.

Here are some questions and I'm at just the right time of my life to answer them.

1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?
The one book (any book) that I hope to finish is a novel. I have played with the formula, plot, characters and still haven't felt I was telling "my" story--the story I should be writing. Everything I have come up with seems silly or not me or over my head.

When I started writing, I wrote children's stories--bunches of them. All of them were based on things from my own childhood. But children's stories "don't sell" and hardly anyone is buying them, and agents aren't taking them on. So, that's when I started to think about the perspective from which I could write in a women's fiction story--and looked at books with the perspective of a child, or else an adult who looks back. A Girl Called Zippy by Haven Kimmel was inspirational to me. This blog was born because of all this searching and writing and frustration.

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?

Like any other writer, I love to read. I read fast, I read everything. Because I'm a book reviewer and a book doctor/reader, I have taken the whole day to read.

But, I've given up almost all of my book reviewing since I'm working on my own fiction, so now I can choose anything I want, not something that is "assigned." For a while, this really baffled me. I mean, I didn't remember what I loved to read. I had forgotten the thrill of searching for a book that I just couldn't put down, because I wanted to read it--not because I needed to or had to.

Make suggestions. I will take a look at any nominations for my free day read. I'll let you know if I will take you up on it. I have a strong leaning to romances. The last book I read that I loved was In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner.Oh, and IF I DO read the book you suggest, I'll put it up for a drawing, if I like it.(How about that?)And I'll send the nominator a $5. gift certificate to Amazon.

3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?

A Royal portable typewriter that my mom had. You had to change the ribbon (messy) and try and use this correction stuff or start all over again. Or you could use correction paper that was super thin. You had a typewriter eraser with a little brush. It was a pain!

I learned to type in high school. My typing teacher was the business department teacher, Mr. Harbit, and he raced cars on the weekend. (He worked on them himself.) He would say, "Your typewriter is like a fine, racing machine." Mine was like a fine racing turtle with that analogy. But typing is the most useful classes I have ever taken, bar none.I'm much faster now, too.

4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?

Wow. Varies, but I have read up to 3-5 a week (so guesstimate of 20.) It depends on what I'm reading for, what deadlines I have. When I was doing my column, "On the Bookshelf" for Montgomery's Journey magazine each month, I'd need to read that many so I could pick 3-4 to write reviews on. I read both fiction and nonfiction, too, so I had to keep my hopper full.

5. What's your most favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned? By far the PC (my own computer.) I can't imagine doing writing without MS Word program. I got used to using MS Word 2003 and that was the best. This MS Word 2007 has me doing too much on the learning curve--it slows me down. Plus, a lot of people, including editors, haven't been able to open it, so I have to save it in Word 1997 just so they can. What a pain! (Notice that I like painless writing.)I prefer typing to writing by hand. If I can get away without writing by hand, I'm all for it.

6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read? (And if you don't read historical fiction--shame on you.)

I adore historical fiction. Just when I think I have read a period I like the best, then some great author writes another book in some time period that I like, as well. It's really all about story. If you tell a good story, what difference does it make what historical period? I had never read anything about the tobacco brides in the 1700s early America, but Deeanne Gist changed all that with A Bride Most Begrudging. Siri Mitchell took me into two time zones (contemporary and medievel France) with her Chateau of Echoes. I loved Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman set in 1290.

But I rarely have been disappointed when I've chosen Civil War and pre-Civil War periods. I also like Biblical fiction (or set in those time periods in those settings.) I really liked Robin Lee Hatcher's Coming to America series, which is late 1800s/early 1900, too.

7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?

Ahhh.One book. Hmmm.Well, as just a kid, I loved any animal story. There was one about this family who had a pet raccoon, who got into trouble, called, Looney Coon. I also devoured the biographical fiction about "real" kids (I read them all--from Abraham Lincoln to Annie Oakley and beyond.)I also loved reading Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories.

Mr. Rosen (in 6th grade)read to us Edgar Allan Poe stories and that was a pivotal year for me in reading books. I went from a very conservative Christian school setting(with many restrictions--I had never even heard of Nancy Drew!) to a rural public school--but here was Mr.Rosen reading Poe and he had a totally different worldview--he was Jewish. That was also the year we could buy cheap books from Scholastic and I was allowed one to two of those each time.(Something like 95 cents a book.) My favorite acquisition that year was My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber and I still own that copy. Love/loved it.

Then, the summer I turned 13, my mom gave me her hardbound copy of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.(Still have that, too, but it's a little worn.) I read that thing in less than 4 days (solid reading) because I was afraid she would take it away from me, thinking better of it. It was revolutionary for me. I was left breathless. Scandalous.

After that, she let me read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. That was it. I read To Kill a Mockingbird no less than 20 times as a teen. I absorbed Harper Lee's tale as if it had happened to me and I was Scout. When I started writing in college, I had professors tell me that my stories sounded like To Kill a Mockingbird--the same voice. Well, duh. I had become Harper Lee!

So, to say that there was one book I remember is like saying,"Which of your children is your favorite?" Sheesh. But these are what I remember--they stand out.

So, now I tag Cara,Camy,Sabrina,Delia, Sarah and Nancy. If Karen and LeAnne want to do this, I would love it (though it might not fit your blogs.) Also, if one of you other readers wants to do this, I'd love it if you'd leave a note to let me know so I can read it.

Copy the questions above and fill in your own answers. Then, tag someone else!(Also, check these blogs for their answers. Cara and Delia have filled theirs out, already.

Check back on Tuesday,too, as you still time to enter my drawing for Lucy Adams' 52 Hymns book, closes Monday, July 23,2007. I'll announce the winner in the drawing for Lucy Adams' book, 52 Hymns on Tuesday. (Follow this link to find out how you can enter.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lucy Adams Part 2

They're Singing Our Song!

Lucy had an older sister who was quite talented and inspired Lucy. Lucy says: "This evening dress I was wearing for the Junaluska queen contest, was my sister's "hand-me-down" wedding dress. They dyed it soft blue for me to have this picture taken in. The flowers are red, so it was lovely."

Lucy tells us, "My sister was into dance and singing and dramatics. She became Miss South Carolina and went to the Miss America Contest in Atlantic City in 1945. I was in the 5th grade.She won the first Talent Award ever given.Dramatics and singing won her that, and she traveled with the Miss America Troupe."

But it wasn't necessarily only her sister's influence whose acting/speaking/singing bug bit Lucy,too. Lucy's dad was in show business first.

Lucy says,"I heard his stories all the time and was fascinated. William Morris booking agency was his manager in Atlanta, Ga. for a short career with a trained horse. Prince Maxwell was his horse, and he had him do tricks on the stage.The night his preacher dad sneaked in and saw the show (his son was supposed to be playing little school programs in towns etc. NOT big shows on stage) was the end of his career.The first act that he had Prince perform, was to pretend that he was going to church.

Dad said to Prince,'What is the first thing you would do if you were in church, Prince?'

Then Prince knelt down and put his head to the floor. 'Well you would pray, that's great Prince!'"

In part one of Lucy Adams we learned how Lucy got her name, how she developed into the beautiful and precocious young woman who later went on to speak and write about hymns and God's love in her life. At nineteen she met the love of her life--Woody Adams--and her life became a life-long duet of praises.

I love a great love story, don't you?

Lucy tells her love story on her web site. This is excerpted from there:

"In June 1953, I joyfully entered the chapel at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, where the youth group was having the first Sunday afternoon meeting of the summer. I stopped abruptly. Turning to my friend Betty Anne, I mumbled angrily, 'Oh, no, not Woody Adams again!' There he was, sitting down in front. She knew exactly what I meant. Last summer, I had dated a boy named Bill, until his friend Woody Adams showed up. Woody had been the perfect excuse for Bill to forget me and 'join the boys.' I had continued to pursue Bill: I baked homemade cookies and took them to the place he worked. When he was 'too busy' to see me, I left the cookies at the desk.
I walked in all of our old familiar places, hoping to see him.

One quiet afternoon as I walked by the lake I saw a boy sitting on top of the double-decker sightseeing boat. Thrilled to find Bill alone, I hurried toward him. But when I reached the boat, I saw that it wasn't Bill at all, but his friend, Woody Adams. His broad smile startled me. 'Do you know where Bill is?' I asked. I walked away at his negative reply.For the remaining weeks of that summer, I never changed my mind about Woody Adams - he was a pest. Now here he was again. I sat at the back of the chapel with Betty Anne, determined to avoid him.

A week later there was a talent show with youth from different work areas around the lake. After some crazy skits, dances and music, everyone was better acquainted. There was only one person who was getting my attention, however -Woody Adams, master of ceremonies. As I watched him M.C. the program, my feelings about him changed. The 'pest' began to look very interesting.

The final song did it: Cupid's arrow found me with a thunk! As Woody sang the closing song, Too Young his rich baritone found a home in my heart. When it was over and everyone was leaving, my one objective was to say something to Woody. Something nice. I spent the entire program planning my exit sentence, 'Woody, I sure am glad I like you this summer,' I called out. Then I left.

The very next morning while I was working, Woody joined me. 'Lucy,' he said, 'you mean you didn't like me last summer?'

We began to talk. Hours moved into days and we were still talking. I liked his honesty, kindness, understanding, and lots of other qualities. His hair, bleached by the sun, was very light against his dark tan. I liked that, too. Suddenly all the other boys seemed uninteresting. Bill was but a memory.

I had made a prior date with a boy named Ray, however, and I felt I needed to keep it. We went to the local hangout and danced to the jukebox. Woody was there, too. He came over and asked to dance with me. The song that was playing was 'Too Young.' We were in our own world. We whispered about dancing right out the screen door into the dark of the night. But at the end of the dance, Woody returned me to Ray.

When Ray walked me back to my hotel, I told him I'd not see him anymore.

"I've met the boy I'm going to marry,' I said. 'His name is Woody.'


Through the years, we have shared our love story in word and song. Woody opens it by singing 'Too Young.' On the last line I join him in harmony as we sing, 'We were not too young at all.'"
Lucy says the story has been in newspapers for Valentine's Day, as well as the numerous times they've told the story in song and words. Lucy plays the autoharp.

Her recent book 52 HYMN STORY DEVOTIONS was published by Abingdon Press. Her husband, Woody, is a retired pastor(still fills in!) in the United Methodist Church. They moved to Lake Junaluska,North Carolina,after his retirement, where they now live.Not only was Lucy's grandfather a pastor, but so was her father-in-law and her husband. Ministry was Lucy's life and continues to be,even in "retirement" (she's as busy now as ever!)

But in the last post I said I'd tell you how Lucy and I are connected. Lucy and Woody were asked to pastor the Waynesboro Methodist Church, Tennessee in 1959.They had two sons at the time,aged 3 and 1, and a beautiful boxer dog named Rusty. Lucy was only 25 years old and Woody was 26. Lucy taught high school Sunday school. And she remembered some Warrens--my Uncle Pat. Uncle Pat(his nickname) was my grandfather's brother. I lived in Waynesboro around the same time as Lucy. I've told the story on this blog about my mother being in a TB hospital in Indiana, and how I came to live with my grandparents in Waynesboro, Tennessee for several years while my mother battled for her life, and my dad worked in Indiana. Several years later I went back to live with my parents in Indiana--but we returned a lot to visit Waynesboro.

I love Waynesboro. Generations of my people have lived there, are buried there, and still do live there. I was there at the same time as Lucy, and her boys are about my age. But we have never met in person. We met online in a Christian writers group called Christian Writers Fellowship International.I feel as if I've known her my whole life.She's around the same age my parents would've been had they lived.

Lucy has many stories to tell and she's telling them, as well as her hymn stories around the country.You can catch her at and all of these stories are listed on Lucy's homepage. And you can also hear her on the radio:

She has a telephone interview from her home in NC to Seattle, WA on the first Thursday of each month from 7-9 Mt. time,( but usually is on about 8:30Mt Time/11:30 Eastern time ) Catch her on KCIS - AM 630 on the Living Christian Show. You can click on and then click "Listen In."Check the web site for schedule changes and broadcasts.

Lucy wrote a little "poem" for her birthday this year: "Good ole' Lucy sings for glee.It's April 24th and she's 73!" (And I promise you that Lucy said it was ok for me to share that!)

May the Lord bless us with Lucy's songs for many,many,many more years.

If you have a favorite old hymn, leave a comment here mentioning it, and you could win a copy of Lucy's book, 52 Hymn Story Devotions. (Leave me your email address but use the words "At Server Dot Com" so it won't be picked up by meanies.)I will not divulge your information you send to me, nor use it in any way except to send you Lucy's book. Deadline for contest comments is July 23, 2007.

(By the way, my favorite old hymn is "Be Thou My Vision" followed closely by "How Great Thou Art.")

Friday, July 13, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Lucy Adams Part 1

Shirley Temple? No. (Do you remember Shirley Temple?)This darling girl is Lucy and Lucy had so many stories that this is only part one. Meet Lucy Adams, "the hymn lady." More on her hymn stories later. This is about a girl who had music in her soul since childhood. When Lucy was about six-years-old, her sister entered her in a Shirley Temple contest. She won! Can you tell why? She still owns that little blue pitcher with Shirley's name on it and her signature.

(So, which is Shirley and which is Lucy??)

Lucy wasn't born with the name Lucy. Much in Southern tradition, she received a nickname. But Lucy herself chose her nickname.

Because Lucy had a stuttering problem as a child, and she couldn't say her name Annie very well,she decided on the name of Lucy. Her mother, Louise,(which is Lucy's middle name) had been called Lucy in college, so this little fireball girl decided that would be her name, and she wouldn't answer her parents until they called her Lucy. She was all of eight-years-old at that time.

In her over 70 years, Lucy has a lot of stories to tell, but the main story she has to tell is a great one--the story of Jesus Christ, and what He means to her--and what He could mean to you, too.Lucy no longer stutters, and she now tells stories on the radio, and wherever she is speaking to groups, about hymns and Jesus.

Let's see what Lucy was like as a child that shaped her into the fun and lovely lady, wife, mother, grandmother and "hymn" lady she is today:

Childhood ambition:
I wanted to be a movie star and wear all those gorgeous dresses that swirled as I danced and sang.

Fondest Memory (then)
Going to the baseball games with my dad. Spending weekends with my grandparents in Holly Hill, S.C. a tiny town in lovely home.

Proudest Moment (then):
I began to keep a diary in the 4th grade, through high school. Most of it is reporting about my boyfriends. I had one each week or month, it seems. But at nineteen, I met my dream boy. I never dated anyone else for the two years we went together, and we married 53 years ago June 10, 1955 , in the Chapel across the street from where we live right now, at Lake Junaluska.(More on this in the next post about Lucy.)

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen:
Wanting to be able to stop stuttering. I did when I changed high schools. Something about my home environment was an emotional struggle. That story is written in the book, WHEN GOD STEPS IN : A collection of stories by Bonnie Bruno. (Will be released Sept. 07)

My First Job:
I was a waitress in a coffee shop in high school.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

I took ballroom dancing. I usually had to wear my sister's hand-me-down evening dresses.But for one special dance, I got to choose my own with my mom's assistance.

Lucy says: "This evening dress I was wearing for the Junaluska queen contest, was my sister's "hand-me-down" wedding dress. They dyed it soft blue for me to have this picture taken in. The flowers are red, so it was lovely." (Crystal Editor's note: Don't you wish it was in color? But I can imagine it, because Lucy describes it beautifully.)

Favorite Childhood Movie:
"Springtime In The Rockies" starring Betty Grable and John Payne .I went to see it nine times! The dancer Carmen Miranda was Spanish and twirled her dress as she danced. ( A few years ago one of my sons found the movie on TV's golden oldies. He videotaped it for me to keep forever!)

Favorite Childhood Book:
Since I stuttered I did not like to read.
(Editor Crystal's note: In Lucy's day, children were often made to read aloud.For a child who stuttered, this would've been grueling. No wonder she didn't like to read!)

But I do have one special book with my 3rd grade handwriting. "Annie Louise Neeley" written in the front with my address (Lucy is my nickname.)The title is HYMN STORIES AND PICTURES.About 40 years later, when I began telling on the radio "The Story Behind The Song," I was amazed that I had saved that book from childhood.I believe God was directing my steps toward this wonderful music ministry.
(Crystal Editor's note: I do, too!)

Favorite Childhood Song:
I loved to hear my parents sing from the front seat when we took trips. "My Wild Irish Rose" was one they harmonized on. Since I stuttered, it was a joy to sing. One of my most joyful times was to go into my living room by myself, put on the record of "Summertime," and sing with that beautiful music. (From the movie, "Porgy and Bess").

Childhood Heroes:
Movie Stars (My Christmas gift of a subscription for Photoplay magazine was a thrill).Also I loved our Columbia Red baseball team. Another childhood hero was the African American lady who lived in our home as a housekeeper.She was close to my heart. She was wonderful security for me and the love was put in my heart to accept an African American son in-law many years later.We have three handsome grandsons from this marriage. This is a blessing to our whole family. (Lucy grew up in the South during a time before the 1960s and Dr. Martin Luther King.God orchestrated her life to be one of great changes in love and acceptance in a world of fear and prejudice.)

If you would like to know more about Lucy go to her web site.

She lives in a beautiful area,Lake Junaluska,North Carolina.

And do go get her book, 52 Hymn Story Devotions. It is ideal for anyone who enjoys hymns and leads devotions at church meetings, choir rehearsals, and Sunday school. The volume can also be used by individuals for personal devotions.

If you go to Crosswalk you can find stories Lucy has written there by typing in her name on the home page and doing a site search.

And be on the look out for Bonnie Bruno's book,WHEN GOD STEPS IN, to be released in September 2007 with stories from many people, including Lucy.

Lucy also wrote a story, "My Adventure in Prayer"(Spring Edition '07) in Breakthrough Intercessors magazine.

You can see other stories here.

More on Lucy Adams in another blog--be sure to watch for it! I will also reveal a special connection that I have with Lucy--we were so close, but yet so far.

Go to Part 2 of Lucy Adams: They're Singing Our Song!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Sharon Dunn

Ok, I'm going to show a little prejudice here. I love Sharon Dunn's books. Love them. That's why when I realized that I had all of her materials for this column, and that I had missed the debut of her latest book,I knew I was seriously losing it. Seriously. And Sharon had a book giveaway back in May. I've only missed it by two months.

Her latest series is called The Bargain Hunter series--and this is the season for that. Don't we all love a good bargain? Even Donald Trump and Oprah love a good bargain. So that's why you have to check out her Bargain Hunter Tips page. That's just a bonus.

If you are like me, love a good mystery, quirky characters and romance, then you, too, will like Sharon's writing. She just has fun, and I'm all about that! Her latest book, Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, which came out in MARCH, is about Ginger Salinski. Her heart beats faster when she passes a clearance rack and there has never been a good deal she couldn't sniff out. Ginger and her bargain hunter friends are bonded together by the need to be first in line at doorbuster sales, but when one of the bargain hunters goes missing, they must track down clues instead of discounts.

The next book in this series will be called,Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear.

So, just what was Sharon all about when growing up? Let's check that little cutie mystery girl out:

Where did you grow up?

In a little town called Garrison Junction. I went to a two-room school house that had three grades in each room and three or four kids per grade.

Childhood Ambition: To be Wonder Woman

Fondest Memory (then): Because we lived out in the country, my sisters and I had to create our own entertainment. We had these little plastic animals that we built forts for outside, and then, created elaborate soap opera-like storylines for them. We did the same thing with our Barbies in the winter,building houses out of cardboard boxes. I think the imaginative play fueled my creativity as a writer.

Proudest Moment (then): I got picked to do the closing remarks for my junior high graduation out of everyone's written entry. I think it was the first inkling I had that I could write.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: I had terrible depression as a
teenager. I missed part of my freshman year, and enough of my sophomore year,so that I didn't graduate until I was nineteen. Even though I had good grades, I had to redo my sophomore year.

My First Job: I sold fruit at a road side fruit stand when I was 14. I got paid ten dollars a day and worked from 7 AM to 7 PM. I thought I was the richest, luckiest kid in the world.

Childhood Indulgence: I used to eat fudge by the plateful.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: My sister and I had what we called Cinderella nightgowns that we got to wear in the summer. They were made of slick, cool polyester instead of itchy cotton. When I wore my white nightgown with the pink lace,I just had to dance.

Favorite Childhood Movie: When I was I a kid we didn't have videos(not like you young whipper snappers)and I didn't have much of a chance to go to the theater in town. I do remember watching Captain Kangaroo every morning. I loved the Carol Burnett Show. Mom would call me in every Saturday night from playing outside to watch Carol.

Favorite Childhood Book: Nancy Drew of course, I also remember my fifth grade teacher reading Rifles for Watie out loud to us at the end of the day.I was riveted by the story.

Childhood Hero: As a pre-teen I prayed to God to make me an child actress just like Kristy McNichol. I guess she was my hero. Although I heard she had a nervous breakdown and left acting to become a drama teacher, so maybe it is better that God didn't give me the life I thought would make me happy.

Anything you would like to add that readers might be interested in knowing about you as a child:

I had duck feet through the third or fourth grade and had to wear "special"shoes with metal plates in them. The shoes were only made in one style, so every year when everyone else got new shoes in a new style, I got the same shoes only a size bigger.

Check out Sharon at her website and at FaithChick
and read all about how Sharon is similar and different than her characters here.

Sharon's Books:

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
(Multnomah)First of the Bargain Hunter mystery series.
Garage Sale Newbie features four women who are bonded together by the need to clip coupons and be first in line at doorbuster sales. When one of the bargain hunters is found dead, it is up to the other three to figure out what happened to her and why. Ginger, a recent empty nester and bargain hunting expert, leads Suzanne, mother of three with one on the way, and Kindra, a college student with a taste for designer clothes without the budget, to hunt down clues instead of good deals.

You will also want to check out her Ruby Taylor series:
Book One - Ruby Taylor Mysteries


Nominated for Inspirational Novel of the Year

Join Ruby as she races through the Montana wilderness to find a man who disappeared weeks before his wedding.

Book Two - Ruby Taylor Mysteries


WINNER of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award

Ruby takes on a part time job as a college teacher only to learn she has replaced a man who died under mysterious circumstances.

Book Three - Ruby Taylor Mysteries


Domestically challenged Ruby makes peace with the Proverbs 31 woman while investigating a series of thefts from farms and ranches.
a little mystery, a little romance, a whole lotta fun
The Bargain Hunters mysteries
Death of a Garage Sale Newbie

Ruby Taylor Mystery series
Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves
(nominated for Inspirational Novel of the Year)

Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante
(winner of the ACRW Book of the Year)

and Cow Crimes and the Mustang Menace

Friday, July 06, 2007

Dressed to the Nines

Yesterday Cathy wanted to see the other outfits of "Cris, Cardboard Fashion Girl," so I finally got my scanner working to load the other three. (My scanner is ancient. It doesn't even have a USB port. I'm still amazed that I learned to do all this computer stuff on my own.) Anyway, here's the fashion show. These outfits are from the '60's. Me and my scanner: Old. But, I would love to have that purple plaid coat NOW.(Oh, yeah,and the figure.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Want to Have a Paper Dolly

My mother sent off to a company to create a paper doll that looked exactly like me (using my photo) for my 9th birthday. My hair was down to the middle of my back, but when the doll came back, they had cut my hair to fit my photo onto the doll cardboard. I absolutely loved it! From then on, I hoped to someday be able to cut my hair. I wasn't able to do it until I went away to college (and my dad threw a fit!) but I adored short hair.

But back to the paper doll. I loved above all my toys, even my Johnny West set of dolls and ranch and horses, my paper dolls. I got Little Women paper dolls when I was very ill with pneumonia and sinus infection and was out of school for a month.(Those were my most favorite set.) I designed my own paper dolls by the truckload. I cut them from magazines and old catalogs, and saved my money(ha, back then I got a book of paper dolls for 29 cents!)to purchase them. I loved paper dolls. I even had a record that I played where the singer crooned, "I want to have a paper dolly I can call my own, a doll that I can carry everywhere." (Anyone remember paper dolls, much less this song??)

But that paper doll of myself--that was my favorite. It came with pre-drawn clothes, but I got to choose the colors and color them myself. I think I test-colored (by drawing my own clothes) first, and finally came up with the color schemes for each outfit. I signed the back of the doll with my signature (I had just learned cursive.) In my school photo, I was wearing a burgundy dress with a pale aqua stripe and so my headband was aqua. They hand-painted my face, so they went ahead and colored the band the aqua color. I colored one bead of the pearl necklace to match the headband. I did think about changing the color of the headband, but I never did.
The doll itself was skin matched to my face and a camisole and underwear in white. It is very thick cardboard.

My scanner isn't working so great, or I would show you the other outfits (yes, I've saved these for 40 years!ha) This dress is green-striped and yellow, but I have a purple and white plaid coat, a blue and dark blue bridesmaid gown/party dress, and a yellow and blue coat dress, too. My favorite colors were periwinkle, purple, yellow and dark true blue, but for some reason, I have two yellow dresses. I wish I could tell you how much this doll cost, but mom is gone, and I don't remember.

But when I was just a kid, I thought paper dolls, making up stories, and designing the colors and outfits were the best things ever to occupy my time. (This kind of thing still holds my interest today.) So, I these things translate into any sort of career or job??

(Oh, and I still want short, chic hair.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I'm an American--my ancestors were both Native American, and immigrants coming from overseas to settle here even in the early days that this country was formed. (At least one of those ancestors was here in the 1700s.) July 4th, or Independence Day, is one of my favorite holidays. When I was just a kid, I remember sparklers, town fireworks, camping on the Tennessee River, fishing,and eating hush puppies, fried catfish, and home-cranked ice cream. I remember the steamy heat of summer, and back in the day, we'd say, "Knee-high by the 4th of July" which meant that corn would be as high as your knee by today. (Now, it's considerably higher, thanks to agricultural technology and hybrids.)

We take our freedom for granted, and this is a great gift. Norman Rockwell painted four illustrations that demonstrated these great freedoms that President Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed out to us in his Four Freedoms Speech: Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want,Freedom of Speech, and Freedom to Worship.

But this week I have been thinking about some other freedoms going on in my personal life. Son #4, the youngest, is learning to drive. He passed his written test last week and felt pretty giddy about it. But with freedom comes great responsibility, as #4's three older brothers can tell him. And with his new freedom on the verge of being exercised (granted he passes his driving test in 60 days,) my freedom from fear goes straight out the window.

I remember well learning to drive. I had Mr. Ford, the head basketball coach, for my instructor. He was in this horrific crash as a teen that left him unable to fully turn his head to look at you in the backseat. This reminded us vividly what could happen. He related to us, rather painfully, how he was with a bunch of his friends and one of those boys died. It made you almost wish you lived in the middle of a big city with mass transit, instead of in the middle of a cornfield with miles to go for jobs and school and things like movies.

But while he was pretty scary, he also made you earn your license and independence. In my driver's ed car there were 3 girls. Mr. Ford would make us drive to Fairmount and while he chatted with his basketball players hanging out on the street in front of the teen hangout and pool hall, we girls had to change the tires. Nothing was more humiliating than having the star basketball players--juniors and seniors--laughing at you trying to budge a lugnut.

I had a great last laugh, though, because not only did I pass my driver's test, my dad bought this boss of a car for me to drive (well, he also liked driving it): a 1969 Candy Apple Red Mustang Grande. It had a 351 Cleveland engine and was hot to "git." While I drove it at speed limit (I promise you, I did,) my dad, a ridge runner from the hills of Tennessee, well, er, didn't always. He claimed he had it going so fast that it began to leave the pavement and he had to back it down in order to keep it from flipping (being that it was lightweight.)

My dad loved cars. He traded often. He could describe to you his first car in great detail, was driving by age 9, and he had dreamed of being a race car driver. He was an owner-operator 18-wheel semi-truck driver by profession with a chauffeur's license, but I remember spending many hours watching the stock car races at local tracks. He was a fan of A.J. Foyt and back in his dumptruck days he was part of the crew who helped to turn the Indianapolis 500 track from bricks to pavement.

When I went off to college, my dad told me I could sell that '69 Mustang in order to have money to go. While he loved cars, and really loved my Mustang, he loved me more and that money was to be part of my own freedom. That car represented a lot to me.

So, I suppose it is in my boys' genes to want to drive a car, and have their independence. I know it was in mine. They have great opportunities that my dad could only dream about; that I was given; and that I, and their dad, are able to give to them, too.

Freedom! The greatest thing on earth.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Diann Hunt

When I Was Just a Kid...Diann Hunt

Be Sweet!

When I first met Diann, we were in a college class with a bunch of "kids" learning to write fiction. She was working on romance, and I was working on children's fiction, articles and book reviews. We both had kids the same age, or near the same age as our classmates. It was quite the experience! But we had a great time.

Diann has now successfully published her fiction and found her unique voice, publishing with companies such as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Heartsong and Steeple Hill (Harlequin.)Her fiction is targeted to women of the Baby Boomer generation. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate. (Good thing Nestle's is building a factory near here,although I hear she is partial to DeBrand's in Ft.Wayne, Indiana.)

When I asked her if she would answer some questions about her childhood for this column, she gave me really short and sweet answers. But lately, on her blog (the one she writes with authors and close friends: Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter and Kristin Billerbeck) I found out she's been holding out the best stories about her childhood and maybe she had a chocolate overload, or maybe it's because she's been couped up at home lately, but she's been spilling stuff there. So, I dug up some posts that speak about her past.

Here's one from when she found out that she has a lung infection recently:

"Turns out the boy in my first grade class was right. I do have cooties."
And then, here's one where she admits her "past:"
From Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Some of us have a past.

For some reason a childhood memory came to me this morning. Something I’m not necessarily proud of, but it’s there just as big as you please.

See, I have—um, HAD a huge crush on Kurt Russell. While in the third grade, my “friend” came over for a visit. We talked about whatever it is that third graders talk about and then it happened. She spotted the humongous poster of Kurt Russell’s face on my bedroom wall. She started teasing me about it, which I didn’t, well, appreciate. One thing led to another and suddenly things turned ugly. Did I mention she had a banana in her hand?

The next thing I know, we’re calling each other names and she takes a hunk of banana and smears it on Kurt’s face. All at once, time stands still. My thoughts turn dark. Very dark.

In the distance, a dog barks.

Springing into action, I wail into her so fast she doesn’t know what hit her. What follows is somewhat of a blur.

Rest assured that I paid dearly. I lost my poster and had to do time. Sometimes being young and in love isn’t pretty. "

And Diann has spent a lot of time in the principal's office!!!! (the shock of it all):

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"School’s out for the summer! Okay, don’t hit me!

As you know my husband is an elementary school principal."

And she came clean about why she likes to write--you knew it--it all goes back to her childhood:

Friday, June 01, 2007

"You know, sometimes I wonder where my love for writing began. For me, I think it all started with Colorforms.


Childhood play is so much more than mere play. It’s a world of make believe. There may be fast cars, aliens or dragon-infested motes to cross, or it may be a world of fairies and princesses where knights-in-shining armor stand ready to free their damsel in distress. Who knew when I was having imaginary tea with my dolls that stories of women and friendships were beginning to take root?

One thing I love about writing? It allows me to be a kid again. To enjoy the wonder of story, a world created during my “play time.” When my husband comes home at the end of the day I say things like, 'I was in Siesta Key today. Maggie got her hair done in cornrows and then the girls buried all but her head beneath the sand.' My husband gives me that knowing grin, pulls me into a warm embrace and tingles cover me from head to toe. I think it’s because he’s holding me, but my fingers feel for the notebook and pen in my pocket, just in case a story is forming . . . . "

So, Diann tells a lot in her blog about her past. But here are a few more things that shaped her into the wonderful writer and person she is, complete with humor and chocolate!

Childhood Ambition: To be a wife, mother and to be a secretary (because they're so organized, and I'm totally not.)

Fondest Memory (then): Sunday drives in the country with my family

Proudest Moment (now or then): When our first grandchild was born

My First Job: Secretary in a real estate office

Childhood indulgence: Chocolate (big surprise, huh?) Okay, non-food? Let's see, it would have to be throwing empty cans at bats. Hey, they might come after my chocolate!

(Crystal Editor Note: WHAT???!! Now this is a first for the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe' that I want to note here--throwing empty cans at bats??! Holy empty can, Batman!)

Favorite Outfit as a child: A red and white fluffy skirt and white blouse (had to buy it for a square dancing program)

Favorite Childhood Movie: In Search of the Castaways

Favorite Childhood Book: Lad, A Dog

Childhood hero: My grandma

Childhood dream trip (did you go in a RV?? RV we there yet??): The only trip we took as a family was to Montana when I was a teenager. But no RV. It was a Cadillac and hotels all the way! :-)

Check out some of Diann's books. This month, her book, Be Sweet comes out. And if you have a book club and would like for Diann to talk to your group via phone, go to her web site to set this up. And I'd keep an eye on her blog--she is more interesting than a certain hotel heiress when it comes to having a "past!"

Hot Tropics & Cold Feet: Four women take a trip to Siesta Key for girl fun and come home to changed lives.

Be Sweet

A successful businesswoman heads back home to help the family during maple syrup season and discovers sticky things about her family--and herself--that she never thought possible.
Baby Boomer sisters Charlene and Jani heard it all their lives growing up: "If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." And, "Be sweet now, hear?"

It's maple syrup season in Tappery, Michigan, and Char has joined Jani in their hometown to help with the syrup harvest. Turns out after all these years, Char's still trying--unsuccessfully--to be sweet, and Jani's stuck to her own syrupy impulses. As Char's old flame tries to light up her nights and Jani's husband begins to grate on her hot-flashing nerves, the sisters rally, knowing if they can weather midlife together, victory will be sweet!