Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who Are You, Anyway?

Yesterday I had a nice post all typed out here and something happened. It published with only the title and then an electrical storm knocked me offline.

So, now I have to try and remember those brilliant words lost in cyberspace. I have a feeling my supernatural word powers have left me due to the Kryptonite in this laptop. It is draining my powers. Last week my computer's motherboard fried--again--and I'm left with this weak-substitute.

Jenny over at Abundant Living blogspot had this cool personality test and multiple intelligences test results up and I cannot resist these things. It was my main interest in my master's degree program and I even presented research on these subjects in my learning theories class.

Here's the cool badge I had made with my results of both the personality test and the multiple intelligences. Because my name is soooo common (Crystal Millers of the world unite!) I had to choose another persona or nickname. I don't even have a nickname, so I picked my great, great, great grandmother's name. No one ever has that name.

It's a free test so go try it out.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I'm an INTJ. I used to know what that meant, until I lost all of my favorite links. I test as this no matter what test I take. Very introverted (that does not mean shy, by the way.) I'm also extremely analytic.

Can you see how strongly I am a naturalist? I love the outdoors and that environment is very important to me. I observe the weather details and nature every day. I love the river and love watching birds. It has taken me nearly 50 years to really know myself and how I am.

Now, am I a winter, summer, autumn or spring in coloring?? That is another dilemma I've been trying to untangle. (And I've been typed all four, so other people aren't much help, I guess!) You are welcome to vote on this, if you have seen me in person. I'm leaning towards summer, but I have to wear saturated colors. Guys really don't worry about this, but my goal is to have an organized, coordinating closet and not all black and white (which are the predominant colors in there now.)

I also was tagged by Cara over at The Law, Books and Life for a meme involving middle names. I don't like my first name, much less my middle name. (sigh) I did keep my middle name when I married because it made my husband's initials and mine the same (great for our luggage and monogrammed napkins.) The Name Game:
1. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

2. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

3. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So, gag, here it is:

N--Norwegian (1/4th)

Ok, if I had gotten a middle name I'd like to have had, here is what it would be:

J-Just (as in strong sense of justice)

That first name has got to go, too, but people insist that since it IS my name, I must use it. Whatever.

Anyway, now I'm supposed to tag someone, and that's always the hardest part for me. Just leave a message if you want to share your middle name acrostic!

Don't forget that you have until Monday to post a comment on Judy Gann's Kid interview in order to be thrown into the hat for her book, The God of All Comfort.

Monday, August 27, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Judy Gann

Judy Gann still has that child-like quality that we love about children--her heart of acceptance for others. Her passion is to help others and the quote she has on her web page says:
To comfort others with the comfort God's given to me (1 Corinthians 1:3-4.)And when Judy says she's going to pray for you--look out! My socks get blessed clear off my tootsies every time. From Judy's lips to God's ear. But how did Judy get to be so compassionate? They say that some people go through trials and come out tough and bitter. But for some their hearts become even more tender and a wisdom grows out of the perseverence. The second description is Judy.

I think that Anne Morrow Lindbergh says best what I'm trying to tell you about Judy:
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable."

She remains vulnerable and open to God's grace. She mourns when something needs mourning (and will mourn with you--tough thing to do.) She understands better than most. And she has that love and understanding, and the patience to see it through. Her bio states:Whether it’s comforting those with illness, exhorting parents to read to their young children, or mentoring women, Judy Gann’s passion is to comfort and encourage others through her writing and speaking. A contributor to several magazines and compilations, she serves as Writers Coordinator for Rest Ministries, an international Christian support ministry for people with chronic illness and chronic pain. Her current writing projects include a book for parents on sharing books with young children and a book for women alone.

A semi-retired children’s librarian, Judy lives in Washington state. When she isn’t writing, Judy enjoys collecting children’s books of the 1940’s and 1950’s, cheering the Seattle Mariners, crocheting, and taking long walks—even in the rain.

So take a look at Judy as a child. (And boy, did I ever ask for it when I asked a children's librarian to pick her favorite book as a child. I've always wanted to ask a children's librarian that question and Judy handled it like a pro.)

Childhood Ambition:
I always wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. At age nine, armed with a little chalkboard and chalk, I set up my first classroom in our den. My sister (age three) was my first victim, er, student. Now I take credit for everything she knows. In the photo we’re having a lesson in the care of kittens.

I achieved my childhood ambition and taught elementary school for five years. When the Christian school I was teaching in closed, my love for books led me into library school at the University of Washington. I worked for twenty-four years as a children’s librarian with Pierce County Library System; the last four years as an early literacy librarian. Semi-retired, I conduct storytimes and substitute for the library system.

Fondest Memory (then):
My fondest childhood memories are of family camping trips along Rock Creek and Robinson Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (CA): fishing, tubing, campfires, eating food cooked over an old Coleman stove, falling asleep to the lull of the creek. In the photo, Janie, a childhood friend, and I are trying to catch fish with our hands.

Obviously, the fish had nothing to worry about. In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s you didn’t have to reserve a camp spot or pay a fee—just drive in and pick your spot. Sigh. As my dad often reminds me, nothing lasts forever.

Proudest Moment:
In 1997 I was named the first recipient of the Washington Library Association’s “Visionary Library Service to Youth” Award. Yes, I felt proud, but I don’t take a bit of credit for this honor—the glory is the Lord’s. Winning this award was a testimony of God’s enabling strength in the midst of health difficulties, including two chronic illnesses, clinical depression, and breast cancer.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

My body faced autoimmune system challenges from birth. I was often sick and never as strong as other children my age. PE classes were a nightmare for me (sorry, Crystal!). I dreaded games like dodge ball—games that required the selection of teams. I was always chosen last.

First Job:
Babysitting. However, my career as a babysitter almost came to an abrupt end when a little girl I was taking care of (okay, not taking care of) splattered baby powder all over herself, her younger sister, and the bedroom.

Childhood Indulgence:
Mexican food at Nati’s Restaurant in Ocean Beach (San Diego). Our family ate there nearly every Friday evening. I have yet to find Mexican food (certainly not in Washington state!) that comes close to measuring up to Nati’s. Childhood indulgence? Forty-six years later I still have to have my “Nati’s fix” every time I visit my family.

Childhood Pastime that Influenced Writing:
Books and reading have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A close family friend (like a grandmother to me) took me to get my first library card as soon as I learned how to print my name. Standing on tiptoe to reach the checkout counter, I proudly handed the librarian my card and the book, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Early on I understood the power of words and books to transport readers and change lives. I enjoyed writing little stories and any class writing assignment. My senior year in high school I worked in an elementary school as part of a work experience program. My first published work was a character sketch of a first grader in my class, published in the county student literary magazine.

Favorite Childhood Movie:
The Sound of Music. I love the entire movie, but especially the opening scene (with Julie Andrews singing her heart out while climbing through the Alps) and the closing scene (as the Trapp family climbs over the mountains to safety). Mountains have always been special to me which probably explains why I love these scenes.

Favorite Childhood Book:
Crystal, Crystal. You never ask this question of a children’s librarian. I could fill “Chat ‘n Chew” for days with my favorite children’s books. But to spare your readers, my favorite childhood series was the “Betsy-Tacy” books by Maud Hart Lovelace. The books are based on the author’s childhood (kindergarten to her wedding) growing up in Mankato, Minnesota in the early 1900s. Today there is a Betsy-Tacy Society in Mankato with several hundred members and chapters throughout the United States, as well as a Maud online group. Every five years a convention is held in Mankato. The childhood homes of Maud and her best friend, “Tacy,” have been purchased and restored by the Society. One of my most treasured memories is a booksigning I did at “Tacy’s” house in 2005.

Favorite Costume:
The Portuguese community in Point Loma, where I grew up, held a Festa each year. Because my dad’s family is from Portugal, I participated in the Festa parade. This was every girl’s dream—parading through the streets dressed as a princess.

Years later, Jerene, my co-worker at the library, nagged me into wearing costumes during our spring visits to the schools to promote the summer reading program. Her friend made costumes to fit each year’s summer reading theme. The ladybug costume (in photo taken during the Steilacoom Fourth of July parade) was my favorite. You’d never guess that this innocuous costume got me into deep trouble with the military police at the gate on McChord Air Force Base (pre 9/11 days). The school I was going to visit on base was supposed to have clearance for me waiting at the gate. Alas, they forgot. The military officer took one look at me in all my ladybug glory and thereafter avoided eye contact—including when he finally handed me my clearance. I guess they don’t see many ladybugs on McChord.

Childhood Hero: Helen Keller, no question about it. As a child struggling with health issues, I looked up to Helen Keller my heroine and example. If she could rise above her adversity than what reason did I have to complain about my small challenges?

Check out Rest Ministies

And see the Betsy-Tacy site here

And don't forget to look at Judy's site where she has comfort for those with chronic illnesses.
Crystal Editor's note:When my cousin, author Sally Pierson Dillon, was still alive, she suffered from lupus and I sent this book to her. She wrote a long letter to me telling me how she loved it and then bought several copies to give to others who were also suffering. It blessed me and blessed her and blessed...well, you see it is contagious!

Book:The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer (AMG 2005)

Articles/Compilations:“A Spiritual Mom,” Woman’s Touch May/June 2004 (Revised with a prayer focus in God Answers Mom’s Prayers by Allison Bottke (Harvest House 2005))

“Marketing to Public Libraries” in You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal (Write Now Publications 2003)

“In the Arms of the Shepherd” in Comfort for the Grieving Heart by Margolyn Woods (Thomas More Publishers, 2002)

Two prayers in Prayers for Troubled Times by Jeannie St. John Taylor, (AMG 2002.)

Partnering for Babies,” Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Fall 2001.

Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free copy of Judy's book, The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer (AMG 2005)I'll draw a winner on Monday, September 3rd.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


...thats's what the geeks said happened to my video card and motherboard. It's a sad day for me. This means countless hours trying to get back up to speed. I am not going to be able to get to my latest When I Was Just a Kid interview until I can recover the interviews, although I do have the photos. If you are one of my kids, could you resend your interview?? I will see if I can find them on my back up disk, but for right now, I'm in trouble!

I'm also contemplating a change in computers. I have a 3 other guys in my house who are avid Mac users. One loves his Sony. Another often uses my computer, so he's stuck with whatever I have. I've had one vote for a Dell. One vote for a Mac. I'm not sure how to even work a Mac! Would the learning curve send me into a panic-stricken out-of-control spin?

I may be out of commission for a few days, but I'm still breathing in and out, in case you don't hear from me.

Indiana Fried Crystal Wings to go!

Monday, August 20, 2007

She's Out of Control

Back a few years ago, my life was sweetly contained. My five men were all living at home and in sizes that were manageable. Look at their sweet faces. Makes you want to just pinch their cheeks, doesn't it?

If I'm not answering my overflowing email, or seem to be distracted, it's because I'm not keeping up with details as well as I used to! This weekend was sort of a tipping point for me. Three of the four boys I call my sons went off to college. All three are going to the same place, and two are living in the same apartment. It's odd for me to see the house in some sort of quiet. I am not handling it well. The fourth one has become a fisherman and he's a junior in high school. In two short years he'll be gone, as well. (And if any of you have raised high school upperclassmen, you know how much they are home.)

And because two of them moved out (supposedly "for good,")I am re-evaluating my living space and trying to figure out how to cook for two, three or four, rather than the usual army of men (they tend to bring their friends with them, and even some of them have called me "mom.")

It's a little unsettling because I also need to face ME. Who am I again?? I have been defined as Chris's wife, Jordan's mom, Jared's mom, Bryce's mom, Max's mom and a blue-million other titles that aren't Crystal. Who is this Crystal person, anyway?? Does anyone really know her for who she really is? The new photo of me is still in development. If I get in control of myself, I'll let you know who she is.

If you want to see how my guys have grown (and one of them grew 5 inches this summer,) just take a look. Tough, independent, strong-willed, talented, musical, smart--

I still want to pinch their cheeks. And I still remember their tender little faces before they got whiskers and aftershave. (Even that one in the middle.)

Hopefully, by tomorrow I will get back on track here with When I Was Just a Kid interviews, my memoirs, and maybe I'll throw in some thoughts on writing (since that's what I help others with.) Maybe I'll post more often, if that guy in the middle isn't dragging me off on the motorcycle to destinations unknown or having me work on music.

Maybe some of you will help to keep me on track, too. Let me know what your favorite items are on this blog, if you will, please? (Check the poll above.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Mary DeMuth

Did you guess Mary DeMuth yesterday? If you scroll down to her adult photo, you see the same delightful smile.

When Mary DeMuth was in second grade, her teacher was the first to recognize she had writerly gifts. Mary still remembers how her teacher purposely sought out her mom to tell her about Mary's gifts.

Today, Mary is the author of both fiction books and nonfiction books, writes several blogs, and is actively involved in the ministry. Mary, her husband and their family have returned from a ministry in France and she hasn't caught her breath since hitting her native soil. And because of her own childhood,and her experience in France, Mary has sought to come alongside other parents. That's also why she has written some of the parenting books that she has, including a recent release, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture. (She also wrote Building the Christian Family You Never Had and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God.See the links at the end.)

Mary says, "I always struggle when I write a parenting book because I feel so darned small and weak. I don’t parent perfectly. But, we did live through two and half years in France, the hotbed of hyper-postmodernity. We had to learn how to parent our kids in that culture. It occurred to me that the things we learned would be helpful to American parents too."

Let's find out about Mary as a child and see just how it influences her writing(and life) today:

Childhood Ambition: To be a doctor.

Fondest Memory: When I was in second grade, I went to daycare after school. One day my mom and stepfather picked me up from daycare on their horses. I still remember my jealous daycare-mates, noses pressed against chain link, longing to be me. That’s the closest I’ve gotten to being a celebrity!

Proudest Moment:In the 8th grade, I started singing solos. Every year they nominated a girl and a boy to be outstanding soloist of the year. Everyone knew Ellen (not her real name) would win. But Ellen had been mean and ruthless the whole year, though she had a good voice. She wouldn’t compete in contest, though I did. I knew Ellen would win the award too. During the award ceremony, they announced me as the winner. I couldn’t believe it!

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: Getting over the pain from my past. I was haunted by many, many things. Had I not met Jesus when I was fifteen, there is no doubt my life today would look quite a bit different.

My First Job:
Counter Girl at Godfather’s Pizza. I still remember how I answered the phone, “Welcome to Godfather’s pizza, may I take your order?”

Childhood Indulgences: Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Lik-a-Maids, and frozen yogurt from the store across the street from my home.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: A polyester (peach!) pantsuit my friend Pam’s mom MADE for me.

Favorite Childhood Play Time Activity: Little House on the Prairie with my friend Amber.

Favorite Childhood Movie: Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Childhood Heroes: The kids on the Brady Bunch. Oh, how I wanted their lives.

Mary's helpful and fun website here

Meet Mary and read her crazy blog here.


Get it autographed! You can purchase Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture directly from Mary and have it autographed.

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture

Building the Christian Family You Never Had

Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God

Wishing on Dandelions

Watching Tree Limbs

Read more about Mary at these blogs this week:

A Latte and Some Words
Chat ‘n’ Chew Cafe
Experiencing the Journey
Fabric, Paper, Thread
Fictional Journey
Haruah - Breath of Heaven
I Wish You Enough
Leanna Ellis
Margaret Daley
Partners in Prayer for our Prodigals
Raindancer’s Map of Memories
Robyn’s Ramblings
See Ya On the Net
Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna
Sormag Online Tours
The Authentic You
The Spiritual Mom
Why Didn’t You Warn Me?
Write from my Heart

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coming Tomorrow!

See this cutie? Tomorrow I will be posting her When I Was Just a Kid interview. Can you guess who she is?

Here's a hint:

This book was just released. Stay tuned....

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thank You and Changes

Here at the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe' I wanted to tell you thank you for reading.I have learned so much while blogging about things that interest me. Mostly, I just want to have fun. Are we having fun yet?

(To get your own Bless This Chick figure go to their web site and build your very own! Thanks, Paula, for showing this to me.)

We have only a short time here and life is too short for worrying about things we cannot change. Which brings me to my next subject....

I'm going to let you in on a little secret...there's change in the air!

It seems only yesterday that life was like this:

Now it's gone to this:

But the changes I want you to notice are some subtle changes here in the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe'. I will still have writers featured on When I Was Just a Kid each week. I have many lined up, but am still looking for more. If you have a suggestion of a writer whom you'd like to see who hasn't been featured yet, leave a comment. I would also like to start featuring editors. (I haven't actually asked any yet, but I plan on it.) If you look to the right, I already have featured two literary agents--Wendy Lawton and Terry Whalin.

To the top right you'll see I've added a poll. Look for a poll each week. If you have a burning question that you'd like to see polled, don't hesitate to leave me a comment.

Next, I've added a current list of the books I'm reading to the bottom of the right hand column. Occasionally I will giveaway a book for those who leave comments. (I'll specify the days for that.)Some authors I'm featuring are also putting up books, so look for that, too.

I always want to know what people are thinking, so I'm going to start asking YOU questions or to complete the sentence.

So,to start off this week, leave your comment answering this question:

What historical figure do you admire most?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Virginia Smith

Here's a first for the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe'--I have a kid descendent from the famous Kentucky McCoy(sic)-Hatfield Feud. (Since Ginny is a McCoy, she put that name first.) I couldn't even make this stuff up. And she's a fireball, both as a writer and a person. But the grace of Jesus Christ has brought peace to Ginny--and she's passing that on to those who take time to read her fiction.

Ginny was named after her grandmother, Virginia McCoy Patrick.
Ginny said, "Yes, we’re those McCoys, half of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Or, as we refer to it, the McCoy-Hatfield feud."

She left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has published six novels and numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am and just released TODAY-- Murder by Mushroom.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.” (So if you're a Trekkie--you might want to bring her in as your next speaker.)

And Ginny doesn't just speak and write--she also sings. She just recorded her first solo CD. To find out how to get a copy of this CD, go to

Let's see what shaped Ginny's writing:

Childhood Ambition: I don’t remember having any ambitions when I was in grade school, but in seventh grade I was selected to be Judge Jezabelle Justice in a mock courtroom trial. (Thank you, Mr. Davis.) From that moment on, I wanted to be a lawyer and work my way up to the bench. I never dreamed in a million years that I’d grow up to be a writer!

Ginny at 10

Fondest Memory: One hot, humid summer day in central Kentucky my little sister and I were playing outside and heard the sound every child recognizes immediately – music from the ice cream truck. We raced inside and managed to finagle money from Mom. Then we stood at the end of the driveway, clutching our money in sweaty fists and waiting for the truck to come our way. The tantalizing tones of that distinctive music echoed all around us as the truck navigated through our neighborhood. It seemed the ice cream man was determined to drive down every street but ours. Occasionally the music would stop as he served ice cream to some other kid, then start again when he continued on his way. We decided if we could hear him, then maybe he could hear us. So we waited for the next pause in the music, and then we shouted in unison at the top of our lungs, “Ice Cream Man, wherever you are, come to us at 522 Reed Drive!” Oh, the joy when we saw the brightly colored truck turn the corner onto our street! And the sense of victory that we’d managed to draw him to us from afar. I can still taste my Drumstick – vanilla ice cream in a crunchy cone topped with chocolate and nuts. Yummy!

Proudest Moment: After my first novel, Just As I Am, was released, I received a letter from an inmate in a Mississippi prison. He told me that he was using my book in a discussion group he led with other inmates, and that one of them had accepted Christ as his Savior. A proud moment, certainly, but I was also immensely humbled and awed that the Lord could use something I had written to draw another into His kingdom.

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: Insecurity. Isn’t that true of everyone? But of course we always think we’re the only kid in the world who doesn’t quite measure up to everyone else, the only one who isn’t “good enough.” Remember Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown comic strip, the kid who was always surrounded by a cloud of filth? That’s how I felt, only my filth was inside. I came from a broken and dysfunctional home with an alcoholic stepfather. I always felt like an oddball, like everybody else had nice, normal home lives while mine was full of strife and darkness. Those feelings haunted me far into my adult life, until Jesus finally convinced me that His blood really did scrub me clean.

My First Job: My dad, my real father, owned a couple of drug stores, so even before I was legally old enough to be on the payroll, I worked for him on weekends. My first job was helping with a store-wide inventory – counting and recording every product on the shelves. I don’t know if they still do that now, with computers keeping track of what is sold, but it was a huge ordeal back in 1973. I think I made $1.50 an hour, which wasn’t even minimum wage, but the going rate for 13-yr-old babysitters was $0.50, so I was rich by local standards.

Childhood indulgence: Hmmm… I didn’t get it very often, but I loved homemade peach ice cream that my aunt and uncle made with an old hand-crank ice cream freezer. They lived out on a farm, with pigs and chickens and cows, and I loved going to visit them. And I really do think we had ice cream at every visit. And fried chicken, which I tried hard not to compare to the fuzzy baby chicks I fed in the chicken coop.

Favorite Outfit as a child: When I was about eight my mother made me a fairy princess costume for Halloween. Oh, it was beautiful; a long, silky gown that swished when I moved, and a glittery wand and everything. I still remember how I felt wearing that dress – like a real princess. It was cold outside, but I refused to wear a coat because it would hide my costume!

Favorite Childhood Movie: The Wizard of Oz! When it began, Dorothy lived in a colorless, scary world. But when she stepped out of that house and into Oz, everything was bright and colorful and shiny and wonderful. I really, really, really wanted to go to Oz.

Favorite Childhood Book: Without a doubt, C. S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (Gosh, I was really into stories where children slipped into interesting new worlds, wasn’t I?) My mother read all seven Chronicles of Narnia aloud before I could read, and as soon as I could read them myself, I did. Over and over. Seriously, I think I’ve read each of those books at least twenty times, and VDT was my favorite. Maybe that’s why I like cruises so much today!

Childhood hero: My Aunt Patti was the coolest, hippest, most awesome relative in the world. She wore bellbottoms and moccasins and beaded vests and taught me how to make a peace sign. And when she came over she brought strange music for us to listen to, like Dylan and Bob Mclean. She played the guitar and the banjo, and she was a prison guard, for heavens’ sake! What isn’t cool about that? Every birthday I can ever remember she has called me and said, “I remember the day you came home from the hospital, and I got to hold you, and I peeled the dead skin off your bellybutton.” LOL! Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound like a hero-thing to you, but the fact that she still, to this day, calls me to tell me she is happy that I was born makes her my hero.

Childhood Mystery: I had a great aunt whom I adored. Aunt Teenie was referred to as the old maid of the family – but never to her face. She lived with my grandmother in the house in which they’d both been born. I asked her once why she never married, and she said, “Oh, I almost did. Once.” And she looked so sad I couldn’t bear to ask for more details. But it was the mystery of my childhood – who had Aunt Teenie loved so intensely that she was still sad about it a gazillion years later? Why had they not married? Sadly, she died before I learned the whole story.
Anything else you'd like to share from your childhood that turned you into the writer you are today?: Primarily, I learned to love books. My mother modeled that for me – she always had a book going, and she never went anywhere without a novel or two tucked in her purse. I remember going with her to the library as a little girl, and she let me pick out books to read. The feeling of excitement as I walked out of that big, fancy building with a stack of books in my arms has never faded. (The photo to the right is Aunt Teenie holding Ginny.)

See Virginia Smith's books and writing at her web site.
You can check her bi-monthly newsletter archives here.

Would you like to win an IPOD?? Ginny is having a contest. If you post a review of Ginny's book, Murder by Mushroom before August 31st, you can enter this contest. Go to this site to see details!

Books by Virginia Smith:

Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August, 2007, ISBN 037344253X) –A potluck on the lawn of Heritage Community Church attracts the usual pests - ants and flies, gossips and murderers. In this cozy mystery set in the small town of Versailles, Kentucky, kitchen klutz Jackie Hoffner decides to bring something other than potato chips to the church potluck. When someone plants poisonous mushrooms in her casserole to kill a gossipy old lady, Jackie determines to find the killer and clear her name.

Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006, ISBN 0825436931)

Sometimes God’s call comes when we least expect it, and to the most unlikely people! When purple-haired Mayla Strong slumps into the back pew of Mama’s little country church she has only one goal – to get Mama off her back. But Pastor Paul’s message pierces her soul, and almost before she knows what’s happening she’s in front of the congregation, lip stud and all, praying the prayer that changes her life forever. She is baptized on the spot, wearing Mama’s slip under her white baptism robe to hide her hot pink panties from eyes of the curious congregation. Coming out of the water, Mayla knows life will never be the same.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Where You Wanna Eat At?

(My title is pure Hoosier. We always end sentences with prepositions.)

This is a room in the Joseph Decuis restaurant.

Amy Wallace over at her Peek-a-BooICU blog had this meme about favorite local restaurants. It seemed so appropriate, that I stole it!

My favorite places to eat here in Indiana means I usually have to travel anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and a half. It's tough to eat out, since I live in the middle of woods,over the river, by a cornfield, by a bridge, by a creek, next to a pond (yeah,ok, so it's the mosquitos who feast around here.)Thus, I'm not close to any fabulous restaurants. But I love to eat out, when we can. Right now the Indiana sweet corn is in and we are shuckin' and a'boilin' corn on the cob almost every night. I also love homegrown tomatoes and will eat them by themselves until my mouth is sore!

Here are the meme rules:

*Link to the name of the person that tagged you
*Include state and country you live in
*List top 5 favorite local restaurants
*Tag 5 other people and let them know they've been tagged

1. My top restaurant choice is Pete's Duck Inn. They have THE best filet steaks in the world, not far from where I live--and I've eaten in some of the top 10 steakhouses around the country at one time or another. I love a good, grilled steak, though Pete doesn't spend much on his decor.You go there for the steak or frog legs. (Yes, real frog legs.Tastes like chicken--but the delicate tender-crisp breading is exquisite.) Our cousin, LB, raises beef cattle and I have a freezer full of beef, so I really don't have to leave home for it. But Pete sure can fix a steak. (And for the cheapest price, too!)It's a local secret and adults only, alas. But he does do catering.

2. Next would be Ivanhoe's. Ivanhoe's is in Upland, near Taylor University. Boy, do they have some favorite items! I love their strawberry shortcake with soft-serve ice cream in the spring/summer. In the fall they have a pumpkin pie milkshake that is delish! And I love their fruit plate/chicken salad, tenderloin, and hamburgers. You really can't go wrong with anything on their menu. Taylor students have been known to return to TU and make a trip to Ivanhoe's because it's so good. And there is a milkshake and sundae list that numbers in the hundreds. They even have a club where you can check off each one as you try it. A few bottomless pit stomaches--er, I mean, students, have won the honors of making it through the entire list.

3. Ruth Chris Steakhouse hit Indianapolis from New Orleans, and just has great eats, though pricey and elegant. We get there once or twice a year. I love their steaks!(But yes, I have tried other dishes,except when they have have Kobe beef.) But I always save room for dessert at this place--my very favorite dessert in all the world is creme' brulee'.

4. Not very often, but a couple times a year (especially when my husband's staff gets us a gift card for Christmas) we head to Indianapolis to an authentic German restaurant called, The Rathskeller. I love the potato pancake, the red cabbage, and several of the main entrees, like stuffed filet (oh, yummmmm,) steak diane and any of the traditional choices,like schnitzel. I always have a tough time choosing the main entree, but I always get the red cabbage and potato pancake so that's a no-brainer.

This is Leon Decuis and Celeste from the restaurant Joseph Decuis. Quoted from their site: "The Joseph Decuis art program began in 1996 with three objectives: to contribute to the visually stimulating atmosphere of the restaurant for the enjoyment of guests, share contemporary fine art with an appreciative audience, and support the artistic community.

Our restaurant features the largest permanent collection of oil paintings and sculpture by artist Tim Johnson. Many of the works have been commissioned by the restaurant. Tim is a frequent guest at the restaurant on his many trips to the United States from his home in Cannes, France."

See why this is such a lovely choice?

5. Joseph Decuis is not only a great place to eat, but is just plain beautiful with the arts and music contributing to the ambiance. It's in an historic bank in Roanoke, Indiana. Once when we went there for our anniversary, they printed up our menu with our names at the top! The menu changes often, and the chef is world class. I may have listed it last, but if we get to choose a restaurant and have the time to travel, Joseph Decuis is my top choice. It also has an Inn to stay in overnight,and we plan on doing this.

I am tagging some of my fellow Hoosiers--Cara and Sabrina, because I would like to know where they love to eat (and I can go there!) Then, I'm tagging Camy because she talks about food and drinks a lot and I'd love to hear what she has to say. I am tagging Nancy, because she lives in Chicago and I want you to hear what she has to say about pizza! And finally, the fifth person is Delia because she's just plain fun and no matter what she tells us about her favorite places, it will be an adventure.

Now, one more thing. Are you a book lover? If so, I invite you to join Shelfari, a place where you can talk books, ANY books, and connect with like-minded souls. If you scroll to the very bottom of this blog, you'll see my Shelfari shelf of books. I'd love to connect to you, too, as a "friend" in Shelfari, so be sure to look me up if you join.