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 http://www.virginiasmith.org/id12.html

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.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading about Ginny-- one of my favorites! Thank you, Crystal for serving up such delicious fare in the old Chat 'N' Chew Cafe.

Ginny, VDT is one of my all time favorites-- especially the scene where brave little Reepicheep heads off in his coracle on the sparkly water. "This is where I go on alone." Sniff. I wonder if I'll see him in his little coracle as I get ready to cross over?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for introducing us to Ginny. I was quite impressed with "Just As I Am" and am part-way through "Murder by Mushroom."

Thanks to you I may have an Ipod in my future.

fingers crossed...

Anonymous said...

I was so touched by Ginny's comment about the Proud Moment when the inmate in a Miss.prison wrote her. Sometimes we never know
the power of the written word.
Thank you Crystal for allowing us to meet that dear Ginny Smith. Can't wait to read her new book.
I have heard her CD. She has a lovely voice!
God bless you,
Lucy Adams