Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Romancing the Crystal


Tomorrow I take up the challenge Rachel Hauck made in her blog to do in November. For the entire month I am waking up each day saying, "Jesus, here I am, Your favorite one.God likes me and I look good to Him."

Rachel says you may need to repeat it throughout the day, six, seven, eight times. "Take a moment to meditate on what you are saying. Hear Him respond!"

I am searching for scripture showing me how he loves me. I even bought Max Lucado's new book, 3:16:The Numbers of Hope(Thomas Nelson). If you, too, wish to find the ways that God loves you, then check in here for encouragements and what I discover. I am giving away romances this month, too, so look for drawings (leave comments when designated,sorry, U.S. Addresses only) to win Christian romance novels or books related to romance or maybe just a book that I love. I probably will talk about writing romance, as well.

I'll post my 100 Things about Me just to open the vein tomorrow. It's hard to allow someone (including God) to love you if you know nothing about yourself--so I'm going to show things about me to try to know myself. Maybe in that process, you will find things to love about yourself and admit that you are indeed, God's favorite. It really is a tough concept in my opinion. If it weren't tough, then the whole world would have accepted God's love by now. How could they not?

My very favorite verse in the Bible is: "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners,Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8 NIV)

My heart is racing already with anticipation! (smile)



Talking about romances, today check over at When I Was Just a Kid blogspot and see the Kid interview with Cara Putnam, whose historical romance, Canteen Dreams was released this month. (Heartsong Presents) If you leave a comment there, you will be entered in a drawing to get this new book.

I will continue to post the When I Was Just a Kid interviews on the other blog, so if you tune here to see those, just click on the names on the right to find them.



mothersday 002

Who loves ya, baby?

Monday, October 29, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid Interview Posted

Can you guess who this adorable and friendly Southern Belle is? She is today's guest on When I Was Just a Kid, so go check it out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Crisis in Bookland

This week I'm featuring the last few authors as kids from my October schedule (Check list to the right side.) Sometimes I have satellite issues here in Bird's Nest. My internet is affected by weather and atmospheric sunspots. (I don't really know this for certain but since I don't know, I blame it on that--even on a clear day.) This is why sometimes I'm slow on posting to my blog.

One of my featured authors is a personal favorite. She has written some of my most favorite books I've read lately! And I just heard an awful announcement: two of her books are going OUT OF PRINT! Noooooooooooooooooo! Ok, so that means I am not loaning my copies to anyone. Not even Melba. (Well, maybe Melba...)

Anyway, I just ordered one of her out of print books--a(used) copy of Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell. If you leave a comment here, your name will be placed in a drawing to win that book (I'll draw it on the day her interview appears.) It distresses me that I'm featuring her and will tell you the wonders of her books, and then two of them are going out of print. What are they thinking?! There are used copies you can get at The titles are Kissing Adrien and Something Beyond the Sky.

But, some of her other books are still available and I'm getting ready to read:

Do check in this week for drawings for free books (only those within the United States are eligible, sorry. No international shipping.)

At the end of the month(November) and 1st week in December I've lined up authors who write for children and YA/teens for my When I Was Just a Kid features. I'm calling it, Kids Who Grew Up to Write for Kids. I'm excited about this and will have a new Kid up every day, and there will be a drawing for a book from each one every day, too. (Only U.S. addresses, sorry!) If you are looking for books for Christmas, you might want to check in for that.

Tell me your favorite genre of books in your comment! Nonfiction or fiction? Or both?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Kathi Macias

Want to See the latest When I Was Just a Kid interview with author, Kathi Macias?

This little sweetie is Kathi Macias and she has so much going on, that there's no time like the present to feature this active and prolific author. Her tagline, Communicating the vision… comes from a verse in the Bible which says, "And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it." (Habakkuk 2:2) She is serious about her mission to communicate and stay in the center of God's will in her life.

She may one day be ghostwriting with another author, the next writing script for a highly controversial movie (starring Jon Voight,)

and the next writing her own stories. Recently she kept watch as the California fires burned very close to her home, so she is no stranger to adventures of her own.And she became spiritual director of Set Free Today, a ministry that was founded by another Kid interviewee, Jan Coates. In all of it she stays close to her family, and to her husband whom she has known since they were children.

Let's find out what touched Kathi as a young person to develop her into the writer, mentor,teacher and speaker that she is today:

Childhood Ambition: To be a writer! My husband, Al, and I have known each other since we were six years old. When we were walking home from junior high school one day ...

To READ THE REST OF THE STORY go to: When I Was Just a Kid blogspot!

From now on I will be posting the complete interviews at When I Was Just a Kid, but stay tuned at the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe' for personal thoughts, writing helps and my favorite writing happenings around the 'net!

Happy chewing and chatting!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...N.J. Lindquist


N.J., Age 6

N.J. Lindquist dreamed of having a life like Jo Marsh in Little Women--and it came true! I relate to N.J. a lot, since I had similar aspirations and I, too, grew up to have four boys and to write. N. J., an award-winning author and speaker, grew up reading Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew, switched to the works of Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardiner, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Sayers, and P. D. James.

Shaded Light is her first mystery, but she also has written eight books for teens, a play, and a number of stories and articles for both adults and teens. A popular speaker, N. J. is also an experienced writing teacher with expertise in a number of areas. Formerly from the Canadian prairies, N. J., her husband Les, and their four sons have lived in Markham, Ontario since 1986. Check out her most recent novel, Glitter of Diamonds.

Let's see what shaped the author, wife, teacher and mom to four boys that she became:


Childhood Ambition:

I had two. The practical one: to be a teacher. The dream: to be like Jo Marsh in Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys (write books, be surrounded by boys, and have a loft where I could be alone to write and eat apples). I don’t know if I ever told anyone about the latter ambition. It was my secret dream. And I still have to pinch myself before I can believe I’ve actually achieved all of it! I taught high school and homeschooled my four sons; I’m the author of 10 books and numerous columns and articles; our house has a third story loft where I’m typing this; I eat an apple almost every day.

Fondest Memory (then):

Probably the Christmas when there was only one thing I wanted; a doll I had seen at a wholesale in Winnipeg. Her name was Sweet Sue and she had a beautiful pink and black dress and a ballet outfit, and I think I wanted her more than anything I’d ever wanted. My parents told me she cost a lot of money and we couldn’t afford her. But I steadfastly believed that my dad would get her for me. I had a lot of confidence in my dad. That Christmas morning, at about five AM, I woke up and headed down the stairs. My parents heard me and called out, “Where are you going?” and I said, “Down to get my doll!” Sure enough, she was there. I don’t know what I’d have done if she hadn’t been. Probably been warped for life!

N.J. at Christmas, Age 11 with Doll and Dog


Proudest Moment (now or then):

Now: Most of my proud moments are focused on my four amazing sons!

Then: When I was in grade seven, our health teacher assigned an essay for health class in which we were to explain why we should eat vegetables. Instead of writing an essay, in one of the few moments I let go and did it “my” way, I wrote a story called “Alice in Vegetableland.” Alice, a young girl who didn’t want to eat her vegetables, fell asleep and went to a magic land where the vegetables all spoke to her and told her why she should eat them. Fortunately, my teacher loved it and asked me to read it on parent’s day. The sad thing is that that was one of the last times I really showed my creativity until I was in university. My other teachers, for the most part, weren’t open to my creativity and I basically kept it hidden for a long, long time.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

For most of my life, I felt different from other people, and not in a good way. I never really felt like a kid. I always felt responsible for people – even for my parents. I wondered if maybe it was because I was adopted, but that didn’t really make sense because being adopted never really bothered me. I always believed that God put me where he wanted me. And my parents loved me and were good parents.

It wasn’t until much later that things came into focus for me. I realized that being an adopted child was a problem, but only because my parents didn’t have a plumb line for understanding me. With my own sons, and even my grandchildren, I can look at them and say, “You’re just like your dad…” or your aunt..” But my parents had no way of knowing who I was like.

But the bigger problem was that, although I remember doing IQ tests every few years in school, no one ever told my parents or me that I was gifted. It wasn’t until an experimental psychology class in second year university that I finally saw the results of a bunch of tests we did, and discovered I was gifted, highly artistic, and very creative. I rushed to the library and found every book they had on being gifted (maybe three books) and devoured them. I especially remember the book, Growing Up Gifted. It was as if a lightbulb went on! So that’s what it was!

At age 19, for the first time in my life, I realized there was nothing wrong with me. In fact, it was a good thing! I’m still an introvert and I still think differently from other people, but I no longer feel I have to fit in.

My First Job:

That’s easy. My dad owned a clothing store in a small town (2,000 people). I was helping in the store when I was 10, helping pick clothes from the wholesales and decorating the windows when I was 12 or 13. I enjoyed most of it. The one thing I didn’t like was having to help older women try on clothes and tell them they looked nice.

Childhood Indulgence:

There was a corner store half way between my house and the school. Nearly every day, my girlfriend and I would stop on the way back to school at noon, and I’d usually buy 5 red licorice (at 2 cents each.) Not so good for the teeth, I now know, but that was probably my worst habit.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

Oh dear. I loved clothes from when I was quite young. Loved colors and putting them together. I used to create clothes for my paper dolls and eventually made clothes for my dolls when I was about 13. And of course when we went to the wholesales to choose clothes for the store, I got to choose what I wanted for myself, too. But, to be perfectly honest, my favorite outfit, and the one that immediately pops into my mind, was probably my six guns and cowboy hat, worn over a pair corduroy pants. I wore them for years while pretending I was Bob Steele or Roy Rogers chasing the bad guys. We had a railing around our porch that made a terrific horse. And no, it didn’t make me want to actually shoot anyone!

N.J. in Fringe Jacket, Age 7


Favorite Childhood Movie:

I don’t know about movies, but every day at 5 they showed B westerns on the one TV channel we had. And while Roy and Gene and the other were good, my favourite was always Bob Steele!

Favorite Childhood Book:

The Golden Book of Poetry. There’s a story to go with this, but it’s too long to tell here. Basically, I was given the book when I was 6 years old by an elderly gentleman (“Uncle Frank”) who had to be sent by God. I spent hours and hours reading and rereading the poems, and memorized many of them.

N.J. and Uncle Frank


Childhood Hero(es):

Bob Steele, Ro Rogers, Mickey Mantle, Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe, in that order.

Anything else you'd like to share with readers about your childhood?:

I guess the one thing I haven’t talked about is the fact that I knew God from when I was very young. My grandmother on my dad’s side was a devout Christian, as were several of my aunts and their husbands, and they told me about God in various ways. I must have simply believed. My parents went to church for years, but they didn’t understand that you could have a personal relationship with God until quite late in life. And yet I had a relationship with him from when I was three or four years old. I believe he gave me the gift of faith, along with a lot of perseverance (some might say stubbornness.)


Nancy's web site

Glitter of Diamonds

Books by N.J. Lindquist:

Adult Mysteries:

Shaded Light (Book 1 in the Manziuk and Ryan Mystery series

& Glitter of Diamonds, Book 2 in the Manziuk and Ryan Mystery series.

After a local sports radio talk-show host calls for a volunteer to knock some sense into the baseball team's temperamental pitcher, Manziuk and Ryan must catch a murderer swinging a lethal bat.

“You can hear the fans screaming as N. J. Lindquist hits another grand slam over the wall. A masterfully written whodunit that will keep even diehard mystery aficionados guessing to the very end.” Keith Clemons, award-winning author of These Little Ones

ISBN: 9780-9685495-9-9
Hard cover, 5.5" x 8.5", 384 pp
$24.95 US / $29.95 Cdn

Read Chapter One of Glitter of Diamonds


Review of Glitter of Diamonds:

"Sports fans and readers who like police procedurals will want to read GLITTER OF DIAMONDS where famous baseball players are shown to be ordinary people with the same stress and problems as anyone else. The investigation is fascinating to watch as the police follow the clues and eliminate suspects one by one. N.J. Lindquist is a fine writer who tells an exciting baseball whodunit."

MidWest Book review

Teen coming of age novels:

Circle of Friends series and In Time of Trouble

The New You and The Bridge 1 and 2 (teen discipleship materials)

Friday, October 19, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Bonnie Leon


Bonnie Leon had many special moments that she tells us about in this revelation, but she also experienced some tough things where she reveals how she faced them. Her mom with tears in her eyes said to her once, "I never thought you'd make it." We're sure glad she has, but also that her journey includes speaking and writing, to help others along.

Let's see what Bonnie tells us about her childhood:

Did you want to travel as a child? Did you? Places where you lived as a child?

Travel wasn’t something I thought much about. But we did take a family trip at least once a year. Most often we camped or made fishing trips. My father was an avid fisherman. We’d travel to Neah Bay, Washington, which is on the tip of the Washington Peninsula and stay a week. The fishing was usually great. With seven of us fishing we often left with ice chests filled with salmon and a variety of bottom fish.

One trip that stands out above all the others was one we made to Alaska when I was ten. My parents saved up for more than a year. Money wasn’t easy to come by, and in those days people didn’t borrow for things like vacations. My mother grew up in Alaska and it had been more than twenty years since she’d been home to see her family. We set off on a June morning, pulling a tear-drop trailer behind our station wagon and traveled 2400 miles, half of it on a gravel road. We saw all kinds of wildlife, including a moose that wouldn’t get out of our way on the road, a lynx that actually jumped at our car (with deadly results), a bear, and while traveling through Cook Inlet in a dory we drove through a school of beluga whales. The panoramas were impressive even to a ten-year-old.

It took us seven days to travel to Anchorage and nine days back. We spent two weeks exploring the state, which included my grandparents homestead on Alexander Creek, where to this day the only way in is by boat or water plane or snow machine in the winter. That trip was one of the most amazing excursions I’ve ever taken. I was young, but it left a lasting impression and the scenes and fun is still very close in my memories.

Childhood Ambition:

I remember wanting to be a cowgirl when I grew up. Annie Oakley was my favorite television show. Course when I got a little older, my goals changed. I decided I’d like to be a psychologist. I never managed to accomplish either of these goals in a professional way, but as I grew I did do quite a bit of horseback riding and as any mother will tell you, psychology is part of our job description.

Fondest Memory (then):

This is a silly thing, but it stands out above everything else. I was very young, probably three or four. We had one of those small inflatable swimming pools and I’d dropped a table knife into it, putting a hole in the bottom. The pool was ruined and the water drained out. My brothers were so mad at me and ran to tell our mom. I remember my mother coming out to investigate and I was so afraid because I knew I deserved a spanking. Instead, she smiled at me and said, “You’re full of prunes,” which was an expression of endearment that she used. Then she pulled me into her arms and hugged me. It was one of those moments when you know you’re loved and forgiven.

Proudest Moment (then):

My fifth grade class was given an assignment – write a story. I wrote, what today I’d consider a silly story, but it was pretty good for a fifth grader. It was about a battle between Indians and soldiers (1800’s) and how a native girl steps out bravely and puts a stop to the fighting. I received a A+ for the story and my family was so proud of me. I remember them thinking that I was a pretty good writer. I kept that story for many years, but somewhere in our many moves it got left behind. I’ve no idea what happened to it.

My Proudest Moment as an Adult;

I guess the birth of my first child was my proudest moment. It wasn’t an easy labor (is there such a thing?). I remember holding that perfect little boy in my arms and knowing I’d done something special. It was very empowering. After that, I figured I could do anything.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

Overcoming a speech impediment was one of the toughest things I had to overcome as a child. My mom said I’d repeat myself and repeat myself, each time raising voice until I’d be shouting, trying to make people understand me. Kids are mean and so they teased, but I found a friend in a speech therapist. To this day, I can envision him and he was so kind and helpful. It took a couple of years of therapy, but I made it. I actually give speeches now and usually people understand me.

My First Job:

I worked in the fields (berries & green beans) as a teen-ager, but my first “real” job was right after I graduated from High School. I moved to Downey, California to live with my fiance’s family while he went oversees to serve in Viet Nam. I went to work for an insurance agency as a receptionist. It was a good experience and I learned a lot. Monday mornings on the switchboard could be interesting, though, with every line lit up.

Childhood indulgence:

I have to name more than one. I had several, but I’ll share just three. I loved riding horses, the smell of them, the sound of a leather saddle, and the feel of the horse was fabulous. My sister and I would ride the trails in the woods near our home and run the horses through nearby fields. Whenever possible we rode bareback, which seemed more daring and fun because I felt more a part of the horse.

In those days I loved reading (still do). I could spend hours in a book. Whenever possible, I’d read a book straight through. I wish I still had the time for that kind of reading—maybe one day.

Birthdays were always special at my house. It was a day set apart to celebrate our birth. We were relieved of our daily chores, except for necessities; we chose what we wanted for dinner, and chose what kind of cake we wanted. My birthday is just four days after Valentines Day so my mother would always make me a heart shaped cake and make sure I got the point—it had the most frosting. Yum.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

When I was ten my favorite outfit was a pair of white cotton capris (pedal pushers in that day) with a white sailor-suit type blouse that matched. I remember thinking I was pretty hot stuff in that outfit.

Favorite Childhood Movie:

I had lots of favorite movies, but probably The Wizard of Oz is an all time favorite. My brothers and sisters and I watched it on television every year for years. I also must include the Shirley Temple movies. I loved them all and still do.

Favorite Childhood Book:

The Bobbsey Twins books were some of my earliest favorites, then Nancy Drew stories. I think I read every one. I also read The Hardy Boys. After that I moved on to Gothics and then to books like The Hobbit. I was so sorry when I finished reading that book. I wanted it to go on and on.

Childhood Hero:

Helen Keller was one of my heroes. After reading the story of her life, I thought she had to be the bravest and most intelligent person ever born. I wanted to be like her.

Favorite Childhood Pets:

I grew up with a Dachshund called Hans. We bought him as a puppy for our mom (the only way to get a dog was to make a gift of one to our mom). But she loved him. I remember her crying when she saw him. He was such a cute little guy and grew up to be loyal and brave. He’d chase down any dog who dared step in our yard, no matter how big it might be. I also had a cat, Sophie. She had long gray hair and white paws and was my buddy. She loved to cuddle. She was a great cat; I’ve had only one as special since and his name was Simon.

Anything else you'd like readers to know about you as a child that affected the writer today:

I had a good childhood—good parents and a nice home, but it also contained some tough stuff—my speech impediment, sexual abuse, rape, and then as I grew older drugs and alcohol. I was not an ideal child by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, after I came to Christ and realized how much God loved me and started walking with Him, my mother would sometimes look at me and her eyes would fill with tears and she’d say, “I never thought you’d make it.” I have to smile. God knew. He knows the beginning and the end. He has used the good and the bad to shape me into the person I am. And I know enough of the tough stuff to write from the heart and I also know enough good to realize how wonderful life is.


From Bonnie's Bio we learn a few more things about her:

Storytelling has been an integral part of Bonnie Leon’s life ever since her childhood, when she sat at the feet of her Aleut ancestors, listening to the legends and family history they shared.

Throughout the ensuing years, Bonnie dabbled at writing but didn’t seriously consider becoming a professional author. Instead, as a young woman, she happily stepped into the full-time profession of homemaker and mother. Pollywog hunting, finger-painting, blackberry picking, and creating fun messes in the kitchen with her children are some of her most precious and irreplaceable memories.

When her youngest child was nine years old, Bonnie decided it was time to return to the working world. She took a position in her hometown of Glide, Oregon, working with the elderly and handicapped.

Then on June 11, 1991, her world was shattered when a log truck hit the van she was driving. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and feeling as if she had nothing to offer the world, she asked God to give her something to do that mattered.

His answer came when she received a scholarship to attend the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Conference. That conference ignited Bonnie’s passion for literature and for writing, and she has been writing ever since

Be sure to check Bonnie's web site to see her latest releases and other news!

Bonnie's Books!
Her most recent release is To Love Anew, historical fiction, that opens in 1804 London. It is the story of John Bradshaw and Hannah Talbot—two people betrayed by life who must find a way to live and love again.

The Sydney Cove Series

To Love Anew by Bonnie LeonTo Love Anew

Buy this Book

Read an Excerpt

Hannah Talbot has no one. Forced to leave the only home she's ever known, she works for a cruel employer who brutally takes the one thing she has left—her dignity. Defiled and facing the compounded shame of pregnancy, Hannah prays for the child’s death. When an ensuing miscarriage crushes her beneath a burden of guilt and shame, Hannah is certain her sin is too great for even a benevolent God to forgive.

John Bradshaw was a successful businessman whose untamed spirit sometimes wanted more. When he is betrayed by those closest to him, he loses everything—his wife, his business, even his freedom.

Then John and Hannah's paths cross aboard a ghastly, nineteenth-century prison ship en route to Australia. Can they find a way to keep hope alive and learn to trust the encompassing love of a merciful God?

She also has a story about one of her family pets, Benny, a great big loveable dog who was part of her life for fifteen years. The story is included in a compilation book called A Prince Among Dogs and Other Stories of the Dogs We Love.

Bonnie says:

"I’m excited about this book! Benny was a wonderful family companion. It’s wonderful to share his life and the kind of impact he had on us with others."

Bonnie has a slew of other books, and you may find one that sweeps you away. Be sure to check them out!

The Queensland Chronicles Series

When the Storm Breaks by Bonnie LeonWhen the Storm Breaks (Queensland Chronicles Book 3)

Buy this book

The terrible drought continues in Thornton Creek, parching the land and the strength of all who live there.

After a devastating fire eats up most of Douloo and leaves them with barely enough to survive, Daniel and Rebecca Thornton are forced to go to extremes to provide for their growing family.

Can hope be found in such a barren land?

For the Love of the Land by Bonnie LeonFor the Love of the Land (Queensland Chronicles Book 2)

Buy this book

Before Rebecca Thornton arrived at Douloo Station, she knew it would be very different from her beloved Boston. But she never imagined what troubles awaited her and her new husband, Daniel, or how their faith would be tested.

In the midst of a serious drought, Daniel’s heart becomes as parched as the flat prairie around him. And though she’s surrounded by family, Rebecca’s dreams of a happy life seem to be slipping away.

Can Rebecca and Daniel overcome the drought in their land and in their souls?

The Heart of Thornton Creek by Bonnie LeonThe Heart of Thornton Creek (Queensland Chronicles Book 1)

Buy this book

When proper Bostonian Rebecca Williams follows handsome Australian Daniel Thornton to his family's Queensland cattle station, she's in for a few surprises. Daniel's father, Bertram, not only controls the prosperous ranch, but everything and everybody for miles around--including his son.

Will Rebecca adjust to the bullying, or will Bertram drive the young couple apart?

Also check out:

The Matanuska Series

The Sowers Trilogy

The Northern Lights Series

and a stand alone:

A Sacred Place by Bonnie LeonA Sacred Place

Buy this book

As World War I breaks out, the arranged marriage of Mary Matroona, an 18-year-old Aleut girl, to Sean Calhoun, an Irish immigrant, begins a story of enduring human spirit and the power of love to break through every barrier.

She also speaks on topics concerning her life experiences and on becoming a writer. Check this link to see where she will be speaking and how to get her to come to your event.

IF YOU ARE A WRITER OR WANT TO BE then go to this page for a lot of useful information!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Are You God's Favorite?

I swiped this photo from Robin Lee Hatcher awhile back because it made me laugh and I'm living in Bird's Nest, Indiana. I remember The Smothers Brothers and the fight they had, "Mom likes me best!"

But I don't know that I ever embraced just how crazy God is about me. Yes, I know in my head and heart that He died for me, would've done it ALL just for me, but in the back of my mind, playing over and over again are the old tapes about me not being "good enough," last in line for God's love (in the line, but last!) Well, that's a lie. And I know it, but I need to truly embrace it.

Along comes Rachel Hauck with a challenge for November:

"So, here's the Favorite One Challenge. For the month of November, wake up saying, "Jesus, here I am Your favorite one." Add to it, "God likes me and I look good to Him."

Repeat it throughout the day, six, seven, eight times. Take a moment to meditate on what you are saying. Hear Him respond!

Do a scripture search on "delight," "love," or "beloved." Study the Psalms or Song of Solomon as God's message of love to the individual believer."
--Rachel Hauck

So, I'm telling you and maybe you can keep me accountable or maybe you will join me. In the month of November I will find a verse a day where God tells me (in the Bible) what He thinks of me--that beloved thing. Rachel is so good at this, and it takes someone like her to inspire me.

If you want to take the challenge, too, hop on over to Rachel's and let her know. Do you think we could change the world if we all truly believed we were God's favorite one? Or you can just tell me, or just read my verses that I find in November.

I'm God's favorite. (And so are you.)

Part Two of Reader Interview

Just a link in case you'd like to see the second part of Richard Mabry, M.D.'s interview with me over at his Random Jottings blog. He posted it last night (Tuesday, October 16, 2007.)It's titled,
The "First Reader"-- Interview With Crystal Laine Miller

Hope it is helpful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Viral blog--What Were You Doing Way Back When?

Mary DeMuth over at RelevantBlog had an idea, and it's right up my alley on looking back (though in running if you look back, someone might be gaining on you, so says Satchel Paige.)

From her blog:
"Quick: What were you doing ten, twenty and thirty years ago?
Here's Mary's:
Ten years ago: I lived in Edmonds, Washington in a blue house with white trim. We had a white picket fence that Patrick and our friend Dave Spiro built. We attended Sunrise Christian Fellowship. I was newly pregnant with my third child, Julia, feeling sick to my stomach. I helped format newsletters and wrote in my spare moments. I was a full time mommy, and I reveled in taking walks with my friend Kathy. My closest most amazing friend was Stacey. My hair was brown, not blond. I was out of shape, but I weighed less than I do now (go figure). I loved to cook and I had an amazing group of really fun friends.

Twenty years ago: I was attending Pacific Lutheran University, majoring in English. I lived in a dorm and lamented dorm food. My dearest friend was Julie. We had amazing adventures together. I sang in coffeehouses, attended Puget Sound Christian Center, and was far too anal-retentive about grades. I was too skinny. I had a great group of Christian friends who prayed me through college. God healed me of much during that year of my life. I think that's the year (gasp!) that I got a perm.

Thirty years ago: I was in the fifth grade, with the meanest teacher of my elementary career. We lived in an old white clapboard house on several acres. In two months, my biological father would be dead. My best friend was Amber. I had horses, stringy hair, and was mildly interested in grades. I walked to school. We lived near a convenience store where I discovered the beauty and joy of frozen yogurt, way before TCBY made it popular.

All right, I'm going to tag some of you. It's an experiment to see how many degrees we can separate (kind of like Kevin Bacon, only it's relevantblog). Even if you're not tagged, don't be crabby, just take up the baton and run with it. Here's what I ask: Have folks post their 10-20-30s, and then link back to the Mother Ship."

Back to Crystal:
As far as I know, I haven't been tagged, but in case I am, look for me to be linking back to those people as well.

Ten Years Ago:: Yikes.

Ten years ago I turned 40 (ok, do the math.) We had just moved back "home" and I wasn't happy about that. I no longer had a job or important activities or ministries. My four boys were all in elementary school and all of them and my husband and my parents and my husband's family were thrilled we were "back home" to raise our kids where we were raised. My mom died in April, and my dad was walking in a fog. Aunt Lola was still with us. But as you see in this photo, we still had fun. I thought I was old! And I decided to take a writing class because I couldn't teach P.E. any more, or be on the school board and had no friends yet. Oh, yeah. I could see without glasses.

Twenty Years Ago::

My second son, Jared, was a year old and my first son, Jordan, was 3. We had just moved to my husband's first job and bought our first house. I didn't know anyone, but had lots of friendly, nosy neighbors. I was losing weight rapidly and soon would be dangerously low. (Son #3, Bryce, a few months later would be the saving child who would snap me out of the downward weight spiral and got me to eating to keep him healthy.) Have I mentioned that I don't like living in town and I don't like moving?

Thirty Years Ago:

I was a college sophomore at Ball State University, Muncie,IN (same university Dave Letterman went to,) getting ready to have my below-waist length blonde hair cut up to my ears by a girl who lived on my floor (she had a beautician's license.) I had my ears pierced the first time.

I was considering changing my major from journalism to elementary education and had to drop my journalism scholarship to pick up another one. I was still living with my best friend (BFF) from high school, Linda. I had just got a job as a pre-school teacher right off campus at a church pre-school. (Great job.)I was taking a writing correspondence course with The Children's Institute of Literature (or something like that.)

That winter we had an energy crisis(we used coal) and our campus went on conservation of energy practices (people frowned and considered lynching if you played your albums(!!) on your stereo or used a blowdryer. (fortunately they couldn't hear my hot pot that heated water for my hot chocolate.)

I had interviewed a young Iranian woman on campus the spring before (article in the newspaper) and tensions were high with Iran (and tense on campus with Iranian students.) The hostage crisis in Iran erupted. We had a debilitating blizzard that shut down the campus earlier in the year (my freshman year) and another one hit right at the turn of the calendar in January. I had taken a phys ed conditioning class and dance classes and was in top shape,but was losing more weight.

I tag:




Rachel Hauck


and I'd love it if you would tell me what you were doing, too, or write it on your blog and let me know.

Monday, October 15, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Jan Coates

Jan is living proof that God heals and transforms the improbable. As a survivor of child abuse, divorce, the death of her only child, cancer, gang warfare and more, she writes and speaks with the conviction only a “healed overcomer” can communicate.

Raised in a Christian home, Jan publicly accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at age 10. She maintained her faith in Jesus throughout her childhood. However, as a teen full of shame and guilt from child abuse, she turned her back on her Christian faith. Then in 1982 a drunk driver killed her only child. Jan rededicated her life to Jesus on Easter Sunday 1983. Today, Jan and her husband, Bill, are the proud parents of two teenagers who were adopted as babies through a Christian pro-life organization.

Jan was one of the founding members of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Kansas City, Missouri Chapter. As a Director of the Speakers’ Bureau for this MADD Chapter from 1982-1987, her role included extensive television, radio and platform speaking. She coordinated sales drive campaigns with 2,000-percent increase in local contributions.

Jan has assisted numerous ministries and community organizations over the past 20 years, including: Save Our Streets Ministry, Community Bible Study, Christian Women’s Club, Precept Ministries, Youth for Christ, AWANA, crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life organizations and more.
(*From Jan's web site because I couldn't say it any better.)

When I asked Jan if she would share her childhood, she could have easily turned me down. The past contains pain. But she shared openly and has a book out and a ministry to help others to be Set Free from their pasts, too, as Jan has been. See how a survivor turned mourning into joy in her life now, but let's see what Jan's best memories are:

Fondest Memory (then):

Dad surprised me on my 11th birthday with Cisco, a half-Shetland, half-Welch pony. Cisco used to buck me into the neighborhood creek, bite me on my rear end, run away from me, and I still loved him.

Dad wasn’t so happy when I brought Cisco into the house to see my room. It was about 5:30 am and Dad was asleep. He heard the clanking on the hardwood floors and the thumps against the wall and yelled, “Get those roller skates off, Jan!” When he opened his bedroom door and saw Cisco being led out of the house, I’m sure he had second thoughts about my fondest memory.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

My cowboy boots and jeans.

Proudest Moment (then): I won a purple honorable mention ribbon at the Saddle & Sirloin Horse Show, Leawood, KS, riding Cisco. I continued to own and show horses for 30 years. My last show, The Appaloosa World Championship, I won Reserve World Championship, Western Pleasure. Today, I’m proudest that God loves me just as I am. My proud momma buttons pop when my kids tell me how much they love me. I melt with humility when my husband after 25 years says, “You’re beautiful.”

Favorite Childhood Movie:

I watched every Roy Rogers and Dale Evans movie and TV program possible. As I child, I pretended that I was Dale, riding off into the sunset, leaving the cares of my life behind.

Favorite Childhood Book:

I avidly read my Bible and the family encyclopedias. I also colored on the pages.

Childhood Hero:

My dad, my hero, took me to church three times a week, read the Bible to me, taught me the importance of hard work, character, and integrity. He owned his own business, worked hard, loved God, and always placed family above self.

Anything else you'd like readers to know about you as a child that affected the writer and speaker you are today?:

Like many writers and speakers, God uses my past brokenness, wounds and victories to encourage others who walk through similar valleys. Brennan Manning writes in Abba’s Child, “Grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life.” How like God to place His wounded, healing, work-in-progress children on the front line of His army. I’m humbled and honored.

From Jan:


My first CBA book, Set Free: God's Healing Power for Abuse Survivors and Those Who Love Them has received excellent reception. A small group study package is now available. It includes a DVD, Leader’s Guide, and each participant receives an Interactive Journal and a copy of my book. For more information, please visit I’m working on several new CBA books with a focus on inspiration for the general market audience.

I’ve written more than ten self-published motivation, sales, marketing, and client service books. Few people within the CBA world know that I am a sales/marketing consultant with more than 25 years highly successful corporate experience. Years ago, I was written up in a major business publication as one of the most successful business women in the U.S.

As a professional speaker, Jan uses side-grabbing humor, real-life application, the Scriptures, and prayer to encourage others to come as they are (past baggage and all) and pursue a freedom-filled future in Christ.

Winner of In His Dreams

Cathy S will be receiving a copy of Gail Gaymer Martin's Steeple Hill romance, In His Dreams. (and I'll probably stick a bonus surprise book in, as well.) Thanks for the comment, Cathy!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Interview Over at Random Jottings

My friend and fellow writer, Richard Mabry, M.D.,

who published his personal journey in a book called
The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse (Kregel,) has interviewed me today on his blog, Random Jottings.

If you are curious about first readers and the process your manuscript may go through at a publishing house or literary agency,like Richard, I try to discreetly answer Richard's questions. I rarely talk about this part of my life,as no one wants to know about this, do you? It's like looking at an eclipse of the sun. Anyway, the first part of the interview is up today and you can look for the rest of it on Wednesday. (If it doesn't ruin your image of me. Sigh. I love every author. Truly I do.)

Saturday, Saturday, Ever-loving Saturday

I used to love Saturdays as a kid. Sleep in. Read in the afternoon. Listen to music. Get a few chores done that you can't get done during the week, and kick back. As a grown up Saturday is no different now than any other day of the week. My life is such that I do not have a "Monday-Friday-40-hour-work-week." I have to say that I sort of miss that. I miss the sacredness of the weekend.I noticed, too, that I don't make any distinctions in these posts like, "Today is Saturday and I'm counting my blessings," or "Today is Wednesday's When I Was Just a Kid" Day. Maybe I need to do that.

Anyway, I realized that I never have posted my 100 Loves (or Favorites) or any of those lists that allow people to see what you are like, either. Our preferences and dislikes really do make us as people. I DID once post my 100 Flies in My Soup (those things that buzz around my head and annoy me.) I had intended to complain on Fridays and talk about good things on Saturday. I am providing the link here to that,but I will start working on things that are pleasant, too, as I hate to be known only as a complainer. And maybe I need to hone in just what this blog is. It's probably past time.

I do have one clarification looking at the discussion that followed that Flies post. I said I disliked Japanese food, but maybe it is because I haven't had the dish that would thrill my palette. I'm still open to trying, especially since I love Camy Tang and her book, Sushi for One? And I loved the story/movie, Shogun, too.

I did NOT!!! declare war on Japanese food. It is a simple statement, like "I don't like peas" (which I absolutely do like peas, but I'm just making a point.) Maybe I should be more specific, like, I dislike squid, or dozens of the other stuff I've tried in a Japanese restaurant. If you dislike black-eyed peas, grits and cornbread (I love this southern fare,) I don't try to assassinate your character, now do I? (Like, there must be something very wrong with you...)

One thing I have learned--it is difficult to discuss dislikes in politics,pets, religions,books,children or foods.(Or is the world round, square or elliptical.) Why is that? It's because if we have a personal love or preference, or belief, we feel a person disagreeing with us is attacking us personally. Like we dislike you as a person because we dislike something you like. I want to say right upfront, I really don't think like that. I have strong preferences and beliefs, but I don't get totally militant if you disagree with me.

Anyway. I'm going to ask you: What do you like? Name one thing. (And I will love you, anyway.) And don't be vague. What is it you love about it?

Peace Out, Baby (or Peace, Love and Bobby Sherman)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Gail Gaymer Martin

GGM bandwGailmartin

Gail Gaymer Martin is an award-winning novelist for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing with over one million books in print and forty fiction novels or novellas.That alone is impressive. But that is not all Gail is. She's helpful to other writers, has been a top counselor in Michigan, helping countless people,plays handbells/handchimes, sings and she loves her family and her home state of Michigan.

In 2000 author Lynn Coleman interviewed Gail, where Gail compared the Steeple Hill and Barbour (also including Heartsong) publishing lines that she writes for. Gail knows romance, and she definitely knows the Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing lines. If you are a writer and are interested in writing romance for either of these companies, then it is well worth your time to check out Gail's web site,full of useful information (free!) Also, in December be sure to pick up her Writer's Digest book, Writing The Christian Romance.

Gail Gaymer Martin

If you are a reader who loves a good romance, then pick up one of Gail's many books. (I'm looking forward to reading the Mackinac Island Anthology in my TBR pile that came out this spring from Barbour--loved Mackinac.)

Mackinac Island Anthology
Barbour Publishing
May 2006


Gail says on her web site: Now as an award-winning author of over forty novels and a million books in print, I realize I was a slow starter. When I was in the third grade, my teacher wrote a prophetic message on my report card, "Gail is an excellent writer." It took nearly 50 years for me to realize she’d spoken a truth. Now a published novelist and freelance writer, I look back on my early writing and chuckle. As a pre-teen, I wrote a series of Nancy Drew-type mysteries, and in my teen years, I wrote romances --- but not knowing romance needed a happy ending, I often did things like kill the heroine off at the end. Needless to say, my first attempts at romance failed.

Discover with me what Gail was like as a child and teen:

Childhood Ambition: To be a movie star, a novelist (and when people let me know that was impossible) to be a librarian. I ended up a high school English and public speaking teacher until I received my master is counseling. Then I worked as a counselor for many years.

Fondest Memory (then): How can I narrow it down? Having a large role in my high school play was probably one. The worst memory was performing in a tap dance routine at the state fair and being so nervous I did the movements backward.

Proudest Moment (now or then): Selling my first book which was not a novel, but a book of Christmas worship services, but as powerful was selling my first novel.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: Having confidence in myself. People don't believe me who know me now, but I had low self-esteem as a child and teenager.

My First Job: Babysitting. But in a commercial setting, I was a gift wrapper and put out stock at a dress shop over the Christmas holidays.

Childhood Indulgence: Reading. I was a voracious reader. In the summer, I went to the library and brought home a huge stack of books. Then I would lay on a blanket in my front yard under a huge elm tree and read the summer away.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: I remember one Easter I had a pastel aqua skirt and jacket with a pink blouse and a hat of the same two colors. I also had new white shoes and handbag.

Favorite Childhood Movie: Snow White and The Wizard of Oz. Later it was a movie called Best Foot Forward, which was an old musical.

Favorite Childhood Book: Pollyanna, but most of all the Nancy Drew series

Childhood Hero: Roy Rodgers.

Any other life-changing events that you'd like to include here for your readers?:

Too many that come to mind. Learning that I was a good speaker and writer. Winning a dramatic reading speaking competition in college. Losing my dad when he was only 49. Being named one of the top counselors in Michigan. Selling my first books and realizing it was a new career.

If you leave a comment, I will enter your name in a drawing to win Gail's latest Steeple Hill book, In His Dreams, to be chosen on Monday, October 15!

In His Dreams

In His Dreams Cover

Escape to beautiful Beaver Island could be the answer to Marsha Sullivan's need for a fresh start. Since her husband's death four years ago, Marsha had lost her way, but on Beaver Island, she had good memories to help guide her. Running into Jeff, her brother-in-law, in this paradise turned out to be a blessing. Not only did they share grief in losing their spouses, but also a warm bond began to form between them. Did God want her to love again? The only thing she knew for sure was that being with Jeff and his daughter felt like family.

What is being said about In His Dreams: Top Pick! (4-1/2 stars) In His Dreams touches on sensitive issues, including the problems of an emotionally handicapped child. But Gail Gaymer Martin outdoes herself with the romance she threads throughout.

With Christmas In His Heart, 2007 National Readers' Choice Award
Finding Christmas, 2006 Booksellers Best Award
Adam's Promise, 2005 Booksellers Best Award

Loving Treasures, 2003 - Holt Medallion Award
A Love for Safekeeping - Romantic Times Best Love Inspired of 2002
A Love for Safekeeping, ACFW Book of the Year Award for short inspirational
Upon A Midnight Clear, 2001 Holt Medallion Award
"The Mahogany Rocking Chair," 1st place - American Christian Writers, 1997
1996 Writer of the Year, Detroit Conference of The American Christian Writers
With Christmas In His Heart, 2007, Award of Excellence, Colorado RWA Finalist
With Christmas In His Heart, 2007, Holt Medallion, Virginia RWA Finalist
Finding Christmas, 2006 Colorado Writers Award Of Excellence Finalist
Finding Christmas, 2006 Gayle Wilson Award Of Excellence Finalist
Finding Christmas, 2006 Desert Rose Golden Quill Finalist
Loving Feeelings, 2006 Desert Rose Golden Quill Finalist
Christmas Moon in That Christmas Feeling, 2005 Inspirational Readers Choice Award Finalist
Adam's Promise, 2005 Holt Medallion Finalist
Loving Hearts, 2004 Inspirational Readers Choice Finalist
The Christmas Kite, 2004 Holt Medallion Finalist
Loving Ways, 2004 - Golden Quill Finalist
Loving Treasures - 2003 Blue Boa Award Finalist
A Love for Safekeeping 2003 -1st place Winter Rose for short inspirational
Her Secret Longing, 2002 National Booksellers Best Award for traditional romance
Upon A Midnight Clear, 2001 Finalist National Readers Choice Award
Dreaming of Castles - 5th place - "Touched By Love Contest" FHL Chapter, RWA, 1997
"A Dark and Stormy Knight Contest," - 3rd place, Iowa Romance Writers, RWA, 1997

Other soon-to-be releases:

And Baby Makes Five
Barbour Heartsong Presents
November 2007


Writing The Christian Romance
Writers Digest
December 2007

Family In His Heart
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
January 2008

Garlic and Roses
Barbour Publishing
March 2008

Butterfly Trees
Barbour Publishing
August 2008

The Christmas Kite
Steeple Hill Mass Market (reissue)
October 2008

Gail's backlist of books:

With Christmas In His Heart
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
November 2006

Upon a Midnight Clear/Secrets of the Heart
Steeple Hill Classic
A reissue duet
October 2006

In His Eyes
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
August 2006

"Christmas Moon"
in That Christmas Feeling
a two author with Catherine Palmer
Released in paperback
November 2005

Loving Tenderness
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
November 2005

Finding Christmas
Steeple Hill Readers Choice
(single title)
October 2005

Loving Feelings
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
June 2005

Loving Promises

Steeple Hill Love Inspired
March 2005
ISBN 0-373-87301-8
(also in large print)

Loving Care

Steeple Hill Love Inspired
4th in the Loving Series
ISBN 0-373-87249-6
February 2004

"An Open Door"
in From Italy With Love
Barbour Anthology
ISBN 1-59310-081-7
February 2004

Out On A Limb

Barbour Heartsong Presents
ISBN 1-59310-117-1
May 2004

Adam’s Promise
The Front Line Series Book
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
ISBN 0-373-87269-0
July 2004

Four reprinted novels set in Michigan from the Heartsong Presents Book Club
Stories of love and faith:
ISBN 1-59310-434-0
August 2004

"Then Came Darkness"
in Hidden Motives
Barbour Anthology
ISBN 1-59310-257-7
October 2004

"Christmas Moon"
in That Christmas Feeling
a two author hardcover gift book with Catherine Palmer
ISBN 0-373-78528-3
November 2004

Loving Hearts

Steeple Hill
2nd in the Loving Series
ISBN 0-373-87206-2
Feb 2003

"The Butterfly Garden"
Steeple Hill Two-in-One
with Lenora Worth
ISBN 0-373-87209-7
March 2003

The Harvest
Two-in-one Steeple Hill
with Cynthia Rutledge
ISBN 0-373-87230-5
October 2003

The Christmas Kite

Steeple Hill
Single Title
Holt Medallion Finalist
Discussion Questions

Loving Ways

Steeple Hill Love Inspired
3rd in the Loving Series
ISBN 0-373-87241-0
December 2003

A Love For Safekeeping

Steeple Hill
January 2002

Over Her Head
Barbour Heartsong Presents
ISBN 1-58660-603-4
June 2002

Loving Treasures
Steeple Hill
ISBN 0-373-87184-8
June 2002

"Once A Stranger"
ISBN 1-58660-396-5
February 2002 - Barbour

Let's Pretend. . .
Silhouette Romance
July 2002

Secrets Of The Heart
Steeple Hill
ISBN 0-373-87154-6
August 2001

Her Secret Longing
Silhouette Romance
September 2001

Secrets Within
Barbour Heartsong Presents
December 2001

"Apple Of His Eye"
in The English Garden
ISBN 1-58660-389-2
December 2001

"To Keep Me Warm"
in Home For Christmas
ISBN 1-58660-242-X
August 2001
Yuletide Treasures
Barbour historical anthology
ISBN 1-57748-811-3
September 2000

Upon A Midnight Clear
Steeple Hill
October 2000
Better To See You
in Once Upon A Time
Barbour contemporary fairytale anthology
ISBN 1-57748-975-6
December 2000
Also available as Fairy-Tale Brides
Wal-Mart release

Dreaming Of Castles
Heartsong Presents
ISBN 1-57748-555-6
May 1999
Heartsong Presents
Nov. 1998

*Heartsong Presents and Barbour books may be ordered by calling
1-800 847-8270
Most books may be ordered from bookstores, the publisher or

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Family Resemblance

This site is fascinating. Not only can you click in to discover what celebrities you resemble, you can upload a child, father, mother and see who the child most resembles. Really interesting! This is my grandfather with his parents. He overwhelmingly looks like his mother.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Michelle Sutton


Michelle is one creative person and a busy reader. On her blogspot you can get updated about almost every fiction book published in the Christian market place. PLUS, when she finishes reviewing them, she GIVES THEM AWAY. So if you are looking for a book, plug into her book giveaways and check back often.

As if all the other things she does isn't enough, she is the American Christian Fiction Writers' Volunteer Officer, too.

She has an agent who believes in her edgy inspirational stories that she writes, so expect one day to see her own books in print. Now, let's see what Michelle's childhood was like and how it made her into the woman who has plenty of stories to tell:

Where Did You Grow Up? 

Syracuse, New York

Childhood Ambition:

Early childhood - to be a mom full-time, and in adolescence - to be a social worker.

Fondest Memory: 

 Personal achievement: Winning the spelling bee in 5th grade (for the whole school) and also getting a cash prize for runner up in the energy conservation contest in NY for my picture.

Family Related: When my brother graduated from the Coast Guard boot camp I sobbed my eyes out.

Proudest Moment:

Every time I won something as a kid whether it was a softball game, water polo tournament, I placed in Synchro for my routine,  or aced a hard test. I was an achiever. One year I sold so many Girl Scout cookies, I only had to pay $2 to go to camp for a week. I used to also win trips to amusement parks by selling newspaper subscriptions and I took my baby sister on several of those trips with me.

Biggest Challenge as a Child:

Having to deal with a chronically ill mother, which meant in many ways, I had to take care of myself. As the oldest daughter I also got the extra chores. I learned to cook at a very young age and do all of the laundry (is it any wonder I dislike those activities so much now?) Also, having to pay my way through college was very hard, but I was determined to graduate! Thankfully I did!

My First Job:

Delivering newspapers at 5 a.m. every day from when I was 11 to age 16. Then I got my first real job, which was as a library page for the Syracuse Public library system. I worked at the Carnegie building in downtown Syracuse.

Childhood Indulgence:

Chocolate. I also loved to mix flour, sugar and butter (stuff to make raw cookie dough mix) and ate that by the bowl full.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

My Holly Hobbie summer jumpsuit. The very first time I wore it I wiped out on my bike and broke my thigh so the EMT's had to cut my Holly Hobby outfit to get to my leg. I was SOOO upset about that.

Favorite Childhood Movie: 

Probably Bambi. I really adored the Little House on the Prairie series, too. I wanted to be Mary, Laura's oldest sister.

Favorite Childhood Book:

I loved all of the Beverly Cleary books.

Childhood Hero:

Probably my mom, with teachers as close runners up.

Favorite Childhood Activity or Toys:

My Baby Alive and my Barbies, of course. It never bothered me that Barbie had a perfect bod!

Anything else? I hope to sell a book very soon as I have plenty of proposals "out there" at a variety of publishing houses both ABA and CBA.

Here's Michelle's childhood photos:

Be sure to check out more about her on Shout Life and her web page.

AND FOR FREE BOOK GIVEAWAYS check her blog, as well as reviews to see what books she tells about.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Carmen Leal


Carmen is the baby in the satin dress with 3 of her 7 siblings.


Carmen Leal always wanted to travel the world, but as a kid, her family had to go on assistance, so it wasn't until she was 13 that she ventured as far as Kansas City from her Topeka,Kansas home. With her vivid imagination to fuel the fires of her passions and talents that are still taking her places, she finally has traveled many places. She also has toughed it out through many situations, including a difficult time in Florida. But now the generous-hearted friend to me and all is finally back in Hawaii.

The first time I met Carmen in real life was  at a writers' conference she was teaching at (we'd known each other for years online through Christian Writers Fellowship International.) She hugged me and we spent all evening talking--and only our duties at the conference interrupted the rest of our time. I remember as we sang in worship, she suddenly stopped to write on our program the brainstorm of ideas she had for me. She is the Idea Queen. If only we had enough time in the continuum to execute them because her ideas are good.

She has story after story to tell--both ones she has lived and those she makes up. She and a co-author just finished a screenplay. And I'm not sure if it was all those years as a child in braces and special shoes, or the freedom of spirit that she possesses today, but she teaches, sings and tells her stories barefooted! And Carmen has the world at her feet. Carmen is sure of herself, and sure of the God she worships through her many talents. Here's my favorite part--she doesn't have a bitter or "feel sorry for me" bone in her body. She is humorous with the most beautiful smile and  if you're not looking closely, you will miss the beauty of what she has to teach through it all. Through the many bad, and sometimes good times, she has been a witness to  the God Who is big enough to take whatever she hands over to Him, whether it is for herself or someone else.

Carmen is the mind and energy behind the SomeOne Cares Christian Caregivers Conference happening this month, October 25-28, 2007 in North Carolina. She remembers--she remembers what it was like as a child and into her own adulthood, and she knows Some One cares about how hard it is to keep encouraged in the thick of the battle of life. Let's see what brought Carmen as she is  today. If you are like me, y0u will laugh through your tears as you read her story:

Childhood Ambition:

In the second grade we had a talent show and our class learned the song Far Away Places made popular by Bing Crosby. That song launched a lifetime ambition to travel around the world. My mother stayed at home with the eight children and, after my parents divorced when I was nine years old, we went on Welfare so there was never any money for travel. I grew up in Topeka, KS and, until the summer I turned thirteen, our biggest trip was to Kansas City. That year my aunt sent two airplane tickets to my mother and asked her to choose two of us to spend three months in California. Thanks to my twin brothers getting mumps, my sister, Diane, and I won the tickets by default. That trip began a lifetime fascination with foreign languages, international cuisine, and a love of travel. Since then I've been to all fifty states, lived in Mali, West Africa not far from Timbuktu, traveled throughout most of West Africa, lived in Brazil, traveled to Great Britain, much of Europe, Mexico, and Canada. Next up? Hopefully taking SomeOne Cares Christian Caregiver Conference to New Zealand and Australia.


Here's the song that started it all!

Far Away Places

Far away places with strange-soundin' names

Far away over the sea

Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names

Are callin', callin' me

Goin' to China or maybe Siam

I want to see for myself

Those far away places I've been readin' about

In a book that I took from the shelf

I start gettin' restless whenever I hear

The whistle of a train

I pray for the day I can get underway

And look for those castles in Spain

They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am

But I know that I'm burnin' to see

Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names

Callin', callin' me

(I pray for the day when I'll find a way

Those far away places to see)

Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names

Callin', callin' me

Fondest Memory:

When I finally got my bride doll for Christmas I was six years old. The doll was taller than me and I loved dressing her in my clothes and safety pinning them on to make them fit. My sister also got one, but my doll was prettier and had blonde hair. I named her Sally after the weird little girl on Davey and Goliath.


Photos 1 (Below):

Top :Teen photo, 16 years old I'm the teen next to my cousin wearing a red shirt. My arms are crossed and I am furious because my aunt tried to straighten my hair by rolling it backwards on beer cans. I hated my hair!

Second photo:Under one year. I was born pigeon-toed and knock-kneed and had leg braces until age 2 or 3.

Third photo below: As St. Teresa on Halloween. I'm a third grader carrying a rose.






Photos Section 2: (Below)

Top photo is of my oldest brother, Kevin, sitting on the lion at the Topeka Zoo, and me.

Second photo: I'm about 7 years old with my Christmas baton.




Proudest Moment:

My proudest moment was when I received a full scholarship as an AFS scholar to live with a family in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: I jokingly say that I was born a size sixteen, and while that's obviously not true, I can never remember a time when I wasn't overweight. I quickly learned how to use humor to deflect mean comments from children. I was a C cup in fourth grade and, until the day I graduated from high school, my chest was the bane of my existence.

My First Job:

The first time I earned money was when I was six years old working as a page for the Kansas legislature earning the princely sum of $12.00 per day. I was so cute that even though I probably messed up every request I made huge tips. My first real job was as a pre-school aide with Doorstep Day Care Center when minimum wage as $1.60 an hour.

Childhood Indulgence:

I'd walk to the library three times a week and check out a minimum of four books and read a book while walking home. Sometimes I'd carry the books on my head. I can still do that trick. My mom used to lock us out of the house so she could clean and we could play. While everyone else played Red Rover and Hide and Seek or rode their bikes, I hid in my brothers' tree house so I could read.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: (or not!)

I hated my clothes growing up. I was always overweight and, being one of eight kids, most of my clothes either came from the Goodwill or my grandmother sent what she sewed. My Creole grandmother was a gifted seamstress, but everything she made was at least a size or two too large. Every dress was dripping in gorgeous, handmade lace but, aside from my sisters, no one in Kansas wore lace. She always made blue for my sister, Debbie, and pink for me. I hated pink my entire childhood and it's only been in the last three years I can finally wear pink without gagging. Of course the lace and satin dresses were a step up from the hideous, ill-fitted plaid skirt and white blouse school uniform.

Favorite Activity as a Child:

I used to hate my name because Carmen is not your typical Midwest name. My three sisters, Debbie, Diane, and Patricia, had perfect names. In fourth grade my teacher told me that Carmen was Latin and meant song. Because I loved singing more than anything else, this was great news for me. After that I loved my name. My last name, Leal, means loyal. So my name actually means Loyal Song. If I wasn’t reading, I was singing and even won a music scholarship to college.

Favorite Music as a Child:

Anything at all. My dad thought his four daughters were going to be the next Lennon Sisters and so we had to watch every variety show on television. Lawrence Welk, Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, Carol Burnett and, of course, Miss America were all on at our house as my dad groomed us to take America by storm.

Crystal Editor Note: Carmen still watches the Miss America pageant every year, even if she's at a writers' conference! (Smile.)

Seriously, there was no music I didn't like. Of course, my dad never exposed us to country music.

(Crystal Editor Question: Do you like it now?)

Favorite Childhood Movie:

Oliver! Actually, I loved any musical no matter how cheesy and I still do.

Favorite Childhood Book:

I don't remember any particular favorites, but of all the books in the library I loved the biographies the best. Next to music and reading, history was my favorite subject.



SomeOne Cares Christian Caregiver Conference

October 25-28, 2007

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If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, please check out the SomeOne Cares Christian Caregiver Conference. Consider sending someone to this conference to give them a boost. Read more about Carmen and what inspired Carmen's books and heading up this Caregivers Conference.

October 26 – 28, 2007 Ridgecrest, North Carolina

Also, look for details on a caregivers conference in Hawaii!

November 2008 Kaneohe, HI

If you want to see a simply beautiful short movie about the essence of this conference go to this site.


Yahoo Video
God Tube
You Tube


Carmen's books are, beautiful, encouraging  and make great gifts to encourage someone:

23rdPsalm_Caregivers_s 23rdPsalmGrieve

The Twenty-Third Psalm for Caregivers

The Twenty-Third Psalm for Those Who Grieve

The Twenty-Third Psalm for the Brokenhearted

The Twenty-Third Psalm for the Single Parent

See the beautiful movie at:


Great book for writers who want to know about marketing your book(s):


You Can Market Your Book

For tons of info for writers and speakers go to:



Carmen now lives in Hawaii with her husband, Gary Scott, who has masterminded many web sites. She has two sons who if I put their photos here, you would mark this spot as a favorite(because they are drop-dead gorgeous --and smart, too.)