Monday, June 16, 2008

The Bandana Kid: Andy McGuire

NEWS FLASH!!! BECKY C. has won the free copy of Rainy Day Games! Thank you for playing--all comments were greatly appreciated.

As a child Andy didn't feel as if he was the "cool" kid. All the things he was naturally good at doing--art, music and academics--for some reason are not as respected when you're a kid in school. But give a kid a few years and put him in his natural habitat and look at him go! Andy McGuire grew up to be not only respected, but admired. He is one cool cat.

Kids everywhere are going to be reading his books, because, well, Andy is really good at not only telling stories in words, but also in pictures. Add to that his humor, which knocks my personal socks off, and you have a fun kid. He is a winner in my book. I've already ordered copies to give away to all of my favorite kids and kid places.

Even his misadventures wind up sounding funny (though I doubt some of them seemed funny at the time, especially to his parents.)

If you want to know the REAL story behind the man who sits behind the editor desk at Moody Publishers, then check out his secrets below, previously kept under wraps. It shows that the things God allows into our lives can be used for good and a purpose.

(And big hint to all of you authors looking at Moody Press Publishers--note his favorite treat...)

Childhood Ambition:

Originally, I wanted to be a jockey. But I was too tall at about age ten (I’d seen it coming for several years at that point). So I switched to zoo keeper.

Fondest Memory (then):

I remember befriending a stray cat named Herman. We named her without knowing how to tell a boy can from a girl cat, but then she had kittens. I remember we couldn’t keep all the kittens, but my sister and I each got to pick one. Sometimes choosing what you want can be even more fun than getting it.

Proudest Moment (then):

I was not at the peak of coolness as a child. I was skinny, had glasses, and didn’t watch the right T.V. shows. But I played soccer, I think mostly because as a boy I was supposed to play a sport (right?). Little by little, though, I became competent. Until one day in sixth grade we were scrimmaging as a team and our best offensive player was talking to one of our coaches. He told him that he dreaded facing me in practice (I was a fullback—a defensive player) because he could never get the ball past me. It’s funny, all the things I was naturally good at—art, academics, music—didn’t make me nearly as proud as that one compliment about a skill that I was, by nature, very weak.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
When I was in fourth grade bandanas were banned in our school. Boys had been flicking each other with them, leaving welts. Again, I was not the coolest kid on the block so I was not one of the flickers. But for whatever reason I wanted to figure out how to snap them the way some of the kids did. I found a contraband bandana and started practicing against a wall in a hallway on my way to a classroom. And wouldn’t you know it, the bandana smacked up against the hammer of a fire alarm. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was forcing myself to go into the principal’s office to tell him that the whole school was being evacuated because of me.

My First Job:

In elementary school during inside recess on rainy days I used to charge my classmates for portraits I would draw of them. It was under a dollar a picture, but I was pleased.

Childhood Indulgence:

I loved and still love all things chocolate. Any other sweet is a waste of time.

Favorite Dress Up Outfit as a Child:

Cowboy hat and a holster. No contest.

Favorite Childhood Movie:
The Black Stallion.

Favorite Childhood Book:

Early on: Hop on Pop. Later: Encyclopedia Brown mysteries.

Favorite Childhood Activity:
Drawing and painting.
From Andy's new book
(Editor's Note: This is NOT blue in the book. I have no idea why the giraffes are blue, but it's Blogger's fault because they are normal in my file.)
Any Pets?

Stray cats, crawdads, tadpoles, and goldfish. All of them were gathered from the wild—I have no memories of pet stores.

Childhood Hero:
Tarzan. I used to watch the old black and white Johnny Weismuller movies on Saturday mornings.

Did you have a favorite childhood Bible story?

I liked Daniel and the lion’s den. I loved the idea of God making the lions friendly for awhile.

Favorite Games as a Child:
sledding, bike-riding, four-square.

Anything else as a child that affected the author you became? Any special memories that contributed to today's work as a children's author?

I think I’ve always had a penchant for silliness. I surrounded myself with funny friends. Not unlike sweets without chocolate, friends without humor are a waste of time.

Rainy Day Games: Fun with the Animals of Noah's Ark

Smiles will shine when little ones ages 1 to 5 imagine the games played by the animals of Noah's Ark. Whimsical characters and clever rhymes created by illustrator Andy McGuire entertain themselves and readers with the turn of each colorful page. Watercolor zebras, rabbits, turtles, bears, and even a sloth come out to play.

Hide and seek can be a treat,
Chameleons can be hard to beat.

A game of ping pong never fails,
Beavers choose to use their tails.

This fun adventure rescues boys and girls from the boredom blues with a boat full of reasons to celebrate laughter and play.

Suggested Retail: $15.99
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2371-2

Release Date: June 01, 2008
Size: 10 x 8
Binding: Hardcover w/jacket

From Andy's new book

More about Andy at Harvest House.

More about Andy as acquiring editor of Moody on Tricia Goyer's blog

NEWS FLASH!!! BECKY C. has won the free copy of Rainy Day Games! Thank you for playing--all comments were greatly appreciated.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A FREE COPY of Rainy Day Games: Fun with the Animals of Noah's Ark? Sure you would! You have until July 5, 2008 to leave a comment for Andy and I'll enter your name into a drawing for this book. Please, please, leave your email info in this format: yourname [AT] yourisp DOT com, to keep the creepy crawlers at bay. I'll email the one winner for a mailing address to get it to you!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Debbie Fuller Thomas: When She Was Just a Kid

(Lori was the winner of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.)

Debbie was two in this Christmas photo. She has some of the old ornaments from this tree, and so she recently started collecting more from antique stores. She now decorates a small Christmas tree in her kitchen every year with only vintage (or replica) decorations and the ones from her childhood. Isn't it beautiful? She was the youngest child of her parents--in fact, she came quite a long time after her sisters. Her sisters were married when she was still young, so it was like being an only child.

Debbie began writing in her thirties during stolen moments at her home day care while caring for six children (hers included) under the age of six. She completed her first novel while juggling her day job and her many responsibilities as pastor’s wife and mother. She sold the first article she ever sent to a publisher, which was purchased for future publication and never printed. It wasn’t until she wrote about her experience with breast cancer many years later that she saw her byline in a magazine.

Since then she has written for Sacramento Sierra Parent Magazine and Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul. On June 1st her first book, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon came out!

So, what was Debbie like as a child?

Childhood Ambition: To be a ballerina. I was hooked the first time I saw “The Nutcracker” in black and white on our TV. After that, I checked out biographies about famous ballerinas at the library, soaked up their passion and angst, and signed up for ballet class. Unfortunately, I was built more like a pear than a string bean and only lasted for two lessons. I still know the positions, but my feet won’t bend that way anymore.

Fondest Memory (then): Every summer my oldest sister would bring her family to visit and we would spend the day at The Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City, Maryland. It was as close to Disneyland as we could get. The Enchanted Forest was a wonderland of fairytale characters, houses, scenes and rides. We took a picnic lunch, stayed until the youngest got cranky, and shopped for souvenirs on the way out. I still have a small plate with a picture of the castle and a pennant with Humpty Dumpty. Sadly, the Enchanted Forest closed years ago. My sister emailed me recently with a link to, which has purchased many of the figures such as Cinderella’s pumpkin coach and Mother Goose to display in the petting zoo. Even though it’s on the other side of the continent, I’d love to visit the farm together soon.

Proudest moment (then): In elementary school, I was chosen to sing one of the verses of “The Friendly Beasts” at our Christmas program which was held on the stage of the high school. But that night when the teacher played the intro, I looked out into the blackness of the crowd with the stage lights in my eyes and froze. The teacher started the song again and said quietly but firmly, “Start over.” That time I got my act together and sang, “I said the sheep with curly horn…”

Childhood Indulgence: I always had a horrible sweet tooth and lots of cavities to prove it. That was before anyone realized that fluoride was an important ingredient for toothpaste. Each holiday or special event had its own temptation: Peeps at Easter, candy corn at Halloween, cotton candy at the carnival, Stuckey’s pecan rolls on vacations to Georgia, Rolos at the movie theater, ribbon candy at Christmas. Needless to say, I always carried a little extra weight around my middle. But I look back now and realize I was skinny then, and I didn’t even realize it.

This was my fourth birthday party. I’m the dark-haired one. All the kids went home with an unexpected surprise –exposure to measles. That was before the MMR vaccine. After they went home, mom realized I had a fever and the next day I broke out. I guess I don’t look too happy in the picture, at that.

School Memory: One afternoon in third grade we noticed that our teacher had her head down on her desk crying. We were at a loss about what to do, but just then my mother came to pick me up for one of my many dental appointments. We told her that Mrs. Webber was crying, and she went over to check on her. Mrs. Webber said that she had just heard that President Kennedy had been shot, and that she had been his teacher.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: I was a ‘late’ baby, so my sisters got married when I was young and I sometimes felt a little like an only child in high school. I learned to be pretty self-sufficient, so I didn’t make friends easily, and I sure didn’t know how to talk to boys.

My First Job: My first job was selling concessions and admission to the swimming pool in Ellicott City when I was sixteen. It was fun, but things could get dicey pretty fast, because most of the patrons were rough-and-tumble types. I remember when this big guy told me he was not going to pay the admission and I stared him down (trying not to tremble) and said that, yes, he was paying. He was just toying with me, but I think I surprised him, because he laughed and tossed his money onto the counter.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:
I would have to say my Girl Scout uniform. I was in Girl Scouts for five years, was a patrol leader and earned lots of badges. Back then, the uniform was a dress, and we wore them in class pictures. I still have the sash and hat.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: My favorite movie was “Sleeping Beauty,” with “Parent Trap” as a close second. My favorite TV show was “Astro Boy.” I wanted to marry him. But then I also fell in love with Clint Walker (‘Cheyenne’), Mickey Dolenz (Monkees), and Bobby Sherman (Here Come the Brides).

Favorite Childhood Book: The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare. I wish I could write like that.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime: I spent a lot of time with neighborhood kids building forts and tree houses, and hacking trails through the brush. As I recall, we spent most of the time building and then had to go in because it got dark, so we never really played in them. In summer, we occasionally went swimming at Pasadena Beach on the Chesapeake Bay. I remember lots of jelly fish. And catching lightning bugs. Unfortunately, we don’t have them in California.

My Hero: My dad – he reminded me a little of John Wayne.

Debbie Thomas Fuller's first novel, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, debuted June 1st. It is the story of a grieving mom who discovers the child she lost to terminal illness was switched at birth, and of her biological daughter who wants no part of her family.

If you would like to win this book,Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, then just leave a comment with contact email (put it in this form: yourname AT ISP Dot com) answering this question: What famous person, besides Debbie, had Mrs. Webber for a teacher?

If you want to check in on Debbie's thoughts, events and Top Tens, go to her blog here. (To check her Top Ten Classic Movies, which turns out to be her Top Sixteen, go here!)