Thursday, February 28, 2008

Flora Reigada...When I Was Just a Kid

Winner of the Drawing for Flora's book, The Face Behind the Veil, is Rose Marie! Congratulations! Thanks to those who left comments and to Flora for offering her inspirational thriller. See below if you are interested in getting her book.



Flora Gilman-Reigada as a young child with Mom


  Flora was born on Staten Island and raised near the harbor. She grew up in an old Victorian home on Vanderbilt Avenue and an apartment on Westervelt Avenue and these memories are strong and included in what she writes today.

Her story later after her mother married her stepfather is one that leaves chills(you can read more of this on her site,) though she felt much love from her grandparents and mother. Once you read this interview, do check the link to her personal story on her web site. That she survived was God's gift not only to her, but to her readers and family.


She now lives in Florida, writes for the Florida Today and Star-Advocate newspapers as well as inspirational publications. Her book, The Face Behind the Veil, is based on her memories growing up on Staten Island. Flora has a rich childhood, and I know you are going to enjoy reading about her:

Childhood Ambition:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was often asked that question during my childhood, and I always knew what to say.

“I want to get married, have children and become a writer.”

I can thankfully say that all those dreams have come true.


Fondest Memory (then):

When I was growing up, many families didn’t own cars and people frequently walked to destinations within a mile or so of their homes. Walks I took with my mother to a shopping area or to my grandparent’s beautiful Victorian home on Staten Island, New York, are among my fondest memories. Our walks took us high atop a hill that offered a magnificent panorama of the New York Bay and the Manhattan skyline. Our laughter and the talks we shared during those happy times and along our own "secret path" through a patch of woods, still echo in my heart.

Proudest Moment (then):

My fifth grade teacher, Mr. DePalma, gave our class the weekly assignment of writing a short story on the subject of our choice, then reading it aloud to classmates. My first attempt was a mystery, into which I wove my classmates as characters. They listened wide-eyed as I read my story, then complimented me afterwards. Each week after, they would petition the teacher to let me read my stories. That is when I realized my writing ambitions were more than a dream. They were attainable and they were part of my destiny.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

As a shy, overweight child, I always felt like an outsider. Even in my first-grade class, other children had friends, cliques and little “romances.” Few befriended the unpopular girl called “fatso.”

I remember wishing I could become invisible. That way the teacher wouldn’t call on me, and ask math questions I couldn’t answer. Classmates would snicker as I struggled and stammered.

Then one day, a new student joined my second grade class. Our teacher introduced the blond boy with the cherubic face.

“This is Michael. He moved here from California, near Disneyland.”

Back then, before people traveled much, Michael seemed to come from some magical, far away land. Everyone wanted to be his friend, so I could scarcely believe his instant affinity for me.

Daily, he would seek me out: sitting with me at lunch, playing with me in the schoolyard, and carrying my books to school.

Michael would also step between taunting classmates and me. Although gentle, he could speak with authority.

“Leave her alone! She’s my girlfriend and she’s pretty and smart.”

Pretty and smart—me?

My mother had said those words, but that’s what moms were supposed to say. Michael made me wonder if they might be true.

The rest of that school year, Michael and I enjoyed each other’s company. After class, we’d play at my home, where my mom served us cookies and milk.

She liked the little boy who made me smile and laugh.

When school closed for summer vacation, however, I lost track of Michael. He wasn’t in school when classes resumed that autumn.

“Where is he?” I asked several classmates.

“I think he moved back to California,” one answered, now treating me with respect.

This attitude extended to other classmates. But I started treating myself with respect, too—talking with and befriending other children. After school, we’d ride bikes and play hide and seek or stick ball. That year, lasting friendships were made. No longer did I feel like an outsider.

Even though I continued to struggle with math, I discovered I had other skills, such as reading and spelling. I wished Michael could have shared my joy, especially after I began losing weight. Although I never saw him again, I knew that even if I remained forever awkward and overweight, Michael would still have been my friend. With wisdom beyond his years, he seemed to understand my pain.

“He was like a little angel,” my sad mother said after he left.

Maybe she was right. Michael came to me just when I needed him and left when his job was done.

My First Job:

Throughout my pre-teen and teen years, I baby-sat for family members and neighbors.

Childhood Indulgence:

I can still see all that penny candy displayed under the glass counter at our neighborhood grocery store. That was when each piece really cost a penny and it was all made in the good old USA. There was so much to choose from: red and black licorice, candy dots on a long piece of paper, Hershey bars, "lady fingers," those red, candy lips and so much more. A nickel or dime could buy me a small bag full of treats.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

The Easter outfits my grandmother bought me each year rank high on the list: the wide brimmed hats with ribbons or flowers, the frilly dresses, delicate coats, white “baby doll” shoes and cute, little clutch purses. With a tummy full of jellybeans and chocolate rabbits from my Easter basket, I would don my Easter outfit and go to church.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:

Each Saturday morning our neighborhood theater, the Saint George, had a cartoon matinee for children. Because my grandfather was a projectionist, I got in for free. That saved my parents all of ten cents. Along with other neighborhood children, I spent many a happy Saturday laughing at the antics of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig and other cartoon characters. We all behaved under the watchful eyes of "fearsome" matrons.


Flora on St. Marks Place in 1967.

Flora says: This photo must have been taken
on a Sunday because the St. George parking lot behind me is empty. Note also, the complete absence of cars on the street and parked along
its curbs. That would be a rare sight today.

Favorite Childhood Book:

There were too many to name just one, but I especially enjoyed the Trixie Belden series, the Bobbsey Twins and the Nancy Drew Mysteries.


Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:

My friend Phyllis and I often played games of make-believe, creating tales about imaginary friends and places. Her back yard was like the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis' The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, from which children entered Narnia and other realms. Firing our imaginations, Phyllis' teenage sisters would sprinkle fairy dust in the yard. At night, it glistened in the dewy grass, like the very stars above.

Childhood Hero:

My grandpa. I spent magical childhood years living with my mom, grandparents and aunt in the beautiful Victorian home my grandfather restored from ruin. When family members moved in during the 1940s, meals were cooked on a woodstove, which, along with fireplaces was used to heat the four-story house. Without a furnace, of course, there was no hot water. The only bathroom was in the cold basement and consisted of a primitive commode and sink. While my grandfather was in the process of installing an upstairs bathroom, the new bathtub remained unusable. If any of the women wanted to bathe, however, my dear grandpa would heat water on the woodstove, then one pot full at a time, carry it upstairs to fill the tub. Growing up, I was treated with this same kindness.


The home Flora grew up in as it is today



Flora as she is today

Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer you have become?

Today I am a correspondent for two newspapers: the Florida Today and the North Brevard Beacon. I am also the author of an inspirational thriller, The Face Behind the Veil, inspired by actual people, places and events in my family and childhood. Locations include two grand old theaters and a Victorian mansion.

Nostalgic web site showing my childhood:

Editor Crystal here: DO check out this site if you enjoy photos from the past.Some of these photos are here, but there are many more. This page is full of memories and black and white photos from Flora's past in the 1950s, 1960s. Loved it!

Golden Brush Award


The coveted Golden Brush Award was granted to novelist Flora Reigada after she locked herself in her bathroom for seven years. When Flora had a book to write and no privacy in her home to write it, she grabbed her pad and pencil and escaped to the solitude of her bathroom. Locking herself in for an hour or so each day, she would write another page, paragraph or sentence of her book. She would then transcribe the handwritten material when her family's one computer became available. Thankfully, Flora's family has another bathroom down the hall.


(Flora’s "bathroom book" has since been published by Author House. )

Titled The Face Behind the Veil, the inspirational thriller travels back in time to old New York. In a haunted Victorian mansion and an old Gothic theater, the secrets of the mysterious birth veil are revealed.

Like curtains in a majestic, old movie theater, the curtains of this generational saga begin to part as Naomi is born with the mysterious birth veil over her face. To some this was a sign of a prophet. To others it was merely part of the amniotic sac. And what connection was there with the otherworldly visitor that the child would later meet?

Naomi's mother believed her daughter would understand great mysteries. Indeed--and she would do so against the backdrop of unfolding history. The Great Depression would bring poverty, hobos and even the Grim Reaper to her family's door. World War II would see love lost and love found.


For more information visit Flora's web site:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Winner of Missy Tippens' Book

Winner of the Book, Her Unlikely Family is...Hannah!


Message from Missy:

We've drawn a winner! My son helped with the drawing. He's 13 and thought it was great fun. :)

Hannah, your name was drawn. I'll be contacting you by email for your address. Congrats!!

Thanks to all of you for visiting this week! Thanks again, Crystal, for having me!


Missy Love Inspired

Her Unlikely Family by Missy Tippens

Read an excerpt on this link

Opposites attract when an uptight banker encounters a free-spirited waitress during the search for his runaway teenage niece. As they work together to heal the young girl's damaged spirit, an unlikely family begins to form...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Eva Marie Everson...A Kid Not from this World


1 Eva Birth Announcement

Eva Marie Everson was born and raised in the Deep South and that not only flavors her memories with cultural significance, it is what makes her into the writer she is today. A neighbor who often saw Eva talking to imaginary characters and playing in the yard remarked to Eva's mother, "She's not of this world, is she?"

2. Eva 1 year

Eva, one year

Indeed she is not (though she did provide me with proof that she was born here--see pink slip above.) With that vivid imagination she has launched many books, articles and passions for getting the Word of God out into this world--while she's still here. And maybe if it wasn't for a teacher discouraging her dream of writing, we might have heard from her sooner? Who knows? But God had a plan for Eva on this planet, and it's being worked out today. She knows her real home is out of this world. In the mean time we get to see what life is like in her world...then and now.

Childhood Ambition:

Always: to become a writer.

Fondest Memory (then):

My parents were very "hands on" when it came to their roles in the lives of my brother and me. With my mother, I think, one of my favorite memories is making snow angels and of her laughter as she waved her arms up and down as she lay in about three feet of snow. Of my father, it is learning to ride a bike without training wheels, of him running along beside me saying, "Keep peddling, keep peddling..." and then realizing he'd let go and that I was independent of his help.

Proudest Moment (then):

I recited the 23rd Psalm for my mother's Methodist Women's Circle Meeting. The ladies had gathered in our formal living room. It was the early 60s and they were dressed to the nines; pill box hats, white gloves, and spiked heeled shoes. They sipped on cups of coffee and nibbled on cake served on fine china while I--all dressed up in a starched dress and lacy socks and black patent Mary Janes--quoted "The Lord is my Shepherd...." to a spellbound audience. :)

4. Eva 10

"The Lord is my Shepherd...."

10 years old

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

When I was sixteen I came down with mono the first two weeks of school. This was the year we began algebra and chemistry and a host of other difficult subjects. Losing the first two weeks, I never felt as though I fully caught up. In time, I did. I graduated after my junior year in high school.

My First Job:

(Not counting babysitting the Mills' two sons...) Gift wrapper at Allied Department Store during Christmas break.

Childhood Indulgence:

In the food category: Chocolate. (And nothing has changed!) Also salted peanuts dropped into 6 ounce Cokes (in the bottle). (Only southerners will know that one...but it's a delicacy where I come from!)

In the "must have" category: records, books, Archie comics, and magazines like Teen and Fave. Ah, those sweet memories of Bobby Sherman and Peter Tork


and Leonard Whiting. I'm wondering if anyone else remembers him! (ed.note: Hint: Romeo, Romeo, where forth art thou?)


Favorite Outfit as a Child:

My cowgirl outfit. I'm not sure if Mother bought it or made it, but I'll never forget it!

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: That's a hard one. I loved going to the movies. I saw all the Disney films, the spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood, the John Wayne flicks, the 60s beach movies, and the Elvis Presley films. Actually, I loved any good musical...still do. I'm not sure I can think of just one that I loved over the others. I do remember going to the Pal Theater with a quarter in my hand, gaining admission and purchasing a small popcorn and cola served in a cups with little red hearts running up and down them and then being penniless. A quarter!

TV show...again this is hard. I loved TV. I watched Concentration in the mornings...I remember that game show well. And I loved Where the Action Is and Bandstand and The Monkees, Andy Griffith, The Lucy Show, Bewitched, That Girl, Hazel, Daktari, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey.....The list goes on and on. But the show that kept my loyalty the longest was Dark Shadows. (I know...creepy, huh?) Every afternoon from 4:00-4:30, just after General Hospital, which my mother was hooked on, I sat frightened and frozen to the old black and white and, eventually, color set.

Favorite Childhood Book:

"To Dance, To Dream" a book about famous ballerinas, given to me by my aunt and grandmother for Christmas, 1965. It still graces the vanity in my bedroom.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:

I created a whole world of my own on our property. Within it, I made up storylines and pretended to be any number of characters, "visualizing" the rest in my mind. Our neighbor saw me playing one afternoon and remarked to Mother, "She's not of this world, is she?"

3. Eva 3 years

Eva, age 3

Childhood Hero:

I had many. My parents, my Girl Scout leaders (my mother was one of them), my ballet instructor, my piano teacher, and some incredible school teachers like Mrs. Boddiford, Mrs. Kimbrough, and Miss Brinson.

5. Eva & Van, 1962

Eva and little bro, Van, 1962

6. Eva & Van 2001

Eva and little bro, Van, 2001

Any moment in childhood that stands out that inspired you as an adult?

My "first love" was killed in a hunting accident. Though it didn't make me "anti-hunting" or "anti-gun" (I was raised in GA after all...), it gave me a healthy respect for the connection between freedom and responsibility.

And, in an odd sort of way... When I was a little girl we would go to my great-aunt and uncle's house, which was originally the home of my great-grandparents. It was an old Victorian with a large wrap-around porch and rooms that seemed to go on forever. There were lots of little places to hide and ramble around in. Anyway, one afternoon the adults sat in the front porch rockers watching the leaves turn green and I went inside and turned on the old black and white.

The movie Rebecca (based on Daphne du Maurier's classic and directed by Hitchcock) had just begun. A gothic tale if there ever was one. With me in the setting of the old house, I was mesmerized by the movie's plot line. When the film was over, I tore out of the living room in search of my mother!

That moment has stayed with me for all these years. Today I teach fiction at writers conferences using the book and film Rebecca AND my most recently written novel (for Baker/Revel, due out 2009) is inspired by that old house, now neglected and abandoned.

Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer you have become?

I had a teacher in the 7th grade who told me I couldn't become a writer. I don't know if she was trying to keep me from getting hurt or thought I didn't have the talent. Either way, it affected me greatly. Her simple words brought a dream to an end. I kept it buried until I was 39 years old. This time, I wasn't going to let anyone stop me. (Not even some editors I now call my friends <grin>.)


Read about Eva Marie Everson here.

Her articles are here.)

Eva Marie has been interviewed by radio, television, newspaper, and Internet media outlets. In 2002 Eva Marie was one of six Christian journalists sent to Israel for a special ten-day press tour. She was forever changed.

Eva Marie’s work includes the award-winning titles Shadow of Dreams, Sex, Lies and the Media, and The Potluck Club as well as The Potluck Club: Trouble's Brewing, The Potluck Club Takes the Cake; Oasis: A Spa for Body & Soul, and Sex, Lies and High School to name a few. In 2008, look for The Potluck Club Secret Recipe and Falling Into the Bible. Eva is a contributing author and/or editor to a number of other publications.

The Potluck Club, Book One


Eva Marie with co-author, Linda Evans Shepherd (Linda also below)


In Summit View, Colorado, the ladies of Grace Church meet once a week to share a hot dish---and to pray. But the group serves up a disastrous menu of misinformed petitions---enough to bring down a church. Will they invite God to join them before trouble boils over and friendships turn sour? Includes recipes. 384 pages, softcover from Revell.


Oasis: A Spa for Body and Soul
Women have a tendency to let the busyness of life distract them from taking good care of themselves. But both their physical and spiritual bodies need daily care. Oasis helps women focus on restoring beauty and vitality to their outward appearance as well as their inner being. Like a well-appointed spa, Oasis provides women with both immediate relaxation and tips on how to nurture a lifestyle of peace and rest for their souls. Packed with ideas that regenerate and replenish body and spirit, Oasis helps women

understand and enhance their God-given beauty-inside and out. (Revell)


Sex, Lies, and High School

Part two of the Sex, Lies... books. Eva Marie & Jessica Everson explore issues such as dating (including date rape), prom, spring break, pregnancy, STDs and "the rest of their lives." This book enables parents to prepare their children for what should be the best years of their lives.

Sex, Lies, the Media

Sex, Lies, & The Media is co-written with my daughter Jessica. This book is for parents, grandparents and youth workers; to help them better understand media's influence on youth culture, especially as it pertains to their sexuality.

What's in the works? Any more books? Speaking?

Eva says:

I am speaking a good bit this spring, all the while working on the next Potluck Catering Club book (Book five in the overall series and book two in the newest series). This summer The Potluck Catering Club Book One (Book four in the overall series) will be released.

I have a very special book coming out this summer: Reflections of Israel: A Personal Journey to God's Holy Land (Thomas Nelson/Nelson Bibles). This book was co-written with my Jewish friend, Miriam Feinberg Vamosh, best selling author from Israel. This book is the book of my heart: a photographic, historical, and journaled travelbook through the Holy Land. I'm so excited about its release, I can hardly contain myself.

Crystal editor's note: If you want to see moving photos and Eva's story on her visit to Israel, please take some time to look at this page.

Eva's My Space this page.

Click on this link to see old photos that Eva Marie has showing more of her memories.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Missy Tippens...When She Was Just a Kid

Winner of the Book, Her Unlikely Family is...Hannah!


Missy Tippens, A Cutie from the Beginning

You are going to laugh and love reading about Missy Tippens. She was a part of a gang as a child (well, the Eastland Park Girls hung together) and her gang jacket? A "poodle" jacket. (I've heard of poodle skirts, but this was a first for a poodle jacket.)

Her childhood has wonderful memories, humorous moments and a rich fabric of family, friends and traditions that were sure to have added to her fiction. Check out Missy back in the day:

Childhood Ambition: Early on, I really wanted to be a teacher. And I wanted my name to be Kathy. But later, in high school, I wanted to be a microbiologist—which I did become!

Fondest Memory (then): I have so many great memories of Christmas. My parents would go all out to make it very special. And I loved our tradition of eating out at Pizza Hut before going to the candle light service at church, then going home to open one small gift. It was pure torture not to be able to open them all! But I loved that little taste.


Missy, Age 9

Proudest Moment (then): I was so very proud when I won a coloring contest in elementary school. I think it was at Sears or some other store downtown. I won a pair of pantyhose—a big thrill for a little girl. Of course, then my mother wouldn’t let me wear them! She said I was too young. (What were they thinking, giving pantyhose as a prize for a coloring contest??!)

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: Self-esteem, especially as a teen. I think it’s a big problem for many girls. I didn’t look like all the models on TV or in magazines (didn’t have the stick figure or the big hair), so I felt like I didn’t measure up. I thought I was fat then at 115-120 pounds. If only I weighed that now!

My First Job: I got my first job after I started driving. My mother decided they weren’t going to pay for all the gas I was using to haul my friends around, so I got a part-time job at Long John Silver’s. When the new mall was built in town, I changed jobs and went to work at The Peanut Shack, and then for an eye doctor in the mall.

Missy n Mindy

Missy and little sister, Mindy

(Don't you love their poofy matching dresses?)

Childhood Indulgence: Though we didn’t have a lot of money, my younger sister and I were indulged children. Our parents tried to make sure we had the things our friends had (even if it wasn’t always the name brand). And I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Europe with my family, then later with my high school band, then once more with a study abroad program before college. Our parents were always very focused on education and on making sure we were raised thinking we could do anything we set our minds to doing.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: Oh, my goodness, I remember this great jacket that a bunch of my friends and I all bought in about 7th grade. They were made of fluffy, white fake fur with white fake (oh, maybe I should say faux) shiny “leather” trim, and we called them our poodle coats. We were the Poodle Patrol. So fun! And we wore them with our high-waisted, elephant-leg jeans. Don’t you know we looked good! LOL

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: I loved to watch The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. I have great memories of my sister and I sitting by the fireplace to dry our freshly-washed hair while watching. I also remember my family watching The Love Boat (which, now that I think about it, probably wasn’t very appropriate! LOL)

Favorite Childhood Book: World Book’s Childcraft Library. I’m pretty sure the one I loved so much was Volume 1. It was full of nursery rhymes, and I memorized almost all of them. I loved to have my dad read them to me, too. I also remember loving to have my mother read The Children’s Bible to me in the doctor’s office while we waited. I think we eventually bought a copy for home.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime: I loved to climb the mimosa tree in my front yard. It was a great place to sit and read. And I loved to play with my Barbies. In fifth grade, we moved to a house that had a neighborhood pool, and I pretty much lived there in the summers all the way through high school. Of course, now I cringe at the fact that I baked myself in the sun every day with baby oil and iodine!

Childhood Hero: I don’t remember any heroes, unless you count Bobby Sherman! (Am I showing my age?) Oh, and I loved, loved, loved Carol Burnett. I thought she was so funny, and I remember wanting to make people laugh like she did. I cried years later when her last show aired.

Childhood Pets and/or Friends? We always had cats and even had a couple of dogs. I guess I grew up with a cat or dog sleeping in my bed every night. As for friends, we had a large group of girls in my neighborhood. We called ourselves the Eastland Park girls. We hung out a lot outside, riding bikes, playing Kick the Can and hide-and-go-seek, and we spent the night together a good bit.

Links to Missy:,

Missy Tippens

Missy Today

Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer you have become? I think growing up in the South has affected my writing more than anything. I grew up in Kentucky and have now lived half my life in Georgia. I tend to write about small southern towns and love them as settings.

Missy was born and raised in Kentucky, and met her very own hero when she headed off to grad school in Atlanta, Georgia. She promptly fell in love and hasn’t left Georgia since. She and her pastor husband have been married 20-plus years now, and have been blessed with three wonderful children along with an assortment of pets.

In L.B.C. (Life Before Children), Missy worked as a clinical microbiologist. Once she had her first baby, she retired to become a stay-at-home mom. She’s grateful to God that she was able to do that for 16 years and had the opportunity to pursue her writing during that time. Nowadays, in addition to her writing, she teaches as an adjunct instructor at a local technical college.

Missy is an award-winning writer and was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest. After ten years of pursuing her dream, she made her first sale of a full-length novel to Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She still pinches herself to see if it really happened!

Missy would love to hear from readers through her website,, or by email: missytippens[at]

Missy Love Inspired

Her Unlikely Family by Missy Tippens

Read an excerpt on this link

Opposites attract when an uptight banker encounters a free-spirited waitress during the search for his runaway teenage niece. As they work together to heal the young girl's damaged spirit, an unlikely family begins to form...

Places to get Missy's Book,,, and

Missy likes to blog! Check out her blog thoughts:

Her personal blog, LifeWithMissy, where she discusses writing, reading, life, and family. She also does author interviews and the occasional contest/book giveaway.

A group blog, F.A.I.T.H., where she posts on Thursdays. They blog about the writing life, about faith, about family and anything else that the writers may be dealing with. They also have guest authors and post book reviews. F.A.I.T.H. is an acronym for Following Always, Intently Trusting Him.

A group blog, Seekerville, with a group of her writer friends. Entering manuscripts in the contest circuit is what brought them together, so they discuss contests and the journey toward publication. When the group formed, one of the group was newly contracted. Now, six of the fifteen of this group are published! They have experience for the writing for publication journey.

Another story by Missy:


Come meet Mark and Amelia. He's the new pastor in town, and he seems to be having a tad of trouble with the stingy, controlling church treasurer!

Available at and bookstores near you, this collective novel contains her first sale--a short story.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Meet Marti Kramer Suddarth When She Was Just a Kid

When I Was Just a Kid...

Marti Kramer Suddarth

Even as a baby Marti Suddarth was watching over children. Her whole life has centered around family and children. And because she is a fellow Hoosier, her stories seem incredibly familiar, even though I just met her a few years ago in my SALT (Struggling Artists of Literary Talent) group.

Of all the memories I've collected so far, some of Marti's resonant with me. See if you don't find a familiar chord, as well. She is kind to everyone, even giving in to keep a stray dog who came to liven up their lives--Splash, The Wonder Dog, a dog of beagle persuasion.

Marti has a special talent for music and writing songs and skits to use with kids--and she is music CD reviewer, publishing reviews in various places. Her writing revolves around things to do with children. She's married to a music teacher(Daniel--22 years! and she looks like a kid still) and they have 3 children (Kate, Scott, and Abby) who all exhibit the many talents that she has nurtured. Oh, and did I mention she's a teacher? Not long ago she published another book. Do you struggle to find material to present to children on Biblical truths? Then you need to pick up Marti's latest book, Ping Pong Words: And 30 More Children's Sermons.
(Teacher Marti as Ms.Frizzle)

Meet Marti--whose byline is Marti Kramer Suddarth.

Childhood Ambition: When I was 3 or 4, I wanted to do the weather on TV! I saw people on TV, pointing to a map, and thought that would be fun. In grade school, I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to compose music for "Schoolhouse Rock." And now I AM a writer, and I'd still like to compose music for "Schoolhouse Rock" or something similar. And then for a while, I wanted to be a concert pianist.

Fondest Memory (then): Wow! I have so many good memories, it would be hard to pick ONE. I remember "camping out" in the living room with my brother and sisters. We'd drag our pillows and blankets into the living room and sleep there - all 5 of us. I remember stopping the Merrymobile to get ice-cream. My brother and I would each have a nickel and the Merrymobile would actually stop!My sister Emily and I used to stand in front of the mirror, singing into hairbrushes, pretending we had our own TV show like Donny & Marie! When I was in mid-to-late elementary school, my dad rode his bicycle to work, just a couple of miles from home. Every once in a while, I'd get to go out to breakfast with Dad. Mom would wake me up early, I'd get dressed, and then Dad and I would ride our bicycles to the Farmer's Daughter Restaurant for breakfast. We'd ride most of the way home together, until we had to part company. I'd go home and Dad would go to work. I'd usually get home about the time my brother and sisters were getting up to get ready for school. (Of course, they had their turns too.) I loved going out for breakfast with Dad!

Proudest Moment (now or then): I know it sounds corny, but I'm so proud of my children. What could I possibly do that would top having these three wonderful people calling me, "Mom?"

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: I was such a geeky child. Really. I was short and skinny and covered in freckles and I had big, huge glasses. Of course, I was extremely UNathletic. I was the child who sat in the corner and read books almost as fast as I could turn the pages. So I suppose my biggest challenge is that I never felt like part of the crowd. I always felt like I was on the outside. And I guess that makes me pretty lucky, huh? Think how many people have worse problems .... health problems ... family problems ... and the worst thing I can say about my childhood was that I was a dork.

My First Job: I used to give piano lessons to several children in the neighborhood. I think I only made $2 a lesson, and I had to walk to their houses! Of course, to a seventh grader, that $2 seemed like a lot of money.

Childhood indulgence: The Merrymobile ... breakfast with Dad ... trips to the zoo with Dad. (He's such a big kid, I think he loved going as much as we did.)

Play time favorite that influenced your writing: Reading, of course. I loved reading, which lead me to want to be a writer. I loved "Schoolhouse Rock," and wanted (ok, still want) to work on projects like that. I used to listen to Keith Green's music (although that was in high school), which influenced the way I played the piano. That, in turn, influenced the way I compose, which influences the way I write.

Favorite Childhood Movie: I don't know! When I was in grade school we watched an old black and white movie called "Life with Father." (Elizabeth Taylor was a teenager, and one of the policemen from "Adam 12" was a little younger.) Some of the humor was so subtle (especially the part about the pug dog) that my brother and sisters and I loved that movie and still talk about it, even though I haven't seen it in years.

Crystal Editor's note: Marti knows more about old TV shows than anyone I know. She is a walking library. And she knows all sorts of details--in case you need an expert when you're writing. Ask her or daughter Katie about Star Trek.

Favorite Childhood Book: Laura Ingall's Wilder's "Little House" series. I read them over and over, and even now, as an adult, sometimes I feel a little nostalgic and go read them again.

Childhood hero: This'll be the third time I've mentioned this, but in the mid-1970's, I thought that the people who wrote "Schoolhouse Rock" had THE best jobs in the world!

Favorite Childhood Easter Memory: I don't know that there is a specific memory so much as remembering my Easter dresses. My mother is such an amazing seamstress ... and when I was really little, she made me dresses every year. I always thought mine were the best because everyone else had store bought dresses, but mine were made by Mom.

Crystal Editor's Note: Marti is famous in our SALT sisters group for telling stories about her family. They are really good stories. And she could not resist telling us a story about children in her life as an adult. So, because Marti is a good storyteller, I am indulging this here! (Hey, I'm the boss of this blog...)

The Kramer Sisters (brother Bill is in the baby photo above.) Marti is to the left.

And if I'm allowed into adulthood :-): Several years ago, all 5 Kramer children and their spouses and children met at Mom & Dad's for Easter weekend. Mom asked sister Nancy and Kate & Scott to color the eggs on Saturday ... pointed them out in the fridge and then left them to do the coloring. They colored ALL of the eggs in the fridge, instead of just the hard boiled ones. So the next day, not knowing which eggs were which, Mom hid all of the eggs and told everyone just to be very careful when eating the eggs later.

The egg hunt went well. The grandchildren found them all. My nephew Logan (probably 8 at the time) had a stuffed snake ... it was so long he could coil it around his neck and still have plenty of snake left to scare cousins with. He jumped out at Abby (age 4) & scared her with his snake. Abby was so startled that she dropped her basket. And that's when we found some of the raw eggs! Of course, it ruined her chocolate bunny.

Logan felt so badly about it that he gave his bunny to Abby.That was a really special memory for me because it showed what a kind, concerned young man Logan already was, and still is. He was only 8 but already understood how to show Jesus's love to other people.

Crystal Editor's note: Now, see why I love Marti? She's a genius storyteller. She should be writing Hoosier novels. Just my professional opinion.

She's published with Contemporary Drama Service:
Broadcasting Christmas
Mini-Musicals for Special Days

Marti's Web Site on Little Hands on the Computer

Marti's Educational Web Site

She also has written stories in compilation books, including Chicken Soup for the Shopper's Soul.

Her CD reviews appear at
(Check under Marti Kramer Suddarth.)

Red Veda's latest CD
Oh, one more thing to mention: she's a Daughter of the American Revolution and an expert in genealogy. Marti is one of the unrecognized geniuses of our time. Keep an eyeball on her.

Hot off the press! Looking for a book to help with your children's sermons? Marti has written it!

Ping-Pong Words
And 30 More Children's Sermons
By: Marti Kramer Suddarth
CSS Publishing Co., Inc.

CSS Price: $12.95

CSS Item #: 0788024841