Friday, April 25, 2008

Annie Jones: When I Was Just a Kid

Me at 4, that pretty much sums up my attitude to this day - I want to be in charge - so take the picture, I've got things to do!

There must be something about being the daughter of a military man and his wife, and moving around that makes for a good writer.(note the interview with Amy Wallace.) Annie Jones grew up as a self-described "Air Force brat" and I have loved her writing for some time now. She's funny, poignant and insightful into the relationships that make for good characters in her stories. If you haven't read an Annie Jones' novel, then now is a good time to start!

Annie grew up in a big extended family and that, too, affected the kind of writing she does. I love it that she describes her generation as the "go outside and play" generation.(Me, too.) Take a look at Annie and some of her memories from growing up:

Me in high school - glasses the size of TV screens! And that hair!

Childhood Ambition: To be a Writer

Fondest Memory (then):I have so many happy memories - grew up an Air Force "brat" that literally lived from California to Maine.So I have wonderful memories of life in sunny California as a kindergartener to fabulous fall colors and sledding and going to Canada for Sunday dinner (we lived in Limestone, ME on the border). I come from a large extended family so every summer I spent a month with my cousins in Oklahoma getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

I was chubby and being a teen is hard enough without being the chubby one, and being
the writer type, I was always an odd duck. Always had lots of friends of all sorts, from the popular girls to the outcasts but tended to live in my own little world.

My First Job:

When my father retired from the Air Force my folks bought a dress store in a shopping mall, so I worked as a Santa's helper and an Easter Bunny's helper but the first job I went out and got on my own was as at a local hot dog place called Der Weiner King. My friends called me Weenie Woman!

Childhood Indulgence:

Home made ice cream!

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

My mother was an expert seamstress so she made all my clothes. I thought it was dorky, then, but realize how nice they were now. My favorites were usually when Mom broke down and bought me something - usually from Sears!

In 5th grade I had an orange dress with big white polka dots that I thought was "kicky". High Style, y'all!

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:

I LOVED when I was home sick to watch The Mike Douglas Show. And one of my early memories was when our neighbors got a color TV (we were among some the last folks to give up the old Black and white set because my parents didn't like TV) and I got to see Truth of Consequences in color!

Favorite Childhood Book:

We had a house full of books! I still have many of my childhood books that I read to my children. The Little Black Puppy by Richard Scary, lots of little Golden books.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:

We were the 'go outside and play' generation. We were tossed out after breakfast, came in at lunch for a meal and quiet time then out again until the moms called dinner (and each mom had her own signal - a whistle, a word, a yodel!). And in the summer, we had to stay on the block or in a certain area usually marked by friend's houses and we usually had to come in when the street light came on (which was usually 20 -30 minutes before dark). We played make believe and kick the can, red rover, rode bicycles, ran through sprinklers, it was a great time to be a kid.

Childhood Hero: My Daddy

Best Family Memory:

Really, I had such a neat family, both small and large. I loved spending time with my cousins - one time we were turned loose to get out of the grown ups hair and we had a mud fight to covered all dozen of us (there are more cousins but that's how many were there) head to toe.

Best Story That You Wouldn't Tell Mom or Dad: (at least until you were older)

The mud fight part 2 - I have so many cousins that the mom in charge of us the day of the fight was actually a cousin,and when she saw us, she knew when 'aunts' returned they'd wonder what happened so she literally lined us up in the yard and turned the hose on us and we let our moms think we had just been playing in water.

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

I grew up with a large family, all of them larger than life and most of them terrific storytellers. They loved to make each other laugh and to tell about their lives and to entertain us all. I can't count how many character quirks or plot twists came out of the things I heard from them or experienced as a part of the family.

Me about 4 years ago - I just wanted to show one with a crown on (no I didn't win it - I just love the sparkle) As said in The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas - a woman wears many hats in her life, why shouldn't one of them be a tiara?

The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas
The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas
by Annie Jones

Steeple Hill Café-334
Dec 2006
Trade Paperback
Category: Inspirational
List Price: $ 13.95

Meet Maxine and Odessa, the Queen Mamas of Castlerock, Texas. They may be getting on in years, but good luck keeping up with them! Most days they're on the prowl at the Five Acres of Fabulous Finds Flea Market, searching for treasures among the trash, and turning life on its heels for:

* Jan, the "perfect" former cheerleader with a big secret
* Bernadette, the bridal shop owner who seems destined for singlehood
* Chloe, the trouble magnet needing fashion intervention…and a boyfriend makeover
Read an excerpt

Annie Jones writes blog entries on FaithChicks.

Annie's Books: (at Steeple Hill)
This is her latest book out at Steeple Hill, but if you click on the link, you should be able to find others. If you get really hooked, do check out Annie Jones on

Steeple Hill Womens Fiction-323
Mar 2008
Category: Inspirational
List Price: $ 6.99

Three sisters. One secret.

Once there were three Cromwell girls. But their father abducted the baby…and neither was seen again. The loss has haunted sisters Kate and Jo ever since, though they can't bear to talk about it.

And then life's ups and downs send the Cromwell women back to tiny Santa Sofia, Florida. To the cottage containing their worst—and best—memories. Where Kate will reconnect with the magnetic single father she'd run from years ago. Where Jo will fall for the handsome minister of the Traveler's Wayside Chapel. And where the cottage caretaker, a familiar young woman named Moxie Weatherby, will get the surprise of her life.
Read an excerpt

Be on the lookout for future releases by Annie!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Amy Wallace: When I Was Just a Kid

This All-American Beauty Girl-Next-Door didn't always live on American soil--she was an "Army brat" (her words) and her family moved a lot. But instead of saying it made for too tough of time, she credits this lifestyle with what made her into the writer she is today. Take a look at Amy Wallace as a kid--and then check out her book, Healing Promises, which released today!

(Oh! And when you are done, DO go to her web site, Heart Chocolate! It is so much fun. It is designed to be interactive and there are things to play with there.)

Childhood Ambition:
To be famous. I don't think it mattered to me how I accomplished that pie in the sky feat, but I just gazed with much admiration at the musicians in the magazines, the people on MTV and in movies and wanted to be as well known and adored. As an adult I've learned things aren't always what they seem. So I'm happy just to be loved by three amazing kiddos and their daddy.

Fondest Memory (then):
I remember Christmas when I was about ten years old. When my family came back to the States from Germany, we'd stay with my Gram in Kentucky. My Gram did Christmas up big. Before my brother and sister and I could come into the living room where the tree and our gifts were, my Gram had all the lights off but the tree and made a huge to-do about us coming in together. That year, we charged into the living room full speed and then stopped right in front of the tree with wide eyes and huge smiles. My younger siblings squealed over their beautiful, shiny, new bikes. But my big gift was sitting in a chair with dark brown fuzzy arms outstretched in a welcoming hug. It was a life-size teddy bear with the kindest eyes and soft fur. That special bear now gives the same welcoming hugs to my oldest daughter.

Proudest Moment (then):
Winning an award in fifth grade for my first ever chapter book entitled, It's a Doggone Mystery. The plot? A missing dog. What else? ;-)

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
I grew up an Army brat, so I moved often. The hardest part about that was leaving friends and familiarity.

My First Job: Working with the YMCA after school program when I was in college.

Childhood Indulgence:
Chocolate has been a near and dear treat since that first huge chocolate cake I ended up wearing on my first birthday.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Pigtails and red, white and blue.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: I loved Pippi Longstocking movies.

Amy's Family Today

Favorite Childhood Book:
Ever since my awesome first grade teacher, (She let the children who could read skip naptime and read with her, so I learned to read fast!) I've looked to books to escape, broaden my dreams, and simply enjoy. I read everything I could get my hands on at school and never could understand my friends in high school who read the CliffsNotes. My tastes as a pre-teen and teen tended toward the dark mysteries and novels like Something Wicked This Way Comes. Thankfully, my own children aren't into the dark side of life and together we explore all the classic children's literature I missed. Some of our favorites include the Anne of Green Gables stories.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:
I loved riding my bicycle, reading, and playing marbles.

Childhood Hero:
I'm cringing a little to admit this, but I thought Wonder Woman was pretty cool with her big wrist bangles and super strength.

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

Amy Wallace Now
Growing up without roots and having to learn quickly how to make friends encouraged me to become an avid people watcher and good character judge. Plus, moving a lot provided plenty of fodder for stories. Especially growing up behind the Iron Curtain. My brother and I would make up stories of KGB spies following us and superhero plots for us to save the world. Guess that's where my love for mystery and suspense first escaped the bounds of everyday life.

Because I'm a mom now and get to watch my own children's imaginations soar, I'd encourage all parents to jump in the game and spend some amazing hours with your kiddos dreaming big and seeing where your God given imaginations can take you. Enjoy!

Amy's Blog Peek-a-Boo-icu

Amy's Books:

Healing Promises (Defenders of Hope Series #2)
Facing a new threat
When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he's seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren't retreating into doctor mode...he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear
Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission--beating cancer when she can, easing her patients' suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but now the question of God's healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire
As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one

Read a chapter of Healing Promises!

Ransomed Dreams (Defenders of Hope Series #1)

Can Dreams Be Redeemed?
Gracie Ann Lang is being watched by a man who will stop at nothing to hide the truth from her. Having lost the only man she ever loved and the children who were her world, the truth is all Gracie wants—an explanation for what really happened. She longs to move forward but is bound by chains of fear. Then she meets Steven Kessler. The FBI agent assigned to an international plot to kidnap the Ambassador’s daughter awakens more than memories. He revives the possibility of a life Gracie desires. A life where healing and peace crowd out the nightmares. But his case and her past are dangerously connected. Suddenly, Gracie must decide if she’s able—let alone willing—to pay the required ransom that redeems dreams and restores hope.


Read a chapter of Ransomed Dreams:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Only Winners

I am behind on putting up new interviews, as 1. I cut my left hand with my very sharp new Cutco knives (fabulous knife--cut me to the bone!) and nearly bled to death (well, slight exaggeration, but there was a LOT of blood.) 2. I started a new diet and my brain is losing weight first as I go through my detox 3. I got my first cold in who knows how many years. God blessed me in the years I taught school and then had four boys one after another, by building up super immunities in me. It must be finally running out, as this cold has put me down. I can barely think straight.

BUT, we have a winner of the Daughters of Faith books! Julie emailed me back that yes, yes, yes, she has a 10-year-old daughter and she will take those books! Kim emailed me that she received the Teen set from Wendy Lawton and they are awesome. I would love for everyone to win, but that can't happen, so hopefully, at least you are now aware of these great books and you'll think of them when you need to get a gift or if you want to suggest the librarian order them (most libraries will allow you to request them.)

Marilynn Griffith received the beautiful doll, so now it is time to move on. It was a wonderful contest, but I will let you know if Wendy chooses any of the fabulous ideas left by you who left comments. She is investigating at least a couple of them. She has a strict criteria for who the girl can be, so it is a process of elimination.

On the 15th, look for Amy Wallace to go up. I also have this list to come:
Sharon Souza
Kim Vogel
Debbie Thomas
Kathy Mackel
Vonda Skelton
J.M. Hochstetler
Annie Jones

and many more who I've contacted, and am waiting on various pieces of the kiddie puzzle.

To finish up this whole thing, can you tell me what your favorite book was a kid?

This is such a hard question. I loved this series of biographies about children in history in my classroom library, but I also loved Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish. I loved Native American stories and missionary stories and since I went to a Christian school, I read about and studied many Bible characters and my favorites were Joseph and Esther. I loved any animal story and my favorite was Looney Coon about this pet raccoon owned by this man and woman who rescued him, raised him and all the funny things he got into.

My very favorite stories were the ones my 1st generation American mother told me about herself, her parents, grandparents and relatives coming to America from Norway and Sweden, homesteading up by the Lake of the Woods in Minnesota and the tragic and funny things that happened. Those were the best stories of all.

We all have family stories and those are the best stories of all.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Want to Be Wendy Lawton's Winner?

Because I've received no reply from first, Janine, then Lisa, I drew a new name in the Wendy Lawton contest for the Daughters of Faith book set.

I have given the new drawing winner, Julie, at Victory in Grace, until Saturday 7 a.m. April 12th to reply. If she doesn't, then I draw a new name.

Be sure to check back in. The drama grows.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Drawing a Day

Since I drew the names for Wendy Lawton's No Fooling! Contest, I have sent emails and and made announcements--and still no one I've contacted about the Daughters of Faith set has written me back to claim it.

Frankly, I'm in shock. Wendy was incredibly generous in this contest, but I've never had someone who knew the contest deadline, entered with hopes of winning, not checking to see who won, and not check their email to reply.

Ok, I am going to draw a name a day until someone responds!

Right now Lisa is up, but if I don't hear from her by this evening, I will draw a new name tomorrow, and Lisa, along with Janine, will be put aside. There has to be someone who wants this set. I've given this set myself to girls, schools, churches, even though I have no girls of my own. I keep this set in my own library (being a former elementary teacher and Sunday School superintendent, I like keeping my own quality books for children.)

I realize there are various reasons for not checking in or not contacting me, and I am sympathetic, but we will just have to move on. Tomorrow will be 10 days after the contest ended.

If your name has not been drawn from our list of entries, you are still in the running, so stay tuned, until I draw a winner.

Thanks to all who left comments, left suggestions, too.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Calling Janine

I hate to do this, but since Janine hasn't checked in yet for her fabulous full set prize of the Daughters of Faith books by Wendy Lawton, I'm going to give her until midnight Monday, April 7th to claim her prize and then if not, I'll draw another name from the many who left their suggestions and email names!

So, it ain't over 'til it's over. Calling Janine! (If you know her, tell her to check her email!)

Other News....

I have a full list of fabulous Kid interviews coming up, so look for those this month, starting on Monday.

What was it like when you were just a kid?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

How Does Wendy Lawton Come Up with the Kids?


(Above: Wendy is on the right and her sister, Linda, is on the left, playing with dolls, of course!)


One winner of the April Fool's Day random drawing has reported in--Kim has won the Real TV series by Wendy Lawton in the No Fooling! contest!
Real TV Books based on reality TV shows These are well-written stories of teen girls based on the reality TV shows like Trading Spaces and Celebrity Fit Club. Their problems are real problems and are books teen girls would enjoy and be helpful to them.

I have yet to hear from Marilynn Griffith, who won Wendy Lawton's Lawton Doll Company Courage to Run Harriet Tubman doll.

I also have not heard from Janine, who won the Daughters of Faith book series of which Captive Princess was the newest release. The clock is ticking to report in to receive these prizes.

While I wait for the winners of the Daughters of Faith series and the Courage to Run doll to report in, I decided to ask Wendy about the process itself of how she determines who to write about in her Daughters of Faith series.

CLM: This was a fun contest--allowing readers to be a part of the process of coming up with a new book in a series. Readers may not know that this series (the Daughters of Faith) aren't your first time coming up with a creative series of real life characters. You did this for years as a doll designer who recently was awarded a Doll of the Year lifetime achievement award in the doll industry.

CLM:Can you tell us how you decide on a character for the series? What are some steps that you take to come to that decision for this particular series?

Wendy: It requires far more gut feeling than brainpower. The parameters I've set are that the girl:

(1) has to act out of a faith that changes the way she sees the world
(2) has to face conflict as a child and
(3) has to have taken a stand, or lived her faith while still a child in such a way that it could have cost her everything. The stakes have to be high and she has to have grown because of her stand and because of the reality of Christ in her life.

It's a tough standard. Some other elements that my publisher and I have discovered are that my readers especially love girls from American history— though I'm not opposed to introducing them to other settings. There are so many other things that go into choosing a character— I could write a book about it instead of a blog.

The steps I take are:
(1) I begin rooting around in history trying to scare up the my character. Sometimes I find the setting first and want to find the perfect girl to highlight. For instance I'm dying to write about a girl who lived in one of the underground railroad safe houses but so far I'm finding most of the houses were occupied by older folks.
(2) Once I've settled on a character and my editor and his team agree, I go to work on research. That's the fun part. When I do school visits I take along the stack of books I used to research Tinker's Daughter. I pile it up on the table next to my slim little book— it's a great visual!

(3) If my initial research is borne out by the deeper research, then off I go.

CLM: How is coming up with a real life girl for this series the same as when you would come up with a doll design? And how is it different?

Wendy: When I created a different collection of dolls for each year I had to balance characters, concepts, sizes, prices, hair and eye colors, eras and continuing series. As much marketing mojo went into the development of the line as design and inspiration. It's much like a publisher develops his line for a particular season. They decide on slots and work to fill those slots. They want each individual book to positively shine but they also want to create a holistic line with balance— something for every one of their customers.

CLM:When your well runs dry, how do you recharge your creativity?

Wendy: I immerse myself in the fruits of other creative people. I read books or magazines, visit museums, play with textiles— anything that takes me out of the problem at hand and lets me hit it from a different angle. If I'm stuck on a book, I take clay and spend some time sculpting. If I've spent the whole day working on thorny client issues, I may go out to my studio and dress dolls. I believe it's crucial to have both right and left brain activities going— they feed off each other.

CLM: What are three key elements for you in getting into your writing mode? (after juggling many other jobs?)

Wendy:I am the queen of compartmentalization. I have a different physical place for each job I do. I have a well-organized office for my day job as a literary agent.



I have a art studio for sculpting and dollmaking. I can walk into either of these places and be at work with the first minute or two. Everything is in its place.

Art Studio:

And I usually go away to write. In January, writer Bill Kritlow let Lauraine Snelling and me use his wonderful house at the top of a mountain. We were snowed in for the whole week and we wrote like fiends while we were there. So for me, the place gets me in writer's mode.

CLM: Answer this...The only thing I know for sure about my creative process is....

Wendy: It's 95% just showing up and only 5% inspiration. God has called me to the work I do. I need to be obedient to that work.

CLM: What's your favorite way to celebrate after a project is complete?

Wendy: I used to choose a special treasure with each book— kind of my own way of building an altar of stones. I'm a Kewpie collector— not the new ones but the early 20th century ones that were made in Germany. With several books I found the perfect Kewpie to mark the occasion.

The Kewpies I bought to commemorate the release of Tinker's Daughter and Courage to Run are below. Two books released at one time— two action Kewpies holding a book with another tome leaning against their legs.

Now, I just frame the cover and add it to my collection of framed books covers. Mostly I just spend time praying that the stories will somehow touch girl's hearts.

CLM: Now that you have a list of some Daughters of Faith possibilities, what will be your next step?

Wendy: I'm going to be looking into several of them. I was amazed at some of the wonderful possibilities. Yes, many did not meet the criteria— they were already women when they took their stand— but I was delighted by some of the ideas. When I start poking into their stories I'll have to see if there's enough for a book, but I am ever so grateful to your readers. What a think tank!

CLM:Stay tuned,kiddie readers, for an exclusive scoop (if I can twist her arm) of what will be the next book (from this process) chosen to be in the Daughters of Faith series!

In the meantime run out to buy Captive Princess:The Story of Pocahantas in stores and on now!
The Captive Princess: The Story of Pocahantas 



The Captive Princess— A Story based on the Life of Young Pocahontas

By Wendy Lawton

Moody Publishers (March 2008)

ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-7640-1

$6.99 142 pages

Four hundred years ago, the village of Werowocomoco buzzed with the news that a group of tassantassuk— pale strangers— had came ashore from their great canoes and settled in the swampy, mosquito-infested wetland near the Chesapeake Bay. Eleven-year-old Pocahontas, daughter of the most powerful man to ever rule the alliance of Powhatan tribes, watched with curious eyes. Little did she suspect that their arrival would rock her world.

Is there an American student who doesn’t know some version of the story of Pocahontas— whether the fabricated Disney version or the equally fictitious but oft-told love story between Pocahontas and John Smith? Stories are most often told through the viewpoint of the Jamestown settlers, but with recent archeological explorations of the Werowocomoco site offering up a rich new understanding of Pocahontas’ people, Wendy Lawton digs into the history and tells it entirely through the eyes of the young Pocahontas. And though the romantic accounts are the stuff of legend and lore, Pocahontas’ faith story remains one of the most beautiful love stories in history.

The Captive Princess is the seventh in Lawton’s popular Daughters of the Faith series from Moody Publishers.

What others are saying:

“Pocahontas has long been a favorite character of mine, and Wendy Lawton brings her to glorious life in The Captive Princess. Through Lawton’s excellent research and vivid writing, walked out of the dense forest and into my heart. This book is a treasure!”

Angela Hunt, author of Uncharted.

“I jumped at the chance to read Wendy Lawton’s latest book, The Captive Princess, because of her previous stories. Again, she wove her literary magic. Always true to historical facts and able to infuse spiritual truths naturally, Wendy Lawton is a master storyteller.”

Donita K. Paul author of popular Christian fantasy including The DragonKeeper Chronicles

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Who Won??

Tomorrow I will have a blog post by Wendy Lawton, where she tells us how she will come up with the next true life character of the Daughters of Faith Series, but the question tonight is, WHO WON??

I have notified the three winners selected from a random drawing held this morning by a third non-biased party, and as soon as I hear from them, I will announce who won what! If for any reason any of these people cannot accept the prize, then I already have drawn 8 more people (and numbered them)to step in for that prize.

Anyway, following this blog tomorrow, I have 10 more interviews in the wings about writers and their childhood stories, so please continue coming back to read more childhood memories.

So, who won?????????????

I know, and will spill it tomorrow!

Thank you very much to all those who entered the contest and for all the great suggestions. It's not easy knowing who should be the next character in a true life series written this way--when you have to really know how they were as a child. Someday, maybe some of the authors I've interviewed here will be a similar series! (And the authors of those biographies will research using my!)

In the meantime keep reading,and keep talking to me about your childhood memories.

Tune in tomorrow...same bat time, same bat station (and you have to be about my age to know where that came from.)