Monday, September 29, 2008

Sandra D. Bricker: Heartthrobs R Us

(This is not Sandie Bricker, but one of her best friends, a collie named Sophie!)

Sandie Bricker knew she was going to be a writer way back in the day. Her dad reminded her of her proclamation as child again shortly before he died. And so it was true!

Now she has written one of the new Love Finds You books and I just saw the ad in a (Parable) Carpenter's Son Bookstore 25th Anniversary flyer (Lafayette, IN.) So cool.

Also, here's some trivia for you: Who sang "Billy, Don't Be a Hero?" Don't know? Well, not only does Sandie know, she took part in publicizing the 3 million records they sold to get a Gold Record.The song is even mentioned in Stephen King's The Stand. Sandie was still doing publicity for various heartthrobs up until she wrote her own heart-thumping novels.

So let's see what this rockin' dog lover who turns a romantic phrase to get the whole country swooning--city by city--was like, back in the Flower-Powered Days:

Childhood Ambition:

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer. In my professional bio, I tell the story of the prophetic nature of that ambition ... I was just learning to write cursive letters and, on a Sunday afternoon, I figured out how to string together the letters to sign my name for the first time. My dad fell asleep on the sofa while watching a football game, and I ran in and woke him up to declare, "Daddy, guess what! I'm going to be a writer when I grow up!" Of course, I meant writer in the most literal sense but, before he died, my dad reminded me of that day and said I'd always been a girl ahead of my time.

Fondest Memory (then):

I really have so many fond memories of my childhood. It wasn't idyllic or anything ... but I was happy. I spent most of my "formative years" (like the Wonder bread commercial) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Summers were spent running around barefoot, having neighborhood barbecues in the back yard and swimming in our pool or, later, on my dad's boat. (Photo below is of me and my best friend Marian on the boat on the 4th of July, 1979. She's still one of my best friends, all these years later).

Dad had this "secret recipe" for teriyaki steak, and he would always say that whoever helped the cook got the first taste. He'd been an officer in the Marine Corps, and he would often use this silver meat fork with U.S.M.C. engraved on the handle to give me the first bite. I still have that fork in my kitchen to this day.

Proudest Moment (then):

My proudest moment then was in my senior year of high school. I was a page editor on the Conestoga, the school paper, and the teacher who served as the advisor recommended me to write an article about our foreign exchange student, Jorgen, for the Cincinnati Enquirer. I recently found Jorgen on, and I emailed him. After my mom passed away, I found a clipping of that article in one of her books, and I scanned it and sent it to Jorgen, who lives in Paris now. (Photo below of the newspaper article in my mom's book)

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

I've battled a weight problem for my entire life. In fact, I'm still battling it. But it was devastatingly challenging back then. Kids can be so cruel, and I endured a lot of heartbreak that was related to my weight. I pretty much idolized my older brother, and he was one of my harshest critics. And then there was the ongoing boy troubles, broken hearts, low self esteem that result from being overweight ... But I can say this: The scripture that says God turns all things to good for those who are called according to His purpose has been proven true many times over. I think our greatest challenges in life often turn out to produce our most profound lessons learned.

My First Job:

I was a sort of volunteer publicist at around age 16 for a local Cincinnati band that went national with a hit song. They were Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods, and the song was "Billy, Don't Be A Hero." The manager of the band (Bo's mother) offered to pay me and my best friend Joy if we would help organize fans to promote the record. I don't know whether to be proud, or if I should apologize at the same time(the song does tend to replay itself in your head!)to tell you that the record actually sold more than 3 million copies and earned a gold record. And the "paycheck" we got was being allowed to tour with them and being invited to rehearsals now and then. Not that we cared, of course. And by the way, I also found Joy again recently on! I should do a commercial for them.

I took those early skills and rolled them into a career later when I became a publicist for actors in the soaps (General Hospital and Days of Our Lives) in Los Angeles. While P.R. paid the bills, I studied my craft of writing, and my first book (a Christian YA adventure) was published in the early 90's.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so Flower Power fashion had a big impact on me. I had this shocking pink tunic that hung off the shoulder, with a bright turquoise sash that tied at the waist. I wore it with a skirt that was far too short for me and black go-go boots. I thought I was just as cool as Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In!

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:

The first show I can remember really getting into (and I think it was in reruns already when I found it) was The Dick Van Dyke Show. I thought Laura Petrie was so beautiful, and I wanted to marry a man just like Rob Petrie (Of course! He was a writer!). Then later, like every other kid my age, I fell in love with The Monkees (I was convinced I was going to be Mrs. Peter Tork), and I had an enormous crush on Ben Murphy from Alias Smith & Jones. But the life-changing tv show for me was Here Come the Brides. I wanted to be Candy Pruitt so badly, and find romance with Bobby Sherman up in the beautiful forests of Seattle! I just recently bought the first season on DVD, and I seriously found that I could say some of the dialogue right along with them. It left quite an impression on me!

Did you pass notes or have a pen pal as a child?:

I was a big note-passer all through school. I had a group of friends, and we just LIVED for writing notes to one another and folding them up like a flag in those diagonals. I had dozens of pen pals too, and sent around what they called "slams." I don't remember what that stands for, but they were little booklets where you wrote about your interests and then they were passed all around the country, and people with similar interests would write to you. So I had long distance friends who shared my interest in the Osmonds, movies, music, tv shows ... and did I mention the Osmonds? They were very key in a long season of my life back then. And guess who their opening act was on one of their tours! Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods. See how things come full circle?

Childhood Pets?:

I saw an Old English Sheepdog on a tv show called Please Don't Eat the Daisies. Well, I wanted one of my own so much, and I begged my parents for months to get me one. When my father finally agreed that I could have a dog, he came home with a little rat-like creature in his shirt pocket. It was a Chihuahua puppy ... which of course is about the furthest thing from a Sheepdog that there is. Corky lived for 16 years! Oh, and I did finally get my Sheepdog as an adult though; actually two of them, but my best buddy, Caleb, was with me for 14 years until he died of bone cancer. (Photo below)

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

I was fairly young when I met the love of my life. He passed away when I was 19, but he started something in me ... or perhaps watered a seed that had been there all along ... and I became a sappy, cry-at-commercials, grab-my-heart-over-love-songs, swoon-at-roses-and-chocolates, true believer in romance! I look back at those years as my beginnings as a writer, and particularly as a romance writer. All these decades later, I'm still a true believer. Love is a powerful thing, especially when it's paired with a hopeless romantic like me. I don't think I could stop telling these Happily Ever After stories if someone offered to pay me to stop!

Any special links? I am a freak about dogs. I love them. Every shape and size and color and temperament. I support several animal welfare organizations, but one of my favorites is the one that hooked me up with Sophie, my 3-year-old Collie, after losing Caleb. The Lost Angels Animal Rescue is a group of tireless warriors on behalf of homeless animals in the Central Florida area. They exist due to donations of time and finances, and I encourage anyone else who loves dogs to consider supporting them.

The daughter of a Marine Corps officer, Sandie has had the privilege of calling many states “home.” Her first book was published in the mid-1990s. Since then, she has published two young adult novels and four romances. Sandie’s books include romantic comedy, romantic suspense, and inspirational romance and have been successful in both general and Christian markets. Her published titles include Wish I Weren’t Here, UnWANTED: Husband, and Change of Heart.

Before Sandie published her first novel, she spent more than 10 years in Los Angeles working as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television’s hottest stars. She now resides in Tampa, Florida, with her best buddy, a Collie named Sophie. Sandie would love for you to visit her website,

Also, visit her Seasonal Blog.
Sandie is involved in writers groups for inspirational writers:
The Faith, Hope & Love chapter of Romance Writers of America:
American Christian Fiction Writers:

Summerside Press Each book will be set in a town somewhere in the U.S.

Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas
by Sandra D. Bricker

Lucy Binoche is not an outdoorsy kind of girl!
In fact, her idea of "roughing it" is suffering
through a long line at Starbucks.
But will she pretend to be someone she's not
just to snag the guy? Or will she discover
someone who loves her just the way she is?

Laugh-out-loud romantic comedy
for the inspirational market.

Go here if you want to see her video!
Leave a comment for a drawing of this book--and if you don't win, it comes out October 1st in a store near you! Drawing will be October 10.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lynn D. Morrissey: The Singing Kid

Lynn is a writer (among many other things) now, but back in the day her hours were filled with French, her studies and musicals, along with very special people like her mother, daddy and MaMa. The warmth of family has sustained her and is part of her faith journey. When she grew up, she was able to draw upon those childhood memories in order to help others. She still sings, but also speaks,journals(is a journal facilitator,) writes, blogs, teaches Bible study and nurtures her family these days.

Let's take a look into the delightful childhood of the beautiful Lynn Morrissey:

Childhood Ambition:
Whether or not I had career aspirations before I was in grade school, I’m uncertain. My grandfather told my father upon my birth: “Well, Bill, you didn’t get a football player, but you got yourself a great little pie baker.” Despite that I can still make a mean strawberry pie and a luscious French fruit torte, I never had ambitions of becoming a French pastry chef.

However, when I entered fifth grade and Madam Colvis’s French class, I dreamed of teaching French just like her. Once each day, our class would ascend steep, winding steps into a loft at school that looked as if it were a replica of the garret in Puccini’s La Bohème. The walls were colorfully plastered with posters of Paris, a perfect setting for our very own teacher imported straight from France. I loved listening to her musical accent and whisper-soft speaking voice. What an inspiration she was. I loved everything about her—her classy femininity, her love for language, her ability to inspire, her challenge to aspire, and her constant verb-conjugating encouragement.

I took French all the way through my freshman year of college, but in the end, God had different plans. I’ve learned over the years to consult Him first before following my own agenda. Now I’m a journaling facilitator, author, speaker, and soloist. I still love French, though, and am grateful that my minimal conversational speaking ability was useful when my husband and I traveled to France, especially when we had to find the nearest bathroom! I also love singing in French (exquisitely beautiful art songs) and coaching our daughter, Sheridan, who currently studies la Français in high school. She too has fallen in love with la belle langue.

Lynn at three

Fondest Memory (then):
It’s impossible to select a single fondest memory; there are so many. I’ll share several. I was definitely a “Daddy’s Girl” and loved playing with my father. One of our favorite games we simply called "store." Daddy would allow me to drag out all the canned fruits and vegetables from the cupboard. We used a little red bank that he’d saved from his own childhood to sort and count change. I still have it today. But I also loved accompanying him to the real grocery. This was the highlight of my week, especially because Daddy always invited me to select my favorite treats. The best part of the jaunt, however, occurred when we were ready to go home. I’d stand at the “tail end” of the shopping cart. My father pushed the cart, racing to our car as I squealed with delight. My pony-tail flew with abandon in the wind.

Lynn with Daddy

I especially loved watching Daddy play horseshoes with his friends. This was his specialty, and he usually won. Other times, I’d watch Mother, Daddy, and their other friends play spirited games of Monopoly. When no one was looking, I'd put extra money on my parents’ stacks of bills. (I never told them this until I got older)! I guess that wasn't very nice, but it was my child’s way of helping them win. (That sounds good anyway!).

In the winter, our favorite pastime was tobogganing down "Suicide Hill" in the city park. My father was a big, broad-shouldered man, and I felt so safe sitting behind him, as he blocked the freezing snow that sprayed in our faces. Afterward, we’d head for a wonderful Italian bakery for piping hot bread, just out of the oven; we devoured it ravenously, and there was never any left by the time we got home.

It’s bittersweet for me to recall these memories, because I lost my beloved father on May 27, 2007. I miss him every single day. He was my biggest exhorter, always challenging me to keep getting published and never to give up. He championed all my books, and constantly queried, “What are you writing now?” Those words still echo in my mind.

And if Daddy was my strongest prodder, Mother was and is my most earnest encourager. She loved me unconditionally, encouraged my singing and writing, and listened endlessly to all my childhood ramblings and teen-age dreams. It was Mother who taught me to play the piano and to appreciate classical music and good literature. We still share these loves, and we’re best friends today.

I also have fond memories of my great-grandmother, MaMa. Stooped-shouldered and frail, she would suddenly spring to life at the sight of her great granddaughter, setting a kettle on the stove to boil. She brewed strong tea for herself and a child’s version for me—heavy on milk, light on tea, and liberally laced with sugar. We feasted on sandwiches, cakes, memories, and faith. I loved listening to Mama’s tales about her childhood in the South, life as a young widow, her grief at the death of her infant son Eric and how God had comforted and sustained her through the difficult years ahead.

MaMa often quilted as she talked, cutting calico scraps from her colorful dresses, from her colorful life. At times the pieces unraveled and she sutured them together with the same love that stayed my childhood fears and mended my heart into wholeness. Now I realize that as she shared, MaMa was painstakingly stitching together her story and mine, shaping one story, as intricate, variegated, and tightly connected as the patterns of her quilts. Because I had the privilege of knowing my great-grandmother, I received from her inestimable treasures. Today, I still wrap myself in her hand-made treasure: a now-worn quilt that she sewed just for me. More important, she wrapped me in her invisible gifts of love and faith that will never fray.

Lynn's MaMa

Proudest Moment (then):
My proudest moments always revolved around acting and singing. I played Mrs. Santa Claus in the fifth-grade play and often performed during the summers at a neighborhood center, where my Aunt Wanda was a social worker, responsible for musical productions. She introduced me to the world of singing.

Lynn with Santa before her days as Mrs. Santa Claus in fifth grade

Later in highschool, I played Tuptim in The King and I and Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. I won the musical achievement award as a senior in high school. Yet these personal achievements paled in comparison to the pride I felt when my father sang or when his mother, my Grandma Nina, played the piano. My father had a gorgeous bass-profundo voice that left me spellbound as he sang beautiful hymns, stirring spirituals, Gilbert and Sullivan arias, and his most-requested songs, “Old Man River” and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.” I literally felt chills whenever he sang. I experienced a similar thrill when Grandma Nina played hymns, Joplin rags, and songs from her heyday in the twenties and thirties. She could also “play on demand.” You could hum a tune, and she’d immediately mimic it by ear; her fingers just took off, frolicking across the keys of her old upright. Her playing sounded like a lively player piano.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
I skipped a grade and was put into the “gifted program.” Translation: I did about four to five hours of homework a night. It absolutely consumed me. In retrospect, Mother said that she and Daddy would never have made the decision to enroll me, because it devoured my childhood. Perhaps all that studying and a subsequent move to a new neighborhood when I entered junior high accounted for how shy I became–almost debilitatingly so. It was certainly more than a challenge and led to real depression. In the end, my performing in choruses and musicals drew me out and helped me to communicate openly.

My First Job:
During my junior and senior summers at high school, I put down my school books, picked up a tray, and waited tables at Walgreen’s. During the sixties, Walgreen’s boasted both pharmacies and restaurants. I wore a crisp black-and-white uniform with a little white V-shaped apron, ugly white shoes (think old-time nurse shoes), and I swept my waist-length hair atop my head and secured it with a net. In those days, hair nets in restaurants, caps in swimming pools, and nurse’s hats in hospitals were standard requirement. (I have a theory that when boys started growing long hair, swimming caps were suspended, and have been ever since).

Having been sequestered in classrooms behind books for most of my life to that point, I found life at Walgreen’s to be a rude awakening to the real world. But it did provide a magnificent microcosm of the life to which I would eventually need to acclimate myself. I learned a lot: I had to be responsible and keep my commitment to work, whether I wanted to or not. I realized that there are “all kinds of people,” and they deserved good service (whether they were nice to me or not). I soon learned that the customer is always right (whether they were or not) and to serve with a smile. And I discovered that hard work is rewarded.

I received a number of dollar tips (a fortune in those days) for remembering customer’s preferences, like coffee or tea, or maybe just because people took pity on me. In fact, I wore my “trainee” badge for a whole year, just to engender their sympathy. But people weren’t too sympathetic when I spilled coffee. Once a whole table of people got up and moved when they saw me coming! Perhaps more than anything, working at Walgreen’s spurred me on to go to college so I could broaden my horizons.

Lynn in Baby Dress

Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Grandma Nina sewed me a lot of darling outfits, and I particularly liked a green jumper that she made me for St. Patrick’s Day. She always made sure that I was decked in green and gave me cute shamrock costume jewelry to wear. One Easter, my mother and I also wore look-alike Easter dresses, in yellow satin patterned with daisies. I was so proud to be her twin.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:
What was not to like about television in the good old days? Parents never feared letting their kids turn on the tube. Nearly every sit-com was sweet, innocent, and Mayberryesque— and yes, I loved The Andy Griffith Show. Of course, everybody also loved Lucy, and so did I! Add to this list of favorites Sky King, The Lone Ranger, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and Father Knows Best, and earlier, Captain Kangaroo, Popeye, and The Little Rascals. In high school I was a Patty Duke Show aficionado. As a child, I loved Shirley Temple movies, particularly Curly Top and Heidi, and the western, Shane.

Favorite Childhood Book:
When I was very small, Mother read to me wonderful books like Good Night, Moon, A is for Annabelle, The Real Mother Goose, and A Child’s Garden of Verses.When I could read myself, I relished Little Women, Eight Cousins, and Heidi, and in high school, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. (I still love all things English.)

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:
As I’ve said, I loved to sing! I also played the piano and “played show” with Grandma Nina in her kitchen. Our favorite songs were from South Pacific. We even knew all the hand motions to “Happy Talk.” Grandpa ignored us and watched Perry Mason in the living room. Hmmm . . . I wonder what tells you about our performance prowess?

Did you pass notes or have a pen pal as a child?
Following in my mother’s correspondence footsteps (she had penpals for years in England, Scotland, Norway, and Russia), I had a French penpal named Martine Desbaisieux. She and I wrote for several years, but unfortunately we lost touch over the years. And yes, I most certainly passed notes in junior high and high school! It’s amazing that we girls could write and talk on the phone as much as we did, considering that we saw each other on a daily basis.

Childhood Hero:
Hands down, my father was my hero. He still is.

Childhood Pets?
I had a big gray cat named Claude. This was Daddy’s clever name for our nail-sharp feline (think “clawed.”). Claude started out sleeping in the garage, made his way to the basement, and eventually slept across Daddy’s feet each night. Sadly, he was put to sleep when he scratched my little sister’s eye, and she nearly lost her eyesight. Blessedly, she received excellent medical treatement and her eyesight was not seriously impaired in the end.

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

I never aspired to be a writer as a child. I made good grades in English, but I wanted to teach French. And in college, I switched majors and decided to become a music teacher. I didn’t pursue writing and speaking until much later in life. It was a colossal surprise to me when the Lord led me in this direction.

Yet, in retrospect, I can see how God used my mother’s exposing me to good literature and poetry and sharing her own passion for writing and journaling, to instill in me a love for language. I can also see how those long, laborious hours of isolation in doin homework prepared me to be an author. Today, I work alone at home for hours on end. School work also taught me rigorous discipline, and I need plenty of that to write.

Mostly God used my parents’ faith and their love for Him to draw me to Himself. We attended church every Sunday as a family, and we read His Word and prayed. These things more than anything have undergirded my writing and shaped me as a Christian.

LYNN D. MORRISSEY, Author/Speaker/Journaling Facilitator/Soloist
Dynamic author and speaker Lynn D. Morrissey is in the ministry of metamorphosis. An avid journal-keeper for over thirty years, she speaks passionately about the power of prayer-journaling to heal hearts. Through journaling, God has set Lynn free from suicidal depression and alcoholism. Lynn understands journaling as a unique means of enjoying intimacy with God, experiencing spiritual transformation, and noting life’s significance.

Lynn has facilitated journaling seminars for over ten years and her signature book, Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer (Multnomah Publishers), is highly acclaimed. Lynn is the author of two devotional books, Seasons of a Woman’s Heart and Treasures of a Woman’s Heart (both, Starburst Publishers), contributor to numerous bestsellers, and an AWSA and CLASS speaker.

Lynn, her husband Michael, and daughter Sheridan live in St. Louis, Missouri, where Lynn served as executive director for the world’s largest USO. Lynn has a bachelor’s degree in vocal music and sang with the St. Louis Bach Society and St. Louis Chamber Chorus. She was also a director of Christian education, and currently pursues a journaling credential from The Journal Therapy Center.

Check out Lynn's regular feature on the Set Free Today blog. She is their resident journaling expert and writes a column every other Monday called Journaling Your Journey.

Sample of Lynn's blog entries:
Stones of Remembrance

As Lynn says: "God has used prayer-journaling to absolutely set me free from depression and a host of other difficulties. Journaling has been a powerful way to connect with God and to experience His joy."

Love Letters to God

Written by Lynn D. Morrissey
Illustrated by Katia Andreeva

Hardcover, 80 pages
Multnomah Books | Religion | January 2004 | $16.99 | 978-1-59052-189-2 (1-59052-189-7)
Women yearn to share their experiences with the Lover of their souls in a way that is honest and simple, yet deeply satisfying. The key to this intimate self-expression is prayer-journaling. By pouring her heart out on paper to God, a woman can enjoy God's loving presence, explore her purpose and passion, appreciate life's beauty and answer its perplexities, experience spiritual transformation, and leave a permanent record of God's faithfulness in her life. Love Letters to God is a woman's invitation to take a personal pilgrimage through her own 'sacred writings' to the very heart of God.

Story Behind the Book

Writing one’s prayers in a journal (unlike verbal or silent prayers) provides an actual safe place to grow spiritually and to enjoy and enhance a personal relationship with God. Verbal prayers are soon forgotten, but our "love letters to God" become a permanent place for exploring our hearts, a tangible testimony of God’s love and faithfulness in our lives, and a detailed document of our spiritual journeys. We can literally see the progression of changes in our lives as expressed on the "pages of our soul," our prayer journals, and we can see God’s answers to our prayers recorded there. Like the psalmists, many people have discovered that writing is the key to intimate self-expression, providing a deep, emotional catharsis that is often missing from their verbal or silent prayers.

Do you journal? Leave a message for Lynn about your experience and I'll draw a name to send Lynn's book.

Drawing will be on September 26th. Leave your contact information (yournameAT isp dotcom)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Janet Dean: When I Was Just a Kid

This interview is special to me in many ways. I met Janet as part of the American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana Chapter. She's a former teacher; so am I. She loves to draw, play golf and loves dolls; so do I. And then, her first historical romance novel was set in the town I was born in--Noblesville, Indiana! Janet is first class in my book.

Janet's childhood was filled with family storytellers. The creativity and stories from then have influenced Janet's writing today. Let's take a look at this beauty's past:

Childhood Ambition: At twelve I wanted to write. I illustrated my little romances, drawing my heroines in profile with turned up noses and long curly hair. I wish I had those stories today, but as I matured, they must have embarrassed me because I tossed them.

Fondest Memory (then): Christmas was a very special time in our house. Decorating the tree with icicles hung just so, singing Christmas carols, lighting a star-shaped candle, the excitement of Christmas morning with gifts under the tree. When we were little, my brothers and I woke before dawn. Some years our parents had barely gotten to bed, but they’d drilled into us that we weren’t to go downstairs until they were up.

Proudest Moment (then): Good grade cards. My dad was a teacher and I became one so perhaps that’s why I took such pride in my report card.

(Janet with her brothers above)

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: The summer before I entered fourth grade, my family moved from a city suburb to the outskirts of a tiny community five hours away. It seemed everyone was either related or knew each other from birth. I was shy so making friends wasn’t easy.

My First Job: I babysat and picked strawberries for my dad, but I got my first real job during college. I took care of the younger children at an elementary school near campus while teachers had their lunch. I met my husband on that job. He oversaw the older children. We joined forces on the playground during recess. Soon children sang,” Dale and Janet sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First came love, then came marriage, then came Janet with a baby carriage.” LOL Not sure if that’s why he asked me out, but we started dating. That job gave me way more than a paycheck and five lunches a week.

Childhood Indulgence: Ice cream cones. Still love them.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: My mother made me a black velvet straight skirt. I was so proud of that grown-up skirt. I wore it to our extended family Christmas celebration and split the seams jumping with my younger cousins on my grandparents’ featherbed. I was devastated and red-faced to admit I wasn’t the young lady I believed myself to be.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: I loved all of the cowboy TV shows. I could watch one after the other and never tire of them. Still love the cowboys!

Favorite Childhood Book: Black Beauty.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime: Reading and coloring. When I have the time, I now draw with colored pencils.

Childhood Hero: My mom. I thought she was beautiful. I admired her fun spirit, work ethic, and creativity. She was a quilter, made ornaments for our Christmas tree, could whip up a lovely meal and a couple pies, and volunteer in the community. I loved to sit on her bed and watch her get ready for formal occasions. I can still see her powdering her shoulders. I miss her.

Childhood Pet or Favorite Toy: The family dog, a shaggy mutt named Rags. He lived to a ripe old age, but we had to put him down following a stroke. A sad day at our house. Since then, I’ve developed allergies to cats and dogs. So our girls had hamsters, fish and a guinea pig for pets. My favorite toys were dolls. I still love them.

Favorite Subject in School: I loved school and liked all subjects except math. I don’t have a head for numbers, but fortunately my husband does.

See photos and more of Janet's writing journey at:

See what Janet's thoughts are at her blogspot:

Janet and her writer friends' blog at Seekerville:

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

I grew up in a family with a strong creative streak that cherished the past. My father recounted fascinating stories, like his father before him. Their tales installed in me a love of history and a desire to write.

Thanks for having me today, Crystal! I enjoyed it.

Courting Miss Adelaide

Mass MarketPaperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill (September 9, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0373827962
ISBN-13: 978-0373827961
The “orphan train” seemed like small-town spinster Adelaide Crum’s last chance to know the simple joys of family life. So many lost children, every one of them dreaming only of a caring home—the home she longed to offer. And yet the narrow-minded town elders refused to entrust even the most desperate child to a woman alone….

Newspaperman Charles Graves believed his heart was closed forever, but he swore to stand by this lovely, lonely woman who was fighting for the right to take some motherless child into her heart. And her gentle soul and unwavering faith made him wonder if even he could overcome the bitter lessons of the past, and somehow find the courage to love….

4 1/2 Stars, Romantic Times BOOK reviews

"Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide (4 1/2) is a wonderfully sweet love story that includes facts about the orphan trains."

Like to win a copy of this book in a drawing? Just leave a comment with your contact information (your name AT
MARTHA A. WAS OUR WINNER!! Thanks so much for all the comments.

The second book in the Courting series, Courting the Doctor’s Daughter will release in May 2009.

Janet's Awards
Fascinated by history and the role of strong women in our nation's past, Janet brings both together in her faith-based love stories. Two of her manuscripts were 2005 and 2006 Golden Heart finalists. One of those manuscripts was a 2006 Genesis finalist.
You can also order at eHarlequin.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Seeing Double: Dayle Allen Shockley

Dayle (on left) with twin, Gayle at nine months

No, you are not seeing double, Dayle is a twin to Gayle! And while this is about Dayle, when you talk about one child, the other one is right there. Dayle has some wonderful memories, and she and Gayle also had their share of fears(read about it.) But like a good story that Dayle can tell, Dayle's scary story has a happy ending to her kid fear factor.

Dayle's childhood was the basis for some pretty solid values, which contributed to her Amy Award-winning editorial in 2001. I think you will love meeting Dayle(as I did) and at the end of this interview, look for the book she is offering in a drawing to a reader who leaves a comment. Let's read about the Delightful Dayle!:

Childhood Ambition: To abolish school.

Fondest Memory (then):
I should preface everything by saying that I have an identical twin sister, Gayle. We did everything together. Looked alike. Dressed alike. Talked alike. So when you ask about “my” childhood, it will almost always include her.

Dayle (right), Elaine and Gayle on Easter Sunday

One of my fondest memories was waking up one Christmas morning and discovering that my mother had painstakingly sewed a fabulous wardrobe for my and Gayle’s Tammy dolls. The garments were exquisite, and I still have every one of them.

Biggest Challenge as a Child:

Gayle and I were about five years old when we developed an unnatural fear of dogs. It sounds like a small thing, but it was very debilitating. When you’re deathly afraid of anything, it’s a very scary and unforgettable experience, and often embarrassing. Many of our friends had dogs, but we couldn’t even go for a visit without them having to lock the poor dog up somewhere.

For a child, it was a heavy burden to carry. There were no leash laws back then, so any outdoor activity was accompanied by a bit of hesitation. We were afraid to even ride our bikes through the neighborhood, lest a dog suddenly appear. But, praise God, we overcame this challenge around the age of 11. I can still remember the name of the dog who managed to win over our trust—Tina, a beautiful boxer with sad eyes. For some reason, Tina captured our hearts and from that magical moment on, our fear of dogs ceased; we’ve both loved dogs ever since.

My First Job:

I was still in high-school when I worked evenings at a local five-and-dime store during the Christmas season. I hated every minute of it. I realized right then that retail was not in my future.

Childhood Indulgence:

Buying soft-serve lemon ice-cream cones from the ice-cream truck that came through the neighborhood. I’ve never tasted anything like it.

Dayle at 18 months with Gayle (Can you guess who Dayle is?)

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

My mother was an expert seamstress (still is) and made most of our clothes as children and teenagers. I could never pick just one outfit as a favorite; I seriously thought they were all fabulous.

Dayle with Mom, her dress designer, and her sisters

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:

We never had a television in our home, growing up. As a child, I was too busy playing to even notice. As a teen, I sometimes felt deprived. But Daddy stood firm in his decision. Looking back, I’m grateful, because I learned to do more productive things with my time. While I have a television today, I still feel that it steals so much valuable time from both adults and children.

Dayle at 11 months (left) with Dad

Favorite Childhood Book:

As a youngster, I absolutely adored The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer, a charming story about a family who makes their home in a trolley car. I don’t know how many times Mother read the book to us, but hundreds might not be an exaggeration. In later years, I re-read it dozens of times. I never grew tired of it. When my daughter was born, it was one of the many books I read to her, and I plan to read it to my grandchildren, should the Lord bless me with such treasures.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:

There are dozens I could name, but playing paper dolls with Gayle has to rank #1. We cut all sorts of “people” out of the Sears catalog, and spent hours shuffling them back and forth in their own little world. In the summertime, we would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing paper dolls.

Did you pass notes or have a pen pal as a child?

Yes, on both accounts. I always enjoyed the act of writing, the sound of pen to paper, although I never dreamed I’d grow up to be a “real” writer.

Childhood Hero:

My older sister, Elaine. I thought she was the smartest, kindest, most beautiful, most talented sister in the world. I still think that and she remains my hero today.

Dayle on left with hero sister, Elaine

Childhood Pets?

I was about 12 when we got an adorable black cock-a-poo puppy and named her Snoozy. The cutest thing you ever saw.

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

As a child, I loved to read. Most Saturdays found us headed to the library, where I would check out a mountain of books—mostly by Beverly Cleary. I was in second or third grade when, in an attempt to imitate Cleary, I penned my very first short story, which I still have. It wasn’t very good, but we all have to start somewhere.

Dayle is an award-winning writer whose byline has appeared on more than 200 articles and essays in national and regional publications, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Beaumont Enterprise, Southern Families Magazine, Houston Woman, Guideposts, Focus on the Family, Moody Magazine, Catholic Digest, Standard, Power for Living, and Christian Home & School, and online at,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

In addition to her freelance writing, Dayle is the author of three books and has contributed to sixteen other works, including multiple Chicken Soup titles. Since 1999, Dayle has been a freelance contributor to The Dallas Morning News and received an Amy Writing Award for her editorial, “Prayer Returns to Front,” in 2001.

In January 2008, Dayle's husband retired, following a 33-year career as a captain in Houston's Fire Department. Dayle followed suit in February and feels blessed to be able to put writing on the front burner for the first time in 21 years. She and Stan just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in August. They have one grown daughter.

Dayle’s web site

Dayle’s writing blog
When she isn’t writing, gardening, traveling in an RV with hubby, or playing Scrabble with her twin sister, Dayle occasionally spends time blogging about various writing topics—the good, the bad, and the downright deplorable.

Dayle’s personal ramblings

Books by Dayle Shockley:

Whispers From Heaven contains thirty-four short devotions, guaranteed to refresh a sagging spirit and breathe new life into a busy schedule. Each story will encourage you to open the windows of your heart and embrace the beauty contained in an ordinary day.

WIN SILVER LININGS! Leave a comment (with your contact--your nameAT your we'll draw a winner for this book on September 10th!
NEWS FLASH!!! SHAR MACLAREN has won Dayle's book!

Silver Linings is a collection of essays that will warm your heart when you find yourself in the midst of a difficult season. Each story will help you see that in every trial, there is something to be gained. It may not be tangible, or immediately apparent, but with a little effort, a silver lining can be discovered.

Home Improvement: 9 Steps to Living a Joyful Life
Home Improvement will motivate you to:

Establish a personal relationship with God.

Dump disappointments into a “trash bag.”

Keep a cheerful attitude.

Rid yourself of emotional baggage.

Nourish your spiritual self.

Be the best spouse you can be.

Maintain appropriate boundaries.

Fulfill the second-greatest commandment.

Make time for rest and relaxation.