Thursday, October 30, 2008

When I Was Just a Kid: Terry Whalin

(This interview first appeared on Chat 'n' Chew Cafe')

Do you ever wonder what someone like Terry Whalin was like as a child and teenager? What kinds of books inspired him as a child? Activities and first jobs? Someone like him--accomplished and a well-published author of over 60 books, an editor, literary agent, who works with the American Society of Journalists and Authors, teaching at conferences--who knows everyone and everyone knows him? Who has interviewed the likes of Billy Graham and Chuck Colson?

I did. And he was gracious to take time from his really busy schedule to reply to my probing into his past--with the same dedication that he gives an important deadline, I must add.He seems to have endless energy, as well as bottomless encouragement to those who want to write. And no wonder he does so well with teaching--whether at a conference or online in various venues--it is really in his genes, we find out. And how many authors do you know who would climb into a speeding bobsled,just to experience the blinding fast motion of his subject, Olympic gold medalist Vonetta Flowers, to write a book?

He patiently answers questions all the time from brand new writers or old pros. His book,Book Proposals That $ell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. )

continues to sell to help writers create great book proposals.

And a life-changing moment came for Terry while he was a journalism student on the campus of Indiana University. That moment has in turn touched lives for years to come (or an eternity.)
From his bio:
A journalism graduate from Indiana University, Terry writes a wide spectrum of subjects and topics for the magazine and Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books and published in more than 50 magazines. For five years, he was an acquisitions editor at a book publisher, and now he is a literary agent at Whalin Literary Agency. Terry encourages writers of any level (from beginners to professionals) at To help people pursue their own dreams of a published book, Terry has written Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success.

Let's take a look at how Terry Whalin got started in life:

Childhood Ambition: Newspaper reporter chasing deadlines and stories
For most of my education, I had little idea what I would like to do with my life. I often thought about becoming a schoolteacher since this career is ingrained in my family DNA. My grandfather Whalin was a high school principal and superintendent in a small town in northeastern Kentucky. His father was a Kentucky teacher and the majority of his children (including my grandfather) went into some aspect of education. It's why the industrial arts building at Eastern Kentucky University is named after my great uncle Ralph Whalin. I'd say schoolteacher was as close to an ambition that I had beyond newspaper reporter.

Fondest Memory (then): Curled up on my granny's couch during the summers in Frankfort, Kentucky reading a stack of biographies from the library. I've always loved books and on those rainy summer afternoons, I pored through the pages of real life stories. It built something special into my background, and is probably why I love to tell the stories of others.Terry at age 3 at his home in Raceland, Kentucky

Proudest Moment (then): Two or three years in high school, I went to the finals in the National Forensic Society in the discussion category. Each weekend, I traveled with the speech team to a different part of the state to compete and it was a regular part of my high school life. I wasn't an athlete but I did get a high school letter in speech. Almost each weekend I came home with some place in the event--first, second, third, fourth or fifth. My parents gave me a lot of affirmation for this work.
A close second would be when I earned my Masters Degree in 1984. My parents both came for the graduation. It was a little replacement, because I blew off my college graduation ceremony (even though they invested a lot of hard earned money in that period of my life). Thousands graduated at the same time from my college but only a few of us achieved the Masters Degree at the University of Texas at Arlington in mid-year. It was a special experience for me.

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: One of my greatest challenges came in junior high school (7th grade,) which is a difficult time for anyone. Our family moved from northeastern Kentucky to Townsend, Maryland (a suburb of Baltimore). People wonder about my growing up years in Kentucky and how little drawl is in my accent today--and it's because of this experience. I have clear memories of standing in the recess at the junior high and guys in my class surrounding me saying, "Say PENNIES for us, Terry." I had no idea how to say the word--but I quickly learned and changed my dialect of English--of course, it reverts back whenever I spend any time in that part of the country. My wife will look at me and wonder what has happened to me--but I naturally make the transition each time--then, to her relief, transform back to my normal dialect when I leave the area.

My First Job: In high school, I worked part time at the local newspaper. In general I wrote obituaries and clipped articles for their "morgue" (where the clippings were stored back then--something that is long gone, I'm certain). It gave me a taste of the journalism world.

Then, between my freshman year in college and my sophomore year, I worked on the railroad section crew. Yes, I drove spikes and shoveled gravel all summer with a bunch of guys in a beat-up work truck. I rented a room in Gaston, Indiana (not far from Crystal's home) and struggled to keep up with these stronger men. I would have been fired in the first two weeks except my father was a railroad executive. Whether they liked it or not (and I liked it or not,) I was there for the duration of the summer. I did make some good money toward my college that summer since the job paid well--much better than anything in journalism at the time.

Childhood indulgence: Playing pinball machines

Favorite Childhood Movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Favorite Childhood Book: One of the early Dr. Seuss books--and a little known title:
McElligot's Pool. I love this book and still have a copy.

Childhood hero: Superman, of course--comic and the old TV show--loved both of them.

As a child I never expected that as an adult I would: have the opportunity to write books similar to the ones I loved as a child. I'm thinking of some of my biographies that I've written about people like Billy Graham, Luis Palau, Chuck Colson, John Perkins, Sojourner Truth and Samuel Morris. It's been a thrill to put together these books and have them help others learn about these remarkable people.

Terry shares with us: "Where we've come from does feed into our lives as adults--but it's not the only factor. If we are open and constantly growing and changing, then we can do much more than we ever dreamed as possible. We serve a God which Paul writes about in Ephesians: He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. I can think some amazing things and God is able to do above those thoughts."

Terry and his wife, Christine, live in Arizona where he has his literary agency and writes.

If you'd like to find out about his literary agency:

Need to know about blogs? Terry can help you there:

For Terry's blog, The Writing Life.

To find a copy of Terry's book, Book Proposals That Sell

Be sure to keep an eye on what he's doing--it can only help your own writing!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Virelle Kidder: Gifts for a Longing Heart

Virelle Kidder has a gift (and not just this gift at age 3 that you see above!) In fact she has several gifts! When I asked her What would you like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer and speaker whom you have become? she said this:

I grew up mostly in a single parent home. After my father left, my mother resumed her teaching career to support us. Although this was a less than perfect upbringing, she did her best to make our home inviting and always welcomed our friends. I appreciate how hard she worked for us to still be a “real family.” In my heart grew a deep longing, never expressed, to know whether God was real. I wanted to know the meaning of life, and where my father was once he died. It created a hunger in me that wasn’t satisfied until I met Christ, or He came to meet me, as a twenty-five year old. Single parents need the comfort that God is working on their child’s heart even if the child cannot express it. Children are much more open to God than adults. God hears every one of their prayers and longs to dry their tears.

Seeing Virelle how God saw her, I think you will agree that He took her gift of her heart and multiplied it abundantly!

Childhood Ambition:
To be a cowgirl and live on Roy Roger’s ranch.

Fondest Memory (then):
Playing in the woods with my girlfriend Barbie.

Proudest Moment (then):
Winning the 5th and 6th Grade short story contest in our district. I won my first Bible, which I hoped would give me the real meaning of life. I was just 10.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
Grieving the loss of my father, who left when I was seven and died shortly afterward. Even though he was an alcoholic and mentally ill, I loved him greatly.

My First Job:
In college I helped a wealthy family by teaching English to their Spanish speaking maids and staying with their children in their absence.

Childhood Indulgence:
I don’t remember any. When I was sick, my mother bought me ginger ale and rainbow colored tissues to make flowers.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Six shooters, a red cowgirl hat and fringed vest. I also had cowgirl boots and a few things to dress up Barbie when she came over.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:
Roy Rogers, Ed Sullivan, and Spin & Marty, an old TV series. I also loved the Today Show, news events, and Bob Hope. My brother and I watched shows like Dragnet but I pestered him constantly to explain what was happening. I loved the movie, “Around the World in 80 Days.”

Favorite Childhood Book:
Possibly the series Cherry Ames Student Nurse, and the Nancy Drew books. I didn’t read much as a child, honestly. My voracious reading habit began as a young mom living alone in the country while my husband attended grad school.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:
Rollerskating, riding my bike, fishing, playing in the woods, exploring our old barn attic, visiting friends’ farms and seeing the animals. On rainy days I played “store” and paper dolls, and had a wild imagination.

Did you pass notes or have a pen pal as a child?
No, but I was always giggling and whispering in school. It was the only thing I ever got in trouble for.

Childhood Heroes: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

Childhood Pets? First, Chummy, a Welsh Terrier who died when I was ten. My favorite pet was a little white parakeet I raised from a baby. It walked all over the house.

About Virelle Kidder:
For over twenty-five years Virelle Kidder has been writing and speaking about the love of God. She is funny, transparent, highly relatable and solidly biblical.

A full time writer and conference speaker, Virelle once hosted her own daily radio talk show in New York's capital district. Now she's a Florida resident, still focused on encouraging women on their spiritual journey. She is the author of six books including her newest release, Meet Me at the Well with Moody Publishers and The Best Life Ain't Easy, releasing in October. Just for fun, she's now working on her first murder mystery.

No doubt, you've met her before. Virelle served for many years as a contributing writer for Today's Christian Woman and enjoys being a mentor with the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer's Guild. She is widely published in national magazines such as Moody Magazine, Focus on the Family's Pastor's Family, Decision, Pray!, Journey, HomeLife, Tapestry and others, as well as many collected works. Her articles have been reprinted around the world in multiple languages.

Virelle and her husband, Steve, have four grown children and eight grandchildren and love their new life in Sebastian, Florida.

Virelle's Books:

The Best Life Ain't Easy, but It's Worth It (Moody Publishers, October 2008)

HERE NOW!! October '08 is The Best Life Ain't Easy, but It's Worth It, also from Moody Publishers. Often funny, sometimes sad, this spiritual memoir is really the story of the surprising, persistent, and patient love of God in an ordinary life. I hope it will encourage readers know God better and trust Him fully in their own lives.

Meet Me at the Well: Take a Month and Water Your Soul (Moody Publishers, 2008)

Feeling wrung out? Exhausted? Like God's asked too much of you lately? I could be your Queen.

Want to feel better? Not even Jesus was not immune from similar exhaustion. He knew that without renewal our spirit dries right up. We just can't keep going. Why else would God's closing words in the Bible be a shouted invitation to "Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."

This book follows a period months, maybe years, of being desperately parched, learning to sit still, open my spirit wide and let God ladle in Life again. Come. I'll take you there. You can find out for yourself. Foreword by Carol Kent.

Chapter One of Meet Me at the Well: Chapter One - "I'm Dying Here, Lord."

I'm no Wonder Saint. You're not either? Good.

If you find yourself currently overwhelmed by your responsibilities, torn in two by the needs of others, waking up begging for strength to get you through the next day, we might be related. Do people count on you to be strong but your emotional tank was empty long ago? I bet you wonder why God gave you more than you could possibly accomplish in one day, maybe a lifetime? Ever want to quit?

I'm your queen. May I be honest?

Here's what others are saying about it:

"Meet Me at the Well is for every woman who has ever tried to be all things to everyone and, more often than not, ends up spiritually dehydrated. Virelle Kidder is a master storyteller. Her transparent, captivating writing, coupled with God's enduring wisdom, offers a refreshing dive into God's word you cannot afford to miss."

—CARMEN LEAL, author & founder of SomeOne Cares Christian Caregiver Conferences.

"Meet Me at the Well is not just another Christian book. It's a way of life. This book shows us how to be safe in God's arms . . . to really, really believe He is there at the well for us every day."

—PATRICIA LORENZ, inspirational writer, speaker, & author; one of the top contributors to the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

"Through Meet Me at the Well, Virelle Kidder lets us into her life and takes us with her on a month-long journey to dig down to our common source of Living Water. There we are directed to the Word and the truth that He is there, and will meet us, no matter what. I found her message real, warm, and reassuring, and I know many others will too."

—NANCY CARMICHAEL, author & former editor of Virtue Magazine

"If life has ever left you feeling so completely dehydrated that you could be blown away by even the slightest breeze, then this book is for you. Virelle's book is an oasis in the deasert. It provides a cool, refreshing drink for a parched soul."

—LINDA MOORE, Director, By Design Ministries

"With warmth and honesty, Virelle Kidder invites us to the spiritual well—not only to drink deeply of hope and love but to rest in our heavenly Father's lap. Read Meet Me at the Well and be refreshed."

—SANDRA P. ALDRICH, author and speaker

Donkeys Still Talk: Hearing God's Voice When You're Not Listening (Navpress, 2004)

Life is full of donkeys, those challenging circumstances that block our path from going where we want to go. God uses these donkeys to get our full attention, and speak with us in a brand new way, inviting us closer than ever before. The problem is, we can miss the message completely.

What can you learn from a donkey? A lot! Many times in life with my planner full, I've saddled up my donkey like the prophet Balaam in Numbers 22 and headed on a determined path until the road began to narrow and my plans unraveled. At times like these I've found that donkeys still talk and it pays to listen.

Encounters like these have shaped the course of my life and opened a surprising new sweetness in knowing God. They have also bent my will to the point of breaking.

Donkeys Still Talk is about waking up to hear God speak in the narrow places of our journey and finding the Father-child intimacy we were created for. Face-to-face encounters with God reassure us of His love, offer forgiveness of sin, the healing of wounds, and a quieted heart to learn His will right when we need it most.

Foreword by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Getting The Best Out Of Public Schools (Broadman & Holman, 1998)

Co-authored with her husband, Dr. Steven Kidder, an educational psychologist, Virelle Kidder partners her years of shepherding four children through the public schools with her husband's lifelong career in public education to offer this unique and inspirational tool for difference-makers. Whether you're a parent, grandparent, youth worker, administrator, or teacher, this book will give you an insider's guide to bringing positive change to your local school system. Includes an extensive “tool box” of resources.

Foreword by Dennis Rainey.

Loving, Launching, And Letting Go (Broadman & Holman, 1995)

Even with the best kids, the years leading to launch our children into their adult lives can be among the most stressful ever. With her four children finally on their own, faith in tact, Virelle Kidder wrote the book she wished she'd owned then. Full of fun, solidly biblical, poignant and practical, she tells you what no one else will:

How to know of your teenager is really ready to leave home.
How to help them avoid unhealthy entanglements.
Effective ways to urge a “late bloomer” out of the nest.
The hidden blessings of struggles, even failure.
How to build lifetime closeness as a family.
Foreword by Gail MacDonald.

Mothering Upstream (Victor, 1990)

From mother of four, Virelle Kidder, comes solid help and encouragement over the many hurdles mothers face.” The real truth about mothering is that it is the hardest job you will ever do, and that you are probably less prepared for it than you were for your learner's permit….mothering is also the most costly investment you will ever make, for it involves giving yourself lavishly for others, filling in the deep wells of self-centeredness in your life with acts of kindness, care, maintenance, and love." You will arrive, as every other mother before you, at the end of your own adequacy. When you find yourself needing your Heavenly Father every moment, even as you are needed by your children, you will be exactly where God wants you.

Virelle's Blog Got a Minute for God?

Need a conference speaker?
Virelle frequently serves as a keynote speaker and conference instructor at Christian writers' conferences around the country and abroad.

Here are Virelle's most popular conferences and seminars: (Also, see her web site:)

Meet Me at the Well
Three or four sessions for those seeking refreshment and renewal

Donkeys Still Talk
Three or four sessions on hearing God's voice in the midst of life's challenges and obstacles we can't move

When Your Mate Doesn't Believe
Three sessions

The Complete Woman
Three or four sessions leading the wounded person with us to a place of joy, healing, ministry, and purpose.

Please contact Virelle at

Fees available upon request.

The Christian Writers Guild
The Christian Writers Guild exists to educate, train, and support writers who desire to promote a biblically-based, Christian worldview through their writing. Find out more about their important mission and their influence on modern publishing.