Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Door County Christmas: Rachael Phillips

Rachael as a toddler
Rachael Phillips is special to me and I admire her quite a lot. She's kind, funny and such a good writer and friend. As a fellow member of the Indiana Chapter and American Christian Fiction Writers, I've been able to get to know her better. And she is usually willing to take a break from her writing to meet up at Ivanhoe's in Upland, IN where she can work on her sundae list. (Ask her about this in your comments!)

Her humor is wonderful, but she also is a great prayer warrior. And she's a top notch choir director and singer--she knows her music! She and her husband have taken many-a-mile bicycle rides on their tandem bike--and she has in fact rode on that bike to my house to drop off her latest fiction book with her story, "Ride with Me into Christmas" in the A Door County Christmas.

If you live in an area where you can get her columns in the newspaper, you will have your laugh for the day, as well as learn something about life in general. Rachael is gifted and God was developing her special gifts even when she was a young girl. (And with all those brothers, it's no wonder she has a great sense of humor!) Join me in discovering Rachael as a young girl who had a cat named Velvet Indiana:

Childhood Ambition: To be a famous popular singer like Barbra Streisand. Or a missionary.
Playing the piano, practicing to be a "star" --or a missionary

 Fondest Memory (from back then): In Brown County, Indiana, my parents owned a ramshackle cabin on Lost Lake. I rowed a boat alone to the middle of the lake on a gorgeous spring evening and watched God set the sky on fire with flaming pink roses. I must have sat there more than an hour, simply reveling in His artistry. 

Such a cutie!
Proudest Moment (from back then): I won a state poetry contest as a junior higher with a poem—not surprisingly—about a sunset.
Rachael in her office at a young age
Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: Although I often opened my big mouth, I was painfully insecure—especially as an adolescent. Skinny legs and a negative bust measurement can really kill a girl’s self-confidence. 
Someday this gal would learn to see herself through God's eyes--beautiful!
My First Job (paid or unpaid—something you feel is significant—child or teen) :I first worked as a waitress for Howard Johnson’s restaurant. With 28 flavors, it was one of the first multi-flavor ice cream places, and I loved cleaning up the soda fountain! I also liked singing “Happy Birthday” to customers. Some of my non-musical fellow servers paid me tips to sing for their tables. 

Rachael in High School, got paid for singing!
Childhood Indulgence: There weren’t many. I was the oldest girl with four siblings. But when I walked to Charlie’s General Store to buy bread for my mom, she often gave me a nickel or dime extra, and I bought yummy Butterfinger or PayDay candy bars.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: As a preschooler, I didn’t really care what dress I wore—we wore dresses a lot—but I always insisted on wearing my ruffly can-can to church. It was scratchy and so stiff it hit me in the nose when I sat down. But I was SO proud of it. I tried to call it a “ruffle-on-top-of-a-ruffle,” but could only say a “ruckle-on-top-of-a-ruckle.”   
Young Rachael with her fabulous "ruckle-on-top-of-ruckle" dress
Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show: We didn’t go to the movies much. One night we all went to the drive-in and saw Lady and the Tramp, which I loved. I also liked watching Mighty Mouse because I loved his singing. Sometimes I tied a towel (cape) that hung down my back and jumped off the sofa, singing, in my best operatic imitation, “Here I come to save the day!”

Favorite Childhood Book: Wow, hard to say. I read voraciously and raided the county Bookmobile that visited our village and the Columbus, IN public library every chance I got. Probably Louisa May Alcott’s books, Alice in Wonderland, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I also read biographies, Nancy Drew mysteries, and I stole my brother’s Boy’s Life magazines. Once I got a hold of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, but when I asked my mother what a concubine was, that ended my foray into adult literature for a while.     

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime: Reading. Singing. Imagining. Baking cookies.

Did you pass notes or have a pen pal as a child? Yes, I wrote my cousin in Louisiana and my girlfriend who had moved from Columbus to Seymour, Indiana for several years.

Best friends?: Donna in first grade. Bonita, Debbie, and Kathy in elementary. 

Any Childhood Pets? We had a silky black cat named Velvet—I called her Velvet Indiana because I was proud of my state. We had various dogs, but my favorite was Shaggy, a cocker spaniel. I still like cockers.

Childhood Hero: Jesus. I loved Him from an early age. And English royalty fascinated me. I read everything I could get my hands on about Queen Elizabeth I, a strong woman who ruled a powerful kingdom during an era when kings possessed most of the power. 

Rachael, age 16, and her brothers
A Favorite Christmas Memory from Your Childhood: When I was eleven, I wanted white ice skates so badly I dreamed about them. My mother told me we couldn’t afford them, and I’d have to continue to rent the ugly brown ones at the rink. I drooped in despair. How could I be Peggy Fleming? But on Christmas morning, I opened a big package, and there they were: perfect white ice skates that magically transformed me into an ice fairy. My family went skating Christmas night, and I’ll never forget the light silvery snow falling as I twirled on the ice, wearing my new skates.   

Rachael and a family dinner
What was Christmas like when you were growing up? Most of our Christmases were quite simple, with a Charlie Brown-type tree (Dad refused to spend money on a better one) and a few presents. He did make sure we had lots of fruit around—boxes of big Delicious apples, tangerines, oranges. Mom bought bags of hard Christmas ribbon candy and worked hard to make Christmas special. Occasionally, we spent Christmas with relatives, but mostly, we stayed home together, often playing games we received as gifts. And sometimes we went ice skating. My dad, who ran a construction business and pastored a church, took Christmas off—the only day of the year I remember his being around all day. 

Was there anyone in your childhood who pointed you to Jesus? Certainly my parents, especially my mom. She was and still is an amazing woman of God. And the people of our small congregation. 

Share your introduction to Christ as a child or teen or a significant event that led to your walk with Jesus.  My parents modeled their faith in every aspect of their lives. They made Him so real that my early memories involve Jesus almost as much as them. When I was three, I was told Jesus was my best Friend, and that He was with me all the time—just invisible. So whenever I sat down, I scooted over and made room on my chair for Jesus to sit beside me—that’s what best friends do, right?

Rachael Phillips, author, wife, mom, grandmother and funny lady (have her speak at your event!)

 Rachael's Writing and Life:
 A Door County Collection (Barbour Publishing), including The Heart’s Harbor by Cynthia Ruchti, My Heart Still Beats by Eileen Key, Christmas Crazy by Becky Melby, and  Ride with Me into Christmas by Rachael Phillips, releases in September 2010.

A Door County Christmas: Add a comment with contact email and have a chance to win this book!

Left to Right in A Door County Ice Cream Shoppe:Authors Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, Cynthia Ruchti, Becky Melby

Rachael co-wrote a reference book called Women of the Bible (Barbour Publishing) with Carol Smith and Ellyn Sanna that will release February 2011.  Rachael just finished writing a women’s fiction called Kneady Women, a story about a lonely fiftyish writer who finds fun, food and fellowship with an offbeat bread-baking group called the "Loafers." Rachael writes humor columns for three newspapers and articles for newspapers.

A Door County Christmas webblog site
Rachael's Web Site
Rachael on Facebook
Rachael's Author Page on Facebook
Rachael on Twitter!


    Rachael Phillips, a former choir director(who directs the ACFW choir once-a-year at conference,) owes her unplanned writing career to a church secretary who solicited staff contributions to the church newsletter at gunpoint. Rachael published her first fiction, a comic romance novella called Ride with Me into Christmas, part of A Door County Christmas Collection, in September 2010. She also has co-authored a reference guide called Women of the Bible, to release in February 2011. She wrote  four biographies in Barbour Publishing’s Heroes of the Faith series: Frederick Douglass: A Slave No More; Billy Sunday: Major League Evangelist; St. Augustine: Early Church Father; and Well with My Soul, a collection of four mini-biographies of hymn writers.

More information about her writing and awards can be found on her Web site, http://rachaelwrites.com.

Rachael writes a weekly humor column called “Coffee Corner” for the Marion Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Indiana, the Pilot News in Plymouth, Indiana, and the Marion, Illinois Review. The 2004 Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award winner, she published stories in the Zondervan collection Help, I Can’t Stop Laughing (2006), which includes authors such as Barbara Johnson and Martha Bolton. She also has published devotions and stories with Guideposts, Moody Publishers, and others. Rachael has written for magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman, Marriage Partnership and Today’s Christian. More information about her writing and awards can be found on her Web site, http://rachaelwrites.com.

Rachael has been married 35 years to Steve, a family physician and adjunct professor at Taylor University.New to the Upland area, they attend Upland Community Church. Steve and Rachael have three married children: Beth (Frank); Christy (Bryan), and David (Janelle). Four perfect grandchildren provide lots of writing inspiration: Annabelle Kate, 6; Joey, 4; Linus, 2; and Jay, 2.

The Clearing, an artists' retreat where A Door County Christmas authors  stayed
Rachael, Keeps on Writing, Keeps on Singing, Keeps on Doing God's Will and Eating Sundaes!


Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

I've read enough in previous PR to want to read this book, but I've got to say I loved this interview. I'm also a Hoosier writer, and I connected with several things Rachael said about her childhood.

Write on!
Because of Christ,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Rachael Phillips said...

Thanks, Crystal, for your generous words and this neat opportunity to connect with your readers.

So glad you enjoyed the interview, Sharon! Always happy to meet another Hoosier writer--and I LOVE your hat!

Regina Merrick said...

What a great interview! I was privileged to be in the ACFW choir this year, and was amazed at how Rachael formed a choir with no regular meeting place, a computer, and little speakers.

I love reading about where a writer "started." My favorite? Ambition - Singing star (like Barbra Streisand) or Missionary! LOL

I'm not a Hoosier, being from KY, but I did graduate from High School in Martinsville, IN, so I have a little bit of Hoosier influence. I will definitely be looking for Rachael's books!

Patricia Strefling said...

Amazing story of your life Rachel. So glad to know you better...

Rachael Phillips said...

Isn't it great how God takes our tiny efforts and turns them into something wonderful? Because you ladies WERE wonderful, worshipful and a joy to work with.

Thanks so much for commenting. I'd love to get to know you better, too. Maybe at a Bethel writers' get-together soon? I still get homesick for northern Indiana :-)

Pepper said...

What a great post, Rachael. And so nice to learn more about the super-choir director/author of ACFW.
Who can go wrong with Little House on the Prairie, btw? :-)
Great pics, Rachael and congrats on the new book. What a wonderful addition to your published library.
And what a privelage it was to sing under your leadership.


Rachael Phillips said...

Thanks, Pepper, for your kind words. I really was into the Little House on the Prairie thing. I even made myself a sunbonnet and wore it when I hoed my garden!

Unknown said...

Your blog brought back so many memories. I'm so happy, Rachael, for your new release. Keep writing!!
PS: Love your novella - already have an autographed copy, so leave me out of the drawing.:)

Rachael Phillips said...

And I'm excited about yours, soon to come, Donna! For anyone reading who might not know, Donna received her first fiction contract from Barbour Publishing at the ACFW conference last month.

Rick Barry said...

Rachael, so nice to have a chance to get to know you better! The one question left hanging is whether you do or don't like maraschino cherries on your sundaes, but I trust that will be answered in some future interview. Keep writing and singing, but mostly keep serving the Lord!

Becky Melby said...

I've been watching for someone to mention your sundae list, Rachael, so I just have to ask. Are you conquering the Ivanhoe menu? I'm sure you're attacking that list, whatever it is, with as much perseverence and joy as you put into your writing, music, and friendships.

Cute pics! Love to see the "evolution" of eye glasses!

Rachael Phillips said...

Rick: Amen! Serving Jesus, the Author of my salvation, is paramount.

As for the maraschino cherries--I don't care for them on anything else, but always eat them if they appear on sundaes!

Becky: I'm making progress on Ivanhoe's 100-Sundae list. I've consumed 34 since last spring.(Only 650 miles on the tandem this summer have saved me.) As for doing it with joy--oh, yeah. YUM!!

Beth said...

Rachael's daughter here! Just wanted to say that I am one PROUD daughter. Mom was always the best at telling stories...whether it was her own or reading those Little House on the Prairie books to us. Great interview, Crystal, and great blog! I will have to stop by again when I'm not chasing those "perfect" grandchildren...

Crystal Laine said...

Thanks so much, Rachael, for allowing me to put this up! I always love the photos. So cute.

And thanks so much for everyone who has come by to read the interviews. These are so much fun.

Come back for more!

Rachael Phillips said...

I just have to say thanks to my sweet daughter for dropping by

And thanks to all you awesome friends--especially you, Crystal--for making it a fun day!

Lourdes said...

I really enjoyed this interview thank you. Gotta love those church secretary's :-)


Janell Lyn Martin said...

What a wonderful interview. It was great getting to know Rachael more! Congrats on the new published book. And to think I knew you when... lol Hope you'll come visit us at Writers' Club sometime soon... then you can see my newly published book!

Renee G said...

What a wonderful interview. It made me proud of my own very "ordinary" childhood.

Anne Payne said...

Enjoyed the interview. Interesting questions. Look forward to reading the book.


Rachael Phillips said...

Lourdes, Janell, Renee, and Anne,
So glad you all stopped by! I enjoyed your thoughts and comments. And Janell, I'd love to see you and the Writers' Club bunch soon!

misskallie2000 said...

What a great interview. I have not read any of your work but look forward to reading A Door County Christmas. I love Christmas stories and read 2 or more new ones every yr then reread my favorites.
I would love to win this great book. Thanks for the chance to enter.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com