Monday, October 4, 2010

A Door County Christmas Special: Becky Melby

Becky, age 3, and her baby brother (from a family Christmas card) in their cute, footie pjs!

Becky has an unusual childhood treat she liked to eat. (See if you can find it in this interview!) I wonder if she still would eat it today? No matter, there are some things that have stuck with her through the years--her writing and passion for words, her family commitment and her ability to get through the tough times with a hope. Life wasn't always easy for Becky, but her relationships sustained her and she weaves her stories with relationships, too.

Before this latest book was written, A Door County Christmas, authors Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby gathered together at retreat center, The Clearing, to discuss and see the setting of their novella collection in Door County, Wisconsin. They had a fun time (though at one point the electricity went out!) and brought back more than stories for a book--they brought back treasured memories and friendship.
The Clearing: An artist's retreat for the Authors of A Door County Christmas in Door County, Wisconsin

Come find out about Becky and then at the end see what sorts of stories Becky writes. See if you can relate:

Childhood Ambition:
I started writing stories when I was eight, and knew I wanted to become a writer when my fifth grade teacher put my poem about a bunny on the bulletin board with a huge red A+ on it.

 Fondest Memory (from back then):
We lived in Minneapolis when I was four. I remember my mother (then about 40) putting on a pink bathing suit and running up and down the sidewalk with me when it rained. Around the same age, I lost my favorite stuffed bunny. My mother took the bus downtown to Dayton’s to find a replacement. She called me from the store—it may have been my first phone call. I remember holding this huge black telephone receiver and picturing my mom in the toy department. She said they didn’t have any bunnies, and wondered if I would be happy with a pink dog. I said yes and she brought him home. From her example, I learned so much about respecting children and getting down on their level.

 Proudest Moment (from back then):
In high school, I wrote a poem about Jackie Kennedy after President Kennedy was assassinated. It was published in the local paper. Loved seeing my name in print!

 Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: My father died when I was seventeen, just weeks before graduation. That was a difficult time.

 My First Job (paid or unpaid-something you feel is significant-child or
 teen) :
I did a lot of babysitting from twelve to fourteen. I’d been taught to do the dishes and clean up even if I wasn’t there to fix a meal. I loved the surprise and compliments when tired moms came home late and found the kitchen clean. For several years I sat for a family of seven kids. It was a great feeling of accomplishment every time I survived the night!

Childhood Indulgence:
Toast with peanut butter, sprinkled with Tang!

 Favorite Outfit as a Child:
I remember walking around and around the driveway in my first saddle shoes. I couldn’t believe I had shoes just like Mom! I had an Easter dress that was white lace on top and sheer peach on the bottom. With white gloves, I felt like a princess.

 Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:
My Friend Flicka, Lassie, or anything with dogs or horses.

 Favorite Childhood Books:
Scuffy, The Little Engine that Could, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. In junior high and high school, I read Mrs. Mike almost every summer.

 Best friends?:
When I was between five and nine we lived on a circle drive in a subdivision in St. Joseph, Michigan. There were four other girls my age on the circle—Chery, Pam, Sandy, and Kathy. We did everything together, but Chery was my best friend. When we moved to Wisconsin, it was devastating.

 Any Childhood Pets?
Three dogs: Blacky, Daisy, and Candy. I was ten when we got Candy. Who knew I’d still have her when I got married? Hubby was less than thrilled with my shedding, golden retriever “dowry.”

 A Favorite Christmas Memory from Your Childhood:
Two dolls. I was given “Miss Christmas” when I was four. She had a maroon velvet dress and a collar and muff of real fur. A few years later, I was ecstatic when my parents gave me an almost-life-sized doll. I remember twirling around the living room with her. (When I was about ten, my little brother cut off her fingers. Still haven’t gotten an apology from that boy.)

 What was Christmas like when you were growing up?
Small and traditional. Our family consisted of my parents, my brother, and me. We didn’t have extended family living close. On Christmas Eve, we went to the candlelight service at church, came home and ate oyster stew, and opened gifts. On Christmas Day we had ham or turkey with plum pudding for dessert.

 Was there anyone in your childhood who pointed you to Jesus?
I grew up in a very liberal church, but my mother had a very strong faith, and read her devotions and prayed daily. I do remember a Sunday school teacher, probably in her sixties at the time, who showed slides depicting the crucifixion every Easter, and every year she cried as she gave the presentation. I didn’t understand it at the time, but it stuck with me, and I sure do now.

 Share your introduction to Christ as a child or teen or a significant
 event  that led to your walk with Jesus.

In high school, I was invited to a Billy Graham movie by friends. It was there I heard the message of salvation for the first time. I recommitted my life to Jesus because, in my mind, I’d always really believed in Him. Years later, in my twenties, I finally understood what it meant to truly surrender and allow Him to be Lord.

 Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood
 which affected the writer you have become?
My paternal grandfather and an aunt were both authors and my father read constantly. I think that exposure helped foster my desire to write.

Becky's current works:  Minnesota Moonlight, a 3-in-1 contemporary collection I co-authored is now available. I’m currently working on the first of a three book series for Barbour. Tomorrow’s Sun, contemporary fiction with a historical thread going back to 1852 and the Underground Railroad, is scheduled to release in the fall of 2011.

Check out Becky's blog.

Books to read:

A Door County Christmas: Add a comment below to have a chance to win!
"Christmas Crazy" in A Door County Christmas -- September 2010

Minnesota Moonlight -- July 2010, Dream Chasers
                               -- 2010 RWA IRCC Finalist

Pleasant Surprises & Parting Secrets available now.  
Pure Serendipity coming soon-
all from Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Door County Christmas site.

Becky's Web site  --warm fiction with dollops of faith and sprinkles of joy--
Author Becky Melby

Becky has been married to Bill, her high school sweetheart for 38 years. They have four married sons and eleven (count 'em!) fabulous grandchildren ranging from almost fifteen years to five months. When she's not writing or spending time with family, she loves hopping on the back of their Gold Wing motorcycle or taking weekend RV trips!

LEAVE A COMMENT today for a chance to win A Door County Christmas! Be sure to leave a contact email in this format: yourname AT ISP dot com.

Ice Cream Parlour, "Not Licked Yet" where the four authors met to retreat from brain-storming their stories for A Door County Christmas: Left to Right--Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, Cynthia Ruchti, Becky Melby


Jo said...

What a interesting interview. The treat that Becky loved to eat was toast with peanut butter and tang sprinkled on top. Please enter me in the giveaway.


Cynthia Ruchti said...

I learned a lot about one of my favorite authors! Crystal, these interviews are so much fun. Do your readers know that they can interact with the characters from A DOOR COUNTY CHRISTMAS on the characters' own blog?

Rachael Phillips said...

If I had known you liked toast with peanut butter and Tang (ewww!) sprinkled on top, I would have been a good roomie at ACFW conference and brought you some for breakfast every morning!

Becky Melby said...

Thanks, Rachael, but it would have had to be gluten-free toast--not easy to come by at the Hyatt! My tastes have changed a bit over the years. I've heard Tang is good for cleaning your dishwasher! For all of you young readers, Tang was a neon-orange sugar and artificial who-knows-what drink mix created for astronauts back in the sixties. I think our country's space program declined simply because it was invented. Who could live on that?

Crystal Laine said...

LOL, my boys used to drink hot Tang "tea" with Aunt Lola in her special tea set from England. They treasure that memory still.

I didn't mention the interaction with the Door County Christmas characters, but should have! (I'll tweak that.)Thanks, Cynthia!

The Christmas continues. Some people may need to catch up. I may leave this all up and not choose a winner until Monday.

Ann Lee Miller said...

I'd love to win A Door County Christmas.

Cara Putman said...

Love that artists retreat. I'm thinking I wouldn't mind living there!

Linda Glaz said...

Toast with peanut butter and Tang???? Makes my peanut butter and Miracle Whip sandwiches sound almost normal. Great post!

Cara Putman said...

And by the way, I do remember Tang. Still like it in Russian tea :-)

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

This is another great interview! (I'm reading them in reverse order of their posting.) It's so nice to get to know the authors better. I'm not sure I'd like Tang sprinkled on my peanut butter sandwich, but then you might not like bananas spread with pb and mayo, either. :-)

BTW, the other night, I watched the children of a couple friends. The oldest boy made dinner for us (pizza), and we had Tang to drink. Haven't tasted that in years. No peanut butter was involved, however.

Write on!
Because of Christ,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Donna Alice said...

I was trying to think - I know that name when I read your interview. Then today when I read a comment on your blog - it hit me! We sat together at the early bird in '08 in MN. Sure hope you published the series I kept reading over your shoulder as we did the highlighting!!

Becky Melby said...

I remember you, Donna! But I can't remember what I was working on at the time. It may have been one of the books in Minnesota Moonlight that came out in July--or the chick-lit-turned-women's-fiction that's patiently waiting for a chance!

Renee G said...

I love hearing about all of your lives as you were growing up. It makes me a wee bit nostalgic.

Anne Payne said...

Love peanut butter toast, but you can keep the Tang :)


misskallie2000 said...

Sounds like you had a great childhood with friends and family. I can't wait to read your story in A Door County Christmas. I love Christmas stories and try to read 2 or more new ones each yr then my favorites.
I would love to win so pls put my name in the giveaway.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com