Interviews

I’ve had two recent interviews that I need to share with you. They were both significant moments where time seemed to stand still as I listened to myself answer questions from across the screen or room. Stories of the last three years and God’s faithfulness in each step.

The first interview was with my husband. A friend who hosts a podcast, Counseling Over Coffee, asked if we would be willing to share what it’s been like to have a grandchild with special needs. I like what her daughter, who has two boys on the spectrum called him, not disabled, but different-abled. Elias has continued to surpass expectations. We had so much to share our interview quickly became a two-episodes. You can hear the first interview here.

The second interview was unexpected and one of those “connect-the-dots of God’s faithfulness to me” moments.

Norah is our second oldest grand-daughter. She will be 15 next month which in itself is huge! Almost three years ago she battled a wicked disease called PANDAS. It is a miracle she has survived these past three years. Most of you are aware of this part of her life. If not, you can read it here.

She was given an 8th grade assignment to interview a grandparent. She came up with all the questions and asked them to me over Facetime. We got off to a good start…

“What year we’re you born?” 1959.

“Where were you born?” Orlando.

“How do you come to know Jesus?” This is when time seemed to slow to a crawl.

I realized Norah was asking me all the questions I regretted never asking my own grandmother. She died when I was 19. I was her youngest so she was 90 and had lived a full life. I just didn’t hear the answers to these questions until she had died.

I regretted my missed opportunity. How I wished time had slowed in that season of my life to ask such questions.

“How did you and Papa meet?“ We met at a Jesus Festival held here in Orlando.

“Have you ever seen God do a miracle?” Yes! I’m talking to her now!

Just this exchange was a moment—me sharing with her the miracle we both saw from two different perspectives.

“What gifts has God given you?” In 1989 God impressed on me that He had given me a gift of writing. He said He wanted me to keep a journal. And I’m still writing to this day—I am currently on my 78th journal.”

“You have 78 journals?” I do. I realized that writer’s write and God wanted me to learn how to write by writing. She smiled.

Through all my years of journaling I learned how to write, and this allowed me to finally write my grandmother’s story in my book titled, Through The Eyes Of Grace. It took me 12 years, and my Mom was the first to read it. To say it was my life-long dream would be an understatement. I have recorded with words the story I never took the time to discover when she was alive. But God helped me uncover it one question at a time.

What questions come to mind when you consider the story of your life? Do your children know the answers? Do your grandchildren? I encourage you to write them down so when they finally think to ask, the answers will be available for them to discover.

Many Publishing Options, Which One To Choose

Our prompt is to share with you something we have to offer. Hmm. I had to think about this for a while. Then, I realized that I haven’t finished telling you the story about my experience in publishing my first book.

I shared about how I needed to hurry to publish my book in my post, 10 years. What I didn’t tell you is how I ended up with my new publisher, Prevail Press.

My first publisher made my book available, but I had no help in the marketing aspect of the book, other than ideas on how to tell others about it. It was discouraging to say the least. All that work yet no one could find it. I ended up giving away lots of copies with the hopes they would tell others which would lead to more sales.

Mind you, I never wrote this book with making money in mind. I just wanted to recap how much money we spent on the initial print, which was significant. And I wasn’t anywhere close!

I have been a part of a Writer’s Group for nearly 20 years. It was my involvement and growth in this group that led me to the next step in my publishing journey.

Rob Swanson, who leads our writer’s group got the idea to begin a publishing company that doesn’t work anything like a typical vanity press or self-publishing company.

First of all, he is selective on the quality of writers accepted to publish through Prevail Press. He does this to protect the reputation of his company. Good books draw good customers. And a relationship of trust grows.

Secondly, by switching to Prevail Press I didn’t have to buy hundreds of copies of my book. My book was now available in a print on demand format as well as an ebook, so the overhead cost was minimal. An added benefit when you don’t have a lot of money to invest in the first place.

Thirdly, I make more royalties per book than I did previously. There really are so many more benefits with this method than my previous publishing experience.

Finally, Prevail Press is a micro-publishing company and is in my opinion the BEST OPTION for up and coming authors, unless you are able to secure an agent and go the traditional publishing route. Not all authors who make a submission to Prevail Press are selected, but you can begin the process by reading the Submission Guidelines.

We now have two books available through Prevail Press–Through The Eyes Of Grace, an historical fiction, and Cherishing Us – a book by my husband and me offering 365 healthy marriage tips to help your relationship grow.

In case you don’t know, Tom and I have had a marriage blog, The Romantic Vineyard, for the last 14 years. It has been our passion to help marriages grow strong to last a lifetime. We hope you’ll stop by and visit there when you have the time. We offer date night ideas, date night questions, and lots of resources to help you succeed at loving your spouse well.

I also encourage you to check out the other authors published through PP. There are some outstanding books you might really enjoy. Check out the offerings here.

This is my 15th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

The Benefit of Doubt

My title is a play on a familiar cliche’ when you choose to think the best of someone–you give them the “benefit of the doubt”. However, that is not what this post is about. It came as a question in yesterday’s post by a reader/blogger I’ve met through my current UBC group. She asked the following…

“What made you doubt for so long your ability to write your grandmother’s story?” She added, “I’m sure you had what it takes in 2000.”

She is nice to make such an assumption, but looking back I can see how much I changed over those 12 years. My Dad passed away in 2004 (the first death of someone close to me since my grandmother died 25 years before him!) My two oldest children got married. We were blessed with 5 grandchildren in that time. Our daughter moved away with her husband and two of our precious grand kiddos (also the first in our family, which nearly killed me).

I have taken all the personality tests and they all come to the same conclusion–I feel things 100%. If you are hurting I’m going to put myself in your place and hurt with you. When my grand babies would FaceTime me crying because they wanted to come to Nana’s house, it ripped my heart out because they no longer lived minutes from us! I didn’t like the changes and the emotions were too raw for me to even think about writing.

I was discouraged. I felt like I didn’t have it in me to finish what I had started. I doubted. But what I didn’t realize was God was still at work finishing His promise to me that I would write my grandmother’s story.

Every heartache. Every delay. Every sad goodbye was teaching me things my grandmother experienced in her lifetime.

  • Her uncle had made an arrangement with her father that if he was able to stake two claims in the Indian Territory Land Rush of 1893, he would give her parents one of the claims.
  • Her uncle was successful, so she left her grandparents in Kansas when she was only 4 years old to move to what would soon become Oklahoma.
  • She experienced losses, disappointments and tragedy.

Once I realized how much I was learning about her by feeling her pain, I became better at documenting her story. I realized that God was intentionally delaying my progress to make me a better story teller.

Then, God had our friend’s fiancé move in with us not knowing how she would be a crucial piece of my writing puzzle. If she hadn’t come along I don’t think I would have finished in time. And I hate getting to the end of a big puzzle and realizing the last piece is missing. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Doubt has many benefits. Even when I lose all hope, God promises to complete the work He’s begun in me. That included helping me fulfill my life-long dream of writing, Through The Eyes Of Grace.

In what ways has a delay in your story or your goals helped you in the long run?

This is my 9th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to write everyday in November.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

10 Years

My Beautiful Mom

Our prompt was to look back ten years to see where we were and write about it. In 2011 I was only a year away from publishing my first book. My goal had always been to finish it before my Mom died. When I started in 2000 she was 78. Time was on my side, at least I didn’t let myself think otherwise.

As the years passed, my confidence was shaken, i.g. who am I to think I can write a book? I went years without any progress. I was discouraged.

My prayer was often, “God, please don’t let my Mom die before I finish.” She had helped me with all the research, and it was her idea for me to do this. I couldn’t let her down, or that would be one.more.regret!

In 2011 I had finished my manuscript. It was in need of the hard edit that to be honest is very difficult. You have to let go of some of your favorite parts because you realize it isn’t necessary to the over all story arc. I did what I could, but I needed help.

A few years prior we had invited a young fiancé of a friend to live with us until their wedding day. We didn’t know each other, but God had this planned all along. She was an editor. I had even helped her find a job at a local publisher’s office. It was her job to polish books with the final edit to make them ready to go to print.

When she discovered my need she offered to do the hard edit for me. I couldn’t believe it! She said it was the least she could do since we had done so much for her.

I gave her my manuscript in January of 2012. It took her five months to finish, but once she did it was ready to publish. I didn’t have time to pursue traditional publishing because my Mom had just turned 90. Time no longer felt on my side.

My husband was willing to pay the money necessary to use a vanity press publishing company. This is where you keep all creative rights to your work. They help you design the cover (which I loved), and then you pay a large fee to have it printed. Our first print bought us 250 copies.

In September of 2012, my book was published. When I held that first copy in my hand, I knew what I had to do. I wrote inside, “We did it, Mom. I love you”, and gave her the first printed copy.

It was a moment I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. My Mom died three months later after a short illness. Before she died she wrote inside my book’s cover, “I love you, Mom” and gave the first copy back to me.

I was filled with gratefulness to God for making sure I didn’t have regrets in this regard. My Mom loved my book, and I loved her for all she did to help me.

In my next post I’ll share about what I see looking forward 10 years.

This is my 8th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Story

This blog was born in 2012 when my first novel was about to be published.

I had carried this dream in my heart since my grandmother died in 1979. I wanted to capture her story in a way that our family would get to know her as a person, not just an old lady we loved and adored. I had no idea how this journey would evolve in the years to come. My first post titled, Officially Yours brings you into the purpose of this blog.

My grandmother’s name was Grace–and my book is titled, Through The Eyes Of Grace. I wrote it as if she were telling me her story. I guess I was pretty convincing because I actually had a cousin mad at me because our grandmother gave me her journals. I told her that this part of the story wasn’t true; thus the fiction part of my historical fiction. There were no journals from which to discover her story–how I wish there were. This is why I’ve been keeping my own journals since 1989. I don’t expect anyone to write my story, but I do hope they will learn from my life and the challenges through which I’ve had to walk.

117 posts and 9 years later this blog has become a compilation of my thoughts about family, faith, food, history and asking good questions. It feels somewhat of a new beginning doing the Ultimate Blog Challenge with this blog. It’s like putting myself out there for you to get to know me.

We all have a story, but most of what we learn in life is lost with our last breath.

Today, I’m looking forward and inviting you to join me these next few weeks as I share with you life through my eyes.

This is Day Three in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

It’s The Little Things

Today I’m feeling a bit blue. Maybe it’s because I’m not feeling great. Maybe it’s because it’s the time of year when both my Mom and Dad were diagnosed with the disease that would take their life, 6 and 15 years ago respectively.

I have finally started to write the sequel to my historical fiction novel, Through The Eyes Of Grace. It is causing a fresh wave of grief to pour over my heart that usually sabotages any attempt to write.

But not today!

Instead, I’m lifting my head up and making me a cup of hot tea, Lavender Lemonade to be exact. Tea soothes away the hurt, both in my throat and in my heart.

And I will say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving me such wonderful parents, and for providing me with a story worth telling.

Today I’m choosing JOY.

Christmas Truce of 1914

Image Credit: kevinblogsherenow.blogspot.com

Image Credit: kevinblogsherenow.blogspot.com

I know when I was working on Through The Eyes Of Grace, the research was my favorite part. Uncovering events in history that Grace lived through helped me bring her story to life. I may not have handwritten journals from Grace, but I have news events and the recorded histories of other’s lives that are sure to have impacted her story, and for this I’m grateful.

Writing historical fiction is a lot like working a jigsaw puzzle.

I’ve started with the framework, and the research provides the missing pieces. The Christmas Truce is one such piece for which I’m grateful.

Most of you have probably heard about the Christmas Truce of 1914 (if you haven’t take a moment and read about it), which is believed to have occurred over miles of the western front during World War I. What you may not realize is that this amazing event, which happened 100 years ago this Christmas Eve, took place during the time setting of my next book based on the life of my grandmother–Grace Stella Kirwin.

One can only imagine what happened in the hearts of the soldiers as they ascended from their trenches to embrace soldiers from the enemy line with wishes of good will. What a Christmas memory each of those men carried in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

Following is a video about the Christmas Truce. I pray it will stir your heart to pursue peace with your own enemies, and may it be a peace that will last–not just for 48 hours.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours, and may the peace of God bless you richly!

My Birthday Is Special…

…because today starts my first ever book sale!

Through The Eyes Of Grace Cover

I’m very excited to tell you that if you order my book through my publisher: CertaPublishing.com or through Amazon.com you will receive a 20% discount starting today through the end of July! All you have to do is use the coupon code – Grace20 – when checking out. It’s that simple! If you’ve already purchased a copy, now is a great time to purchase copies for Christmas presents. It’s closer than you think, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a few gifts already checked off your list–in July?

Also, you may not know that I have a Facebook page and would love it if you clicked over and “liked” it. I’m hosting a birthday giveaway for all those who follow me–but you’ll have to go there to find out how to enter.  🙂

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Thank you for helping to make my birthday special. 

Reviewing Grace

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I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I really don’t want to post just to post. I want to have something worth your while reading too. And today I think I do.

You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Well, Amazon reviews are the same way. I hadn’t received any new reviews on my book since April, so I quit checking. I was  surprised to discover three new reviews in just the last month! The only way I found out was someone tagged me in one of the reviews.

Here’s what they had to say:

5.0 out of 5 stars So affected by this book!, September 7, 2013
This review is from: Through the Eyes of Grace (Paperback)

I just finished Through the Eyes of Grace and wanted to review it right away – what an absolutely beautiful story of a young girl I could easily relate to, as Grace was my own daughter’s age when her life took such a dramatic turn. Knowing that Grace, her family, and the life that she lived were all real at one time, made this a particularly fascinating read for me. I ached as Grace did, at the rawness of her shame & her struggles, but the thread of hope weaved throughout her life was so profound and just so … beautiful. I’m anxious to hear the rest of the story (the author alludes to another volume in the epilogue), but for now I’m excited to share this exquisite tale of redemption with my own teenage daughter, and anyone else who will read it!

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written story, September 3, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book tells a story of very difficult circumstances thrust upon the main character, 15 year-old Grace. It deals with sensitive issues in a delicate and tasteful way, and brings a healthy resolve in the end. It doesn’t unnecessarily stir up romantic passion, but gives an accurate, sweet account of a love, rebellion, redemption and grace. Well done.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, August 11, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book is incredibly well written. It is easy to lose yourself in the author’s flowing language and vivid descriptions of the western territories and life as a settler. You will feel Grace ‘s pain and joy as if you were her. Debi Gray Walter has a true hit here! This book is also seen inspiration to the reader to dig into one’s own family history and stories before they are lost. Well written and well enjoyed! When’s the next one?

What wonderful reviews! Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to review Through The Eyes Of Grace. If you haven’t had the chance, would you consider writing one? I want you to be honest in order to help others know whether or not they would like to read it.
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” 🙂
― Will Rogers

I Promise…

Promoting a book can feel a lot like campaigning for political office. You have to talk about why you did what you did, why you want others to listen to you tell about it and hopefully, get your listeners to buy your product. It is awkward at times as self-promotion should be! Politicians, if they’re honest and have integrity, don’t want you to vote for them because you like them, they want you to vote for them because they truly believe their plan will be best for the office they’re seeking.

In the same way, I want people to buy my book not so the numbers will grow and I’ll be more popular. No, I want you to read my book because I believe my grandmother’s story is worth knowing. She was an amazing woman, and her life offers lessons for us all. If you’ve already purchased a copy of Through The Eyes Of Grace and read it, I want to say a huge Thank You!  Words cannot adequately express how grateful I am. Would you do a couple of things for me? First, tell your friends and family about it and share it on your Facebook page and/or Twitter account? Second, would you consider writing a review on Amazon for me? Reviews help other readers who know nothing of me or my book decide whether or not it is something they are interested in reading.

I’m grateful we no longer have to listen to the constant campaigning of the politicians promising us things they may or may not be able to accomplish. I pray my posts never feel like an empty campaign promise. Thanks for stopping by.