Sunday, March 15, 2009


I remember it well. Sara was three and my little sidekick. She also was my first and, at that point, my only grandchild. We went everywhere together while her mommy had to work, enjoying one another’s company and doing all the things a little child likes to do. We walked to the park or to the playground at a nearby school. I pushed her in the stroller to the drugstore where she would pick out a little treat—usually Raisinets. We’d walk at the mall and she’d beg for pennies to throw in the fountains. “I wish for a kitty or puppy!” she’d say as she tossed the coins into the water. Then we’d stroll over to the pet store where she’d pet the puppies and kitties and try to talk me into one. Poor little thing never did get her wish. I even took her with me to the beauty salon. She’d play with the perm rollers while I was getting me hair cut and highlighted. “You look funny, Grandma!” she’d say when my hair was pulled in wisps (painfully!) through the plastic cap and the hair dresser was slathering what looked like purple bubble gum all over my heard. “You have to suffer to be beautiful, Sara!” I would answer.

Our favorite place to go, though, was the library. We would go for the children’s story time with the librarian, do a small craft, and then pick out a big stack of ten books to take home with us. As soon as we got home, I’d fill her little sippy-cup and she would climb into my lap in the rocking chair. The stack of books was on the table next to us, and one by one we’d go through the entire pile all at once.

Sara loved books, but even more than that, she loved her grandma’s made-up stories. “Tell me a story, Grandma,” she begged when we lay down in the afternoons to take a nap. The first, I remember, was about three little puppies named Rascal, Scamp and Booger. She wanted to hear it over and over—and over. Months later, when she and her family were about to move to Ecuador, my daughter asked me to write down those stories for Sara so that she could still hear them, even when Grandma wasn’t around.

That was when I began in earnest to write for the children in my life. Until that point I had written dozens of Bible studies, devotions and messages for women, and occasionally penned a skit or short story for children. When I began, though, to write for the individual, special children in my life—my grandchildren, nephews, nieces and cousins—it became a labor of love and my passion.

I taught preschool for several years, so I knew that when it comes to stories or songs, little ones love the three R’s—rhythm, rhyme and repetition. I like the three R’s, too, (no free verse or haiku for me!), so writing poetry for little children was easy and fun. The sillier the better; the simpler the better. Not all my preschool material was poetry, of course. I wrote quite a few prose bedtime stories, as well. I actually had a fourth “rule,” too, that started with R—relationships. All of my work for little ones included a mommy or daddy or grandparent, and the relationship between a child and that significant adult in his/her life. I Need a Hug and Giggle Box were two of my favorites that, though they were silly and simple, explored the special bond between a parent and child. I’ve continued emphasizing that relationship through almost all my books since then.

As my little listeners grew and began reading on their own, my work grew, too. The stories became longer and a little more complex. It was a challenge for me to write at that level sometimes—to stay within a young child’s vocabulary. I have to confess, there were times when I just couldn’t find the right word and I’d say to myself, Well, it’s good for them to learn a new vocabulary word now and then! The keyword was imagination and I let it fly! I took the special interests of my special kids and wrote stories that would excite their imaginations, as well. Joshua loved music and cowboys, so I wrote a story about a little dragon from England named Pifflewomp who dreamed of being a singing cowboy. Benjamin was into robots and space, so What Happened When W.I.L.B.U.R. Lost His Whistle was perfect for him. (W.I.L.B.U.R. stands for Wonderful Intergalactic Laser-Blasting Utility Robot) Melissa loved fairies so I wrote Sleeping Cutie and its sequel Glorianna’s Gift, both of which were chock full of flower fairies, woodland pixies, elves and garden gnomes. It was a joy to me to hear that most of my books were still being shared between the children and their parents during their special bonding moments.

And then came the “chapter books,” as the kids called them. “Grandma, could you write me a book with chapters in it?” Sara asked a few years ago. It was my first attempt to write a novel—and once I started, I was hooked! I loved the research (thank goodness for the internet!) I loved bringing a whole cast of characters to life in a depth that couldn’t really be done in the shorter books. I loved seeing how those characters dictated the direction the story would go. I might have a flimsy outline in mind when I started, but it was always a surprise to me how it turned out in the end. I was so excited and proud when I finished my first novel! It was almost as if I’d given birth all over again! (Well, almost…)

Something unexpected happened after I finished that first novel. I discovered I couldn’t let go of those characters, and so I went on, and on, and on to write my first series. Those characters became old friends to me, and to my young readers, as well. I’d hear them in my head (sounds creepy, I know, but it really wasn’t) or I’d see a situation in real life and think to myself, That’s just like Skeeter! (one of my characters.) My grandkids and I would share a giggle now and then when we’d recall, out of the blue, some scene from one of the books starring our “old friends.”

I made some other discoveries, as well. I found that I could write for boys, after all! A few years earlier a cousin had suggested I write a book (or books) for boys after the vein of the American Girl books. At the time I had pooh-poohed the idea, thinking I knew nothing about what boys liked. Necessity is the mother of invention, though, and when my grandsons came along and wanted “chapter books,” too—well, somehow Grandma came through and started turning out stories about knights and pirates and cowboys. Actually, I discovered that boys and girls aren’t that different in what they like to read. They all like adventure and mystery and comedy. The girls ended up loving the boys’ series about knights, and the boys were enjoying the girls’ mystery series. Cool!

So hopefully, we’ll all live happily ever after as Grandma keeps cranking out the stories. It’s special for them; it’s fun for me. They all tell me I’m their favorite author and my books are the best. (That’s right, kids—keep stroking Grandma’s ego so she’ll keep on writing!) Someday I would like to write for adults, too, but with all these grandkids, and perhaps more to come, I can barely produce more than one book a year for each of them. I guess someday I’ll get to write grown-up books—when the kids grow up. In the meantime, I love writing for kids. What a wonderful gift the Lord has given me—to share this special bond with the children I love. Whether I ever get to share my books with other children or not, it is enough to me to be their favorite author!


  1. Wether boys or girls stories one thing is for sure... Grandma's books are the best!!! I am still praying and hoping that one day they will get published. Maybe even become a famous!!!
    I love you Grandma! -Sara

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  3. I agree with Sara here Aunt Cindy. Your books always have the best plot and your settings in the book always seem to keep the readers intriguied throughout the story. Keep writing! I'm looking forward to your nexxt novel!