Archive for the ‘5 Things’ Category

Five Things about Sheila Ingle of “Tales of a Cosmic Possum”

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Sheila Ingle wrote the memorable Tales of a Cosmic Possum” which shares the long-forgotten stories of eight hard-working Appalachian women. Here are Sheila’s Five Things: 

 

Sheila Ingle

I love movies! Whether it is Disney, James Bond, a romance, a musical, a mystery, or a history, movies entertain me. Going to a theater or watching on TV, I become mesmerized into the story. There have been times that I have wanted to become part of the fantasy, because it deeply touched my emotions. My preference is for happy endings, but the reality check of those with unresolved conflicts or some form of estrangement is also thought-provoking. Though identifying with the characters is fun, movies also stretch my mind/world view to see life through someone else’s lens.

When I was around four, I met President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In a long line of people, my parents and I were outside a church in Augusta, Georgia. (Since then, I have found out that it was the Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, where the President attended in that city.) I can still remember that it was Daddy, then Mother, then me. As the President walked by, he shook Daddy’s hand and then smiled and patted me on the head. It makes no sense that I can still visualize this occasion, but I do. I guess I am supposed to have this one in my memory bank.

My grandmother Lulu used to regale my brother and me with stories of our relatives, both the unknown and the infamous. Over and over, we would ask for her version of our cousin, Jesse James. He was the son of a Baptist minister, but he robbed banks and trains. Supposedly, his crimes were payback for the way he and his family were treated during the Civil War. (Perhaps this scenario was similar to the legends of Robin Hood.) Jesse James had staunch friends and family that protected him during his life of crime. So interesting now as an adult that I was enamored with the romanticized thoughts of a cousin that chose to be a thief, so he could provide for his impoverished family.

Both my grandmothers and mother made jelly and preserves every year. They started the spring season with strawberry preserves, following that with peach and blackberry preserves, and ending with apple jelly in the fall. It saw that it was hot work, as they all dealt with the steam from the jars boiling and the fruit being brought to a boil. But it wasn’t long after I married that I chose to follow in their footsteps. There really isn’t much enjoyment from the process, but there certainly is in eating the finished product. I, also, enjoy sharing them with friends and watching their eyes light up with anticipated pleasure. If I could only bake biscuits, like those three ladies, to go with those preserves, I would be truly following in their footsteps.

Tales of a Cosmic Possum

Crime or mystery novels have always been a favorite of mine. Patricia Cornwell, Louise Penny, Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, John Hart, and Tom Clancy are some of my favored authors through the years. To go along with this choice of reading, one of my uncles worked for the CIA. Somewhere it became part of my outlook that I would make a worthy agent. In my imaginings, I would capture Russian spies, save America, and never be taken prisoner. Traveling from one exotic place to another, I would make friends on every continent, but remain savvy as I found traitors and enemies. No, this never happened. In real life, I research to find truth about my characters and and use my creativity to construct and shape the worlds they live in, that I will never see.

 

Learn more about Sheila Ingle and Tales of a Cosmic Possum by visiting sheilaingle.com.

Five Things about Abby Banks of “Love Him Anyway”

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Abby Banks is the author of “Love Him Anyway” a powerful memoir about her son, Wyatt’s battle with a rare autoimmune disease. Here are Abby’s “five things”:

I love family movie night. Friday night is special at my house. It’s family movie night, and I look forward to it all week. We rent a movie, pop popcorn, shut all the lights off, and curl up under quilts on the couch. Each week a different family member gets to pick a movie. We don’t worry about cleaning up the kitchen or finishing the laundry. Friday is the one night of the week that is reserved for family time only. I’m trying to soak in every second of it before my kids figure out that I’m not as cool as they think I am. I’m expecting them to invite their dates to our family movie night when they get older. My ten-year-old currently agrees.

DSC_6298 copyI love minivans. I love driving a minivan. I realize that probably classifies me as being old and boring, but seriously, there is nothing I would rather drive. They’re comfy, convenient, and fit all my favorite people. All my son’s medical equipment fits easily in the back, and it’s the perfect height. I don’t have to hurt my back or strain to lift the kids in and out. I love that I only have to push a button to open and close the doors, and I can still open the sunroof and turn up the music to pretend like I’m young and trendy.

I was a liver donor. If you’ve already read Love Him Anyway, you know this about me already, but it’s worth repeating. At the age of 21, I became a liver donor for an amazing 9-year-old boy named Austin. God orchestrated the neatest series of events that allowed me to be an organ donor. It was none of my own doing. I had graduated from college a semester early. I had a job that allowed me the flexibility to make a quick decision. I was the right blood type, and I was young enough to hop in a car and head to Charleston, SC without fully understanding what I was getting myself into.

Becoming a little part of Austin was one of the greatest experiences of my life. That precious, redheaded boy gave me far more than I could have ever given him. God called Austin home not long after I donated my liver to him, and it was an honor for me to give my daughter his name. She was born exactly 9 years and one day after he celebrated his first day in Heaven. Her birth date is no coincidence, and I know she was meant to bear his name.

Hockey is my favorite sport. I’m a total sports junkie. As a little girl, I dreamed of being a sportscaster for ESPN. I watched it every day and soaked in as much trivia as I could. I was drawn into anything competitive, but hockey stole my heart. I love the speed, agility, and toughness of it. I was able to get an internship with the Greenville Grrrowl hockey team during college. I ended up spending six seasons working in media relations for the team. I loved every second of it, but the best part was when the Grrrowl won the 2002 Kelley Cup, the ECHL equivalent to the Stanley Cup. I even got my own championship ring.

I hate scary movies and medical dramas. I don’t understand the allure of scary movies and haunted houses. Fear is an emotion that I want to avoid at all cost. I certainly am not going to pay and willingly sit through something that’s sole purpose is to scare me. My husband, Jason, likes to say that people who love scary movies don’t spend enough time alone in the dark.Love Him Anyway

I can’t watch medical dramas either. I’ve spent too much time in a hospital, and they hit too close to home. My heart just can’t handle the stress. Instead of relaxing on the couch in front of the television, I find myself exhausted and mentally drained from medical dramas. I want entertainment to be as escape from reality, not a reminder of how difficult it can be. My television viewing primarily consists of sports, Disney movies, and comedies. Actually, that would be a lie. My television view currently consists of whatever the kids are watching. Currently, Mickey and the Roadster Racers is on repeat at our house.

Five Things about Randy Blankenship, Sr., of “The Mystery and the Masterpiece”

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Randy Blankenship, Sr. is the author of “The Mystery and the Masterpiece,” an encouraging and convicting study of marriage and relationships.  Here are Randy’s “five things”:

New_Life_Staff_2015-108I am married to a triplet. This is my claim to fame. My wife comes from a very large family in our area. When she was born, triplets at the time were like sextuplets today. On her first birthday, people sent her pictures from a newspaper article featuring her and her sisters in the Los Angeles Times. For years they were featured as children in local fashion shows, school programs, etc. Everyone knows “The Fivecoate Triplets.” For a number of years they travelled and sang in ministry as “One in the Spirit.” And yes, on one occasion for each sister-in-law, I happened to put my arm around the wrong one! 

I am a Floridian living on the mission field in Indiana. When I was 2 years old, my parents moved me from Florida to Indiana. I suppose my dad did need work, but I’m still not sure I’ve forgiven them for this momentous life-changing event. However, like the salmon swimming upstream, I still have to return to the place of my birth at least once a year. As I type this, I have returned for my annual trek to Florida. The Mystery and the Masterpiece

I began formally teaching the Bible at age 15. Shortly after I felt led to full-time ministry, I had the opportunity to accept a number of speaking engagements at a very young age. By the time I graduated high school at age 17, I had already ministered in a number of special events over much of Northern Indiana.  I am now in the fifth generation in my family to be in ministry. 

The call to full-time vocational ministry is not hereditary, but God often leads families through generations. Now we have ministers serving in various capacities all over the world. My children are in the sixth generation, and they are all also involved in devoting their lives to ministry. 

Still single, at the age of 20, I planted a church in Ohio. After 4 1/2 years, felt led to pursue foreign missionary work, and met my wife on the way. We were in the Philippines in time for our first wedding anniversary. After returning, we planted a church together in Indianapolis before leading a state-wide church planting ministry, then returning to our hometown to pastor. 

I wanted to be a dentist. Hearing my parents regularly discuss the high price of dental care, I figured becoming a dentist would be a profitable occupation. I had my entire college and career life planned out, until I felt the direction of the Lord to pursue ministry . . . well, at least I didn’t have to take calculus, trigonometry, analytic geometry, chemistry, physics, etc. 

I met Ronald Reagan. In September of 1980, two months before being elected president, Ronald Reagan visited Kokomo, Indiana, which had been adversely affected in the automobile industry. I had the opportunity to shake his hand. I’m not saying that had anything to do with his election . . . but there is no way of knowing what might have happened had that encounter not occurred! 

Five Things About Sherry Matthews Plaster of “The Divine Deal”

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” Series. Author Sherry Matthews Plaster is the author of The Divine Deal, a great salvational resource for young adults. Here are Sherry’s five things:

The Divine DealI was six years old the first time the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. I remember getting out of bed to tell my mother. She tried to dismiss it at first; surely at six I didn’t understand what I was saying. After a few questions, we prayed together and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was baptized shortly thereafter.

I had absolutely no desire to be a mother. I awoke one morning changed. Just like that. I wanted to be a mother more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. I was 25 years old. Without a husband and no prospects in sight, I began to pray. By 30 I thought that maybe it just wasn’t in God’s plans for my life. More than 10 years later, at 36 years old, my first child was born. My children are my greatest blessings.

I am not a writer; I never aspired to be. This book was solely written for my children. Or so I thought. Before having it bound into a book, a hired an editor to look it over for errors. It was she who told me it should be published. “It would be a shame if your children were the only ones to read this. Put it out there” she said. More than a year later I sought a second opinion and it was in seeking the second opinion that led to being published.20160903_175808

I am an aquaphile. Whether a lake, river, stream or ocean I absolutely adore being there. There was a small running creek behind the house where I grew up and I spent much of my time outdoors there as a child. The ocean is my favorite. The majestic beauty is calming and reminds me of the wonder of our Creator.

I am a night owl. Going to bed at a decent hour has always been a struggle for me. Whether it’s reading, watching television, doing laundry, praying or meditation, I enjoy the peace of night time.

Learn more about Sherry Matthews Plaster and The Divine Deal by visiting www.sherrymatthewsplaster.com.

Five Things About Author Rosie Williams

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Rosie Williams wrote the introspective devotional Repurposed Faith. Here are Rosie’s five things:

I once worked at the state fire marshal’s office, overseeing a program aimed at reducing juvenile firesetting. Having three little boys at the time and a husband who is a self-proclaimed fire bug, made doing my job interesting and challenging. You see, one of these three little darlings of mine somehow got ahold of the matches and unbeknownst (is that really a word?) to me, would set little fires in the backyard to entertain his younger brothers. One day, the fire got away from them, and it was only after the fact that I learned how they used their jackets to put out the flames which were inching ever so close to our garage, filled with all kinds of flammable stuff. Needless to say, I didn’t last that long at that job!

 

I love vintage anything…especially if it is red. That is why my husband and I are restoring a 1974 camper that will be painted…you guessed it…red and white, complete with an “I Love Lucy” sign in the window. You see, I am trying to become a “glamper”, which is a combination of glamour and camper. Glampers like to sleep in the comfort of a restored vintage camper that reflects his/her style and taste. For example, instead of stirring up instant coffee, a glamper may come prepared to fix up an expresso. Instead of a sleeping bag, a glamper would want a comfortable mattress with a feather pillow and a pretty quilt. Just think Pinterest. I plan to take my pretty little camper with me when I do book signings. Just as my husband and I like to restore and repurpose things, God likes to restore and repurpose people which goes perfectly with the book I wrote, Repurposed Faith.

Repurposed Faith: Breathing New Life into Your Quiet Time - Rosie Williams

My parents owned the Christian Bookstore in our town. Because of my parents’ business, they had some unique opportunities. One year, back in the 50’s, my parents hosted Roy and Dale Rogers who came to the state fair to promote some of their books. I will never forget the wonder of meeting in person my Saturday morning heroes! Another time, Billy Graham and his team came to town. Mom invited them over to the house for pie and coffee. I always loved going to the Christian Booksellers Convention with my parents. Often, the local Youth for Christ leaders would load all of the teenagers on a bus and off we would go to do some sightseeing or attend a Christian concert. All of these things had a lasting impression on me and contributed to my dream of one day being an author.

 

RosieJWilliams

My high school debate classes paid off! I was in debate in high school and for a while in college. I guess I like arguing…I mean talking people into stuff, as in motivating them to action. Years ago, when I was working at a job as an eldercare case manager, a bill was introduced to our state legislature regarding a screening that would be required for people going into nursing homes. There were some things written into the bill, highly supported by one of the major universities in our state, that I disagreed with. I decided to lobby for the changes that I wanted to see. Turns out they actually listened to me and wrote my suggestions into the law. Now if I can only get that power of persuasion to work with my family members!

 

I have some family history with the Hallmark movie trilogy, Sarah, Plain and TallSarah, Plain and Tall was filmed in the same rural community outside of Osage City, Kansas that my mom was raised in. The church in the movie was the same one my mom attended growing up. My aunt and uncle lived down the road from the church when the movie was being filmed. They would often invite one of the stars, Glenn Close, and her family to stop by for lunch, coffee and pie. Sadly, a few years ago, the church burned down, but I have a replica of the Hallmark church that I display alongside a family picture of the church back in the 1920’s.

5 Things About Author Cathy Harris

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Cathy Harris wrote the amazing living testimony  “Created to Live” Here are Cathy’s “five things”:

I love watching childbirth. Ever since I had my first daughter naturally 7 years ago, I have been in awe of the childbirth process. I love learning about natural childbirth as well as teaching it. I have been a childbirth educator for the past 6 ½ years. As much as I love teaching, nothing compares to attending and being part of a birth. I love watching mothers become strong empowered women. I love watching fathers comfort and coach their wives in gentleness and confidence. I love watching babies be born wide opened and ready to take in the world. About a year ago, I had a chance to catch a baby for a couple having a homebirth. Due to a very fast birth, 9781620205716the midwife was not able to make it to their home in time for the birth. I was forced and delighted to jump in as the acting midwife to catch their squishy and cute baby boy. A process that might be scary or even gross to many people, is fascinating to me. When my kids get older and leave the house, I might just attend births just for fun.

 

I homeschool my kids. Homeschooling started out as something I was terrified to do. Now it is a delight and privilege. Of course, it is also a huge challenge. There are days I think about putting my kids on the school bus, but our incredible homeschool community helps me work through the hard days. We are a part of a community called Classical Conversations. We actually “go to school” every Friday together. Each of my kids have their own class and teacher. I have been blessed (or perhaps I am the only crazy one in the bunch) to teach the 4 and 5 years olds. Much of my time on Fridays is helping these young ones memorize and absorb new information in the following subjects: history, math, geography, Latin, English, science, and fine arts. Bottom line is, I pretty much make a fool out of myself in front of a few moms and 8 kids every week. We dance, sing, march, and even roll out our new memory work. It is a ton of fun. Unless God changes our course, we plan to homeschool our kids through high school.

 

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I love the arts. Singing, painting, and playing the piano were my past times. Before the days of snotty noses, diapers, homeschooling, and soccer fields, I spent most of my free time painting, playing the piano, or singing. I sang for several years on the church worship team and was a member of a few of the worship teams in the Atlanta International House of Prayer. I don’t get a chance to dabble in the arts all that much anymore. I guess you could say that home décor, chalk painting furniture, and writing have replaced the hobbies of the past. And, if I can sneak a ticket to a play or pop in a musical in the DVD player, I am a happy girl.

 

I am an introvert. Some people may find it strange for an author, speaker, and teacher to be an introvert. I love being around a lot of people, but I refuel in my alone time or with people who know me well. I would also much rather sit down with you and have deep conversation over coffee than mingle in a large crowd. I am not the life of the party at all. I actually tend to be very reflective, practical, and quiet. I am an ISTJ according to the Myers Briggs Personality Test. Funny enough this is the opposite from my husband in every way. I am an introverted (I) sensor (S) who logically thinks through everything (T) and loves discovering what is just (J) in every situation. Being spontaneous is a challenge. I make a list for everything that requires planning, and I have 4 white boards in our house that help me organize life. Some would say that I am boring, but I would say I am practical.

 

I love Missions. I love everything about missions. I love reading about it, supporting missionaries, and hearing about what God is doing all of the earth. I served as a missionary for 6 years before I got married through the United Methodist Missionary Society. Although I was not an overseas missionary, I was appointed as an associate director at the United Methodist Student Center (The Wesley Foundation) at the University of Georgia. I was also blessed with the opportunity to go on or lead college mission teams to Los Angeles, New York, Omaha, Guatemala, Scotland, and Israel. My husband and I also served as the Adventures in Missions Field Coordinators for a summer in Philadelphia. We hope as our kids get a bit older, we will be able to continue taking mission trips.

 

 

 

5 Things About Author Brett Parks

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Brett Parks wrote the incredible true life story “Miracle Man: A Bullet that Ignited a Purpose-Filled Life.” Here are Brett’s “five things”:

I was an actor In New York. I don’t like to tell many people this, but, yes, I tried my hand in acting. I even went as far as going to New York and pursue my dream of being the next Marlon Brando (who is my favorite actor). I’d love to say that I made it to Broadway and later starred in a Blockbuster, but, sadly, that wasn’t in the cards for me at that juncture of my journey. But I WAS in a few Off-Broadway shows and Miracle Manlater was cast in a leading role as a “Kung Fu Vampire” in an independent film in Bermuda (The only reason I took the role). The film was left unfinished after “the money” pulled out of the project. I wasn’t upset at all. All the following week, I went fishing and swimming. Not a bad way to make a living.

I hate cutting my fingernails and toenails. I don’t know why, but I’ve always hated cutting my finger and toe nails. It’s not that I’m afraid of cutting my nails; it’s just the tediousness of it. I feel like my nails grow super fast and I’m so busy, that I can’t stand taking 10 minutes out of my day to clip them. I think God heard my complaints though when he took my right foot. Now, it doesn’t take NEARLY as long to clip my nails! Come on, guys, that’s funny.

I’m an International athlete. I was pulled out of a pool in Houston, Texas and thrown onto a volleyball court. I didn’t know it at the time, but that would change my life. I am now onBrett Parks 4 The USA Sitting Volleyball A2 team and looking to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan. In 2014, I competed in the first annual Invictus Games (17 Nations with over 500 wounded/ill athletes) in London and will be competing in this year’s Invictus Games located in Orlando, Florida. I’m excited to bring the Gold home.

My wife and I are expecting our THIRD baby. My wife was seven months pregnant with our little girl (Stella) when I was shot and nearly died. Stella was born while I was still in the hospital and I felt robbed of her birth. For a while after, I wanted to try for a third but didn’t want to push my wife until she was ready. Well, she brought it up and I was ready to go. We prayed to The Lord and asked Him to have His hand in the decision. We set on a six-month timeline tBrett Parks 5o get pregnant. If, after 6 months, Susan wasn’t pregnant, we would take it that The Lord didn’t see fit that we have another. First, second, third and fourth months went by with no result. We were feeling as if another baby wasn’t in the cards for us. At month six, we were taking one last pregnancy test just so we could move on (we figured there wasn’t going to be a baby). I was so surprised when my wife ran out of the bathroom and jumped on me, knocking me onto the bed (don’t be too hard on me, I only have one leg) and yelled that she was pregnant! We didn’t hesitate holding each other and praising God for His perfect timing. We are very excited to announce that we are having a little boy! His name is John Rockefeller Parks (Johnny Rocco for short) and we are expecting him in July. Our kids are SO happy!

I’ve had dreams of being a professional wrestler. As early as I can remember, I have been in love with wrestling. I never really thought it was “Real”. I kind of always knew that it was a form of theater and entertainment. I’ve always appreciated the athleticism and choreography behind the storylines. Upon leaving New York in 2006, I was going to enlist myself in a wrestling school in Atlanta, Georgia. At the time, I was 190 lbs. and I told myself that if I could get myself to 200 lbs., I would register for school. After a few months, I got to 200 Lbs., but I was having knee problems at the time and the extra weight was really wearing my knee down. So, I decided to forgo a wrestling career. As of right now, I am 225 lbs. and my knees feel great! Maybe I still have a shot to get into the squared circle! I’m sure there is a good storyline for an amputee, if you smell what The Rock is cookin! Maybe that could be the follow up to Miracle Man!

5 Things About Author Andrea Rodgers

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Andrea Rodgers wrote the recently released novel, The 20th Christmas, available now. Here are Andrea’s “five things”:

The hardest description for me to write about is sense of smell. . .because I don’t have one! There’s an actual name for this: Anosmia. Just as some people are without sight or hearing, approximately two million people are without the ability to smell, although I haven’t met a fellow non-smeller personally. I’m not sure whether I was born this way or if it was due to head injuries as a child, all I know is that it was gone by the time I was four years old and my friends were passing around scratch n sniff stickers! I failed my kindergThe 20th Christmasarten smelling test, but no one took it seriously. They thought I was telling stories. Most people considered me lucky because the only time I heard about anything smelling was if it stunk. I can be in an area with a skunk and not bat an eye.

I signed my first book contract on what would have been my paternal grandmother’s 100th birthday. I feel like it was her wayAndrea signing contract of letting me know that she was aware of my dream coming true. She used to give me a notebook and pen when I visited her, and then I’d sneak away to write. She always asked to read my stories which meant a lot. My grandma loved to read and I wish she could have read The 20th Christmas, especially since several years in a row I bought her a holiday-themed book as her Christmas present. But, I’m so thankful she lived ninety-seven-and-a-half years; she had the best case scenario for life—she was healthy right until the very end and still sharp, always beating everyone at the game of Rummikub.

Most people on both sides of my family hate to write, although it’s likely that I inherited the writing gene from my maternal side. My grandma’s brother wanted to be an author but had to go to war and work to pay the bills—however, he was briefly a writer for the Kansas City Star Newspaper. His grandmother was the first in our family to come to the United States from Naples, Italy. Her father died when she was young, and when she was sixteen her mother married a man with two teenage sons so she was sent as steerage on a ship to a convent in New York. Supposedly, she had a great passion for storytelling—it was what got her through depression as she didn’t have an easy life. Despite the nuns at the convent introducing her to their gardener whom she married, moved to Kansas City, and had three children with (+three who didn’t survive past infancy), he turned out to be an alcoholic and she was a widow before the age of thirty. She was a strong, independent, successful woman ahead oAndrea author shotf the times, though. She opened a produce store, candy shop, and had an apartment complex built for her family to live and rent out—and lived to be almost 100 years old. It’s a fascinating story and I would love to use it as inspiration for a novel someday. I feel a connection to these two ancestors—like, I’m not only pursuing my dream for myself but for them because they wanted to be published and weren’t able due to their circumstances.

Andreas first bookI’ve improved on my titles since my childhood stories. I recently came across a box of my first work and I laughed my way through reading them. Some are as follows: Doritos Don’t Care, Where The Cornfield Is Alive, Potato Chip Sundaes, and The Truth About Dillyanna (I made up the name Dillyanna when I was in fifth grade and thought it was the coolest name ever. I’m sure my daughter is very glad I didn’t stick with it and name her that)!

I love music. My artistic/creative energy has always gone toward writing, but I still appreciate all of the other arts. If I had any singing ability, I would have gone that direction. Music really helps me get into the zone of writing if I’m stuck. Many of my stories are inspired by songs that I hear, such as “Breath of Heaven” which is the theme song for The 20th Christmas!

5 Things About Author Kathy Howard

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Kathy Howard wrote the upcoming novel, From Dishes to Snow. Here are Kathy’s “five things”:

I ran from books until I was in my thirties. Growing up, I wanted nothing to do with reading. I truly despised any book of any topic. Even the idea of reading was hard to swallow. Now, give me a good movie and I was in, but a book – you couldn’t pay me enough. I come from a long line of readers and it pained my mother to see a love she cherished skipping the next generation. Years later, after I had completed my schooling and was no longer told what to read, I finally learned to enjoy the subject. In fact, I can honestly say, reading is now a passion of mine. It took years for my mother to adjust to my new hobby, and I can still see her shaking her head saying, “I never thought I’d see the day.”

From Dishes to SnowI am an extremely picky eater. My parents tried, to no avail, to encourage my taste buds in a normal direction. The fact of the matter is, I am and always will be a picky eater. I can count on one hand the essential foods I prefer to eat. I try to venture outside of that number for the sake of my family, but I don’t go far. Because of my lack of food interests, I don’t know how or what to cook. So, when writing about the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in From Dishes to Snow, I had to turn to others for help. If I hadn’t, the main characters might have had boxed mac-n-cheese, deli sliced turkey, and store bought cookies.

My grandparents mean the world to me. I am blessed to still have three living grandparents at my age. And I’m even more blessed to have the ones I have. All three of them have had an enormous positive impact on my life. Their walk with the Lord and their constant love and encouragement have been a guiding light, an example to follow. I wanted to bring them into the book. Several of the characters’ names are theirs, whether in exact form or a slightly altered form. The descriptions of the elderly neighbors fit each of my grandparents in some way or another. I will always picture my beloved Granddaddy, Granny, and Grandma each time I read my first novel.

The mountain house in the book is based on my family’s actual mountain cabin. My grandfather built our red mountain cabin when my father was just a child. It was a simple house with no hot water or connection to the outside world. Not much changed throughout the years as my family made dozens of trips to the higher elevations each year. We had to boil water for baths or hot cocoa, just like it says in the book. Because there were no phone or television, I dreaded going as a teenager, not wanting to miss out on weekends with my friends. However, once we arrived, we did nothing but hike, play cards, grill hamburgers, dance in the kitchen, and laugh. My fondest memories are from my time in those mountains and in that little red house. I can still remember hearing oldies music play in the next room as my brother and I made shadow puppets from our bunk beds at night. My father knew it was important to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of our busy schedules and reconnect with each other without the distractions. We were and still are a close-knit family and I am grateful to God and my father for giving us that mountain get-away.

I prayed every time I sat down to write. While writing From Dishes to Snow, I tried to put aside myself, though unsuccessfully at times. I gave the book and its direction to God. Before a writing day began, the words were prayed over. I did not have an outline because I had no idea where the story would go. I just sat down, prayed, and trusted that God would take it where He wanted it. It was an incredible experience, not knowing what was going to happen, and then suddenly realizing I was writing the last chapter – the story had found an ending. My prayer today is that I heard God correctly and did not write anything I shouldn’t have. God may take this book and reach hundreds of individuals or He may take this experience and reach just me. Either way, From Dishes to Snow is not mine, it is God’s and I have already been blessed by what He has taught me on this journey.