Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stephanie Burkhart Talks about Inspiration, Blankies, and Her Latest Book

I added a P. S. from Stephanie at the end of this post. Hint: It pertains to a book giveaway, so don't miss it.

Inspiration comes in small packages

By: Stephanie Burkhart

One of my husband's relatives told me a story about her grandchild who was attached to his blankie.  He left it behind when he was visiting relatives and was having a hard time without it. That brought back memories of the time when I was a young girl and had a blankie.  My blankie was soft blue with silk blue trim.  I loved to rub it against my face. It was very soothing. My blankie was my security net. It was always there for me. I could count on it to relax my ruffled feelings or frustration – until it mysteriously disappeared.  One day, when I was five, my blankie turned up missing.  I had no idea what happened to it. I felt "out of sorts," "uncomfortable," and "anxious." (My mother hid it on me.  She decided it was time for me to learn how to get along without it.)

 Those first couple of days without blankie was rough, but I soon learned other age appropriate coping stragedies. I played with Barbie and her Beach van. I picked up a book. I began coloring. I loved playing with Matchbox cars.  Soon my imagination grew and I didn't need blankie anymore.

Giving up blankie was my first step to growing up.

Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, but now calls California her home. She currently works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. Stephanie has been writing since she was five, when she crafted homemade comic books on the kitchen table. Her previous books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, and First Flag of New Hampshire.  Stephanie enjoys coffee, adores chocolate and is currently the Den Leader for her son's Cub Scout Den.
And, now for my questions:

Writing with God's Hope                Tell us a little about yourself.
Steph: I grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire and joined the US Army when I was 18. I spent 7 years stationed overseas in Germany. I earned a BS in Political Science from California Baptist University. I left the military in 1997 and settled in Castaic, CA. I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. I'm married, have 2 boys, love chocolate, adore coffee and I'm a den leader for my son's den. Love scouting, reading, and watching movies.
Writing with God's Hope                Did you ever feel like giving up on your writing?  And how did you press through this?
Steph: I can't say that I have. I have gotten frustrated when I can't find the time to write because the words won't come, but I never wanted to give up writing.
Writing with God's Hope                What gave you the idea for your book?
Steph: One of my husband's relatives told me about her grandson who was having a hard time giving up his blankie.  I drew on my own experiences and wrote Brady's Lost Blanket.
Wrtting with God's Hope                How do you feel this book will encourage readers, or did you have something in mind like this when you wrote it?
Steph: I hope it appeals to other young children who are faced with giving up their blankies.  I think giving up a security net like a blankie is a big step for a little child and their first step to growing up a little.
Writing with God's Hope                How did you find your publisher?
Steph: Honestly, 4RV found me! LOL!! I showed Vivian at 4RV Publishing my "Giving Meadow" story, and she said she'd like to publish it. I couldn't refuse.
Writing with God's Hope                If you were a song, what would it be?
Steph: I love anything from Duran Duran's Rio album. I love the word play on that album – and all the videos that came from it.
Writing with God's Hope                Anything else you’d like to tell us.      
Steph: It's Girl Scout cookie time. My favorite is Samoas. What's your favorite girl scout cookie?
         How long did it take you to write this book?

STEPHANIE: It took about a week to write the story. I have to thank 4RV Publishing for publishing Brady's Lost Blanket.  It took about 2 weeks back and forth with the editing.

       Did you pick the illustrator?

STEPHANIE: No, I did not.  4RV Publishing selected the illustrator.  I think Bridget McKenna did a great job with the illustrations.  They have a very whimsical feel and compliment the story well.

       How long have you been writing children's books?

STEPHANIE: About 5 years now. My first children's book, "The Giving Meadow" was published with 4RV Publishing in 2010. It has a great message about sharing and caring for young children as well as telling about Caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly. It's perfect for Easter as it helps young children  to understand Jesus' story.

BRADY'S LOST BLANKET is available in print from 4RV Publishing.

 Brady is a sensitive young boy who takes his blankie wherever he goes. After traveling with his parents to visit his new cousin, Brady accidently leaves his blanket behind. Can Brady learn to get by without his blankie?



















Thank you, Stephanie. I loved getting acquainted. The book sounds precious. I believe many a young child will be encouraged by Brady's Lost Blanket.

I still have the tattered blankie used for years by my youngest daughter.

Now, I have a question for those of you reading this. Did you have a blankie when you were a child? Do you know someone who did?

P. S. Stephanie  tells me she plans to give away a free copy of Brady's Lost Blanket. She will draw a name on Tuesday, March 3 from the list of commenters who give us their e-mail address. So click on "post a comment" below & make sure we know how to contact you.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Wichita Falls haunted?

This Weird Wednesday, while I'm waiting for the release of my new YA, I got to wondering if my home town, Wichita Falls, TX had a ghost legend? To my surprise, it does. Here's what I found out about it.

A hang-out for a group of boys fifty years ago, brought about the ghost legend of Pinky's Cave. The spooky tunnel is actually a three-mile concrete drainage ditch that snakes under neighborhood streets between Ardath and Kell Boulevard. Running clear under Kell, it was built by the city of Wichita Falls in the 1960s to prevent flooding in the Brook Village area. A teenager by the name of Robin Pinkman lived near there then and claimed the tunnel as his own, forever branding it as Pinky's Cave.
Photo by Claire Kowalick was featured in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on 4/10/2010

Reading about that reminded me of two things. One: As a teenager along with my cousins, I explored a concrete drainage ditch in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. What fun, what mystery, what carelessness. Two: one of my favorite authors, Bonnie Lanthripe, wrote the middle-grade book, The Ringleader, about teen boys who solve the mystery of the drainage ditch in their home town. I could envision ghosts in a tunnel like the one where I played.

Pinkman, who is now a local teacher and rancher, says he remembers the ditch as being his and his neighbor friend's private clubhouse. They often spent the night there and told ghost stories. Now, I never had the nerve to do that. Of course, my aunt wouldn't have let us, anyway.

The boys told one tale of a man who lived in the cave and would "get you" if he found out that you doubted. The roar of the wind and the rumblings of cars overhead created echoes and thumps that complemented the made-up stories. Sometimes, the boys hid in the drain pipes built into the tunnel and would jump out and scare the girls.

In the tornado of 1979 that blew away much of Wichita Falls, many people were saved by hiding in the ditch. My husband and I moved to the city two years after this storm. I still remember the fear exhibited by the residents every time a strange cloud would form.

Nowadays, the entrance to Pinky's Cave is heavily spray-painted. Lewd words and drawings sprawl across the walls belying the early-time innocence. In the days of drugs and gangs, neighbors worry about what goes on in the under-the-street cave.

Still, many Wichitans remember the days of ghost tales and harmless fun and wonder if the ghost of Pinky's Cave is real.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Barn Door Book Loft: Worth Her Weight by Janet K Brown

The Barn Door Book Loft: Worth Her Weight by Janet K Brown: How can a woman who gives to everyone but herself accept God’s love and healing when she believes she’s fat, unworthy, and unfixable? Can s...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Visit and Giveaway from Author, Gail Kittleson

Gail and her husband Lance delight in their grandchildren in St. Ansgar, Iowa.
Winter months find Gail in Pine, AZ, writing and editing like crazy. She has facilitated workshops 
and women's retreats in various hospice, parish nurse, and church venues. She's available for
speaking engagements for book clubs and women's groups, and usually shares on the
writing process, women's spiritual and emotional growth, and transition and loss.
I enjoyed recently getting acquainted online with Gail Kittleson and knew the viewers of Writing with God's Hope blog would, also. Gail has a special giveaway today. Find out how to qualify for the drawing by scrolling all the way to the bottom of this post.
Gail, where did you get the idea for your latest book?
 "From my life" would be the obvious answer for a memoir, but a lifetime of reading paved the way. Other authors' honesty (The Diary of a Young Girl, Tuesdays With Morrie, Julie and Julia, The Glass Castle and many more) affected my understanding of memoir.
But a powerful assignment in a workshop back in the summer of 2003 got me started. This kind of writing goes deep, and a supportive group made all the difference. I use that same pivotal assignment often in facilitating workshops and retreats. 
By the way, I didn’t plan to write a memoir that day in that class—I just started writing, kept on, and the result, years later, was Catching Up With Daylight.
Many of us long for rest, as the author did while renovating an old house after her husband's 
first deployment to Iraq. Yet a different hunger undergirded that desire: a hunger for wholeness
How did you find your publisher?
I read about WhiteFire Publishing, did some research, and submitted. This company’s editors are professional, generous, and reliable. I've been delighted with their work and so appreciate the camaraderie of WhiteFire’s author family. 
Are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?
Yes, several. I’m awaiting the next edits for my contracted women's fiction and my World War II series is being considered by a publisher. I also keep working on a pioneer series.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Anything World War II, fiction and nonfiction, fascinates me. I read Women's Fiction (Jane Kirkpatrick is one of my favorite authors), Biography, of course Memoir, and lately, a mystery or two. I’ve always enjoyed poetry, especially Emily Dickinson and John Donne. 
Oh, I like Emily Dickinson, too. What has your writing journey been like so far?
Full of starts and stops. Then a big re-start at that writers’ workshop, and pretty steady since then. I always knew writing was my vocation, yet it took a long, long time to believe I had anything worthwhile to say. Some of us have to grow into our calling, and wonder “why all those wasted years?”
But I can also say the journey has been necessary—expressing oneself on paper requires believing in yourself, and that sort of turn-around doesn’t happen overnight. The kind of writing memoir demands can be painful, and I didn’t necessarily realize the effect until after the fact.
Years ago when I prayed for inner peace, I had no idea how much I was asking!
I can so identify with that, Gail. I agree that to express ourselves on paper requires self confidence. Must've been why God delayed my writing for years.
Do you have another book due to come out soon?
Yes. Do you hear my YIPPEE!? I’m not someone who always wanted to write fiction—my first story surprised me to pieces. There have been many since then, but my first contract (with Vintage Rose) is for a women’s fiction titled In This Together.
I don’t know the release date yet, but hopefully this year. It’s the story of Dottie, a Gold Star mother and widow, set in 1947. Having come through a lot and successfully reared three children, she now works at a boarding house, deals with her grief, and expects life to continue in a hum-drum way. Boy, is she in for a surprise!
Oh, I must read that one. Congratulations. Keep us posted.
Where is your favorite place to pray or reflect by yourself?
 Walking, almost anywhere, but preferably in nature. We live in an Iowa small town, so there’s plenty of space, and in the winter I walk in an Arizona Ponderosa pine forest.
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I’ve lived on three continents (not for very long periods!) and visited a fourth. Also, I have a title addiction. They pop into my head consistently, like certain melodies that take over your mind.
Oh, that's funny.
Now tell us where we can purchase Catching Up with Daylight. 
Now, how do you qualify to go in the drawing for an online copy of Catching Up with Daylight?
All you must do is click on "post a comment" below and leave a comment or question for Gail. Make sure to leave your e-mail address. We'll draw from the comments at midnight on March 3.
Thank you, Gail, for stopping by the Writing with God's Hope blog today. Happy writing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ghostly Excerpt from My Upcoming YA

It's Weird Wednesday, and I have no new ghost legends to tall today. I've chosen to give you a ghostly excerpt from my upcoming YA. Watch for details later this year.

     “Shelley, go to that small closet on the other side of the wall and bring down the huge screens. The city will be running pictures of Lincoln and Washington.”

     She opened the side door, flipped on a light, and stepped into a closet. Wind swirled her giving an instant chill. Wisps of her hair tickled her cheeks. The sleeves on her paisley shirt molded to her arms. Wind moved rubber edging back and forth. She searched for the switch to the picture screens and turned it. The wind roared in her ear. She took one step back and searched for an air duct. This was crazy. There was no outside wall, no fan or air conditioning vent. She left the closet, and the wind stopped.

     Now, her heart was pounding like she’d jumped to the ground after a fast gallop on Trophy. She swallowed attempting to rein in her runaway pulse. Overhead florescent bulbs gave off light enough to highlight anything out of place except for dark corners. No wind blew in the storage room now.

    Curiosity got people in trouble, but never let it be said Shelley played it safe. She rode her horse like there was no tomorrow and won play-days when others feared her speed. She inched the door open and moved ahead with her right foot, bringing her left one beside it. Wind plastered her shirt to her chest.

     “Shelley, turn it off. We don’t want that. Turn it off.”

     Dad’s voice was calling from the party room. Turn what off? She took a deep breath and eased away from the closet. Too afraid to stop watching, she backed out to where Dad and Victoria waited. “Turn what off?”

     Dad stood just over her right shoulder. “We don’t want that video going on. I don’t even know where it came from, but turn it off.”

     Shivers raced up and down her spine and exploded at the base of her neck. She did a half swivel to face him. “I didn’t turn on any video. I just hit the switch to bring down the screens.”

     “It had to have come from you. Why didn’t you answer? I kept calling.” Dad’s face reddened. His jaw looked tight.

     What was he talking about? She marched into the party room to the other side of the screens and looked for herself.

     Victoria slid to her side and pointed. “Those words keep flashing, one at the top, then one at the bottom, then the middle overlaying the others. What does it mean?”

     “Save me. Help. Lost. Grain. Husband. God.” One word after another spread across the screen in some weird-had-to-be-haunted pattern reminiscent of the screen at the people’s entrance.

     “Where did you find that? Show me,” Dad demanded and stomped his foot. “Maybe you hit another button close to the switch for the screens.”

     “I’ll show you." Would there still be wind? Goosebumps on her arms broke out like measles. Tiny hairs on the back of her neck stood out like they’d been spray-netted. She formed an o with her mouth and blew out air. With Dad at her elbow, she reopened the closet. “All I did was mash that switch.” She touched it.

     He pushed past her. His brown hair waved in the breeze. He quickly stepped back hitting his elbows on the side. “What ̶”

     “I don’t know,” Shelley said. “It happened to me too.”

     The red on Dad’s face drained away like rain into a dry ground leaving paleness. “I’m pulling up the screens.” He entered and flipped the switch down again. Before she could count to two, the wind stopped, the screens in the next room cranked up to the ceiling, and Shelley caught hold of her dad’s arm with a death grip.

     His face was still colorless. “I don’t know what happened there, but we’re leaving those screens alone.”

     “Sounds good to me.”

Hope I've increased your interest. Watch for the release date of A Ghost for Shelley, due out later in 2015.

Post a comment, e-mail me, or shoot me a Facebook post or a tweet if you know of a ghost legend anywhere that you're willing to share.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Valentine Story

     A new high school opened in Dallas, Texas. They named it Justin F. Kimball and drew students from two other high schools. Where I lived was designated to transfer to the new school. I was mad. I had made the drill team for my high school, but now I wouldn't get to participate. I would go to the new school. The only bright spot was that they took no seniors. With my upcoming year being my junior year, I was part of the top class at Kimball. That was fun.

     While sitting in my biology class, I heard tales of a boy named Charlie Brown. The song, "He's a clown, that Charlie Brown" was popular at the time. How neat that one of our students had that name. Mrs. Kyle, my biology teacher, often talked about the boy's exploits. I caught on quickly that she really liked him.

     "Charlie Brown drives a chartreuse Ford. He and another boy raced down the street. Brown received the first ticket ever given in front of our new school." She told us this story one day.
     "I would like to meet that boy," I told my best friend.

     A new semester began. I strolled into English class. The teacher was Mrs. Moseley. She became my favorite because she liked me. To one side of the room sat a cluster of boys, laughing, whispering, and whistling like typical sixteen-year-old boys tend to do.

     I took a desk on the opposite side of the room and tried to keep from looking at this one boy. His blond hair lay in waves. His beautiful blue eyes were the color of the sky. His biceps bulged against his shirt when he picked up his books. Yeah, I had a hard time not staring. Then, I learned that this good-looking guy was Mrs. Kyle's Charlie Brown.

     During the next few weeks, every time I passed Charlie Brown in the hall, he nodded, keeping a serious expression and said, "Hello, Janet."

     Others waved, grinned, yelled, "hi," but only he remained serious and used the full address. I learned later that when I walked into that English class, Charlie Brown turned to his friend, pointed to me, and said, "I'm going to marry that girl."

     And, so he did. He and I were in the first graduating class of Kimball High School in Dallas. By that time, we had dated for over a year. He carried my books to class and saved all the red Life Saver candies for me. At the all night party after graduation, we broke up. I went to Bethany Nazarene College near Oklahoma City. Charles joined the navy and shipped off to San Diego, California.

    As happens if you're meant to be together, we reunited months later just before Charles left for Japan. When he returned, I took the vows to become Mrs. Charlie Brown.

     On this Valentine's Day, I salute the love of my life. He's been my sweetheart for 52 years. Since I've become a writer, he tells me he's still "carrying my books."

     What God puts together, let not man put asunder.

     I love you, Charlie Brown.

     That's my love story.

What's yours?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Dark Side of Louisville and YA Author, Charles Suddeth

YA Author, Charles Suddeth, writes for 4RV Publishing. I also am a 4RV author, having published Victoria and the Ghost with them.

Since today is Weird Wednesday on "Writing with God's Hope" blog, Suddeth offered to tell about the dark side of his home town. For those who, like me, are making Suddeth's acquaintance for the first time, here's something about him.

Charles Suddeth was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, grew up in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and has spent his adult life in Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from Michigan State University. Over the years he has been a salesman, teacher, truck driver, and fulltime caregiver. He belongs to Green River Writers (Contest Director), the Midsouth SCBWI (Louisville Schmooze host), International Thriller Writers, and the Kentucky State Poetry Society. He also leads two critique groups for children’s writers.

He has had numerous poems and short stories published, including a poem in Spider magazine. Books: Halloween Kentucky Style, middle readers, Diversion Press, paperback, 2010. Neanderthal Protocol, adult thriller, Musa Publishing, e-book, 2012. 4RV Publishing will release three books: young adult thriller, Experiment 38, February 15, 2015; picture book, Spearfinger, 2015; picture book, Raven Mocker, 2016. Library Tales Publishing will release mystery, Eighth Mask, June 12, 2015.

Charles Suddeth gives us strange facts and tales that circulate about Louisville, KY. I found it fascinating. I trust this blog's viewers will also.

Take it away, Charles.

The Dark Side of Louisville

Read at your own risk!!! (those with health problems, fear problems, and so on skip this!)

Ghosts: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the country: a TB hospital that closed in 1962. It has been featured in TV programs & movies. The most famous attraction is the Tunnel of Death: bodies were whisked away at night. Do you have the courage to tour? Not everyone does.

More Ghosts: Tom Sawyer State Park was built on the grounds of an 1870’s mental hospital, Lakeland Insane Asylum. Once housing 3,000, the building is gone, but 2 unmarked potter’s fields hold possibly hundreds of bodies. Nearby, a bricked-in cave was used as a morgue. Ghost tours in October.

Things Best Left Unspoken: At the height of the Slave Trade, Louisville contained as many as 44 slave traders & 4 large slave pens. The term, Down the river, originated in Louisville: slaves were sold, dragged to the wharfs, & steamboated downriver to cotton plantations in the Deep South. Thankfully, nothing remains but historic markers.

Murder: On Bloody Monday, August 6th 1855, members of the Whig Party & the Know-Nothing Party rioted against immigrants, mainly German & Irish Catholics. At least 22 were killed in downtown Louisville and nearby Phoenix Hill. Many of the churches where people sought refuge still stand.

More Murder: The Pope Lick Monster (the Pope family were early settlers) is a half-man, half goat rumored to dwell under the lofty railroad bridge spanning Pope Lick Creek. It hypnotizes its victims, luring them onto the narrow train trestle until they are run over by trains. Despite No Trespassing signs, several people have been killed. By the monster?

Boom! The Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, located directly across the river from Louisville, covered about 15 square miles. It made gunpowder and rocket propellant from World War 2 through Vietnam. Rumors floated through Louisville about people and Jeeps blowing up. Part of it is now Charlestown State Park, but tall fences circle the remainder. Signs announce, No Trespassing.  Even without signs, I wouldn’t set foot on those grounds.

Gone but Not Forgotten: The United States Bullion Depository, AKA the Fort Knox Gold, holds the government’s gold. No one has been allowed inside since the 1970’s, because they don’t give tours, even to members of Congress. Rumors persist that the gold vanished, but no one’s talking. Is the Federal Government broke?

Very interesting, Charles. So much history around Louisville. Sounds like a good city to visit. I can imagine a lot of ghost tales around an old insane asylum, for sure, and we must wonder about the gold in Fort Knox.

4RV Publishing will be releasing Suddeth's YA thriller Experiment 38 this Sunday, Feb. 15, so watch for it and be ready to purchase a copy through 4RV Publishing award-winning catalog store.

Experiment 38 (young adult thriller, 4RV Publishing, paperback) will be released February 15, 2015:
Eighteen-year-old Emily, small for her age, lives alone with her scientist-father and learns too late that he holds a terrible secret, one that might destroy her life.
As she and her boyfriend, Nate, try to unravel the mystery behind her father’s secret, they face danger and uncertainty.
ISBN: 78-1-940310-02-2

Here's how to find Charles Suddeth online:

Author website:

Facebook author page: Charles Suddeth, Author

Twitter: @CharlesSuddeth

Pinterest author page: Chuck Suddeth

Goodreads author page: Charles Suddeth

I loved meeting you, Charles. The book sounds as interesting as your post. I'll bet you have many of us in line to purchase the book this weekend. Good luck with it.