Today I am pleased to have the award-winning author of The Henderson County Curb Market, Ann Wirtz, as my guest. She has also authored Sorrow Answered, over a hundred stories and articles for the Times News and Pulse, and her work has been published in Chicken Soup for The Soul.
Her various writings, as well as her life, reflect her love of people as well as her love of the Lord. Welcome, Ann.
Thank you, Carol for having me. I am pleased to be here today.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I revere the old ways, simplicity, and the small joys of life. I believe in prayer and faith. My first husband died from cancer in 2004, and I married Patrick Wirtz two years later. We live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Our great happiness includes two adorable grandchildren and their wonderful parents, my son and his dear wife.
How and when did you begin to write?
A love of reading led to my youthful endeavor to write poetry, short stories, and then nonfiction, which was especially satisfying. This niche led to numerous newspaper articles and my two books, Sorrow Answered and The Henderson County Curb Market.
Can you give our readers a short description of Sorrow Answered?
Sorrow Answered is my journey through grief and the uplifting, true answers I found in Scripture for handling the loneliness and sorrow.
What led you to write it?
After my husband died, I felt a calling from the Lord to write our story which, ironically, became one of the happiest things I ever did. Ultimately I published Sorrow Answered, the “sequel” to our journey with cancer. This book is a simple account about faith and widowhood and how the Bible provides answers for coping with the deep sadness.
What are you working on now?
A Double Encounter, mercy in the 11th hour is a true story revealing God’s merciful hand upon a family, but especially upon the 80 year old atheist father who dies twice after being hit by a car, yet who lives to tell his experiences with Hell and the mercy he receives through the dreams which accompany his deaths.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
“Good writing is rewriting” is the advice I received from Leonard Goss, former LifeWay editor, and I have found that to be absolutely true.
How can my readers find out more about you and your work?
Author: Sorrow Answered; The Henderson County Curb Market; A Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas, “Memories of a Christmas Doll”
Books Availability: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, local independent bookstores
Freelance Writer: Over 100 articles and stories for the Times-News and The Pulse newspapers
Guest Speaker: Topics concerning faith and life; Power point presentation on the Henderson County Curb Market
In-home Bible Study Leader
Today, I welcome author Pam Thorson to my blog. Pam has written 2 books. One, Song in the Night, is the true story of her son, Kevin's, tragic paralyzing accident. Her second book, Out From the Shadows, is a devotional book that stems from that time in Pam's life when she first learned of Kevin's accident. Doctors told Pam and her husband that Kevin would never recover. Praise God that the Thorson's had the strength to reject what the doctors told them and fight for Kevin's life. Today, Pam writes, speaks and inspires other caregivers.
Opal was fifty-seven years old when she was incapacitated by a series of strokes that took a cruel toll on her body. She lost her ability to walk and talk. She was fed through a tube in her stomach and wore adult diapers.
Opal’s husband, Jim, was devastated by her disability. Both his business and his health suffered as he devoted his days and nights to her care. The rest of the family, including her daughter, helped him whenever possible.
One day Jim decided to take Opal for a drive. He dressed her, transferred her to the wheelchair, and loaded her into the car. Opal had always loved shopping for collectibles—especially old dishes—before her strokes, so Jim took her to one of her favorite antique shops.
As they wheeled through the store, she became animated at the sight of a white enamel coffeepot with red trim. “Is that what you want?” he asked her.
She wagged her head and groaned “Ahhh” in a response he guessed was a yes. He bought the enamel pot and loaded her back into the car. As they neared home, he asked if she wanted to visit their daughter. Once again, she seemed to indicate
Jim wheeled Opal up to their daughter’s door with their purchase. When she responded to their knock, he handed her the brown bag. “I’m guessing she wanted me to give this to you.”
Puzzled, his daughter opened the bag and pulled out the white enamel coffee pot with a cry of surprise. Tears welled in her eyes as she realized what this gift signified. She joyously threw her arms around Opal’s neck as Opal cooed and wagged her head.
Jim stood there, puzzled.
Finally their daughter shared the secret. Before her strokes, Opal collected old white enamelware with red trim for her daughter’s kitchen. The coffeepot was a piece she did not already have. Jim hadn’t known his wife and his daughter had been working on the collection together.
For one sweet and precious moment, a broken mother and her shattered daughter were reunited. For one moment, the woman that was, reached beyond the woman she had become to connect with someone she loved.
Opal was my mother.
That day in my kitchen, Mom gave me a gift far greater than the one she and my father brought home. She taught me to respect every life, even when it comes in a damaged package. She showed me how to give space to what I don’t understand
and to treat all people with the dignity they deserve. Without a word, she spoke volumes on how to live and how to die and how to treat others along the way.
Today I welcome author Kevin McAteer to my blog. Kevin has recently released his first book, Daddy Can You Make Me Pancakes?, also published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Kevin’s book is unique
because there are very few books like this written from a father’s perspective.
Hi, Kevin! Welcome to my blog… Thank you for letting me interview you today!
I'm glad to be here, Carol. Thank you for inviting me!
Your book is the true story of your first wife’s battle with cancer, and your battle to pick up the pieces once she
died. What did you learn about yourself as you wrote this book?
Well, that’s an interesting question. I have always had a fondness to write, especially during those life moments that move a person emotionally. Still today, my tendency is to send a hand- written card or write a letter to friends and loved ones versus emailing someone. I also know I was blessed with the gift to tell a story. That must come from my upbringing in a big Irish family full of many uncles and cousins who could only tell you a story one way – with theatrics and charisma.
What was moving and shocking to me as I wrote the book, was that so many experiences that I had were also vital lessons for so many parents and families going through similar adversity.
I often proclaim in the book, as I did throughout our journey, that each individual loss or life-altering adversity is unique unto itself. However, each story of grief, although unique, also has similarities. The experiences that my family went through will, hopefully, be “take aways” for others to learn from. My hope for this book is that it offers support to and strengthens other
families going through difficult times.
Over and over again people told me “You need to tell this story to the world, Kevin, people need to hear your family’s story. It will provide hope and strength to others in a time of need.” I am honored that people get help or comfort from me sharing my journey.
I honestly was skeptical even after the first few years of changing my direction of the stories I was documenting. What started out as a scrapbook biography of a mother so that her memory would not be forgotten by three young babies became this public journal of our lives.
What did I learn about myself writing this book? I learned through this book that I should not be so modest about our story and those that supported us, and I needed to stop being as one friend put it “such a martyr” and open up in the spirit of helping others as Pamela would have wanted us to do. That is what this book is about – putting my family’s story out there to help others through such a difficult time. If my story can help, even in a small way, every painful memory that I relived as I wrote this story was worth it.
What was the reaction of your family when you decided to get this book published? I’m interested, not just in how your children reacted, but what was the reaction of Pamela’s family?
First, I should share that I was very silent about the work I was doing. I did not make it well-known that I had actually made the decision to write the book. I finally told a few people – immediate family members and my children - leading up to the
decision to partner with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, because I knew I needed their support before daring to publish something so personal about us. I did not officially tell my in-laws or my closest friends at work until a few months before the book was published on Father’s Day. I guess, in a way, it was first-time author jitters.
The reaction has been tremendous and surprising. Right before Father’s Day, I finally decided I would scream to anyone who would listen that the book was coming out. I was completely frightened of what the reaction would be from some very special people I my life - most importantly Pamela’s parents and brother.
This is an excerpt from one of the letters I received from them:
Tonight I find myself still at a loss to write something concise and coherent. "Good job, Kevin" does not cut it. Maybe I should still wait, but I don't want to. I would settle for a wordless hug for now, but that is impossible so I will try an e mail. The book is a gift to your kids. It is the finest tribute to Pamela. It will be a help to bereaved spouses--especially ones with young children; especially to men. It is a testament to the human spirit and a fine example of God helping those who help themselves.
All of the letters and support I received from Pamela’s family were in a similar vein.
KidsCan is a program that provided invaluable resources to you and Pamela during this time. Tell me a little bit about their program, and some of the lessons that they taught you when it came to your children?
The program was started by two famous professional athletes who, like my children, lost their mom at a young age to cancer. The difference between what they went through and what my children experienced is a direct credit to the KidsCan
program they put in place many years ago.
The ultimate lesson from KidsCan is to communicate to your kids. Share with them what is happening. Don’t hide the reality of things from them - even the scary and serious things that sometimes even adults prefer to hide from one another.
At Kids Can I learned that, if you are not honest with children in an age-appropriate way, their minds will go far beyond your wildest imagination. Even when you think you’re protecting them from a horrible reality, they know something is going on. What I learned and now preach is that it is better to arm them with facts and an age appropriate education of what cancer and things like chemo are, than to fool yourself into thinking that you are protecting them by not telling them.
Any plans for a follow up book?
It’s funny you ask that. Just this week I came home to show my kids that my company had put out a story about the book in our company newsletter. When the two middle girls, Amanda and Mia, saw it they were just giddy about it and Mia said:
“So … got other books in the works?”
Amanda followed with:
“Yes, Mr. Author what’s next?”
My immediate response was (I should preface this with the fact that I had just experienced a very challenging
parent moment with my youngest son earlier that day):
“Yes, I do have another book in the works. It is titled,” Six Kids, Spilled Syrup, and a Six Pack for Step-Parenting: Stories of how NOT to throw pancakes across the kitchen at your blended family.”
Truthfully, there may very well be a couple of books coming down the pike. Blending a family of eight kids, a dog I never voted to get, and two fish has provided some hard-knocks lessons, but also some fun blessings and experiences for Shayna, my wife, and me. Watching the daily reality show going on before my very eyes has prompted me to take notes of some moments that may very well be worth sharing with others.
Thank you for being here today, Kevin! Kevin's book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and print editions.
To learn more about Kevin and the Life Lessons that helped him through this time, visit his blog. Kevin is also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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