Learn More about Author Tamara Gerlach

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
P.S. I Love You

Describe your first kiss.
It was at our ranch. My neighbor’s cousin was visiting from Utah, he was super cute, and a “real” cowboy…so I let him kiss me. At first it was a little weird, but I liked it, so now I try to do it as much as possible.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
There’s a hair in my dirt, by Gary Larson. My kids loved the story, it made us laugh, and we got to talk about nature, and cause and effect.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
I support quite a few, because there are so many people doing such wonderful work in the world, but one is close to my heart, PINCC- Prevention International No Cervical Cancer. Over 300,000 women needlessly die every year because of a lack of education and treatment. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in December 2009. Fortunately, I got the treatment I needed, and I wish that for all the women of the world.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Joy in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. She is the essence of ease and flow, carefree and completely dedicated at the same time.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
Honestly, I have loved all of the jobs I have ever had. One day, when I was a teen working at Kentucky Fried Chicken, a big box showed up with a chicken suit in it. I was the first to volunteer to put it on and go out on the street to dance, wave at cars, and do one-handed gymnastics moves (I had to hold the head on with the other hand). So, I’ve been a dancing chicken…and I have no complaints.

A quote that motivates you . . .
“You can love other people only to the degree that you’ve come to love and accept yourself”   ~Shakti Gawain

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Granny by Dave Matthews
Three Wishes
   1. That all people realize their own magnificence, freedom, and connection to  everyone and everything. Then, take care of each other and ourselves accordingly.
   2. That no one is hungry for food or love.
   3. That we practice Forgiveness, Compassion, and Love to wash away all of the fear and delusion in the world.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
I loved to go out into the hills with friends, or even by myself, and play “explorer.” We’d pretend that we were lost in the wilderness and had to find a “new world,” build camp, and live off of the land. It has served me well since I travel all over the world and feel comfortable in any environment because I know I can figure it out. On a trip deep into the Amazon, Ron and I stayed with an Achuar tribe and spent our days (and some nights) traipsing through the forest. When it came time to leave, I didn’t want to; I just wanted to keep playing “explorer.”
I still play my favorite game daily by exploring my heart and mind.

Learn More about Author Sondra Wright

 A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
The movie “Imitation of Life” always evokes such strong emotions in me. The pain and hostility surrounding Sara Jane’s lifelong identity struggle; the toll it takes on her mother Annie, until she finally dies of a broken heart, and in the end Sara Jane realizing the hurt she had caused the mother who loved her and showing up much too late to ask her forgiveness.
Describe your first kiss…
My first kiss came very much by surprise. I was at my friend Sylvia’s house and her younger brother just swooped in and planted one on me. It was like the 4thof July going off in my head.
Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I still pick it up and read it sometimes today. It’s such a soothing and relaxing little story. It’s so beautifully illustrated and I love the way the little bunny acknowledges every item in the room with a good night.
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .I have an enormous passion for children and the elderly. These are often defenseless populations whose needs are easily overlooked. The Kinship Care Coalition and Advocacy Group of North Carolinais a startup organization that’s very near and dear to me right now. The organization raises awareness for the strikingly large number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren today; to make sure they get the support and services they need.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
My Shero – – the woman behind the horse — Penny Chenery, Secretariat!!
Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
In my early 20’s I worked for a job listing service. Job seekers paid a fee and in return we gave them a list of employers that they could have probably located on their own for free. I hated it because I felt like we were scamming people! I remember talking with clients and at the same time trying to give them an “eye signal” to take their money and run. It was pretty bad.
A quote that motivates you . . .I heard someone say once, “God is watching…give Him a good show.” And that’s a quote that really moves me to give my best, be my best and do my best at all times – in every situation.
The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Bustin Loose by Chuck Brown never fails to elevate my mood. It makes me happy, it makes me want to move – it makes me feel like I can conquer the world.
Three Wishes
   1. That everyone would know God’s love
   2. That there was no such thing as a hungry child
   3. That people learn to value and respect each others differences
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Scrabble! My mom played with me every week. In the beginning she beat me so badly I would cry, but she never cut me any slack and that was a good thing. Playing against such a tough competitor not only forced me to build my spelling and vocabulary skills but really served to develop my critical and strategic thinking skills as well.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

     Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain reaches beyond the animal lover or racing lover.  Instead, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a consuming read for men and women alike.  Creatively, narration is provided by Enzo, the terrier/lab mutt chosen at twelve weeks by the protagonist, Denny.  Enzo welcomes the reader into the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his own life as well as the life of his master.  Without giving too much away,  the majority of Stein’s novel is a realistic tearjerker causing one to evaluate the treatment of his own life as well as others which then concludes on an almost fairy-tale note.
     Problems for me, the reader, ensued with the late introduction of Denny’s parents.  Their physical presence in the novel occupying only one chapter read as an afterthought.  Further explanation surrounding the parents only reaffirmed the notion that either more elaboration was needed, or the interjection of the parents should have been deemed unnecessary and distracting during editing.
     In regards to book club, this is one where man’s best friend should be not only welcome, but master or mistress of ceremonies.  The ideal setting would be a dog park such as Rock Springs Park in O’Fallon, IL.  If book club members are not owners of the four-legged friend, simply being near these canines at the park would set the mood.  Plenty of dog biscuits must be brought along to share with the dogs, and a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies made in the same manner as Denny- plopped onto the cookie sheet- to share with the humans completes the ambiance and hopefully gives chase to a conversational treat.  Garth Stein
   

Love Dare Days 2-4

     Busy with my oldest squirt soon graduating preschool, I have, though, been keeping The Love Dare at the top of my “must-read” pile on my nightstand.  Keeping Day 1, patience, repeatedly at the front of my mind, I simply nodded agreeably when the hub told me as he was walking out the door for work that the air conditioner was broken, and I needed to call someone.  Realizing why I woke in a pool of sweat, I made the call and waited patiently in 90 degree weather with two preschoolers wearing their fussy pants.
     Day 2, love is kind, asks the reader to perform a random act of kindness towards his/her spouse.  Thus, I decided to mow and weed whack the lawn for my beloved in 92 degree weather.  As fate would have it, my mother was in town and able to occupy my two squirts, so I was able to complete the task before the hub returned from work.  Working in the peak heat of the day, the task was complete, but I was soon sitting with my head between my too pale legs and cool washcloths on the back of my neck. 
     Continuing on to the next dare, I am instructed to make a purchase for my spouse that translates to, “I was thinking of you today.”  This is a challenge.  My hub has no desire for material things.  He enjoys playing the electric guitar, but I am musically illiterate, so a purchase in that department was out of the question.  Stumped. . .  As luck would have it, though, I decided to peruse the grocery aisle of the local farm supply store.  To my delight, I spied some “Hanky Panky” (honestly, printed on the package) chocolate drizzle caramel corn with peanuts.  Score 1 for me!  As I made a beeline for the check-out, I spotted green apple, a favorite flavor of the hub, licorice.  At this point, I was doing the happy dance on the inside, and I’m sure the young lady checking me out wondered what the deal was with my goofy smile. 
     Finally, Day 4, love is thoughtful.  On a roll, I e-mail the hub the following sweet nothing, “Today, I love you.”  Not . . . “What is your e.t.a. for arriving home because the kiddos have gone wild?” . . . not “Hurry!” . . .  not “The humanity . . . ,” but instead a line that summarizes my heart.

Learn More about Author Susan Stephenson

A film that brings tears to your eyes: The Blind Side.

Describe your first kiss
: I don’t remember my first kiss, but fortunately I can recall the last one in complete sensory detail – sweet and romantic.

Your favorite children’s book, and why
: My favourite children’s book changes day by day. But an old favourite is Enid Blyton’s The FarawayTree. I love the world that Blyton built and how it feeds our imaginations.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why
: Children’s literacy is of huge importance to me. I love to read, write, create and educate myself. I believe many of the world’s ills could be solved by such education, particularly encouraging parents to read to their kids. And the thought of libraries closing due to lack of funding absolutely appals me.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
I would be Anne in Anne of Green Gables. 

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
My worst job was being Latrine Officer in a children’s camp. When one of the kids dropped her gold watch into the pit, it was my job to fetch it back for her. I came to fully understand the meaning of trust as I was lowered by my ankles.

A quote that motivates you
:“It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life.”  (Barthold Georg Niebuhr)

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island
: “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside” – in the hope that such a positive affirmation will help me withstand the solitude!

Three Wishes

   1. For me: I wish, oh how I wish, that I could draw.
   2. For my family and friends: health and happiness.
   3. For the world: an end to greed.

Favorite game you played as a child:
Imaginative games – roleplaying Robin Hood and building cubbies in the bush so we could spy on the Sheriff.

The Book Chook

Learn More about Author Derek Haines

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
The God’s Must Be Crazy for sure. The final scene with the girl, the table and the continually toppling red and white Tupperware had tears rolling from my eyes. They still get damp at the mere thought of the movie.

Describe your first kiss.
Inaccurately aimed at first, then sort of somewhat damp.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

Noddy by Enid Blyton, because it was banned. It probably did unimaginable harm to me in my formative years. 

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Difficult question for a heartless soul like me. But probably oil. I hate it because it doesn’t just run cars, it starts wars. I’d prefer cars to run on milk or grass clippings. 

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Zaphod Beeblebrox without a doubt. Anyone who signs the destruction order for Earth because he thinks someone just wants his autograph is someone who really has celebrity coolness. His extra head also offers a lot of advantages on lonely evenings alone. 
Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
Easy. Author. All the rest paid a salary and I didn’t get criticised daily.
A quote that motivates you . . .
When one door closes, there always seems to be another ready to slam in your face.

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
“Honky Tonk Woman” by The Rolling Stones. 

Three Wishes
   1.  A red Ferrari.
   2. World peace.
   3. Three more wishes.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Mouse Trap without a doubt. The greatest board game ever invented. I really should buy it again!
 


Learn More about Author Rhonda Tibbs

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .Steel Magnolias

Describe your first kiss.
Quick, a little bit scary, sweet

Your favorite children's book, and why . . .
Harry the Dirty Dog, because I read
it to my son approximately 1,254,999 times

A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .Stopping domestic abuse,
because my mother died at the hands of my stepfather.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
  Beth Thomas,
because she never loses sight of who she is or her core values 

Explain the worst job that you've held.
  Making boxes, midnight shift.

A quote that motivates you . . .
“You did then what you knew how to do, And when
you knew better, You did better.” Maya Angelou


The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .

Wow, so many choices! Til I Gain Control Again - Blue Rodeo


Three Wishes

    1.  I wish all my children health and happiness
    2.  No more mistreated, lonely, broken, abandoned, hurting children
    3. I would like for more people to read my book (selfish wish)

Favorite game you played as a child . . .
hopscotch
 
Rhonda Tibbs

Learn More about Author Carol Galusha

My first kiss: seventh grade on the back of a school bus - sooo not romantic :(

Favorite children's book: I loved Pokey the Puppy. I always wanted a dog like him.

Favorite character from a novel: Melanie from Gone With the Wind. She was pure goodness!

Quote that motivates me:
Success is the best revenge. (I consider being happy a great success.)

Three wishes:

1) My children to be happy.
2) For my husband and I to retire together and travel.
3) For people to be kind to one another.

The one song I would want on my iPod if on a deserted island:
can't pick one song for my island living. But I would love to listen to the Eagles while I'm sippin' on my fruity drink!

Also, the book I'd take on the island: To Kill A Mockingbird 
 
Favorite game as a child: I loved playing Chinese checkers. My mom taught me. My siblings and I would put on our pajamas and play a few games before we went to bed. That was many, many years ago, and the thought brings tears to my eyes. 
 
Carol Galusha

All we need is a little patience . . .

     Yesterday was one of those days which would have gone a lot better if I could have stayed in bed all day.  Having two squirts eliminated this as an option unfortunately.  A highlight of the day . . .  I thought I would be not only politically correct by purchasing the glass bottle of milk versus the plastic jug, but also fulfilling my aspirations of being an extreme “couponer” because the sign flying proudly in front of the product read that I could return empty bottles to customer service for $1.50 refund.  Thus, the advertisement effectively lured me in and captured my attention.  Beaming with eco-friendly pride, I proceeded to the check-out with a restless three-year-old in tow.   Attempting to occupy the preschooler, I had her assist me in placing the items on the conveyor belt, yet I sensed trouble loomed 5 feet in front of me.  The man ahead of me in the process of checking out received troubling news that the cash register had gone blank.  The checker requested help, and the manager attempted to remedy the problem by removing a panel and crawling beneath the register.  Beads of sweat began to form on my forehead as I realized I had limited time- we were due to pick my other child up from preschool.  I decided to break grocery shopping etiquette by quickly dumping my breakfast sausages, Cardinals purse (impulse purchase, but too cute), prized milk, and the like back into the cart and made a beeline for the 20 items or less checker. Knowing I could not conceal my overflowing cart, I opted to plead with the checker for the sake of my child needing to be picked up from school.  Checker sympathy ensued, and I was soon loading eco-unfriendly plastic bags (left the reusable ones in the car) into the trunk.  Despite the obstacles, we arrived safely at home where I hurriedly began to carry bags inside.  As if deemed inevitable by fate, the plastic bag housing the glass bottle of milk tore and, literally, milk was spilt all over my garage floor.  Determined to make lemonade of lemons, or in this case, rising above the loss of $1.50 refund, I sopped up the white liquid with sheet after sheet of paper towels knowing I single-handedly hurt the environment probably more so due to my failed attempts to save it.
      However, with yesterday coming to a close, I nearly tripped on a book jutting out from beneath my  bed.  Retrieving the dusty piece from the floor, I realized I bought The Love Dare, a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love, with honest intentions, but failed to read and participate in its journey.  Opening to page 1, I see Day 1 reminds us that love is patient.  An appropriate theme given yesterday’s events.  Follow and share with me in this challenge, but, “Shhhhhhh!  Don’t tell my hub!”  The Love Dare