Friday, December 12, 2008

Is There a Lawyer in the Church? Stephen Bloom Chats about writing a Christian Perspective on Legal Issues

I had the opportunity to meet up with Legal Representative Stephen Bloom who is the author of a timely encouragement of faith book titled, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues.

In his book Bloom tackles the legal and scriptural sides of thirteen hot topics that seem to plague our society today such as, how some Christians fall into the litigation trap, prenuptial contracts, divorce, estate planning, taxes, the bankruptcy bailouts, and business ethics. Through his astute ability to provide real and personal life lessons along with the translation of legalese into common everyday language he provides compassionate help to those who may find themselves overwhelmed by the judicial system or wonders how current legal challenges fit with their Christian morals and beliefs. Last but not least, he discusses conciliation alternatives and a contract he believes to be the most important.

The topics I found most helpful were estate planning, a living-trust, Medicaid-planning, and living-wills. Bloom’s explanations affirmed my understanding of scripture related to these topics, as well as he gave me things to think about in choosing a lawyer if the need ever arises. The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues is available through most major bookstores.

Stephen agreed to chat about writing and his book. This is what he had to say.

Jewel: Hi Stephen! Thank you so much for agreeing to share with us a little about your experiences as a writer and your book. Let’s start things off by asking how you get started in writing?

Stephen: It’s a heartbreaking tale. The first thing I remember writing was a poem in 2nd grade, something about wading in a stream. It got selected for “publication” by our teacher, Mrs. Winklehouse. She typed it up and included it in a little mimeographed sheet of poems to be sold for three cents apiece as part of an afterschool class fundraiser. On the morning of the sale, my mom gave me the pennies I needed to buy a copy. But when the time came, I couldn’t get the pennies out of my pants pocket! My little fingertips stretched desperately and I could just barely touch the coins, but I couldn’t get a grip! I was shy and didn’t dare ask Mrs. Winklehouse for help (she was old school, the kind who dragged kids around by the ears when they got unruly), so I just went home without my poem! How sad is that!? I never did get a copy! What a traumatic event for an aspiring young writer!

Jewel: Oh, indeed that is a sad and frustrating moment for a budding writer. It is awesome to think at a young age you learned about promoting your works through fundraising. Well, I am glad you have a copy of your new book. By the way, why is practicing law important to you? Did you dream of being a lawyer during your childhood?

Stephen: As a lawyer, I get invited into some of the most intimate and vulnerable moments in my clients’ lives. As a Christian lawyer, I can use those situations to be a witness for Christ, sometimes through the legal counsel I give, sometimes through prayer, and sometimes simply by listening. I believe the most important aspect of my work as a Christian lawyer is the unique opportunity I have to be a peacemaker in some very difficult and challenging circumstances.

I never planned to be a lawyer growing up, but one of my grandfathers had been a lawyer, so I was aware of the profession. When it came time to think seriously about my future, I realized I had a good combination of skills for law, and it seemed like a practical choice, a solid career. It wasn’t until later, when I became a born again believer in Jesus, that I realized what amazing opportunities the law provides to be an emissary for Christ

Jewel: It seems you have the best of both worlds; practicing your faith and your love as a legal advocate. What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not practicing law, teaching a class, or writing?

Stephen: Spending time with my wife and kids is about the best. We’ve always made that a priority. I love playing guitar and writing songs (Sorry, maybe that counts as writing? But it’s very different than regular writing!), reading and keeping up with politics and world events online, working around the yard with plants and trees, and helping to lead in my home church in all kinds of ways, big and small.

Jewel: I am glad you have found that balance of writing, practicing law and spending time with your family. Many writers struggle with finding the right balance between writing and the beneficial avenues of book promoting. What advice would you give a newly published writer?

Stephen: Pray hard and then work even harder to spread the word about your book! Unless you’re at a major house with a big publicity budget (not many of those left!), you are the primary engine driving your book’s visibility. But amidst all your hard work, don’t forget to have fun with it! Being published is a joyful and humbling experience! Relish it!

Jewel: You are absolutely right on! An author is the one who primarily makes others aware of their book. In the midst of all the hard work one must take time to have fun, even in promoting a book. Tell us what inspires you?

Stephen: God. It sounds cliché, but until I decided to turn my writing gifts over to Him, nothing much ever happened. All I had was a bunch of ideas. It was only the urgency of using my gifts to offer the healing power of Christ to our hurting world that finally inspired me to write “The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues” and to seriously pursue my other writing projects.

Jewel: Indeed total surrender and the willingness to trust God with all the talents one has is what I think God wants from all of us. I learned in writing Flying Hugs and Kisses my trust and total surrender to God brought forth ideas in how to put it together that would help children heal from the loss of a loved one. Speaking of your new book, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues, how did you choose your content topics?

Stephen: I wanted my book to be extremely useful and relevant to real people dealing with real legal issues, so I chose the topics that my actual clients are most frequently facing. And I tackled each of the topics from a practical Christian perspective, rooted in God’s wisdom as revealed in the Bible. I also wanted to warn people about some of the common pitfalls and traps for the unwary that arise in working with secular attorneys.

Jewel: Being aware and understanding how to navigate through the judicial system is legal empowerment at its best. I must ask, do you have a book coming in the near future?

Stephen: I have two strong ideas for the next year or so, but it all depends on whether God provides the necessary windows of opportunity for writing. One would be another book for non-lawyers, and the other would be written specifically for lawyers. That’s really all I can reveal about them for now, but stay tuned!

Jewel: Thank you so much Stephen for chatting with me about writing and your book, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues. I look forward to reading more books written by you.

For folks seeking to learn more about a Christian perspective on legal issues and Stephen Bloom, please visit

Your thoughts about Bloom’s interview are always welcome. Please post by clicking on comments.

Stephen Bloom’s interview is posted by Jewel Sample award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses, also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (Spanish edition). To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Never Give UP!

In uncertain times when it may look good on the surface and you find it treacherous underneath, it is important to remember these words: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now I am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendents begging for bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendents are blessed." Psalm 37:23-26 (NKJV)


Monday, November 3, 2008

A Review of Sharlene MacLaren's novel: Through every Storm

Through every Storm
By Sharlene MacLaren
ISBN-13: 9780883687468, 2006
Fiction: Grief and Loss, Child loss, Family Relationships, Change, and Death
Publisher: Whitaker House; $9.99
Author site:

Review Date: November 3, 2008

The compassionate writing skill of Sharlene MacLaren permeates through out her story of a young family who experiences the unthinkable tragic loss of their toddler. Early on I believed I was walking along side an ordinary couple whose heart gripping grief and loss extended beyond their personal relationship to the personal lives of those who loved them and into a few lives unforeseen.

The twists and turns of everyday life combined with the unpredictable choices of others make this novel one I did not want to put down. Most importantly, MacLaren caringly shows the truth about grief and loss that it knows no boundaries, nor does the healing love of Christ when allowed to be embraced.

Through every Storm is an excellent and gentle source for the grieving adult heart.

Reviewed by Jewel Sample--Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses, also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (Spanish edition). To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Butterfly Angel: A Tribute by Sherry Gail Heim

Today would have been my late grandson, Brennen Cole's fifth birthday. In honor of Brennen's short life, Sherry Gail Heim has graciously given me permission to print her poem today. May it bring much comfort to you who have also lost a grandchild as it did me.

Butterfly Angel

There was an enchanted butterfly
Who had only but one wing
She walked because she could not fly
And she taught herself to sing

She had the keen ability
Of making others smile
‘Twas her understanding of the heart
That made her life worthwhile

She sang her songs of happiness
And tales of love so true
She’d sing so loud as she would walk
None near her could feel blue

Her lovely voice would echo
Off the mountains, through the glen
And all the creatures in her path
Felt humbled by their friend

A frog came up and asked her
“How come you do not fly?”
She said “Dear frog, if I had wings,
I could not see you eye to eye.”

She was blessed without her wing, she said
And in being kept earthbound
She was able to enchant the lives
Of all the creatures on the ground

You see though soaring has its perks
On land she’d rather be
So she could use her pretty voice
To teach love and harmony

On a starry night while all alone
With no one else in sight
She returned to her true angel self
Then flew off into the night

But every morning at sunrise
If you listen you will hear
The butterfly angel’s pretty voice
Still spreading love and cheer

Sherry Heim
February 24, 2006

Printed by Permission: Copyright © Sherry Gail Heim 2006

Resource Box:
Sherry Gail Heim is a multi-talented writer who lives in the beautiful state called “The Land of Enchantment.” To learn more about Sherry visit her at Sherry Gail Heim

Author Connie Arnold Pays Tribute to Grieving Families With Poem

Blessings in Sorrow

May God’s blessings be upon you
in the sorrow that you face,
and a sense of peace and comfort
as He fills you with His grace.

May you feel God’s loving presence
by your side in all you do,
and loving arms supporting you
in the loss you’re going through.

May you always feel surrounded
with tender, loving care
and awareness that your burdens
God willingly will bear.

May God relieve your sorrow,
knowing He will give you rest
and assurance that your loved one
is with Him, forever blest.

Printed by permission of Connie Arnold, © February 2008

Resource Box: Connie Arnold lives in North Carolina with her husband. They share and enjoy two children and three grandchildren.
To learn more about Connie’s books and poems visit her at
For a chance to receive a free copy of Abiding Hope and Love vist J-Kaye's Book Blog by October 29, 2008.

Monday, October 13, 2008

News from First Candle

First Candle is pleased to share with you an interesting new study on the use of fans in an infant’s room to help reduce the risk of SIDS.

Tummy sleeping and soft bedding in a baby’s sleep area can cause a buildup of carbon dioxide (exhaled air) around the baby’s face. Instead of breathing oxygen-rich fresh air, the baby may breathe the exhaled air which may increase the risk of SIDS. Many parents start getting nervous when their baby starts rolling over during sleep. A fan in the room can help disburse the exhaled air so the baby has more access to fresh air.

According to Dr. Fern Hauck, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on SIDS and First Candle Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, more research is needed. “This is the first study that has looked at this issue,” Hauck said. “Because fan use is in line with theories, it may be worth considering.”

“While we can’t say conclusively that using a fan will reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS, First Candle has suggested the use of fans as a proactive step that parents and caregivers can take for several years,” said Laura Reno, Director of Public Affairs for First Candle. The best protection against SIDS is still to place your baby on his or her back in a safety approved crib on a firm mattress covered with only a sheet. There should be nothing else in the crib.” First Candle also reminds parents and caregivers babies who sleep in adult beds are at an increased risk for SIDS, suffocation and accidents during sleep. Placing your baby in a separate space along side your bed is safer.

If using a table or floor fan, use safety precautions to make sure the fan is not too close to the crib and that it can't tip over or onto the crib causing a finger hazard.

Use of a Fan During Sleep and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Kimberly Coleman-Phox, MPH; Roxana Odouli, MSPH; De-Kun Li, MD, PhD Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(10):963-968.

Objective: To examine the relation between room ventilationduring sleep and risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Design: Population-based case-control study.
Setting: Eleven California counties.
Participants: Mothers of 185 infants with a confirmed SIDSdiagnosis and 312 randomly selected infants matched on countyof residence, maternal race/ethnicity, and age.
Intervention: Fan use and open window during sleep.
Main Outcome Measure: Risk of SIDS.

Results: Fan use during sleep was associated with a 72%reduction in SIDS risk (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.28; 95%confidence interval [CI], 0.10-0.77). The reduction in SIDSrisk seemed more pronounced in adverse sleep environments. Forexample, fan use in warmer room temperatures was associatedwith a greater reduction in SIDS risk (AOR, 0.06; 95% CI, 0.01-0.52)compared with cooler room temperatures (0.77; 0.22-2.73). Similarly,the reduction associated with fan use was greater in infantsplaced in the prone or side sleep position (AOR, 0.14; 95% CI,0.03-0.55) vs supine (0.84; 0.21-3.39). Fan use was associatedwith a greater reduction in SIDS risk in infants who shareda bed with an individual other than their parents (AOR, 0.15;95% CI, 0.01-1.85) vs with a parent (0.40; 0.03-4.68). Finally,fan use was associated with reduced SIDS risk in infants notusing pacifiers (AOR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.07-0.69) but not in pacifierusers (1.99; 0.16-24.4). Some differences in the effect of fanuse on SIDS risk did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion: Fan use may be an effective intervention forfurther decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.

First Candle/SIDS Alliance is a national, nonprofit, health organization dedicated to promoting infant health and survival during the prenatal period through age two with programs of advocacy, education and research; while at the same time providing compassionate grief support to those experiencing an infant death. For more information on helping babies survive and thrive, to access local support services or to make a donation, please call 1.800.221.7437 or visit FIRST CANDLE.
This Newsflash was posted by Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. Helping SIDS families with the latest Sudden Infant Death Syndrome news.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Is Considered Part of a Medical Disease Process Caused from a Brain Development Disorder

A study, which appeared last year in the November 1 2007 Journal of the American Medical Association, provided more convincing evidence that a majority of SIDS babies have a brain disorder. The abnormality findings suggest that “there is a problem in the development of the brain that occurs in utero and after birth as well. According to Dr. Hannah Kinney, senior author of the paper, “this opens the window of time available for identifying infants at high risk and provides the opportunity to use drugs and other interventions as the baby passes through the critical first six months of life where the risk for SIDS is the greatest. My hope is that this research will in some way ease the pain for parents of SIDS victims, helping them understand that their baby’s death was part of a disease process rather than a mystery,” says Kinney.”

The abnormalities identified within this study appear “to affect the brainstem's ability to use and recycle serotonin, a brain chemical which plays a major role in communications between brain cells. Serotonin is most well known for its role in regulating mood, but it also plays a role in regulating vital functions like breathing, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and arousal. While the SIDS cases contained more serotonin using neurons, they appeared to contain fewer receptors for serotonin than did the control cases.” Evidence was also found that male SIDS infants had fewer serotonin receptors than either of the female SIDS infants or control infants. These findings may provide insight into why SIDS affects roughly twice as many males as females.

This finding lends credibility to the observation that “SIDS risk may greatly increase when an underlying predisposition combined with an environmental risk—such as sleeping face down— at a developmentally sensitive time in early life,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The majority (65 percent) of the SIDS cases in the data set were sleeping prone or on their side and 23 percent were sharing a bed at the time of death, indicating the need for continued public health messages on safe sleep practices.

This important addition to ongoing brainstem research gives us renewed hope that medical researchers are on the right path to eliminating SIDS as a cause of death for our children, our future generations, and all the more reason to support vital research.

It is important to REMEMBER that although medical research is doing it's best to find a cure, a silent killer called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, (SIDS) still strikes at least six infants a day somewhere within our nation. It is not the caregivers fault. There is absolutely nothing the caregiver could have done to stop their baby’s body from shutting down.

For more information about SIDS and how you can support ongoing research contact First

SIDS Facts can be found here

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel Of A

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why Our Babies Are Still Dying of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Margaret Renkl weighs through the current research and simplifies the scientific terms to tell families what is known and what still needs to be learned about this rare medical mystery called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). CNN

Despite success at reducing SIDS rates by over 50 percent in recent years, SIDS remains the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year old. SIDS continues to strike unexpectedly and takes families down a terrifying life-transforming journey of unthinkable grief and loss.

Many states do not provide consistent trainings about SIDS to first responders and day care workers other than the Back to Sleep program information. Nor do they offer bereavement support to SIDS families.

In 2007 Congress declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Many states have laws regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Our babies are still dying of SIDS because states vary in SIDS definition interpretation, coding of deaths; and the guidance or support given to coroners, medical examiners and fatality review boards. Only eleven states require special training about SIDS for child care personnel, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or law enforcement officials. These states are Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Our babies continue to die because national data collections for SIDS are not giving accurate results to help pin point the cause due to the variances between states.

Visit The National Conference of State Legislatures to view your state’s law on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Please contact your state’s legislative representative and encourage them to bring your state current with the needs of the nation by requiring special trainings about SIDS, adopting a national definition of SIDS and detailed protocol for medical coding of infant deaths, along with a provision of bereavement counseling.

To learn more about SIDS or how to reduce your baby’s risk call visit

If you or someone you know has experienced the death of a baby to any cause, English and bilingual crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling First Candle at 1-800-221-7437

If you would like further information on raising SIDS awareness visit these excellent websites:

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and award-winning author of “Flying Hugs and Kisses” books. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News

Monday, August 25, 2008

Granddaughter Inspires Iowa Grandmother

On October 2, 2006 Deb Westergreen awoke to a phone call and a county sheriff knocking on her door. Both were attempts to notify her that her son and daughter-law’s third child, Jaycee Marie Schilling had stop breathing and had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Deb's inspirational story continues in her own words.

After weeks of flopping around like a fish out of water," I started surfing the internet for information on SIDS. I came across two web sites that I found helpful. One was and the other was I started reading posts on The stories really touched my heart. had information about a walk taking place about 60 miles from our town. I contacted my family members and told them about the walk. Thirteen of us attended that walk. I wondered why our community area didn't have a walk. We have the third highest SIDS rate in the state, but we are not the third largest community area.

I contacted Patty who is the director for the Iowa SIDS Foundation and asked her how to organize a walk. She told me what is involved. I told her I wanted to do it for 2008 and would get in-touch with her.

In 2007, 4 more babies in this area died. I knew it had to stop, so again I contacted Patty and said, “It's a go.” Shortly afterward, she contacted me and said she had a mother who wanted to co-organize the walk.

I set up a meeting, placed an editorial in the newspaper about the walk meeting. About 20 people attended the meeting. We exchanged ideas and decided we could do it.

The walk was awesome! 125-150 people attended and about $10,000 dollars was raised to fund peer-to-peer training, research, education of medical professionals and bring SIDS awareness to the public. I will do it again next year and every year I am able.

Thank you my special angel Jaycee Marie Schilling, for inspiring your Grandma to get busy and do something so important! I love you.

Deb Westergreen

2600 babies under one year of age succumb to SIDS within the United States of America each year. For more informaton about SIDS please visit the subject index provided on left side bar of this blog.

Resource box: This inspirational Iowa Grandmother story was written by Deb Westergreen and posted by Jewel Sample.

Deb Westergreen and her husband share seven adult children and 21 grandchildren. In her spare time she loves getting together with family and making scrapbook greeting cards.

Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News (

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jewel's Sand Box News Receives and Nominates Weblog Award

Thank you so much Terri Forehand at Heartfelt Words 4 Kids for nominating me for this writer’s award. Terry offers warmth and support through her wonderful ideas, stories and links to help children and their families through a life altering crisis whether it is health, divorce, grief and loss or friendships. She is a blessing to those who know her.

My instructions are to nominate other blogs worthy of this award. There are so many WONDERFUL blogs to choose from and it was a hard decision for me.


The following have been chosen for the Brillante Weblog Premio award. The recipients are not listed in any particular order. It would be impossible for me to rank them because they are all outstanding! Thank you all for sharing a part of your writing world.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Sharing with Writers and Readers

Carolyn unselfishly gives a wealth of marketing and promotional information to writers. Her love for the written word is evident and her successes of several published books showcase her many talents. Reading her blog has inspired me to move forward and not to worry about yesterday’s writing. I can almost hear her say, “After all, you were writing your best then and today’s best is better. That is what experience does.”

Lysa Terkeurst’s Proverb’s 31 Ministries

Lysa is an award winning author of several books and mom of five children. She offers her readers’ thought provoking ideas and opens her daily living view that encourages me to get through whatever is happening at the time.

Susan A. Meyer’s Susan’s Thoughts and Ramblings

Susan offer’s to her readers’ children’s writer interviews and her thoughts on writing for children. I discovered in no time at all, I couldn’t help but feel like I was sitting across the table from her sipping my favorite Latte chatting about what we both love, writing for children.

Max Elliot Anderson’s Books for Boys

Max is a multi-talented writer and video producer. He offers several great adventure books to read, as well as awesome thought provoking ideas on book promotion and writing stories for children. Check out his post about his adventure with a message in a bottle idea and you will see what I mean.

Marybeth Whalen’s Cheaper By The Half Dozen

Marybeth is an accomplished author and mom of six children who loves to share her writing views, organizational skills and personal family stories with others. When you read her stories, be prepared for a good belly laugh!

Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books with Robyn Opie

Robyn is a prolific Australian writer who posts tons of marketing and writing tips as she shares her writing journey with others. I find myself identifying with her struggles and I love her out of the box, edgy writing style.

Mary DeMuth’s So You Wanna Be Published

Mary’s blog has a multitude writing nuggets from how to get published to honing your writing skills information. I call her site my fountain of muse because I have yet to go there and not find something that is encouraging and stretches my writing brain muscles. In fact I had to put my self on a diet from her blog so I could get my writing goals completed.

Congratulations everyone! Now it is your turn to bless someone with this award.

Rules for recipients of the Brillante Weblog Premio are as follows:

1. The award may be displayed on a winner's blog.

2. Add a link to the person you received the award from.

3. Nominate up to seven other blogs.

4. Add their links to your blog.

5. Add a message to each person that you have passed the award on in the comments section of their blog.

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life is Short

In my early teen years I heard the cliché, “Life is short, and then you die.”

After my father died, my mind flashed back to a time when he was driving our family past a cemetery and he said, “People are just dying to get in there.” Family members and I laughed at his comment.

These truisms did not have an effect on me until I experienced the death of a loved one.

Reality is we are all going to experience loss of a loved one and death. Life beyond the grave is eternal. Are you certain of where you will spend your eternal life?

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 NKJV

For us to be sure of our eternal destination we must receive salvation through God’s son, Jesus Christ. Salvation happens when you confess to being a sinner, repent of your sins, and ask Christ to save you and take control of your life. (Romans 10:9 & 6:23).

"Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God and my Savior. I want to live with you in Heaven forever. Forgive me of my sins. Come into my heart and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Take control of my life and teach me how to live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen."

If you have prayed this prayer and accepted Christ please leave a comment.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kellee Stone Shares What Inspired Her to Write "No Time for Tears: A walk through life with Ann Deane Teal"

Just imagine enjoying life in the most fun and amazing way with not a worry in the world, then out of no where the unthinkable happens. What is running through your mind as the unthinkable event for you? For Kellee Stone it was a tragedy that challenged her faith and trust in those dear to her. If tragedy struck your life, would you feel you had no time for tears?

Kellee Stone’s main character, Ann Deane, in No Time for Tears: A walk through life with Ann Deane Teal, walked through her devastation feeling this way from time to time. Then a miracle happened. Will it be a man of her dreams, a new career, or the explanation of her infant daughter’s death? Grab a copy of Stone’s new Christian novel to discover her miracle of a life time.

Kellee Stone stopped by the other day to chat about her writing adventures. And this is what she had to say.

Hi Kellee! Thank you so much for stopping by Around the Sand Box News blog spot to share a little about your writing life with us today. To get things going, please tell us how you got started in writing?

I wrote for the church newsletter for years, the newsletter at work, I was editor for a local magazine, I wrote sales and motivational material at work, and many other things. Writing always came easy to me.

Do you juggle your writing with a job or other interests?

I am retired from a large telephone company, but I work with counseling at church. I work with support groups for spousal abuse, people who have lost babies by violent means or by SIDS, terminally ill people and their families, and widows and widowers groups. Also, I am the caretaker in my family and have taken care of my mother, stepfather, uncle, and my husband all dying of cancer in the past twelve years. Also, I have a home in South Carolina and in Virginia and travel quite extensively between these two locations. This keeps me quite busy. It is hard to find time to write.

Indeed it is hard at times to find time to write. How long did it take you to complete your book?

About 6 months, but then I waited nine years to publish the book.

Nine years seems like a long time to work on a story. I am not sure I would have the perseverance to work on something for that long, then again if I am inspired to write about something, I would have to write it. What inspires you, Kellee?

I feel that God wants me to use my life experiences to help other people through tragedies such as death and severe illness. I feel that he sends people to me every day to help them on with their lives in a happy and productive way. I believe that I should use my life lessons to help them in any way I can; sometimes that way is simply by talking. Sometimes it is my writing. I continue to be inspired to write from the emails and messages I receive telling me how inspirational my book was to them.

I love getting emails from my readers. Tell us what advice do you have for new writers today?

Write about what you know!

Where do your writing ideas come from?

My ideas were all inspired from experiences in my life.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I work at my church, participate in community activities, travel, watch Braves baseball, work on crossword puzzles, and family activities. My daughter lives in Atlanta and I visit there quite often.

Maintaining family relationships are so important. Do you have some grandparent advice on helping children through grief?

I have worked with a few children, but I mostly work with parents who have lost babies. I also work with terminally ill patients who know they don’t have long to live. I believe the most important point is to have faith in God. (I personally turn to the Lord in prayer whenever tragedy strikes.) Then, I discuss death with them. I tell them that everyone has to die. No one gets out of this world alive. This is God’s plan in the Bible. When my two babies died, it took me a long time to come to terms with it. I did not think I could live through it. I finally had to trust that this was supposed to happen and that there was nothing I could ever do to bring my babies back again and that I had to get on with my life. The same is true with anyone that dies.

Yes indeed, we must trust God and move forward through our grief in order to give ourselves a chance to find joy with those who are in our lives now. Do you have another book in your future plans?

I am presently working on a sequel to “No Time for Tears” and I have an idea for another book after that.

Wonderful! I look forward to reading the sequel. Do you have a favorite place to write?

Yes, my sun porch is my haven. I live on a lake and my sun porch looks out at the lake and my pier. The yard is filled with azaleas and camellias and many trees. I see geese, ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and have a large birdfeeder just outside the window. My two cats, Cooper and Elmo, are always in the office with me and love to sleep on the table next to my desk while I am working.

Wow, that sounds like a wonderful place to generate creative writing ideas. It has been wonderful talking with you Kellee. Before we say good-by do you have a humorous story about your writing or perhaps a most embarrassing moment you care to share with readers?

This book was never supposed to be read by anyone but me. It was strictly my journal. My doctors urged me for many years to write about all the things that had occurred in my life. I wrote this when I was alone after I retired. My daughter was away at the University of South Carolina and my husband had not retired. I had had two brain surgeries and was under many constraints. At this point I could not drive, do house or yard work, or cook. I could not lean over to the floor without falling because of vertigo. I had plenty of time on my hands for writing. My daughter came home from school one weekend and found the manuscript on the bookshelf. She took it in her bedroom and read the entire book that night. The rest is history since she told the world about my journal!

It amazes me how God uses others when we least expect it to share His love and to encourage us in our faith. Keep writing Kellee. Again thank you so much for stopping by for a chat. Come back and visit us anytime!

For more information about Kellee Stone please visit:

Interview by Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007)

Monday, July 7, 2008

David Meigs Inquires about Jewel Sample’s Life Changing Children's Story

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by David Meigs, a talented writer for the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine, about my life changing children's story, Flying Hugs and Kisses and what has been happening since publication.

David Meigs is an emerging novelist whose fresh voice challenges the limits of Christian fiction. His background in youth outreach spans across thirty years and three continents. Having overcome severe dysfunction in his own life, he specializes in ministry to at-risk youth and their families. Though loved by all ages, his novels provide a unique, life-changing quality, critical for the youth of today. David and his family live in Seabeck, Washington, where he serves his church as youth pastor.

To learn more about what I had to say to David Meigs about my life changing writing of Flying Hugs and Kisses visit David Meig's Life-Transforming Fiction column at Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Christian Fiction Online Magazine is a new magazine that offers a diverse range of talented writers and topics. Intriguing topics cover informational and entertaining rants and raves on writing, publishing, promoting, as well as book reviews, author interviews, devotions, and confessions of life changing twists and turns of the writer’s life, plus so much more. Check out this timely Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

First Candle Awards $100,000 Research Grant to Save Babies’ Lives

First Candle Awards $100,000 Research Grant to Save Babies’ Lives Project Works to Prevent Sudden, Unexpected Deaths in Infancy and Early Childhood

In response to ongoing concerns about our nation’s alarmingly high rates of infant mortality, First Candle today announced that a $100,000 grant has been awarded to Dr. Henry Krous, Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, to support his world-renowned research into the prevention of sudden, unexpected deaths occurring in infancy and early childhood. Despite significant declines in infant mortality over the past decade, the United States continues to rank only 28th among developed nations at keeping our babies healthy and safe, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) continues to be the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age. More than 4,500 babies die suddenly and unexpected in the U.S. each year.

Historically, there has been no consistency in how these deaths are investigated and no central repository for the data collected. As a result, research is challenging and parents are left with more unanswered questions than answers about why their baby died. Dr. Krous is the first in the field to collect and evaluate clinical, epidemiological and pathological data on babies and children that die without warning.

According to Dr. Hannah Kinney, SIDS researcher at Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Krous’ project is critical to not only her research, but to research projects worldwide, as they work to find causes and identify preventive strategies to save as many lives as possible.

“First Candle is proud to be able to continue our support of this important project,” said Executive Director Deborah Boyd. “Dr. Krous is an integral part of the SIDS/SUDC community and gives hope and healing to families that have experienced the sudden death of their beloved baby.” In addition to collecting and evaluating data, Krous volunteers his services to families by providing a “second” professional opinion for those that are concerned or confused about the diagnosis they were given for their child’s death.

One family that has been touched and inspired by Dr. Krous’ work is Craig and Krissy Thomas. On November 30, 2007, the Thomas’ lost their first child, Cole Westley, to SIDS. In his memory, and to continue his legacy, Craig and Krissy established the Cole Westley Thomas Memorial Fund at First Candle. In the short time since Cole’s death, the fund has generated nearly $50,000.

"We are pleased to contribute the funds raised in Cole's memory to Dr. Krous' project in San Diego. Without his work, important research into the brain stem as a potential cause of SIDS deaths would grind to a halt, as access to research samples would become severely restricted," said Thomas.

In an effort to help researchers unravel the mysteries surrounding these deaths, the Thomas’ have designated the San Diego SIDS/SUDC Research Project as the beneficiary of Cole’s fund. In response, First Candle has generously offered to match that contribution with $50,000, bringing the total award to $100,000.

"I am honored to receive this grant. It is an exceedingly generous gift that memorializes Cole Westley, the beloved son of Craig and Krissy Thomas, and provides much needed support to critical research into SIDS," said Krous.

First Candle is a national, nonprofit health organization dedicated to promoting safe pregnancies and the survival of babies through the first years of life. With programs of research, education and advocacy we are working toward a future where all babies are given the best possible chance to reach not only their first birthday, but many happy birthdays beyond. Until we reach this goal, we remain committed to providing compassionate grief support to all those affected by the death of a baby.

For more information, to make a donation or to access local support services, please call 1.800.221.7437 or visit

Dr. Henry Krous is board certified in anatomic pathology and in pediatric pathology. He is the Director of Pathology at Children's Hospital San Diego and Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Pediatrics at the UCSD School of Medicine. His clinical interests include SIDS (sudden unexpected death in infancy and childhood), and renal disease. He is chair of the Pathology Working Group, SIDS Global Strategy Task Force and Vice Chair of the California SIDS Advisory Council. Dr. Krous serves on the editorial board of Pediatric and Developmental Pathology and reviews for several other journals. He is the author of more than 120 articles, 80 abstracts and has edited three books. He has been invited to give nearly 100 lectures in the United States, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Children's Deep Grief

Today I read in Lysa TerKeurst's blog posting about how grief and loss can cut so deeply into one’s heart that it redefines who you are and how you think. It is called deep grief. The posting reminded me of the importance of providing support to children. Children can experience this type of grief too. Their family is forever changed. What can we do to help children through their deep sadness over the loss of a brother or sister or a loved one?

When we lost our little grandson his siblings and cousins were heartbroken and needed a listening ear. Children want to tell others about when their loved one was alive. They want to talk about the sad, awful day when their loved one died. Some children even want to talk about what happened at the funeral or the food they ate that day. They want to tell their thoughts on whether God still hears their prayers or how long will everyone be sad. Sometimes reassuring them that God is with us in times of deep grief is all they want. A verse that has given our family comfort is Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit" (NKJV).

As months and years go on children want to talk about missing their loved one, or the changes that have happened in their family. Older children may want to talk about returning to school, getting new things, or eating their loved one’s favorite food with out them, feeling their deep grief as if they are stuck in the mud. Sometimes children want to talk about finding an item that belonged to their loved one and the comfort they felt just holding the item while remembering how much pleasure the item gave their loved one. Then as time continues on some children want to talk about not needing to visit the cemetery or noticing they do not think about their loved one as often as they used to. Children wonder if having these thoughts or the need to go on living with out their loved one is okay. Their grief journey has ended. God promises we will experience joy again too in Psalm 126:5, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (NKJV). They need your encouragement to laugh and play again.

Some may think this type of support is for counselors, but having someone who is close to the child lending a listening ear, validating their experiences and feelings helps the child strengthen their faith, cope and heal.

God is with us in times of deep grief and joy does return to us. Reach out and provide a listening ear to a broken-hearted child today. Help them wade through their thoughts and feelings to learn if they are okay or to find joy in life again.

Visit Lysa TerKeurst's blog on how to help a grieving friend.

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and award-winning author of “Flying Hugs and Kisses” books. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News

Monday, June 2, 2008

Great Kids Book For Summer!

I Don’t Like To Read!
By Nancy Carlson
ISBN: 9780670061914-2007
Fiction: Juvenile Fiction, Humorous, Reading
Publisher: Penquin Group; Viking Juvenile $15.99
Publisher site:
Reviewer: Jewel Sample

Henry likes everything about first grade except reading. His classmates even show him the creative ways they like to read, but Henry still doesn’t want anything to do with it. His teacher discovers why Henry doesn’t like to read. Then with some support from school and home he gets a big surprise. What is Henry’s big surprise?

Carlson brings the sensitive issue of why some children don’t like to read to the forefront in an insightful and humorous way that makes it easy for the young reader to understand.

What makes this story so special is Carlson’s careful thread of showing children they will face difficulties in learning, but with help from others they can be successful. When read to my grandchildren I heard over and over that reading is hard work with so many new words to learn, but someday it will be easier.

Reviewer recommends this book for educational institutions and families with beginning and reluctant readers.

For more information about Nancy Carlson’s publications and classroom ideas please visit:
Reviewed by Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day: 5 Ways to Celebrate and Appreciate Your Freedom

In 1868, May 30th became the official Memorial Day to remember those Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives, while serving their country, so that all people living in the United States of America can enjoy freedom.

The first Memorial Day was called Decoration Day and was celebrated by placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.

Currently the last Monday of May is the national holiday to celebrate and honor our U. S. soldiers by placing flowers or small U. S. flags on their graves. Red Poppy flower boutonnieres are worn as an aide-memoire of our soldier’s blood shed while protecting our country. The American flag is flown from sunup to sunset. Many cities and towns throughout the nation have special events to celebrate freedom and appreciate their veterans.

Here are 5 ways to help children learn about what’s behind America’s Memorial Day holiday:

1. Read your local newspaper to find out how your town is honoring a soldier. Attend a local event and look for cool facts about soldiers.

2. Visit a cemetery and look for the flags by a veteran’s grave. Spend a moment of silence to commemorate that soldier’s life.

3. Make an American Soldier flag. Draw a flag using red, yellow and blue crayons on white construction paper. Be sure and have fifty yellow stars with seven red and six white stripes. Glue a picture of your soldier in the center of the flag. Place your soldier flag in a prominent place, like on your refrigerator door.

4. Have a picnic and talk to your family about soldiers who have served in the military.

5. Write a story about your family’s soldier who gave their life so that we could enjoy freedom.

Resource Websites:

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Children’s Authors Discuss SIDS and Kids Books

I am excited to welcome acclaimed children’s author Wendie C. Old this week to talk about her book on a family’s experience with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) titled, STACY HAD A LITTLE SISTER.

Among Wendie’s writing accomplishments she has written several biographical books for middle school, one early elementary and three picture books. She has won many outstanding awards, honorable nominations and is found among notable children’s literature lists. Starting with her latest book titles and awards, they include: THE HALLOWEEN BOOK OF FACTS AND FUN, Albert Whitman 2007; THE GROUNDHOG DAY BOOK OF FACTS AND FUN, Albert Whitman 2004; and BUSY FINGERS, Charlesbridge 2003 (under the pen name of C.W. Bowie) which won 2004 Great Books Celebration, Committee's choice, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Book Award and ABC Best Books for Children.

TO FLY, THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, Clarion 2002 won the Boston Globe - Horn Book Honor Book, Orbis Pictus Honor book, 2003, ALA Notable Children’s Book 2003, BCCB -- Blue Ribbon List of Best Books of 2002, NCSS/CBC Notable Book, NSTA -- Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, Capitol Choices -- Best Books for Children 2002;

Old’s honorable nominations and children’s literature lists are the South Carolina -- 2004-2005 Children's Book Award nominee; Michigan -- 2005 Great Lakes Great Books Award Nominee;--2nd and 3rd grade, New Jersey: Garden State Children's Book Award Nominees: 2005, Bank Street College of Education--Best Children's Books of the Year, 2003; The Children's Literature Choice List, 2002; School Library Journal Book Review Stars, October 2002 and R-Star in Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books.

Wendie Old has the best of both worlds! She has worked with children for over thirty years, both as a Children’s Librarian and a writer. When she is not writing or working at the library she spends time with her family of two daughters, two hairy dogs, a horse and SEVERAL cats!

Welcome Wendie and thank you for taking time to be with us today.

I am happy to be here.

I have a special interest because I too have written a children's book about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, titled Flying Hugs and Kisses. I didn't know about your book until I was published and someone emailed me to ask me if I had read your story. My story was inspired by the loss of our infant grandson, Brennen.

I'm so sorry for your loss. There's nothing worse than when a baby just slips away.

Thank you Wendie for you kind words.

I would first like for you to share with us a little about the first story you remember writing.

I may have written before high school, but I remember doing a loooong involved story with my best friend called "Beware the Babysitting Job." It was about her going to an ordinary babysitting job which turned into a kidnapping and she had many adventures. Never published, of course, but it was fun to write.

I also wish my Junior year English teacher were still alive, Mrs. Schroder. She kept assigning us to write about various things and one time I just dashed off this slice-of-life about getting ready for a dance. I was so afraid that it was too off-beat and didn't really meet the assignment rules. However, she loved it and encouraged me to keep writing.

Now you have award-winning published books! Where did your inspiration for STACY HAD A LITTLE SISTER come from?

I am a children's librarian in a large public library system. All my co-workers knew I had been writing and submitting and getting rejected. We got several requests for books that could be read to a child who had had a sibling die of S.I.D.S. No matter where we looked, we could not find one. (Our library system even has a special collection of books to help children (and parents) deal with the problems of life such as: moving, a new baby, death, divorce, etc. We could find books about death of a tree, death of a grandparent, death of a pet, but no death of a baby from S.I.D.S.

"You're a writer, Wendie," my co-workers said. "Why don't you write one?"

Well, you actually cannot write to order. BUT, you can shove an idea into the back brain to cook for a while.

That back brain is a marvelous thing for writers. It keeps working on a problem long after you and your front brain have stopped.

Suddenly, one Sunday, a sentence kept going through my head. "Stacy had a little sister." Over and over again. (Past tense, of course, because I knew the kid dies, but you know -- nobody who picks up the book realizes that the title is in the past tense for a reason.)

I began writing things down.

I had a little sister. Description of a sudden trip to the hospital and mama coming back with a baby.

I had a little sister. Description of normal jealousy by the older child -- inspired by the reaction of my oldest child to my next child. (the editor removed some of this. She considered the scene where the older child takes the newborn picture and jabs holes in it with a pencil was too violent. But that's what my oldest did.)

I had a little sister. Description of strange worries of parents and sudden removal of baby.

Confusion of child. Funeral. No more baby. Sadness

I had a little sister. Child thinks it's all her fault because she had been angry about the attention the baby got. Will she get this too, and die? Real worries that the older child often has.

When the parents realize what the child is thinking, they reassure her and give many hugs.

The book ends with positive memories.

Anyone who has read the book will realize that there is NO repeating phrase "I had (or Stacy had) a little sister." That's because that is the first thing the editor removed. And yet, repeating that phrase is what kept me going with the flow of the book when I was writing it.

It is interesting that you discovered there were no books about SIDS for children. That is one of the reasons why I wrote Flying Hugs and Kisses. Our books are similar in that a baby dies and the children ask questions surrounding the issue of loss. But just like families are different in the number of children and how they cope with loss, our books show children how two families deal with their grief in completely different ways. Two great resources to have for Kids.

I love the family hug concept in your book. Where did this idea come from?

That's our family. We have a tradition of doing family hugs. In fact, our kids LOVE a sandwich hug -- where the parents are the bread and the kid is the jelly being hugged (squashed?) by the bread. They'll even grab us and shout, "Sandwich hug!" It makes them feel secure, I guess, to have both of us hugging them.

Interestingly enough, that's what the rejecting editors noticed, too. Hugs. Then complained that there was too much hugging in the book. I didn't remove it because a child in that situation NEEDS hugs.

What was the best part about writing this story? What was the worst part?

The best part was how quickly this story came to me. But it was after months of frontal thinking and months of letting the back brain mull it over. I find that things that come to me and I get down in a "white heat" are often the best things I write. (The annoying part of having a 'white heat' come is that it comes when it will -- sometimes coming at 5 am in the morning and waking me up and forcing me to get to the computer to get it down.

I used to have a pad of paper on a bedside table and would just turn on the light and write these things down, but nowadays I go to the computer. Probably because I can type almost as fast as I think, but writing it down is slower. (mainly because I have to be able to read what I wrote. Too many times I've written something down in the night and couldn't even read it in the morning, I was writing so quickly trying to get it down.

The worst part was the fact that I had the wrong viewpoint. It wouldn't sell with a first person viewpoint. Finally I had it critiqued and the agent/editor who critiqued it told me to back off. It was too close to the reader and they couldn't stand it emotionally. Put it into third person. So I did. Still, major publishers wouldn't handle it. They complained that it made them cry. That it didn't fit their needs.

Was it hard to find a publisher?

Yes it was hard. Finally I discovered that Albert Whitman did this type of book. They call this sort of book, concept books, because they discuss the concepts of moving, new baby, disasters and events in children's lives. They loved it. Offered me a contract. And told me to get rid of that annoying repeating phrase. I think it's only in the title and the first line, now.

It is eye opening to learn your book had changes after your manuscript was accepted by the publisher. I too had requests for changes to my manuscript. Sometimes as writers we are too close to our story to see that the changes will bring forth a quality book.

Are there any ideas or nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with SIDS families about helping their children through grief?

My book covers most of it. It's very sad for the whole family. I know that parents are fully involved in grieving for the baby, but please be aware that the older child/ children are feeling sad -- and wondering if it were any way their fault because they didn't love the baby enough -- and wondering if this could happen to them.

In fact, one of my co-workers had a very sick child for several years and suddenly realized that the older children were feeling neglected when one of them said, I'm still here, ya know.”

Indeed a parent or caregiver can get easily side-tracked and not fully understand their children need them. Children need their parents or caregivers to reassure them, keep their daily routine consistent, to hug or hold them and to listen to them.

One more question, are there any funny or unexpected incidents that have happened while doing a book signing, school visit, or attending a writer’s conference?

Besides the fact that I was totally embarrassed when I signed one of my books for a school library and wrote -- For the students at the Holy Angle....? Yikes! It was supposed to be Holy Angel. Luckily the school librarian just laughed and said that many of the students did the same thing when they tried to write the name of the school.

I learned quickly to ask how to spell everything. I carry post-a-notes with me just for this. I don't care if you are angry or disgusted with me for asking you how to spell your name. If it can be spelled wrong, I'll do it. It's just safer for me to have the correct way already written out in front of me. (and beside, there are often several ways to spell a name.)

I always carry goodies with me, especially at convention book signings. I have a groundhog puppet. (Our hero for the book THE GROUNDHOG DAY BOOK OF FACTS AND FUN.) As people walk by the publisher's booth, I'll say, "You can pet the groundhog." They look. And are startled to see that it looks like an actual groundhog. The braver ones will come over and pet it and we'll get into a conversation about how real it looks, and where to get a puppet like that and, by the way, could they get one of my books and will I sign it. Works every time.

I finally managed to find a black cat for the HALLOWEEN BOOK OF FACTS AND FUN. I hand out orange pencils, too.

In my blog, Wendie’s Wanderings, I have a post that discusses why I/we used a pen name for the two picture books -- Busy Toes and the companion book, Busy Fingers. (Three co-writers, no room on the spine for three names.) I'm just the "W" part of that name. These books also come in Board Book format.

As for individual funny incidents, I can't think of just one. I simply have great fun doing school visits and book signings. I enjoy working with kids and talking with them about books and writing and research and....

Thank you Wendie for stopping by Jewel’s Sand Box News today. Please visit us again and let us know what you are up too!

Thank you for the great discussion on writing for children.

For more information about Wendie C. Old's adventures as a writer and a children’s librarian please visit Wendie’s Wanderings.

Jewel Sample is an award-winning children’s author of Flying Hugs and Kisses (2006), also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (2006, Spanish edition) and Flying Hugs and Kisses Activity Book (2007).

For more information about Jewel's background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News

A Kid's Grief and Loss Book Review

Stacy Had A Little Sister
By Wendie C. Old
ISBN: 0807575984-1995
Fiction: Children, Death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Siblings
Contact Reviewer: jmsample[at]
Publisher: Albert Whitman & CO
Publisher site:
May 10, 2008

Stacy demonstrates mixed feelings about her new little sister Ashley. When Ashley dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Stacy has another set of mixed feelings and questions about Ashley; and how things have changed in her family. Stacy even wonders if she will get “peanut butter sandwich hugs” now that Ashley is gone. Stacy learns how to cope with the loss of her little sister with her parents help.

When a baby dies suddenly the family is overcome with shock and tremendous grief. The concept of death is very hard for young children to understand, however it is important to provide them with simple answers to their questions. Old provides straightforward and factual answers to questions SIDS families tend to have when this type of tragedy occurs.

When read with my grandchildren they became sad because they wanted the story to have a happier ending. However Stacy Had A Little Sister helped them to understand that SIDS families cope just as differently as they live in diverse communities. There are many ways to grieve over the loss of a loved one.

Reviewer recommends Stacy Had A Little Sister as a bereavement resource for educators, families, churches and mental health professionals to read with children.

For more information about her books visit Wendie C. Old

Monday, May 5, 2008

Reading Is FUN Week-May 12-18

Time to share the joy of reading with your children!

Check out the AWESOME activities at Reading Is Fundamental WEEK

Post a comment here about what you will do with your children.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Summer Reading: What's a Parent To Do?

How many times during the summer months have you heard your children say, “I don’t want to read right now”? If you’re like me and many other parents, you will do anything to avoid those words from being said. Besides you want your summer reading to be fun. But where do you start? Well, here are some tips for parents.

1. Learn all you can about how children learn to read.
Reading is taught differently today than it was when some of us were children. Find out how children learn to read and become familiar with strategies used to help children with reading at this PBS website

2. Follow your children’s lead by doing what interests them.
Children are curious. They love to discover new things. Make reading all about discovery. Search for Reading is Fundamental activities for ages K-8 at

3. Read a book that’s now a children’s movie.
Start with your local library children’s book and movie list. Check out other library lists on the internet at

4. Read about the people, places, or things your family will visit.
Take a virtual field trip ( of famous historical or geographical sites, or sites from popular works of literature. Or, before you go on your real vacation, visit your summer vacation spot on the internet.
Print off any free children’s stories, articles, or coloring pages to read before you go or in route to your destination.

5. Let your child catch YOU reading.
Children tend to gravitate toward what interests others around them. If your children show an interest in your book adventure ( material invite them to read with you.

Try these simple tips to make reading fun for you and your children this summer. Instead of telling you they don’t want to read right now, they’ll be asking, “Can we read just one more book? Please!”

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. For more information about her check the "About Me" box to the left at Jewel’s Sand Box News

Friday, May 2, 2008

Kent Gustavson Sounds Off With Jewel Sample

Not too long ago I spoke with Dr. Kent Gustavson of Sound Authors to discuss what prompted me to write Flying Hugs and Kisses. I also shared my ideas on how to write about death for children.

To listen to the interview click here Jewel Sample at Sound Authors

Lori Z. Scott's Virtual Book Tour Big Give Winners Announced

I am pleased to announce Lori Z. Scott's Virtual Book Tour BIG GIVE!

One (1) copy of Meghan Rose Has A Secret is won by Terri.forehand

One (1) copy of Meghan Rose All Dressed Up! is won by Christyjan

Thank you for joining in on the fun and leaving a comment!
KEEP up with Jewel's news by subscribing to Jewel's Sand Box News.
Add your email address in the subscription box on the left of this page.

Monday, April 28, 2008

CDC Offers New Information for Parents and Caregivers: "Learn the Signs. Act Early"

A public awareness campaign to educate parents and other caregivers about the first five years of childhood development is available at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Learn the Signs Act Early" section of their website. The new information is including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and encourages developmental screening and intervention. There are free resources, including fact sheets, milestone checklists, posters, growth charts, and flyers. All materials are free and are available in both English and Spanish.

For more information, please visit: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Check out the Resource Box on right hand side of their page.

Lori Z. Scott's Second Big Give Announced

Lori Z. Scott's SECOND BIG GIVE of one (1) copy of "Meghan Rose Has Ants in Her Pants" has a WINNER!

As promised on April 27, 2008 I placed all the commentor's names in hubby's baseball cap to draw for the second book in the series Meghan Rose has Ants in Her Pants.

The winner of the drawing is being posted a day early than the indicated April 29, 2008 right here on !

The WINNER is Kairis Grandma!

Want another chance to WIN a copy of her newest releases of her series?

Check out Lori Z. Scott's current interview Lori Z. Scott Shares What's Behind The Meghan Rose Series and leave a comment there by MAY 1st for the big draw on May 2nd...

Thank you for joining in on the fun and leaving a comment last week!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lori Z. Scott Shares What's Behind The Meghan Rose Series

I am EXCITED to welcome back author Lori Z. Scott this week to talk about the newest releases in her Meghan Rose series—Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret.

Since 2000, Lori has published over fifty short stories, devotions, puzzles, poems, and articles for children, teens, and adults. She has been published in Focus on Your Child, MOMSense Magazine, Spirit Led Writer, Pockets, and Devozine. She is the author of Busy Moms’ Devotions to Go and four Meghan Rose titles. In addition, Lori has contributed to over a dozen books including Real Moms, Cup of Comfort Book of Prayers, and 2007 Eppie Award winner Infinite Space, Infinite God.

A graduate of Wheaton College, Lori has worked with children for over twenty years, both as a teacher in the classroom and as a volunteer for local churches, museums, and schools. When she’s not busy driving her two children to various church, sporting, and artistic activities, she moonlights as a speaker for women’s groups and schools.

Lori, welcome. Thanks for taking time to be with us today.
My pleasure.

You often introduce yourself as first a mother, then a teacher, and finally a writer. Why is that?

I feel like being a mother is my highest calling in life. And that means I’m a caregiver, nurse, tutor, cheerleader, counselor, transportation expert, and nutritionist. Doing all those mommy things is a bit like filling a jar jam-packed with marbles. I pursue my own interests in the empty spaces around those marbles because being a mommy trumps all.

I call myself a teacher second because working with kids has been such a huge part of my life. Just as God gifts different people for different tasks, I feel like God has given me a special ability to understand and work with children. Or maybe I’m just not ready to give up playing and comics yet.

I call myself a writer last because I often feel like writing too much fun—and pays too little—to be a real job. But then again, writing is another interest in my life I have felt called to pursue. God blessed me there too. When I decided to start writing, my first submission won second place in a science fiction writing contest. My second submission won MOPS International story writing contest.

I guess what I want moms to realize is, it’s okay to put the mommy part of our lives first and to trust that God will still bless, fulfill, and lead us in other areas as well.

Why would parents like your series?

A good question—one that I have to answer from my own experience. When my daughter was in first grade, her teacher started reading the Junie B. Jones books in class. Since Meghan liked them, I picked up a few copies.

Well, I enjoyed the humor in those books, but had to edit out some of the grammar slips, name calling and attitudes. I thought there had to be an alternative choice—a book that was just as funny, but also had a good take-away value. I scoured the Christian bookstores. I couldn’t find any fiction for that age group, only devotional books and Bible stories.

When I asked about it, bookstore owners often commented that they wished they could offer such a book. In fact, they’d had numerous parents come to the store, all asking the same thing: Do you have a fiction book my young child will enjoy reading? And, like them, I walked away empty handed.

So I wrote the book I couldn’t find—a book for my daughter AND for all those other mothers just like me. I put in everything she wanted—an interesting story filled with giggles and characters worth rooting for—and everything I wanted—good moral values (but with nothing preachy about the story at all). And because I don’t believe I’m alone in those desires, I’m convinced other parents (AND THEIR KIDS!!!) will like the series too.

Why did you include discussion questions and activities at the end of each book?
That’s the teacher part of me flaring up big time! (Lori Laughs Out Loud). But seriously, how many times have you as a mother read a book and thought, “There’s a good lesson in here” but didn’t know how to draw your child into a discussion about it? I remember reading Where the Red Fern Grows with my daughter and wanting to talk about the tender topic of death that book touches on. Since I didn’t know where to start, I couldn’t fully take advantage of that teachable moment. (Instead we both just cried all the way through the last few chapters.)

That’s why I included questions for parents or teachers to use after they read the story, so they can capitalize on the book’s underlying message. (Although I hope people laugh through the last few chapters of Meghan Rose instead of cry!)

And the activities are all for the kids. They love extending the story experience by creating their own volcanoes or whatever. I also put a ton of other ideas for parents and kids on my website under the BLAM (Brilliant Little Activities to Make) link at

So each book has an underlying message? Tell us about that.

As I mentioned, I wanted the stories to do more than entertain. I wanted them to have takeaway value. Each book’s message is very subtle but still evident throughout the book. While Meghan Rose on Stage! talks about discovering your talents, it’s ultimately about friendship.

Meghan Rose Has Ants in Her Pants explores the idea of patience—a difficult area for most kids to deal with. The newest two books—Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret—address inner beauty and kind words. But again, none of it is preachy. It’s heavy on the humor and very, VERY light on the lesson…yet neither quality is lost on the child.

Are the books just for girls?

Not at all! One mother of two boys emailed me about how much her sons enjoyed reading them with her. She said they could hardly read for laughing so hard—they were all HOWLING!! The youngest one loved it so much he started sleeping with the first book under his pillow at night.
In fact, the comment I hear most from people who read the books is, “I laughed out loud.” The second comment I hear most often is about how much kids (and parents) like the discussion questions and activities. How can all that just be for girls?

Where do you get the inspiration for the humorous parts of the books?
Most of that comes from my upbringing. My dad was always coming up with puns and jokes. He made them up on the spot, and they were hilarious! I can’t tell you how many hours we spent laughing around the dinner table. I think dad influenced all my sisters. In fact, one of my sisters was part of an improvisational comedy team. (She’s also a pastor’s wife—it’s a fun combination.)
I also grew up on a steady diet of comic books. Peanuts and Garfield were my favorites, and later Calvin and Hobbes. And we’d also watch comedy on television, especially The Carol Brunette Show.

That said, some of my inspiration just comes from everyday life. My kids crack me up. They both have a great sense of humor.

The main character in the Meghan Rose series shares your daughter’s name. Why is that?

She was the foundational basis for the character. When I started the series, I needed someone likable, outrageous, clever, spunky, and sensitive all rolled into one. Well, that’s my Meghan. And since I originally wrote the books just for her, I simply used her name. You’ll also see the names of other people I’ve met, although the character they’re named for is totally fiction. Mrs. Arnold, for example, was the name of Meghan’s real first grade teacher. But she’s not like the Mrs. Arnold in the book.

Are any of the characters like you?

I think maybe there’s a little bit of me in all of them. Certainly a lot of me is reflected in the teacher, Mrs. Arnold. Then Ryan shows the jokester side of me, Kayla has the goofy side, Lynette has the rule-following, show-off side, and Meghan’s Mom has the practical side. The Meghan character herself is about 80 percent of the “real” Meghan, 10 percent of me and my creative musings, and 10 percent total fiction.

Do you ever visit schools to talk about the books?

Yes! I’ve visited several schools and talked about the steps a writer goes through to get from idea to published book. I’ve also shared ways to boost everyday creativity and develop writing ideas. All three presentations seem to fire up everyone, even the reluctant writers. Kids tell me that what they enjoy most about the time we spend together is learning my two-handed drawing trick and discovering how to write their own jokes.

As a teacher, I value school visits. I think it’s important to inspire and encourage all children…to help them see opportunities and possibilities. As a mom, I can’t help seeing my own children reflected in the faces I meet. That gives me extra incentive to make kids want to reach their dreams, whatever they might be.

Can you share one idea for mothers to help their children be more creative?

Sure. Hmmm. Hard to pick one. I guess one great idea is to encourage your children to be involved with artistic endeavors. That can include a whole variety of options, like drawing, painting, or making things out of shoe boxes. Children can listen to or dance to music. Or make their own music. They can dress up and put on a show for family or friends, or memorize a silly poem. And it should be fun, not work.

Where can readers learn more about you and the Meghan Rose books?

They can visit my website at My award-winning illustrator, Stacy Curtis, designed it. It offers jokes, puzzles, and activities for kids and great ideas for teacher and parents (on Mrs. Arnold’s BLAM page). It also introduces the books and characters, provides links to book reviews, and gives ordering information. I posted a retold fairy tale reader’s theater that gives visitors a good feel for the style of humor found in the books at

You can also purchase a copy at most major bookstores and on

That sounds great. Well, thank you for stopping by Jewel' s Sand Box News to bring us up to date on what you've been up to!

Thank you for letting me visit with you.

Here is your chance for Two (2) more of Lori's books!

Lori is offering Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret this week!

Just leave a comment about our interview or her book covers!!

The comment drawing will take place on May 1st

The WINNER 'S name will be posted May 2, 2008.