Shari: Welcome Dixie. Tell us a little about yourself?
Dixie: I am a pastor’s wife and mother of four grown children. My husband, Paul, and I have served the congregation of the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for the past twenty-seven years. We will have been married for thirty-one years next month. Our only son, John, gave Paul a kidney on June 12th, 2008. Our oldest daughter was married exactly a month after her daddy’s transplant and our second daughter was married on August 9th. It was a summer we will never forget. Our motto was “We are too blessed to be stressed.”
Shari: How long have you been writing for children?
Dixie: I have been writing for twenty-seven years. When we first came to Floyd, I began writing Christmas and Easter programs for the children of our church. The little ones would “steal the show” and make my writing look better than it actually was. J
Shari: Why do you write for children?
Dixie: Children are full of potentiality! Their little hearts are like wet cement. They can be molded and shaped into whatever God wants them to be. I remember the stories my grandmother read to me helped shape my destiny. My prayer is that one of my stories will “stick to a child’s ribs” and maybe influence them at a pivotal point in their life.
Shari: What did you do before you took up writing?
Dixie: I’ve been in fulltime ministry for over nearly thirty years.
Shari: Have you taken any writing classes?
Dixie: I have taken a few creative writing classes, but my writing springboard really came from a writing group on the internet called FaithWriters. They provide a free weekly writing competition. Writers from beginners to seasoned wordsmiths compete. I joined the group and began competing in the Weekly Challenge. Somehow I managed to place a few times. It was such an encouragement to me. It was their support and constructive criticism that helped me and continues to help me hone my writing skills.
Shari: Do you have any publishing credits we should know about?
Dixie: I have two drama books – “Glimpses of Heaven” and “More Speeches and Recitations for Young Children” from Abingdon Press. More of my writings are found in Eldridge Publishing and Standard Publishing. A true story about my grandmother was published by LIVE Publications. I am a contributing author in several books and for the past three years, I have ghostwritten ten books.
Shari: I know you have a new book out "Angel Eyes". Tell us all about it, please.
Dixie: “Angel Eyes” is a heartwarming tale of two cherubs – Kennedy and Tristan. The two little angels are curious and can’t figure out why Prince Emmanuel would have to leave the comforts of Heaven, where He was loved and adored, and go to Earth and become one of “them.” It gives children a peek behind the scenes of Heaven and let’s them see what the angels might have felt when Jesus left Heaven and came to Earth. Kim Sponaugle illustrated “Angel Eyes.” Her colorful illustrations take the book to another level.
Shari: Is this your first picture book? What was the inspiration for the book?
Dixie: Yes, this is my first children’s book. When our children were small, our youngest child, Libby, asked us how the angels felt when Jesus came to Earth and was crucified. Her question “burned” in my heart. After a few days “Angel Eyes” was born.
Shari: What are you doing to promote this book?
Dixie: I have two book signings at two Christian bookstores scheduled for November. There are two newspaper interviews also scheduled.
Shari: What is the best advice you can give to a new writer?
Dixie: Three words… Write! Write! Write! There is no substitute for experience. Join a writer’s group like FaithWriters and jump into the Writer’s Challenge. You will be amazed at how you can grow as a writer if you will just write and allow other writers to speak into your life.
Shari: What are you working on now?
Dixie: I am presently working on another children’s book that I am excited about. It is a humorous but poignant story. I’ve learned that when inspiration strikes and the creative juices are flowing, I need to stop what I am doing and find a place to write.
Shari: If you could be any writer in the world, who would you want to be?
Dixie: Wow! That’s a tough question. I have so many favorites. Amy Carmichael is my all-time favorite author. Her books offer comfort and hope. That’s the kind of author I want to be…. Someone who gives a parched soul, a cool drink of water, or as a children’s author, I would love to write stories that bring hope to children in hopeless situations.
Shari: What is your writing space like?
Dixie: I usually try to find a quiet corner somewhere. Being in fulltime ministry is a busy life, but I take my laptop with me and squeeze in as much time as I can to writing.
Shari: What do you do to overcome writer's block?
Dixie: The stresses of life can lap up all of our creative juices. I have found that if I can stay inspired and well rested it helps keep me motivated to write. So, I try to surround myself with inspirational music, good books and great friends.
Shari: That’s good advice for all of us. What has been the most difficult thing for you to learn about writing for children?
Dixie: Because I have written so many plays, I find dialogue comes naturally, but to make the story visual I have to work at interesting, descriptive sentences that appeal to children. Something that makes the story come alive to the child and also inspires the illustrator. I have to really work at this and not end up with a story that has two “talking heads.”
Shari: Do you have a website or blog that we may take a look at to get to know you better?
Dixie: I have a section on our church website at http://www.floydslighthouse.com/ Just click on Writer’s Block and it should take you to my “From the Heart of Dixie” page.