What’s your all time favorite project you’ve worked on?
The books I have written are like children—all are my favorites. Writing a book is much like giving birth. But, If I were to choose a book it would be The Deans’ Bible: Five Purdue Women and Their Quest for Equality published by Purdue University Press in 2014. It’s a book about five women who were impeccable leaders. They advocated for women students, faculty and staff, as they supported one another in a “man’s world.”
The deans passed down a secret Bible that had belonged to Purdue’s first Dean of Women. The Bible acted as a symbol of their shared profession and sisterhood. No one knew of the Bible until I wrote the book. The Bible is now preserved in Purdue University Archives. I learned so much from the five women, even though only one was living during my research and writing. Purdue Dean of Students Emerita Betty M. Nelson has become a mentor and wonderful friend.
My favorite advertising project would be the 25-year series of holiday cards (1991-2016) I wrote for Lafayette Printing Company in Lafayette, Indiana. Each card featured a local, colorful place, entity or person. The cards were works from the heart and were very popular with recipients. Many of the cards are framed in homes and businesses throughout Greater Lafayette. Topics included: McCord’s Candy candy-cane making, the Bicycle Bridge in Highland Park Neighborhood, the historic Tippecanoe County Courthouse, and the barn in snow at Prophetstown State Park. The final card featured a cover photo of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse that my son, Jack, took from his drone. I began creating the series the year Jack was born, so it was fitting that the final card had a photo shot by him.
When you’re not brainstorming ideas for your latest book or writing copy, what are you doing?
My favorite place to be is with my husband and two sons in a cottage on Lake Michigan. Every year we rent a place and enjoy the restorative qualities of the lake. It’s my bliss. But, on “normal” (which is just a setting on the dishwasher) days, I love to go to movies, read, do Pilates or yoga, work in my yard, care for my faithful, aging dog, attend concerts, book talks and lectures at Purdue University, go to Purdue University basketball games, attend my younger son’s choir performances at Jefferson High School and have meaningful conversations with true friends.
What inspires you?
I love to tell true stories of ordinary people who have accomplished the extraordinary. Truth really is stranger than fiction and can be inspirational. I very much enjoy unearthing research about a person’s life to weave the threads of his or her story together. Often we do not see the interweaving of our lives until we look back and connect the dots. Everyone has a story worth telling and hearing.
In the early days of raising my sons, they inspired my writing in grand and often funny ways. They always said humorous things. Back then, I wrote about them, keeping journals of their antics. Several of my stories about them have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. One of the funniest stories was published in a Christmas book; It was about the day I took my sons to see The Nutcracker Suite ballet. Ross, age 4, smuggled in a screwdriver.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is so hard. Homemade guacamole (with plenty of cilantro) and chips keeps popping into my head. But, who knows?
Describe yourself in three hashtags.
#creativewriter #impeccablehistorian #MaryTylerMooreFunny
What’s your favorite aspect of your career?
My favorite aspect of my career is the creativity. With regard to books, my favorite aspect is the way they can touch readers’ lives and teach them new ways of thinking about the world. Writing is something I would do no matter what. Not just for money. It’s part of me. I will write forever. Writers do not retire.
How many Addy Awards have you won?
I have won 58 ADDY Awards including a 2016 Silver Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement. When I accepted the award, I said jokingly, “Thank you. But, I’m not finished achieving in my lifetime.” I was honored and humbled to have received the recognition. Former client and good friend, David Huhnke, nominated me for the honor.
What’s a quote you live by?
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'. —Erma Bombeck