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Meet Debbie Archer

I’m excited today to be able to sit down and chat with Debbie Archer.

First off, congratulations Debbie on being a Frasier Finalist! The winner will be announced September 23rd at the Terrace Ballroom at the St Louis Regency at the Arch (wow that sound so exciting) Can you tell us how one becomes a Frasier Finalist?

First, you get a really big Hershey’s Bar and unwrap it. Then you set a Diet Pepsi and a bottle of aspirin by your computer and you go to work!

Actually, the only reason I am a finalist in the Frasier is because our charter president, Kimberly Buckner told me to hook up with MBT-My Book Ther apy – and the founder, Susan May Warran. MBT is an on-line clubhouse of sorts that welcomes new people into the writing fold daily. They have members from all over the world and there is no fee to join. All you need is the desire God put in all of our hearts to write and an eagerness and willingness (those are two totally different critters) to learn. The one criterion for the Frasier is that the piece is unique in voice and in the storytelling elements.

I joined MBT, fretted about submitting, almost backed out after I received comments from the Genesis judges – I’d submitted the same piece – but decided to dig in my heels and send it in anyway. So glad I did. After receiving some pretty scathing remarks from those judges, my heart was dragging the floor. But people like Sheila Covey and the rest of my peeps in our little corner of the world encouraged me. When I received the call from Suzie, I was elated beyond words, but I also felt vindicated somehow. Up until that call, I was feeling pretty low and questioning my decision to write that story.

My piece is unconventional. It’s written in free verse which, while that format is well accepted in the general YA market, it isn’t standard in the CBA YA market. One remark in particular pointed out that I would be fortunate if anyone even took the time to read it, much less publish it. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

You had me at Hersey’s LOL

I know you wear many hats: writer, teacher, librarian and speaker are just a few. One of those is my dream job.  I 1would love to be a librarian, surrounded by books all day. After visiting your web site I was impressed with the LAMP prog ram you started. Please explain how it works and how we can help contribute to this worthy cause. http://www.debbiearcher.com/

A lot of people think kids don’t care about books anymore. They have so many other distractions and contraptions, why would they need a book? But, they love books. I see the faces every day. The proof is in those faces. Are there reluctant readers? You bet. But, we just have to find the book that THEY like. Book chats help – that’s where you blend the good old fashioned book talk with an extended hook AND you discuss things about the book that you know will intrigue the reader. But there’s something different in “borrowing” a book and owning your own book. That’s why I try to get books into kids’ homes. They like the idea of being able to go to their room, closet, shelf, and grabbing onto something that is more than just paper. It’s a friend, a situation, an idea that brings them comfort. I think that’s what all of us see inside books. We enter a new world when we are with our book. I’m constantly on the lookout for books at yard sales and clearance sales. I don’t take cash donations b/c I’m not set up as a charity, but I gladly take books! I simply wa nt to get books into the hands of kids.

One year, a group of my Production Team Kids and I went on a “Boo-Booking” expedition. We got together, decided who we thought would love to receive the books we had, packed out little Trick-or-Treat bags, (this was our October trip) and went to each child’s house. It was GREAT! The kids loved the books, but the students who took part in the trip were also blessed. Of course, on our trips we always have to have food, so we made a hot dog/fries and candy stop too!

That must have been a blessing for everyone involved. What are some of your favorite books and why?

Love, love, love Theodor Geisel Seuss. That man was a gentle and gifted genius. He left behind a beautiful legacy for children and adults.

Carolyn Keene! Where would any of us girl sleuths be without the creator of Nancy Drew!

Then there’s Jenny B. Jones. She’s probably one of the most talented YA writers I’ve ever read. I have boys … yes BOYS clambering to read her Katie Parker series because of the subject matter – foster kids – and because of her razor-sharp wit.

Love Sharon Creech. She writes in free verse as well as traditional, and her books weave plots seamlessly.

… and Richard Peck. That man is a master of gentility and wisdom. Has quite a twinkle in his eyes, too! He once said that he had to “leave the classroom in order to teach the kids.” I understood instantly what he meant. Our hands, as educators, are tied due to political correctness and the threat of litigation. The lessons that many kids aren’t learning from their parents can’t be taught in school anymore. Those morals, those gems, have to come from books. And Richard Peck is king.

There are others, many, many others such as Kate DiCamillo, Debbie Macomber, Jan Karon, and a fella no one ever mentions – Daniel Webster. Don’t know where any of us would be without Daniel.

 

I know that recently you accepted an appointment as consultant and presenter for Barnes and Noble in the launching of the first Literacy Fair in the state of Arkansas. Can you tell us more about the Literacy Fair?

That was uber exciting! I was humbled and honored just to be asked, and had no idea it would be so much fun! It entailed preparing suggested reading lists and reading strategies for kids in grades K-12. Loved it. The lists were posted, the books ordered, the book chats planned, and then the event took place. It was fabulous. Kids everywhere. Happy parents everywhere. Happy teachers and librarians everywhere.

They had the stage set up for round table book chats, and there were three of us at a time that went on stage to present ten of the books we’d put on our list. Goodies from the BN pastry shop were being served from silver trays which were offered by the floating book characters. Tons of give-aways and prizes. Magical and wonderfully booklicious! Definitely a high point for me. And now, I can add another high point … this interview. You’re a precious and talented writer, and for you to include me on your roster of interviews touches my heart and makes me smile.

Well, thank you Debbie.  It’s no wonder with your kind and spirited personality that you are blessing to those around you.

 

 

 

 

 

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