Babes to Teens Past
By Beverly Rowe

Cool New Books for A Cold Winter Read

What could be more fun that to curl up with a great new book when the wind is howling and the thermometer says "Stay inside." How about some scary stuff for those dark nights? For teens there is a witchy wiccan book called The House of Winter (Circle of Three, 11), and a book where visions of a dead girl could drive Jenny into the clutches of a killer in No Time to Die (Dark Secrets Series, Volume 3). Maybe you just want to get a new "do" on your room; make it special in your very own style; Have Fun With Your Room: 28 Cool Projects for Teens tells you how.

Soldier Boys is a great new historical novel for teens that tells the parallel stories of Spence Morgan, a farm boy from Utah, and Dieter Hedrick, a farm boy from Bavaria. Both young men find themselves fighting for their respective countries in World War II, and both have complex feelings of patriotism and adolescent insecurities.

There are many exciting new books to share for the wonder of the Christmas season, and one of my favorites is The Golden Ring by John Snyder. Here is what John had to say about the wonderful story of his Grandmother when she was a child, and the most memorable Christmas of her life:


Grandma's Inspiration
An Interview with John Snyder
By Beverly Rowe
December 2001

Bev: What was your inspiration for the story?

John: A few years ago at Christmastime, while visiting my grandmother, Anna Snyder, in LaVale, MD, I began asking her about her childhood, about her Christmas memories, and what it was like growing up in the early 1900s in Meyersdale, PA. As we sat at the kitchen table eating left-over Christmas cookies and sipping our coffee, she began telling me about one Christmas, in particular, that was her most memorable. I was intrigued by the tale my grandmother told me. So, after our visit, I drove from LaVale to Meyerdsale with my wife, Ruth Ellen and my two daughters; Nikki and Carli, to visit the small western Pennsylvania town where my grandmother grew up, and where my father was born. The town remained much as I remembered it from my childhood visits there to see my great-grandmother, Elda Beal. When I arrived at the address of my grandmother’s memories, I discovered that the house was gone and the lot vacant. As I stood there in the snow, I tried to visualize my grandmother’s childhood home as I replayed her story in my head. On the 3 ½-hour drive back to my home near Annapolis, MD, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. As I tapped my finger on the steering wheel in time to a Christmas tune playing on the car stereo, the idea occurred to me that I should write down the story my grandmother told me so my children would always have her Christmas memory. Hopefully, they would pass it along to their children – and the story would live within our family forever. Over the next few years, I wrote and re-wrote different versions of the story, adding to it and elaborating on the tale. What started out as a short story for my daughters, ended up as this 181-page hardcover Christmas gift book entitled The Golden Ring, which I originally self-published. Some of the story is true, some of it is fiction ... but the message is for real. The advancing age of my grandmother served as strong motivation for me to complete the book. I wanted to get the book finished and into her hands so that she would have the joy of seeing her childhood Christmas memories in print. Although she was in remarkably good health for someone ninety years old, I knew that soon, time would take her from us … and it did. Ironically, my grandmother passed away just days after I gave her a copy of the finished book. The last photograph taken of her was by a newspaper photographer who was doing an article about my grandmother and the book - An article that, sadly, she would never get to read. I remember how beautiful she looked that day. I remember the joy in her eyes when I gave her the book. We buried my grandmother on November 24, 1999 - the day before Thanksgiving. With her, we buried her copy of The Golden Ring. Since the day I gave her eulogy, I know my grandmother has been looking after me because so many incredible things have happened in connection with this book


Bev: Other than being a great story, what made it so successful?

John: Marketing - Marketing - Marketing. I worked very hard to promote the self-published version of my book last year. I appeared on many radio and television shows and was interviewed my a great number of newspapers and magazines. Family Circle Magazine featured my book in a 9-page spread in their December 2000 issue. Basically I would talk about my book at every opportunity. I did a total of 93 book signings between mid-October and Christmas Eve. Having a good story is important. But telling people about it is essential. As people learned about my book and the story behind it, they told others and word about The Golden Ring spread. All the publicity I was able to obtain helped even more. All the hard work paid off. I sold more than 24,000 copies of my self-published version between October and the end of December last year. As a result, I now have a relationship with Warner Books, one of the largest publishers in the world, which should make this year even more successful.


Bev: What do you read for recreation? Who are your favorite authors? Did any of them inspire you in your writing?

John: It is difficult to select one book or one author that would be my favorite, or that I can say had a major role in shaping my life. It seems that different books have impacted my life in different ways throughout the years, depending on my situation and phase of life. I have always been fascinated by the early writings of people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Their wisdom and sense of purpose are amazing to me. It is almost as if they could see into the future. I enjoy a vast array of subjects, and wish I had more time to read. I am intrigued by politically provocative books such as The Myth of Separation by David Barton, Financial Terrorism by John F. McManus, and Global Tyranny by William F. Jasper. As I said before, I am a news junkie so I particularly liked Meet the Press – 50 Years of History in the Making by Rick Ball and NBC News. Other books that stand out and have influenced my life are What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School, by Mark H. McCormick and Living Proof by Lt. Clebe McClary. Clebe, a disabled Vietnam Vet, is also a great motivational speaker. Recently, I read two books by Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline and Prayer, both of which I found insightful, inspirational and renewing. Though I like political and historical books, I’m also a sucker for a good heart-tugging tale. After my Father passed away, a friend gave me the book Final Rounds by James Dodson, which helped me get through a tough period in my life. Other books in that genre I enjoyed are The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller; The Special Guest by my friend Lee Allen, and of course, Nicholas Sparks’ books Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember and The Rescue. I have also found guidance and a tremendous amount of wisdom in a little book called God’s Little Instruction Book for Dad (Honor Books). It is a collection of simple, humorous and inspirational sayings and I recommend it to all you dads out there.


Bev: Do you have any other published books? What do you see as your writing future?

John: The Golden Ring is my first published book. I am currently working on my next one, a story called Jacob's Bell, which I hope to have out within the next year. I also have several other ideas for future books, which I believe will tell compelling stories. My hope is to have a long and bright future in writing.


Bev: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

John: This is a tough business, and it appears it will get a lot tougher before it gets any easier. You are constantly being criticized and having people tell you "you can't". My best advice for beginning writers is to believe you can! You have to believe strongly in your self and your work. Never give up. And, NEVER take no for an answer!

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my book.


Bev: Thank you, John, for taking the time to tell us about yourself and your wonderful Christmas Story, The Golden Ring.




The Golden Ring by John Snyder
A Christmas Story
Warner Books - September 2001
ISBN: 0446530069 - Hardcover
Historical Fiction for Children of all ages

Reviewed by Beverly Rowe,
Buy a Copy

Anna Beal is nine years old in 1918 in Meyersdale, a small western Pennsylvania coal-mining town. She is part of a large, close knit family and she and her father, Joseph have an especially loving relationship. Joseph is a big man, who has a strong belief in God. Anna's most treasured possession is a gold ring that was a special gift from her father for her birthday.

Now Christmas is only days away and Anna and Joseph both have dreams that are very nearly alike. Jesus is asking Anna for her ring in the dream, and in Joseph's dream, Jesus is trying to give him a ring, a very puzzling coincidence.

When Anna discovers the plight of Martha, a young girl she meets, and her family, the message in Anna's dream seems very clear. Martha's family is trying to get to the next town. Her father has no job, and is looking for work. They have no home, no money and no food. Anna is compelled to try to help this destitute family in this season of giving. I shared Anna's pain and uncertainty as she agonized over what her father would think of the way she chose to help them.

The vision Anna shares with her father, and the Christmas experience they share because of it, will forever change they way they feel toward Christmas and toward each other. What a wonderful, uplifting story to share with your loved ones this Christmas. A true story of selfless giving, it's sure to become a classic.

Chapter Excerpt: The Golden Ring by John Snyder
Authors: John Snyder



Christmas Reading
MyShelf.Com's Reading Ideas for kids, teens & young adults

© Copyright 1998-2001 MyShelf. All Rights Reserved.