Another Column at MyShelf.Com
Babe To Teens, Past
A Youth Column
By Beverly J. Rowe

Christmas Reading, and an Interview with author Evelyn Horan

We barely get the Thanksgiving turkey's bones picked clean, until it's time for the Christmas feast.  It's the time of the year to curl up with a good book and let the winter winds blow.

We have an incredible array of great new Christmas books to tell you about.  Check out these reviews:

The Look-Alikes Christms book inspired a wonderful game that you will love to play:
Get the whole family involved!  It's great fun!

Another exciting game to go with Berkeley Breathed's touching book, Flawed Dogs, will add to your holiday fun. With this game's advanced K-9 morphing device, you can make your own Flawed Dogs.

Don't forget about all those real Flawed Dogs that are at your local dog-pound wishing for a new home for Christmas! 

    I just finished reading Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl, Book Three. This series is a wonderful historical saga about a young girl growing up in Texas. I had a chance to interview Evelyn Horan about writing this story. She's a great lady with exciting story ideas. Here is what she had to say


Bev: Evelyn, tell us about your growing up years. Did you live on a ranch as a child?

Evelyn: Yes, I was born on a Central Texas farm with several neighboring family farms nearby. My maternal German grandparents lived on a prosperous farm across a graveled road, and my uncle and his wife lived on a farm a mile or so beyond. The country church was 6 miles down the road. Town was l5 miles away which was quite a distance in a model-T Ford in the early 30's. My paternal Scotch-Irish grandparents lived on a ranch about an hour's drive away with a meandering creek, a wonderful wooded area for deer, bobcat, and other creatures. The swimming hole was in the wonderful Leon River that lazily passed through their property. Jeannie's family is like my father's family, but Helga's orientation is like that of my German grandparents. All ranch and farm life adventures given to Jeannie and her friends are those that either my relatives or I had generally experienced at one time or another. My special and delightful memories of a ranch-life childhood are quite vivid today.

Bev: What did you do before Jeannie came into your life?

Evelyn: I believe to a great extent, I am Jeannie. If her childhood experiences didn't parallel mine, I wanted them to. I left the farm life with my parents and moved to the Los Angeles area in California during World War II, but my heart always was centered on the life I knew as a child in Texas. I didn't begin writing Jeannie until I retired from teaching school in California for over 30 years. I was a teacher and school counselor in both elementary, junior high and high school. After retirement I devoted much time to my writing.

Bev: What kind of books did you read as a child?

Evelyn: I was a rather shy and introverted child and became an observer of people and their behavior. I spent much time reading the Anderson and Grimm's fairly tales. I went to Zane Gray westerns, to more admired authors who wrote of the West, the American Indian, the Westward movement, trappers, and pioneer days to the authors of great Southern novels of plantation life and early days in our country. Always, my interest was historical and related to America's history. I was an avid reader and read about five such books a week when I was in junior high school.

Bev: What authors do you read recreationally now?

Evelyn: I continue to seek authors today who follow the above themes.

Bev: What authors were your greatest inspiration and why?

Evelyn: I consider Pulitzer Prize winner, "Larry McMurtry," my mentor. I admire his Lonesome Dove series so much I actually traveled the locale in Southwestern Texas where the setting begins and I followed it and continued on to Ogallala, Nebraska. I am a traveler and there is little of our wonderful country that I have not visited or toured, and I have stood in the footsteps of those who came before and blazed a westward trail from the East Coast to the Far West.

Other authors are those who are most admired today for their quality writing of fiction based on historical fact or those who have written biographies of historical figures.

Bev: How long have you been writing?

Evelyn: I began writing poetry and short fairy tales as an elementary student, and I continued writing on until today.

Bev: Do you have anything published besides the Jeannie series?

Evelyn: Yes, I enrolled in several correspondence schools Rod Serling's, "Famous Writer's School," and later, "The Institute of Children's Literature." Both were two year courses. There I learned more about the craft of writing, and I gained much confidence to continue to write. I determined my venue was writing for children, not adults, and I followed that avenue.

I began to send stories to both secular and religious publications and to my great delight many were accepted and published. To date I have had over 275 short stories for children and a few for adults, published in over 80 secular/religious periodicals and Sunday School Papers.

Bev: Why did you decide to write for children?

Evelyn: Writing for children is my field. I was a teacher of children for so many years and spent so much time with them, that their interests, character, emotional needs, the progression of their developmental years, and their special personalities are areas I understand and can write to with some degree of comfort.

Bev: Tell me how you first came up with the idea for Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl? Did you originally visualize a series?

Evelyn: I wanted to write a historical fiction of frontier life in West Texas in the 1880's. Information was based on family fact and stories my grandparents told me about their early days in Texas. I wanted children of today to know what life was like in those times. I wanted them to recognize the "family values" and the closeness of folks who shared the early American way of neighborliness. I wanted children to recognize their self-reliance, their ability to face and cope with dangers and hardships and their ever and constant faith in the God upon whom our founding fathers established this great nation. I wanted to inspire our children to rise to their greatest potential and be able to apply principles mentioned in the series into their own daily lives.

Bev: What kind of research did you do for Jeannie's story?

Evelyn: It was my own family history for the most part. I lived it or my relatives and their friends lived it.

Bev: You had some publisher troubles before finding a home for the series. Tell us about that.

Evelyn: I tried a CO-publishing venture and invested $7,000 in a fraudulent publisher's scheme to bilk fledgling authors (400 of us) out of our monies. These fraudulent publishers were located in Lexington, Ky. They were later arrested and are now in Federal prison. I found their address in a Christian Writer's book of publishers. Even though they are listed, it doesn't mean a publisher is legitimate. A hard-learned lesson. I lost all the money but I received my rights back to my books. And now they are being published by a legitimate publisher with whom I am most pleased.

Bev: Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl has won several awards. Could you tell us about that?

Evelyn: Unexpectedly, and with much delight, after I sent Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl, Book One, to several Internet sites for children and adults- I found great praise and acclaim. The book was given as a Grand Prize in several different Internet contests, it was lauded as Book of the Year at another site, and I was given a Best Author Award at still another site.( My email is If anyone is interested I will email my links back and they can view these sites and the awards and honors.)

Bev: I know that you have at least one more book about Jeannie, Helga and the other kids coming out soon, but what are your future writing plans? Do you have anything new in the works now?

Evelyn: I have another novel, Rain on My Wings, a somewhat autobiographical novel of teen life in West Texas in the 1940's, but it is written for mature teens. I will seek publication for it after Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl, Book Four is published, which should be sometime in January 2004, if all goes well.

Some people want me to do a Book Five and take Jeannie and her friends on into further adulthood. We'll see. It's a possibility.

I would like to get the four books in the series completed. Then I am thinking about visiting libraries and Christian schools in the future for book talks and book signings.

Bev: What would your advice be to aspiring young writers?

Evelyn: Work hard. Study and learn all you can about the craft of writing. Edit and revise. Send your best effort to the publisher. Don't despair when you receive rejection slips. We all receive them. I have received many. It doesn't always mean your work is inferior. Much depends on the needs of the editor at that time. The more you write, the better your skill. I am still learning. One's writing can always be improved. It is never a "finished" work.

Bev: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share with us?

Evelyn: We don't write for money. Most of us will never get rich from writing. We write to share, to promote our theme, to instruct, to give to others in some worthy way through our writing. We need to be altruistic and write to bring pleasure, to uplift, and to entertain our reader.

Bev: Evelyn, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us and giving us your advice and insight from an author's point of view. We wish you the best with your future writing endeavors.


Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl, Book



Jeannie, A Texas Frontier Girl - book 3
Third book in series
By Evelyn Horan
 December 2003
Trade Paperback
Children/Fiction [Ages 8-12]
Buy a Copy


Reviewed by Beverly Rowe, MyShelf.Com

     Jeannie and Helga do a lot of reminiscing in the first chapter and bring the reader up to speed on what has happened in the first two books of the series. All our old friends are back and a few new ones are introduced in this fresh, historical saga that also has moral values.

     West Texas in the 1880's was a hard country, but the people who lived there were a resilient breed; hard working and self-sufficient. This story takes the girls through their last day of school and into the adult world. They confront racism when people show prejudice toward the Comanche Indian family that the girls have befriended. Teaching the Indian children to read is a welcome challenge to Jeannie and Helga.

     The exciting, well-written adventures will keep you reading as Jeannie receives a deerskin dress from her Comanche friends, Jeannie is baptized, and her father is bitten by a rattlesnake, then Slim is gored by a longhorn cow.

     Jeannie still has her dream of a horse ranch with Slim as foreman, and now it looks like it might become a possibility.

     These well-plotted, lively books would make a great gift for your favorite 'tween. I'm looking forward to book 4 to see what happens to the girls in their early adult years. Keep writing've got us hooked!

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