Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Interview with Author, Patti Maguire Armstrong

Dear God, I Don’t Get It

By Patti Maguire Armstrong

Published by Bezalel Books
ISBN # 978-0-9821222-3-5

I recently enjoyed the pleasure of an interview with author, speaker and "Mother Extra-Ordinare," Patti Maguire Armstrong about her newest book: Dear God, I Don't Get It."

First, here's a little background on Patti and her husband, Mark:

Patti and Mark Armstrong live in North Dakota and are the parents of ten children, eight boys and two girls, including two adopted AIDS orphans from Kenya. Patti worked in the field of social work and public administration before staying home full-time to raise her children. As a freelance writer, Patti has published more than 400 articles for both secular and religious publications and eight books. Her latest book, "Dear God, I don't get it!" is her first children's book. She has authored the book "Catholic Truths for Our Children" from Scepter Publishers as a guide to help parents pass on their Catholic faith, and serves as the managing editor and co-author of the Catholic best-selling Amazing Grace book series available at Ascension Press. Patti has been a guest on EWTN Television's "Live" program with Father Mitch Pacwa and Doug Keck's "Bookmark" program and other Catholic Radio programs around the country. Patti has also written many articles on the Catholic Exchange website and for Today's Catholic Women.

Here's my endorsement for Patti's book which is inside the book:

"Dear God, I Don't Get It is simply delightful! Intended for a second to fifth grade reader, the story entertains and engages as the main character, fifth-grader Aaron Ajax, grapples with everyday life in a family and his faith in God. The story is very relatable, taking us through Aaron’s upheaval when his family is transferred to another state and his journey to eventual acceptance of God’s will in his life. Throughout it all, you will come to love Aaron and his family. The world needs more books like this one!"

Now, for our interview:

DONNA-MARIE: Patti, thanks for taking the time out for this interview. Your book looks lovely and as I said in my endorsement, it is “simply delightful!” I loved reading the manuscript and felt that even though it is written for third to sixth-graders it is engaging and also relatable to parents as well. Hopefully, it will be a book shared and discussed between them. I have a feeling you know something about growing boys! After all, you have 8 of them, right? You have ten children, don’t you? Do you think you could tell us why you wrote this book in the first place?

PATTI: “Why” is a funny question for a writer, as I’m sure you know. It’s all about inspiration. When I started writing, I never could have told you where the story was going or how it was going to end. It seemed to unfold as I wrote. That being said, there was also a personal desire on my part to explore the questions and confusion related to prayer. People that lose their faith, often do so either because they stopped praying or because they felt their prayers went unanswered. Parents tell their children that God hears our prayers, but it is a much tougher lesson to teach that we don’t always get what we want when we pray.

DONNA-MARIE: I’m glad that you wove your exploration of prayer within your book to help the young understand the power of prayer as well as to demystify it for them. I’m sure that you have experienced both joys and challenges in raising a large family. Would you like to share any of your experiences with us? Perhaps something that may have inspired you to write this book in the first place?

PATTI: Yes, raising a large family does affect your view of the world. Life is busy, full of activities and full of questions as you try to explain life to your kids and model it in a Godly way to them. Even though the story is fiction, it was also very much a slice of my life.

DONNA-MARIE: I thought so. Do you see big differences in your boys growing up versus your girls?

PATTI: Oh, yes. My boys seem to never stop moving. They are always up to something to, which makes parenting a challenge. When I just had four boys, a complete stranger once came up to me and said with a chuckle: “Don’t worry, when they are teenagers, boys are much easier than girls.” My girls are 16 and 13 now. They actually are pretty good kids although once in a while we will butt heads. After I had 4 boys, I felt so blessed to also have the experience of dresses and dolls. But then getting 2 more boys has once again infused our home with a second chapter of fun and activity (and broken things!)

DONNA-MARIE: God has certainly blessed you! I know you have other books too. But, did you enjoy the writing process of this book, Patti? You said this book is very much “a slice of your life.” Did it perhaps come naturally from any real life experiences within your own family when you were growing up or from your family now that you may want to talk about?

PATTI: I wrote the first draft of this book 15 years ago. My three oldest boys served as the model for the characters. I always knew how my characters would act because I pinned their personalities on my own kids. They absolutely loved reading it back then as it came along because they felt it was a story about them. Now, my oldest are 26, 24, and 22. They loved reading it again when I pulled it out and brushed it up. My son, Luke who co-authored the Amazing Grace for Survivors with me, went over it and offered suggestions. I had to laugh when he wrote about one line: “Put in an exclamation point there. I would have said that with an exclamation point.”

DONNA-MARIE: What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

PATTI: I hope they will live the story. It’s an example of praying even when you don’t understand where God is taking you. It’s also an example of living the Christian life with prayer and trust, or at least trying to trust when it’s hard. Amid disappointments, confusion, the challenge of wanting to belong and wanting to feel important, bad choices, hard choices, and coming to grips with what is really important--these are all issues that are explored and I hope the reader will find guidance through the story.

DONNA-MARIE: How about the parents? Do you hope to reach them too in some way?

PATTI: This is a fun read-out-loud book with your kids. I often read to my kids at bedtime long after they are old enough to read themselves. Sharing a book together always lends itself to a shared experience and encourages conversations about these topics. Even if the parents don’t also read it with their children, they can trust that it’s a book that reflect their own values and be one more tool to reinforce the lessons they are trying to pass on.

DONNA-MARIE: Is there something else you’d like to share with readers that I haven’t touched upon?

PATTI: Yes, although the book can just be an enjoyable read, I’ve also put vocabulary and discussion questions for each chapter at the back of the book so it can be used in classrooms and homeschools.

DONNA-MARIE: Could you please tell us a bit more about that?

PATTI: I put vocabulary and discussion questions for each chapter in the back of the book. My thinking was that this gives the book the additional quality of being well-suited for school use either in the classroom or at home. Even if it's just a parent reading it with a child or a child reading it alone, the questions can be used to open up dialogue with kids on aspects of life and faith. As for the vocabulary, most of the words are frequently used among adults but teachers usually discover that kids don't often have a grasp on words that we take for granted as being understood.

DONNA-MARIE: Finally, Patti, how can we get your book?

PATTI: The book sells for $9.99. You can ask your local bookstore to order it or you can go to the Bezalel Website at . Bulk orders for classroom use are also available by emailing the publisher Cheryl Dickow

DONNA-MARIE: Thank you very much for your thoughts, Patti. I pray that your book does well and helps to inspire countless families!

PATTI: Thanks Donna for doing this interview. We once both shared with each other what a blessing it is to be writing Catholic books. It’s part work, part mission and very rewarding and fun as well.

DONNA-MARIE: Yes, it is such a blessing, very rewarding and fun too! Patti, it’s been enjoyable hearing about your writing process and learning more about your book. Thanks again. God bless you!

To learn more about the author you may visit her website here.

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