Today you get to meet Gracie, the feisty neatnik of the Fifth Wheel series who agrees to sell her home so her hubby's dream of traveling the country in a fifth wheel could come true.
Each story in the series (which will be written by various authors, handpicked by Yours Truly) will take Gracie and Jim to a different part of the country, where they will meet up with various characters in crisis. The first story, "Gracie's Gift," came out last month (see Book Description below). The second story, "Ellie's Escape," should be out by the end of the month.
But let's get to know Gracie a little better.
Following is the original interview I conducted with Gracie before I began plotting the series and writing the first story. (Yes, I interview my main characters before I begin writing.)
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR Gracie Allen
NAME: Gracie Allen
ADDRESS: rural western PA
Spouse: Jim, retired coal miner
Children: James III (Trey), Gracelyn (Lyn), Gabrielle (Gabby), Jackson (Jack)
*Parents (maiden name Satkowski) – father, steel mill worker, carpentry; mother, homemaker (took in ironing and sewing)
*Siblings: PJ (younger brother), younger sister, Veronica, who died from leukemia when she was in high school
*Born & raised where: southwestern PA
*Early influences: family, school, church, books, esp. illustrated books, teacher who encouraged my art
*Education: high school, beauty school
Growing up, what were your dreams? To become an illustrator of children’s books, but my parents couldn’t afford college or art school, so I worked as a waitress to pay for beauty school
Current position: homemaker (Well, I was until Jim wanted to sell the house. Now I'm a camper-keeper.)
Most satisfying aspect of work: I love being home, in my own “queendom,” I can set my own schedule and am free to watch the grandchildren. I have time to enjoy gardening, birdwatching, keeping my house clean. (That is, until . . . well, you know . . . )
Biggest challenge: Jim – now that he’s retired he’s always underfoot. Now that we've sold the house, my biggest challenge is to adjust to life on the road. (And not kill Jim.)
In one sentence, what is your philosophy of life/guiding principal? Family first.
Who/what encouraged, motivated, inspired you? Aunt Abby (my godmother), Mrs. Gabriel (my high school art teacher), my lifelong BFF Sherry
Who do you most admire and why? Aunt Abby – she went through hard times and came through; her kindness and compassion. My husband, Jim. He worked to provide for the family so I could be a stay-at-home mom, then when the kids were gone, continued to work past retirement age (65) so I could have medical insurance. He was so ready to retire at 65.
What qualities do you admire in others? Honesty, work ethic, putting family first
What is your biggest unfulfilled dream? To become an artist, a children’s book illustrator
What do you want to be remembered for? That I put my family first. You shall know them by their fruits. My family is my fruit.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why? I wouldn’t be so OCD (anal) about a perfect house and doing everything just right.
What irritates/annoys you? People who don’t keep their word, paper crinkling, clutter, dust, a dirty sink
How would you describe yourself? Kind, compassionate, introverted, homebody
Hobbies, interests: gardening, canning, crocheting, cooking and baking, reading
What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment? My children
What do you feel you’ve left undone? My own dreams
Do you have any regrets? Yes, I didn’t go to art school
What is your greatest fear? Losing Jim, something bad happening to any of my loved ones, losing my home
What are your feelings as you close this chapter on your life? Uncertainty, instability, anxiety, fear
What Scripture best describes your approach to your life? Proverbs 31:10–31 The mother is the heart of the home.
"Gracie's Gift" (Fifth Wheel, Vol. 1)
Book DescriptionGracie Allen is content with her life as a housewife. Her children and grandchildren are nearby. She has the freedom to set her own schedule, keep a spotless house, tend her flowerbeds, and make time for her art projects. But when her newly retired husband announces he wants to put their home up for sale to buy a fifth wheel so they can spend their retirement years traveling, her secure, snug little world is turned upside-down. She’s confronted with more than having learn to live with him 24/7 in “a tin can on wheels.” If she wants her forty-five-year marriage to survive, she has to decide which she loves more: the things that make her who she is—or the man who provided them.
A writer with a passion for teaching and speaking, Michele Huey writes an award-winning weekly newspaper column and mentors budding writers. She’s an avid (sometimes rabid) Pirates fan and grandmother; loves baseball, Italian food, and hiking; and makes the best homemade pizza around. Michele and her husband, Dean, live in western Pennsylvania and have three grown children and five grandchildren.
Click here to download your copy of "Gracie's Gift" (Fifth Wheel, Vol. 1). (Only $.99!)