Joyce Valdois Smith is wife to Bob, mother to four married children and grandmother to twelve beautiful grandchildren. She is a retired public health and school nurse. Writing has been her long time passion. Joyce is an author of Christian historical and contemporary fiction as well as children’s books. She has recently released, “Grandpa Forgot My Name.” She is active in her church. She lives with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lady Catherine (Katie), in southwest Missouri.
Welcome to the blog, Joyce. I’m so happy to have you here today. Congratulations on your recent release, Romance Along the Rails. I’m really looking forward to read it!
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Savanna. I am excited to have the opportunity to visit with you. Being a published author has been a cherished dream of mine for many years, so holding the paperback copy of Romance Along the Rails and Grandpa Forgot My Name is a wonderful, almost surreal experience.
I recently found the copy of the magazine article that sparked my interest in Fred Harvey and the amazing story of the Harvey Houses and Harvey Girls. I think this is such a fascinating part of the history of the expansion of westward civilization. Many people today have never heard of the Harvey Girl legacy. At a time when the female sex was a scarce commodity in this young country Fred Harvey placed ads in Midwestern and Eastern newspapers for “Young women of good character, attractive and intelligent, 18 to 30, to work in Harvey Eating Houses in the West.” Thousands of pretty young women with stout hearts and a desire for adventure streamed from the East and brought refinement, culture and romance with them. The Harvey Houses were a part of our history from the 1876 to the 1950’s.
Such fascinating history! What a fun time period to write about too. 🙂
I love the cover! Can you tell us the story behind the design?
Since my book was going to be indie published, I tried to find a picture of a Harvey Girl that would work on the cover. My daughter was going to make a Harvey Girl uniform and have my granddaughter pose for one, but it didn’t work out. Then I got the idea of a still life picture. I obtained permission from the Kansas Historical Society to use the Harvey Girls picture. The survey instrument, called a Dumpy Level, was borrowed from the US Conservation Service. It was the same type used by the railroad in the 1880’s. The china teacup and saucer were from a set belonging to my husband’s grandmother, produced in the 1880’s. The pocket watch, purse and Bible were family heirlooms. It all came together to represent different aspects of the book. I am very pleased with it.
I love all the personal touches you added to it. It really is lovely.
You’ve also written a children’s book. What do you hope your readers will take away from reading “Grandpa Forgot My Name”?
The children’s book, “Grandpa Forgot My Name”, was written at the time that my father had Alzheimer’s disease. My desire and prayer is that the book can be used to assist children, who have family members with dementia, understand the disease to a small degree. Hopefully, it can give them a loving way to deal with the changes in behavior. Alzheimer’s is such a brutal disease. There is no easy way to handle it.
I think that’s a wonderful gift to give children facing that hardship, Joyce. I love how writing from our own experiences can be used to encourage others.
Can you name a few authors who inspire you?
Some of the authors who have inspired me are Deborah Raney, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Karen Kingsbury and Lori Wick among others.
What piece of writing advice has made a difference in your career so far?
I think the best advice I have received and can give is just to keep writing. Get your thoughts down on paper. They don’t do anyone any good while they are in your head. Also, don’t give up on your dreams.
I feel the Lord has given me Habakkuk 2:2-3 as my call and promise. “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
Love that. What a powerful verse for a writer!
Thanks for stopping by today, Joyce. I love having you in my local ACFW chapter and I’m thrilled you could join me on the blog today too!
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
I am currently working on a sequel to Romance Along the Rails, named Home For the Heart. It takes place in 1900 and the main character is Elizabeth who was four years old in RATR. I also plan to release another children’s book, A Christmas Treasure Hunt, in November 2018.
Wonderful!! Keep up the great work, friend. I’m so happy for you!
Joyce has graciously offered to give away one copy (paperback or ebook) of Romance Along the Rails to one lucky winner. Enter below and it could be YOU!
Thanks for entering! Contest is open for US residents only. Contest ends June 19, 2018. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!