Monday, August 15, 2022

More Hidden Treasures

Jaime Jo's post last week was so sweet, wasn't it? She shared some hidden treasures she found after her mother passed away. You can read that post HERE.

When I told her my dad had recently given me my own hidden treasure, she urged me insisted that I share it on my Seekerville post this month. "Sure!" I said. "That would be fun." (That may not be an exact quote.)

Unlike Jaime Jo's stellar works of fiction, my first book was non-fiction, done as a school assignment when I was in first grade. But the illustrations are priceless.

My name is Janet Tomlinson. I have four in my Family. 
I have a brother and a cat.

Other than spelling my last name wrong (it should be Tomlonson - I blame my teacher for the editing error) the story so far is pretty accurate. I wish I had included a picture of my cat.

In fact, this particular teacher stands out in my memory because of incidents like this one. I remember her insistence that my name should be spelled with an "I" rather than an "O." I don't like being corrected, especially when I know the person trying to correct me is wrong!
(And yes, that's still one of my more irritating personality traits - but I've learned to go with the flow unless it's something important.)

Which brings me to the topic for this post. Reading this early story of mine reminded me of the people along the way who stand out in my memory. Some for being encouragers and some for being discouragers.

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Taylor, was a discourager. I never did anything creative in her class. My third grade teacher, Miss Shields, was also a discourager. 

So why did I continue to write stories? Because of the encouragers.

I still remember them vividly, even though it has been more than fifty years since I've seen them: My second grade teacher, Mrs. Griffith; fourth grade, Mrs. VanVorhees; fifth grade, Mrs. Harrington.

Mrs. Harrington stands out because she saw potential in me and let me read. And read. And read. While the other students had reading groups, I had all the books I wanted to read. And tons of book reports.
*sigh* The cost of reading at my own pace. :-)

And to this day, whenever I see a Chickadee, I think of Mrs. Harrington - they were her favorite bird.

But my mom was my best encourager. I don't remember anything specific that she said or did, but I knew she had my back, as busy as she was with her day job.

My mother teaches. She teaches fourth grade. 
Her children are bad sometimes.

My mom instilled a love of reading in me. She also taught me the value of being a homemaker, even though as a pastor's wife in a small church, her full-time homemaking only happened during the summer months.

When my mother started feeling the effects of Alzheimer's, she still cheered me on as I taught my children in our homeschool. We talked often about how I was using my college education - my degree is in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis - and I knew she hoped that someday I would turn back to writing.

And God's timing is perfect - several years before she passed away, and just before she finally slipped into the enclosed dream world of advanced Alzheimer's, I sold my first story. She understood and celebrated with me as I told her that my story would be published in Woman's World Magazine.

Mom never got to read any of my published works other than my first book, written when I was six. But she kept those pages - as unwieldy as they are - and moved them from Michigan to Kansas to Indiana. They were among the treasures she kept.

These days, my dad is my biggest cheerleader.

He has been known to hang out in the Christian Fiction section of his local library and waylay browsers. "If you like Amish fiction, you should try my daughter's books."

Like Jaime Jo said, my first book is a Hidden Treasure. A testament of a mother's love and encouragement and a father's continued belief in his daughter.

Who are the encouragers in your life? How have they influenced your writing?

PS - I didn't leave my husband and children off this list to slight them. On the contrary - their encouragement (especially my dear husband's) is off the charts. :-)

Leave a comment to be in the drawing for an e-book copy of my next release, "The Case of the Artist's Mistake!" Due to be released September 14, 2022!

In this second Sweetbrier Inn Mystery, Emma discovers a local artist dead in her art gallery. Deputy Cal is convinced she died from natural causes, but he hasn't convinced Emma.

More details to follow in coming weeks!


  1. My grandfather on my dad's side was one of my biggest encourages. He was a writer although he would probably brush that off if you actually came him that. And my mother was a huge encourager. I've always said if I do publish a book, she'll be my first dedication. Because even more than writing, she fostered my love of reading. Great post, Jan!

    1. Once I became a mom, I caught myself encouraging my own children in their endeavors - and I finally understood the gifts my parents gave me.
      I'm looking forward to reading that dedication to your mother!

    2. Thank you, Jan, for also being one of my encourages!

  2. I enjoyed this post, Jan. But I can't imagine a teacher telling a child they didn't know how to spell their own name. I drew a picture of my family when I was in first grade, but I am pretty sure mine were just stick figures. I never could draw. I still have the story I wrote in third grade that was displayed at the county fair. It is pretty funny. My grandmother was an encourager to me. I made up ridiculous stories that people grew tired of hearing, but my grandmother always listened. Unfortunately, she passed away before I had any of my short stories published in magazines. She would have been so proud.

    1. What a wonderful grandmother, Sandy! If you were anything like me as a child, she showed utmost patience as she listened to your stories. :-)

      And I still remember the conversation between Mrs. Taylor and my dad at the beginning of school open house. He saw the class's pages displayed on the bulletin board and finally convinced her that my last name was spelled wrong. In her defense, it is an unusual spelling of a fairly common name.

  3. Good morning, Jan. You are so cute standing on the pew with your Mom! I remember writing a story in 4th grade closely resembling Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, LOL Most of my teachers were encouragers. My biggest writing fan/encourager was my late husband, he supported in every way when I began to publish nonfiction magazine articles and a newspaper column. So now while I write I listen to hear his encouraging voice in my ear.

    1. Hi Karen!
      We treasure those teachers who encourage us, don't we? I only shared the ones from elementary school, but I remember encouraging teachers all the way through college. :-)
      My husband is also a great encourager - my sympathies on the loss of your best friend and fan.

  4. I have a lump in my throat, Jan. Such a poignant post! Amazing that you remember the names of your teachers. They were undoubtedly special! In 3rd grade I scored the highest on a writing assignment, and my article on trees, with accompanying art work, hung on the door to our classroom for some weeks. I was so proud and probably realized I wanted to be a writer because of the recognition I received. If only I could recall that teacher's name!

    1. That teacher recognized talent, Debby!

      My husband accuses me of remembering things that happened before I was born, LOL! My memory isn't THAT good, but reading through the pages of this book sparked memories that I hadn't thought of for years - including my teachers' names.

  5. Jan, thank you for taking us down a stroll of your memory lane. Encouragers, they are all around us, but often they are not the people we think should be! I'm sorry any teacher discouraged anything you (or any child in their teaching care) tried. If you truly didn't have a knack for it, maybe they could have gently steered you down a different path (I thought I could one else did, LOL!)

    Both my parents worked long, hard hours when I was young and had little time for spare words - except when it came to practicing my accordian: BLAH!! That was their choice for my cultural education. Again: BLAH! My mom came around many years later and, I guess, thought my stories were good. She encouraged me when I needed it most. My grandmother, on the other hand, always took time to listen to me and share in my joys, including all my efforts to draw and write. Bless her heart, she wasn't an encourager, she was a CHAMPION.

    My absolute worst Discourager was my high school creative writing teacher, Miss Vida. OMG, she was a cute thing and flirted with all the jocks in the class who knew they'd pass by just showing up!! Anyway, I poured my heart into a short story that my mom absolutely loved, and got back a "C" with the only critique being "too sappy and silly."

    Huh. I guess Miss Vida never read a romance novel. Too bad. LOL!

    Audra (aka, Anonymous)

    1. Oh, Audra, I had those same kinds of experiences in college. I knew I could write, but one professor (whose name I certainly remember, but won't mention) never took me seriously and tried to get rid of me by giving me poor grades.
      My problem? I was a Christian and he was not. I saw Christian symbolism in American Literature, but he only saw Freudian psycho-babble stuff.
      I would have quit, but another professor - a kind man who taught poetry - told me "Dr. X doesn't know everything." I kept going.
      But my greatest encouragement in college was at a summer writer's institute where a famous (very famous) author was teaching. During a group critique time he read my submission and said, "This is good. This is very good." I've held on to his comment for years.

      It's amazing how much influence teachers have, isn't it?

    2. And YAY for your grandmother!

      Someday you'll have to play your accordion for us. :-)

  6. You know, I don't remember any encouragers? Not discouragers either. Not with my writing. Hmmmm.... the main thing my mom came home from parent/teachers conferences with is, "Mary is very smart,. We know that despite the complete lack of evidence to back that up."

  7. As an adult though, when I started writing real novels, my family was decently encouraging. My husband is fond of telling people, he wanted to nag and scold about dinner being late and the laundry not being done. To the point he wanted to throw our computer away. But one of my daughters said, "I don't know, Dad. I think she's pretty good."
    Yes, I am lightheaded from all the encouragement.

    1. Yes, I think you're pretty good, too!
      You probably had quite a few backhand encouragers - teachers who saw something but didn't quite know what it was.
      Anyway, you kept writing. Probably to preserve your sanity.

  8. Oh, I'm playing catch up and I love this post so much! LOOK AT THOSE FIRST STORIES!!!!! I love it, Jan! Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!!!!!!! You made me smile and get teary-eyed. Brat. Well done.

  9. I loved seeing your early writing, as well as Jaime Jo's. I'm not a writer, but I've been blessed with more encouragers than discouragers, or maybe I've blocked them out :-). I especially remember my freshmen English teacher, who encouraged me to take Public Speaking and to enter a Speech competition. I think she saw a glimmer in the oral book reports that she so loved to assign. Her confidence helped me later as I delivered Library programs.


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