Our Successful Author Spotlight today features children’s book author Vicky Stewart, a mom who wrote “Heide Loves To Cheer” in order to “pull back the curtain and give the readers a peek inside the heart of someone who has mental disabilities”. It was Vicky’s goal to share her daughter’s struggles with mental disabilities in a way that helps others understand, empathize and identify. Mental disabilities in our children are something many families struggle and cope with every day. Vicky has chosen to take lemons and make lemonade as she educates children and parents about mental disabilities and autism and illustrate how these children want to be included in play time at home and at school. Vicky teaches us that we are all God’s children and we can all learn from each other.
As I began our conversation, I asked Vicky “What one past experience changed the course of your life?” She shared the following “When I was fifteen years old, I went to bible camp one time. I prayed the prayer of repentance— and I have spent my life honoring that prayer. I have never burned bridges. I think about what would happen if I had to go back so I don’t burn bridges. When you live like that, you don’t make enemies. I always think about that when I am leaving a job or end a relationship, always think about how I may want to go back over that bridge. Even when I leave a church, I always talk to the pastor before leaving to let him know why– so I don’t burn a bridge. I just think it’s the right thing to do.”
Since this is the first children’s book in a series Vicky plans to write, I asked her “what is your writing method when you start a project?” She explained “My books are geared toward 8-10 year olds meant to mold them into being a responsible young adult. I always keep that in mind. I just pray and ask the Lord to give me what He would have me write. I wrote poetry from God for years- I just pray and I then write. “Heide” will be a series. The first two stories were sold to Kids Power Hour on the internet. “Fast Like Lightning Because That’s How Billy Runs” was the first book. The next book will be “Sarah, The Neighborhood Bully”. I think it’s important to show that a girl can be a bully also. When I write, I just pray first, then I write until I feel like I should stop. It was a four year process to write this book. I may take five months off and then start writing again. I just follow the Lord.”
Because Vicky has had such great success getting into local bookstores, both independent and chain, I thought it would be helpful to our audience to glean from her experience. I asked her “How did you get access to your local bookstore and what steps did you take that may help others?”
She freely shared her experience and offered advice to our audience.
“I had my book signing at Barnes and Noble in Brandon, Florida, which is the next big town close to where I live. I simply called and asked if they promote local authors? They asked to have all of the links to the new book. I sent the press release to the manager, and she invited me to join a small group of local authors that she had invited to read from their books. The manager felt that the premise for my book was interesting and educational. She liked that it represented a hero who has a disability. Since then, I have done the same thing in other neighboring cities. I always ask if they promote local authors and allow book signings. Family Christian Bookstore in Lakeland, Florida now carries my book in their store. This happened after my March 2013 book signing. You have to be bold enough to ask the chain stores—in my situation, they both offered me opportunities just because I asked. I know God opened those doors because it does not follow the normal marketing plan. Most stores make you pay to have a book signing and require you to bring your own books, but both stores supplied my books and the table—all I had to do is talk. Family Book Store just asked me to just read my own book to the children in the store. I’ve been able to encourage both the children and the parents.”
Vicky went on to reminisce. “It was a real humbling experience the day my book was delivered and I got to see it in color for the first time! I cried—I prayed that God would use it wherever He chose to use it. I have learned that “If you can do it on your own, God’s not in it”. It‘s like soul winning– just one book at a time, one soul at a time.”
Speaking about her daughter and this book, Vicky opened up “My daughter is often asked if this book is her, and she says “no, but it’s about someone like me”. I tell her that everyone is special but she is extra special! She is not Heide, but she inspires others just like Heide!”
When I asked her “What is the most important life event you have had?” She boldly shared “Salvation and being baptized in the Holy Ghost. That gives me my future and my eternity. In the 1980’s, I accepted Christ, in my late twenties. I got the baptism of the Holy Ghost on 2/10/1996—a day I will never forget!”
I asked Vicky “What message do you want shared by the story of your life?” This quiet, soft spoken mom of an extra special child shared “You can make a difference and you can stumble, but you gotta get back up– and you get back up by keeping a hold of God’s hand.”
When I asked her “What would you tell others about your relationship with Christ that would inspire them?” her voice became spirited and excited as she declared “No matter what the trial is, He never leaves you, He never forsakes you and the waters will not overtake you– Isaiah 43.”
As I asked Vicky my signature question “What will they write on your gravestone that will sum up your life?” her smile was detected in her voice as she responded “Encouraging to others and a giving person who cared about others.”
I wondered “What inspires you?” and she responded “The Mountains inspire me- it is God’s majesty– the way it was before man changed it. We have property in Trenton, Georgia, and then the first mountain in Tennessee is the Sequatchie Mountain. Our property is on the top of that mountain—it’s between two mountains, like the land that time forgot. Trenton has an entire population of 16,000. When you visit Trenton, they ask strangers “where do you hail from because we don’t know ya” at a restaurant. It’s just that small and everybody knows everybody—and they all know when they don’t know you!”
Vicky then went on to share the miracle of her daughter’s birth as a point of inspiration. She shared “When they induced me, it was a miracle. If that doctor had not induced me, she would have been stillborn. The water went all into her lungs when my water broke. She didn’t cry for the longest time. Then the chord was wrapped around her neck three times, choking her. The doctors told us “she won’t live three days.” But she did, and we took her home– but they said she wouldn’t live five years. But she did! Then they told us ten. And she did! Then they told us twelve—after she beat all of those odds, the doctors quit predicting when she would die because they were wrong every time. For a baby who wouldn’t live past three days–She is thirty-two now!”
I felt the inspiration in the story of her daughter’s birth—a child the doctors said would not live; but God had another plan for Vicky’s daughter!
I sensed her dedication to the Word as I asked her “What is your theme scripture and why?” Vicky spoke in a calm, steady voice as she recited “Psalm 138:8 The Lord perfects! That word perfects means that He brings to maturity- – it has encouraged me my whole life, through all of my life.”
As we drew to a close, I asked my final question “When you get to Heaven, what do you want to hear The Lord say to you?”
This heroic mom of an extra special girl just whispered “Well done, my good and faithful one!”
As I considered all that I had learned from this mom who loves her child enough to share their story so others could learn and benefit from it, I was thankful for the lesson taught and the love shared. We look forward to the next installment of the “Heide” book series—anxious to learn what Heide has to teach us!
Find Vicky Stewart’s book “Heide Loves To Cheer” on the Xulon Press Bookstore.