sandyThe (Short) Story of My Life

I could begin this biography by telling you when I was born. Let’s just say, “Yes, I was!” Time, especially to children, means nothing. I once remember telling my 4th grade elementary school class that I was 96. To my horror, they believed me!

I grew up on a farm north of Garden City, Kansas. My playgrounds stretched from the yard to the fields and out into the pasture. I climbed every tree on the place, but my favorite prairie tree was the windmill. I loved to shinny to the top and feel the wind surge through the blades and pump the water from deep within the ground. It seemed that I was in rhythm with the very heartbeat of the earth.

On my Kansas playground I became whatever our play called for--a pirate, a cowboy, an Indian, a jungle explorer, a posse rider, a member of the Jesse James Gang--this is where my stories were born.

I think that I have always written. I still have a poem that I penned around third grade. In junior high I wrote while I daydreamed in my classes. In high school I wrote for our school newspaper. I wrote while driving the tractor or the wheat truck as my dad’s farmhand. I wrote in college. I wrote. I wrote. I wrote. And I write.

In 1977 the most dashing man waltzed into my life and swept me off my feet into a world of happily ever after. God chose him to be a pastor and we have been in the ministry for twenty-six years. As a result of my husband’s ministry I have had the joy of speaking to women at meetings, Mother-Daughter teas and retreats. I have written many skits just for these occasions. Even there, God uses me to write. I didn’t know that he could do that. What wonderful surprises he has given me.

God has blessed my husband Greg and me with four children. They have been the subjects of many of my children’s picture books. It’s a joke around our house that if you do it, Mom will write about it! However, I can be bribed into adding, “The names have been changed to protect the guilty!”

I am a teacher. I love teaching, whether it is Sunday school or when I was teaching my classes in elementary school. Children keep me young and dreaming. They are the best audience for my work. I have read my stories to them and they would critique me.

Often would I hear, “Wow! Please read another chapter.” I can live with that.

Just who am I? That has always been a puzzle .When I used to be a stay-a-home mom and I had to fill out ‘occupation’ on any sheet of paper my kids brought home, I would get a very fine tip pin and begin: housewife, mother, laundry woman, chauffer, referee, teacher, accountant, cook, maid, writer, artist and etc. Truly I am all those things. I am married to the most wonderful preacher that I know, Greg Waggoner, and we have stuck it out for 37 years. I taught fourth and second grade at Will Rogers Elementary in Amarillo, Texas and now am a retired teacher traveling fulltime with my husband in evangelism. Since I am mostly talking about my writing career, I’ll tell you that I have written all of my life. I started out drawing and painting only to discover that writing is an extension of those art forms. Writing is painting pictures with words. Writing is expressing feeling and emotions. Writing is saying something dear to your heart in a story. Writing is wonderful! I have written in the classroom, while driving the tractor and on the wall of my bathroom with eyeliner because I didn’t have a pencil and I wanted to remember a thought.

Now, about the Gatlin Fields series: My daddy (who was a wheat farmer), and my mom are with the Lord. Both were very busy while my brother, Larry, and my sister Cathy and I were growing up. Daddy held down three jobs and Mama worked two. We, the kids, pitched in. The one special family time each day was supper. Sometimes supper was fairly early and sometimes supper was after dark when daddy came in from the wheat fields. The sun had set hours before, and we ate with the moon light shining through the window. Talk around the table was serious, funny and often a history lesson. Mama and Daddy were both kids during the Depression which was often called “The Dirty Thirties” or “The Dust Bowl.” Mama’s daddy worked for the railroad, and mama was born in a Santa Fe box car near Frizzel, Kansas. That box car home housed their family of seven, plus their dog, Rollie, for years, until finally they were able to get a real house. The last three children were lucky enough to be born there. The youngest, my Aunt Charlene, decided to make her appearance in this world during a December blizzard, and the doctor got snowed in with them. As mama was one of the older girls, she was often in charge of the younger kids. One of her favorite baby setting techniques was to put the little one in the wagon and roll her out into the sun. Of course the baby would close her eyes and be asleep in no time. It made the job much easier. Mama also told of the time she made a pineapple up-side-down cake. This was a treat and only done when company came. As soon as that cake was popped out of the stove it was served. Company always was served first and the one who made the cake last. When mama slapped the last piece on her plate she noticed a tail stringing from beneath. She flipped the piece over and groaned. A hot mouse had sought to cool off in her cake batter. The rest of the cake had already been eaten. The story spread like wild fire and mama became the laughing stock at school. She did learn to preheat the oven, though Daddy lived on one of those farms you only hear about now. You know the kind where the field was worked behind a couple of horses. The house had all of two rooms. His mom and Dad had ten kids. Mom and dad and the girls lived in the house. The boys slept in the corn crib. Daddy told about three boys sharing a bed held up with a couple of hunks of fire wood. Daddy was the most ornery kid on earth. He would laugh as he told of kicking the firewood from beneath the 4 bed and his brothers tumbling onto the floor. He was always in trouble at school. There was never enough money to buy school books or supplies. What ever he learned he grasped as it floated by. Most of his time was spent with his nose in the corner, which he preferred. Then he didn’t have to do the school work. Often he would jab the horses on the way home from school and tell his sisters in the back of the wagon that they were run-a-ways. Daddy tells of throwing hay down on his brother and of the wild chase that would pursue. Once his brother threw a hammer and hit him in the back. Daddy said it really didn’t hurt, but he pretended he was dying. When my publisher, Janet Shay (Sable Creek Press) asked me if I would consider writing a book that took place during the depression, I didn’t even hesitate. I knew the era well. I started pulling my daddy and mamma’s childhood experiences from my memory banks, dug into history books and prayed. Maggie, Opal and Pearl’s characters are combinations of my mama and her sisters. Cecil, Elbert, Jed and Jess are characters that could have lived in my daddy’s family. Because my parents made their childhood live for me around the Supper table, these characters live in the Gatlin Fields series. I hope you will enjoy meeting the family in Maggie’s Treasure. Through In the Shadow of the Enemy you will struggle with Maggie as she fights the enemy, depression and a need to earn money that very few have. You will laugh, cry and celebrate as Maggie learns God’s way to overcome. When Secrets Come Home will help you explore the hope of victory for Maggie and her family, as secrets are revealed. The fourth and final book of the series, After the Dust Settles, takes you through a series of events full of mystery and triumph. The books are targeted for the Tweens, but anyone that has touched the Depression era (young and mature) will be attracted to this series. I am also excited about the other books God has allowed me to write, Danger At Wolf Rock, Son Of An Honest Man, the first book in a new Calendar Series – July Is Coming, and a new Missionary Story Journey To The Far Islands.

Other Information:
Sandy (Davis) Waggoner graduated from Garden High School in 1971. Her dad, Art Davis, farmed north of Garden City/Holcomb. She graduated from Emporia State University in 1977 with a BA of Science and Education.