Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What One Writer Learned From Barbie

By Guest Blogger Liz Johnson
My favorite toy as a kid had to be my Barbies. My sister and I had quite the collection. From Skipper to Midge to Ken, we had them all—although there was quite a bit smaller selection back then. We even had a home-made Barbie house made from an old bookshelf. It was the perfect four-story home furnished with a hodgepodge of miniature furniture. 
My sister and I spent hours together playing with those dolls, and I loved it for two very specific reasons. First, it was one of the few times that we weren’t fighting over my lack of cleaning skills. 
downing.amanda via Flickr
Second … well, I got to make up stories for my little characters. I created backstories and detailed relationships for the dolls. I changed their clothes and their names. I changed their hair and their stories. I got to tell the tale that my mind conjured from the instant I saw them. 
I’ve always loved that about dolls of all kinds. They’re intended for pretending. And boy, do I ever love pretending. I conjure new stories, new obstacles, and new ways for the hero to prevail and get the girl.
Even when I was seven with Ken and Barbie in my hands, I was a hopeless romantic. No matter what happened the guy had to get the girl. He just had to. 
I’m still that way in my writing. I still think about how the people in my story are going to overcome the newest hurdle. Will they ever survive the brutal test I’m going to put them through? Will they be able to forgive when they need to, apologize when they’re at fault, get past a past that seems intent on hanging on?
Oh, it won’t be easy. I’m good at making sure of that.
Tinker*Tailor via Flickr
But they’re still my characters, and I’m always rooting for a happy ending. 
Even though I don’t play with the stories of dolls anymore or fight with my sister over whose turn it is to vacuum our room, Barbie dolls will be my favorite toy for a long time because they helped me get to where I’m at now. Writing tales that thousands read. 
About the author:
Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.
            Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at
Liz Johnson's new release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired is called Vanishing Act. It's her second novel for Steeple Hill. 
"Eighteen months ago, Nora James watched as her father was shot in an alley-and then she fled. She changed her name, her appearance and her job, hoping to keep her father’s shooter at bay. For months, it worked…but now her luck has run out. A ruthless assassin is on her trail, and soon Nora, now known as Danielle, will be found. But this time, she has FBI agent Nate Andersen by her side-right? The handsome agent would give his life to protect Danielle, but he’s wary of giving his heart…until a deadly confrontation leaves him with both on the line."
Vanishing Act is available for purchase at the following locations or wherever your favorite Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense novels are sold:
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  1. I am never going to look at another Barbie the same way ever again.

  2. My sister and I used to put on concerts with our Barbies. Amy Grant and David Meece and Bryan Duncan... Anybody else remember them? We'd get them all dressed and pop in a tape.

    Ah, memories. This is a great theme.

  3. Louise! What are you doing up at 3am?

    Welcome Liz! what a joy to have you visit and take part in our toys and games theme. We would have been a sorry lot to have Barbie left out this week, huh?

    Barbies were the universal language of girls when I was growing up. If you went to someone's house that you didn't really know, you could always find a way to play together over the roof of a Dream House or Barbie's Corvette. Actually I wasn't much of a Barbie girl on my own. She and I didn't have a lot in common, though we may be close in age!

    Thanks for bringing Liz over to play, Niki.

  4. Well I have been fighting a sinus infection all week. Also, I had some very disruptive stuff going on personally last evening so I was not sleeping well.

  5. Ah, Louise, peace to you and healing today!

    Deb, I had the purple Barbie Corvette. No dream house, though. Barbie lived in various closets. My best friend and I would write tiny Barbie sized letters from her Barbie's character to mine and exchange them at school.

    BTW, for more with Liz, I've got an interview up with her at my blog today. Fun stuff! Come by!

  6. By the way, to let you all know I have a blog on the site if anyone is interested.

  7. Welcome, Liz. Great post!

    My sister and I each had Skipper dolls. I could sit there for hours and bend their knees, but I was worried it would break so I'd force myself to stop after a dozen times or so. I just couldn't believe they bent. And I didn't understand why their arms didn't do the same at the elbows.

    I never had a real Barbie. I always assumed it cost too much, but now in hindsight, I wonder if Mom just thought Skipper was more fun. Maybe I'll ask her one day.

    Thanks for spending a day with us Liz.

    Anita Mae.

  8. Hey, Louise, What's the url for your blog post?

  9. The link for my blog is as follows

  10. Thanks for the post, Liz! (And thanks to Niki for having you over!) I loved Barbies. Loved them. Last time I went to my parents' house, I found furniture I'd made for my dolls -- I guess I should use the term "furniture" loosely. I actually hammered fabric scraps into chunks of wood to make them chairs. Hmm.

    Like Lisa, my Barbies sang in concerts! Wahoo! The coffee table was the stage.

    Louise, thanks for your url. So sorry to hear you've got some stuff going on. As for the sinus infection, I hear you. I'm on week 7 of mine.

  11. Thanks Louise!

    Susie, I did furniture and fixings and apparel out of the strangest things myself. That was the best part of the fun. My grandmother actually knitted and crocheted little outfits for Barbie. I guess she liked the challenge!

    Niki, so what did your Barbies write to each other as? Dear Barbie, signed Barbie?

    (I wrote letters from my wishniks - trolls but at least they all had different names...)

  12. Thanks Liz (and Niki) for a really fun post! I had a bunch of Barbies as a kid. My mom sewed lots of clothes for them, and I would make furniture and things out of empty boxes. I had the Barbie airplane, and the horse. Sadly, the only Barbie that could ride the horse was the one I didn't have (which I found out when I snapped off one of my doll's legs). Not sure why I had the horse but not the rider. A mystery of youth!

  13. Thanks so much for having me! This was such a fun post to write. I'm glad to know that Barbies hold such a special place in so many hearts. :)


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