Marita:  This book is a book I have wanted to write for a long time. My editor said. "No, No. Compilations books are a fad that will pass."

But the idea would not die. For me this book is special because through it I have been able to fulfill the publishing dreams of many.

Through the CLASSeminar, I have the opportunity to train hundreds of people each year in speaking and writing. Many of them feel called to getting their message out there. Through this book, a collection of stories, many people saw their name in print for the first time. When I handed some of the ones I know personally their first copy of the book with their words and their name in print, they cried. It brought tears in my eyes to see their joy. That makes this book special.

But, as I mentioned, the stories are a good model because they are like a friend giving you a hug.

In 2003 I had a particularly tough year which included my father's death in late 2002, my publisher killing two of my books, an employee having an awful accident that kept her out of work for three months, making the decision to end the SCWR (Southern California Women’s Retreat) which I had run for 23 years, and the death of my dream house.

During that tough time, a friend sent me a note that said something like, “Remember, you can trust in God.” It made me angry. "Like you think I am not? How do you think I am getting through this?"

Of course, I did not say anything to her, as I knew she meant well. But that was how I felt inside. That stuck with me as I complied the book. The story format is bite sized so the reader -- a person who needs to be lifted up can handle a short shot of encouragement -- a hug -- to carry them through. When you are in a tough place, I find we do not want a big, thick tome about the psychology of the issue. We need a friend and the story for mat provides that. Plus, each story was selected for its ability to leave the reader with a smile.

Eva Marie: How many stories do you have?

Marita:  There are over 100 stories. Honestly I do not know the exact count, but it is around 115.

Eva Marie:  Do you have a favorite among the favorites?

Marita:  Several. My sister’s story is the favorite for the funny level. Which is interesting since her specialty is in the grief area and her story if the funniest. I often tell people to read it first.

Eva Marie:  I remember you telling me to read it first. And you're right. It is funny!

Marita: There is another that impacted me the most and I get teary when I tell about it -- though it is not a tear jerker. It’s titled "The Wrong Story."

Eva Marie:  What is it about? (Not that I want you to cry. ...)

Marita:  "The Wrong Story" is Debbie Robbins' first published work. In it she tells about a habit she and her sister had. They like to people watch. If someone stood out in a crowd, they'd look at their attire and make up a whole life story about that person.

Eva Marie: Ah ha. ...

Marita:  One day in an airport, there was a forty-ish woman dressed in teenage clothes. She looked foolish. They made up a wonderful story about her life.

When they boarded the plane -- on SWA where the seats face each other -- this woman was across from them. They were mortified. As they chatted, the woman told them she was on her way home form her baby sister's funeral and she chose to wear her sisters clothes to help her feel closer to her sister.

Eva Marie:  Wow ... what a lesson learned, huh?

Marita:  It surely taught them a lesson! I am a people watcher too, and tend to be judgmental in my observations, so that hit home

That is probably the one that impacted me the most. But each story holds a powerful lesson. Some are funnier than others -- but all will leave you with a smile, leave you feeling lifted up