Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

The Cross & the Pen: Author Martha Bolton

  • Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
  • 2004 28 Dec
The Cross & the Pen:  Author Martha Bolton

Welcome to “The Cross & the Pen,”’s author-to-author interview column!

Ask anyone who knows me and knows me well and they’ll tell you how much I love a good comedy. Which means, of course, that I’m pretty crazy about comedians. And, boy, have I met one!

Several years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Martha Bolton ("Cooking with Hot Flashes" Bethany House Publishers, 2004). Recently, when I saw the title of her new book, I contacted her and said, “Girl, please! Send me a copy and send it now!” This is one humor book I can certainly relate to. After all, wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago, as I stood in the cool terminal of the airport, awaiting my luggage at baggage claim, that I suddenly broke out in a sweat and – within a matter of seconds – was drenched as though I’d been in a rain storm? Wasn’t it earlier just that morning that I paused in the plucking of my eyebrows to yank at a few strays poking out of my chin? Hadn’t I, while sitting on the airplane, complained to my seatmate about the ache in my hip?

Well, Martha sent the book, I read (no howled through) it, and then we got together for a little chitchat. Wanna listen in?

Eva Marie:  Martha, I loved your book, "Cooking with Hot Flashes"! Laughed until I embarrassed myself (this was when I was in the doctor's office for the second time in a week, naturally). But, before we get into the book and the agony and angst of growing older, will you tell our readers a bit more about yourself?

Martha:  Well, I used to be a church secretary before becoming a professional writer. I used to "roast" the pastor, Sunday school superintendent, church treasurer, or whoever was having a birthday, anniversary or other special event. I would tell jokes about them like a Friar's Club roasts. I had to keep changing churches a lot.

Eva Marie:  Ah, but I happen to know that you used to work for someone pretty famous – let's say someone who gave the world a whole lot of laughter.

Martha: I was a staff writer for Bob Hope for fifteen years. Not only was he a comedy legend, but also he was a very nice man. There will never be another one like him. He is missed by so many.

Eva Marie:  And? (Don’t hold out now ... )

Martha:  Okay, okay. One of the first comedians I ever wrote for was Phyllis Diller. She has always been so encouraging. I also wrote for Wayne Newton's USO show, and have written for Ann Jillian, Kathy Troccoli, Jeff Allen, and Mark Lowry. Writing for comedians keeps me out of the kitchen, which is my public service.

Eva Marie:  Oh, the sacrifices you’ve made, Martha! We are all indebted. (Laughing) I would have to say, then, that humor is something like your middle name. It's no wonder then that you've written such a funny book about what many find to be an unfunny time. Was that your hope, though? To help us, more or less, laugh at ourselves?

Martha:  Laughter is a survival tool. When you look in the mirror and realize you're starting to grow your own turtleneck, what else can you do but laugh

Eva Marie:  Let's talk about some of the chapters. Do you have a favorite?

Martha:  I think I especially like "Take Our Money ... Please." It's a chapter about how the marketing people are forgetting a large portion of the spending public – the middle-ager. I also like the "Suggested Movies" and "Broadway Plays" for middle-agers. Movies like "Hey, Dude, Where's My Teeth?", "Gangs of Palm Beach," and "Catch You If I Can."

Some of the recommended Broadway plays for middle-agers include "Annie, Get Your Girdle," "West Side Bursitis," and "I'm Miserables."

Eva Marie:  I also enjoyed your lists, like, for example, the Bumper Stickers for Middle Agers. "Friends don't let friends drive napping" and "The light at the end of the tunnel is your optometrist." Where'd you come up with these? Oh! And I loved the tunes for Aging Baby Boomers! "Glen Campbell's "By the Time I Get My Teeth In." Again, how did you come up with these!?

Martha:  I get up early and write and stay up late at night and write. I've found that some of the funniest ideas will come when the house is quiet. A deadline helps, too. I also love to work with an idea until I make myself laugh. I figure if I'm making myself laugh, maybe someone else will laugh, too. And since they say that a hearty laugh burns up 35 calories, it's become my new exercise plan. Laughing's a lot easier than working out on a treadmill (especially since my pillow keeps getting stuck on the conveyor belt).

Eva Marie:  Your book helps us poke fun at growing older – at having a body temperature that goes from a normal 98.6 to 107 degrees at the mere tick tock of a clock, at having our hair fall out of our heads and suddenly sprout on our chins, at our middles becoming poster children for proving the law of gravity. But, isn't there at least one good point to growing older? (And I ask that with my tongue pushed so far into my cheek I look like I'm sprouting a tumor!)

Martha:  There are plenty of advantages, especially to getting forgetful. Why, just look at all the new cars we get to drive home. And there are advantages to hot flashes, too. We get invited to a lot more outdoor parties (we can serve as the heating lamp). So, yes, the middle-age years aren't all bad.

Eva Marie:  Because you see so much humor in this, would you suggest your book to say someone who views growing older as the worst thing in the world? Or just to those of us who have decided to ride it for all its worth into the sunset?

Martha:  I'd have to say both. I think if you've already decided to take life as it comes, to laugh whenever you can, and accept those things that you can't change, then you'll enjoy this book. And if you haven't found a lot to laugh about during the middle-age years, then I'd say you definitely need this book. We can't stop the clock from ticking, no matter how much we'd like to. If we're lucky, we're going to keep adding birthdays. We might as well make them a celebration, rather than something we dread.

Eva Marie: I second that. Um, yeah. I think I do. What were we talking about?

Martha Bolton is a full-time comedy writer and the author of more than fifty books, including "Cooking with Hot Flashes" and "Didn't My Skin Used to Fit?" She was a staff writer for Bob Hope for fifteen years and has also written for Phyllis Diller, Wayne Newton's USO show, Ann Jillian, Mark Lowry, Jeff Allen, and numerous other entertainers.  She co-wrote the song, "God Help the USA" with Bill Gaither, and is well known for her song parodies.  Her writing has appeared in Reader's Digest, "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books, and Brio magazine. She has received four Angel Awards and an Emmy nomination. She and her husband live in Tennessee.

Eva Marie Everson is the very busy author of fiction works like "Shadow of Dreams", "Summon the Shadows", and "Shadows of Light" and nonfiction works like "Intimate Encounters with God" and "Intimate Moments with God." To find out more about having Eva Marie come to speak to your group, please visit   Eva Marie and husband Dennis have been happily married for over 25 years.