About The Author
Lori Diez — as a young child at Sacred Heart Catholic School — had a dream, and today she embarks on making that dream a reality. Her aspirations started during Lent when she, a fourth grader, was collecting money to put in her rice bowl for children in need. Lori told her parents, “If I get a dime from everyone I meet I could buy a lot of rice to feed the children.” It was this vision and the desire to make her dream come true that started her writing.
As a truly blessed mother of three healthy, amazing children, she noticed that after their eighteen years (and counting) in parochial schools there were few books if any that were geared toward the children attending Catholic or Christian schools. Thanks to Randy, her loving husband of twenty-five years whose own personal dreams made it possible for her to be a stay at home mother giving her the opportunity to be active in the daily lives of their children and the time to put her words on paper, she began Angel or Not? Angel for Sure!
To see her dream of caring for children in need to fruition and to show appreciation for the gift of life that was given to her by her maternal and adoptive parents, the author will donate 75% of the net profits from the sales of her book to The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay. The Heart Gallery is a national organization that is instrumental in helping children find permanent homes with loving adoptive families. She hopes to make a dramatic difference by taking an active role in seeing that the monies generated by her book sales go directly to improving the quality of life for children waiting for adoption. Type your paragraph here.
An Odessa author hopes her book helps foster kids find permanent homes
By Arleen Spenceley, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, December 10, 2010
ODESSA — All her life, Lori Diez has looked for a big way to help others. "I wanted to do
something to better the world," she said. In childhood, she hoped to someday feed all the
world's hungry children. That didn't quite happen, but the wife and mom of three still wanted
to help kids in need. This year, she found a way. When Diez, 48, wrote a children's book,
she decided to donate the proceeds to the Heart Gallery Tampa Bay, a traveling exhibit that
encourages adoption so kids in foster care can get permanent families — something Diez
doesn't take for granted.
She was just 3 days old in the spring of 1962 when "the most wonderful, kind, generous two humans" picked her up in Kankakee, Ill.
A family doctor had told the couple of a pregnant 20-year-old patient who didn't want her baby. They decided to adopt. Back then, the process was simple: no lawyer, no agency, Diez said. From Kankakee, they brought Diez to her new home 20 minutes away in St. Anne.
As far back as she can remember, they told her the truth of her history. "I have to credit my parents for their honesty at a time when many thought adoption should be kept a secret," she said.
When she was 2, Diez's family moved from Illinois to Pinellas Park, then to Inverness, where she grew up on a farm. She and her brother and sister — all adopted from different biological parents — learned a lot from their parents.
"Compassion," Diez said. "Never lie. And be giving. My parents were clearly giving; they took three children that weren't theirs and cared for them like their own."
Diez took care of the cows, chickens and horses on the family farm. She helped out with the housework and in the garden.
"Everything we did, we did it together," she said.
• • •
Today Diez lives in Odessa with her husband, Randy. Their son Randy Jr. is 23 and graduates from the University of Florida this month. Their son Mickey is 19 and a student at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. Their 11-year-old daughter, Alexis, is a sixth-grader at St. Lawrence Catholic School.
One thing they grew up doing together is reading, especially at night. "It was part of our tucking-in ritual."
When Alexis was in second grade, Diez thought it might be nice for her daughter to have a book to which she could relate. She found "none about a child in a Catholic school," Diez said. So she wrote her own.
Angel or Not? Angel for Sure! is about a fourth-grader at a Catholic school who, when faced with a bully, has to choose between good decisions and bad ones. Diez self-published the book this year and finally saw her chance to help kids like she had always wanted: She would donate the proceeds to the Heart Gallery Tampa Bay.
The Heart Gallery, funded by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and Hillsborough Kids Inc., seeks to raise awareness about foster kids and find families for them.
"We recruit families for the children who are hardest to place," said Jesse Miller, director of the Heart Gallery. "A lot of teens, sibling groups and children with special needs."
The gallery's mission means a lot to Diez.
"I was fortunate to have parents to call Mom and Dad," Diez said. "Every child deserves to have a family."
Miller said kids who don't have permanent families miss out on what most people probably take for granted.
"Being read to at night, a parent to attend your soccer games, transportation to practice, parents (who) celebrate your birthday," she said. "Normalcy."
About 75 percent of the money from book sales will go to the Heart Gallery. The rest will pay to print the books.
The money will address specific needs, such as a choir robe for a child who wants to sing in a chorus, a yearbook for a high school senior and cleats for a kid who makes the soccer team.
"Small things," Miller said. "but they're very significant to a child."
Mickey Diez, who illustrated his mom's book, admires her willingness to help kids.
"Giving back is wonderful," he said. "I'm so proud that my mom did this not for profit."
The profits, Diez said, will keep kids comfortable while they wait for what Diez knows they need.
"Permanency," Miller said. For a child, "knowing this is my family forever is huge."
Arleen Spenceley can be reached at (813) 909-4617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
For more information about the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, visit online at www.heartgallerytampabay.org.
Interview by CatholicMom.com
Founder: Lisa Hendey
Catholic Book Spotlight:
Angel or Not? by Lori Diez
By Lisa Hendey • Sep 8th, 2010 • Category: Book Club, Books, Education Resources, Kids, Lisa's Blog http://new.catholicmom.com/
Today, I’m very happy to share my recent conversation with Lori Diez, author of the fun book Angel or Not? Angel for Sure , a great read for middle school students!
Q: Thanks so much Lori for joining us for this Spotlight interview! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
To start, I would like to credit my husband of 25 years, Randy, for making it possible for me to be a stay at home mother- which will always be my greatest achievement. We have three wonderful, hardworking children, ages 23, 19 &11, without them all, I would not have had the experiences, time or support needed to write the story.
Q: What motivated you to write this book?
My children have been in Catholic Schools for 19 consecutive years now and the lack of a fun, Catholic centered, chapter book for them to read is what inspired me to write, Angel or Not? Angel for Sure . I wanted our daughter to have a book that was centered on her school and her faith. At the same time, I wanted her to have a book that she could connect with and relate to as a young girl in Catholic school.
Q: How did you enjoy the writing process?
Although I am a dental hygienist by profession and most of my education was geared toward the sciences, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I started by putting the words down and the story seemed to develop before me. It has been a wonderful experience.
Q: For those who have not yet read Angel or Not? Angel for Sure could you please give us a brief overview of the book’s plot?
The story is about a young girl named Angel, who is entering the 4th grade at Sacred Heart Catholic School. It is the end of summer and she has been excitedly awaiting school to start; but from the moment the bell rings she finds that nothing goes as she had expected. To start with, there is a new teacher in the school named Sister Rita that ends up being Angel’s teacher. Then, Angel is confronted with a bully from second grade and has to make the decision to be an Angel or Not? The choice to- do the right thing or not, keeps Angel on her toes. Like every child, at times, she doesn’t choose wisely and must pay the consequences for her choices. The story has a strong family presence as Angel often turns to her Mother, Father and siblings for advice and support. It is a fiction story but the characters are depicted in real life circumstances making it easy for the reader to connect with Angel or any of the characters.
I have incorporated saints, sisters and priests in a variety of ways throughout the story to support our Catholic faith, morals and teachings. There are bolded words within the story that are defined in a “word bank” in the back of the book for teachers to encourage their students to use in order to increase their vocabulary skills.
Q: I fell in love with Angel, the main character in this book. Does she resemble anyone special in your life?
Oh yes. Angel was patterned after my daughter, Alexis. But the experiences that Angel has are more of a combination of events from my own childhood and from those of all my children. How does her faith help her through the challenges she encounters? I believe our faith helps us in every aspect of our life, just as it does for Angel. It gives us the strength to do the right thing, even when it might be difficult. Angel makes the decision, of right or wrong, often in her daily life – just like all children and adults. Life is full of choices and your faith undoubtedly is an influence. At times, we make poor decisions and Angel is no exception. Her choices are not always the best choice, but she learns that with every decision or choice she makes, there is a consequence. Our faith guides us, just as it does Angel, during our moral decisions and it is important in building firm values.
Q: I’ve read on your website that you intend to give a large portion of your proceeds to The Heart Gallery.
Please tell us about this non-profit organization and what has motivated you to assist them with your writing. The Heart Gallery is a photographic gallery of children in the foster care system that are available for adoption. The gallery is displayed in churches, malls and public venues and is instrumental in increasing the placement of children into loving, permanent families.
Although I was never in foster care, I was an adopted child. I was very fortunate and always felt extremely blessed to have two, amazing people that chose to be my parents. I was loved and cared for, and most importantly, I was a member of a family. One year, during Lent when we were trying to fill our rice bowls with money, I told my parents ‘If I get a dime from everyone I meet I will be able to feed all the hungry children.” It was a big vision, but since it began, I have hoped to one day make a profound difference in the lives of children.
Once the book was written, I knew that it was the opportunity that would allow my childhood dream to come true. I have decided to donate 75% of the profits from the sales of the book to the Children of the Heart Gallery, of Tampa. With the monies generated, I will be helping the children in foster care to have a better childhood, while they await adoption.
Q: You’ve written a book that is overtly Catholic in its perspective. Was this a conscious decision and how has the book been received by the Catholic schools in your area?
It was definitely a conscious decision. I intentionally wrote the book in a Catholic school setting so that all Catholic children can associate with the characters. When they read the book I want them to find a level of comfort and familiarity that they don’t find when reading a secular story. Catholic children need to know that there are other children all across the world that pray in school, read about saints, go to mass or say the rosary during school time.
The book was published in April and available in May 2010. I took it to my daughter’s school to have the children, teachers and principal review and critique the story. To say I was very worried, was an understatement, I was extremely nervous about how it would be received. Then, after the first week I started having children come up to me around the school just to tell me how much they liked the book and how they couldn’t wait until the next one comes out. I do not think I can convey in words how touched I was then, and still am, every time a child tells me they love the story. The principal and teachers at St. Lawrence Catholic School have all been very complimentary. They are as excited as I am to have a book for our students to read, that relates to their daily lives.
Q: I know that the artwork in the book was created by a very talented illustrator. Please share this artists’ background with us.
The illustrator is our middle son, Michael “Mickey” Diez. Although he doesn’t feel that he is very talented we believe otherwise. He sketched the pictures for my book over his Christmas holiday and in between his college semesters. Mickey went to Jesuit High School in Tampa where he was honored as the first junior to receive the schools “Best of Show” for his art work, a title usually given to more experienced senior students. He still draws and sketches for fun and relaxation. Like all of our children, he continues to make us proud.
Q: You’ve left the door open for a sequel – what are your plans for Angel in the future? Oh yes, in the back of the book you will find a “teaser” for the next book.
The second book is presently titled, Angel or Not? Ohhh so Not! I have completed one third of the story and hope to have it out in the spring of 2011. As with the first book I believe the moral lessons Angel learns will benefit all children. I have been asked how many books I am planning to write. I do leave that door open but would like to have four books with Angel being in fourth grade.
Q: You’re currently hosting a writing contest to encourage young readers. Could you tell our readers about how they might get their children involved in this contest?
I really do believe that if we are going to read we should learn more than just a story, we should learn a lesson.
The “Story Contest” is about anti-bulling and is an educational tool for teachers (or parents) to help open discussion about bulling and to get their students involved in putting an end to this national epidemic. Writing a story about how to handle or stop a bully from being a bully, just as Angel did, will hopefully increase awareness among the children that -bulling is not an option. Our children know right from wrong and the more open we are that bulling exists the better chance we have of helping our children stop it.
So, the contest is for any child interested in writing their own Anti-Bulling story. Their teacher or parent can submit their story to me at: ContactUs@AngelforSure.com . They can visit the website: www.AngelforSure.com, for more contest rules, timeline and prize information. The winning stories will be published on the website.
Q: Lori, thank you for your time and for Angel or Not? Angel for Sure Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
When my children were young, I would remind them to “do the right thing” and “Be the best you can be” – The choice must be theirs to make, just as the consequences will be theirs to live with.
At the end of my story I have written what I believe any child would benefit from reading, and just in case you are reading this interview, but choose not to read the book, I would like to include it here:
Life is full of lessons. Just like Angel, you can help yourself by taking responsibility for your actions. Ask yourself if you are doing the right thing… and listen to the angel inside you, before you act. Thank you for having me it has been a true pleasure.graph here.