Remembering Terri – Lights! Camera! Action!

About a year and a half ago, I interviewed my friend, Janice Steele, about her memoir Remembering Terri. Remembering Terri is the love story between a mom and her adult special needs daughter, and the complicated grief after Terri’s unexpected death at the age of 43. It’s also a story of hope and strength.

Shortly after the book was published, Janice pitched it to an independent film company. Remembering Terri was chosen and Janice began working with a screenwriter to adapt the book into a film. Eventually a short clip, Rise and Shine, was produced, and recently nominated for three awards in the company. Last week Janice was notified Rise and Shine won the company’s Trailblazer Award!

Rise and Shine will now become a full-length film. The actress portraying Terri has already been cast but filming won’t start until the summer of 2023. As Janice said, “I’ve been told things move slow in Hollywood.”

So excited for Janice, for Remembering Terri, and for others to meet Janice and her daughter through the film. Congratulations Janice!

If you missed the original interview, I’ve included it here.

An Interview with Janice Steele

I met Janice in 2019 when she was looking for someone to write her daughter’s story. Terri was born with developmental delays that were challenging for her and for Janice, but Janice’s greatest challenge was knowing how to live, after her daughter’s unexpected death.

I was working on the church book at the time and knew I didn’t have the time to write Janice’s book, but I agreed to meet her for lunch. Listening to her talk about Terri’s joys, strengths, struggles, and above all her infectious laughter and love, I knew Janice was the one to write her own story . . . despite her protests that she wasn’t a writer.

She handed me a manila envelope of what she called her little scraps of stories and memories. I took them home and after reading them, it was obvious she already had her book. All that was needed was giving her vignettes some order, fleshing them out, and weaving them together.

Janice and I became fast friends and began a partnership where I’d send her questions about the manuscript and she’d fill in the blanks. It was a joy working with her, and there was truly a sense of the sacred to be trusted with this personal, emotional, and ultimately uplifting work, Remembering Terri.

While she still doesn’t see herself as a writer, Janice is a gifted storyteller, bringing the mix of raw emotions that come from loving and losing a child. But it’s also the story of a mom’s strength before and after that loss.

Please meet my friend, Janice Steele.

Memoirs are windows into a specific time or moment in a person’s life. Janice, what is the story behind your story? What was the spirit behind needing to write about Terri?

When Terri died and disappeared from this earth, I had this horrifying fear she would slowly fade from my mind and the minds of those who loved her. I promised Terri I would never let that happen.

Terri’s story burned inside of me every day. I wanted the whole world to know my precious daughter. Desperate to tell her story, I just sat down and started writing – no outline, nothing but her story to go on. I didn’t even realize I was supposed to have an outline until I joined an online writer’s guild. I thought to myself – if I can just get her story down on paper, I can find an author to write the book.

Then I met you, Kim. What a blessing! I will forever remember our first meeting. Before ever looking at my rough draft, you explained to me that because I had lived mine and Terri’s story, I was the only person qualified to tell it. This book would have never been possible without you. I am eternally grateful.

As it turns out, writing the book has been therapeutic. It has helped me survive the loss of my daughter.

Oh, thank you Janice. I remember that day and your face as you told me about Terri. No way could I have brought that emotion and honesty to your story.

So, what was the most surprising part of writing your book? Did you discover anything about yourself and/or your daughter that you didn’t expect?  

I was surprised to learn Terri will always be my hero. I was so busy taking care of her when she was with me, I hadn’t stopped to think about how truly amazing she was. As humans we have a tendency to take for granted the ones we love most when they are with us. In addition to developmental limitations since birth, she suffered from debilitating migraine headaches, and a severe emotional disorder.  The truly beautiful thing about Terri is she didn’t allow any of these things to define who she was. She was a beautiful, loving, compassionate person – full of life, full of joy.

Terri was brave. She didn’t complain or feel sorry for herself.  When she was sick, I would often tell her how sorry I was. I still remember her saying, “It’s okay Momma, it’s not your fault.” I will forever marvel at her strength and courage. We should all strive to live our lives as Terri did.     

What was the most challenging or difficult part of writing your story?

The most challenging part of writing this book was my total lack of writing experience. It was difficult for me to put into words what I wanted to say. My negative inner voice questioned every word I typed and was constantly reminding me I was not a writer. With this handicap, it was a real challenge to stay the course and persevere to the end. Thank you, Kim, for cheering me on to the finish line.

You don’t give yourself enough credit, Janice. You took classes online and researched much before we connected. You are a writer. And you were easy to cheer on!

What do you hope readers learn about Terri?

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Terri had special needs, yet she had so much to offer. God gave her a special ability to love. She touched so many lives, especially mine. Terri has given me far more than I ever gave her. 

We all have the choice as to how we will live our lives. In spite of her limitations and illness Terri chose to live her life with joy. She found joy in the simple things of life. She was always running up to people telling them about her new battery, headphone radio, or latest watch. Her laughter was infectious. After reading Remembering Terri, I pray my readers will hear life’s music, as she did.

What do you hope people take away from reading your and Terri’s memoir?

I hope people will realize how short life is and will cherish every moment with the people they love. Life can and will change in an instant. I never dreamed I would be left in this world to live without Terri. Suddenly without warning my life was shattered-forever changed. I often think of the things I wish I had done differently. I remember several years before she died I was working on a project at work. This project had a deadline and sometimes I would work 16 hours a day including the weekends. One day Terri came to my office door and told me I worked all the time and I was not spending enough time with her. I apologized and told her we would do something really special when I completed my project. I completed the project and life returned to normal, but I don’t remember anything special I did to make up for time that was lost forever. Regrets are hard to live with.

A powerful message and I can’t believe you didn’t do something special, even if you don’t remember. Let’s talk a little bit about the actual physical book. I fell in love with the cover as soon as you sent me the image. So the first question.

Where did the beautiful cover art come from?

There are so many details that go in to writing a book.  One such detail is the cover design. Before I even thought about a book cover my sister, Diane, sketched the tree with the empty swing on a napkin and found the beautiful pink blossoms on the Internet. The idea originated from Terri’s love to swing. For her entire life she spent hours swinging in her swing while listening to her headphone radio. It was her favorite pastime. The blossoms had to be pink, Terri’s favorite color.     

Anything you want to share, any advice about self-publishing?

I chose to self-publish my book. As a new author, I knew it would be a long-shot for me to find a traditional publisher. If I thought writing a book was hard, I was overwhelmed with all the things that went into getting a book published. Once the book was written, in addition to your services as my editor, I needed a designer for the front and back cover, and someone to format the interior. It was a whirlwind of decisions and required quite a bit of research. Once again I was blessed. Glenda Manus, a local and well-known author, came to my rescue. She advised me on all of the decisions that needed to be made and helped me upload my book to Amazon.

Most authors will tell you marketing is the most difficult aspect of self-publishing. My cousin, a marketing consultant, offered to help. Because of Ann’s expertise, the book signing at our local Arts Council was a huge success. We estimated there were 200 people in attendance. It was standing room only. The arrival of COVID has put a damper on our state-wide book tour. However, I am geared up and ready to go when the time is right. In conclusion, my success as a self-published author has been surrounding myself with the right people. Everyone has a story to tell. If I can do it, so can you!

What is the one question you’d love to answer, but no one has asked!

I can’t think of a question I would love to answer, but no one has asked. Yet I can think of something I would like for people to do for me. Don’t be afraid to talk with me about my daughter. I need to hear the stories of the times you spent with her.  Yes, it will make me tear up, but it is okay. They are tears of happiness. Priceless memories of Terri are all I have left of her. Please share them with me. Help me keep her memory alive. I promised her.

To purchase and read more about the love between Janice and her daughter, Remembering Terri is available through

Another way that Janice continues to work through the grief over the death of her daughter is through a support group she founded for parents who have lost a child.

If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a child, these parents are there to listen. The group is currently meeting via Zoom because of Covid restrictions. You can contact Janice at for more information.

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1 Response to Remembering Terri – Lights! Camera! Action!

  1. quinonesev1 says:

    What wonderful news! Congratulations, Janice!

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