I was born and raised in the small town of Camp Point, Illinois, the fourth of seven children. We lived in a big old house where there was plenty of room to let our imaginations soar. And my imagination, even at a very young age, was soaring. It wasn’t very long before I began writing down some of the things in my head—short stories, poems, and especially pieces of the long tales that rolled through my head night after night. My mother used to say that she never had trouble getting me to go to bed. She didn’t know that I looked forward to lying awake for awhile and picking up a story where I had left off the night before!
Perhaps my fertile imagination was fed by an active reading environment. Mom and Dad both enjoyed reading (when they had the time). My mother was the local librarian, and the library was only a few blocks from our house. I loved to spend time there and carry stacks of books home. My love of reading grew by leaps and bounds, right along with my love of writing.
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. My favorite part of school was the writing assignments. I couldn’t understand why most of my classmates would groan about them. I wrote in my spare time, and I loved summer vacations because I’d have a lot of time to write. That was when I formed the habit of taking paper with me nearly everywhere.
By the time I was eighteen, I had begun to grow frustrated with what I saw of life, including my own. What was I doing that really meant anything? What was there to do in this world that could mean anything? That was a turbulent time for me, and I took a very hard look at myself and perhaps too hard a look at the world around me. And I laid my writing down—all my dreams and ideas for books. I didn’t see any real significance in them, even though they were dear to me, so I gave them up, never expecting that the Lord would draw me back in that direction.
I wrote poetry, most of it dedicated to God, and some of it was published in newsletters from time to time. Family and friends said they enjoyed it, but I’m not sure any of it was very good. I still thought about stories. Ideas seemed to float into my head, uninvited and at the strangest times. I occasionally wrote them down because they just wouldn’t leave me alone. At the time, I didn’t know that fiction can be a calling. And it was definitely calling me. But I didn’t try to share any of my stories because I still didn’t think there was much point. I worked. I got on with life, made plenty of mistakes, and still tried to live for God. Eventually, I got married and had two beautiful children.
As a wife and mom, my life took on an extra level of busy-ness. For five years, while my kids were little, I was so absorbed with them that I hardly wrote anything at all. But then that “muse” I’d squashed for so long started kicking and screaming. Enough was enough! It may sound funny, but I felt that if I didn’t sit down and write (something, anything!) right away, I was just going to EXPLODE! Whatever was churning inside me could not wait even one day longer. As soon as my husband got home, I asked him to take the kids to the park (“Please! Leave me here alone!”) so I could write. He was pretty startled, understandably. He knew about my occasional poetry and odds and ends, but he didn’t know he’d married a driven, obsessed, absolutely-gotta-do-it WRITER!
By then I had more than a dozen novel ideas, long-untouched and taking up space in a file drawer. I took one out and feverishly started revising it, then set it aside and began a completely new idea. Oh, it felt as wonderful as summer rain! By the time my family came through the door, I was completely hooked. I told my husband that I would have to take some time for my writing.
Thankfully, he thought it was a great idea. So I wrote in snatches while the kids napped, when they played with their Daddy, and especially once they were asleep at night. I churned out page after page, developing a few old ideas and beginning many more new ones. My husband started sneaking in and picking up pages. Or I’d hand him a folder. He would read and then comment positively. I knew he loved to read, maybe even as much as I did. But I knew he loved me too, so I figured all his positive comments were only his sweetly biased way of encouraging me. I wasn’t sure anybody else would care about any of it.
I might have kept on writing and stuffing things away, because I have to write, it’s part of who I am. But my husband wisely urged me to try to get published. (“If you’re going to work at it, you might as well share it!”) Finally, I decided that he might be right. Maybe I should take my need for writing seriously. Maybe I was supposed to do this. Maybe somebody else would like it. And that started our grand adventure.
Now I know that my writing was part of God’s plan for me all along, and he has used the years to get me ready for the things that I write about now. My writing has matured a bit since my early days, as I have, and it is my hope that it will continue to grow with me.
I feel that our family is very blessed. We are members of a wonderful local church that provided the spiritual guidance and fellowship that I desperately needed. I am involved in our church’s worship team and children’s ministry. Our children are currently 15 and 13 years old, and my husband and I are currently homeschooling (a grand adventure in itself!). And it is also my privilege to serve my community as a trustee on our local library board, an especially happy honor for me because the library was so important to me as I was growing up.
I still have files of ideas in various stages of development. The number keeps increasing; I get new ideas faster than I can finish the old ones. So I have my work cut out for me. My completed books are just the beginning. Every story is its own adventure, and I hope you continue to enjoy them as much as I do. But more than that, it has been my prayer to be used by God in the manner of his choosing. Each of my books is ultimately a gift to him, and I hope that you may find in them some glimpse of his awe-inspiring character and boundless love.
Miss you| Posted January 27, 2011
Mrs Kelly, I'll miss you and Justice. Thanks for always being there for everyone, thanks for taking time to teach literature class for us, it was always the funnest class we had at TWIST. Each week I always looked forward to what was next, you really went the extra mile for us. You were one of the most Godly woman I've ever known and you truly reflected God's love. Thanks for everything you've done. You really left an impact on us down here. I'll be praying for comfort for Hosanna and your husband. I can't wait to see you guys again.