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From Voracious Reader to Historical Romance Writer

Editor’s Note: Today's post is by guest blogger Kelly F. Barr. She's a go-getter, a wife, a mother of three, a burgeoning writer of historical romantic fiction and a lover of flash fiction. Feel free to follow her literary journey at or on LinkedIn right here!


Ever since I learned to read about Dick and Jane, I have loved books. I couldn’t get enough of reading. I was one of those kids who read everything, including the backs of cereal boxes. I wish I would have kept a list of every book I have ever read since I began reading, because I know it is probably longer than Santa’s Christmas list.

Fifth grade is my first memory of tasting writing. Our class had to write a Western diary, pretending we were traveling on a wagon train. The assignment was so much fun. Then in seventh grade, our class was assigned to write short stories that we made into small books, each one with a specific topic of our life experiences: things like one fear we had, one person we admired, etc. I remember my teacher being so pleased and impressed with my writing that she told my mother that she should encourage me in it because I definitely had talent. That began my love of writing.

I wrote poetry and stories all through my high school years and took a correspondence course after high school. However, when I shared some of my writing with my mom, and told her and my dad that I was going to be a published author someday, their response was, “We’ll believe it when we see it.” Their lack of enthusiasm and lack of encouragement cut to my heart, and I gave up writing, figuring that if my parents didn’t think I was any good at it, I must not be.

However, I did continue to write poetry when I felt strong emotions or had a strong opinion about something. I submitted three to the National Library of Poetry, which published poetry anthologies, and all three were published in separate works. That was in the early 1990s.

Not long after that, I got married and, a little over a year after our marriage, we became foster-to-adopt parents and eventually were blessed to adopt three boys. When our oldest had problems in a Christian school because he learned quickly and was always finished before the rest of the class, we entered the world of homeschooling. Therefore, my time was devoted to teaching our children. That didn’t allow time to do any writing. And I still teach our youngest, who is currently of middle school age.

When our oldest son realized he had a love of writing too and people began to praise his pieces, he said something to me that gave my confidence and desire for writing back to me. He said, “Mom, why do you think you aren’t any good at writing? People tell me that I am a good writer, and you are the one who taught me how to write. So if I write well, then you have to be a good writer too.”

It still took two or three more years for me to find time to write, but his words were a balm to my spirit and they awakened that writing desire that I had allowed to lay dormant for too long. So during the summer of 2013, I found Jeff Goins on the internet and I read a blog post he wrote about the importance of calling yourself a writer. He said that when you call yourself a writer, then you’ll believe you are one and you will write. That made sense to me. He also said that it’s important to be a part of a group of writers, so I began to look for a writing group in my area.

In late September 2013, I joined Lancaster Christian Writers and spent the first year just learning and soaking up everything I could about writing because I had been away from it for so long. I didn’t do any writing that first year, except for blogging.

The second year, I began writing a story, though I wasn’t sure what genre I wanted to write. I never really got attached to my characters or got real excited about that story, but I kept writing. And about 11 months later, I heard about a writing contest I decided I wanted to enter it into. However, the entire story had to be completed in thirty days, so I put my nose to the grindstone and pushed to get it finished, only to miss the deadline due to technical difficulties when trying to submit, which brought me to tears. In the morning though, I realized it was a good thing that I hadn’t submitted it because, as I looked over it, I found some major mistakes and realized my ending wasn’t at all the way I had wanted it to be. Plus, I really didn’t like the story.

What I came to realize is that God used that story to get me writing again, but it wasn’t what I was meant to write. I found that I have a love and a desire to write historical romantic fiction and, for a little over a year now, I’ve been working on a book I’m really excited about with characters I genuinely love. It takes place in 1860-1861 and is about a young man who rides for the Pony Express and the feisty young woman who captures his heart.

It isn’t finished yet. It may be another year before it’s ready for publication because, in addition to finishing it, I will most likely have rewrites (I’ve already rewritten a lot of it; some areas more than once) as I have my critique group read and give me feedback on it. Then I will have an editor read it and give me feedback, and will probably have rewrites to do from that. And finally, I will have beta readers read it and give me feedback – and I may have to make some changes one more time before it’s really ready to be released to the world, because I want to be sure it’s the best quality that I’m capable of producing before I release it.

I already have ideas for several other historical romance novels, as well as one contemporary novel, so I plan to be writing for many years to come.



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