I had the privilege of meeting Kathleen this year at Killer Nashville and was in the audience when she gave this inspiring speech as she accepted the Lisa Jackson scholarship, which allowed her to attend the conference. After hearing her speak with such eloquence about the gift of writing, I asked if I could share her message with you as my December post. Through her words, Kathleen has reminded me of all the wonderful possibilities writing brings to this world. Already, she is a great writer. I look forward to holding her bestseller in my hands as I wait in line for her signature. Thank you, Kathleen, for this gift you have given to us. Happy Holidays!--Paula Gail Benson
My name is Kathleen Mayger—or you can call me my pen name Kathleen Donnelly. Like most of you, I’ve written my whole life about many different topics, but deep down my passion is thrillers. I’m lucky to have a great day job with a company called Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines—a drug dog company for schools. I enjoy helping to keep schools safe with friendly canines.
When I first learned about the Lisa Jackson scholarship, I knew I had to apply. Not only was the conference amazing, but Lisa Jackson is one of my favorite authors and an inspiration. A few years ago, a friend and I met at a coffee shop to talk about the best subject ever—books. I had heard of Lisa Jackson, but never read one of her books. My friend told me to get one and read it. I followed her advice and bought the book, “Afraid to Die.” I couldn’t quit reading and I didn’t get any sleep for the next few days.
Whenever I love a book I go visit the author website. I like to learn more about the author and their journey. Lisa’s personal story was inspiring and she gave me hope and motivation to continue writing. But she also has a webpage for her causes and they are all amazing and great organizations. And that is where she became more than a best-selling author for me. So to win this scholarship was truly humbling and an honor. If you haven’t visited Lisa’s website, I encourage everyone to do so and see what she does to make a difference.
Writing means so much to me. To all of us or we wouldn’t be here this weekend. But I feel the gift of writing is something that should be shared, and never forgotten. I get up every morning at 5am because I love to write. I love immersing myself in a world, figuring out how to put my characters in tough situations and then find a way to get them out. I could go on and on about how that one to two hours every morning is the best part of my day, but then I go to work and sometimes it’s in our daily lives that we can be reminded of what writing means not just to us, but to the communities around us.
Last year around Christmas, I was cleaning out a closet and found some of my favorite books I read while growing up. I didn’t know at first what to do with them. I decided to donate them to a middle school I work with my drug dogs. I thought that school could benefit from a few more books in their library. When I took the books in, the librarian was so excited. I found out that she had a group of kids that she already knew would not have Christmas presents. She believed every kid should have a present over Christmas break and there was nothing better than a book. She not only bought books for the kids out of her own money, but when I brought in my box, she said, “Perfect. Now they each can have two presents.” I heard later that the kids were ecstatic not only to have their very own presents, but that the present was a book they could read over break. That was a reminder to me that writing and books are a gift.
So when I get hung up in the morning writing, thinking about passives, adverbs or this plot hole that I can’t seem to figure out, I remind myself that writing is a gift. Reading is a gift and I move forward. Because when I think about what writing means to me, I have to think past me and what writing means in the bigger picture. Remember that our writing does impact others whether it’s a kid who’s only present for Christmas is a book or an aspiring author who reads a book and says, “I want to write like that.” Books and writing give us the freedom to go anywhere. Last Christmas the kids who received those books traveled the world without leaving their homes. I hope that one of them will think to themselves, “I want to write.” I hope that one of them will realize the opportunity given to a writer by having the freedom to open their imaginations.
I encourage everyone, this amazing group of writers, to think about what writing means to you and then how you can impact your own community at home. Realize that your books and your writing do make an impression, that the hard work is appreciated. Also realize that if we can touch one life and change it, then our writing is a best seller. If we can motivate others to make a change in our community, then we can realize what writing means to all of us.
I can tell you that Lisa Jackson, Clay Stafford and everyone with American Blackguard changed one life right here. They have reminded me of my goals as an author, but also the bigger picture. They have given me a gift and I promise to pass it on. I will remember this conference forever and as I type away in the early morning hours, I will not forget what writing truly means to me.
Kathleen DonnellyPassionate about animals and the outdoors, all of Kathleen’s interests end up in the written form one way or another. Her experiences being a part owner and handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines, a private pro-active drug dog service that works primarily in schools, has been the subject of much of her writing. Check out the website at: http://sherlockhoundsdetectioncanines.com/sherhound/http://sherlockhoundsdetectioncanines.com/sherhound/ She is currently working on a book with a female protagonist who's a K-9 handler for the National Forest Service. Kathleen lives in Johnstown, CO with her husband and all their four-legged friends.