A Heart Connection
A warm welcome to my guest blogger, Kelly Wilson Mize, a contributing author to 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships.
Tell something about yourself as a person and as a writer.
I am an Alabama girl, born and raised: a product of the Deep South. I currently live in the city of Huntsville, which is known as “The Rocket City,” and home to the United States Space and Rocket Center! I am the wife of an engineer and the mother of two teenagers. In the fall, my son will be a senior in high school, and my daughter will be a sophomore. I realize that my time with them at home is so short, so I’m really trying to enjoy every moment. I am suddenly feeling ridiculously sentimental about it all, and tear up almost daily.
I am a true lover of words. It is so satisfying to me when I find the “perfect” ones that help me express what I want so desperately to say. I consider it my calling to encourage others, and there is no greater gratification for me than to have someone tell me that my writing has meant something to them. My world revolves around creativity, words, and books. When I am not with my family or friends, or writing, I am an elementary librarian at a Christian School. I don’t pretend to be a superhero, and there isn’t a phone booth nearby, but I can relate to Clark Kent’s dual identity. I am a mild-mannered librarian by day, and a (sometimes stereotypical), deep-thinking, coffee-drinking, slightly eccentric, cat-loving, semi-reclusive writer by night.
Tell me something that’s quirky about you.
Here are three things…
- If the radio is on in my car, I click the turn signal to match the beat of the music. Always. If the blinker does not start on the beat, the world just feels all wrong.
- I like, and sometimes crave, pickle juice. When all the pickles have been eaten out of the jar, I save the juice and drink it.
- I’m probably abnormally obsessed with my cat. He is my greatest source of therapy and brings me much joy!
Briefly share one of your favorite Valentine’s Day memories.
My favorite Valentine’s Day memories are not fiery romantic ones, but the Valentine’s Day that children celebrate. I have such sweet memories of decorating a shoe box, and having it filled with tiny envelopes from my classmates. Every child was required to have a card for every other student, and no one was allowed to be left out. Construction paper projects and heart-shaped candy were (and still are) magical for me. Even now, as an educator, Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the school year.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher, a journalist, or a creative writer. I often think about how God has allowed me to have at least a small taste of each, and I am very grateful.
What else have you written?
My writing experience includes published material for both children and adults. I am a regular contributor to LifeWay Christian Resources. I write for their children’s devotional magazine, Adventure, and their magazine for parents of young children, ParentLife. In addition, I have been blessed to represent ParentLife in interviewing several central figures in recent films. I visited the set of, and interviewed many of the people associated with the movie Mom’s Night Out, including Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, Sarah Drew, and directors, the Erwin brothers. I was also thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with the real-life coaches behind the movie When the Game Stands Tall, and Christy Beam, the author and mom portrayed by Jennifer Garner in the movie Miracles from Heaven.
In my fifteen years of freelance writing experience, I have contributed to five traditionally published books, and written numerous articles, lessons, stories, and devotions for various print and online publications.
Share one of your most rewarding moments connected to your writing.
Last summer, I had the immense honor and privilege of interviewing one of my heroes, Max Lucado. Speaking with him was so exciting (and nerve-wracking!). Even though I was very nervous, he was so kind and put me completely at ease. At the end of the interview, he told me I did a “phenomenal” job! My heart soared, and I will NEVER delete the recording of that interview! It’s one of those things I’m going to store away and pull out when I am feeling discouraged.
Are any parts of this story taken from something that happened in your own life or the lives of people you know?
I am a teacher, and have known and worked with so many teachers who go that extra mile for their students. Thankfully, I did not have an unhappy, poverty-stricken childhood like my main character, Lily. But there were definitely things in my childhood about which I felt insecure. Good teachers helped me to combat those insecurities. My vivid memories of my own classroom Valentine’s Day parties also made the setting easy for me to describe.
How has God used fiction to touch your heart or change your life?
Ever since I was introduced to Beverly Cleary’s books in elementary school, I have been fascinated by the power of words. I remember being amazed by how her simple, everyday stories made me feel. How could an author, who didn’t know me, write a story about a child who was just like me, whose thoughts were so similar to mine?
In everything I write, I want my readers to find that connection. I want them to know that they are not alone in their struggles, or in their triumphs. I want them to be able to say, “Me, too! I can relate.”
Besides Jesus, which person from the Bible would you most like to talk to, and what would you ask or say?
I would love to meet Esther. Her courage and strength have always inspired me. I love reading about strong women, and she is the queen, literally and figuratively! I would probably spout my admiration and ask her to tell me about the elaborate beauty rituals that took place in the palace.
Kelly Wilson Mize is a freelance writer living in Huntsville, Alabama. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications for both children and adults. Kelly’s credits include stories, interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, devotions, and curriculum. She has contributed to five traditionally published books, including 21 Days of Christmas and 21 Days of Love. Kelly is also an approved freelance copyeditor in the Christian Editor Connection network. She has a master’s degree in elementary education, and in addition to writing, serves as a librarian at Westminster Christian Academy. Follow her on Twitter @kellywilsonmize.