I connected with Jennifer Kelley three years ago and began writing blogs for the organization she leads, the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction. We talked about how fun it would be to turn the blogs I was writing into a book for the Children’s Auction’s 40th year, in 2021. Knowing I helped authors with books planted a seed in Jennifer’s mind. Soon after we met and began working together on PR for her organization, which provides annual grants to children and families in need, Jennifer asked me to help write a book about her mother’s life. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to meet her mom for interviews on multiple occasions, and I also interviewed Jennifer and her siblings. The project was a labor of love for me. Recently, my colleague Jillian Tully interviewed Jennifer about what it was like to work with me on the book.
How did you connect with Janice regarding a book project?
I asked Janice what line of business she was in and what she was excited to work on in the coming years, and she said, “Really, what I like to do is help people express what they want to say in a book.” I said, “Oh actually, I want to do that for my mom.” So that’s how it started. I had Janice come in and meet my mom. My mom was a little hesitant that she didn’t have enough to say, but Janice and I convinced her that she had a lot to say.
What was the inspiration for the book you had in mind?
My mom is an amazing woman filled with incredible love and an extremely positive attitude. I wanted her grandkids and future generations to see some of the things she went through and how she looks at her life. I aspired to preserve the stories about my mom’s life for her great grandkids who might not get the chance to meet her.
How did Janice help?
She set up time to interview my mom two or three times. Then she met my twin brother and I through Zoom a few times. Then I provided some written material like letters and things like that so that she could capture a little bit more information. Janice wrote a draft of the book, and my brother, my sister, and I edited it. Janice was great on the editing. She was open to all our feedback and was just delightful. My mom is a painter, so we featured an image of one of her paintings with every single chapter, which was lovely. I’ve given each of the grandkids a signed book from my mom for their birthdays.
What value did you find in the project?
If it wasn’t for Janice, we wouldn’t have a book. There was no way in the world I could tackle that. The fact that she knew what I wanted to accomplish and could interview my mom and walk through the documents to create the family’s historical thread was great. It was essential because I never would have ever done it. My mom was in a situation where she couldn’t do it herself.
How was the book received by the family?
We were all really happy with this keepsake. The grandkids range from 16 to 29, so I think it will be really exciting for them to just get a picture of some of the history and my mom’s positive attitude. Hopefully, it will help them as they get older and, of course, for future generations, it will be amazing. I wish I could’ve met my grandfather that I never got a chance to meet. I’d love to know his history and when you’re young, you don’t maybe ask about that. When you want to know, it’s too late.
Do you recommend Janice’s services for other families who might like to create a memoir for a family member?
I talk about her all the time. She makes the process really easy because she is good at that.
What else would you like readers of the Beetle Books blog to know?
It doesn’t matter if children come from a family of wealth or not, but as long as they have that history and the details of parents and grandparents, creating a book is a gift. Sharing grandparents’ successes, history and challenges strengthen everyone in the family and makes them a lot more resilient.