Book might be upside down but Kelly's not
Monday, July 07, 2014 10:00 PM
Writers are different. No two ways about it. If you've never sent letters to complete strangers begging for just a morsel of attention (these letters are laughingly called queries) it would be hard to understand. Writers write. They write their thoughts, their observations. They write their hopes, their dreams. Red Smith, a noted newspaper journalist, once said that writing was easy - you just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Kelly O'Dell Stanley is a writer. And an artist. And a wife. And a mother. And a graphic designer. And a daughter. And. And. And. To say she's busy would be a little like saying Niagara Falls has a fairly steady stream of water going over it. She's not complaining. In fact, she is in a place where many writers want to be, she's represented by an agent and her manuscript is going to be turned into a book and published.
The Art of Praying Upside Down, will be out in May of next year. Tyndale Momentum, a fairly new line from respected publisher Tyndale House will produce it. If May of 2015 sounds like a long time off, it's not as unusual as you might think. For books to be published by legitimate or traditional publishing houses these days, it's sometimes a two-year process. Self-publishing, which has caught on, can be much quicker. But for many, it still has a stigma attached that some writers try to avoid.
That wasn't a problem for Kelly. However, The Art of Praying Upside Down didn't just fly from Kelly's fingers through a keyboard and into print. Not even close.
"It really started because I was writing a lot of articles for church newsletters and things like that," the 1985 Southmont grad said. "I didn't want to do that forever, or for that to be my only writing . . . I scribbled a lot, wrote down some ideas and things."
Like a lot of writers, she went to workshops and connected with other writers whenever possible. She made the most of social media. She entered contests. One paid off nicely - she won a Writer's Digest contest on inspirational writing.
"I had submitted an essay to them and a few other places," Kelly explained. "Didn't hear anything and didn't hear anything and didn't hear anything. Then I got a phone call and they said 'this is Writer's Digest and you won.' It was really nice, well, especially the $1,000 prize and being published in their booklet and I got my name published in their magazine. It and a few other things all are just sort of affirmation."
Writers understand the need for affirmation.
"You put yourself so much in your writing - there is a vulnerability," she said. "The amazing thing for me and my writing is when someone contacts me about something I wrote, instead of making me feel all proud and puffed up, it makes me humble. It really touches you."
Kelly's book is sure to touch readers. It doesn't sound like the typical Christian-based book. In fact, as the title suggests, it chronicles a different approach to prayer.
"We owned these two houses and we were trying to sell one for two years," Kelly said. "I felt like God was saying that I should pray for the person who was going to buy my house instead of being panicky about the money or praying that it would just get sold.
"I realized that I was praying upside down - like when an artist turns an image upside down to see it more accurately. And it changed things for me. What ended up happening was we got an offer and sold it to a woman who needed it and everything fell into place.
"A lot of things worked like that," she went on. "One day we're $7,000 short of what we need and the next day we get a $7,000 tax refund."
The experiences did not go unheeded.
"I was on my way home from the Midwest Writers Workshop (at Ball State) and I just realized that just about everything I knew about art related to prayer, too."
Of course the name O'Dell is familiar here. Kelly's father is Rob O'Dell, arguably Montgomery County's best-known painter. Rob is 76 and lives in Florida now and is being treated for esophageal cancer. Kelly's mother passed away a few years ago but her love of reading, coupled with Rob's painting, formed a base that helped shape Kelly's future.
"I had no idea how I saw things until I started writing," Kelly said. "Mom wasn't an artist but she loved reading and dad did water colors and he had that laid-back style. He didn't want that $10,000 piece in a New York gallery. He wanted people to be able to enjoy his work and have it in their homes."
From those beginnings in Ladoga to now with her own family (husband Tim and children Katie, Anna and Bobby), everything has come together to give Kelly the foundation from which her book was built.
You can follow her publication journey at www.prayingupsidedown.com.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.