Tears and laughter, heartache and rejoicing, sustained by faith and the assurance she was called to write, Colleen’s Journey of Joy reveals this logger’s daughter’s time-tested tips for writers at all levels.
From Lamplight to Limelight
- A small, western Washington logging town that grows trees, not authors.
- A child’s determination: “Someday I am going to write a book.”
- A 17-year-old’s decision: “I am going to write a book this summer.”
- Typing nights by kerosene lamplight.
- A 40-year-old’s vow: “I am going to start a book right now.”
- A heart-breaking beginning—a valuable lesson learned.
- An 84-year-old woman’s promise: “I shall continue writing books.”
Colleen’s Early Years
Colleen L. Reece was born and raised near Darrington, Washington in a home without electricity or running water, but an abundance of love for God and family. Colleen learned to read by kerosene lamplight (in what had once been a one-room schoolhouse where her mother taught all eight grades) and dreamed of someday writing a book. However, Darrington grew trees, not authors.
After graduating from high school at age 16, Colleen became a school and government secretary until 1978 when God called her from a well-paying, award-winning job to write for Him. Since then, He has multiplied Colleen’s “someday” book into 170 “Books You Can Trust,” with six million copies sold.
First Writing Sale at Age 11
Colleen’s first writing “sale” followed a June 3, 1947 letter to a radio contest.
Dear Free for All,
I’ve heard of the “Gang” as you call them and if they can’t guess this, something is wrong. Because, it’s easy as pie. Most of the children around here have bicycles, but I don’t have. Daddy goes up every day to fall timber (as we live in the heart of the timber country) and by the time he gets home, the store is closed. But if I had a bicycle, I could go to town and bring thing [sic] home in the day-time. Although there are lots of trees around here, money doesn’t grow on trees and neither do bicycles.
I’ve written before and so, Free for All, if you don’t send me a bicycle pronto, I’m going to spend more money in postage writing to you than the bicycle costs.
If I won it, I would be the happiest girl in the Universe. There is one chance in a million and I’m taking it. I wrote in on a quiz once and I won some money so I’m signing myself
The Lucky Girl, Colleen Reece
The Rest of the Story
Busy with high school, Colleen’s writing dream lay dormant but never forgotten. She received a typewriter for graduation and decided to write a mystery for her brother who liked mysteries. Daily chores finished, she typed by kerosene lamplight, and completed a 50,000 word novel. Many rejections later, she received a contract. Her heart leaped—until she discovered the company wanted $1800 to publish “The Staircase Mystery.” Note- The original time-worn, newsprint-type manuscript still lies in a closet. Its chief value is showing Colleen could write a full- length novel but she gives thanks it did not get published!
Years later, Colleen laid down another inspirational romance novel. “I could write a book as good as this,” she told her mother. The reply, “Why don’t you?” brought Colleen’s childhood dream back to glowing life. Rather than writing a book that might never sell, she wrote and submitted one chapter. Big mistake. The New York editor answered in two days, asking for the entire manuscript! Lesson learned: Never offer an editor a story when you don’t yet know the characters, plot, or setting. Colleen went into full time free lancing, teaching writing, and speaking in January of 1978. The summer of 2012 changed that. Her “happily ever after” is that God brought her through surgery and treatment so successfully medical personnel call her their miracle patient. One of her greatest joys is sharing stories of how He has blessed her from Lamplight to Limelight on her rocky road to “someday.”