Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Feelin' the Kerry Love

By Julie Coulter Bellon

Almost three years ago I had the privilege of making the acquaintance of Kerry Blair. She invited me out to lunch and I was thrilled. I had read her books and was a big fan so going out to lunch with her was a big deal to me. I got there early and got a table. Sitting there nervously I was hoping she looked like the picture in her book so I could recognize her. The appointed time came and went and there was still no Kerry. Finally, I got up and walked over to the door and there she was in the foyer, patiently waiting for me to arrive.

That's when I noticed it.

As Kerry got up, she hugged me, and exuded such a feeling of love and friendship it surprised me a little bit since this was our first meeting. She led me to a table where another of my other favorite authors sat—Betsy Brannon Green. I could hardly believe that Kerry had remembered me gushing about Betsy's books and had thought enough to introduce me to her. As we sat there and chatted that afternoon, it was like I was the most important person in the world to Kerry. She easily made me feel like I was her best friend. And I quickly came to realize that that is how Kerry is. She just loves everyone and makes sure they know it.

Over the last few years our friendship has deepened and it's still that way. Kerry Blair will make you feel like you are probably the smartest, most talented person to have ever been born. And she is probably one of the most peaceful, happy people I've ever met. She faces extremely difficult trials of her own, yet remains positive and upbeat. She is a great example to everyone around her because she is so completely genuine and kind. Everything I hope to be someday.

Last Tuesday I had the great honor to have Kerry Blair come to my home and talk to my Book Club. She was her amazing self, as usual, funny and poignant, making us all laugh and cry. Every person there was touched by her humbleness and her humor. As she told the story of how she got into writing, laughing at how she handled her first call from a publisher, it just reiterated for me personally that Kerry was meant to do this. She was meant to be a writer and to be able to touch the hearts of those around her. And I'm grateful she took that first step.

I think every book of Kerry's has so much of her in it----the quirky heroine you just love because you relate to her and they feel real and down to earth. One of my favorite scenes in one of Kerry's books is the opening scene to Mummy's the Word. The heroine, Sam Shade, is on a stakeout at night, and she's wearing all black while eating white powdered donuts. Oops. But what a visual!

In her new book, Ghost of a Chance, Sam Shade is still donut-addicted, but there is one food scene that makes me laugh every time I read it because it sounds like something I would do and it's so easy to imagine with the humorous description. Let me set it up for you.

Sam is sitting with Thom and he's eating as if he "hadn't a carb in the world." Sam is playing with her food and wondering if he would look at her differently if she looked more like Batgirl. He notes that she's not really eating so he asks her, "You're not hungry?"

"I'm starved," I admitted, lost in thoughts of my thighs in spandex.

"Is the fruit bad?"

"Hmm? No. The fruit's fine." To prove my point, I popped a large strawberry in my mouth. A too large strawberry. What now? If I bit into it, the bright red juice would leak out from between my lips and run down my chin. Since I was dressed in all black as always and have naturally fair skin, I'd look enough like a vampire to frighten the little children in the next booth. What to do?
I couldn't chew the fruit up and I couldn't swallow it whole. That left only one option. I raised a napkin to my lips and spit it out. It was the kind of dainty gesture you'd expect from a rottweiler.

Can you see it? I can. And I'm still laughing as I type this.

Probably the thing that struck me most about Ghost of a Chance though, had to do with St. Francis of Assisi's legendary prayer that goes like this:

"Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O DIVINE MASTER, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

I loved that quote so much because it reminds me of Kerry Blair. That is the way she lives her life, giving to and loving those around her and I just wanted her to know how much I admire her. I am one of Kerry Blair's biggest fans not only because she is one of the most talented writers I've ever met whose insightful writing inspires me to want to do better in my craft, but she's also one of the most Christlike people I've ever met. She pours her heart into her work and touches so many people around her. Her stories have it all—drama, humor, suspense, romance, adventure, and you feel a connection with her characters because she brings them to life and you feel like you've known them forever. She truly is a gift and an instrument both professionally and personally and I am so grateful to be able to call her my friend.

Kerry Blair's Titles
The Heart Has Its Reasons, The Heart Has Forever, The Heart Only Knows, Closing In, Digging Up the Past, This Just In, Mummy's the Word, and her new one, Ghost of a Chance


At 2/01/2007 12:10 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Amen, Julie. Kerry blesses everyone she meets and I am so grateful to know her. Love ya, Kerry!

At 2/01/2007 12:29 PM, Blogger Marnie Pehrson said...

Stephanie stole the words right out of my mouth... Amen, double and triple Amen. Kerry's a joy and she definitely has a gift for making you feel as if there are no limits to what you can do. She loves, inspires and encourages in a way no one else can. Please, add me to the top of what I'm sure is a mile-long Kerry Blair fan club list.

At 2/01/2007 1:58 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Julie, you wrote my exact feelings for Kerry that I can never quite express. I even cried reading it, which is awkward, because I'm at work.

Thank you (o:

At 2/01/2007 2:38 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Oh my heck, Julie Bellon, you scared me half to death! I figured I'd had a brain aneurism, died without realizing it, and was reading my eulogy from heaven. (It was kinda comforting to think there's high speed Internet access there . . .)

Anyway, as lovely as the thought was, could we please file the dirge away for a little later? There's still life left in the old girl. (Not much, and no thanks to you.)

But now that I'm relatively certain I'm not dead I'm thinking YOU are. So dead, Julie. I wouldn't be eating any Chinese Ice Cream if I were you.

At 2/01/2007 2:58 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Uh oh. Kung fu Kerry! I will stay away from all Chinese Ice Cream places until it's safe. :)

Kerry, if this had been a funeral piece I would have gushed way more. You're amazing, just accept the love. And your books are amazing as you are.

*Puts on Kerry Blair fangurl glasses*

At 2/01/2007 3:32 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Julie, I *adore* that you have fangurl glasses. Really.

At 2/01/2007 5:37 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Hey! If we're having a love-in, I knew and loved her first. And since flaws seem to be the main topic this week, I'll be the first to point out that Kerry isn't without a flaw of her own. The silly girl has never learned to say NO. People take advantage of her sweet nature and wear her out because of this. That's why some of us have banded together to offer her our services. When she's asked to do some near impossible feat, we've left firm instructions she is supposed to answer "I'll have Betsy, Jennie, Cheri, or Michele get back to you." We have no problem at all saying NO on her behalf. And Julie, don't give Kerry any more heart attacks. She's got to outlive me because I want her around to say gushy stuff at my funeral.

At 2/01/2007 6:05 PM, Anonymous Amy said...

Amen to that, Julie! When I met Kerry at last years Covenant Murder Mystery she was amazing! Since I go to another website she goes to, when I told her my name I was very surprised she reconized it and was even more surprised when she gave me a hug. She made me feel like she was my best friend and that I'd known her for years when really I had only known her through Cyperspace for a few months. She's even offered to read some of my manuscript but I'm still trying to figure out if she was joking. Her books are so amazing! I've read all of them except for Digging Up the Past. Closing In and This Just In are probably my favorites. Julie, you described Kerry Blair perfectly! Thank you for saying what I could never really put into words.

At 2/01/2007 6:36 PM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

I met Kerry for the first time a week or so ago during her whirlwind of book signings in Utah. Though we spoke for only a few minutes, I came away feeling like I'd just met one of the nicest people on the planet. That her books are so fun is only a plus! Enjoying your latest right now, Kerry. Thanks for taking time with me last Wednesday.

At 2/02/2007 10:36 AM, Anonymous Gary said...

I have known Kerry for 28 years. One of the things that really struck me about her when we first met, is how very kind she was not only to me but to everyone around her. Now 28 years later she still has that same desire to get to know, help, and love everyone she can.

At 2/03/2007 12:52 AM, Blogger Cheri said...

What a wonderful, and well deserved tribute. =) Kerry is truly one of the most Christ-like people that I know. Anyone who thinks bats are cute is extremely compassionate. This would also explain our friendship.

And Jennie's right. We're only too happy to say, "NO!!" on Kerry's behalf. Why just the other day, I heeded that advice myself, using that powerful two-letter word and Utah froze over, not to mention parts of Idaho. =D

Love you, Kerry. Great tribute, Julie.
(Julie, note I tacked this on the right message this time)


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