Kingsbury, Karen 1963- (Kelsey Tyler)
Kingsbury, Karen 1963- (Kelsey Tyler)
Born June 8, 1963, in Fairfax, VA; daughter of Theodore (a computer program analyst) and Anne Kingsbury; married, July 23, 1988; husband's name Donald (a teacher and coach); children: Kelsey, Tyler, Austin, E.J., Sean, Josh. Education: California State University, Northridge, B.A. Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Family time, tennis, ping pong.
American Christian Romance Writers (board member), Romance Writers of America, ChiLibris.
Best Book of the Year, Logos Retailers, 2003, for Redemption; Gold Medallion and Retailer Choice awards, both 2005, both for Oceans Apart; Retailer Choice award, 2005, for "Redemption" series; Retailer Choice award, 2007, for Found; named Author of the Year by Logos, 2007; Christian Book Award, 2007.
Missy's Murder, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1992.
Final Vows: Murder, Madness, and Twisted Justice in California, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1992.
Deadly Pretender: The Double Life of David Miller, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.
Snake and the Spider: A Real-life Case of Abduction and Murder in Daytona Beach, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.
Where Yesterday Lives, Alabaster Books (Sisters, OR), 1998.
(With Toni Vogt) The Prism Weight-Loss Program (nonfiction), Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 1999.
Waiting for Morning, Alabaster Books (Sisters, OR), 1999.
When Joy Came to Stay, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2000.
A Moment of Weakness, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2000.
On Every Side, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2001.
A Treasury of Christmas Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence Today, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.
A Time to Dance ("Women of Faith" fiction series), Word Publishing (Nashville, TN), 2001.
A Time to Embrace: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Abundant Life (sequel to A Time to Dance; "Women of Faith" fiction series), Word Publishing (Nashville, TN), 2002.
Halfway to Forever, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2002.
A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Gideon's Gift: A Novel, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
One Tuesday Morning, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.
Maggie's Miracle, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
A Treasury of Miracles for Teens: True Stories of God's Presence Today, Warner Faith (New York, NY), 2003.
Oceans Apart, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.
Sarah's Song, Warner Faith (New York, NY), 2004.
Just beyond the Clouds: A Novel, Center Street (New York, NY), 2007.
Summer, Tyndale House (Carol Stream, IL), 2007.
Sunrise, Tyndale House (Carol Stream, IL), 2007.
Between Sundays, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.
Someday, Tyndale House (Carol Stream, IL), 2008.
Also author of Like Dandelion Dust, A Thousand Tomorrows, Ever After, Family, and Found.
"REDEMPTION" SERIES; WITH GARY SMALLEY
Redemption, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2002.
Remember, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2003.
Return, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2003.
Rejoice, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2004.
Reunion, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2004.
UNDER PSEUDONYM KELSEY TYLER
There's an Angel on Your Shoulder: Angel Encounters in Everyday Life, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1994.
It Must Have Been a Miracle: Everyday Lives Touched by Miracles, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Heaven Hears Each Whisper: Answered Prayers in Everyday Life, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Heaven's Littlest Angels: Children and Miracles in Everyday Life, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Let's Go on a Mommy Date, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.
We Believe in Christmas, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.
Let's Go on a Daddy Date, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.
Deadly Pretender: The Double Life of David Miller was adapted for television and titled Every Woman's Dream.
Popular Christian writer Karen Kingsbury's first books were true crime novels that evolved during her reporting days in the Los Angeles area. Her first full-time newspaper job was at Simi Valley Enterprise, where she covered sports, religion, and sometimes news. She was then hired by the Los Angeles Daily News to cover sports and was soon writing stories about professional sports teams, including the Dodgers, Lakers, and Raiders. She considered a career as a sports writer for a pro team, a job that would take her around the country. She was used to interviewing naked players in the locker room but ultimately decided it wasn't exactly what she was looking for.
Kingsbury continued with the paper, writing feature stories that made the front page of the Sunday edition, and her first such story was about the murder of a teen girl killed by her own friends. She later sold the story to People, and it was published in the magazine at about the time Kingsbury's first child was born. Her prayers that she and her husband would find some way for her to stay home with the baby were answered when she was offered a book deal that came with an advance that was three times her newspaper salary.
So began Kingsbury's writing career. Her first true-crime book, Missy's Murder, is the story of seventeen-year-old Michele Yvette Avila, who in 1985 was led to a remote area by her friends Karen Severson and Laura Doyle, where they cut off her hair and beat, then drowned her. Kingsbury writes that Severson stayed with Missy's mother after the killing, engaged in conversation with the deceased girl, and kept the investigation open for three years through her questioning of the facts of the crime.
In Final Vows: Murder, Madness, and Twisted Justice in California, Kingsbury documents the 1988 murder of Carol Montecalvo, whose ex-convict husband was initially suspected because he had large debts and large insurance policies on Carol. Kingsbury also writes about a female neighbor who was a drug dealer and occasional mental patient, whose claim that her associates killed Carol were discounted by the police. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Kingsbury "owes the reader a greater effort to distinguish whether or not the authorities found the real killer."
After writing two more true crime books, Kingsbury wrote four books under the pseudonym Kelsey Tyler that were collections of miracle stories and answered prayers. She then wrote Where Yesterday Lives, based loosely on her own life, but secular publishers wouldn't touch it, even though she got good feedback; the fact that it contained no sex or strong language exempted it from consideration. Kingsbury found a Christian publisher, and her career as an Evangelical Christian writer was born.
The protagonist of Where Yesterday Lives is Ellen Barrett, a Florida reporter whose marriage is strained when her reporter husband says he cannot accompany her to Michigan following the death of her father. Booklist reviewer John Mort wrote that the story is "graced by some excellent newsroom scenes."
Kingsbury's other novels include A Moment of Weakness, in which a woman's son is taken from her when her strong religious convictions are interpreted as fanaticism. On Every Side follows a lawyer whose attempts to have a statue of Jesus removed from a park are being opposed by his old flame, a television news anchor.
Clinical depression is destroying the life of the wife in When Joy Came to Stay. Fearing for the safety of her foster children and the stability of her marriage, Maggie Stovall checks into a Christian psychiatric hospital where she is treated, while her husband, Ben, tries to understand the note she left behind and looks to God for the strength to hold their marriage together. Library Journal reviewer Melanie C. Duncan commented that by providing insight into depression and the general intolerance of mental illness, in When Joy Came to Stay "Kingsbury uncannily hits the mark."
Abby and John Reynolds, the couple in A Time to Dance, are about to divorce because John has fallen in love with a teacher at their son's high school, where he also coaches. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that the novel "deserves applause" for writing about adultery, a topic not usually touched in Christian fiction, and said that very early in the story, Kingsbury renders her characters in such a way that readers "care, tremendously, about their future."
The sequel, A Time to Embrace: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Abundant Life, finds Abby and John happily reconciled but John facing troubles with three boys at school and the couple worrying that their daughter is losing her faith. Library Journal reviewer Shawna Saavedra Thorup felt that "high school life and the real-world problems faced by the students … are also realistically rendered."
A Treasury of Christmas Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence Today is Kingsbury's collection of inspirational stories that demonstrate divine intervention around the Christmas season. Another collection, A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today, similarly contains stories Kingsbury says are true; many are about illness and intervention, often in the form of an angel, resulting in the patient miraculously becoming well.
Kingsbury and Gary Smalley, a speaker on family relationships, coauthored a series of novels that includes Redemption and Reception, both stories of infidelity. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that the latter plugs Smalley's Branson, Missouri, Relationship Center.
Gideon's Gift: A Novel is a Christmas story about a faithless, homeless man who rejects the friendship of a child who, unknown to him, is suffering from leukemia. Gideon Mercer, who needs a bone marrow transplant her parents can't afford, hopes for a miracle—not for her, but for the man who has also lost his wife and daughter. The miracle that does occur affects them both in this sentimental seasonal story a Publishers Weekly contributor called "a feel-good winner."
Another of Kingsbury's inspirational books is Between Sundays, a story about the lives of professional football players. Aaron Hill is the star quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Aaron enjoys his celebrity and all that it provides, including an endless string of beautiful women, but he feels that his life is not complete. Derrick Anderson is a retired quarterback for the same team, which hires him to coach the troubled Aaron. Derrick is charged with helping turn Aaron around in his personal life, not on the field as a player, and during the week, between games. In spite of his aging knees, Derrick wants to play in one more Super Bowl and win it for his son, who is dying. Both men find inspiration in Cory, a foster child who believes that Aaron is his father. His foster mother, Megan, and Aaron are attracted to each other, and the conclusion is unavoidable and welcome. Megan, who has lived a difficult life, loves football, Cory, life, and God. The foreword was written by Alex Smith, a 49ers quarterback who works with the foster care system, and the story itself points out the need for homes for these children. A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded by writing: "Kingsbury's fans like her novels sweet, and this one may motivate them to get involved and make a difference with some of the neediest kids." In reviewing Between Sundays for Booklist, Mary Frances Wilkens wrote: "Kingsbury will win over anyone at all sympathetic to a story that combines family, faith, and football."
In 2006, Kingsbury's books sold two million copies. She typically writes five books a year in a home office while her children are in school. Her success has provided the family with more options, including their Tudor home with pool outside Vancouver, Washington. Her husband Don, who formerly taught high school Spanish but who no longer must rely on a paycheck, can now volunteer as a freshman football coach. The couple is able to spend more time with each other and with their six children, including their three adopted children who are originally from Haiti. Kingsbury employs her daughter, mother, and two sisters and donates to charity the fees she earns from lecturing to women's groups across the country. Several of her novels have been optioned for film or gone into production. Kingsbury responds to many of the 500 e-mails she receives each week. Nancy Haught, a contributor to the Religion News Service, wrote an article that was carried in USA Today. Haught commented that Sue Brower, Kingsbury's editor at Zondervan "says Kingsbury writes about redemption, reconciliation and forgiveness…. ‘The crowds at her book signings are old and young, white and black, urban and suburban,’ Brower says. ‘If Karen writes for a demographic, it's the Hallmark demographic: people like me who cry over Hallmark commercials, people coming through tragedy, distress, pain and hurt, coming through it with hope.’"
Kingsbury once told CA: "I have always had a passion for people. When I write, I want readers to feel every word, and afterwards, even through their tears, to be changed. When I worked as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News in the late 1980s, I told the truth, but I didn't always touch hearts. Now I am telling stories, and the hearts of my readers are forever changed.
"Readers write to me at my e-mail address, and also at my Web site. My favorite part of being an author is reading those letters, learning that a couple changed their mind about divorce, or a family was reunited, or a person came to a better understanding of faith in Christ—because they read one of my stories.
"I write very quickly, sometimes finishing a novel in weeks. But always I know that my story ideas come from God. As I write, I feel as if I'm reading. When I'm finished, I am in awe at the way it all comes together so quickly. I don't believe I've written my best book yet. My plan is to continue with every book, to grow as a writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1998, John Mort, review of Where Yesterday Lives, p. 294; October 15, 2007, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Between Sundays, p. 31.
Library Journal, April 1, 2000, Melanie C. Duncan, review of A Moment of Weakness, p. 82; November 1, 2000, Melanie C. Duncan, review of When Joy Came to Stay, p. 60; June 1, 2002, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Redemption, p. 126; November 1, 2002, Shawna Saavedra Thorup, reviews of A Time to Embrace: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Abundant Life, p. 72, and Gideon's Gift: A Novel, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1991, review of Missy's Murder, pp. 57-58; August 17, 1992, review of Final Vows: Murder, Madness, and Twisted Justice in California, p. 495; January 29, 2001, review of A Time to Dance, p. 67; March 18, 2002, reviews of Halfway to Forever, p. 76, and A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today, p. 98; June 17, 2002, review of Redemption, p. 44; September 23, 2002, review of A Time to Embrace, p. 50; September 30, 2002, review of Gideon's Gift, p. 49; September 3, 2007, review of Between Sundays, p. 39.
Karen Kingsbury Home Page,http://www.karenkingsbury.com (March 1, 2008).