Joann Keder

Award-winning author who took the long way around

I've been a writer since the age of eight, when I began writing stories to give away as Christmas gifts. At the age of twelve, I wrote my first novel about a twelve-year-old girl who becomes president. Even with those very obvious indicators, I didn't know what I wanted to be. The usual self-doubt messages were always there: you're not smart enough, your writing is terrible, etc. I taught piano lessons, worked for various business and anything else I could think of to avoid who I really was.

In my mid-thirties, I decided to shove the negative to the side and take a college class. Just one, and if I was really bad that would be the end. Six years later, after graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree, I stood on a stage, accepting my master's degree in creative writing. My master's thesis, "The Something That Happened in Pepperville," was picked up by a publisher. I still wasn't good enough.

We moved to the Pacific Northwest and my mental health deteriorated along with the sunny weather. When my husband had a massive heart attack that caused his heart to stop six times, I sat and stared at the machines keeping him alive. That's when I heard the most important question of my life: If you're not going to write now, then when?

During his recovery, I began composing my first, full-length novel: Quirky people, a small town and lots of twists and turns. It was a true representation of me and my work. It energized me and I finally realized that I am a writer. It's the part of my soul I avoided for over 50 years. To this date, I've completed nine novels and six short stories.

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