Real Stories Change Lives



This is Kelly, my husband’s niece, on the day a drunk driver crossed the center lane. She was nineteen.  After this day she no longer walked, took herself to the bathroom, combed her hair or brushed her teeth. Her days as an athlete, and an IU cheerleader, ended.



This is Jason, Kelly’s brother. He was sitting next to Kelly in the back seat of the car. He was comatose for eight months.

This was the accident scene. The sober driver of Kelly’s car died. He was a ranch hand at the dude ranch in CO where Kelly and her family were vacationing.

Kelly and Jason before the accident: two teenage siblings. Jason, the younger brother, a high school football player. Kelly, a star athlete and cheerleader.

Kelly and Luke–two people in love, days before the accident. Luke, a pro-basketball hopeful. Kelly, an IU cheerleader and elementary ed major, planning a future together. But what kind of guy sticks around for a girl who’s a quad?

This is Jason now: he’s a high school grad, but never went to college. He’ll never play football again. He’ll probably never walk down the aisle with his bride, or teach his son or daughter to shoot hoops.

When I began my writing journey ten years ago I wanted to write this story because it moved me, and I felt confident that telling the story would bring others hope. I spent months interviewing people central to Kelly’s story. I spent hours at my computer outlining facts from the true events. And a year later I pitched her story to a well-known agent.

He said, “Michelle, it’s a great article, but it’s not a book. It’ll never sell.”

I sat across from him at lunch, trying not to choke on my walnut salad. I’d paid to attend the writer’s conference for the opportunity to pitch this story to him. That was the sole reason for going–to get his professional opinion. And when he told me the book would never sell, I sighed, and thanked him. Yes, it felt like a spear had pierced my heart. Yes, I was crushed, but I wasn’t stupid. I’d paid for his professional opinion so I needed to take it. Right? My analogy was, “if I’d gone to a heart doctor for his medical opinion wouldn’t I take his medical advice?”


So I put the book aside. For years. And told myself, “Don’t waste your time. There are too many other stories to tell.”

But, guess what, I’m here to announce that I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to write this novel. I’ve seen movies like THE VOW and MY SISTER”S KEEPER that were based on true stories. Those movies have entertained and brought hope to many people. I believe that Kelly’s story isn’t any different.

Kelly’s story follows me. It’s a story about love, courage, pain, fear, hope and sacrifice. It’s not just about a drunk driver and the damage he caused a family. It’s a story about rising above diversity, forgiving the monster who took your life away, and believing in God. It begs me to write it and share it. It’s not going away. I’ve tried to squelch it’s noisy voice, but it continues to speak to me. I’ve rewritten it in my head a dozen times with new characters and new point-of-views each time. Sometimes it surfaces in my dreams. Sometimes I see it in the fear on people’s faces that have no hope. And sometimes, if I listen, I hear God nudging me, telling me that this story matters. That it will make a difference in people’s lives.

So the next time you see me ask me how it’s going. Encourage me on my journey to write and share this story, and I’ll encourage you to share those stories you need to tell. Because stories are about people and people matter. Listening and sharing stories change lives. They have power. Write them.

Here’s a glimpse further into the story. No, I’m not going to tell you how it ends, but I will tell you that there’s romance. Of course, there is!



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  1. Linda Bonney Olin says:

    Wow! I’m so excited for you, Michelle! And for the readers who will be blessed by your book. Maybe the Holy Spirit prompted that agent to squelch the project because then the time was not right. NOW, IT IS!! Yay!

  2. Liza Mangan says:

    Alright! Glad to hear you have decided to write it. Looking forward to reading it in the days to come! You can do it, no doubt about it!!!

  3. Big FANS says:

    You rock girl !!!!! Don’t ignore your voice. It has a lot to say and knows how to say it. WE love reading your random thoughts. They are always inspiring in all ways.

    • Thanks for that vote of confidence and thanks for stopping by to encourage me on yet another journey! Pray that God will give me the voices that will bring hope to those who need it the most.

  4. I can’t wait to read this book, Michelle! Sometimes you have to follow the story of your heart.

  5. Michelle, God is never late, but always on time. He was preparing you for this momentous episode in your life. I can only imagine the vast number of hurting individuals this story will touch, and heal emotionally. God is using you to speak to those without hope. I can only say, WOW! You are in my prayers. The best to you. Blessings.

    • Johnny, thanks so much for stopping by to read about Kelly and offer me encouragement. Posting this was a huge commitment because there’s no backing out now. Ha! Thanks also for your prayers as I write this that I’ll find the voices that will make the greatest impact.

  6. Robin McClure says:

    Wow… even that small glimpse is a powerful story. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    • I hope you don’t get tired of hearing about it because I’ll be looking for your creative opinion with this one. I’m confident you’ll be up for the challenge. Ha! (No pressure.)

  7. Can you hear me wildly applauding? Don’t quit until you finish this book and connect with the agent/editor who will assist with God’s open door.

  8. Robin McClure says:

    I have the distinct impression that this is one story that will be difficult to get sick of hearing about.

  9. Melinda Weidenbenner says:

    You are amazing and You Can and Will make this happen. I have watched you over the years, come uppon a project and not give up until you have it mastered! You are strong, driven and you get things accomplished! This will happen!!! I know it!!! I feel it…. and not only that… Kelly WILLl walk again. I know it in my heart…. someday, somehow…. the story that you write today, will someday have a sequil…..with a mother and a father chasing children in a yard……
    Love You, Melinda

    • Wow, thanks Melinda. You inspire me, as always. Thanks for your confidence in me and this story. I love you, girl!

  10. Rose Ann says:

    Michelle, you are such an amazing woman! What a beautiful heart and strong faith you have that has carried you through these years of patiently letting God’s timing lead you to share this incredible story of pain and survival. You have my prayers, support and admiration for putting your love and talent for writing into giving this story of hope to all those whom it will touch

    • Hi Rose Ann! Wow, thanks for visiting my blog and reading a little blurb about Kelly’s story. But thank you more for your encouraging words. I’m excited to work on this novel, but know it’s going to take time, commitment, and hard work. Having the support of those like you make a difference. Hugs to you and your family! (PS. I need to interview you for YOUR story.)

  11. Beth Steury says:

    YES, you need to write this story! I love true stories and what a story this would be. Go, girl. Don’t listen to negative talk–whether in your own head OR from people who think they know. Keep us posted! 🙂

    • Thanks, Beth. I appreciate your support and encouragement. The tricky part of writing this story is fictionalizing it based on a true story. What a challenge!I’ll keep you posted as to how it’s coming along. Hope you’re have a great writing week!

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