Author earning praise, helping others
BY SETH GORDON
Newberg Graphic reporter
After retiring in 2011 from teaching math and music at Christian high schools in Newberg, Sherwood, McMinnville and Tualatin, Dundee's Kendy Pearson started a new journey as a writer.
Starting from scratch, she began by writing for children, breaking in as a freelance writer. That evolved into freelance work writing for adults and crafting Sunday school curricula, but after a few years, Pearson decided it was time to "write what I love to read."
That led her into the world of Christian (or inspirational) historical fiction, where she has already been well received.
After winning a Cascade Award in 2014 for her unpublished children's book, "Flibberty Jibbett and the Journey Home," she was honored again by the Oregon Christian Writers (OCW), earning the 2017 Cascade Award in the historical fiction category in September for the manuscript of the first book in her four-part Civil War Series, "West Virginia: Child of the Storm."
The third volume was also named a 2017 Genesis Award winner in its category by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), as well as being named a finalist for the 2017 Cascade Award. The second book was also a Genesis finalist in 2016 and 2017.
In her last year as a teacher, which came at Horizon Christian School in Tualatin, four of the six history classes Pearson taught were on the Civil War, which has always been one of her favorite subjects, so it was a fitting place to start when thinking about a book.
"It wasn't even West Virginia — it was Virginia — when the war broke out, Pearson said. "It wasn't until half way through the war that it broke apart."
She was looking to explore a part of the war that hadn't already been tapped, but also one that would showcase its brutal and heartrending nature.
"We say 'brother fighting brother,' but it really was," Pearson said. "It was kids who grew up together that lived across the field from each other and, all of a sudden, were enemies. It's heartbreaking."
Pearson also weaves a spiritual thread through her all of her work.
"I want to pull out how things were so difficult in history, but people had faith and that's how they got through it," Pearson said.
Pearson said she received offers for the series from four small publishers, but opted to hire an agent and pursue a traditional, royalty-based publishing deal and is waiting to hear back from six potential buyers.
"I am in that waiting phase," Pearson said. "People don't realize how long it takes, from six months to two or three years."
The experience she had breaking into publishing on her own led her back to teaching, including a seminar on the writing and publishing marketplace at the OCW convention in Portland in October.
"Basically I was teaching all the stuff I found out when I started researching," Pearson said.
Pearson also teaches music out of her home studio two days a week and leads monthly critique groups for writers in Dundee, Newberg and Sherwood.
If that weren't enough, she plans on researching a new book soon on the Chinese underground in cities like Portland, Pendleton and Seattle.
"A lot of people have no clue that the Chinese had to live underground because it wasn't even illegal to murder them above ground at one point in our nation's history," Pearson said.