Local woman’s writing published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”

October 3, 2011

By Christina Lords

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NEW — 3:15 P.M., Oct. 3, 2011

Every Thursday for three years, Dawn Lilly sat down with a handful of first-graders at a Renton elementary school to help them develop their reading skills.

One incident from her time there, however, will stick out in her mind — and in print —forever.

“As a tutor, I had five kids all year long,” she said. “They each have their own personalities and quirks, and I genuinely loved spending that time with those kids. You could see them grow and learn to be proud of themselves.”

Lilly bestowed a super reader award on a student after he was able to overcome a mild stutter during the school year. As the student read the “reading tutoring program” award out loud, he slipped and instead said, “reading torturing program.”

The line stuck, and Lilly said she was inspired to sit down to write “Sweet Torture” two years ago.

Lilly, a Newcastle resident and former television newswoman who left the industry 30 years ago to devote more time to her family, has spent the past two years developing nonfiction and inspirational freelance writing part time.

The story was picked up for “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for the Young at Heart,” a collection of stories about seniors enjoying life after 60. The book was released in August.

The Chicken Soup series has more than 200 titles and has sold more than 112 million copies, with titles translated into more than 40 languages.

Lilly’s writing was also featured in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad” in 2010, as well as “The Secret Place,” “Evangel” and DaySpring Cards.

She’s just started her first novel, and said personal, reflective writing — especially pieces with inspirational or Christian messages — is something she’s always wanted to do.

“I’m compelled to do it,” she said. “I can’t stop, even if that means I have to bang my head against the keys however many times, even if it’s not working that day. I’m going to keep trying.”

She said she joined the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association, which holds its meetings in Bothell, and started attending writing conferences as a way to get feedback about her writing.

Anyone can begin writing for publications if they set their mind to it and are willing to face rejection, Lilly said.

“It’s easy for everybody to draw from life experiences to have something to tell,” she said. “You have to have tough skin, and mine is getting very tough.”

Lilly said much of what she and other freelancers send to publications is rejected, so having something selected for print is always special.

“You put so much of yourself into writing something,” she said. “So when you do get something that’s selected, you think, ‘Maybe that is confirmation that I’m doing the right thing.’”


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