Writer Behind the Words


Kathleen Denly writes stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. She enjoys finding the lesser known pockets of history and bringing them to life through the joys and struggles of her characters.

Sunny southern California, a favorite setting in her stories, is also her home. She lives there with her loving husband, four young children, two cats, and too many fish to count. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories.

When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, she spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Kathleen is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the San Diego Christian Writers’ Guild.

Always happy to hear from her readers, you can email Kathleen at WriteKathleenDenly@gmail.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.


Welcome to the blog, Kathleen! I’m so blessed by how God introduced us through a writing contest and I’m so excited to have you join us today.

Savanna, thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you and your readers! I’m excited and honored to be here!

So tell us… When did you first start writing?

This is a trickier question to answer than it might seem. I actually wrote a whole post on the subject once. However, I think if forced to pick a single day, I would say it was in the ninth grade when I awoke in the wee hours of the morning with the plot for a novel in my head and immediately jotted notes on a nearby notepad. I hadn’t considered myself a writer at the time and had never even thought to write anything so ambitious as a novel, but for reasons I still don’t understand, that’s how it began. It would be another decade, however, before I began to take my writing seriously.

That sounds very similar to me. An idea just hit me one day when I was still in high school and I started writing. I’d never thought of being an author before, but that day the dream was born. 🙂

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a historical Christian romance featuring a young woman who concocts a seemingly perfect cover for her illegitimate pregnancy — claiming to have eloped with a wealthy stranger too busy managing his mine to come home. She could never have predicted he’d arrive in town the day after she received “news” of his death. In exchange for keeping her secret, the stranger demands just one thing—her hand in marriage, for better or worse, till death do they part. Suddenly, the lie that was meant to save her future, threatens to enslave it.

I have so many juicy surprises planned and, of course, historical events and characters. I’m very excited about this project.

Ohhhhh, I’m intrigued already. What a fun story idea!

Can you tell us about one of your favorite characters you’ve written so far?

That’s a tough one. They are each so unique. I suppose I’ll tell you about the heroine for the story I’m working on now since she’s the most on my mind.

When she was younger, she suffered a vicious dog attack that left her disfigured and forever changed her life. Shunned by society and hidden away by her parents, she doesn’t understand why God abandoned her. Her desperation to find someone who will love her as she is leads her to tragedy and heartbreak. When a man finally sees her for the beauty she is, she struggles to let him in. Particularly when his behavior reminds her of the man who left her.

What’s something you love about your home state?

That’s an easy one. I love it’s rich and varied history. From the times of the native peoples through the Spanish era, the Mexican era, and eventually the American era – complete with the gold rush that drew peoples from all over the world – so many cultures have touched this land. This unique heritage combined with the lure of western expansion provides a wide pool of characters whose stories I can read of in old diaries, letters, and newspapers. There are so many unique local historical sites to visit and libraries to delve into. Add to that: snow-capped mountains, majestic redwoods, lush farmlands, barren deserts and the surprisingly charming chaparral, this state provides a vast range of landscapes against which to set my stories. I could go on to describe the incredible variety of events which have occurred in this great state, but I don’t think we have the space today. 😉

I’d love to visit California some day! 🙂

What’s one of your favorite books?

I can only pick one?! Come on! *grumble* *whine* *cry-a-little* *sigh* … okay fine. If I have to pick one, it would have to be …. Pride and Prejudice. I know, it is far from original, but it’s the truth. I’ve read that book more times than any other book, excepting the Bible. I’ve written a countless number of reports and dissected it six hundred different ways. Yet, each time I read it or listen to it on Audible, I thoroughly enjoy it. Fun fact:  When I was in high school I had to walk a mile home from the bus stop. I typically spent that time reciting lines from the Greer Garson version of the movie. I would start at the whatever line I’d left on the day before and continue through the movie, line by line, verbatim until we got home. My sister, who walked with me, thought this was fantastic! Just ask her. 😉

Haha! Love it. 🙂

What is one of your favorite Scripture verses?

My all-time favorite verse is from the book of Job, believe it or not. It is Job 2:10 when Job says to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

It isn’t the most cheerful of quotes on the surface, I know. However, it reminds me that all things are under God’s sovereignty and that reminds me of how He works in all things for the good of those who love Him. In my darkest valleys I need not despair, for God is with me and He is for me. Though I cannot see His path, nor always understand His ways, He is there and He loves me. So in all circumstances, I can say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I’m so glad you shared this. You’re exactly right. God’s sovereignty is such a comfort and strength through the unknowns of life.

Can you share with us a special moment from your writing journey so far?

I had to think on this one. There have been several. So many times I have felt the undeniable hand of God on my journey. It is difficult to decide which to share. I suppose I’ll share the one that introduced me to you.

Last year, I set some goals for my career designed to push me out of my comfort zone. One of those goals was to enter at least three contests by the end of the year. The first two I entered were mostly for fun and to get my butt in the chair, as we say. They were inexpensive, no-risk, twenty-four-hour short story contests that I knew I wouldn’t win, but which served a purpose, nonetheless. Then I pushed myself to enter a contest in the format I was serious about – novel writing. I wasn’t interested in winning, so much as getting out of my comfort zone. So I looked for one that didn’t cost much to enter and would provide me with some helpful feedback. I found the First Impressions contest, made a few edits to ensure my entry fit their formatting requirements and sent it in. In truth, the weeks following were so busy with birthday and holiday celebrations and adjusting to our newly adopted daughter, that I completely forgot about the contest.

Then one afternoon as I was leaving the pediatric dental office with my four children, I got a call from someone who said something about ACFW. I thought maybe they were calling to check whether I wanted to renew my membership or something so I was only half-listening while I ushered my kids into the van and strapped in my toddler. Then I heard, “First Impressions Contest” and my full attention was snagged. When I finally wrapped my brain around the fact that they were telling me I was a finalist, I did a happy dance that shook the whole van and made my kids burst out laughing. As you know, I wound up winning that contest and I am in-no-small-way grateful for the encouragement of that win, but in hindsight, the best things I got out of that contest were 1) exactly what I hoped for: the confidence that comes with trying something new and not dying as a result, 2) the unexpected blessing of a new and cherished friend. Although we haven’t yet met in person, the encouragement and support you have shown me since we first reached out to congratulate each other on being finalists together is worth far more than any contest award.

I LOVE hearing more of the behind-the-scenes to your contest successes. I’m SO thrilled we met and I can’t wait to see you at ACFW in a few months. 🙂

What’s been one of the most challenging aspects of writing?

Ugh. Contradictory advice from seemingly equally authoritative people. It’s the worst. Yes, I’m an artist, but there is a big part of me that likes black and white, check marks and lists, right and wrong, yes and no. All this gray area is enough to drive me batty some days. LOL If only I could write an excellent novel by filling in the blanks like a third-grade worksheet … then again, it probably wouldn’t be as fun if I could.

We are so much alike. I love my check marks and lists too. haha!

Name a few authors who inspire you.

Oh boy. Another tough one. Okay, in no particular order here are just a few of them:  Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, Francine Rivers, Tracie Peterson, Tamera Alexander, Karen Witemeyer, Sondra Kraak, Pepper Basham, Rachel Hauck, Angela K. Couch, Lauraine Snelling, Mary Connealy, C.S. Lewis, Gilbert Morris, Regina Jennings, Melissa Jagears, Roseanna M. White., Elizabeth Camden, Jody Hedlund…. and I know I’m forgetting more. I’m going to smack my forehead ten seconds after this is posted, I just know it.

Each of these authors inspires me in a different way. Some for their incredible ability to put humor into their stories, some for the way they paint vivid pictures in my mind, others for their poetic prose, and still others for the way they tug my heartstrings or keep me turning pages long after I should be asleep. Each represents something I hope to emulate in my writing in my own way.

Can you share a word of advice to other writers out there on the road to publication?

Believe that YOU are enough because HE is enough. If He has called you to write, then He is able and faithful to equip you for the journey He has planned for you. This is a truth I am still learning myself, but I think if you cling to it, it will see you through the highs and the lows of this crazy business.

I’ve done a lot of talking about me, today. I’d love to hear more about you! What first inspired you to become the reader you are today? Can you share with me a particular book that especially spoke to your heart?


As my thank you for taking the time to get to know me and sharing a little about you, I’m offering a $15 Amazon gift card to one random commenter.

If you’d like to learn still more about me, I’d love to have you visit my website at www.KathleenDenly.com and sign up to become a member of Kathleen’s Readers’ Club where I share exclusive book reviews and giveaways, current sales on excellent books, exclusive history tidbits, the latest news on my writing journey and more!  You can also find me on Pinterest and Twitter @KathleenDenly and on Facebook www.fb.com/KathleenDenly.author. I’d love to see you there! 🙂

It’s been a delight having you here, my friend. Blessings on you, your family, and your stories. I will be eagerly following your journey from here. 🙂 Hugs to you!


Thanks for entering! Contest ends July 31, 2018.  The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!