Background and Philosophy


I spent my childhood on a farm in north central Missouri. It was there that I developed a love of nature, which has always been my greatest source of inspiration.

I caught the creative bug early. As soon as I knew how to write, I was putting stories and poems to paper. I learned the flute at Catholic school and began playing in the parish folk group in the 6th grade. Throughout high school, I was a brainy music geek with a passion for writing—prose, poetry and musical snippets—that I was too self-conscious to share. The first draft of The Beggars’ Queen took shape in the tree house and the library at Moberly High School.

In 1992 I began studying music at the University of Missouri with Steve Geibel. Over the next 5 years I developed relative pitch (I call it imperfect pitch) and trained my ear—a critical skill for a composer. But it was not until I joined the Newman Center choir in 1995 that I found my calling. That fall, I met my husband Christian, and I learned a whole new style of church music. Shortly after, I began writing music in earnest. I did my masters work at the University of Northern Iowa with Angeleita Floyd. Without a car and without Christian, I didn’t have much of a social life, so I spent my time composing and rewriting The Beggars’ Queen.

Christian and I were married in the fall of 1999. I worked for five years in liturgical music; three of those years were also spent battling infertility. During my first pregnancy, I started the Long Ridge Breaking Into Print course. Shortly after Alex was born in 2005, I had my first acceptances—on the music front, works for flute and piano and songs for assembly and choir; on the prose side, The Beggars’ Queen.

Life changed again in 2007 when Julianna was born with Down syndrome. These days, writing takes turns with therapies, play dates, choir directorship and house work. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


The written word, the sung note, should make the world a better place—not reflect the cynicism of the times, but hold up a better ideal. This doesn’t mean pretending that ugliness doesn’t exist. The best writing acknowledges the reality of the world in which we live without enshrining it as inevitable or desirable.

There are two problems in literature:

1)      In secular literature: religious people are, almost without exception, portrayed as villains or at least hypocrites. But this is not a reflection of the true faith. Get involved in any church and you will find bitter, angry people—but you will also find people of quiet, deep faith, people who follow St. Francis’ admonishment: “preach always; when necessary, use words.” These are the true followers of Christ.

2)      In Christian literature: the writing tends to be very preachy. It moralizes; it tells instead of showing. It lives up to the stereotype of the “religious right,” when in reality, the Gospel flies in the face of both liberal and conservative politics.

My goal in writing is to find a balance between these two extremes.

Published on August 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm  Comments (19)  

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Your “Two problems in literature” was very well-written and I completely agree. Very refreshing. :)
    If you add an option to subscribe via email, please let me know, I’d love to subscribe so I can read more.

    • I’ve got to figure out how to do that…. :/

  2. I agree with the two problems of literature you state. It’s why I COULD NOT WRITE until I surrendered to Him. Because good writing is personal, and personally I’m a mess, and I’m only okay with that when I remember his blood covers my sins, and it’s all about Him anyway.
    I think Christian writers are often too afraid to be honest with their readers, because they think being a Christian means acting perfect. Being a Christian is being made perfect, and that’s completely different.

  3. When I read your philosophy, I said aloud, “Oh, I love it!” Yes! We share the same goal. So glad I found your blog.

  4. Great post! Have you ever read the Kristin Lavransdatter books? I just did a post about them. The perfect Catholic novels, and back in the 1920s they actually won the Nobel Prize. You won’t see that happening anymore.

  5. I saw your comments on Rachelle Gardner’s blog today and thought I’d stop by. I’m searching for an agent for my novel, which is completely unsuitable for the Christian market; when I saw your comment, I thought, “Hm, we may be on the same philosophical page!” And from your assessment of the problems in literature, I think we are. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

    • Nice to meet you! We definitely need to stay in contact so we can help each other find a route to publication. :)

  6. Hi Kathleen,

    Not sure if you’re still following the discussion at my blog, Wheat for Paradise. I hope that you might see my latest post on Blessed Chiara Badano and the subsequent comments. Thanks for visiting and God bless!

    In Jesu XPI Passio,

  7. By the way, in case you did already read my most recent post, I just edited the first paragraph to remove the part about disliking contemporary music at Mass. It was an unnecessary editorial comment.

    God bless,

    • I neglected to sign up for the “notify me of email followups,” and so I hadn’t gotten back over to check. But now it’s telling me the blog’s been deleted, when I try to follow your name-link. Any suggestions?

      • For some reason, my log-in name is linked to a blog that I deleted a year ago, and WordPress won’t let me change the link. Here’s the link to my current blog:

  8. Kathleen, I liked your last comment on my blog. I’ll leave it as the last word (unless others chime in) and give it some serious thought. God bless!

    In Jesu XPI Passio,

  9. Kathleen, I gave it some thought, and I couldn’t let it stand as the last word. Sorry! You needn’t feel obliged to re-enter the fray. I just felt obliged to let you know. Take care and God bless!

    In Jesu XPI Passio,

  10. I found your website and read your mission statement and other commentaries. Thank you for your faith, witness, and vigilance.

  11. Kathleen,

    I like your mission with writing. and you are right, the gospel flies in the face of the liberal AND the conservative–actually, it flies in the face of everything. the more i understand the gospel, the more i realize i dont know much at all, it is best to keep my mouth shut and listen, and that Christ and him crucified is all I have to cling to.



  12. I was invited by RAnn for Sunday Snippets for my blog. I feel so honored as a new writer. I’ve come by it late and tend to berate myself for that. I clicked on your blog, and am so glad I did! I agree about Christian fiction. I want some flaw in my characters. Afterall, what would be the point of Jesus dying such a horrible death?

  13. Dear Kathleen,

    I wholeheartedly support the Francis of Assisi quote about preaching: The best way is to live a life in which others can recognize the will of the Divine. I still don’t use words to preach – per se – but to spell out and share some of my experiences of the Divine.
    Thanks for your work. I wish you strength and hope that Merton’s wisdom helps you weather the ripples and storms in daily life.


  14. Philosophy problem #1 is what I do, in a simple way.

  15. These are great words:
    “The written word, the sung note, should make the world a better place—not reflect the cynicism of the times, but hold up a better ideal. This doesn’t mean pretending that ugliness doesn’t exist. The best writing acknowledges the reality of the world in which we live without enshrining it as inevitable or desirable.”
    I wholeheartedly agree.
    Thanks for your comment! Glad to have connected with you–

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