Here's her story, in her own words:
I'm a fifth generation Kansan, grew up in Gardner, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in journalism and an M.A. with honors in English. Inspired by time at Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers, I founded Oleander Cottage, a writing retreat in Montgaillard, France, where several writers found haven from 2004 to 2014. I wrote the first draft of my memoir, Tornado Alley, at the Cottage. Also I spent time in France researching a play about Camille Claudel, the sculptor. My plays include Love Makes a Home: The Life of Rebecca Boone, which has been presented in 15 venues in three states, including Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir Rhyne University, White Horse Black Mountain, and as a convocation for Berea College and the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center in Kentucky. My first public play and grant recipient from the Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies, Thunder is the Mountain's Voice, was presented at Rocky Mountain National Park and Park Village Playhouse.
My work as a nationally certified child forensic interviewer led to the creation of What Every Grandparent Needs to Know About Childhood Sexual Abuse, and I am a Darkness to Light Stewards of Children facilitator. My first anthology, Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student, united experts nationwide in the study of twice exceptionality. My second, High IQ Kids, co-edited with Deborah Robson and Judy Brenneman, received the Legacy Award as the Best Book for Parents and Educators in its publication year. Elaine McAllister Dellinger joined me to create Images of America: Yancey County.
Adventures at three intentional communities led to my novel, The Cicada Year. My writing celebrates survival and reinforces resilience. I taught undergraduate English classes at the University of Kansas, and now lead writing workshops and provide mentorship to others who want to share their stories. Writing brings connections and comforts. I led a writing workshop for secondary trauma survivors at the Violence Intervention and Prevention Summit, and worked with the Forest Children to complete my friend Robin Carrington's children's book after she passed away. Now that my children have grown, there's time to play old time fiddle and psaltery, and to direct plays as well as write them. Writing interweaves the threads of this treasured life.
I write articles for magazines and newspapers, and some of my poetry has appeared in literary journals, including the I-70 Review, Sentinel, Trivia, Sisters Today, and Coal City Review. I have self-published a memoir, Tornado Alley, which I hope to have published by a Kansas press in the future. I write a lot. It's like breathing; without it, I start sinking!
My website is https://kiesakay.wixsite.com/courage. I haven't updated it since the pandemic began; I direct plays and do workshops on the Healing Art of Writing, and everything got cancelled in one fell swoop, so now I am bouncing back. I also have helped eight writers complete their first books, as a coach and encourager.
I would love to have a community of Kansas writers, and feel so glad to have found this group!!! It feels like a homecoming.