That’s how Audra’s writing career began at the age of eleven when she began writing adventure stories of two little girls getting into all sorts of things, mostly mischief. She’s been writing ever since.
The daughter of missionaries, Shelby spent her formative years living and learning in the Caribbean. As a young college student, she dreamed of writing the great American novel, but got sidetracked when she started a graphic design business. She left college to pursue the business and later married the man of her dreams.
While in Yemen, she kept writing. To keep her children entertained, Audra wrote delightful stories about a family of squirrels, each one sharing familiar attributes with her own children. She wrote a monthly newsletter, sharing stories of Yemen, the people she met and learned to love, and she wrote a series of articles about people groups for an organization here in the US. But deep inside, she still harbored the dream of being a great writer and someday writing the great American novel.
Immediately upon their arrival in Yemen, they began to work in the community amongst the people, sharing the love of Jesus Christ.
Then came that fateful morning, September 11, 2001. It was like a bad dream. There was a mandatory evacuation notice and the Shelby family was given 24 hours to pack up and leave. It was a very emotional time; there was no opportunity for goodbyes, no closure.
They spent the next ten days in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. They fully expected to be sent back stateside, but God intervened and they were allowed to return to their home. There was work still to be done.
During this entire time, Audra was collecting notes: notes she wanted for her children so they would remember the legacy of Yemen in their lives. And then one-day God said, “These notes are not just for your kids.” Thus, began the process of compiling the notes into her first book, Behind the Veils of Yemen, where you can read more about the family’s adventures in Yemen.
She had no money, no agent, no contacts. She anxiously submitted the manuscript to a Christian manuscript review service and immediately got three responses. One of the publishers interested was Chosen Books. Audra saw it like a message from God, as if He were saying, “I have chosen you.”
Audra was blessed when God brought Jane Campbell, Editorial Director for Chosen Books, into her life. Jane was, and continues to be, a valuable mentor and great encourager to Audra. When Audra was ready to give up and call it quits, Jane saw something in Audra and encouraged her to keep writing.
“Writing is a gift and we need to be responsible stewards with the gifts given to us.” How do we do that? We keep writing. We share stories that teach biblical truths. We write to teach, not just to entertain.
When asked to describe the difference between being a writer and an author, Shelby was quick to respond, “A writer focuses on skill and craft. An author is more concerned with titles and the number of books written.” Interesting thought.
When asked why she writes, Audra Grace replied, “When I write I feel the pleasure of God.”
Meet Audra Grace Shelby in person at the 2017 CLASS Writers Contreat. She will be teaching on how to write about your own personal experiences.
To learn more about Audra Grace Shelby’s ministry visit her FaceBook page. To subscribe to her blog, visit audragraceshelby.wordpress.com.