Kimberly Rae has lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo, and Indonesia. She rafted the Nile River, hiked in the hills around Mount Everest, and tried cow brains just to say she’d done it!
She now writes Christian books from her home in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with her husband and two children.
Read on to see how this digital nomad became an at-home Christian author.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to becoming a full-time Christian author and writer.
I feel like I’m just at the beginning of that journey — a lot like a brand new freshman in college who doesn’t even know where her first class is!
Before Stolen Woman, writing was something I enjoyed but did sporadically, and the money wasn’t dependable, and we’d use it for special family activities or going on a date here and there with my husband.
Now that my book has been released, writing has become a business rather than a hobby. I admit I don’t know much about what I’m doing at this point. If anyone has any ideas on how to get the word out about my new book, I’d be happy to hear them.
I love to be outside in nature, watching Jane Austen movies, clean comedy (Tim Hawkins, especially!), and spending time with my husband, who is also my best friend. I’m pretty lousy at all sports, good at coming up with ideas, and hope to take a painting class someday.
In my travels, I’ve had the wonderful experiences of seeing Mt. Everest, rafting on the Nile River, and eating cow brains just to say I’d done it! Okay, the cow brain part wasn’t so wonderful, but I love traveling and learning about new cultures and different ways people live and think.
I think over the years, my bravery level has decreased, however. If someone offered me cow brains today, I’m not sure I’d take them up on it.
What did you do before becoming an author?
I feel like I’ve had a whole collection of jobs.
After college, I went to Bangladesh and taught Bengali children, then went to Africa to help an AIDS orphan project. Then after I got married, my husband and I moved to Indonesia where he taught English at a University there, and I tried to learn how to balance being a new mom with learning a new language and culture.
Talk about challenging!
We were quite surprised to find out I was pregnant soon after arriving in Indonesia.
I remember one day during my first trimester when we went to a cultural event with some of the University students. They brought me a bowl of a favorite local dish, a soup with sprouting beans in it, and tiny dried fish sprinkled across the top – complete with tail, head, and eyes! You can imagine the dried fish smell. I remember praying that I wouldn’t throw up and make a bad first impression!
Being a mom in a foreign country was such a great experience.
A baby breaks down cultural barriers like nothing else. I was entirely out of my element, though, hearing advice like, “Don’t drink cold water – you’ll have a big baby,” and “If you drink cold water while breastfeeding, the baby will get cold milk!”
I also had to decide what to do about the fact that most of my friends did not use diapers on their babies. Should I live with being considered wasteful to spend the money on diapers, or be like everybody else and just clean up … often?
I picked being wasteful.
How does any of this have to do with being a writer?
Preparation, I suppose.
I wrote off and on all through those years, more as a hobby and a ministry than anything else. Now that I’m writing on a regular basis, those experiences have given me a wonderful base of cultures and peoples to write about. My first novel, STOLEN WOMAN, is set in Kolkata, India, but more about that later.
How did you fund your business?
Initially, when writing was a hobby, I would get a check here and there from a magazine. When the internet became the preferred method of submitting manuscripts, the costs for being a part-time writer decreased significantly, since I didn’t have to pay postage and printing costs for mailings anymore. The money I made from being published every once in a while more than compensated the cost.
Now that I’m a “real” writer, marketing my own book, that has obviously changed. The up-front costs for marketing materials, as well as buying several hundred books to sell at book signings and such, are going to cost quite a chunk. Fortunately for me, my husband is good at setting aside money to have an emergency fund available, so there is just enough money to get this book started.
God willing, the book will sell well enough to pay for itself (and I hope more than that, of course!)
You recently published your first novel, “STOLEN WOMAN, a Christian Suspense Story on Human Trafficking,” tell us about it.
I was talking with my mother one day, wondering aloud what writing project I should focus on next, when she asked me, “If you could write about anything, what would you write about?”
By the end of that day, I had the basic outline and was already working on a chapter of STOLEN WOMAN, my novel on human trafficking.
I guess writers live vicariously through their books because now that health problems keep me in the States, you could say that this book is my way of getting back out there and making a difference. I can’t go overseas and rescue women or children, but maybe someone will read my book and get out there to do what I can’t.
Despite the dark subject, I have to say it was a delight to write. I felt like I got to go back and revisit Asia, reliving wonderful memories about my favorite street kids, making a fool of myself trying to use the language, and experiencing life from a different perspective.
I especially enjoyed writing the tense scenes between the two main characters. Their personalities are similar to mine, and my husbands, except my characters, are more outspoken. My husband, Brian and I both hate conflict. We don’t fight as my characters do. But I imagined how the conversation would go if they did. It was fun! Maybe even therapeutic. I’d read scenes out loud to Brian and he would laugh, or tell me when I put in a statement or thought from the guy that a real guy would never say or think.
But back to the book.
It’s about Asha, a young woman who goes to Kolkata (Calcutta) India on a summer mission trip. By accident, she ends up in a bad area and meets 16-year-old Rani, who has been stolen from her home and forced to work in the red-light districts. Asha desperately wants to help her escape (who wouldn’t!), but Mark, a third-generation missionary and her boss for the summer, tells her emphatically that she must never go back to that area again.
Despite the dangers, Asha is determined to rescue Rani, so she starts sneaking off the missionary compound in attempts to plan Rani’s escape. But one night, as Asha goes to meet her friend, she realizes she is being followed. Will she be stolen and sold, too?
You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest!
How many hours do you work a week, and how much is spent in your home office?
The words “home office” made me laugh. Before this week, my stuff was spread out through several rooms! It was okay to have a pile here and a pile there before when it was just a hobby, but with the book getting released this summer, we finally decided I needed a real space of my own. So my husband gave up over half his office for me, and just last weekend, we went to a Habitat for Humanity re-store and got me a couch and desk. I’ve got organized files now, and that feels so good! I’m still not completely organized into the office yet, but it’s getting there.
I’d say I work about 20 hours a week – you all know how hard it is to actually calculate the working time when it’s interspersed with “Mommy, can you come to help me?” and snack time, nap time, and changing diapers.
It seems ironic to me that I sit on the couch writing about human trafficking while Bob the Builder or Thomas the Tank Engine shows are playing. I think working with children is daunting sometimes, but a real blessing. No matter what I write about, I can’t ever get too emotionally involved in it because my 2-year-old will have a poopy diaper and remind me that life goes on, that I’m making a difference right here (it doesn’t seem significant, but if nobody changed that poopy diaper, it sure would be!), and that goodness and life and love prevail. I wouldn’t trade that for a corporate anything!
How would you rate your success?
Hard to say, since the book’s not out yet! Maybe by the time, this is printed, it will be, and I can let you know. Overall, however, I feel very successful because people have shown such an interest in the book, and especially in one of the book’s main purposes, which is to connect caring people with human trafficking rescue ministries so they, too, can get involved in helping rescue women and children all over the world. If somehow, some young woman gets rescued because of my book, I will feel successful. (And naturally, I’d feel even more successful if it made some decent money, too.)
What has been your biggest business struggle as an author?
That feeling of urgency that propels me toward working when I should be focusing on my family. I struggle with wanting to do my own thing and neglecting my family, then feeling that bad mixture of guilt and defensiveness that then makes things even worse. I know that my relationship with God is what keeps me balanced – helping my family by doing this work, but also knowing when a bedtime story is more important. I keep trying to remind myself that in a few years, I’ll probably have more time than I want where I’m alone at home, and the kids are off doing something else. I don’t want to miss this precious time of their childhood, chasing after my own dreams. But even though I know this, I still struggle with it on a daily level.
What advice would you give to a new author?
I’m way too “green” at this to give anybody else advice at this point. If I had to say something, I’d say ask questions and be willing to keep learning.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I’m not sure if you can call it “managing” if I’m typing while the kids are watching a movie, but for the most part, I tend to work while in the same room as my 2-year-old during the day. Then when she takes a nap, I can do more focused work.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling overwhelmed with several pieces that need to be written, my husband will watch the kids for the evening, and I go to a restaurant and write to my heart’s content. Every Sunday is a day of rest, so no matter how badly I want to open my computer, I really try to set aside that day as a God and family day. I think it really helps to keep the stress at bay and is a weekly reminder that things aren’t as urgent as they often feel.
I’m very blessed in that writing is something I can do at my own pace. It’s not a business in the sense that if things aren’t kept up, the business folds. For me, if I stop writing for a week or a month, my “career” is not in jeopardy. I like it that way. I don’t have the stress of having to produce, so if I get sick, or one of the kids needs extra attention, I can set my writing aside and get back to it later. I really do have the best of both worlds, and I’m very thankful for it!
Thanks to Kimberly Rae for sharing her story!