Tucson Festival of Books

era-2005.jpgEsther Royer Ayers, the author of “Rolling Down Black Stockings”, and I were invited to participate in the 2009 Tucson Festival of Books, which is sponsored by The Arizona Daily Star in association with the University of Arizona. This is quite an honor for both of us as they have invited only 300 writers and are expecting over 50,000 people to attend. An hour has been allotted to us on Sunday, March 15 at 4:00pm. After the session there will be a half hour for us to sign our books.

Esther and I have chosen “Two Remarkable Stories of Growing Up in Cults – Told with Compassion & Humor” as the title of our presentation. The format will be a lively interactive discussion between us talking about growing up in two totally different cults – Old Order Mennonites and Jehovah’s Witnesses – with surprising and shocking commonalities between these two very unique and secretive groups.


One of the most asked questions by readers of “Mama’s Club” is about my wife, Helen. Yes, that seventeen-year-old young lady that you see on this post who would become my wife on April 11, 1964. And that question is: Did she leave the Club shortly after you were married? The answer is “no.” It wouldn’t be until 1986 before she could break the stranglehold of the Club’s cult-like beliefs and practices. But our challenges for the next twenty-two years will be the fodder for my sequel, “Ghosts From Mama’s Club.” In the meantime, Helen and I will be celebrating our forty-fourth wedding anniversary next month. Ironically, my sister, Mary Lyn, was murdered on April 11, ten years ago.

Third Edition of “Mama’s Club”

A revised and expanded Third Edition of Growing Up In Mama’s Club will be available for purchase on March 14, 2008. This third printing includes an additional thirty-eight pages of new stories, a glossary of Club jargon, and a short history of the Club. And, it reflects my commitment to continuous improvement.

My website has been updated to reflect the introduction of this new Third Edition, as well as additional retail outlets where the book can be purchased online. And if you interested in reading excerpts of the book, you can do so by linking onto text found in the “Notes” section of the website.

Erika’s Book Review

     My eleven-year-old granddaughter, Erika Kelly Waalkes, was asked by her sixth-grade teacher to read a book and turn in a three-page review of it before this past year’s Christmas break. She chose Growing Up In Mama’s Club.

     Summing up her read, Erika wrote, “The author, Richard Kelly, is a very descriptive writer. He paints pictures of the people and places in his book with vivid verbs and a wide vocabulary. I am very proud of him and I will continue to love him with all of my heart! Great job Papa!

     In the body of her report, she was asked to do character and chapter analysis, and a book summary. I found it surprising how little information she shared about Mama, her great grandmother. Instead, she chose to comment on the strengths and flaws of Papa and my half-brother, Tim.

     Erika’s favorites were my grandparents, Georgie, Sheila, Grandma Bean, Helen, and Dickie. She was particularly impressed with Grandpa Evans as a positive role model. Her two least favorites were Mrs. Edwards and Mama. She especially did not like their negative outbursts about Christmas.

     I am very proud of Erika. She is a wonderful young lady and I hope she will want to read my story again as an adult. While my book was not written to be read by children, I hope they will be the benefactors of my soapbox message: “A parent’s responsibility is to instill values and ethics when raising their children, not to force them to adhere to and believe in strict religious dogma they are not emotionally or intellectually mature enough to comprehend.”