Notes on “Mama’s Club”

Mr. Kelly’s Notes on the Revised and Expanded Third Edition

The Third Edition of Growing Up In Mama’s Club includes an additional thirty-eight pages of new stories, a glossary of Club jargon, and a short history of Mama’s Club. Most importantly, it reflects my commitment to continuous improvement. (See excerpts and links to sample chapters below.)

One of the reasons for my success in business was that the company I worked for had a system of continuous improvement imbedded in its culture. It positively impacted the day-to-day activity of every employee. I thrived in the environment. And that kind of thinking has spilled over into my second career—writing my story of growing up in Mama’s Club.

However, I could not have completed the Third Edition without the help of four very special people who share my passion for continuous improvement.

The first of these is my editor, Sherry Sterling. She was there with me throughout the entire process of rewriting the book, always challenging me with, “Now Dick, remember you must show them, don’t tell them.” Working with her was a joy as we both have a love for words well spoken. During the editing process, it was like we were kids again. It was playtime, and not work for us.

In July of 2007 I reconnected with a childhood friend, John Hoyle. We had lost touch for over forty years. He, too, loves words and is very clever with his use of them, being a real comedian at times. He is the consummate details person, which is very good for me. And he has a knack for getting me to think in directions that are not intuitive for me. This Third Edition would not be what it is without John’s prodding, wisecracking, forever restating Writing 101 principles, and his passion for helping me tell my story. John, like me, is a survivor of emotional, religious abuse as a child.

The third person I want to thank for her help on making this book possible is my daughter, Kimberly Kelly Waalkes. After reading the Second Edition of Mama’s Club, she gave a positive, yet perfunctory, “Good job Dad. It’s much better than the First Edition. But you can do better. How about letting one of my writing-expert friends read your book and make suggestions.” But that wasn’t the only good advice Kim gave me. After reading my first draft of A Short History of Mama’s Club, she said, “Dad, it’s boring.” I listened, and threw that draft in the trash. Now you the reader must be the judge to decide if I brought some life to it on my rewrite.

Finally, I am most grateful for Michele DeVoe Lussky, my daughter’s friend. Michele has strong opinions about how we should positively improve the world we live in. And she is a very competent writer and writing consultant. After reading the Second Edition, Michele minced no words in telling me what I needed to do to take Mama’s Club to the next level: I had to improve the dialogue to make it more genuine; the last three chapters were rushed and needed more stories; I should tell the reader more early history about Helen, the lady I married; additional Club history would be helpful; more juxtaposition with the main characters was needed; and I had to add more sensory details and memorabilia—all great advice.

I hope that readers will enjoy and benefit from the improvements and additions made to this edition. I also hope that readers will understand that this book is not intended as a diatribe against any particular religious group, but rather as a warning to parents about the potentially damaging effects that can come from forcing a child to adhere to strict religious ideology—particularly if the children are unable to comprehend or believe it. Although I bear scars from my experiences, I am fortunate to have been able to get out of a totally controlling situation and go on to have a successful, happy adult life. I’m sorry to say that was not true for my sister, and many of our contemporaries.

Thanks to the overwhelming positive responses that I have received from readers of the first two editions of Growing Up in Mama’s Club, I am currently working on a sequel called Ghosts from Mama’s Club. Readers continue to ask what happened after I left Bethel, how my wife reacted when I disassociated myself from the Club, how that decision affected our marriage and how we raised our children, and what happened to my parents and siblings. While ghosts from Mama’s Club haunted me, my wife, and our children for many years, our unlikely journey is the tantalizing fodder that writers hanker for when they want to tell a compelling, inspirational story.

I invite you to sample Growing Up In Mama’s Club for yourself. If you enjoy the following excerpts and the available sample chapters, please feel free to share with your friends or anyone you feel might benefit from reading my story.

A Most Unusual Messenger

“I looked up and saw that the lady had Mama’s undivided attention. While Mama focused on the message, I couldn’t take my eyes off the messenger. Her arms and hands, perpetually in motion, often blurred my vision. Tiny white gobs of spittle formed in pockets of her mouth, and occasionally caught and elongated between her big puffy lips as inky black perspiration stains originating from her armpits moved down the sides of her dress. Intermittent showers of spit fluttered from her mouth as she spoke in her ear-piercing voice…” — Chapter 1, page 13

A Cherished Moment with Grandpa

“Every midafternoon at precisely the same time, a stiff wind swooped mysteriously down upon us from the Bannock Mountains to our west. The eerie but pleasant breeze lasted five to ten minutes before it suddenly disappeared. If I hadn’t known better, it would have been easy to think Mother Nature was trying to tell me something. I never knew exactly what, although I suspected Grandpa heard the message clearly. He always stopped what he was doing, even if he was playing pinochle, to use all his senses to listen. He appeared to cherish those moments as if they were holy. I wondered if it was similar to how Mama believed that God’s Spirit had changed the course of history by blowing through at Pentecost. Perhaps in Grandpa’s world, this strong but controlled breeze helped him keep his faith, such as it was. The natural world spoke to him in many different ways.” — Chapter 21, page 165

[Click Here] to sample or read all of Chapter 1, “Hard Knocks”

[Click Here] to sample or read all of Chapter 21, “Grandpa’s Kisses”

For more information about Growing Up in Mama’s Club and how you can get your copy, please email me. You may also order your copy from FreeMinds.org or Amazon.com.




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