Monday, October 28, 2013


Category:  YA
Genre: Contemporary
Word count: 65,000


After witnessing the murder of his family, fourteen year-old Ricky is forced to fight on the front lines in Joseph Kony’s holy war against the Ugandan government. Twenty years later, Samuel, an eleven year-old recovering at the Friends of Orphans Center, fights to hide the truth behind his injury and his past with Kony’s LRA. Separated by two decades of war, Ricky and Samuel’s experiences as child soldiers weave together to prove that love lives on after death, hope exists in the darkest corners of hell, and one boy’s story can guide thousands home. 

Q1: In your MC's voice, what costumed character do you most relate to and why?
Dressed in a dead man’s uniform with a machete at my belt and AK-47 on my back, I wear a costume every day, but I’m not pretending and I’m not a soldier. I am a child, who fears Joseph Kony and his army of killers and just wants to go home. 

Q2: As an author, what makes your manuscript a tasty treat (unique/marketable)?
My manuscript is based on the true story of Anywar Ricky Richard, one of the first children abducted into Joseph Kony’s LRA ranks and the founder of Friends of Orphans, an organization dedicated to the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers. Ricky and I have been in communication throughout the writing process with the goal of giving a voice to the estimated 40,000 Ugandan children, whose lives and voices were stolen by the LRA.

First 250:

Sitting in the shade of the porch that embraces the Friends of Orphans Center, Samuel picked at the discolored bandage wrapped around his thigh. According to the doctor, the medicine was working, but his skin was tight with swelling and tender to the touch. A rust colored stain tinged the bone white bandage above the bullet wound, where the infection had taken hold. 
Samuel understood infection. In his eleven years, he had seen it burrow deep into the bodies of other children. Their feet. Their legs. Their chests. Their arms. Spreading like brush fire until it consumed them.
Laughter stole Samuel’s attention from his wound. A faded football arced high into the cloudless Ugandan sky before dropping in the midst of a group of smiling children. It bounced off the forehead of the tallest, a skinny teenage boy, who sent it soaring across the hard dirt field to the waiting chest of a teammate. The huddle of children squealed with delight and scrambled after the ball, kicking up clouds of red dust with their bare feet.
Biting down on his bottom lip, Samuel pressed on his injury with two trembling fingers until he could no longer endure the pain. Letting go, he squeezed his eyes shut until the inferno receded to its normal slow burn. When it did, he stared down at his leg. Wet seeped through the cloth, darkening the rust stain a blood red. Pain was good. It meant he could still feel.

It meant he was alive.


  1. Aright, I messed around trying to get my Ipad to post, now I'm on my computer:)

    This must have been such a hard story to write...Keely, I hope it finds the home it deserves so everyone can read about this amazing life you've put to paper.

  2. Thank you so much, Holly.

    Writing Ricky's story was emotionally difficult, especially being the mother of two boys of similar age to Ricky and Samuel. Hopefully the emotions come through with my words.

    Ricky has had a tremendous impact on my life. He is the most inspirational person I have ever had the honor of knowing, and I hope to some day share his story with others.

    Thank you again for your kind words, and best of luck with your writing.

  3. Amazing story! I've seen this before and remembered it. I wish you all the best and hope I'll be able to read your book sometime soon.

  4. Thank you, Suja! I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. Best wishes on your writing, as well.