by Jennifer Staley, Pembina Hills Press
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
The dam has burst, the floodgates have opened, and the desert is blooming like a rose! The brick wall has crumbled, the chrysalis is open, and the butterfly has emerged for all to see and admire! Local author, Willena Flewelling, has traded in her writer’s block for building blocks and crafted a solid and beautiful future for herself and her family. She and Ian have just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. It was my delight to meet with her at her home this week.
Jennifer: What a delight it is to meet you at last! My kids talk about you all the time – you are their favourite author!
Willena: Well thank you, Jennifer! It warms my heart to know that!
Jennifer: So Willena, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Willena: Oh my goodness, it goes back to my early teen years. I don’t know where the idea came from — just that I wanted to write stories like Enid Blyton and Louisa May Alcott.
Jennifer: How is it that you were in your 60’s before you were published for the first time?
Willena: Well, I learned early that being able to write is one thing — and writing stories others would be interested in reading was quite another. And it wasn’t so easy getting published in those long ago days. I just didn’t have the gumption to overcome any obstacles, and was sure my manuscripts would all end up at the bottom of the slush pile.
Jennifer (smiling): Aren’t you being a little hard on yourself? I happen to know you lost your first husband, graduated from Bible College, remarried and raised seven children. Doesn’t that count for something?
Willena: This is true. When Nathaniel, my youngest, was a teenager and the only one still living at home, I knew I had passed into a new phase of my life. I started thinking seriously about writing for publication. I know a number of successful authors who attended Bible College at the same time as I did. When I asked myself why there were published and I wasn’t, I had to admit the only difference between them and me is that they took action and persisted until they were successful.
Jennifer: And now you have 15 books published, and most of them on the bestseller list, you’ve built up your home and property till it’s a haven compared to what it was when you bought it 20 years ago – and you have beautiful homes in Muskoka, Prince Edward Island, and even in Rarotonga!
Willena: Yes! Those homes are not only vacation spots for Ian and me to visit every year. All three homes are open to missionaries who are on furlough and have no place to go. They are a fulfillment of a life-long dream of Ian’s and mine, to be able to offer this refuge for our missionary friends.
Jennifer: Your stories have a tremendous impact on your young readers. My own kids and many of their friends say they understand God’s Word so much better, as it applies to their daily lives, after reading your books. You’ve obviously had quite a shift somewhere. What made the difference?
Willena: The shift came when I truly accepted the fact that I can be who I will to be, and I acted on it. And that came about through a course I took in 2014-15, called the Master Key Master Mind Alliance. The depth and intensity of the exercises were what finally showed me how to take hold of my own thoughts and steer them in the right direction. Now, instead of seeing everything that could go wrong, I see the potential and the awesome possibilities in everything that comes my way. What a slap in God’s face my old negative, untrusting attitude was! I had to see for myself that God’s Word was for ME, and accept it for myself, before I could convey that to my readers! It’s such sweet pleasure to read scores of letters every week from children like yours, who tell me what a difference my books have made in their lives. Best of all, it fills my heart with joy to know I am fulfilling God’s purpose for my life!
Jennifer: Well, Willena, I look forward to seeing more of your books, in the bookstores and online, because… I have a confession to make… I enjoy them as much as my kids do!
Willena: Then my job is well done, Jennifer!