Three Times A Charm with Mary Jean Kelso

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week author, Mary Jean Kelso, joins us. Mary Jean, tell us about you.

Three things are evident to me now that I didn’t think about as a child: 1) From the time I was able to scribble I was a writer.  I always loved putting things on paper whether it was designing paperdoll clothes with pencil and crayon or putting words on forms. 2) From an early age, I was, and still am, a reader. 3)  I was (and am) a salesperson. Now, it is marketing books.

As a kid I sold things I could order from the pages of comic books: salves, seeds, and anything else that would be sent and the money returned (less my commission) to the company. Always independent, I don’t remember ever asking my parents’ permission to order or sell the commodities. I simply went about my “business” as naturally as breathing air.

In later years I sold Avon Products and rock crushing equipment. Although my title was Customer Service Representative and we had real “salesmen” to do the selling, I worked with the customers to provide pricing and take orders along with the other details of my job.

Unknowingly, my childhood interests set me up to be an author although publication didn’t come easily. Being published in newspapers and magazines wasn’t so complicated. In book form, it was. My first book was published 25 years after it was written.

One would think, once you break the ice, publishing would be a snap. Not so for me. Although I did publish several books over the years it was not until I left one life behind and created another in Nevada that my work finally took off.

I have been here nearly nine years and Cowboy James is my 18th book to be published in that time with two others scheduled for release this year. Two of my children’s books have been brought out in hardback and three should be produced in that form before Christmas.

Andy and the Albino Horse, a series about a little boy in a wheelchair and a therapy horse, will have its fifth book in the series, Andy and Spirit in Search and Rescue, out soon as well as a stand-alone book, Birds in the Flower Basket.

Here I must thank my illustrators, K.C. Snider and Julie Hammond, for their artwork and efforts on the part of the books.

Along with the book publications over the past nine years, I have written for nearly every newspaper in Northern Nevada. I spent five years as a regular correspondent for The Lahontan Valley News. I received the Nevada Press Assoc. Award and the National Press Assoc. Award for my part in the coverage of “Best Spot News” pertaining to the Fernley Flood.

As for the future -- several of my other children’s books are in the queue at Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. The fifth in my Homesteader series, Annabel’s Story, just released from Wings Press. I am part way through the writing process for Love’s Last Reunion, another historical romance, and working on more books for the Andy series as well as other children’s books.

Wow, Mary Jean! That’s a lot of books. Good for you – and your illustrators!

Tell us more about Cowboy James.

Cowboy James competes in the Pee Wee Rodeo stick horse race with a playschool friend, Nell. Before the next rodeo, he practices hard at riding sheep so he can compete in a Mutton Bustin’ contest. Unable to hide his intentions, he finds himself up against the girl again when the competition arrives. Additional educational pages, too!

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.

Computer! Computer! Computer!

  • Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.

Spelling (even with spell check this is important.)  Keyboarding skills (it would be an out and out miracle if a publisher would read a handwritten manuscript these days). Observation! This is a skill that is invaluable to the aspiring writer. Learn to take in everything you have the opportunity to see, smell, taste and touch. Who knows when it will fit into a storyline?

  • Top 3 personal and/or professional goals.

1) Last year one of my goals was met. That was to see my books in hardback.

2) To have one of my books published by a publisher that offers a substantial advance.

3) To stay healthy in order to be able to continue on with this writing journey.

Where can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?,,, Facebook :  Mary Jean Kelso, Author

It has been lovely hosting you this week. Thank you for joining us on Three Times A Charm. Best of luck with your writing.


I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have a book, a blog or a business related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.


  1. Wow, Mary Jean! You are a busy lady. I loved hearing about your life and your endeavors. Sometimes it does take a life change to to move us up and forward. Thanks you for sharing your writing, and sales experiences.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Susan!

      Mary Jean

  2. Mary Jean, you are a surprise a minute! I loved reading this post. Keep up the amazing work. What a role model you are.

  3. Gosh Mary Jean, I was tired just reading it all! Very impressive. You have such a wonderful attitude...and that selling thing....I sold seeds too!!!

  4. Mary Jean, I enjoyed learning more about your life. What a prolific writer you are!
    Thanks Kai, for this excellent Three Times a Charm.

  5. Mary Jean, Outstanding interview! Thank you for sharing your publication journey and congratulations on your substantial advance. Kudos!

  6. So wonderful of you all to stop by. Thanks for reading!

  7. Terrific post, and I enjoyed learning more about you. Yes, you are a very busy lady. Marja McGraw

  8. What a fun and interesting interview. Great job, ladies. Now I know more about Mary Jean and her wonderful books. YEA!!

    BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques

  9. Thanks everyone!

    I'm sure we each have a tale to tell about our journey to publication! Nice to be among so many successful authors!

    Mary Jean Kelso

  10. H Mary Jean and Nancy, Great interview. Inspiring that you've persevered and accomplished so much. Keep up the good work.

  11. Whoops, I meant Kai and Mary jean, for the great interview--just mixing up my comments. Sorry!


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