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A book 29 years in the making 

Sometimes a writer struggles to create a story worth putting to paper, and sometimes the story finds the writer and demands to be written, no matter how hard the writer resists. Such is the case with Shirley Jones, Bowling Green, a Warren RECC consumer-member. 

For 29 years, Jones resisted the story that continued to nag at her heart. Insisting she was not an author, believing readers would find her story to be silly, and feeling unqualified to produce a manuscript, she shelved the project over and over. She even once tried to destroy it, only to have the digital files unexpectedly resurface several years later. Finally, she succumbed to the realization that the story was supposed to be written, and she was the person chosen to write it. 

With her husband, Don, as her biggest supporter, she vowed, at age 74, to complete the book, one of the few big items left on her life’s to-do list. Don wanted to wait until the book was finished to read it, but his cancer diagnosis had Jones worried that tragedy would strike him before she could put a book in his hands, adding fuel to her fire. Four months later, he was the first beta reader of her completed work and continues to support her endeavors today. 

Jones’s book, The Unlovely, centers around Maggie, a young woman who, due to some harsh circumstances that changed her life in an instant, has found herself at rock bottom on the margins of society. For six years, Maggie has scrambled to survive, doing whatever it takes to live another day with shelter at the end of it. She knows the way people look at her, but she can’t seem to find a leg up out of her situation. Every sneer aimed her way, every sacrifice she makes, convince her that she is unworthy of love and acceptance. 

When Maggie finds herself quite literally blowing through the doors of a church during its Christmas Day service, the real conflict begins in her heart—as well as the ones in the pews— bringing to light the real meaning of unconditional love and how far from it even those with the best intentions can stray. Many lessons are taught all around, along with the importance of forgiveness. 

Jones confesses that she does have another story idea brewing but continues to battle the same doubts. She quips, “I certainly know I don’t have another 29 years to write it!” 

The Unlovely, $18.99, can be ordered from Amazon. 

In The Unlovely, Maggie’s story touches on the real-life threat of human trafficking. Kentucky is not immune to this crime. Last year, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services logged 312 reports of human trafficking involving almost 400 child victims. 

Potential indicators of a human trafficking victim can include signs of abuse, a lack of personal possessions, malnourishment, lack of contact with family and friends, or tattoos that serve as branding. If you suspect someone to be a victim of trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. 

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