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Recent Alumni Publish Books May 12, 2021

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

By Grace Casper, JOU/FDM Spring 2021 Student           

Susan Duty, Grace Valentine and Lauren Kinney want you to find your best self and have published books to help you do that.

Duty published “Consider the Damn Lily” in 2018. A Film & Digital Media major and now a teacher, Duty said she’s “loved writing ever since first grade.” She got caught up “in the wrong things” in high school and became a drug addict. “Through my sobriety, having a daughter and finding God again, I decided to go to Baylor. The book was made from a mass collection of writing … pulled from all sorts of places and then organized into a book,” Duty said.

Duty, known for her quirky humor, added, “I was raised southern Baptist, so I was raised thinking that God loved people who wore nice sweaters and didn’t do drugs.” She realized part of the process of becoming sober was finding a higher power.

“Then I realized there are many people who think these two things are exclusive, the gutter and God,” Duty said. She encourages people to share their truth with the world, whatever it may be. “It may be scary, but it’s what we’re created to do.”

Senior Lecturer Cassy Burleson met Duty as a student, and they have remained friends. “From the first piece she wrote in that JOU/FDM 3372 class – a mesmerizing flash memoir – I knew Susan had the soul of a great writer.”

Baylor 2018 graduate Grace Valentine has published two books through HarperCollins, the first titled, “Am I Enough?” in 2019, and then “Is It Just Me?” in 2021, despite the pandemic — “or maybe because of it,” she joked. In her video to Burleson’s Advanced Public Relations class, Valentine said some students erroneously think professional life begins AFTER college, adding, “It all starts now! Don’t let anyone stop you.”

Burleson said Valentine’s internship site in Advanced PR was at Harper Collins – marketing her own book. “I was a little worried about that, but it turned out OK,” Burleson said.

Valentine, who was on a busy speaking circuit both before and after graduation in 2018 to university and church groups before COVID-19 hit, said reaching long-term goals requires small steps every day, not giving up, and realizing everything counts. When posting on her Instagram as an influencer, she said her first thought is: “Would someone feel comfortable sharing this on THEIR Instagram story?”

Valentine said not stopping at “no” — going back to argue her case time and again — was the secret to landing a big-name publisher. Her first book has now sold 40,000 copies – and her second book (released in 2021) already has sold “about 10,000 copies.”

Baylor December 2020 Marketing graduate Lauren Kinney also published her book during the pandemic. Kinney said she wrote “Unshakeable” because her college experience didn’t go the way she had hoped.

“I really felt afraid to be different. I felt like I was wearing this mask all the time and really … needed to conform to that pressure to be perfect,” Kinney said.

Bob Goff’s Dream Big Framework three-day workshop at the end of her freshman year inspired “a sense of excitement about writing my book.” She published “Unshakable” her junior year – well before graduation – proving Valentine’s admonition that one’s career can begin while in college.

“I hope people learn they can take a pickaxe to their fear and start living in the freedom of who God has always created them to be,” Kinney said.


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