Instead of reading her children bedtime stories, Regana McKinney-McGee would tell them tales, often running as much as 45 minutes long, that she made up.
That storytelling led her to write the first of what could be a multi-part book series, "Introspection" (Archway Publishing, $34.99).
"Introspection" is the fictional account of a young girl in a complex family situation that was inspired by the writer's own life.
"I started writing the book in 1999. My mother died in 1989 and I didn't realize until I started the book that it was the writing that finally gave me to the strength to mourn my mother's death," McKinney-McGee says.
The Reno native moved to Fresno in 1991, where she started her own family and launched the Positive Attitude Outlook foster care agency that matches thousands of foster children with families out of its Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Rancho Cucamonga offices. She also created and published motivational and educational magazines for students in the Fresno County school system. The only formal writing training she's had are a few writing classes while attending college, including a stop at Fresno City College.
"I didn't take those classes to become an author. I just love to write," McKinney-McGee says. "What I did to write the book was that I would sit and tell stories into my tape recorder. Then an editor transcribed the recordings."
It wasn't unusual for the 51-year-old writer to travel to a local park on her motorcycle, where she would watch people, to dictate more chapters. It took her 14 years to get the first book in her series written, but it won't take that long for additional volumes. She has four done and three that need to be edited.
Each book will look at the woman's life, including an examination of her roots going back to the 18th century. So far, the plan is to carry the story through the woman's wedding.
"I might do another book about the honeymoon. I just don't know," McKinney-McGee says.
The book is available online Tuesday. The author will have a book signing in Fresno the second week of March, but the exact date and time are pending.
Other books of local interest
"My 91 Trips Around The Sun: The Historical Memoir of Richmond Roe Fowler" (CreateSpace, $10.95): Clovis writer Marjorie Allen's new book sprang from the meeting she had with Fowler, a former Fresno Bee editor, through the printing company Allen ran. Roe had her print and mail 750 books of "Man With a Suitcase" — a story of mystery and suspense — to members of Congress.
Allen recounts Roe's life story from handwritten notes, which includes a lovers' quarrel that put Roe's life in jeopardy; his encounter with a pedophile; sneaking out to see a public hanging in Marion; and the birth of his nephew, Charles Byford Garrigus, who became a California State Poet Laureate.
Roe's print career started with his working as a sports writer for the Daily Illini through working at the Chicago Tribune to his retirement as The Fresno Bee news editor in 1971.
"My 91 Trips Around the Sun" is available on www.amazon.com.
"Safely Home" (WestBow Press, $17.95): The first novel from Pamela Sholty, of Clovis, follows the stories of three people — a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, a staging expert and real estate agent — brought together by death and coincidence.
" 'Safely Home' is a story of friendship, courage and responding to God's purpose in life. No matter what your life circumstances are, God can use you to fulfill his purposes," Sholty says.
Sholty draws from her years of experience in real estate staging, room redesign, event planning and seasonal decorating to tell her story that adds a twist to the message of purpose.
The book is available at www.amazon.com.
"Rebound: an inspiring comeback story that explores the mystery of the human spirit" (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $14.43): Karl Johnson, who runs a shoeshine business on the Fulton Mall, has co-authored a book about his own life that started with living on the streets after serving time for drug dealing and to the second chance he found in Fresno.
The book was written with the cooperation of Samantha Bauer, a communications professional with an extensive background in public affairs, writing and media relations.
It is available on www.amazon.com.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.