It’s been said a picture’s worth a thousand words. As a writer, words are important to me…but there’s just something about a picture. Words can evoke emotion because they create a picture in the mind…and yet there’s just something about a physical picture. In the same way music oftentimes speaks to the heart more deeply and more fully than mere words are able, so it sometimes is with pictures.
Looking at my life through the pictures in our family photo albums can transport me back to the feelings in the moment those photos were taken. I feel again the excitement of that first kiss as husband and wife. There’s the one where I’m holding my firstborn for the first time, or the one where my youngest is receiving an award in kindergarten as he looks proudly at the camera. There are graduations and weddings, holidays and vacations—years of memories and feelings captured in photographs.
After a lifetime of photos, I’m familiar with the emotions they evoke. But recently, a picture took me by surprise. As we developed the cover for Little Girl Mended, from the beginning I had an idea of what the cover should be. Working through concepts and mockups with my creative team over a couple of months, we decided on a cover I felt good about, but I’d only seen it in mockup. With launch only a few weeks away, the team has just finalized the cover. I waited anxiously for our designer to send the finished product to me.
And then I saw it. I stopped breathing for just a second or two. This story that I’d spent seven years writing and a lifetime living and grieving over and healing from was captured in this cover—this picture. It took my breath away, and then it released in me a torrent of emotion I didn’t see coming. Tears flowed; you know, the ugly kind with sobbing, hiccupping, and nose flowing freely. What was all this emotion? Where had it come from?
I didn’t try to stop it but let it flow through me—all those many feelings. In that one picture, I saw the essence of my story, of my life. A little girl no longer innocent, grasping forlornly onto the remnants of her lost childhood. But that’s not where her story ends. The rest of the story is captured in the title boldly splayed across that haunted child, Little Girl Mended. Just as promised in Psalm 103:5–6, “He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.” That’s the ultimate truth about this little girl. God is so very good! This cover captures so much about my story so beautifully—from struggle…to hope…to healing.
Born and raised?
I’m a Jersey girl—born and raised in New Jersey till age seventeen. For most of the years since, I’ve been a Southern girl.
Tell us something about yourself that isn’t in your bio.
I’ve been hit by a car two different times while crossing the street. The first time I was five, and the second, I was fourteen. Third times the charm, so I’m very careful now!
If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be?
Probably a tiger or leopard—some sort of “big” cat. Since that’s not likely, I have two little gray kitties at home, Macie and Gracie. And they’re gracious enough to share their domain with a big black Lab named Abby.
Realistically, how long did your story take you to brainstorm, write, rewrite, edit and sell to a publisher?
Why a writer? There are so many exciting careers in the world, how did you know that writing was the one for you?
I was an editor for a lot of years, and I always cringed whenever I was given a writing assignment. Fortunately, it didn’t happen often. I loved editing; it’s so “behind the scenes.” Writing puts you “out there,” and I think that’s why I didn’t like it. But I needed to tell my story, and so, I began writing. Over time—a long time and much to my surprise—I fell in love with writing.
If there was an event in your life that triggered this book, or even a scene in the book, what was that?
Being a memoir, yes, of course. But the actual trigger to my story becoming a book was a small snippet of conversation. I heard someone say how cathartic it was for her to write her own story. Those words ignited a small spark in me to want that, too. Little Girl Mended grew out of that spark.
If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t let your fears or self-doubt keep you from trying.
Are you a bookworm? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Yes, I read a lot, mostly fiction. I like being taken away by someone else’s imagination. Pat Conroy, Wally Lamb, and Janet Evanovich are a few of my favorites.
What do you like to do to relax, when you’re not busy writing?
Reading would top the list, though I like to just chill in front of the TV sometimes, too! I enjoy working out and usually walk and/or go to the gym most days.
Everyone has their quirks, what are yours?
I’m a neat freak to the extreme. Just ask my husband! There’s rarely anything out of place in my house. Putting things away is second nature to me; I don’t even know I’m doing it!
What’s your favorite book turned movie and why?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember reading the book as a girl and discovering the magic of reading. Then the movie…well, Gregory Peck was the perfect Atticus!
Every Shelter leader shares her testimony each semester, whether or not she’s facilitating a group. Some of the women were hearing my story for the second time, as this was “round two” through the course for them, but for most, it was the first time.
There was something different for me this time, though: I invited Laura, my daughter-in-law, and her mom to come hear my testimony. I wasn’t able to do that the first time. I was too nervous. This time was different. I’m different. I want to tell people what God has done, and continues to do, in my life. I long for others to experience this joy, to know this indescribable peace. And that’s why I invited them.
The assembly room was a big, open rectangle with a semicircular stage at the front. There were two sections of folding chairs set up in about a dozen rows each. Around the perimeter of the room were round tables and chairs where the small groups of women would meet after my testimony. The only light came from the fluorescent ceiling fixtures, making the room feel even colder than the air-conditioning did. As the women started gathering, I glanced toward the door several times, watching for Laura and her mom to arrive. When I saw them, I walked over and hugged them both.
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, and nervous that you’re here too,” I said. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at you when I’m speaking!”
“Don’t worry. We’ll sit in the back,” Laura assured me.
After introducing them to Laney and a couple of the other leaders, they found seats in the back row, and I took my seat up front. Following a short introduction, I stepped onto the stage and once again shared my story. I did chance a couple of glances in Laura’s direction and saw that she and her mom were holding hands as they listened. When I saw them afterward, Laura hugged me tight.
“That was powerful,” she said. “My mom and I were holding hands to keep each other from crying.”
“I saw that. Don’t be sad, though. You know how this story ends!” I said.
I’ve been assured of my salvation for a long time because I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was barely out of my teens. But as I say in my testimony, there is so much more God wants for me and to give me. Obviously, a lot of my testimony is the same as it was the first time. But some parts have changed: the parts where God continues to transform my heart.
About Niki Krauss
Niki Krauss is a Yankee by birth, a Southerner by choice, and a joy-filled lover of Jesus by grace. After twenty-four years of moving around the country as the wife of a Marine Corps aviator, she and her husband of forty years have settled in Charleston, South Carolina. Niki is the former assistant editor for the Marine Corps Gazette, the professional journal of the United States Marine Corps, where she wielded her red pen for fifteen years. As a sexual abuse survivor herself, her most recent passion is leading faith-based support groups for women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Connect with Niki at http://www.nikikrauss.com.
Contact Niki Krauss
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ABOUT VOX DEI
Our name rhymes with Fox Day. We’re an imprint of Booktrope, a new type of publishing company founded in 2011 in Seattle, WA that’s pioneering a model called team publishing. Our mission at VoxDei is to provide books for a primarily Christian audience that edify and entertain, encourage, and inspire. While Christian themes are woven throughout our fiction, our purpose is not to preach a sermon but rather provide a quality alternative to the secular market for entertainment. Our non-fiction titles are intended to help readers explore the Bible in a more personal way and grow in their walk with Christ, while being informal in voice and approach. Whether fiction or non, our goal is to shine the light and love that is central to the Christian faith into a dark and messy world. Learn more at voxdeipublishing.com.
eBook price: $2.99
Publisher: Vox Dei Publishing
Epub ISBN: 978-1-5137-0744-0
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