When Helen Klassen feels the need to write, she writes.
Following up on her first self-published book, Klassen, 36, wrote Continuing to Step in His Light, her 'testimonial of loss and living with Bipolar Disorder as a Christian woman continuing in faith.'
Completed in February in just four days, it launched April 28 as a sequel to her first book, Stepping Out of My Darkness and Into His Light, which has sold nearly 400 copies.
"I only write when I feel led to write, when something inspires me to write," said Klassen, from Aylmer, who soon after was inspired by her children to write a children's book, Camping with Purpose (Building faith in the hearts and minds of children). It also launched April 28.
"My kids were prompting me to write a book with them and it took two days to write it. My children did the illustrations - Seth, he's 14, Devon, 12, and Jedidiah, who was 9 at the time, but just had a birthday and is now a 10-year-old tween.
"They were shocked," said Klassen, recalling their reaction when they saw the finished 39-page hard-cover product. "They were overwhelmed. They just couldn't understand that it was actually going to be a book, something you can hold on to forever, a keepsake. They understood that when they saw the book and they cherish it now. They were quite amazed by it."
She recently read Camping with Purpose at two Christian schools in the area - May 11 in Emmanuel Christian School in Aylmer (Grades 1 and Grades 3-4) and May 12 Mt. Salem Christian School (Grades 1-4).
After her first book, she had two speaking engagements, and she has two more coming up where she will discuss all three books - Sept. 27 at a ladies coffee hour at Bethel Park Bible Chapel in Brantford, 10-11 a.m., and Oct. 10 at Grace Family Bible Fellowship in Courtland, 7 p.m.
"I do it enjoy it (public speaking) once I get up there. It's just preparing it. I never think I'm qualified or ready enough to do it. So I never feel I'm good enough, or what I'm speaking on is good enough for other people. But when I get up there I enjoy it."
Writing and sharing her story has been therapeutic for Klassen.
"It felt amazing. At first I didn't think I'd write again but people had been asking me. They said, 'you're not done with that first book, right?' I said it felt like I was complete, but they felt it was not complete. They wanted me to continue to write. That's why the book is Continuing to Step in His Light. It's a continuation."
Klassen goes into some detail about her mental health, her bipolar diagnosis, and struggles stemming from the July 2012 accident that took the life of her two-year-old daughter, Charity Mariah, who succumbed to injuries after being struck by a minivan in Port Ryerse, near Port Dover.
"I write about that because people wanted to know more about mental health, because it's such a big thing nowadays. It's a very real thing. Myself, I struggle with it as a Christian woman. We are not exempt from it.
"I used to be totally against medication before, but now... I've had counseling done and I'm taking medication to this day. And I write about that in my book, about how if it's very necessary medication it's okay to take."
She also has contributions from family and friends, 35-36 people in total who provided content, including doctors, a 911 operator, OPP officers, and pastor.
"All the contributors are meshed together just before the pictures at the back."
Feedback from her family has been positive, and in the past month Klassen sold about 30 copies of each new book.
"It's still a very new thing and I've been busy going to book signings, so I haven't had time to see what others think of my book yet. My family has read it, they say it's excellent. It's very easy to read, very easy to understand. I'm a simple person," she smiled, "so I write as simply as possible."
Since launching her new books, Klassen has had several 'Meet the Author' book signing events, including May 6 at Creation Bookstore in London, May 13 at Gospel Lighthouse in St. Thomas, May 26 at the Aylmer Library, and May 27 at Gospel Lighthouse in Tillsonburg.
On Friday, June 3, she will be at the Gospel Lighthouse in Simcoe (32 Robinson Street) from 10-2, and Saturday, June 10, 10-2, at Campbell's Office Pro in Aylmer.
She was asked to help teach children at Neighborhood Bible Time in July, which is mentioned in Camping with Purpose.
She also hopes the books will be circulated at local libraries.
The first 300 copies of Stepping Out of My Darkness sold out quickly and Klassen needed to order another 100, down to about 20 now, less than one year after its July 14, 2016 launch.
It's only a matter of time before Continuing to Step in His Light and Camping with Purpose also sell out.
"I've got 10 boxes under that table that I've got to sell, but it's only been a month..." Klassen laughed, focusing on Facebook and local media (newspaper and radio) to market her books. "It's a lot of work getting yourself 'out there.'"
Continuing to Step in His Light retails for $15 and Camping with Purpose $23 (email@example.com).
Someday she might write Book No. 4, but she hasn't picked up a pen (used to write Continuing to Step in His Light) or pencil (Stepping Out of My Darkness and Into His Light) since writing Camping with Purpose.
"If I feel led again to write, I will write again. If I feel inspired that God is telling me that I should be writing, then I'll do it."