A Christian faith and love of writing is the common thread shared between three women living in Likely, B.C.
Deanna MacBurney, Beverly Fox and Eleanor Hansen have all self-published at least one book.
On a sunny Friday afternoon in late August, they met at the Likely Lodge for an interview.
Likely has been Deanna MacBurney’s hometown since 1967.
Born in Sumas, Washington she moved to Likely with her parents when she was a young girl.
“I lived in Fort Nelson and Stewart but I always had a home here,” she said.
She always wanted to write but never got into until she retired.
“I started jotting things down here and there and got serious about five years ago. It was my husband Bill’s original idea to promote, share and publish a book.”
When she was almost finished writing her book To Love a Red Neck she met Beverly who had moved in nearby and offered to read the manuscript.
Beverly and her husband were gutting the old house they bought and were living in a travel trailer on the property.
Deanna’s book is fiction but based on some of her own experiences and those of people she became acquainted with.
“I always enjoyed true stories and romances and the happily ever after, but then I got a little bit tired of the happily ever after because that is not real life.”
She set out to write something more realistic, reflecting how people have ups and downs and struggles.
“My next-door-neighbour had a really bad experience in her life and when she read the book she really enjoyed it, which gave me a lot of encouragement.”
Deanna has written another book titled Criminal Sons about a father who is a criminal and the different paths his sons take in life.
She hasn’t published it yet and is not sure if she will because of the cost involved.
Beverly moved to the area in 2018 from Quesnel. She wrote her first book in a trilogy, Piper’s Call, in 2012 over 90 days. She’d read her husband Dave a chapter a day and he encouraged her to continue.
“He put up with a lot of Kraft dinner and me in my PJs when he’d come home at night or on the weekend. He’d arrive home and I’d say, ‘oh your home, I wasn’t expecting you for a few days.’ I was in the zone and nothing else exists when you are concentrating and getting into the skin of the character you are portraying.”
She is now about 75 per cent through writing the third book and said the second book received an Illumination Award in 2014.
When her husband was logging and would often be gone for three or four weeks at a time she started writing.
“My youngest boys left home and I had a lot of time on my hands. I decided just for fun, I was not thinking about publishing or anything.”
Describing her books as adult Christian fiction, she said she always loved to read mystery novels and whodunits from when she was a young bookworm.
“I thought if I’m going to write a book I wanted to feel like it had an eternal message. The main character in the books is always talking to God in her head and there are a lot of Bible study references to try and encourage women, although I’ve had a lot of guys that have liked the books too, to get a relationship with the Lord going and how His Word shows His mind.”
It was while she doing a Bible study that she wrote the stories around the passages from the Bible she was working on.
“Lots of things in my life coincided with what I was writing. Things paralleled in a different fashion how the story was going.”
One of her biggest compliments came from two women who were freshly widowed and said they did not buy the book at first because they thought it would be too difficult to read. The women went on to say they ended up reading it and found it was a blessing.
“They also thought I was widowed because of the way I wrote it.”
Eleanor arrived in Likely on Aug. 6, 2021, along with her husband Dennis and their son’s family.
She likes to write about her adventures with God and embarked on writing her first book seven years ago, which she finished and published in 2020. Thirty years ago she got her pilot’s license at the age of 50. Her book includes story about flying over the Rockies one time in 2010 when she went into the clouds for eight minutes and could not see anything.
“I only had 10 hours of instrument lessons but I did what I always do, I called out to Jesus and just kept circling to keep the plane level.”
After circling in the clouds several times she said God told her to head back to the coordinates of Edmonton.
She got the plane in alignment with Edmonton, got out in the open, checked her GPS and realized she was 100 miles south of he Hinton airport.
“We landed there and I kissed the ground.”
The Hansens checked into a hotel and she began getting messages from friends and family who told her they had wondered if they were in danger because they’d been inspired earlier in the day to pray for them.
Another story in the book is about the time she wrote to the Shah of Iran in December 1979 after he was exiled.
“It was New Year’s Eve and I was watching the news. They were interviewing him and asking what was going to become of him and he answered, ‘I don’t know.’ I started to cry and I didn’t know why.”
She hand-wrote a letter, mailed it off and never heard back and then he died on July 27, 1980. To her surprise in November 1980 she received a letter from the secretary the Imperial Majesty saying the Shah had wanted to reply personally for her “kind” letter and words of support and encouragement.
“His tragic demise in Cairo prevented him from signing the reply and I have been asked by Her Imperial Majesty the bereaved Shahbanou of Iran to convey to you the last expression of heartfelt appreciation of our beloved sovereign.”
She sold the plane in 2017, but Dennis rents a plane once in a while so she can fly. Before Likely they divided their time between Cortes Island and in California.
Beverly and Eleanor regularly attend the Likely Chapel, a community church on the Keithley Creek Road The congregation has more than doubled in a year, they said.