- Local woman overcomes obstacles to publish first book
By CHARITY APPLE/Times-News
Sam Roberts / Times-News Local author Mary Kellis used the pen name
Lanaia Lee in writing her first book, "Of Atlantis." It's the first
in a five-part series. Mary and David Kellis are living proof that no
obstacle is too great if you have the will to succeed.
Mary, now 50, was 35 when she suffered a stroke due to high blood
"I was so lucky," she said in an interview from their home in
Burlington. "Five members of my family have died from similar
strokes, including my mother. She was only 38 at the time."
The stroke paralyzed Mary's vocal chords but she didn't suffer any
paralysis in her arms or legs. She has had a tracheotomy and is in a
wheelchair but can walk with the help of a walker. Mary also
miraculously survived a coma.
"They tell me I was near death," she said. "I was in a coma for three
David was in a serious motorcycle crash in 1982; he spent 16 months
in a coma and is now confined to a wheelchair.
Yet the Kellises don't complain about their physical limitations.
They live independently with their fateful companion; a 7-year-old
Jack Russell Terrier named Jack.
"Yes, crises happen but life goes on," Mary said. "Through God's help
and his patience, I'm gonna be a published author."
Mary is working on five books, and the first, titled "Of Atlantis,"
will be released on barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com sometime in
November, said Jerry Adams, publishing executive for Roval Publishing
Company in North Richland Hills, Texas.
"The book should be available in Barnes & Noble stores around the
country by February of next year," Adams added.
"Of Atlantis" is based on a short story called "Identity," which Mary
wrote four years ago under the pen name Lanaia Lee. Lanaia comes from
a character on the "Stargate" science fiction series and Lee is her
mother's maiden name.
In the books, Mary takes events related to ancient civilizations and
creates a fictional story.
"I love doing that," she said.
Mary grew up in Burlington and described herself as "always having my
nose in a book." She never attended college but always loved to read.
Prior to the stroke, she worked as manager of Shoney's restaurant in
Burlington. She became interested in writing four years ago when
David dared her to write a poem.
Mary has since posted poems on the Internet and is a staff writer for
Poetic Monthly, an online magazine. Some of her work can be found at
A lot of her poems, Mary described, are dark because of some of the
things she's experienced, like the loss of her mother and several
David and Mary, who were married 13 years ago, have encouraged each
other through the hard times.
"He hates to read," Mary said with a laugh.
"But I love her books," David added.
Mary discovered Roval Publishing Company through her friend Cheryl
Pillsbury of Pepperell, Mass. Mary wrote poems to accompany some of
"To me, it's amazing that she can take history and weave fantasy into
it," Pillsbury said in a recent phone interview. "I'm a fan. I've
read the book six times already."
The fact that her books are being published is such a thrill that
Mary said. "I'm still numb.
"For me, writing is not a career. It's not a job. It's a passion,"
For more information, call (336) 584-1130 or e-mail Mary at
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