Let’s Pretend

princess picI love this photo.  Who doesn’t want to be a fairy princess?

I grew up on a sheep ranch in southern Idaho, where often my busy mother would shoo my sister and me outside to play. She had a heavy list of chores that needed done without us around her feet complaining, “I’m bored.” Once outdoors, it didn’t take us long to come up with ways to entertain ourselves, especially through the summer months.

We pretended.

Some days, we imagined ourselves doctors in a busy hospital filled with patients (i.e. the lambing sheds and chicken coop).  Or, we played farmer and used our dad’s garden hose to irrigate our tiny dirt fields lined with rocks.

Occasionally, we donned our suits and sunglasses and swam in the cattle trough letting visions of palm trees dance in our minds. (PS – don’t use Jergen’s lotion for tanning lotion unless you want a sunburn you’ll not soon forget!)

My favorite game was Academy Awards. Glammed up in our mother’s nightgowns and high heels, we’d march forward and accept Prell Shampoo bottles (our version of the coveted Oscar statue) and blow kisses to our adoring fans (the fence posts).

I’m often asked how I come up with stories for my novels. The easy answer is this:  I go inside my head and pretend. I imagine being someone else and think about what I’d do in a given situation, and how I’d feel if this or that happened.

I think most novelists would say the same.


Tell us in the comments . . . and while you’re there, I invite you to congratulate fellow Belles Lisa Wingate and Rachel Hauck. Both were nominated for the prestigious Christy Award (the big Prell bottle in the inspirational market). Winners will be announced early this summer, and I’m cheering for both of them!


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A former legal investigator and trial paralegal, Kellie Coates Gilbert writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure. Her books tell emotionally poignant stories about woman in life-changing circumstances. Her next release, A WOMAN OF FORTUNE, will be available this June.

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  1. says

    My brother and I used to swim in a horse trough, too, Kellie! We also went swimming in a cow pond. I wore a red, white, and blue bathing suit once, and by the end, it was red, brown, and blue. Yuck! It’s amazing we all survived! 😉

  2. Virginia Rush says

    good memories Kellie….I was raised on a dairy farm…unfortunately I didn’t know about crowns and prell bottles. I was the only getting kicked out of the house to go “play”. so usually me and my dog “lassie” would take adventures, all day long to the back pastures. they were fun, thought provoking days, even at 4 and 5. I never thought of myself as being alone..sweet days.

    • says

      Love that, Virginia! I wonder if children are losing their sense of imagination when all their stimulation is being fed to them via bytes and screens? I remember one time my sister and I took old fence boards and nailed that yellow twine used on hay bales on the top for hair. We cut up old dresses and nailed them on….and those girlfriend boards became my first chums!

  3. says

    Love the visuals of you as a little girl imagining all sorts of wonderful things, Kellie! I always say that we were a different sort of latchkey kids: Mama locked the latch and we girls played outdoors. If I had a dime for every time we escaped from the Injuns on horseback, (Papa’s butane tanks), I’d be a rich woman indeed!

  4. Robin Wormsbaker says

    I feel so lucky to have had an imaginative play mate and her name was Kellie. We had a flower club ,planned luncheons and worked on pressed flower books.
    We also while on her Daddy’s Ranch played Gypsies in the old sheep camp wagon. We sang songs of the Gypsies ,well made up that is. We also made many a mud pie and convinced. That they were so yummy we would have a taste!
    So blessed for such a fun childhood friend!

    • says

      Oh, Robin…..I LOVED our flower club! Remember our trek’s into the neighborhood flower beds where we’d simply help ourselves???? That summer was a blast. We were stuck like glue and had so much fun!

      • Anonymous says

        I’m so blessed to have had you in the fun pretend of being little girls….it’s ashame we helped ourselves to those flowers,but how would we feel about little girls needing our flowers? I would be happy to share! Lol much love to my very special friend

  5. Lisa Wingate says

    Oh, Girl! I could tell you so many stories of the things we pretended! Anything we saw on TV, read about, or watched at the movies was fair game. We were everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Luke Sykwalker. Oh, those were good times!

    Thank you for the Christy Award congratulations! I was surprised, and excited beyond belief. More fun to celebrate with sweet friends 😉

  6. says

    Love this Kellie! I used to pretend I was a school teacher. Even had my own whistle. And then my brother and I pretended we were Olivia Newton John and John Travolta and sang the songs from Grease. Now I watch that movie and think, “I can’t believe our parents even let us watch that!” Lol. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. says

    I wasn’t a kid who knew I wanted to be a writer, but I always had stories in my head. I played them out for weeks on end with my dolls or my friends. We were cowboys, or if it were raining, we donned rain gear and built rafts (a piece of old wood with nails and string) to float in the gutter and play Huck Finn.

    When we dressed up, I’d write a play for us and we charged our parents a nickel to come see it. LOL There was no limit to our imaginations.

    I’ve always been a romantic. I look at an old house and wonder who lived there. I wander through an antique store and pickup personal items, and begin to make up a story about the owner.

    • says

      Ah Ane…..you have a personality bigger than life. Everyone who meets you is instantly drawn in. Perhaps these childhood games set the stage for the attraction we all feel. And I loved that you charged your parents! LOL

  8. Janet Copeland says

    When I was a young girl I would pretend I was an opera singer as I would stand on a 55-gallon drum my father gave me to play with singing as loud as I could in a play foreign language. I just made up the words. At the end of the song I would pretend everyone was standing and applauding. I was an only child so I found lots of ways to entertain myself.

  9. Melanie Backus says

    I always had a big imagination. Being an only child, I didn’t have one bit of trouble entertaining myself. If I didn’t have my dog dressed in doll clothes and me dressed up as well, I was in my playhouse cooking up fantastic meals. It was a simpler time and the best of times.

  10. Julie Cantrell says

    Fabulous! I too play pretend when I write fiction. I have always loved having a wild imagination and enjoy mothering two kiddos who have the same. Teaching kindergarten and first graders also helped me keep one foot in the realm of make-believe. Here’s to the power of play…and to the joy of a free childhood that allowed us the room for our brains and our bodies to roam.

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