Keith Lee Johnson
1996 Owens Graduate
"Honestly, had Leonard Kress not pushed me to write that story, I probably wouldn't be a professional writer today."
Profile of Excellence:
Keith Lee Johnson
Owens Community College Alumnus
The mere thought of writing a 500-word essay sends some people into a state of shock. For Keith Lee Johnson, a 1996 Owens Community College alum and renowned author, 500 words - often more - usually serves as a stirring introduction to a seat-of-your-pants thriller or drama.
A published author with six finished books under his belt, Keith has a noticeable passion for captivating an audience through storytelling. He speaks knowledgably and expressively about his stories, as well as about the ins and outs of a daunting publishing business.
Surprisingly, though, the Toledo native did not always know he wanted to write. While at Rogers High School in 1977, he was asked to write a story for a composition course and was disheartened by the response from his teacher and classmates.
"It was my first serious attempt at writing something," Keith said. "The teacher used my paper as an example of how not to write. All of the kids laughed hysterically - and so did the teacher. I walked out and never returned."
Keith graduated from Rogers High School in 1978. At that time, he joined the United States Air Force where he attained Top Secret security clearance and served his country in Texas, Mississippi, Nevada, California, Turkey and various other places. From 1982-1994 he worked full-time and obtained a degree in electronic engineering from R.E.T.S. Institute of Technology.
It was not until 1995 that writing became a large part of his life. Keith enrolled at Owens Community College in the summer of 1994 to "try something else." It was during his last year at Owens that he was once again challenged by a teacher to write a short story.
"My fiction writing teacher, Leonard Kress, loved the story I was writing," Keith said. "He told me to continue working on it in class. With that bit of encouragement, I began to write and before I knew it, I had 579 pages. Nine years later, it came out as a novel titled, 'Fate's Redemption.'"
He served as the student speaker at Owens' December 1996 Commencement Ceremony where he also graduated with honors, obtaining an associate degree in general education. Since then, he has not stopped writing.
Keith is the author of "Pretenses," "Sugar & Spice," "Fate's Redemption," "Little Black Girl Lost" (ranked #7 twice on the Black Expressions Best Sellers List) and "Little Black Girl Lost 2" - and currently has two more books in the works.
When asked about his success, the author and movie enthusiast is incredibly humble.
"I'm not a great author," he said. "I'm OK. I'm good, maybe. It's going to take years before I'm great. Honestly, had Leonard Kress not pushed me to write that story, I probably wouldn't be a professional writer today."
At about 470 words, this article has merely served as an introduction to author Keith Lee Johnson. For more information about Keith and his novels, visit www.keithleejohnson.com.
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