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Meet Kate Kelly of America Comes Alive in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Kelly.

Kate, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
For a number of years, I worked as a writer/collaborator co-authoring consumer books with doctors and business people who didn’t have time to write their books themselves. One of the books–written about 20 years ago–was about how Internet businesses were going to grow.

I’d written a couple of history-related books, and I thought how wonderful it would be if America’s story could be told on the Web: not 500-page biographies that most people don’t read, but little-known stories that are inclusive of all the people who continue to build our democracy, Men and women—and people of all races and religions. We’re all Americans, and I wanted to tell that story.

Now, has about 700 stories about inventors (first home security system created by an African American nurse), military heroes like ace pilot Pete Fernandez in the Korean War, and “only in America” stories of things like the creation of the Indianapolis racetrack. It started as a test track for very early cars at a time when roads weren’t paved. I humanize the presidents by telling stories of their children or their animals, and readers love it.

I’m also a board member of the Civil War Trust and American Battlefield Trust. We raise money to acquire battlefields from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812 (hallowed ground) so that America’s story can continue to be told. Southern California was a popular place for Civil War soldiers to come once the war was over, so even here, those stories resonate.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always struggles! Originally was a magazine writer and had to prove that I could write books. Then as a writer/collaborator, I had to assess and create the best way to work with each expert—some were fun, and some wouldn’t exactly be characterized that way. But I’ve written about 35 books for other people, so clearly I did okay.

When I decided to move my business to the Internet, it was hard to give up what was the good money of collaborations. And it took a couple of years to build up enough traffic to the site that I was of interest to advertisers, Now I do run ads, but my top priority is reader experience, so you won’t find pop-ads or video ads that start immediately. If people come to the site for knowledge, I don’t want them to be interrupted.

Now my biggest challenge is time. Over time, readers visit almost every story I’ve ever posted… if I had more time, I would have more for them to read!

Please tell us about America Comes Alive.
I am the sole owner of America Comes Alive, and I do all my own research and writing. I am known for good, clear writing. While some students visit the site, my biggest audience is 18-35, many of whom don’t have college degrees. Perhaps they are in college, or perhaps they come to my site because I am offering them the type of short factual story that they enjoy reading.

In the summer I tell America’ story through its dogs (war dogs, service dogs, first seeing eye dog, etc.) Not only do these stories provide an amazing view of Americans, but they are just plain fun to read.

I believe the element that sets me apart is that I am honored when someone takes time to comment on a story. I take their comments seriously, and I always answer them. I often learn from them, and if they offer more that should be said in an article, I take the time to verify their story and add it in. I’ve been told that people appreciate that I am kind with all those who get in touch.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado—a very safe and quiet town. Every night after dinner during the summer, neighborhood kids would gather to play games…. often hide-and-seek around the neighborhood. We could stay out until dark or until someone’s parent hollered from the porch that we had to come in.

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