Alumni Spotlight, Kimberla Lawson Roby, '93

November 11, 2014

Alumna shares her "Christmas Prayer" through latest novel

How exactly does a financial analyst with a business degree become a New York Times bestselling author and the recipient of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction? It’s a question that very few likely have the answer to, but alumna Kimberla Lawson Roby, '93, can sum it up quite succinctly.

“Believe in God, self, and goals.”


Kimberla Lawson Roby

Roby never planned on being a writer, though she admits that maybe she should have.

“I might have seen this coming, if I had listened to my teachers in school!” she laughed.

Though many around her could see her passion and gift for telling stories, Roby pursued a career in business.

After earning her associate degree, she was working full-time and looking to advance her formal education…a path that led her to Cardinal Stritch University.

“When I found Stritch and learned about the program options for working adults, I just knew this was it,” she explained.

Roby enrolled in the bachelor’s program in business administration intending to further her professional pursuits in marketing and finance. She took classes at the University’s Beloit site and thoroughly enjoyed her classes, professors, and cohorts.

With the support of her supervisor, Roby was able to balance her career with her education.

“Both my boss and his boss were Stritch alumni,” said Roby. “They were very understanding and supportive of my education.”

She graduated in 1993 and continued her work in finance and business.Two years later, Roby turned 30 years old and realized she had a different calling – something was pulling her to write. Always one to trust in God’s plan and path, she listened and nurtured her literary gifts.

Roby’s journey as a writer began on a part-time basis. While still working in business, she made time to write every evening. By 1996, she had committed to a full-time career as an author and completed her debut novel, “Behind Closed Doors.”

With her manuscript complete, the next step was to get it published.

“I was rejected from every single publisher and literary agent that I sent my novel to,” recalled Roby.

On the verge of giving up, Roby received much-needed encouragement from her mother.

“She told me, ‘I don’t know anything about publishing, but I do know that everyone else we’ve given your novel to has loved it. That has to mean something, and you shouldn’t give up,’” recalled Roby.

Her husband echoed that confidence and encouraged Roby to engage her business expertise to start her own publishing company, Lenox Press.

“In one of my classes at Stritch, we actually had to create a comprehensive business plan, and I used that format to build my publishing company,” said Roby. “I switched the focus to books and bookstores, distributors and wholesalers. And to our surprise, the book ended up selling 10,000 copies in the first six months.”

With the success of her debut novel, Roby landed a literary agent and publishing firm. Since 1996, she has published more than 20 books, including the popular The Reverend Curtis Black series. Since 2008, she has written and published two books per year.

With a professional body of work filled with rich plotlines and vibrant characters, Roby has received recent accolades that she calls her “milestone moments.” In 2013, she received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction. The same year, she was featured on the cover of Writer’s Digest , the premiere publication for writers of all genres.

In the midst of her banner year, Roby took another leap in her career, by infusing a fictional work with some deeply personal and real experiences.


Christmas Prayer

When Roby began writing “A Christmas Prayer” in 2013, she uniquely related to the main character of Alexis Fletcher, a young woman who struggles to find joy in the holidays after her mother’s death.

Although the story of “A Christmas Prayer” is entirely fictional, Roby acknowledges that the first few pages are influenced by real life.

Her own beloved mother passed away in November 2001. In the years that followed, Roby spent the holiday seasons “just praying to get through the months.”

“I wanted to write this book because, as I’ve talked to other women over the years, I’ve realized that other people have felt the same way,” explained Roby. “There is an actual prayer that the character writes in the book. She prays not only for her own happiness, but for others. Writing that prayer has really helped me, and I’m hoping that it will help others during this season, as well.”

With its timely message of hope, “A Christmas Prayer” was released on Oct. 28. In the month that followed, Roby has traveled on a book tour and seen firsthand the impact that her work has had on readers, as well as the sense of community that it has created.

“I was shocked and touched by the number of readers who would come up to me at the events and share their personal stories,” said Roby. “This has been a deeply fulfilling experience.”

To learn more about Roby's novels or purchase “A Christmas Prayer,” visit

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