April Knight with “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness” in front of her many paintings, a special hobby she has when she’s not writing her many short stories and books. RAECHEL DAWSON, the Mirror

Federal Way author published in ‘Chicken Soup: Random Acts of Kindness’

When April Knight was 9 years old, her teacher asked the students in her class what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Knight, a self-described “D” student, responded that she wanted to become a writer.

“She just laughed, and the kids laughed because I was a D student all the way through school,” Knight said. “I wouldn’t pay attention and was always drawing pictures or making up stories or something.”

Her teacher promptly informed her she had to be “really smart” and go to college in order to fulfill that dream.

Yet, at 13 years old, Knight found herself with $100 in hand after selling her first story to a national magazine. It was about dating.

“I’d never had a boyfriend,” she laughed. “I had no clue what I was talking about, but I got this check in the mail, and I thought that’s the most money I’d ever seen and this was such a great way to make a living.”

Now, at 73, the Federal Way resident of eight years has had more than 50 books and 1,000 short stories published. And she has no plans to stop.

Her most recent short story, “A Secret Treasure,” was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness,” which was released on Feb. 7.

The short story centers on Knight’s real-life experience of writing letters to “Aunt Amelia,” a woman who isn’t really Knight’s aunt, but a “sweet little old lady” her family had taken in.

Knight said everyone has that relative or friend they feel obligated to keep in touch with but haven’t because of the chaos of life.

In “A Secret Treasure,” Knight writes about her experience after taking the time to do just that.

“I started sending her things, and then when I visited her – she kept everything I had written to her for years,” Knight said. “Her dresser drawers were like a filing cabinet of every card I’d sent her.”

Knight still writes letters to Amelia and calls her at 10:30 a.m. nearly every Thursday.

In addition to short stories and letter writing, Knight commits to writing three books a year. Her most recent novel, “Stars in the Desert,” is a “romance about people willing to sacrifice all they own for love.”

While most of her stories center around romance and mystery, she’s currently working on a Western and has even written about zombies and Tiny Tim.

Currently, she’s writing “If I Fall In Love at My Age, Will I Break My Hip?”

“It’s all just funny experiences about people my age dating, which is just hysterical,” Knight said, noting there are 65 million single women in their 70s in America. “So, my generation now is going through this dating teenage stage, and it’s very awkward and embarrassing.”

Of the books she’s written, her favorite is “Nobody Dies in Kansas” because the first 100 pages are about her childhood. The rest is fictional, she said.

Knight, who has “mixed blood,” grew up around the Kickapoo Indians in Kansas but was adopted into the Kiowa Indian Tribe later in life because of her positive portrayal of the “First People,” what she likes to call Native Americans.

“I had written about Indians for years and done various fundraisers for Indian causes, and the Kiowa tribe gave me an award and adopted me into the tribe for the way I portrayed the Indians in my books and writings,” Knight said, noting she respectfully told their stories and refrained from dwelling on Indian rights nor pitied them for loss of land. She also worked in a mission for three years with the Navajo Indian Tribe in New Mexico, where she was given the name Crying Wind and later Hummingbird by the Kiowa Tribe.

Knight writes a regular column with Indian Life, a magazine published in Canada, and continues to stay connected to that community.

Her goals this year include publishing her “Break My Hip” book and two more romances, “The Price of Love” and “West of Nowhere.”

Her ultimate goal is to encourage people to tell their own story, however.

“Everybody’s had tremendous adventures and experiences or broken hearts or great loves or something in their life, and it’s a story they should share with other people but are afraid to because they think, ‘I’m not good enough,’ or ‘I don’t have an education. I don’t know how to be a writer,’ and they don’t have to do that,” Knight said. “They only have to tell their story in their own words.”

To learn more about Knight, visit cryingwind.com.