Karen was so excited for the day when she would finish her first novel, Reasons for Waking, and see it in print. Unfortunately, she passed away before the book was published. However, as Karen worked on her book over the span of a few years, she wrote many notes filled with information and tidbits about herself, her book, and the writing process that she thought might be useful at a later date. She saved everything in a “book” folder on her computer. One of those documents she titled “Fun Facts about Karen”, and wrote some notes about herself growing up. Other documents included intake forms she had to provide to her publisher and editor where she had to answer specific questions about herself as an author and about her novel.
I have compiled some of those notes below as I thought you, Karen’s readers and friends, might enjoy learning more about Karen and more about her thoughts during the writing process. They are an assortment of various personal fun facts and professional reflections, all providing a clearer picture of who Karen was as a sister, friend, work colleague, dog lover, and writer!
- Karen was the oldest of six children.
- She was born in a Quonset hut – a steel building with a curved roof, often built on naval bases. It served as the hospital at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
- She was born blind due to congenital cataracts and underwent six eye surgeries before the age of two to restore a small amount of her vision.
- Karen grew up in a military family so we moved every few years. Some of the places Karen lived growing up were: New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Georgia, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
- As a young child Karen LOVED the chipmunks–both the TV show and their music!! This lasted from about her third birthday until middle school, when Micky Dolenz (Monkees) and then Glen Campbell usurped her affection for Simon the Chipmunk. Until the end, though, Karen loved hearing the occasional “I told the witch doctor…”.
- We, Karen’s siblings, don’t ever remember a time when Karen wasn’t reading and writing!!
- The first story Karen ever wrote was in 6th grade and it was about a time machine.
- For her Master’s thesis at Hollins College (now Hollins University), Karen wrote a book of Poetry entitled “Reasons for Waking.”
- Karen entered several poetry contests as a young adult, and actually won and placed in a few of them.
- Attending live-theatre performances was one of Karen’s favorite activities and at one point she thought she might want to write plays.
- Karen’s career was spent as a professional editor and during that time she mentored and trained other editors.
- She gave talks on a variety of subjects through the years.
- Her love for reading led her to read about 60 books a year!
- Training and showing English Springer Spaniels was Karen’s lifelong hobby.
- She published several nonfiction dog-related articles over the years.
- Karen lived with two epileptic dogs during her life and became an expert in caring for them.
- The first dog Karen owned was a mutt from the pound named Candy. Her 2nd one was a mutt named Happy. Her 3rd was her first English Springer Spaniel named Emmett, followed by George, and then many others.
- Her FAVORITE dogs were Preston and Cabot, both English Springer Spaniels. Karen told us that Cabot was her soul-mate dog.
- Reasons for Waking is Karen’s 1st. She started it in 2016 and finished it in 2021. When she sent it out to a few publishers, Bold Story Press was the first to respond, telling Karen that they didn’t just LIKE her story, they LOVED it! It was very important to Karen, that her publisher loved her story.
- When asked, “What is the point of your book?” Karen responded, “Understanding that things aren’t always as they appear gives meaning to our lives” AND “when you think you’ve lost something usually it’s right where it should have been all along.”
- When asked why she was writing this particular story she said, “I’m fascinated by how ripples from events that should have no bearing on us and that we know nothing about can affect our lives.”
- When asked to write one sentence about what she would consider an ideal book review by a critic she said, “The characters were fully fleshed and relatable, and I came to care deeply about them.” Character development was VERY important to Karen!!
- Karen wrote that her target audience was, “Adults who love stories about broken characters who yearn, and learn, to put themselves back together.”
- When asked for an author photo, Karen replied, “I hate having my picture taken, so it might be a while until I get a current one. Meanwhile, some old photos will have to suffice. At least nearly all of them feature dogs.”
- Karen’s favorite writer was William Faulkner. And Dilsey, the black lab in Reasons for Waking, is actually named after a character in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.
- In Reasons for Waking, Phillip works at Grainger University, a small university located in central Virginia. Grainger is also the name of the English Department building at Longwood University, where Karen received her BA in English. Longwood University is also located in central Virginia.
- Reasons for Waking is 106,000 words, 404 pages.
- When Karen was working with her Book Coach, she said, “Writing my novel is one of the most difficult, complicated things I’ve ever done.”
I think we can all agree that even though it was a difficult, complicated process for Karen, the final product is an amazing, heartfelt story that has left us all with great respect for Karen’s story writing ability, and in awe of her talent.