Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who knew we already knew?

I recently attended Saturday Writers monthly meeting and it was fantastic! This chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild is growing by leaps and bounds. With membership close to 100, the group lives up to its motto “Writers Encouraging Writers.”  Saturday Writers, formed in 2002, celebrates the craft of writing and the creative process, allows for networking opportunities, and inspires writers to meet their individual goals. 

This past weekend, our speaker was Mrs. Margo Dill - author, teacher, editor, mother, and all-around go-to gal. I was excited to hear Margo speak, especially since her focus in on children’s literature. She did not disappoint! Using the 6+1 traits of writing as her framework, she reminded us that everything we need to know as writers, we already learned in school.  Now we just need to focus on tweaking that to meet our needs as adult writers. I loved her honesty and candor, mixed with fantastic wit, about the writing  process. 

Even though I am familiar with the 6+1 process as an educator, I still found myself taking copious notes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I struggle with voice when writing. Mrs. Dill addressed this area at length, never sugar-coating but also encouraging. She used examples from her own work but also pulled in work from other authors. 

 If you are looking for a great speaker, for children or adults, I would highly recommend Mrs. Margo Dill. She recently published her middle-grade novel Finding My Place and works at WOW! Women on Writing. Great job, once again, Saturday Writers on another superb meeting and for encouraging this writer to write!

Photo Credits: Saturday Writers (top photo), White Mane Publishing (bottom photo)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Promises are Promises

    In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution, I have ventured into new reading lands. In the past, the idea of reading a fantasy novel would have left me feeling a bit uninspired. I tend to be a realist in most areas of my life, including my reading selections so fantasy has never been my genre of choice. Never a quitter though, I decided to read a book popular among my older students. I recently finished The Familiars by screenwriters Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. 
    The first in a trilogy, The Familiars, was released in 2010 with HarperCollins Publishers. The story is cleverly written with a great mix of humor and excitement, perfect for younger readers.  In many ways, I was reminded of the Warrior Series and the Harry Potter blending together. 
    The main characters are three animals with magical powers that embark on the journey of their lives in a quest to save their human companions. Aldwyn, a young alley cat, does not know he possess magical powers but has keen survival skills. The other two animals Skylar, a rather bossy blue-jay, and Gilbert, a fun-loving but bumbling tree-frog, have been with their humans for many years.  The humans play a relatively small role in the story, leaving the major action to the unique animals that each bring their own special flare to the story. 

    Even though I knew many of my students enjoyed the story, I was still hesitant. I am excited to say that I enjoyed the story very much and am eager to read the other two books in the trilogy. I found The Familiars easy to read, as the action kept moving. The characters were playful and fun and I think many young readers would relate them.
    So while I am early in the year, book one of the New Year’s Resolution has gone well. Here’s to book two!

    There is a downloadable teacher’s guide for The Familiars available at:

Photo Credit: Peter Chan and Kei Acedera

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cooking up a Story

With my recent down time, I’ve been doing some thinking since I am not doing too much else. I’m thinking writing is a lot like cooking. Now for those of you who know me well, this may seem like a strange comparison considering that I dislike cooking and am rather fond of writing. Allow me to explain. 

My husband and I have a blended family of six. Our mixture of his and hers children creates a unique schedule for many meal times. Some nights it’s just the two of us and other nights, we are feeding six. Over the years, meal time caused a certain level of angst for me. Trying to make sure I created meals that were healthy, that pleased everyone, and that were within budget were a challenge. I have never enjoyed cooking but trying to tackle this task made it more daunting. I fretted over meal planning, shopping, preparation, all of it.  

As time as passed, I have started to worry less about covering all these bases. I began to focus on creating meals that were a little more fun and different and thought less about trying to please the masses. 

And this is why I think cooking is like writing. So often, we are encouraged to write in a genre or style that we are not passionate about or simply have no interest in. As writers, we are sometimes pushed to try a new category because it is what’s “new” and “popular” but when it comes down to it, we may not care a bit about it. 

I love writing children’s stories and short stories. I am also working on my memoir about my battle with heart disease. My focus is narrow and I am okay with that. I could try to write paranormal or horror but I promise, it would not worth anyone’s time. I think it is better to stick with what makes you happy. In my case, I write because I enjoy it rather than it being my job. Since I have that luxury, I can be picky. And as for the cooking, I fortunately married a fantastic chef! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Power of the Heart

                             The Power of the Heart

    My published short story, Pump, is a true story, written as a testament to my fight against heart disease. I am an eight year heart disease survivor, dedicated to increasing awareness and advocacy. 
    Heart disease continues to take the lives of more women each year than all cancers combined. It is the number one killer of women, but we have the power to fight it. The work of the American Heart Association, specifically Go Red for Women, is dramatically helping women like you and me each day.
          This February 1st, Go Red for Women is challenging America to Go Red in support of heart disease awareness. 

I am asking for your support on this day by:
1.  Wearing red 
2. Having your workplace, home, and/or place of worship participate in a Go Red Campaign (see the link below for details or call/email me)
 3. support the American Heart Association at my personal fundraising page:
4. talking to your friends and family about heart-healthy decisions they can make in their lives. 
Please Go Red on February 1st for all the special women in your life! We have the power to stop this killer! – Karen

Photo Credit: American Heart Association, St. Louis Chapter