How writing saved me.

It’s been nearly four years since I wrote MAGESTIC DREAMS and what started out as a “story” for my daughter (twelve years old at the time), has now become the novel that brought me back to life.

It’s no secret, my daughter loves books. She is a hopeless romantic (like me), and she won’t read a book that doesn’t have a hint of romance.  That being said, she really digs the magic (fantasy), mystery, and danger in her YA fiction. We’d talk about the stories, what she liked, what she hated, and what she would have done different had she written it.  I have (and still do) read a lot of the same books and her critique is usually right on.  So, when I told her I could write her a story that had all the elements she craved, I was a little skeptical, but she wasn’t.

I had an idea for a storyline but I didn’t have a plan, an outline, or a clue, so I just started writing.  A few weeks into the project, something magical happened.  These characters that had come from my imagination suddenly became real.  A plan would not have helped me because I wouldn’t have stuck to it anyway.  Many times, the characters would take my hand and lead me through the events that would unfold.  And I followed.  Every time I sat down to write, whether it was 11 o’clock at night, or 10 in the morning, I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.  One day, while sitting on the front porch with my husband, I read him my latest chapter.  He looked at me and smiled when he said, “Honey, that’s it! That’s the end.”  My heart fell to my feet.  How could this be the end?  I wasn’t ready to let them go, I was too attached and I had to know more.  So, I vowed to continue the story in a second (and third) book, which I did, but that is for another blog post.

I researched how to make a paperback book, printed my manuscript, sewed the packets together, glued the spine, and created a cover.  Six months from the day I started, I handed my daughter MAGESTIC DREAMS in book form (and completely unedited **OOPS**).  She loved it, typos and all.  After being passed around to a few friends and family members, all of whom stoked my ego, I began to think about finding an agent to get my book published.  I was not in a hurry, for there was a TON of editing that had to be done.  Editing is like a job, it’s work, so I slowly pecked away until I eventually let it sit for months at a time.

Then tragedy came in the form of a phone call, on the very day my 17-year-old son and his best friend had ventured out of state on their very first road trip.  The Georgia State Troopers were trying to get in touch with us about a fatal car crash.  After a lifetime wait of 45 minutes, our worst nightmare was realized.  Our son, Justin, was killed instantly when the car he was riding in hit a tree.  His best friend, Adam, passed the next morning.  On June 2nd, 2010, our world stopped. There were no timelines, no plans, and no answers, just this pain in my heart that took my breath away and brought a never-ending flow of tears.  Even now, as I write this blog, I can feel the ache.  Though it is further from the surface, it is always there, and I suspect it always will be.  I spent the next year in a fog.  Watching Justin and Adam’s awesome group of friends finish their senior year of high school was bittersweet. I love those kids and I am so proud of them!

So, how did MAGESTIC DREAMS save me?  I didn’t care about that book anymore.  It just didn’t seem to matter.  My God, I’ve just lost my son, who cares about a story I wrote 3 years ago?

Several months after the accident, my sister-in law, Kelly, as well as my dear friend, Kelly (*funny* two Kellies), asked me if I found it “odd” that I had written the book before the accident, that maybe I was somehow meant to write it.  I had to admit, there were some pretty incredible happenings during our time of sorrow that seemed to be intertwined in the story.  No, there is no tragic car accident, and I didn’t predict my son’s death, but there is hope and that hope sparked a new life in me.  Instead of allowing my thoughts to take me back to the same old question of why, I read MAGESTIC DREAMS from cover to cover, edited like crazy, and sought publication.

I had a few good nibbles.  One agent in particular loved the premise of the story but requested I make a few changes.  I tried.  But the changes didn’t feel right, so I rebelled.  After a long talk with my husband, we decided to forgo the agent.  (Easy for him to say when I had to do all the work!) There would be no three-book deal complete with a new boat, but he didn’t care.  He believed in me and that was all that mattered.

So now, I have reached the end (*whew* finally).  MAGESTIC DREAMS is now available in paperback on and will be available soon in Kindle format.  Barnes and Nobles will be my next venture but give me some time.  Book Two is in the works and it will be a milestone for me when I can get back to writing the last half.  This book launching takes some serious effort!

In closing, I would just like to share a little bit of that hope I was talking about earlier.  If you haven’t read the book yet, you might not get it.  For those of you that have, I hope this will give you something to believe in!

The morning the book went live on Amazon, I had conflicting feelings.  I was happy, of course, but did I have the right to be?  After all, I couldn’t share this with my son.  Would he be proud of me for finally finishing?  I sat on the front porch, not sure whether or not I was going to laugh, or cry.  I did neither.  I just sat there, smiling as I stared at the yellow flower that had bloomed overnight.  One yellow flower.  You see, days after Justin’s death, a single yellow flower bloomed beneath the shade of a pine tree that was surrounded by a thick brush.  Later that winter, we cleared the area and made a garden.  We call it Justin’s Garden.

Categories: Why I write | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “How writing saved me.

  1. Rosanne Jensen

    Thank you for sharing this, Reading this brought back memories of that day and the days that followed and tears to my eyes again . I am so happy you have gone on with your book and finished it . I would love to read it as well as I am sure Sierra would also . I am SURE Justin is so proud of you , I just KNOW it ! Blessings to you and your family always , Rosanne

    • Rosanne, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It means a great deal to me. And yes, I believe Justin is proud of me, too. Hope you enjoy reading Magestic!

  2. Jamie Kysar

    I’m so proud of you , and how you finished this book after all you have been through. Justin would be very proud that his mom finished something that she loved so dearly. Just started reading the book and can’t wait for the second one !! Love you

  3. Thank you Jamie! It is certainly a good feeling and I can’t wait for the second one either! love

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss, Karen, but so pleased that your writing has helped you. Both the book and the example are wonderful gifts to your daughter. I’m sure your son is proud of you. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Shirley and Earl Householder

    Karen: I am one of the family members that had the good fortune to read the book. I started and could not put it down. It is very well written and has a great story. I know you have lost so much, but with the grace of God you have done something to be proud of. I know all of the children are very proud of you also. Mike did very well also for standing with you. Love you all. Aunt Shirley

  6. Joyce Kysar

    I love the book so far. Love you!

  7. Skylor Ladd

    I’m Joyce’s boyfriend and I can’t wait to read your novel!! 🙂

  8. I’m one of Karen’s friends and I got to experience the entire birth of her first novel. I have enjoyed listening from the begining to the end. Its was so fun talking about each chapter. Karen was having so much fun creating her characters and coming up with wonderful ideas. Karen tried to keep the contents in her book a secret from her daughter Savannah so we had to be creative where we would meet. Sometimes while sitting on her porch she would bounce of ideas or read what she had completed that day along with the re-writes. Let me tell you this, anything that Karen puts her mind to she amazingly accomplishes….Look out Martha Stewart you have met your match….Well that’s what I always telling Karen…LOL.. I can’t wait to read the final novel. I have read the first two books drafts, but with all the final re-writes some of the story has changed …..well she wants to leave some mystery. So I can say that I’m sure its going to be even better than her earlier works. I’m so proud you! I wish you the best luck and great blessings.

    • Some of those nights on the porch were down right chilly if I recall.

      • I remember when Nicky’s blanket kept me warm on the cool and cold nights on the porch. I was so glad when you got your porch heater. We had so much fun. The best part was hearing the creative magic flow through your words. I can’t wait until I get my new copies of Magestic Dreams soon…

  9. Justin is smiling down on you Karen. I loved your book and am so very proud of you! You have accomplished so much in the face of adversity. I love you sweet sister-in-law.
    One of the Kellies 🙂

  10. KBella

    I am sure, that with all the creativity that was in him, that Justin is thrilled that his Mama is exploring her creative outlet now. We are all so excited to read more of your wonderful story and see where else Emma will take us. You have inspired hope in all of your family, friends and fans! Thanks for being such a beautiful person and never giving up.

  11. Debbie Clancy

    Karen ~ I am a friend of Kelly’s in Valrico ~ you and your family have been utmost in my thoughts and prayers ~ we, too, lost a dear and much too young member of our family in a similar manner and it takes years to begin to “right the ship” so to speak. First, I want to say how neat an idea to create this book for your daughter ~ how cool is that!!! Second, I also find writing very cathartic and believe it is a wonderful way to work your way through a myriad of life events. Congratulations on your book ~ can’t wait to read it~ ❤

    • Sorry for the late response time but I just wanted to say thank you for the encouragement. I don’t know what life has in store for me but finding new friends like you is a great place to start.


    Aunt KK you are such a strong and caring person and excellent mother (not to mention writer)! I look up to you so much! You have been an inspiration in my life as I am undoubtedly sure you have been to others as well. Thank you and never stop working to get your words read!

  13. **sniffles** Love to you!

  14. Carmen lukason

    I love you and I’m so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished. You are an amazing writer and very creative. Justin would have been so proud of you. I’m sure he’s looking down at you and saying” way to go mom I’m proud of you”. The story line is so amazing. As you read the books and get to know the characters they become so real. You want to keep the characters close and learn more about there lives. I’m so glad you continued on with your writing. You don’t even realize have good you are. Love you.

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