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Dad – If You Could See Me Now… Part II

4 Feb

Dad (and Mom) listen up now, this is where my story gets even more amazing. What does a retired elementary teacher do while waiting for her fellow teaching buddy to give in and retire so they can do fun things together during the day? Well, I read, joined a book club, and read some more, then…

You may be aware of the term, The Butterfly Effect, which explains how tiny initial differences may lead to large and unforeseen consequences over a period of time. This is my version of the phenomenon.

My butterfly’s egg was hatched on June 9, 2011 when I downloaded a free book from Amazon called Maid For the Billionaire by Ruth Cardello. After reading and enjoying the book, as I did with a number of authors, I searched for a web site for Ruth and found a blog site named, eBook Experiment, where Ruth had frequent blogs about her journey into authoring romance books.  At that time, she had only released her first book, and it was free, so she wasn’t yet making any money with her writing. Well, my little caterpillar devoured reading about her journey and before long the chrysalis was formed.

My butterfly burst forth on August 20, 2011, when Ruth self-published her second book, For Love or Legacy, and I quickly ‘one-clicked’ and downloaded it. Those wings started flapping and unknown at that time, I started my new journey. Ruth had asked her Facebook friends to let her know if they found any mistakes as they read the book. As I was reading I did find a couple of mistakes and I ‘private messaged’ Ruth. Being the sweet person she is, she thanked me and we started a conversation that lasted into the late evening as I read the book and found a few more tiny errors. At one point she joked that maybe I could edit her third book. We laughed… talked teaching (at the time she was on summer break from her kindergarten teaching job)… discussed family…we even discussed having coffee together someday.  She said, “And who knows, if this writing thing takes off…maybe I’ll take you up on that coffee.”  Serendipity, Ruth!

When the school year started, Ruth went back to teaching, but we still messaged off and on. She asked me to reread her first book and look for mistakes before she submitted it for paper print. I volunteered to reread the second one too to see if I could find anything I had missed the first time through. Her sales were going very well on the second book and I (along with many others I’m sure) encouraged her to quit teaching and write full time so she could get started on her third book. In April 2012, Ruth became a full time writer and our friendship grew as she wrote Bedding the Billionaire, book three. She talked to her colleagues, told them about me, and one or two of them asked if I could help them by proofreading their manuscripts.  Feeling a bit under-qualified, I hesitated; after all, my training was in elementary education, with a master in educational curriculum, not an English degree. But with Ruth’s encouragement, I agreed. Ruth convinced me my qualification came from reading as many books as I had and that I had a good eye for finding those pesky little mistakes that so many writers just don’t see in their own writing. Plus, both of us being former teachers, we had practiced daily how to help others make their work better. The good news was, the authors that I helped, thanked me profusely for a job well done! Ruth cemented our friendship right there; we entered the realm of sisterhood!

During this time, my biological sister and I also started a new book group that read only eBooks that were fun and cheap, five dollars or under—The Bargain eBook Book Club.  To make our group unique and jovial, I started contacting authors and asking them if they could join in our discussions. To hear those stories, please read through my earlier blogs, but suffice it to say, we have a fun time and we have Skyped with almost twenty different authors, many of them New York Times Best Selling authors! Our best treat was a day in June when Ruth called and told me she didn’t want to Skype, she wanted to actually fly here and meet with the Defiance ladies that were all the talk of her writing world. Her third book, which I had proofed for her just like we laughed about earlier, had just made the New York Times Belling Selling list for eBooks! Well,to add to that surprise, Donna McDonald, another author our book club knew, said she would like to drive up from Kentucky and meet not only us, but Ruth too. And guess what?  Yes! I got to have that predestined cup of coffee! The ladies graciously presented a workshop to local writers explaining the hows and whys of self-publishing along with an evening of merriment and friendship with both of my book groups at the local bed and breakfast. Amazing—successful authors coming to Defiance just to meet our little book group!book group with Ruth and Donna

Meanwhile, my little proofing business was growing and I needed some help.  Ruth, who by then I had considered more than a friend (we had bonded…), kept putting my information on her Facebook pages and new authors lined up. In October, my sister joined with me and we are now proofreading/line editing/beta reading for over fifteen romance authors.  Did you hear that Dad—your two daughters are working with romance authors! Some of them even want to meet us! They know me! Don’t you love it?  And, my retirement plan—it allowed us to purchase tickets to visit my daughters in New Mexico and Seattle. Oh… and I took a trip to see Ruth in Rhode Island in December where she planned a party for me to meet many of the authors I work with, then Ruth and I went to Newport and had lunch with Marie Force. It was rather like coming full circle, although I’d like to think of it more as a spiral, because this butterfly is not nearly finished with her amazing journey. Stay tuned… Texas is next!Ruth and Karen

If you are wondering what to do with a new phase in your life, I will tell you what I’ve always told my children—find something you love to do and do it! As hokey as it sounds, when a door is closed, a window IS opened.  Embrace that window and let in your butterfly! There is a whole new cyber world out there just waiting for your discovery.


Dad – If You Could See Me Now…Part I

1 Feb

Four years ago I lost both my parents within six weeks of each other. We knew Mom was dying, but Dad had a fatal heart attack while playing golf two days before we were going to bring them both back home to care for Mom. There are very few days that I don’t think about them. Dad always teased me about some of the classes I took in college while earning my degree in Elementary Education. His favorite tease—Children’s Literature, or as we called it, Kiddie Lit. He never could understand paying college tuition to read children’s books. However, he and Mom were right there, tears in their eyes, watching me graduate, then again thirty-one years later when I received my master’s degree. His short note from that day still remains on my refrigerator telling me how proud they both were that I had achieved what no one else in our family had, a master’s degree.

My mother was the reading force in our family. I don’t remember a single Christmas that didn’t have a wrapped book for each of us under the tree. You always knew those packages—the small side of empty space where the covers stuck out slightly more than the pages. She spent an entire day each year choosing just the right one for each of us. I thank her for giving me the perfect gift – a love of reading. I hope I have passed it on not only to my own children, but the hundreds of children I taught over 35 years.

A few weeks before Mom died, my sister and I bought our first Kindles so we could read as we sat by her bedside. My old love of books turned into an obsession with eBooks. And what a journey that started! I realized I could amass a huge debt with the famous “one-click’ purchasing power at Amazon, so I started looking for cheap or free books, trolling through many suggestions from Amazon. So many of those choices were romances, thus, my love affair with contemporary romance was born.

On February 1, 2011, I downloaded my first Marie Force book, Love at First Flight, read and loved it, and started following her blog. At that time, she had a weekly book club that discussed chosen books through comments on her blog, but soon thereafter she decided to move the discussions to Facebook. Realizing that famous authors (and in my eyes, anyone who writes amazing stories and sells loads of them is famous) would actually converse through Facebook, I “friended” Marie Force Book Talk. Let me say right now, no one does Facebook as well as Marie Force! Not only does she have her regular author page, she also has the aforementioned book talk site, three general sites for each of her series, and 24 (soon to be 25) individual sites for each one of her books where fans can go and follow discussion questions after that book is released. Plus she chimes in whenever a fan asks a question! Through the past two years, I feel Marie and I have become actual friends, having finally met in person in December, while I was visiting Rhode Island (see Part II of the story).Marie Force, Karen, Ruth Cardello

As much as I value my friendship with Marie, I also owe her for helping me find some wonderful Internet friends. Through MFBT, I started conversing with some of the same fans that chatted on a regular basis. We “friended” each other and started our own little Facebook group where we discuss many best-selling books. Some of these ladies have become more than acquaintances; they are true friends.  We “Zoom” every couple weeks, discussing books and getting to know each other. Zooming is like Skype, but you can hear and see multiple friends at a time. Our group lives in Australia, Washington, Florida, and Ohio.  We are sometimes joined by Tennessee and New Hampshire. We have started asking some authors to join in our discussions and are meeting amazing women and hearing all about their success stories.

Why all of this as I’m thinking about my parents, you may wonder?  Well, both Mom and Dad would be so pleased to hear everything that has happened to me since I’ve retired from teaching. Instead of wondering what I would do with all that free time, I’ve found a way to take what I love and make it into a fun-filled retirement plan. Stay tuned for Part II and my love affair (purely platonic, I promise) with Ruth Cardello and what has happened in my life. Dad, you may have laughed at Kiddie Lit, but…if you could see me now…

Seriously Fun Reading Groups

14 May

My “serious” book club met last Wednesday.  No, we don’t always read serious books, but we seriously discuss the book we read.  The selection for this month was Happy Hour by Michele Scott. The book tells the stories of four female friends who connect through wine.  One is a wine maker, another is a sommelier, the third is an editor for a wine magazine, and the fourth is an artist who specializes in vineyard landscapes.  These women all have obstacles in their lives they are dealing with, but the strength of their friendship carries them through difficult times.  And, as I most enjoy, there is a happily ever after for all!  So, what made this a meeting worth blogging?  Well, we met in a local restaurant and had wine flights with our discussions.  It only seemed right to combine book, wine, and laughter for our final meeting until next fall.  This group of women have become so dear to me.  Our discussions have lead to understanding each other and we are fast becoming really good friends.

My other book group meets today to talk about Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.  I was unable to contact her, so we won’t be skyping, but we do have a fun time planned.  You see, through a different author, I met another new friend from Australia.  She loves hearing about our “fun” reading group.  She sent me some cookies (well, she called them biscuits) and key-chains for this group.  Of course, the “biscuits” arrived about a week and a half ago, and I couldn’t let them get stale, so we will be sharing the key-chains and I’ll tell them all about the wonderful cookies!  We will laugh and talk about favorite parts of Smooth Talking Strangers and probably find out how many more of us have started Fifty Shades of Grey.  Fun stuff!  Needless to say, these friends have also become very dear to me.

Many people have heard about our “fun” group.  Word is traveling around about our skyping adventures.  We have even been contacted by a publishing company in California requesting we add two of their authors’ books to our list and skype with them.  Right now, our list of books go into November, so it may a while before we get back to them.  But, we are having a good time and it all centers around reading!  Some of the “serious” group affectionately call the “fun” group, the “smut” group.  Well, we do read mostly romances, but which group do you think is reading Fifty Shades Trilogy over the summer?  I guess we will have some “serious” discussions over that one!  And, hopefully, some of that group will be joining us over the summer for some “fun” reading!  Lunch, laughter, and friendship – what could be better?  I hope if you have a book club you will be as lucky as me and find great new friendships.

Upcoming books:

Samantha Moon: All Four Novels by J.R. Rain

A Woman to Blame by Susan Connell

My Big Old Texas Heartache by Geralyn Dawson

Readers and Writers and Book Clubs – Oh My!

25 Mar

Do you belong to a book club?  I am in two different book clubs.  Shortly after retiring from 35 years of teaching, I was asked to join a new start-up book club group.  Most of the members were retired teachers, but not all.  We all are in the same age group (50 and older).  It took us well into the first year to decide how to choose books, but we have a great system.  The “Leader” chooses the book to read and asks the discussion questions and the “Hostess” provides the house and light snacks.  We meet once a month and have serious but fun discussions on each selected book.  We have read some great novels – The Help, Water for Elephants, and The Paris Wife just to name a few.  We even go to see the movie together when it comes out if there is one.  We have developed some great friendships with each other and have read some wonderful books.

My second book group was started for a number of reasons.  I love reading books on my Kindle.  I love introducing new authors to friends.  I love eating.  I love laughing.  I love romance books.  I love spending not much money on books.  What could I do to combine all these loves?  Well, my brother owns a fantastic restaurant that serves a great lunch.  He has a big table in the back for small groups.  The lunch crowd has usually slowed down after 1:00.  Why not invite anyone who wants to read on their eReaders to share lunch and books they have enjoyed?  So, my sister and I started The Brainless Bargain eBook Book Club at Breadstyx Bistro.  We meet every other Monday and eat lunch, laugh, and sometimes actually discuss the chosen book.  The protocol for this group is a bit different though – I get to choose the books!  I do ask for suggestions, but so far, there have only been a few from the other members.  We do have one rule – the book must cost $5 or less.

Many self-published authors list one of their books “free” for a day, week, or month for readers to snatch, read, and hopefully enjoy enough to buy their other books.  My job has been to read these and decide if they are worthy of the members’ time and money.  I have “met” so many wonderful writers doing this.  I have introduced my friends to some great new romance authors:  Ruth Cardello, Marie Force, Donna McDonald, and Tawna Fenske, along with some established writers Carly Phillips and Gemma Halliday.  I try to contact these authors before we meet to have them answer some of my questions and see if they are willing to Skype with us.  Some have Skyped and others have sent some “swag” for sharing with the group.  I’ll tell you all about that in a later blog.

Back to my original question: Do you belong to a Book Club?  If your answer is “no” and you love to read – make up your own group and enjoy the benefit of sharing your love of reading with friends.  There are no set rules – your group can decide how often, where, what book, and who chooses.  Just find some buddies that share your interests and go have some coffee and discuss!  Happy Reading!

What am I?

6 Oct

I know I am a reader – I’ve loved reading since first grade when Mrs. Oxley introduced new words each day and I committed them to memory.  My reading grades were wonderful!  I can read quickly and comprehend what was read.  I also know I probably read too much (is that really possible?  my family thinks so).  I taught first, second, and third grade for 35 years and have found that sitting and reading for enjoyment is a lovely way to spend retirement.  My sitting room off my bedroom tells me that I also buy too many books, so I thought I’d be smart and buy a Kindle.  That way I could be a “closet reader” and no one would know how many books I have!  Twelve hundred plus books later, I have to admit, MAYBE I read too much.  But what the heck- I’m retired!  I enjoy it!  I worked hard, raised a family, and now I can do whatever I darn well please!  Who cares how high the piles of mail get?  (maybe my husband. . . .)

Recently I tried my hand at writing.  I entered a contest and won, although winning had much more to do with collecting friends and brow-beating them to vote than actually the quality of the writing.  Through this contest a number of people told me I should write.  But, AM I A WRITER?  I’ve never pictured myself as one.  In fact, I found it the hardest thing to teach to children.  In high school it was definitely not my forte.  I also ruined my GPA in college with Freshman English and composition.  All signs pointed to the fact that I was most certainly NOT a writer.  I have always thought this.  Was I wrong?

My sister is a writer.  She wrote a fantastic book.  Everyone should read it – it’s called The Holy Order of the Womb Women.  My middle daughter is a writer.  She has her blog and writes about being a mother.  She’s a great writer too – her blog is Bona Fide Bites.  Look it up!  But me?  Both of them tell me I should write.  My sister even talked about us writing a book together.  Can’t even imagine it!  My daughter set up this blog for me.  They believe in me.  I still don’t think I do, but I’m going to try to at least blog every once in a while.  If reading more makes you a better reader, then writing more may make me a better writer.  Who knows, maybe I will find out I am a writer.  Most likely, I will just find an outlet for expressing opinions on my love of reading.  Stick around and see how I turn out!