Welcome to Friday’s Featured Female!
This weekly series features inspirational stories from admirable women. IMHO, it’s always good to be reminded of how strength, determination, hard work, heart and ingenuity can impact the quality of one’s life and I’m proud that these women will allow me to share their stories here.
Today I’m featuring author, parent, fellow 80’s diehard and Duranie extraordinaire, Karen Booth. Karen and I have Duran Duran and Twitter for bringing us together. I really am indebted to social media for expanding my circle of friends (is that cool or sad because many of them I’ve never even met IRL). Even though Karen has gotten the chance to meet Duran Duran on more than one occasion, I still like her (very much in fact).
Karen loves music and spent her twenties working her way up through the music industry but the story of how she found her true passion as an author is an inspirational one that she’s chosen to share here. I have a ton of admiration for people who go against the grain but listen to their hearts so let me ask….
Soooo have you met Karen?
I never like to focus on the negative, but the summer of 2008 was no fun. My son had major surgery, my kids were re-assigned to a new school, and our house was struck by lightning and burned almost completely to the ground. We lost everything. I also turned 40 that summer. (MB note: Way to rub it in Mother Nature)
The fire was obviously the worst. It was an exhausting job to deal with insurance, oversee the rebuild, shop for an entire household of stuff, and keep my kids happy. I made myself the last priority. I put an at-home business on hold, something I’d worked on for 8 years. I stopped exercising, which was really stupid, as I certainly needed the stress-relief. I took care of the house business and the kids and my husband.
Luckily, we were back in our re-built house by February of 2009. Once we were settled, I thought about returning to my home business (I design and make handbags), but there was an idea in my head that wouldn’t go away, an idea for a book, the book that eventually became the novel ‘Bring Me Back’. Oddly enough, the biggest hurdle to writing it was getting past my preconceived notions of what I was capable of. Writing a novel seemed ridiculous. I’d never written a word of fiction in my life outside of school assignments, although I’d done a fair amount of non-fiction writing as an adult. Surely I couldn’t write a novel.
Amidst my “should I or shouldn’t I?” quandary, I read an article about turning 40. One of the quotes was: “Now that you’re 40, are you taking off or are you coming in for a landing?”
That hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t coming in for a landing. I didn’t even feel 40, whatever that feels like. So, I began to write. I had no clue what I was doing, but I just went with it. I didn’t sleep much. I wrote every chance I got. Some days, I would sit at my desk and write and cry my eyes out because I was so wrapped up in my story. It was complete catharsis.
I quickly discovered that sorting out a novel plot requires a lot of thinking. One thing that really helped was to keep my body occupied, so I started working out on the elliptical every day, eventually adding in weights and Zumba. It took me about six months to complete a draft of ‘Bring Me Back’. In that time, I lost 38 pounds, which made me 35 pounds lighter than I was when I got married.
One crucial part of my journey with ‘Bring Me Back’ was writing a heroine on the brink of 40 and to portray her as vibrant and active and sexy. There are so few books with romantic story lines that involve women over 30, certainly not women who have children or family to deal with. That bugged me. I had to fix that. Along the way, it helped to change the way I see myself.
I gained so much from the entire experience—a new career as an author (my third full-length novel “Back Forever” comes out in May!), a new, stronger body, and I found something inside of me that I didn’t know was there. I suppose you could say it came out of the ashes.
MB Note: To connect with Karen, you can find her at the below social media outlets but I highly encourage you to avail yourself of a FREE download of “Claire’s Diary” the prequel to the very fun “Bring Me Back” and “Back Forever” (due in May).
Has a disaster ever helped you make a permanent and positive change in your life?