Our interview for today is with Karen Arnpriester. Thank you Karen for being here today and for agreeing to do this interview.
1. Question: What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write in your chosen genre?
I was not prepared or desired to be a writer. I began on a whim and it was a journey with God’s lead. This was His big plan. I shared the first few chapters with a dear friend who encouraged and prodded me to continue and finish the story. After several people read Anessia’s Quest, they convinced me that the story was worthy of telling. The qualifier for the genre of Christian fiction was my faith and obedience to God.
2. Question: Tell us a little about your real (Non-writing) life and family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
My life is a wild pile of energy, confusion and intense satisfaction. I met my current husband later in life and truly found my prince charming. I had never been loved the way Don loves me. Four years ago we became foster parents. We adopted our two daughters in November on National Adoption Day. This has been such a profound decision in our lives. Don and I have four grown children and seven grandchildren. I am the owner of Karen’s Koncepts which is a graphic design company. Luckily I get to work from home which allows us to parent our two daughters. My first book was inspired by my compassion for children in the foster care system and it was written while we did the required training.
Life does get in the way of writing. I really struggle with finding time for this new love. Some writers commit to writing every day. I don’t. My schedule is too unpredictable and my family and my business have to take priority. I generally get windows of opportunity and then I write like crazy!
3. Question: Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books. Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?
I have a core group of people that I know will be brutally honest with me. They read along as I finish sections of the book. They help to keep me focused on finishing the book. Life certainly gets in the way. I consider their comments and revise if I agree. After several rounds of reading and rewrites I read the book aloud. You can catch many glitches in flow by reading aloud. Once I think the story is done, I have my test readers read again (thank you so much!). I consider, revise and then the book is ready to go to the editor. This is my biggest expense, but so necessary. I have them read for content, grammar, tense and point of view. Since I have not had formal training beyond high school creative writing, I can lose my way technically. Now the book is ready for a final revision round and test. I record myself reading the book and listen. Reading aloud is priceless, but hearing your story read does not rely on reading. It brings in another sense that can identify issues that reading won’t.
As a graphic artist, I am lucky to save the cost of hiring an artist for my covers. I usually have the cover done well before the book is complete. It is a visual inspiration and helps to keep me motivated. I love this aspect of writing, to create a window into the soul of the story. I also create video book trailers and am thrilled to search Youtube and see my work displayed there. My business has expanded to working with authors and developing their covers at an affordable price.
4. Question: Since you have several books out, tell us what you think works for promotion. What are your thoughts on ebooks versus print books and different ways to let people know about you and your books?
Promotion is the most difficult part of writing. I have read the books for self-promotion; have a Facebook Page, Twitter Account and all the social network suggestions. There are so many authors and books that you feel like a small minnow in a huge ocean. Several times I became frustrated that I don’t have the funds to market myself on a large scale and then I remember, I do what I can and God will take my books where they are supposed to go. I would love to support my family through my writing, but my true passion for writing is to share the experience with God, to tell stories about His love, grace and salvation for us broken souls. He is active in my process and drops ideas and visual pictures of the scenes in my lap.
I am involved with the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca, CA and it is growing. We provide a day of authors, books, training and joy of the written word. This has helped to improve my visibility as an author.
5. Question: Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?
I have written a true story, Slimy, about my years as a bullied child. The experience profoundly affected my childhood and my adult life. It took many years for me to work through the self-loathing and to value who God made me to be. I have spoken before groups of children against bullying and their reactions encourage me to reach out even more. Our children are dealing with real pain and school can be a battlefield that they must face each day. I want to use my experiences to encourage the bullied child, educate teachers and parents, and help the student body to join together and stop bullying in their schools. The responses have touched my heart in a profound way.
6. Question: How many books do you have out?
Currently, I have four books available as paperback and ebook. My first two Christian fiction novels are also available as audible books.
Anessia’s Quest, my first book, was a whim. My heart ached for children in the foster care system and I wondered how they survived. I hoped that God provided each of them with a guardian angel. This was the catalyst for the journey of Pagne, my main character. The main thread through my book is that God has a destiny for each of us. No one is a mistake and we will create ripples through our lifetime that can be positive or negative.
Raider’s Vendetta, which is my second novel, is a story filled with suspense. Raider is a bitter man who hates God and inflicts his fury on a Christian hostage, Charley, that he takes during a bank robbery. A spiritual and physical battle for survival begins. The plot reveals that no one is beyond God’s grace.
Slimy is my first non-fiction story. It is based on my years of bullying, fifth through the ninth grade. I buried most of the memories but the humiliation and isolation shaped who I would become. Slimy is written primarily for children and teens. I also hope that teachers and parents will learn how to identify a bullied child’s behaviors. Most do not tell. The ebook is free on Smashwords and I provide a free pdf download on my website. I want to be sure any child can get a copy of my story.
Miraculous Relationship is a collaboration of Christians who have experienced God’s real miracles in their life. These are true stories about how our lives were touched by Heaven’s grace. The ebook is free on Smashwords and I provide a free pdf download on my website. I want to be sure everyone can get a copy. This is about proclaiming God’s love for His kids.
7. Question: What are your future projects?
I am currently finishing the most difficult book I have written. It is titled Leadbottom which was one of my many names as a bullied child. The story is fiction, inspired by a true story, my story. Leadbottom begins with the years of bullying (not the PG version as told in Slimy) and continues through the life of a badly damaged woman. The woman discovers her value through a life-altering encounter with her Heavenly Father and the healing begins. I did not want to reveal my secrets and regrets as a non-fiction book for my family’s sake, so I will leave the reader wondering which parts are true. This book is a mixed blessing, kind of like going to the dentist and getting an aching tooth fixed. You’re scared of the process but know that it will feel better when it’s over.
My next new book will be mixed with humor, romance and suspense. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is an unlikely romantic connection while unmasking an evil person so that the horror they bring is stopped. I have started a list as ideas and dialogue pop into my head.
I would like to write a story based on the journey I shared with my son. We have survived the nightmare of drugs, rage and hopelessness.
My granddaughter wants to illustrate a children’s story that I told her and her mother. This would be a wonderful collaboration with my talented Brianna.
My daughters and I have a powerful story to tell about their lives, foster care, abuse and adoption. I will wait until my youngest is 18 before we share the pain and celebrate the joy, but they are excited to speak out.
8. Question: Are their characters/stories/scenes/etc based on anything in real life?
Yes, many of my characters and scenes were taken from real life. Some were my experiences and some were stories others shared over the years. My family and I are sprinkled throughout my books. Richy from Anessia’s Quest was inspired my son, Rob. Ophelia Buttonhook is me and my fear of Alzheimer. Slimy and Miraculous Relationship are both non-fiction and based wholly on real life. Leadbottom will be riddled with truths.
9. Question: What is your favorite book/character?
Love them all, my children so to speak, but Raider is my favorite. He was so much fun to write. To be able to unleash rage and frustration without any boundaries was healing for me. I didn’t realize until I read the completed book that I am Raider and I am Charley. These are the two conflicting sides of me when it comes to my Christianity. Charley is who I am now, secure in my faith and accepting that I will not understand all in this lifetime. Raider is who I was from twenty years old until I was in my forties. I was so angry at God. I didn’t see a loving father from above, I saw a ruthless force that watched us struggle and cry out, as if He was playing a video game against Satan. Some of the miracles in Raider’s Vendetta were my miracles. God reached out to a bitter soul so that I would not be lost.
10. Question: What is your writing style?
Anessia’s Quest was based on a beginning and an end that I wanted. The rest was written as it came. I moved through the journey as a reader would, not knowing what was next. Who would enter the story and why? When I would get stuck, God would show me a picture in my head, where they story could go. It was an incredible collaboration. Raider’s was similar, a little more preplanning, but not much. The twists and turns changed a lot during the rewrites. I had two main characters (which I found out breaks the rules) and even more people that needed to connect. Technically, it was much more challenging. Slimy and Miraculous Relationship are non-fiction, so much easier to write. As far a a style, I would say that I write down to earth, and emotional but not sappy. Some details are provided but as a reader, I skim lengthy descriptions. I create pictures in my head as I read, and I don’t want to get caught up in reading too much description. It actually breaks the flow of the story for me, but you definitely know what my characters look like, where they are and how they are feeling.
Links for Karen Anpriester
Information for all books can be accessed at this site. Free PDF download of first 12 chapters or full free download.
Smashwords: Search by title. Slimy and Miraculous Relationship FREE
5.0 out of 5 stars More than optimism
This book is a must read if you are looking for a book that promises the virtue of hope and heaven as our ultimate good. It is one of the most spiritually uplifting books I have read in a long time. I congratulate Karen for having the imagination and the belief that with God all things are possible. I highly recommend reading this book for any one struggling with trials and tribulations in their life. You will find comfort in reading this book and the knowledge of knowing that we are all here on earth to fulfill a divine purpose.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Nicest Books I’ve read in a Long Time
I tend to lose interest rather quickly if what I’m reading doesn’t grab me right away. This book had me hooked from the first page. “Raider’s Revenge” runs the gamut of human emotion, complex relationships as well as enormous physical and spiritual challenges; all interwoven by the hand of God. Charley’s unwavering belief in the Father’s ability to reach Raider’s hardened heart inspired my own personal faith. And the ending could only be described as a “God Thing.” Two people who thrown together during the most frightening of circumstances discover that they are bound together in a most unexpected way. It’s a wonderful read, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a great book. Michelle Close Mills~author/contributor: Chicken Soup for the Soul.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written and Relatable
The honest, brave account of a girl who was bullied from 5th grade through high school. She documents her experiences and teaches an important lesson about the unspoken hierarchy that often exists in spite of anti-bullying policies. This is a story of survival and resilience. She gives important information at the end of the book about the best ways to deal with bullying situations. A must read to understand this prevalent problem that persists in today’s schools.
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Thank you so much for hosting me. It is always fun to share my books and my faith.