An Author’s Journey with Karen M Cox

Back in April, I had the opportunity to talk with readers during the Meryton Press Dear Friend Event about reading—mostly about how the meandering paths my reading history took have shaped and developed my love for books over the years.

I took a no less-meandering path to writing. I was nine when I “wrote” and “illustrated” my first book, Big Blue the Elephant, a tale about an elephant and his family, and the ensuing drama when their home is ravaged by a flood. Intense, nail-biting stuff for an elementary school kid, right?

As an adult, I grew into a lot of different roles—student, speech pathologist, wife, mother—but what I wanted to do, at the end of the day, was to be a writer. I wanted to share stories the way my favorite childhood authors, like Madeline L’Engle, L.L Baum, Carol Ryrie Brink, and so many others did. Or like the authors I’d admired as an adult, such as Audrey Neffenegger, Margaret Mitchell, and Diana Gabaldon. However, becoming a writer seemed like a pipe dream, and I settled down to the business of working and raising a family. Being an author, so I thought—and it may have been true in those days—was an exclusive club, one which I would never have a chance to join.

In my 40s, I started reading Austen fan-fiction, and those authors gave me back a child-like curiosity and creativity that had been trampled under the weight of academic writing, hobbies, social life, school, work, and all the busy-ness of young motherhood. I had stories I wanted to tell. A Happy Assembly was a safe place to try my hand at writing, so why not?

Because I was scared.

It took me about a year to work up the courage to share what I’d written.

One day, I was having a conversation with my then 15 year-old son, and discovered he was not only reading fan fiction in another fandom, but writing and posting it too. I thought if my child could do this and weather the criticism, I could surely brave the pleasant and supportive readership in Austen-world!
I posted my first story at A Happy Assembly, called “D-Day: D Stands For…” in the spring of 2009. Then I followed it with “Elizabeth Doe: No Name Person.” Next came “1932”. Meryton Press contacted me about publishing it (they were just starting out then) and that opened up a whole new wonderful world of readers and friends. I got to tell stories and say things I’d wanted to say for a very long time.

I have many sources for inspiration, I guess: Books I read, people I meet or read about, real life, family stories, historical events. But one big inspiration—from the very beginning of this writing journey—has been those who grace me with their time (which is often quite precious) and their interest (which might easily be spent elsewhere). I’m speaking, of course, about readers. There’s no thrill like seeing a review, a comment, a Tweet from a reader and realizing, “They got it. They understood what I was trying to do.” Or, alternatively, “I led them to a good memory, or inspired them to solve a problem, or gave them an escape when they needed it.” In my opinion, writing fiction is about communication with readers, plain and simple. If the story is written, but not received—to my mind, the process is only half done.

Writing, and sharing that writing, either through publication or posting on-line, is by turns exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve experienced amazing highs and painful lows.
All the writing pundits say not to compare your writing to your children, but there’s one way in which they are similar: they bring you an almost unbearable pride and, conversely, an overwhelming humility.
It’s a gift to be able to share my stories with people. It changed me, and I’ll be eternally grateful for the experience.

Karen M Cox writes award-winning novels accented with romance and history. Three of her published works have garnered awards from the independent publishing industry. Her four full-length novels are available from Meryton Press. Her favorite part of writing is when she hears from readers that she made them smiles, or think, or remember - or maybe, all three!

Karen was born in Everett, Washington, a circumstance that resulted from arriving in the world as a United States Air Force officer’s daughter. By the age of twelve, she had lived all over the country, including stays in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State. Her family then returned to their home state of Kentucky, and she still lives there in a quiet little town with her husband. She works as a pediatric speech-language pathologist, and spends her spare time reading, writing, and being a wife and mom - and spoiling her new granddaughter.

Karen M Cox's Books from Meryton Press

11 Responses

  1. Sheila L. Majczan
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    Karen, I have read and enjoyed all your books and your stories in anthologies. Thank you for sharing your talent. I do read some stories on fan fiction sites but it usually when I see one recommended by someone on Goodreads. When I go on those sites I am not sure how to navigate around so I like links given to me by others. I see you have several from your earlier writing career. Are they still up? Or in archived completed stories? Under your name or a pseudonym? And are the titles still the same? Since I love all your published works I would love to go back as read those unpublished tales, also. Thank you for sharing.

    • KarenMC
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      Hi Sheila –
      Thanks so much for your interest! Yes, my unpublished works are still up at A Happy Assembly http://meryton.com/aha/ in the Meryton Reading Room (I have a page there) and in Completed Stories. I’m KarenMC at AHA.
      I’m in the process of polishing up some of those earlier works, and putting them on Instafreebie, if that would be easier for you. I really appreciate your reading and your reviews, and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the books!

      • Sheila L. Majczan
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        Karen, Thank you for the information. I found your page and will probably read Elizabeth Doe first. I am sure I will enjoy it. Do you want me to review it on Goodreads or are you planning to publish it? I review unpublished book/stories if the author allows such. I have enjoyed so many of those. Sheila

        • karen
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          You can feel free to review my unedited work on Goodreads 🙂 I have no other plans for those stories, except – as I said above – as Instafreebie or other free distribution channels. It’s early, unedited writing, and it shows, I think- lol. I learned so much with each subsequent book and story, both through the process of writing, and from the people I worked with. But I do love those AHA stories – there’s such a lovely, “new” energy to them- for me, it’s like watching a toddler walk.

          • Sheila L. Majczan
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            I did post that I read your story, Elizabeth Doe, on Goodreads but there is not link for me to post a review. I loved it and would totally recommend highly that others read it, also. I am now reading D-Day and loving it also. Thank you for informing me how to find these unpublished gems.

  2. Glynis
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    I loved your stories in TDM & Sun Kissed. I just read Undeceived a few weeks ago and wrote a well deserved 5star review.
    I read 1932 ages ago and really enjoyed it but never thought to write a review at that time, however when I ‘re read it I will definitely write one.
    I’m so glad you decided to take the plunge and look forward to your next Darcy and Elizabeth story.

    • KarenMC
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      Hi Glynis –
      Thanks for the review of “Undeceived”! That one was a long time coming. It took me over two years from idea spark to publication. A labor of love, for sure 😀

  3. gailw
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    Thanks to your son for giving you the courage to share your wondrous talents with us!

    • karen
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      Aww, thanks, Gail! I’m glad you stopped by.

  4. Suzan Lauder
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    Karen, I’ve always loved your books, and loved your stories on AHA as well. They’re all 5 star in my view.

    I like what you said in the article about sharing. I write because it’s therapeutic for me, but I post at AHA and publish with Meryton Press because I want others to enjoy my stories–I feel I’m giving them a special gift and it’s my responsibility to make sure it’s a good gift because they’ve given so much back to me. Some authors treat it like an occupation and don’t look much further than their royalties, but I feel it’s like a labour of love to publish, and readers are my dearest friends.

    As a reader, I feel honoured that authors shared with me, and feel a sense of awe at their talent. You’re certainly one of those that deserves an extra helping of awe.

    • karen
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      Suzan, thank you. I’ve always loved your work as well 🙂
      I agree with you – being an author, publishing your work, is similar in some ways to choosing to be a teacher, or a doctor – to be a good one you have to do it for more than tangible reasons. Royalties are nice in the sense that they are a validation of our effort, but in my case, I have the day job and the hubby to help with providing the necessities of life. Although, I wouldn’t call my writing a hobby either. I think of it more as an avocation at this point.
      Thanks for stopping by!