Posted on Leave a comment

What You Didn’t Know About Karen Vaughan!

I can honestly say that I meet the most interesting people; it comes with the territory, being an author. Karen Vaughan is a multi-talented woman. Author, stand-up comedian, blog talk radio host, wife, mother, blogger, to name a few of the incredible tasks she manages to complete on a daily basis.

Author Karen VaughanKaren lives in Peterborough Ontario, Canada, writes a great mystery series, multiple blogs, and her Facebook updates often make people smile. She loves music and enjoys time with her friends, family, and her cat. She says her sense of humor is warped and sarcastic, but no one seems to mind. Fortunate to have been interviewed by her on her talk show, I asked if I could interview her for my blog. Graciously she accepted. Here’s my interview with Karen, enjoy!

Amanda: I love people, I do. But I’m more of an observer than a participant in large groups or many group activities. Observing tells you a lot about people. You’re a comedian, stand-up comic, do you prefer to get your material by being an observer of others or do you get stuck in and participate in the daily chaos of group events or activities in your daily life?

Answer – Karen: I get my ideas as a comic from things I see on social media or experiences in my own life. I guess I would get ideas from pretty much every where. In groups we toss around plot ideas and dare each other to think way out of the box. I am so way out of the box I forget where I put it. Jamaica Dead a Laura & Gerry Mystery

Amanda: When I start a new project I often know the entire story-line before I start (though inevitably it will change a long the way) map it out. Do you or do you just start to write and figure out the entire book as you go?

Karen: I am what is referred to as a pantser. I flesh it out as I go and my characters are the ones driving the bus most of the time. I am allowed to put  my 2 cents worth in occasionally. I have a beginning point of a story but seldom an end until I get close to it.

Amanda: Have you ever written a scene or character that is directly linked to someone or an event that you regret disclosing?

Karen: No not really as the large part of my audience does not know the origin of the person the character it’s based on.  I had a recent situation where I was going to write about someone who had really let me down and hurt me. I think I have modified my thinking that I should paint her as evil as I really wanted to.

Amanda: If you do not write a scene correctly, does it haunt you or can you let it go and move on?

Karen: No I go and fix it so it doesn’t bother me as much and then move on.

Amanda: Writing and working from home, requires a tremendous amount of discipline. How do you balance your time?

Karen: I try to write whenever possible but I try to balance time family and friends with my “job” which also includes reviews, cross-promotion of other authors, blogging and self promotion. I will tell my husband when I want a block of time just for that alone and he is good about it.

Amanda: Do you ever doubt your skills, and if so why?

Karen: Doesn’t any writer? Yes I do, so I take a vacation from the writing for a week. Clear my head and go back to it. There are days when I wonder why I quit my day job for this.

Amanda: Who do you believe is your biggest critic?

Karen: Me. Sometimes my hubby will say that’s not as good as some of your other stories but encourages me to go on and finish it. He is a major critic on love scenes though. I wrote a very steamy scene for DEAD COMIC STANDING. He wanted it toned down to the point of why bother writing it but I took the really hot stuff out to satisfy him and myself so I wouldn’t feel like I had given in to him totally.

Amanda: Of all the things in the world as a writer/author, what would you like to accomplish the most?

Karen: It would be fun to hit a best seller list. However, that said my biggest thrill is a good review where I made some one laugh through my writing or my comedy act.

Amanda: Have you written the piece, as an author, that you knew in your heart was the one that should the world that your work has worth? (This has nothing to do with monetary sales; it’s a personal thing, likely one that book lovers and writers will understand). 

Karen: My memoirs about dealing with mental Health/illness and how I can help others. I have yet to write the greatest novel of all time either; still to come I suppose.

Amanda: Do you have secret goals (not secret anymore I suppose if you share them) 🙂 that you rarely discuss with others?

Karen: I’d love to attend a writer’s conference and meet other writers. Do a book tour maybe?  It’s all pretty retro. Do people, especially indie authors get to do that? I am a starving artist and I never have money we don’t need for that. I would do it in a minute if I won a huge lottery.  I have done local readings and signings but nothing huge. These are bucket list items.

Amanda: Bonus type question: Of all the things in the world as an author, what is the one thing that you would you like to be remembered for? What is the single most important thing to you?

Karen: That is easy. If I can make someone who reads my work laugh or feel happy, I figure I am doing my job.

Karen’s work is available where books are sold including Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com or simply click on the links below.

LEFT FOR DEAD 

Jamaica Dead

 Excerpt from LEFT FOR DEAD

Chapter 1

Left for Dead A Laura & Gerry Mystery
Left for Dead
A Laura & Gerry Mystery

I had been visiting Elaine’s cottage near Bancroft. We’re on a walk at the Eagles Nest which sits high over the north end of the town. The view was spectacular and today it did not disappoint.

I am seven and half months pregnant and feeling pretty energetic. Yes, I said pregnant. It must’ve happened in Jamaica last fall. Gerry and I were not disappointed whatsoever as we wanted to try for a family before was too late for either of us.

We had had a mild winter by Ontario standards. Elaine suggested a walk while I could still move before the third trimester waddle set in. I readily agreed as exercise would make labor easier and I wouldn’t gain too much baby weight.

Before I go on my name is Laura Fitz. I am a member of the CSI team for the Metropolitan Toronto police service and the Province of Ontario. Due to my impending parenthood. I have taken a leave of absence from actively visiting crime scenes. My work is concentrated in the lab these days. Testing DNA samples and working ballistics. If you watch any of those crime scene shows on TV. My work is not as glamorous as it seems. Some days are downright tedious, but basically I love what I do. I got into crime scene investigation after finding so many dead bodies in my spare time, I figured I may as well get paid for it. Some people attract animals, I seem to attract dead people. My husband Gerry still thinks my sleuthing is a bit over the top. I don’t ask for this stuff to happen; it just sort of does. I made him a promise last year while we’re on vacation in Jamaica not to get involved in anything that didn’t include just having fun. I tried really hard but the situations we encountered found us. One of the couples we were traveling with got involved with some shady characters on the island. Once again that lead to murder and mayhem, of which I got stuck in the middle.

Gerry and I reside in North York, a borough of Toronto. There we manage a high rise building which means dealing with collecting rent and dealing with bitchy tenants. The tenants’ association president, one Stella Stadylmeyer tops my list of the most annoying residents. On this vacation weekend. I was glad to get away from the duties of my secondary job. Stella’s been chasing me around wanted to feel my belly and see if the baby will kick. She also wants to throw me a baby shower. This is something I dread. I keep telling her is not necessary as my sisters are arranging something (I can only hope my sisters are planning something to get me out of this). My biggest fear is Stella will call me down to the laundry room an alleged problem and spring a shower on me.

Our peaceful walk along the bluffs was pierced by yelling from below

“Anyone up there? I need help!”

Elaine yelled down. “We’re here, are you hurt?”

“No but I’ve found something and it’s really gross.

“What is it?” I yelled down

“It looks like a man and he’s dead.”

I shuddered. Oh my God, not another one. I thought to myself. “Stay there. I’m calling 911. What’s your name? My name is Laura and my friend Elaine is here with me.”

“Sherry” The girl said.

I called 9-1-1, as promised, and minutes later we heard sirens.

“That didn’t take long.” Elaine said.

“Must be the joys of living in a small town, Elaine. There is an OPP station not too far from here and I guess that’s where the 911 offices are as well.”

We waited for the EMTs and the police to come up the trail. We were sitting in plain sight, so they wouldn’t miss us.

“Are you the ones who called us about the dead guy?”

I spoke up. “Yes, that was me, but the person down below found him.”

Elaine added. She seemed pretty shaken up. You might want to check her out too.”

One of the EMTs thanked us and told us the meat wagon was on its way. Everyone in the medical field referred to the coroner’s van as the meat wagon. The OPP’s crime investigation team arrived to take pictures and process the scene. I knew enough to stay away while they worked, even though I found it morbidly fascinating. I was on vacation. After all, I didn’t really need to get involved. However, like it or not, I was by the sheer bad luck of being in the vicinity of the scene.

Soon after the OPP detective arrived to question us and the witness.

“We never really saw anything officer I mean, detective. You’ll want to talk to Sherry about that.” I was being honest and forthright with him. To this day, even though I work with law-enforcement agents all the time, some of them still scare the bejesus out of me. This guy was no exception. He was tall and built like a brick outhouse. He had strong features and looked like he could chase the devil out of hell with one scathing look.

“Ma’am?” He said to me.

“Yes.” I answered.

“Aren’t you a little far along to be roaming around up here?”

My hormonal pregozilla wanted to tell him that I was practising for the test matter for expectant mothers when Elaine shot me a look that said “behave”, so I toned it down to. “I was just getting my required amount of exercise.”

“Can’t you do then a safer place than this?”

“Probably but what does that have to do with the crime scene?”

“How do you know it’s a crime scene? That guy could’ve been drunk and just fallen off the cliff in a stupor”

“I’m a CSI myself down in Toronto. If we are called inwe assume it’s a crime scene. I’m sorry if I jumped the gun in my assumption, it is just a figure speech and you could be right.” I handed him my card with my credentials on it and gave him my cell phone number in case he had questions.

My interrogator didn’t say much. He just stood there taking more notes. I figure he had the social skills of a mortician suffering burnout. To him, I’m just another set of scribbles in a notebook and he just seemed to be passing the time of day until the CSIs brought the body out after they examined John Doe at the scene. The meat wagon arrived just trying to do the transfer. I sat there and wondered what exactly happened to the guy. Was it as simple as an unfortunate accident or did somebody help him over the edge?

Elaine looked at me and smiled. “Oops! You did again Laura!”

“Did what?” I asked innocently.

“Well you know you’re a corpse magnet.”

The detective turned around. “She’s a what?”

Elaine replied. “She’s a corpse magnet. Laura here has the dumb luck of finding a dead body wherever she goes. She can’t help it. She doesn’t find them; dead people find her.”

The detective and the officers around him looked at both of us like were quite insane.

I was sure I was turning red out of embarrassment and I promised myself I would have a talk with Elaine about revealing too much information when it wasn’t needed. I hated my uncanny ability to sniff out the dead ones, and I really wished it would go away. Gerry and I would have more peace if it did. I gave Elaine a little kick to remind her to shut up, but it was too late. The good detective wanted to know about my penchant for finding dead people.

“Are you psychic?” He asked me.

My only reply was. “Some people go geocaching. I find dead people!”

Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher
 

Back to Top:

Please follow and like us:
Posted on Leave a comment

Pearle, Joy to Create

Mischief in the Mushroom PatchI will never forget the day I received correspondence from a woman I’d met during a book signing, that email forever changed my Mischief Series. The lady, Beverly Hutton, had been in Barnes and Noble and purchased Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She spent a few minutes visiting with me and left. I remember specifically asking her if she’d let me know what she thought about my book. It’s important to every author, to know what their audience thinks about their work, and I gave her my card. She remembered, and her email came weeks later and it included a suggestion.   beverlysemail

Her words had such a profound affect on me, that to this day I refer back to it from time to time. She graciously complemented my work, “It is a wonderful book, beautifully written. It is written so young people can understand but is not condescending.  The lesson interwoven throughout the story us subtle but at the same time strong.” She went on to say, “Could I make a suggestion for your next fairy book? Include a young fairy that is born with a handicap. My daughter was in a wheelchair and she was always asking where were the books for her?”

a fairy match in the mushroom patchAfter reading the mail, as you can imagine, my heart sank at Beverly’s loss. But I was pleased that she complimented my work, and I was inspired by the thought that Jeni would have liked the characters that I had created as well. I thought about Beverly’s suggestion for a long time. Mischief in the Mushroom Patch was written for my mom, who I loved dearly, and had lost to a terrible illness. Did I dare touch my mom’s book, and could I honor another woman’s daughter. People I’d never met? Still I couldn’t get Beverly’s email off my mind. I thought if I were careful and respectful, I could do this, and set about creating beautiful little Pearle.

I contacted Beverly back. This time, included in the email were two sample chapters of A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch, book two in the series. I said, “Meet beautiful little Pearle. Though she can not walk, she can fly with ease. If you approve, I will continue.”

I carefully wove Pearle into the story, the existing mushroom patch. No official declaration that she was there, it worked. Instead of a wheelchair, I placed her in a chariot. It looked like a chair, but in the story all referred to it as Pearle’s chariot. She didn’t seem to notice she was any different, which delighted Beverly. Pearle constantly has a lovely spirit. Full of life and love. Sweet and kind. Gentle and thoughtful. And she always manages to be helpful and never once does this little fairy ever complain.   IMG_0475

After Beverly had reviewed the sample chapters, two of them, she loved Pearle as well. I finished the book and officially met Beverly for the first time at Barnes and Noble, the launch of A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch. At that time, she purchased several books, and I couldn’t help but ask why. She informed me that Jeni had multiple surgeries at Scottish Rite hospital before she passed and that she was going to donate the books to the children. I ended up going with her, as did my editor and mentor, Anne Dunigan. Between all of us, we took bears in wheelchairs from “Build a Bear,” and books from my publisher at that time, Barnes and Noble, and Beverly’s donations from multiple organizations. We also went to Jeni’s favorite camp, Texas Lions Camp, Texas Pythian Home, and visited with other children as well. All in the name of little fairy named Pearle, inspired by Jeni.

Amanda M. Thrasher and Beverly Hutton at Barnes and Noble.
Amanda M. Thrasher and Beverly Hutton at Barnes and Noble.

Since then Spider Web Scramble has been released. It took longer than I planned due to other projects that unfortunately I had no control of, but I’m glad it’s finished. I’ve already started four and do not plan for it to take nearly as long. Pearle has a large role in this magical book, Spider Web Scramble. I realized while writing it, her story, creating her, is incredibly unique. Her character, traits, the things I love about her the most, are qualities and things that I believe everyone can learn something from. She inspires all to work together, how? Because she brings out the best in those around her, fairies or not. She encourages others, and always sees the best in things or co-fairlings, as the case may be. Her unwillingness to be selfish is the at the very heart of every lesson the elders in the mushroom patch teach the others. I couldn’t ask for an easier character to write. She’s so sweet in every way, and I can’t imagine my Mischief Series without her. She is a permanent character and will forever remain a part.

Spider Web Scramble Amanda M. Thrasher
Spider Web Scramble

I stay in contact with Beverly, and there was supposed to be a special piece about the creation of Pearle in this book, Spider Web Scramble. It didn’t make the deadline. But I’ll have it added. I think her story is beautiful and is worth telling. Book 2, A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch is dedicated to a girl I never knew, Jeni. I think she would have been pleased with Pearle’s growth, and the lessons she continues to teach us. I know I will never forget the girl I never knew, and her mom, Beverly, holds a special place in my heart as well. I hope when she reads my books she can giggle at times, smile at others, and know in her heart that Jeni would have likely approved.

Jeni was only supposed to live a few years, but Beverly was blessed with her for thirty. During that time, Jeni had happy days and struggles. She had many surgeries, but also enjoyed the life that she had. The camp and the hospital among other places we visited, were all attended by Jeni. Texas Lions Camp was her favorite.

When you write a story, you never who you’re going to meet, and what amazing things you can do.

Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda M. Thrasher

All work available from author site, the Publisher, Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and select stores.
Back to Top:

Please follow and like us:
Posted on Leave a comment

Escaping the Amish for a Connected World

 

emma-gingerich

 

 

 

 

 

When Emma Gingerich left her Amish community in Eagleville, Missouri, she was 18 and had an eighth-grade education. She barely spoke English.

The life that awaited most Amish women—one of cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing—never appealed to her. She wanted an education and the freedom to choose her own path.

Read full article HERE.

 

Back to Top:

Please follow and like us: