Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Author Karen Walker: Finding Success As A Writer

I’m delighted to welcome author Karen Walker as the special guestKaren Walker blogger today as she stops on her blog tour with the eBook release of her memoir, FOLLOWING THE WHISPHERS.

Here’s a brief synopsis of FOLLOWING THE WHISPHERS: Karen Walker seemed to always have known that the whispers were there – the confidence and courage to heed them, however, were her lifetime journey.
In her poignant memoir, Karen Walker traces the effects of a cold, loveless home environment and an early sexual molestation on her growth, marriage, motherhood, and career. After freeing herself from a desert of a marriage, Walker loses custody of her child and then journeys to discover who she is and to find some sense of wholeness.
That journey takes her from her old life to new friendships, new lovers, and new professions. From New York to Portland, Oregon, and eventually to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Walker seeks someone to love her as she is. She finds that and more--a loving connection with her son. This fifty-year emotional odyssey ultimately leads Walker to a self who can look back over her life with a contentment and satisfaction that allow her to follow the whispers that the future may bring.

Karen is here to discuss ‘Finding Success as a Writer.’

According to Merriam-Webster, success is: 1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose; 2) The attainment of popularity or profit. What does it mean to you?

I had to think hard about this when I decided to leave a 30+ year covercareer in public relations where I had been successful according to this definition, in order to write full-time. That was in 1999. It took until 2009 for the memoir I was working on to get published. And it didn’t happen the way I’d intended. So, was I a failure?

I don’t think so. And here’s why. I write because I feel compelled to share stories about things that happened to me and how I overcame the obstacles life presented. It has been a painful journey, yet I am now 62 years old and have achieved a sense of inner peace and contentment--something I didn’t think possible.

If my goal had been to write, publish traditionally, and make a great deal of money, I would consider myself a failure. But when, after two years, I couldn’t find an agent and chose to self-publish, my goals changed. It became more about how to share my story and help others. Based on that goal, I am successful.

I haven’t obtained fame or profit, but in my own little blogging community, I am becoming known and books are being purchased. When I ask myself what it means to be successful now, I still have to say I’d love to be published traditionally. In society’s terms, that would make me feel successful. But society doesn’t tell us to follow our hearts and feed our souls. Society is all about making the most money and having the most toys. And since that is not who I am, I guess I can say I’m successful.

So please, take the time to ask yourself what you would need to feel successful. Be as realistic as you can about expectations versus reality. And by all means, go for your dreams. Just understand, they don’t always happen the way we want. And sometimes, they happen they way they need to, even if it doesn’t make sense at the time.

Thanks, Mason, for all you do for authors and for hosting me on my blog tour. You’re a success in my opinion. Big time! Karen

Karen, thank you so much for guest blogging and the kind words. If I’m successful, it’s because of wonderful authors like you and great blogging friends who stop by. I think you’ve touched on an important issue here - defining success. It can have so many meanings to each of us. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now a bit of background on Karen. She has published essays in newspapers and magazines, as well as an anthology series. After a 30+ year career in marketing and public relations, she went back to college to complete a Bachelor's degree and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005 from the University of New Mexico's University Studies program with a major emphasis in Creative Writing. 

She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, Gary, and their dog, Buddy. When she’s not writing, you can find her doing international folk dancing, singing at retirement communities with her trio, Sugartime, hiking, reading, or hanging out with friends. For more on Karen and her writing (and singing), visit her blog author karen walker...following the whispers.

FOLLOWING THE WHISPERS can be purchased at Amazon and Smashwords.

What are your thoughts on being a success? Do you think we sometimes put too much emphasis on being successful without really knowing what we want? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.



  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Karen.

    Karen - Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You make such a well-taken point that it's important to ask yourself what really matters and what "counts" as success. Such a good reminder, too, that life happens as it happens, and that can be a very good thing. Even if it doesn't happen the way you planned it.

  2. Karen and Mason, thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. The book sounds great--I think we all want wholeness and success.

    For me, at this point, success would be becoming more whole and healthy, improving relationships with loved ones, and publishing my books.

    Mason, and anyone else interested, I am doing a card giveaway on my No Polar Blog--not for increased traffic, but to balance a paying it forward gift I received (really!). Anyone who reads this, Mason included, please enter.

    This is a great blog!!! I'm sorry due to personal problems I haven't been able to be online much lately.

  3. Hi Mason, thank you so much for hosting me today.
    Margot, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I've had to learn to be flexible when it comes to plans - somehow the old adage about the best laid plans, etc. etc. is true.
    Merrytait, I hope your personal problems resolve themselves soon and I wish you much "success" with improving your health and your relationships.

  4. It's been so interesting following Karen along on her blog tour and learning about her journey.

    I think success can be defined by your happiness. How you get to "happy" can be different for everyone.

  5. Unfortunately I think too many people do put too much emphasis on being successful without allowing themselves to ask what they really want. The evidence? Actions and emotions that reveal when we decide to create joy for ourselves by doing what we think will make us look important in another person's eyes--all without asking if the person's opinions match the dreams in our heart and soul.

    Karen, you nailed it perfectly when you said "... society doesn’t tell us to follow our hearts and feed our souls. Society is all about making the most money and having the most toys. And since that is not who I am, I guess I can say I’m successful." You bet you're a success and in the truest meaning of the word.

    Thank you very much, Mason, for hosting Karen.


  6. Liz, you are so right. And yet, happiness is a fleeting moment - it doesn't last. So striving for that and expecting continued bliss is a prescription for failure as well.
    Michelle, you've touched my heart with these words. Thank you.

  7. Mason, thank you so much for hosting Karen. She's a peach! I liked this view of success. We need to step away from conventional mind if we're going to make a life as a writer. I've been thinking of how many people I know who stop a conventionally 'successful' career to follow their bliss. It is legion! Folks that stopped being social workers to sell home-made soup at the market, or gave up good govt. jobs to farm. I love it.
    Jan Morrison

  8. I accomplished my goal with one published book that people seem to like. That was success enough for me. (So this second book thing is really blowing my mind...)

  9. Thank you for this excellent message about different ways of perceiving success!

    And it is so true; commercial success and being a good writer is not at all the same. So like you, Karen, I am quite happy to settle for self-published right now, leaving it to the readers to decide if they want my books or not.

    Best of luck with your career - and your life!

  10. Jan, that's so true, about other careers as well.
    Alex, that is a wonderful place to be
    Dorte, that's awesome. I wish you the same with your career and life as well.

  11. Goals change with life - and that's okay. I don't need a lot to feel successful - just being able to do what I love usually works :)

  12. Jemi, that's a wonderful philosophy.
    Mason, I wanted to thank you again for hosting me today. It's been fun.

  13. Hi Mason .. thank you for hosting Karen and giving us another look at her life and how she has coped through so much .. it's interesting that humans can pull through those dark despair days ... and then a home is found .. for her loving soul, and her son needs to find her and see what he's missed.

    Karen - great read here .. perhaps your son has a tale to tell too - on his side of your story .. or you can tell it for him? A thought ..

    Cheers and I'm so looking forward to reading it .. Hilary

  14. Sorry I'm late to this post! I think it's wonderful to share your experiences, Karen. If it helps just one person, it's a job well done.

  15. I'm a big believer in following the whispers. I also think success ought to be measured in smiles -- those you bring out in others and the ones you give away.

  16. Hi Karen .. I ordered it yesterday .. so the wheels of book are rolling along .. so looking forward to getting it! Thanks Mason - Cheers Hilary


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.