Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Seekerville Welcomes Guestblogger Karen O'Connor

Hello Seekerville! Cheryl here. I'm pleased to host fellow Bookie and fantabulous author, Karen O’Connor, to Seekerville. She has a new non-fiction release called The Upside of Downsizing. She's giving away a copy to one lucky commenter today, so please make her feel welcome.

Karen is an award-winning author of 60+ books for children and adults, including the best-selling series from Harvest House: Gettin' Old Ain't For Wimps, a popular speaker at conferences and conventions, and a former elementary school teacher. She has appeared on major television talk shows such as the 700 Club, 100 Huntley Street (in Canada) and Faith At Work. She is also a respected writing mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. The San Diego Christian Writers Guild named Karen Writer of the Year for 1997. In 2002 she received the Special Recognition Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for writing and mentoring and in 2004 Karen was honored with The International Reading Association Award for her article on Kurdish refugees that appeared in Highlights for Children magazine. Karen is married to Charles Flowers. They have five children and fourteen grandchildren.

Wow! Busy, wonderful life and lots of great writing credits. I was a student at CWG and it's a fabulous program, largely in part to wonderful teaching mentors such as Karen. So, without further ado, here's an exclusive interview with Karen. Feel free to ask your own questions in the comment section as well. Karen, welcome!

1. Tell us about your new release and how the idea came about?
My new book is titled The Upside of Downsizing: 50 Ways to Create a Cozy
Life. The idea came to me when my husband and I moved from our home in San Diego, California to Watsonville, a farming community along the Central Coast of California so we could be closer to and more involved with some of our grandchildren and their family. Our new digs are about the same size as our previous condo but we ‘downsized’ in terms of what we brought with us, and the more relaxed life-style we’ve chosen. We ‘feel’ retired even though I’m still writing and teaching. We have simplified in almost every way possible and we love it! So I wanted to share with others in a small
book of essays, what we learned and discovered. I hope my writing will bring some help, hope, and humor to what can be a stressful situation.

2. It sounds like an adventure for sure! Tell us about your favorite research endeavor?
Whenever I have to do a bit of research—or a lot—I turn to the Internet first
and then to people I meet there OR to friends and acquaintances that have
expertise or experience in the area I’m writing about.

3. Great advice! Speaking of, what other advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Be willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goal. I’ve taught writing classes over many years and I’ve noticed that most aspiring writers like the idea of having published a book or article or column, but when it comes to putting their backside on the chair in front of the computer and persevering through the tough times, that number decreases by quite a bit. Writing is hard work. Writing for the professional market is more difficult still. You have to want it so much that you will put in the time and commitment by reading, attending writers’ conferences, joining a critique group, having your work evaluated by others, and so on. I find it the most satisfying way to live my life and I’ve never regretted even one hour of the time I’ve invested.

4. Oh my Gosh. I can't think of anyone who said it better. GREAT ADVICE, Karen. Thank you for the honesty. You have a strong work ethic. Can you give us a run down of what "a writing day in the life of Karen O'Connor" is like?
I get up early—depending on what’s on the calendar, eat breakfast with my
husband and read my devotions and the Wall Street Journal. Then I go to my
home office and look at what’s on the agenda for that day, usually writing,
e-mail, phone calls, editing, student lessons, etc., in no set order. I break
for lunch and a walk (if I haven’t already gone to the gym) and then work
another few hours (unless I’m hauling grandkids here and there) and quit
before dinner. I used to write at night too, but now that I’m a ‘senior’ I can’t
keep such long hours.

5. LOL! You are young at heart though and could probably run laps around me. What other interests do you have besides writing?
I’m part of a senior hiking club and a knitting group and Life Long Learners
in Santa Cruz County. I hike once a week, knit with my friends once a week,
and attend outings with LLL once a month or more. My husband and I also
enjoy the symphony, the theater, movies and anything pertaining to our

6. Fabulous! Which book has been the most personal to you and why?
Two titles: S andqueeze the Moment: Making the Most of Life’s Gifts and Challenges The Beauty of Aging: Growing Old with Grace, Gratitude, and Grit (both published by Regal Books). I’m passionate about living an examined life and one that is filled with faith, joy, peace, and love. Both of these books reveal this part of me and I hope inspire readers to consider such a life for themselves.

7. I know they will. I'm so thankful you are using your talents to encourage and mentor others. Bless you! I LOVE your books. What can we expect to see from you in the future and how can readers connect with you on the Web?
My upcoming book is titled Grandkids Say the Cutest Things to be
published by Harvest House later this year. I’m also dipping my fingers into
fiction romance writing, but I don’t have anything published yet. To connect
with me on the web please visit my web site: www.karenoconnor.com

Awesome, Karen! Can't wait for that new non-fiction release and I wish you the best in your fiction endeavors. Everyone, remember to leave a comment for Karen to be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a copy of her latest book, The Upside to Downsizing.

Another upside to today is there's no downsizing in the food section of Seekerville. We have a lavish breakfast burrito buffet so feel free to grab some of Helen's coffee and fill your plate and your burrito with any goodies you like! We have virtual ham, sausage, onions, bell peppers, red peppers, mushrooms and of course all kinds of cheese and more! Enjoy!

Cheryl Wyatt


KC Frantzen said...

Hi fellow Karen!

What a beautiful lady! Super story with loads of great information. The Christian Writers Guild has made a HUGE difference in my life. I'll be forever grateful.

Enjoyed your shared wisdom here - I can't imagine 60+ books, etc. And across such a wide spectrum. It looks like you keep learning and growing too. Fantastic!

Please enter me in the drawing for this book. Looks like a great read!

may at maythek9spy dot com

Cheryl, we're still praying for your husband and the other family too. Let us know. Thanks for the virtual food too. I need a little snack.... (Like that?! I NEEEEED a little snack?! Yum!)

Helen Gray said...

Here's the coffee. There's plenty for at least a couple of hours. You guys really put it away.

I'm snagging a breakfast burrito 'cause I love'em. Doesn't matter it's night time.

Enjoyed the post. Thanks Karen.


Carla Gade said...

Oh, yum, I'm just in time! It was nice getting to hear about Karen's writing. Great advice.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Karen, first you're gorgeous.



I love your work ethic. I love that you pile more into a day than most people pile into a week. You're my kind of people. And a West Coast girl...

I think you might be the original Barbie. Beautiful, illustrious, hard-working and wearer of many hats. Great stuff, Karen. I'm leaving some delightful heart-shaped sugar cookies to chase down the burritos. Oh my stars, I haven't had a breakfast burrito in months. Thank you, Cheryl!

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Karen! All your books sound GREAT! I'm not preparing to move anywhere, but downsizing "stuff" is near and dear to my heart(I'm a BIG fan of Don Aslett's books) but, unfortunately, since I sold my first book 2 years ago I haven't had time to keep up with annual decluttering. So I could use a fresh injection of inspiration and your book sounds like just the ticket!

Could you tell us a little about your adult fiction book?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Karen and welcome to Seekerville.

We have met before at a couple conferences in San Diego. I love your book Getting Old Ain't for Wimps and have given it to several people. I think your new one will be fun as we just finished helping my 90 year old dad to downsize and need to do the same ourselves. yikes

Have fun here in Seekerville.

I have fresh oranges off my tree and sliced in a bowl with walnuts and coconut to chase the burros and Ruthy's cookies.

Rose said...


What a diverse writer you are!

Which genre that you write for is your favorite?

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Tina Radcliffe said...

Good morning, Karen!!

Wow, I am loving that book cover. I love your attitude as well and pray it's contagious.

Welcome to Seekerville!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Karen! I'm impressed with all you accomplish while still managing to have a balanced life.

I love the sound of your books! Your positive attitude just shines through your post. I'm definitely buying your two favorites.

Cheryl, thanks for bringing Karen to Seekerville and for the delicious breakfast burritos.


Patsy said...

Oh that breakfast sounds good! Getting the coffee now.

This book sounds great. I really like the slower life myself. Would enjoy reading it. Thanks for the giveaway.


Mary Connealy said...

I need this book. I didn't know it existed until now.
Karen thanks for coming on to talk about it.
Love it.

WordyKaren said...

Ladies, I'm on the west coast so I just piled out of bed and I'll be heading for an hour at the gym (class for people over 50!). But I'll be checking in each day. Thanks for all the great posts. You asked about my fiction. I've written a novel with 'senior' h/h but so far no takers. I guess the romance publishers prefer the younger characters. But love doesn't stop at 35 or 40! Fun hearing all your comments.

WordyKaren said...

Rose asked about my favorite kind of writing. This may sound silly but it seems to be whatever I'm writing at the moment. For example, my next book is titled "Grandkids Say the Cutest Things"--a collection of funny, adorable, and precious things our grands say--such as "Grandma, you have a great figure. You look just like a teenager--except for your face." That last phrase could have been skipped, right? LOL!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Karen. This is a great bunch to visit with.

Do you have any advice for a stay-at-home-mom with a 5-year-old and three teenage boys and who deals with chronic illness on a daily basis in regards to simplifying one's lifestyle?


Kimberly said...

Loved reading your interview, Karen. You're ability to juggle so many things amazes me. Downsizing is always a good idea.

Julie Lessman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Karen, it's SO great to have you here, and BOY, am I ready for your book!!

As soon as my daughter graduates from law school in a year and a half, my hubby and I will be empty-nesters who are aching to downsize.

I have always been someone who can't throw things away, but hear me loud and clear -- I am ready to toss and lighten the load with a simpler lifestyle. I would think you would have a "Booming" market for this book, no pun intended, and I hope you sell a million to Baby Boomers like me!! God bless!


Lorna Faith said...

Hi Karen:) ...thanks for all the words of wisdom and advice! Wow you have tons of diversity in your writing and teaching and all...I know I could learn a lot from you:)
Please enter me in the drawing for your new book...looks like a great one!


Sherry Kyle said...


You are an inspiration to me! I'm amazed at how you "downsize" yet lead such a rich, full life. BTW, I can't wait to see your fiction in print.

Any ideas or hints for downsizing meals? LOL! I have a big family with three teens and a tween and my grocery bill is through the roof! Or do I have to wait until they grow up and move out?

Loved the interview, Karen and Cheryl! And I just ate a bowl of cereal. Wish I knew there would be virtual burritos!


Kav said...

Your enthusiasm and passion for life just bounce off the page...er....computer screen, Karen! I checked out your blog and followed the links to the two online writing schools you teach at. I'm definitely intrigued.

CatMom said...

Welcome Karen! Your energy and enthusiasm are very inspiring--WOW! I definitely plan on reading your work (especially the book on downsizing--am in the midst of trying to "weed out" some clutter right now). Thank you for your great advice to aspiring writers--I'm sure you've been an amazing example to sooo many!
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo
P.S. Have you written any books on dealing with the "empty nest"? I'm having a very difficult time with that *sigh*.
Moore :)

CatMom said...

P.S. CHERYL, continued prayers for your husband and the other people involved in the accident (especially the family of that man). ~ Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day BIRTHDAY!! ~ Hugs, Patti Jo

Joanne Sher said...

Oooh - sounds like a good one. Please enter me :)

WordyKaren said...

Hi ladies:

I'm back from the gym. Our leader didn't show--hope he's okay--so each one of us took a turn doing a routine. Yeah for women. We don't let such a thing hold us back! Sherry, you asked about simplifying meals. One thing we do is dedicate one week a month to 'eating down' meaning we make meals out of whatever we have that we want to use up--waffles, beans and rice, etc. Not sure this would go over with teens, but it works for us. I know it's hard to keep to a food budget when you have almost-grown children to feed. The crock pot is a good friend to big families. Do you use one? Lots of great recipes online for one-pot meals that satisfy hungry appetites.

WordyKaren said...

CatMom asked about the empty nest syndrome. My book highlighted today is perfect for you. It's about how to create a cozy life for you if you're single or for you and your husband after the kids leave home. Lots of great ideas for drawing close and enjoying this new season of togetherness.

WordyKaren said...

Linette, you asked for suggestions for a mom with chronic illness and small children at home. Wow, that's a challenge. I remember a wonderful piece of advice I received from writer/speaker Florence Littauer that could apply to you and to anyone who feels overwhelmed at times. "Do what you can--and delegate the rest" or put another way, "Practice your talents and hire out the rest." I also find that I've let go of my perfectionism. I do what is called a 'good enough' cleaning of my house and 'good enough' meals when I find myself stressed or over-committed. While your kids are young I think it makes sense to focus on them and let go of the activities that complicate your life. I realize each woman has to find her own pace and her own rhythm so my suggestion is just that--a suggestion. God bless you.

Miralee Ferrell said...

Hi Karen, I so enjoyed your post. My hubby and I UPsized on the house we built four years ago, and now I'm wishing we'd downsized. I need a bit more simplicity in my life, but it's still eluding me, LOL!

Karen is a fantastic writer and I can attest to her great fiction stories, as I've critiqued a few. With her level of talent, I know she'll have a novel out soon.

I'd love to win your book on downsizing, so please enter me too. miralee at gorge dot net.

Miralee Ferrell

WordyKaren said...

I'm willing to give away five books (instead of one) so I'll enter everyone's name and let you know later today who won. Thank you all for your interest.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Karen,

I loved your post! and I have a feeling the reason you're able to DO so much in your life is because of the downsizing - not so much busy-ness to occupy your time so that you're able to concentrate on what's important.

Please enter me in the drawing for your book - we're in the process of moving, and with all the decluttering, discarding, and giving away, I really feel like I need some words of encouragement!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Karen, thank you for spending the day with us.


WordyKaren said...

Jan, thanks for posting. I will enter you in the drawing. Thanks for your wonderful comment.

WordyKaren said...

Cheryl, my pleasure to spend the day with all these delightful women.

I'll be leaving for noon meeting soon but will check in again when I return.

Myra Johnson said...

Karen, what a delight to have you in Seekerville today!

My hubby and I have been empty-nesters for a few years now and are also getting ready to move again, so we are seriously looking at the whole downsizing issue. We've already gone through the attic, several closets, and cupboards. I've also had to bite the bullet and force myself to part with boxes and boxes of books.

My biggest problem with downsizing is that I want to have enough room for our kids and grandkids to visit without feeling like we're stepping on each other's toes all the time. When we're all here together, that's 9 (soon to be 10) extra people in the house!

CarolM said...

Karen - thank you for posting!

DH would LOVE this. He's ready to turn the house upside down and shake everything out...

Was going to say more but DH picked the 9yo up from school while I was teaching and now that I've been home 30 minutes... It's time to go get the 5yo...

And the 3yo has a double ear infection.

Prayers for the kiddos would be appreciated if they cross anyone's mind =D.

Think I should pick up the 7yo while I'm there?

CarolM said...

Oh - and

carol at carolmoncado dot com

Debby Giusti said...

So nice having you with us in Seekerville today. Your books sound great, and the advice you've given us is so helpful.

I'll be watching for your next release on what grandchildren say. It's bound to be a fun read!

Missy Tippens said...

Karen, I'm arriving late to the party. So sorry to miss the actual day. But thanks for the great post!! I love the idea of downsizing and will definitely check out your book.

Thanks so much for being with us!

Digging for Pearls said...

Great post and the new book looks interesting!

Jodie Wolfe

apple blossom said...

This sounds like a very interesting book. I'd love to win a copy. After I finish reading it I'd give it to my mom I know she would love it. She only reads nonfiction books like this.


ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com