June 2, 2014

From Journaling to Authorship

By Karen Ingalls

From an early age I wrote in a journal, composed poems or short stories, and when I was an adult I wrote a novel. I did these various forms of writing to help me face and cope with abuse, alcoholic parents, divorce, untimely deaths, or other challenges. I did not share my writings, I did not intend to have anything published, nor did I think I had any particular talent or gift for writing.

In early June of 2008 my life changed in two dramatic ways. One way was when I heard the fateful words, “I’m sorry, you have cancer.” The very large tumor in my abdomen was malignant and now I faced the challenge of ovarian cancer, which is a too often fatal disease within 5 years. I wrote in a small purple notebook that a nurse in the hospital found for me while I was recovering from the major hysterectomy and colon resection.  
A close friend asked to read my journal just while I was beginning my final round of chemotherapy. Days later she called and said, “Women need to read this.” So began the second dramatic event for that year as I learned about agents, query letters, and rejection letters. An important step was when I trusted a friend, who is a retired English professor, to read my self-edited journal and the rough draft for the novel. She encouraged me and gave me honest feedback.

I was blessed to find Beaver’s Pond Press in Edina, MN, which is a self-publishing company that has many benefits of traditional publishing. They were interested in both manuscripts, but we decided to first pursue publication of the non-fiction. Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is the story about my journey with, and survival, of this lesser known disease. I share about my coping methods, which included exercise, nutrition, meditation, humor, positive thinking, and writing. I believe that every challenge is an opportunity to learn, grow, and live life more fully. God’s gift to me was the ability to write and the publication of this book is my gift to God.

I am currently working with an editor for my first novel; I have almost completed the first draft of my second novel; I write a weekly blog providing information, inspiration, and a positive message; and I have been honored to write guest blogs and magazine articles. My biggest challenge sometimes is taking the time to write, because I let myself get distracted with the routine responsibilities of having a home, family, and friends. I have a wonderful office, comfortable chair and desk, and a beautiful lake to inspire me. Yet, there are times I do best when I go to my favorite coffee shop and get lost in the storyline, not letting concerns of my home distract me.

If you dream to be a published author, “Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from traveling the sometimes bumpy, difficult, and very rewarding road to make your dream come true.”
Karen Ingalls, RN has a Master’s Degree in Human Development; author of Outshine:An Ovarian Cancer Memoir; recipient of 1st Place at the Indie Excellence Book Award for the “women’s health” category; does presentations to medical personnel, service organizations, churches, and the general public about ovarian cancer and healthy ways to cope with life’s challenges; and has a weekly blog about health/wellness, relationships, spirituality, and cancer. All proceeds from the book go to gynecological cancer research.

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