Let’s Chat! Author Karen Malena

Welcome, Readers!

This week we’re visiting with Karen Malena, author of inspirational, dystopian, and fantasy fiction. Not exactly sure what dystopian or fantasy entails? Keep reading, my friends … and be inspired.

P.S. Karen’s offering “a few” of her ebooks to the winner(s) of a drawing among those who comment below. Let’s keep the conversation going!

**Congratulations to drawing winner, Phyllis Scott!

Karen Malena Before Authoring


I
feel that my true writing journey actually began when I was a very young girl. My mother had a form of mental illness and was hospitalized many times. It was frightening for me, but it began my love of reading and making up stories to escape all of the seriousness surrounding me. (Click to Tweet!) 

Family Life

My close-knit family’s strong faith got us through this difficult time, and God restored my mother to us by a miracle. I like to believe that going through this experience as a young child, helped ready me for the journey of Alzheimer’s and dementia that we faced with Mom for the last several years.

Once again, I was able to channel the seriousness, write about it, and inspire others with my blog and writings. (Click to Tweet!) 

How Authorship Began for Karen Malena

Janet SimcicSo many times throughout my life, I would begin a fictional story, but put it aside. It took me until about eight years ago, when I met a man in our small group Bible study at church who had some published pieces, to finally join a writers group and pick up my desire to write once again.

Karen Malena’s Debut 

First, I wrote a book which is out of print now, Shadow of My Father’s Secret. I went with a very small publishing company. There was never a more exciting moment than actually seeing my name on the Amazon site for the first time.

More Novels for Karen

Then I released two books about golden year romance which came from that time: Love Woven in Time and Love Finds a Way.

Another of my books, Reflections From my Mother’s Kitchen, is a fictionalized memoir-type journey of some of the situations our Italian family had gone through. Conversations with a faith-filled mother guide Kate, my main character. (Click to Tweet!) 

A Dystopian Tale

I also went out of my comfort zone with a story inspired by the impersonal way I see our young people communicating today—only by texting and electronic devices—so my dystopian story, Sound of Silence, was born. It is a futuristic tale in an era where speaking is not permitted any longer, creepy and cautionary. (Click to Tweet!) 

A Bit of Fantasy

And lastly, due to the popularity of my son Matt3756 YouTube channel, I wrote Piggy, a fun, fantasy story about his cat. It’s a great book about friendship, food and fun.

Life at Present for Karen Malena

Ligonier, Pennsylvania

My husband and I enjoy traveling to the quaint town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, located in the Laurel Highlands. It was at one of our stays at a bed and breakfast that I began formulating a story while thinking of my parent’s love in their senior years, Mom’s growing dementia, and my love of that beautiful town.

Sharing Through Articles

I belong to a group, AlzAuthors, and am most comfortable blogging about my caregiving journey with Mom’s dementia and aging parents. I also have an article coming out in Guidepost magazine’s sister publication, “Mysterious Ways,” this spring entitled “The Earrings” about my mother’s near death experience. It is my hope to be a blessing to those who face the heartbreak of dementia, losing their parents, or anyone who may identify with one of the characters in my books.

Reaching Out to Others

Now I love to encourage others to begin their own writing journey, or speak at events at senior centers and libraries. (Click to Tweet!) 

How to Contact Karen

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Where to Find Karen Malena’s Books

Amazon

Love Woven in Time by Karen Malena
Harry and Rose meet in their golden years in quaint Ligonier, Pennsylvania. A warm friendship is forged and their lives become intertwined in ways even they won’t believe.

But will Rose’s secret from her teenage years tear their new found friendship apart? Will the sins of Harry’s past revisit him and shatter all hope for happiness?


Love Finds a Way
Harry and Rose McMillen from Love Woven in Time return in this story. Their love in their senior years is an inspiration to all who know them. But as Rose senses that her beloved is losing precious memories more rapidly, she begins to wonder how long they really have together before the ravages of time and age erase precious moments forever.

 

Reflections from My Mother’s Kitchen
In the quaint, old steel town of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, Kate has known adversity. While she and her mom share the stories that molded their lives, Kate begins a journey of self-awareness and hope.

But when tragedy knocks on a seemingly innocent morning, will the warmth of a mother’s love be enough to carry her through?

Sound of Silence
A dark, all-encompassing law blankets the country. Driven by one terrible secret, a powerful politician brutally suppresses speech for the sake of order and holds the country in the palm of his hand.

In Sound of Silence an ominous new society is introduced leaving us with the question: What if?

Piggy
What do a cat and mouse have in common? One little kitten is about to find out.

This is a true story, one of an unlikely friendship, great bravery, heroes and villains.”

~ ~ ~

Lord, You are our eternal Sustainer. We praise You alone for preserving life and faith and trust. Karen Malena has walked a path few have known. Only You could have brought her into her place of security, joy, and service through writing. We honor You as we honor Karen. Please bless each word she writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~

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15 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Author Karen Malena

  1. Wonderful interview Karen!.. I enjoyed reading your inspirational life story!!

     
     
    1. Thank you so much, Tammy for the comment! Much appreciated.

       
       
    2. Hi, Tammy. So good to see you here. You’re another inspirational author with an inspirational life story! I’m grateful to know you.

       
       
  2. Katie Perez

    Amazing that writing was to therapeutic for Karen! I write on my free time, (what free time? I have 3 kids 6 and under) but I want to ask; as a writer, is there a specific tone you go for writing wise? As in, one that will appeal to all types of walks of life? Or do you just write from the heart, and the audience will create itself? Thankful Karen for sharing your story. ♡

     
     
    1. Hi, Katie. So good to see you in our group today. Karen and I are both authors. Her books and mine are in different genres. I write historical fiction. Like Karen, I weave my family’s trials and the overcoming of hardships through faith and grit into my stories. My ancestors’ tales deserve to be preserved and shared, so that’s what I try to do. I love how Karen reaches out to others from her own experience with a family member’s mental illness, Alzheimer’s, and other brands of dementia. Please join our chat again. A new author each Wednesday. God bless.

       
       
    2. Hello Katie. Excellent question! Thank you for reaching out. I know what you mean about spare time. When I was part-time caregiver for my parents, working a full time job, and of course having a full time husband, I wondered how I found time to write. But I took small pockets of peace wherever I could find them and even if it was only ten minutes here or there, I would write what I loved. In my fiction, I usually am inspired to write a little of the truth of situations, but of course we need dramatic elements as well. I’ve been told to “keep ’em guessing, so once again, in fiction, we need to think of something to move the story forward so your reader will want to turn that page. But when I write blogs and such, I look within my heart. I, too, believe that gritty soul-searching writing is what people need. They have something that touches them in a more personal way. Thank you again for your wonderful comment!

       
       
  3. Great interview! Karen’s got a wide range of books to choose from.

     
     
    1. Hi, David. Thanks for pulling up a chair and joining our circle 🙂 Yes, Karen has quite a range, and I’m now one of her fans. Please come again. A new author each Wednesday.

       
       
    2. David, thank you so much for stopping by and for all the sharing and comments that you always do for me. It is very much appreciated, my friend. Wishing you success in your journey as well.

       
       
  4. Phyllis Scott

    I’m not sure what I am replying about. But, I do want to encourage Linda in her writing especially about mental illness and dementia. I appreciate how some are able to articulate experiences with either of these. My father suffered many years with manic depression and the dementia in his latter years and my mother suffered right along with him. God has blessed her by giving her over 12 years, after his passing to heal and build a rich life. I think the worst thing for families is they get isolated because people have a hard time loving and supporting because they don’t take time to try and understand.

     
     
    1. What a wonderful contribution you’ve made to our conversation, Phyllis. Thank you. But it’s Karen Malena who has had the life experience with family mental illness and Alzheimer’s. She’s the one who speaks and writes and ministers to seniors and others affected by mental illness and dementia. My grandmother’s mother was in and out of their home due to mental illness for several years until she was finally committed for good and lived out the remainder of her life—48 years—in the asylum, so my grandmother at 11 years of age became the woman of the house and substitute mother to her three siblings. Others in my family know what it’s like to be in Karen’s position as a child. I so admire Karen’s devotion to others through her knowledge and experience with this most devastating disease. I hope you’ll visit this blog again. Sign up on my home page, and it’ll arrive in your Inbox every Wednesday with another author to get to know. God bless.

       
       
    2. Hello Phyllis. I want to thank you for your comment and sharing your own story as well. The stigma of mental illness is one of the most difficult things a family will go through. I am always grateful when I share my story and someone reaches out and says they, too, know what it is like. My mother’s battle with depression as a young woman was devastating to our family, but we had a miracle. She returned from one of her hospital visits completely healed. I can only classify that as a true miracle because she was not only suicidal, but at times didn’t know who she was. She went on to own several small businesses in life and was my best friend. It was when Alzheimer’s robbed us yet again of her in her last few years, that all those feelings returned from my childhood. I’m so glad your mother was able to enjoy her life after all the difficulties. Thank you again for reaching out.

       
       
  5. Dianna Kennedy

    I became a lover of Karen’s writings when she first started. We became quick friends. I associated with certain things she wrote about.

    She is a very talented woman with a deep faith. God has blessed her with the talent to tell her stories which touch the lives of so many people.

    God bless her and may she continue with her path. I am so proud to say I am a fan and a friend.

     
     
    1. Thank you for joining in, Dianna. I don’t know Karen personally, but I’m definitely a fan after this interview. Please visit the blog again. A new author every Wednesday. God bless.

       
       
    2. Dear Dianna, I have been blessed in my life to get to know you through my writing. You are a dear friend and your words of encouragement always spur me on to continue. Thank you for seeing in my writing what I want to convey: that faith is the answer and goodness is not gone in the world. I appreciate your comment here and your friendship.

       
       

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Let’s Chat! With Yours Truly

Welcome, Readers! 

This week I’d like to visit with you myself. About family. This blog doesn’t meet the requirements of whoever makes the rules about optimal word length, but that’s OK. I’m not asking for their approval. I must warn you, however, that I speak in very explicit terms that may offend you. I hope you’ll read it anyway. And that you’ll share this link with every Christian parent you know.


I just looked at the calendar and can barely believe my eyes. Only five days until Christmas. Probably like you, I have boxes and bins full of Christmas memories. But our boxes and bins, plastic-covered larger items, and certainly a tree that in former years was decorated by our grandchildren long before now, remain in closets. No food coloring for sugar cookies on the grocery list this year. No tangled lights or bulbs needing to be replaced. No hiding of gifts.

Christmas 2017 is not the season to be jolly in a certain home I’m about to tell you about. Nor ours.

An Ordeal of Biblical Proportions


Because of the love my husband and I have for a dear family we know well, we have been enduring alongside them an ordeal of biblical proportions for nine months. And it’s far from over even now.

This sordid story involves the shattering of a stable, loving, Christ-centered home by organizationally incestuous government agencies whose employee rolls include  individuals who are biased against Christians. I’m not at liberty to reveal names, but you can believe me when I say our county’s Child Protective Services and our state’s Department of Family Protective Services are mis-named by calling themselves “protective.” CPS has destroyed—not protected—this family.

We have learned by walking alongside this particular family that our state’s Department of Family and Protective Services is a huge, unwieldy, bureaucratic agency with “policies and procedures” they check off as accomplished without true accountability. And that the title “investigator” is given to their least experienced, entry-level person who has the power to destroy a Christian home. The Department assigns “tenured” status to a case manager with only one and one-half years experience. And the “professional” counselors and therapists with whom the Deparment contracts, by and large, receive the lowest reviews by clients. In many cases, these professionals cannot make a decent living on their own, so CPS takes them.

Not only does the Department of Family and Protective Services fail to “protect,” it is inept, corrupt, and anti-Christian. They protect their own above all else. Certain of their employees want to destroy whatever vestiges still remain of Christianity in our homes. We crazy Christians are a dangerous cult, after all. And our family court system is in league with CPS. In recent days I witnessed a family court judge sweep away a family with Christian principles like so much roach droppings.

Christian Family


If you are a Christian family, be careful … be VERY careful … in reporting child abuse to CPS. See a Christian attorney before you make the call.

If you have crosses on your walls … or Bible verses on bulletin boards or refrigerators … If you implement a household behavior plan that’s connected in any way with your Christian faith … or if that household plan requires consistent accountability that ties in with God’s expectations and the history of God and His people … If you believe and teach your children that sex is a God-given blessing granted ONLY to a married man and woman … and if you protect your children from pornography and sexually-explicit movies and books but discover a certain someone outside your home has taught your children how to get around the password-protected security on your computer so the children can watch pornography … If that pagan someone has taught your children sex acts too graphic to describe here … even then, contact CPS only through your attorney. Why? Because you may be accused of abusing your children by coaching them in how to claim sexual molestation.


If yours or your loved one’s is a broken home where the other spouse has hooked up with a militantly atheist family who present the essence of today’s political correctness to the world and practice unheard-of incest in their home … If your life is the polar opposite of the ex-spouse’s (an ex-spouse who once claimed to be a Christian but now claims atheism and makes fun of the Bible TO THE CHILDREN) … If you or your spouse are a clergyman or -woman or professional counselor … be careful. Be very, very careful. They consider you dangerous.

Sex

If you learn your children or the children of anyone you love have been exposed to sex not in a violent way but as pleasurable and a natural way to express love between adults and children … if that sex has progressively included more and more acts over several years of the children’s development so that they no longer believe engaging in such activities is wrong … If those children have now turned on their Christian parents … and if CPS and the judge have been taken in by those disturbed children and given them to the molester, you are facing the worst trauma of your life.

‘Tis certainly not the season to be jolly.

My Faith


I’m a Christian. Have been since I was 12—60 years ago. I believe God is completely good. He is completely wise. Completely powerful. And He is limited by neither time nor space. His goodness lives everywhere at once.

I’m none of the above. Not one iota.

However, I believe Jesus is the Son of God and He died for my sins—the perfect sacrifice given on my behalf, which I’ve accepted and rely on for my eternal destiny.

That said, I know He is at work even while I crawl into bed, cover my head, and weep for this family. No one need tell me I can claim unshakable hope. I know my hope rests in the unshakable promises of God. I don’t understand why God allows such evil to prevail for a single day. But by faith and hope I know one day I will.

This Time of the Year


Even at Christmas, the love of God, the purity of Jesus, and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit do not erase this world’s evil. One day they will, but not yet. In fact, God’s children alone see the indescribable contrast between the two. And when evil has blanketed a family devoted to God with its blackness, that family sits in sackcloth and ashes while all around them people cover their homes with colored lights, set out lovely nativity scenes, hang mistletoe, loop garland around balusters and porch posts, and sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

The Persecuted Church in America

Meanwhile, certain individuals who compose Child Protective Services and others who sit on family court benches will carve their turkeys, spoon their cranberry sauce, and compliment the cook on Christmas. So will the molesters.

If my body didn’t actually ache after being in bed for hours, that’s where I’d stay, weeping and praying for this wonderful, godly family. But I’m sitting at my computer composing a far-from-jolly message to whoever will read it. I’m sorry if it disturbs your sensibilities or interferes with your joyful anticipation of Christmas. I hope you’ll find it in yourself to forego such reactions and, instead, pray for persecuted Christian parents in America and elsewhere.

That’s exactly what we are.

Writing

Below you’ll find the reasons why I write from an explicitly Christian perspective. At present I’m not able to muster and organize thoughts sufficient to finish the last ten chapters of my second novel. But everyday I pray the Lord will help me accomplish it.

Meanwhile, between shopping and baking and gift wrapping, perhaps you’ll give a thought and prayer to those whose Christmas is saturated in misery even as they grasp at unshakable hope.

~ ~ ~

Family History: Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction 

11051920_978901955477707_2514510510571933600_o
Ella and W.T. Banks, Oklahoma 1910

Family history claims the heart of why I write Christian historical fiction.

First of all, as a child, I sat on my grandmother Ella’s lap for her stories about life in Indian Territorybefore Oklahoma oklahoma-43773_1280became a state. And her hardships decades later. Also my mother Goldie spoke of her life in Oklahoma and Texas during the first half of the 20th Century. 

Similarly, my own memories developed in the 1940s and beyond. Family tales of grit and faith overcoming hardship and heartbreak mesmerized me. I often imagined story lines based on memories. 

My “Before”

First, I was born the only daughter of a cotton farmer in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the 1940s. As a result, I experienced none of what other kids enjoyed—the neighborhood. Consequently, my first friends were the children of the kind, hard-working Mexican laborers on our farm. Then my circle expanded to include friends just down the unpaved road. Those farmers’ daughters constituted my neighborhood.

“Birth” as a Reader

Because school friends in town lived several miles away, I learned early on to love reading. As a preschooler, I enjoyed a book with audio accompaniment: Bozo Under the Sea. I wore out the book and record! Because Jack & Janet, Dick & Jane, and Tip & Sally fascinated me in first grade, come summertime, you could find me in the community library. books-942602_1280The air conditioning created a crisp, welcoming atmosphere. As a result, I wanted to stay all day. I can still feel the air and get a whiff of the distinctive scent of book bindings.

Certainly, by fourth grade my appetite for reading was insatiable. With a dictionary at my side, I read Little Women and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In fifth grade, The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables. Similarly, in sixth grade I read Where the Red Fern Grows and The Red Badge of fern-489910_1280Courage. Likewise, by middle school, I was tackling Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities. And Gone with the WindLater on, To Kill a Mockingbird  made an indelible imprint on my heart and conscience. I could go on, but you get the picture. As a result, I cared little about genre, setting, or plot. Above all, I treasured the characters and experienced their emotions, failures, and triumphs. 

“Birth” as a Writer: Family History

Due to attending Abilene Christian University five hundred miles away from home, I delighted daily in writing letters. I told Mother and Daddy and my brother Dale every move I made, no doubt with editorial embellishments. Then a quirky English professor asked if I’d ever considered creative writing as a career. In a word—No—but his discovering my secret longing intrigued me. You see, baring my soul in print—a reality I knew writing would entail—was more than I could consider.

Ella of The Calling of Ella McFarland is named for my grandmother (center), Ella Pyle Banks Knox. I called her Mama. She birthed 9 children and buried 5, as well as 2 husbands. She deserves to have the heroine of a novel named for her. (My mother Goldie is second from the left.)

Then, I wrote down family history. Mother’s clan migrated in 1923 from Oklahoma to the southernmost tip of Texas in a train of seven covered wagons, a novelty on the roads even then. So I set down for posterity my family’s recollections of their caravan journey. It turned out to be no more than a cataloging of who traveled in which wagons, where they stopped and for what purpose, and the spectacle they presented along the way. As a result, it ignited a desire to write historical fiction based in family history. I had a well spring from which to draw.

“Growing Up” as a Writer

Later, life took me elsewhere in Texas and Alabama and Germany, with fun-filled forays into Great Britain, South America, Europe, and Scandinavia. I was an Army spouse rearing children and living life. Therefore, my writing pen sat in a drawer. Years later, when my The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davisdaughter struggled with an at-risk triplet pregnancy and her three 2 ½ pound babies fought for survival, a desire to release the storehouse of words I’d long bottled up tugged at my heart. I vowed would devote the rest of my life to them. And if disabilities didn’t plague them and they could read, I would leave them a legacy of faith in writing.

Nine years later, my story won the prestigious Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel award. Thereafter, Mountainview Books released The Calling of Ella McFarland in December 2015. In August 2016 it won another prestigious award: American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award.

Consequently, I’m certain these successes came from my faithful God who affirmed my vow: to leave a legacy of faith in writing. Rather than shy away from outright Christian faith, the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a must in my stories. 

Writing Well Spring: Family History

Certain ancestors and their experiences appear in my stories. First of all, there’s bit of my grandmother and a strong dash of my mother in one character. Then my father’s sterling qualities appear in another. In contrast, there’s a low-down family reprobate in another. Certainly, there’s cotton planting, hoeing, and harvest time. The glorious Picking_Cotton_by_Lewis_W._Hine,_1916_(LOC)_(491307954)aroma of fresh-picked cotton and the nothing-in-the-world-like-it odor from the pig pen. Similarly, our sewing machine whirring. The clink of a milk pail. A cow hollering to be milked. Likewise, summer’s sun on my face, the hearty South Texas wind in my hair, and the comfort of backing up to a wall heater on a cold winter morning. As a result, all find their way into my stories. 

palm-trees-360885_1280

Above all—my family’s history, my own life, and the kaleidoscope of lives in my storiesJesus appears as the golden thread linking the past to the present and beyond. Because Jesus turns an ordinary morning into a hint of the “Sweet By & By,” He adds the delicate aroma of the Rose of Sharon to the sultry stillness before a summer storm. Most importantly, He wraps the bitterness of grief and failure in the richness of His incomparable grace.

My Purpose as a Writer

Tales that reach beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary because of Jesus are the stories I write by His grace.

I pray each of you will enjoy a Christmas packed with love, peace, and joy and that you’ll come away from it saying, “This was the best Christmas of all.”

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8 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! With Yours Truly

  1. Marilyn R

    My heart breaks for you and all families involved. Prayers for all. Thankful our hope is in Jesus Christ even in the darkest valleys.

     
     
    1. I met a young mother from Switzerland recently. She said in their schools sex education begins in Kindergarten and it includes—get this—believe it or not … instruction in masturbation. Parents may “opt out,” if they choose, but I wonder how long that will continue. Come quickly, Lord! (Sorry if my frankness offends you. It’s just that the whole subject is so offensive that sometimes I think stopping short of using offensive frankness somehow takes away from the weightiness of the subject matter.) I also heard recently from a couple who have been seeing a counselor that the counselor—a contractee of CPS—believes sex education is the school’s—-and ONLY the school’s—responsibility. And that parents should NOT get involved.

       
       
  2. Carlene

    Heartbreaking.

     
     
    1. In the truest, deepest sense, Carlene. Come quickly, Lord!

       
       
  3. My dear friend, I weep and pray with you.

     
     
    1. When I consider the trauma and grief of this one situation—more than mere humans can withstand—I’m reminded that Jesus took on the sin of the whole world … every single lie, murder, betrayal, cruelty in every form, all grief and shame and regret, unfulfilled longings, tears and groans and screams … from the beginning of time until time is no more, I stand amazed anew in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. Come quickly, Lord.

       
       
  4. Joyce Herron

    Neither of us could imagine that in our future when we were in the fifth and sixth grades in Raymondville TX the state of our world today. Christians have been under attack for several decades and the assault keeps increasing. CPS or whatever a state calls their agency, has gone off the tracks in their mission to protect children.

    Thank you for sharing this story. I will be praying for your family friends and those precious children.

     
     
    1. No, Joyce, we couldn’t have imagined it. The evil Satan is capable of is unimaginable. We are praying Jesus will take this horrid experience and use it to bring glory to His precious name. Come quickly, Lord!

       
       

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