Friday, March 8, 2013

Interview 16: Karen Ingalls

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview my new friend, Karen Ingalls. She is visiting the ECS as a guest and sharing loads of interesting insights into her work. Be sure to look around and see what she has to offer. Here are the results of our interview. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

Hi there Karen! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Universe. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

 So tell me, who is Karen Ingalls?

I am a retired registered nurse, an aspiring writer, and a four-year ovarian cancer survivor. My hobbies are writing, gardening, golfing, and reading.  As a nurse I worked mainly in epilepsy and hospice. For over twenty years I had my own nursing service called Kare ‘N Touch, where I provided counseling, biofeedback, stress management, and therapeutic massage. I love to laugh, play games, and go into my world while I write my stories, blogs, and poetry.

You have done and been through so much in your life that I’m certain this will be a riveting interview. I am so looking forward to all that you have to share.

So whacha got for me today?
My book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is about my personal, medical, and spiritual journey with this too often deadly disease. I share about the subtle or whispering symptoms, risk factors and statistics for this cancer. I also share about my struggles and triumphs; how humor, family and friends, nutrition, exercise, meditation, and my faith in God helped me to face this life-changing challenge. These are the same tools or methods I used to face other challenges in my life such as divorce, sexual abuse, alcoholic parents, and untimely deaths of significant people.

I can already tell that this is a very powerful book and not just because the content is so sensitive and tragic. More and more people every day are having to deal with some form of cancer in one way or another, myself included. A book like this is sometimes the one thing that makes a difference in that rough journey.

 So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Outshine…?

I am the star of the book! Yet, my co-stars (husband, family, friends, and even some strangers) are the real stars. They helped me to outshine this health challenge.

I really like this answer. You express so much humility, compassion, and wisdom in very few words. I can already sense the inspiration that surely follows the reading of this book.

 Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?
My favorite place to write is one of two coffee shops where I can drink chai tea, listen to The Canadian Tenors, Il Volo, or Il Divo with earphones, and enjoy the relaxing ambience. Unfortunately I do not do that as often as I would like. So, my second place is in my new home office where I enjoy a glass of iced tea, earphones, and looking out at the lake.  I keep a hand written chart of the chapters, the characters and a timeline, which I transfer to a spreadsheet. I have one completed novel that will go to my editor in January. My second novel is a prequel to the first and is one-third of the way done.

Comfy and concise, I like your style of writing. I think comfort is important when it comes to writing although there are those who believe that being too comfortable blocks creativity with complacency. I’ll be watching out to learn more about your novels to come.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?
My two novels are historical biographies, so I am influenced by the writings of James Michener. I love his books and have read every one of them. Even though I have not taken any formal writing classes, I know what style of writing I like. I am not as descriptive of scenes as Mr. Michener was, but I do use a lot of conversation and try to have the characters’ emotions described so the reader can “feel” the character.

I must admit I haven’t read Michener, but I am familiar with his work. You are a true fan if you’ve read all his works; there are so many. I like descriptive writing when it adds to the story, but sometime too much description seems to take away from the message of a tale. I like that you consider your writing to be more conversational.

 Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

The first person that comes to mind is Albert Schweitzer. I first began reading about him in the early 1950’s and I immediately felt a connection to him. I have read biographies and autobiographies, but would love to still just sit and converse with him. He was a fascinating man.

I don’t know much about Schweitzer other than he had some very strong ideas about Christianity and that he won a Nobel Prize. I guess this is good a time as any to find out more about him.

Who is so you and why?
This was a difficult question to answer, but I finally decided on the character Mary from “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Like her, I love my husband unconditionally; I would not have cared that I would fall into the pool at the high school dance damaging my dress and hair style; I have always done everything I could to help and be supportive of my husband, family, and friends; I could see myself rallying friends and neighbors to contribute money as she did; and I have always been there for my children, even as adults with families of their own. Like her I tend to face problems or issues with calmness and strength, which is evident in my book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir.

Is it wrong of me to think, “Aww! How sweet?” I think it’s great that you relate to such a wholesome character. Anyone who knows and appreciates that movie has a soft spot for Mary. She’s the wife and mother most women would want to be if the world were a much simpler place.

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?
My big, overstuffed, and comfy chair with its footstool is my favorite chair for reading. I will have either a glass of iced tea or white wine (depending on the time of day), and total quiet. I prefer “real” books, but have succumbed to an e-book, because we have little space for books in our home, it without difficulty fits into my purse, it is lighter than many books, and easier to hold. I am anxious to read “Killing Kennedy” after reading “Killing Lincoln,” which was so interesting and well written.

On a slight and yet related tangent, isn’t is weird how Abraham Lincoln has become so popular lately? It almost sounds silly to say that he’s chic right now, but better him than some other undeserving pop icon ( For more on Lincoln’s fad status, check out : a review of Killing Lincoln the movie, the page for the award winning movie Lincoln, and even the page for the cultish Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter).

Now that that’s out of my system, your chair does sound really comfy. Like you, I’ve come to embrace my e-reader for economic reasons, but I still enjoy paper books and even a audio now and then.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
A book about a horse called “Drinkers of the Wind.” As a teenager, it was Desiree, by Selinko. I just re-read it this past spring and loved it again.             

I’m familiar with Desiree, but I’ve never read it. Looking into its history has me intrigued, and I love the latest cover it has been released with. It’s clear that even early in your life that you had a love for history, biographies, and stories of strength…Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Sure thing.

Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I LOVE the movie “Ordinary People.” The acting and directing is superb. Each time I see it, I get something else out of it. It is such a powerful story.

This is a good movie with a lot of emotion. I don’t know if I could watch it over and over again, but every person’s personality is different. I do think that Timothy Hutton’s roles was probably the best of his career, but I’m no expert.

What makes you geek out?

I love to play golf. I love being outside; the challenge to do better each time; my score is mine alone and not dependent on anyone else; and most golfers are friendly and honest. There are dress codes and rules of behavior that are enforced.

Golf, like many sports, is a game I just don’t get. I’m not very competitive when it comes to sports, so I guess that takes the fun of most of it. I go to the driving range sometimes just to hit the balls as hard and as far as I can, but that’s the extent of my golf play. I do watch it sometimes to calm my mind. I can definitely see how this is more of a mental sport than a physical one.

 So what’s testing your patience right now?

Anna Karenina” was just released and I am anxious to see it. I hope it does justice to the book, which is a masterpiece.

This is a great story and with great stories, Hollywood always falls short, but sometimes they manage not to ruin it. I haven’t seen this yet, but I’ve heard good things…The truth is, even when Hollywood is on the right path and has all the best intentions, the movie is never as good as the book, but that doesn’t excuse as bad movie. I hope this is good too. It looks really good.

BTW- I love your answer. It’s simple and personal. It lets me and my readers get to know you better.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?
I love the songs of Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, and any Joplin ragtime music. I also love the classics of Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff. I do not like jazz, hard rock (Rolling Stones, etc), which do make me feel negative or angry. It is like listening to fingernails go down a blackboard.

Wow! I love this question and the array of answers I’ve gotten from it. There is no right or wrong answer here.

I must admit that you are the first, on this blog,  to turn a nose up at the Rolling Stones, but I can’t be hold a grudge on anyone who appreciates Nat King Cole and Mozart. To each his own, I always say. I’m a lover of all music, but you don’t have to be…

Thanks for letting me get to know you better in this way. I think music says a lot about a person: good, bad, and otherwise. 

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?
Our trip to Costa Rica was wonderful. It was my 65th birthday and I challenged myself to go zip-lining and white water rafting…FUN. In Costa Rica we were surrounded with kind people, great food, and beautiful scenery.

It sounds like that was a great trip. I hope to do some real traveling one day. I’m glad that you haven’t let life and obstacles get in the way of you living life and having fun.

 Remind me again how I was lucky enough to meet you?

I met you through the LinkedIn site, Book Marketing.

Every time I get to this answer it reminds that no matter how frustrated I get with technology sometimes, it’s good to have it. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to meet all these wonderful author to experience and share their stories.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

I have genuine concerns about the future of this world, which I think is typical of each generation as it ages. I remember my grandparents expressing concern because how music, literature, politics, education, dress, etc. had changed since they raised their kids in the early 1900’s. Then when my parents were in their 70’s and 80’s they shared the same fears by saying, “I don’t know what this world is coming to.” There were too many drugs, wrong music, world dictators, poor education, seductive or classless attire, etc. Now, I find myself doing the same. I guess since we lived through whatever world and national problems relatively unscathed, we look back on those times with kinder memories. I pray daily for peace and goodwill in the world. I have a hard time understanding why people cannot live by the Golden Rule. I am a dreamer, of which I think the world needs more.

In 5 years I pray that my life will be much like it is now. I am healthy and active with a loving husband and family.

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Karen Ingalls, check out these great links:

~Karen Ingalls’s book  Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir will be available at a 40% discount from Wednesday March 6 thru Wednesday March 13. Visit and type the word "Outshine" in the coupon box. Enjoy!