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I am thrilled to welcome best-selling author Karen White to Colloquium today! Karen is the author of fourteen novels, including Falling Home, On Folly Beach, and her latest work, , which is currently on the New York Times extended best-sellers list! Even with her busy schedule, Karen was kind enough to take time to write a guest post exclusively for Colloquium!

I am giving one copy of The Beach Trees to a lucky reader whose comment will be selected at random! (Entry details below.)

A Long and Overdue Thank You Note

by

I am currently visiting my parents in Nashville, Tennessee for a couple of days and, as usual, my dad’s been doing some “clearing out” and has a few boxes of stuff for me to take home with me. Last time I visited, I ended up with two suitcases full of family photos. This year, he handed me a small shoebox filled with pieces of my past that had completely by-passed my memory until now. For good reason.

Among the “treasures” my parents had seen fit to keep for decades was a placemat I’d made in Brownies, a handwriting practice notebook from third grade, an art class painting from second grade, and my tenth grade report card.

Now, about this last item — I’m not one for revisionist history, but I do remember graduating in the top ten percent of my high school class and frequently making the honor roll. I also remember almost all of my teachers, and certainly my English teachers. Those were the teachers who I fondly recall being the most influential of my high school years as they were the ones who encouraged me to write. In one case at least, I was wrong.

In tenth grade, my English teacher was a Ms. Barry. I don’t remember this teacher at all (for good reason as you’ll see). Apparently, this short-sighted teacher not only saw fit to give me a B- on my final exam in 21st Century British Literature, but then rubbed salt in the wound by saying this on my report card: “Karen has good comprehension and analytical ability. Oral expression is very good. Perhaps her weakest area is her writing skills which will develop with practice.”

I was stunned. And not just because of all the glowing report cards I’d received over the years that this was the only one my parents had deemed worthy of saving. But “. . . her weakest area is her writing skills?” What’s with that?

I wish I could say that receiving that report card and those comments was one of the “a-ha” moments in life, when it became clear to me that my goal in life was to become a writer if only to prove the (obviously) ignorant and misguided Ms. Barry wrong. But it wasn’t — at least not consciously anyway.

I’m often asked why I decided to become a writer, as if the answer should begin with, “One day as I was . . . ” That just isn’t the case. I actually never planned to be a writer. I always loved to read, and — with the obvious exception of the impaired Ms. Barry — was always encouraged by my teachers to write. But I was a business major in college, and then worked in the business world for several years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. It simply never occurred to me that I’d have the time, the dedication, or the patience to write a book (much less 14!).

Looking back, I realize that there were probably hundreds of reasons, including Ms. Barry’s caustic comments, that led me to the computer one day to type the first sentence of my first novel. My love of storytelling, probably, as well as my love of books. Or my desire to convey emotions through the written word. The joy of immersing myself in a setting and my characters and creating lives I’ve never lived but perhaps wanted to. Or the love of sand beneath my feet, or the Southern accents of my extended family, or the cloying heat and humidity of an August day in New Orleans. Perhaps the heartache of a painful break-up or watching news footage of Hurricane Katrina as it hit my beloved Gulf Coast.

Like seasonings for a long-simmering soup, maybe it was each and every one of these experiences that led me, eventually, to sit in front of a computer and start that first book.

So Ms. Barry, wherever you are, thank you. Thank you for encouraging me, in a very roundabout way, to discover what I was meant to be doing for the rest of my life. And if you send me your address, I’ll send you a copy of my latest bestselling novel.

Meet Karen

Author Karen White
Her parents are from Mississippi and she was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so even though she has lived all over the world, Karen has always considered herself a Southern girl. Still, it wasn’t until she moved to Georgia eighteen years ago that she really embraced Southern living. “I did spend most of my childhood wishing I had a Southern hometown to call my own, though I learned to be satisfied with visits to my grandmother’s house in Indianola, Mississippi and the family ties that always brought us back there,” she says.

One of the places Karen lived while growing up was England where she graduated from the American School in London. She later earned a Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude, in Management from Tulane University.

Karen describes herself as having always been “a voracious reader” and, with the apparent exception of Ms. Barry, recalls her teachers encouraging to write, beginning back in elementary school. As a seventh grader, she cut school one day to stay home and read Gone With the Wind, which inspired her to either be a writer . . . or become Scarlett O’Hara! As the years went by, writing a book became something she planned to “do later when I have time.”

That time finally came in 1996. She submitted her first few chapters to a writer’s contest and won. Luckily, the finalist judge was a New York literary agent who offered to represent her. In the Shadow of the Moon became her first published book in 2000. It was a double finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award.

Karen says that “searching for home brings me to the south again and again.” A number of her books have southern settings, including the fictional town of Monroe in Falling Home which Karen was actually inspired to create after visiting Walton County, Georgia. And, of course, her latest novel, The Beach Trees, is set in post-Katrina New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi.

With her husband, two children, and incredibly adorable dog, Karen lives in Georgia. When she is not writing or spending time with her family, she reads, sings, scrapbooks, tries to avoid cooking, and enjoys hearing from her readers whom she invites to correspond with her via email (AuthorKarenWhite at aol dot com) or U.S. mail (Karen White, PO Box 623, Roswell, Georgia 30077).

Thank you, Karen!

Enter to win a copy of The Beach Trees

I am giving one lucky reader, selected at random, a copy of The Beach Trees.

Mandatory Entry:

Click here to read my review of The Beach Trees! Then post a comment here on this post, explaining what you find most intriguing about the storyline of The Beach Trees and one manner by which you follow Colloquium!

Be sure to include your email address (for notification and delivery purposes).

Ways to Follow:

  • Twitter — be sure to leave your Twitter name in the comment
  • Subscribe to Colloquium via RSS or Email and confirm your subscription

Bonus Entries:

  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave the link to your tweet in a comment!
  • Post this giveaway on Facebook and leave the link to your post in a comment!
  • Sorry, but the book can only be shipped to a United States address (no P.O. box).


    The comment posted by Renee Soriano at Cover to Cover . . . and Everything In Between was selected at random, so a copy of The Beach Trees has been sent to Renee!

    Thanks to all who participated!

    24 Comments

    1. Krystal Larson

      This book looks very intriguing and I liked the author’s bio. I like the part of the plot where the main character has to make a few hard decisions.
      Thanks for the giveaway!
      GFC Krystal Larson
      edysicecreamlover18ATgmailDOTcom

    2. The book sounds like it is a well-developed family drama. I would be anxious to learn what happened to the missing sister.
      -I follow by GFC and email

    3. Tiffany D.

      What I find most intriguing about this book is the missing sister. I love a good mystery and drama. Karen White is also one of my favorite authors, so I would love to read this! I follow via GFC as Tiffany Drew.

      jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

    4. Colleen Turner

      I find the concept of a close friend stepping up to the plate and taking care of her friend’s child when she passes away very touching. It couldn’t be an easy thing to do, but something a real friend wouldn’t hesitate to follow through with.
      I am a GFC follower (Colleen Turner) and email subscriber.

    5. Carol Wong

      I like that this book is about complete devastation and then healing and rebuilding. We see lots of people TV whose families have been irrevocably broken and yet they continue to start over again and rebuild their lives.

      I follow your blog with Twitter, my Twitter name is Carolee888.

      CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    6. New Orleans is my hometown so any story set in the Gulf Coast and involving Katrina is interesting to me.
      I’m an e-mail subscriber.
      Lizallrich2 at gmail dot com

    7. Denise Z

      Thank you for the opportunity to win this giveaway. It sounds like a wonderful book. I love a story where a personal journey results in realizing our true strengths and weaknesses and allows us to see past our insecurities.
      I am a GFC follower, FB blog follower, email sub, and posted this link to my facebook page (Denise Zaky).
      dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

    8. i am a huge fan of karen white’s work…i like the locations/setting in karen’s latest novel 🙂
      i’m a follower 🙂

    9. I’ve been wanting to read this book…I love all the intricate details. I am current GFC Follower! (~Nay~)
      Thanks for giving us another chance to read something good this summer!

    10. What a fantastic and astute guest post. If Ms. Barry is one of the reasons Karen decided to become a writer when she hadn’t originally planned to, then I too want to thank Ms. Barry for her unkind, erroneous comments. We are so fortunate Karen decided to try writing.

      What most intrigues me about “The Beach Trees” is Julie’s journey and what she learns about herself from Monica and the Guidrys as she gets to know the family’s history and the secrets they’ve suppressed for so long. After losing her way and her focus when Chelsea disappeared, Julie seems willing & able to take responsibility for Beau and to face the future and make some decisions. I’m interested to see if finding out why Monica left her family behind will help Julie find her way and herself.

      Thank you JHS for this giveaway, too! I follow you on Twitter and I’m an email subscriber!

      Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

    11. Anita Yancey

      What I find most intriguing about The Beach Trees is that Julie kept on looking for her missing sister Chelsea for so many years. Also the fact that she is willing to continue caring for her friend’s son Beau. The fact that the book contains secrets makes it all that much better. I would love to read this book to see how it all ends. Please enter me. Thanks!

      Follow on GFC(Anita Yancey)
      Subscribe via Email

      ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

    12. Carolsue

      It’s amazing how good that “Look at Me Now” event feels so good! Good for you! I also subscribe by e-mail
      Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

    13. Carolsue

      I follow you on Networked Blogs (Carol Anderson)
      Digicats @ sbcglobal.net

    14. Our pasts reflect on our future. The things that happen to us, the gains and the losses, direct our paths, but often times we can cut a new path that leads to healing. I love how the two women’s lives connect and hope to find out how they heal. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.

      I follow you on google connect.

      Nicnac63@hotmail.com
      http://cehart.blogspot.com

    15. Lisa Garrett

      Our family history and events do shape our personality. This leads to the future as well. This sounds like a very thought provoking book and I would love to read it.
      I follow via GFC.

    16. The family secrets intrigue me the most.

      GFC follower.

    17. I am always interesting in finding out where , why and who of missing people in a book and the end result of them.

      amhengst at verizon dot net

    18. I subscribe by email

      amhengst at verizon dot net

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