Media & Events
Media kit includes a list of upcoming events, author head shots, the book cover, a Waiting for Butterflies press release, and an author Q&A.
ST. PETERS CULTURAL ARTS CENTER • ST. PETERS, MO • SAT., JAN. 27 • 11 AM
Come to Saturday Writers for “3 Revision Strategies to Take the Amateur Out of Your Manuscript.” I’ll share the revision strategies a literary agent taught me to prepare my manuscript for publication. So simple. So effective. Too good to keep secret!
All photos are available in .jpeg format at 72DPI.
Awards & Recognition
Author Q & A
What is your inspiration for writing the story of a family healing from the loss of their mother?
We received the dreaded late-night phone call that my mother-in-law had passed unexpectedly and too young at 61. A friend came right away to babysit our daughters, so my husband and I could stay with his dad. We returned home the next afternoon surprised to hear our five-month-old had slept through the night for the very first time, which she continued to do for the next week. While lying in bed on the eighth night, I whispered to my husband, “Ever since your mom died, the baby has slept through.” Moments later he softly said, “Mom, if you’re here, you can go.” That night, and for months after, the baby woke up. I’m still not sure what I believe about those eight nights, but a question began to stir my imagination: “What if a mother is taken from her family before she is ready to go?” The answer became Waiting for Butterflies.
What is your favorite part of the novel?
THE END. Those are the two most glorious words I have ever written! Actually, the end is one of my favorite parts because surprises occur that even I didn’t expect. My other favorite part is when Maggie is entering Heaven. I enjoyed imagining what that experience might be like for her.
Your complex characters are the beating heart of your novel, but which of them was the hardest for you to write? Why?
Maggie was challenging to write, not as a mother but as a spirit. I had to define her as a spirit by determining the rules that governed her existence and by justifying her abilities and limitations. Then I had to be consistent with those rules throughout the story. Sometimes I’d have an idea that Maggie should do something, but then I’d have to change the idea because it was outside the boundaries I had already established for her.
You also run the blog, The MOM Journey. How is writing a novel different from writing a blog post?
Writing for a blog is much harder than writing a novel. When I write a novel, I create characters and conflicts in a fictional world. And while my story may expose parts of who I am, it’s not as revealing as a blog post. In order to build relationships with my blog followers, I have to allow for some vulnerability, so my writing will be authentic and my readers will connect. And I blog about the real world not a make-believe one where I can manipulate circumstances to fit my story. I have to reflect and analyze in an entirely different way to write posts that are (hopefully) meaningful and insightful for The MOM Journey.
This is your debut novel, but you’ve been teaching writing and literature for 23 years. How does your teaching experience influence your writing?
I became an English teacher because I loved to read and write. But once I stepped into my own classroom, I discovered my reading time was dominated by the literature I taught and the essays I graded, and my writing was limited to lesson plans. Then two baby girls entered the story, so I tucked away my writing dream. And that was okay because I loved teaching my students and raising my daughters. But my writing dream wiggled every now and then to remind me it was still there. Now I realize my career and motherhood didn’t put my writing on hold. They both prepared me to write Waiting for Butterflies. Teaching my students great literature made me a storyteller. Teaching my students to write made me a better writer. And being a mom, loving my family, gave me something meaningful to say.
How has writing this book, about the grief of a broken family, changed your relationship with your family?
Waiting for Butterflies speaks to two of my greatest fears as a mom: losing a child and dying before my children are grown. Writing this story allowed me to confront those fears on some level. Also, Rachel’s struggle reminds me to listen to my daughters, even when they don’t express their needs out loud. I appreciate how my husband finds new ways to connect with our girls as they mature into young women because he values that closeness. And I certainly want to hug my family a little tighter when we’re all together, to keep us close, to keep us whole.
Obviously, butterflies are an important symbol in Waiting for Butterflies. What made you choose to weave butterflies into your story?
The butterfly symbol was actually one of those pleasant surprises that happened during the writing process. The original title for the book was Her Children Shall Rise Up from Proverbs 31:28. But one day while in a bookstore, I saw a journal with this quote: If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. The quote instantly illuminated the theme of the story for me, and butterflies became a unifying thread I wove throughout. The story would be missing a layer of meaning without the butterflies.
What do you ultimately want readers to take away from reading Waiting for Butterflies?
The characters in the book, Sam and Rachel especially, fight silent battles with guilt, and that guilt becomes a dividing factor in their family. But once they let go of it, they find forgiveness and redemption and their family is whole. Too often we hold on to past mistakes, our shame, because letting go seems impossible. But we have to let go and seek forgiveness in order to heal and move on. Maggie’s family exemplifies that.
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Readers can visit my website at karensargentbooks.com. To connect with me personally, I invite readers to check out The MOM Journey at karensargentbooks.com/blog. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.