After nearly fifteen years of diligently completing one class at a time, I graduated from Metropolitan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I began with a focus on counseling, conducting several support groups, later switching to a communications major. During that time I worked either full or part time while raising my family. The tenacity I demonstrated was a good role model for my children and helped me keep the focus on my book.
Before retiring, I had a lengthy career in advertising, marketing and publishing; working at both major Twin Cities newspapers, marketing for senior-housing communities, and publishing a residential real estate trade publication. During this time I wrote for both business and pleasure.
Why did you choose this genre?
In 2008 I suffered spinal cord damage and became paralyzed. While I was confined to a rehab center my husband, Charlie, was in and out of hospitals. He had quadruple bypass surgery followed by complications and a below the knee amputation due to a diabetic infection. We were both alone in our medical quagmires.
The horrendous medical problems my husband and I incurred that year gave me the fuel for my book. Family, friends, and acquaintances all marveled at my recovery from paralysis. I heard comments like, “it’s a miracle,” “you are an inspiration to me,” “how did it happen?” I wanted to share my personal life experience as a message of hope for others trying to overcome challenges. I experienced a remarkable transformation when I was diagnosed with a below the waist paralysis and told I would be living with paralysis the remainder of my life. Through acceptance, courage, faith and determination I am now walking with just a cane. I hope to inspire others to rise above their affliction whether it is mental or physical. I have always loved to encourage and inspire others to be the best they can be. Now I am doing that through my book, I Stand With Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
In some ways, writing fiction is easier than non-fiction. With fiction you can expand your reader’s reality in any way you choose. It’s like a mysterious journey through the woods. When you come to a fork in the path you can choose the familiar or venture into unknown territory. Fiction allows the reader to escape into the world of the author. Non-fiction brings “real life” to the reader. Non-fiction must stick to the facts. Writing a memoir or about a personal experience is even harder. It challenges your memory and word by word makes you relive your life from the outside in. While enlightening, it’s often difficult to reach inside yourself. Over and over you must ask yourself, “How did I feel?” “What was I thinking?” “Why did I respond in that manner?” It is, however, therapeutic.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I have written both for business and pleasure, writing my first play for the fourth grade paper sale. I have had non-fiction articles published on topics covering accepting breast cancer and lifestyles and traditions. “I Stand With Courage” is my first book.
Can you tell us more about your book, and where we may find it?
I Stand With Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis is available by ordering it at your local bookseller, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, InspiringVoices.com or, for a signed copy, at my website: www.IStandWithCourage.com . ISBN: 978-1-4624-0022-5. It is also available for Kindle or Nook.
The description on the book cover describes this book very concisely.
Was it a miracle, God-given determination, or both, that lifted Kathi from the paralysis that blindsided her, confining her to a wheelchair? No one wants to face such a life-changing health crisis, but Kathi takes us on her journey of creating a new life with a disability. With a husband also hospitalized, she is alone in her battle. A rehab center becomes her home while she searches for strength of body—and mind. See how acceptance, determination, and courage can overcome the challenges of everyday life. Reading about her progress, you realize she is just like you—an ordinary person who accepts and achieves the challenge to accomplish extraordinary feats, inspiring us by her power of faith and determination.
Where do you get your ideas for writing?
Having written mostly non-fiction my ideas come from my life experiences.
What is your favorite thing about your book?
It demonstrates how ordinary women can conquer extraordinary challenges.
Why and when did you begin writing?
It seems I have always gravitated toward writing. I write with no expectation in mind, just a passion for writing and honing my skill.
Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write?
After encouraging a friend and former teacher to begin teaching a writing class, the tables turned and she became my coach, helping me to think outside the box.
However, I must admit, I would not have a book if it weren’t for my paralysis and becoming a first time grandmother. I wanted to be a “proper” grandmother. That truly inspired my determination and quest for mobility. It’s amazing how little tugs at your heart can make a major impact on your life.
What is your writing schedule? What atmosphere do you need to write?
All my writing is done on my computer. An idea will come to me – usually in the morning – and I will key in notes. If I get excited about the topic I will continue to write on that subject; often turning to look outside and find the sun has already gone down. I am always alert to new story ideas.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I would like to challenge myself with some humorous short stories – a little embellished non-fiction. In an effort to market my book, I will be creating a blog on my website and delving into speaking to groups about challenging themselves to be the best they can be.
What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and be published?
Edit. Edit. Edit. Use a good editor. Self-publishing is not a sin. Research publishers and know exactly what you will be receiving for your payment.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Writing is a process. The more you write the better you get. If you love it, keep writing and learning. I believe everyone should write. I encourage people to write, whether it is your own book, journal, memoir or cookbook. It doesn’t matter whether you publish it or not. What does matter is that you leave a legacy for your family so that they may know who you are. Now that I am retired and have more time, I have so many questions I would like to ask my mother if she were alive.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Having spent much of my time working and raising kids I never read much. Now that I am retired I have become an avid reader of mysteries, intrigue, inspirational books and stimulating biographies or autobiographies. I read magazines, newspapers and just about any article that lands in front of me. Scrapbooking and card making is relaxing – just like when I was in kindergarten. I relish family times, especially with my granddaughters. Travel has been a passion, although we don’t do as much traveling as we did before my husband and I became handicapped.
Include anything else you may wish to add.
To all you writers (and those with dreams): Go for it. Why not?
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
1) Starting a business from scratch and leading it to success. This increased my confidence ten-fold.
2) Surviving several life threatening health challenges. I am now determined to live as full a life as I can.
3) Becoming a published author. The process was often taxing, but sharing hope with others as well as leaving an inspirational legacy for my grandchildren is well worth it.
I close with a quote from my book, “None of us knows what the future holds for us. May we all be blessed with the courage, determination, and faith to conquer the challenges.”