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Day 31: 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Karen Karbo

Shout out to Karen Karbo for being willing to give away three of her kick-ass women books for our grand finalé this year!

Years ago I picked up a copy of Karen’s memoir, The Stuff of Life, and blazed through it.

Despite how much time has passed there are passages and images from the book that have stayed with me for years.

How often can you say that about a book you’ve read?

Fast forward, now Karen is working on the fourth release in her kick-ass women series.

Coming soon, a witty nonfiction look at none other than Julia Child. Yahoo!

And while we are all waiting for the release of Julia Child Rules, we can enjoy the first three books in the series…please help me welcome Karen!

About Karen Karbo

Karen Karbo’s first novel, Trespassers Welcome Here, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Village Voice Top Ten Book of the Year.  Her other two adult novels, The Diamond Lane and Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me, were also named New York Times Notable Books.  Her 2004 memoir, The Stuff of Life, about the last year she spent with her father before his death, was an NYT Notable Book, a People Magazine Critics’ Choice, a Books for a Better Life Award finalist, and a winner of the Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-fiction.  Her short stories, essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, Esquire, Outside, the New York Times, salon.com and other magazines. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a winner of the General Electric Younger Writer Award.

She is most well known for her best-selling Kick Ass Women series, the most recent of which is How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, published in 2011. How to Hepburn, published in 2007, was hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “an exuberant celebration of a great original.” The Gospel According to Coco Chanel appeared in 2009.  Next up: Julia Child Rules, which will appear in May 2013.

Karen grew up in Los Angeles California and lives in Portland, Oregon where she continues to kick ass.

About Karbo‘s Three Kick-Ass Women Books

How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, Lessons on the Art of Living

Most people associate Georgia O’Keeffe with New Mexico, painted cow skulls, and her flower paintings. She was revered for so long—born in 1887, died at age ninety-eight in 1986—that we forget how young, restless, passionate, searching, striking, even fearful she once was—a dazzling, mysterious female force in bohemian New York City during its heyday.

In this distinctive book, Karen Karbo cracks open the O’Keeffe icon in her characteristic style, making one of the greatest women painters in American history vital and relevant for yet another generation. She chronicles O’Keeffe’s early life, her desire to be an artist, and the key moment when art became her form of self-expression. She also explores O’Keeffe’s passionate love affair with master photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who took a series of 500 black-and-white photographs of O’Keeffe during the early years of their marriage.

How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living delves into the long, extraordinary life of the renowned American painter, exploring a range of universal themes—from how to discover and nurture your individuality to what it means to be in a committed relationship while maintaining your independence, from finding your own style to developing the ability to take risks. Each chapter is built around an aspect of living that concerns women today of all ages: how to find your own path; work with passion and conviction; express yourself; be in a relationship without sacrificing your sense of self; and do it all with an effortless, unique style.

As with Karbo’s previous books, How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living is not a traditional biography, but rather a compelling, contemporary reassessment of the life of O’Keeffe with an eye toward understanding what we can learn from her way of being in the world.

The Gospel According To Coco Chanel, Life Lessons From The World’s Most Elegant Woman

Delving into the long, extraordinary life of renowned French fashion designer Coco Chanel, Karen Karbo has written a new kind of book, exploring Chanel’s philosophy on a range of universal themes—from style to passion, from money and success to femininity and living life on your own terms.

Born in 1883 in a poorhouse in southern France to unmarried parents, Chanel was raised in a convent after her mother died when she was six and her father abandoned her. The nuns taught her to sew, and while working as a café singer in the early 1900s she began designing hats for fun. Her lovers included a wealthy English industrialist, who helped her set up her own millinery shop and steered his society friends her way.

Chanel grew up to be the woman who not only gave us the little black dress and boxy jackets, but also popularized pants for women and easy, practical clothes that allowed women a chic freedom they’d never known before. In her strong-headed, elegant, opinionated, passionate, entirely French way, Coco Chanel helped bring women into the modern era. She was the only fashion icon to be named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.

The Gospel According to Coco Chanel is a captivating, offbeat look at style, celebrity, and self-invention—all held together with Karbo’s droll Chanel-style commentary and culled from an examination of Chanel’s difficult childhood and triumphant adulthood, passionate love affairs, career choices, habits, eccentricities, and personal philosophies. Weaving Chanel’s life story into chapter themes that subtly convey life lessons, and with Chesley McLaren’s charming illustrations, it will leave the reader utterly entranced with, and inspired by, Chanel’s amazing individuality, confidence, and determination.

How To Hepburn, Lessons on Living From Kate The Great

How to Hepburn, Karen Karbo’s sleek, contemporary reassessment of one of America’s greatest icons, takes us on a spin through the great Kate’s long, eventful life, with an aim toward seeing what we can glean from the First Lady of Cinema. One part How Proust Can Change Your Life and one part Why Sinatra Matters, How to Hepburn teases some unexpected lessons from the life of a woman whose freewheeling, pants-wearing determination redefined the image of the independent woman while eventually endearing her to the world.

This witty, provocative gem is full of no-nonsense Hepburn-style commentary on subjects such as: making denial work for you; the importance of being brash, facing fear, and always having an aviator in your life; learning why and how to lie; the benefits of discretion; making the most of a dysfunctional relationship; and the power of forgiving your parents. Thrilling fans of the notoriously independent actress, award-winner Karen Karbo presents a gusty guidebook to harnessing your inner Hepburn, and living life on your own terms.

The Very Short Interview

When did you know for sure that you were a writer and that writing would be a major energy focus in your life?

I wrote my first “novel” in kindergarten (it was 7 pages long). It was called “What’s Up?” and was about five people who didn’t like each other, stuck in an elevator. In second grade, I made my non-fiction debut with “The Praying Mantis.” (With illustrations.) Writing has always been part of my life, but I resisted thinking I could make a living as a writer for a very long time. In college I was a biology major; I thought I would be a physical therapist and would write on the side. An excellent idea, and twelve books later, I’m still thinking it’s a good game plan.

Who has always been behind your writing career and who helped pull you up the ladder of success?

Can I say “no one,” and not sound like an ungrateful shrew? There have been wonderful advocates along the way: my agents (the first, Sally Wofford-Girand, and the current, Kim Witherspoon and David Forrer), editors (Stacy Creamer, who “discovered” me, Karen Rinaldi, Lara Asher) and certain loyal, stout-hearted friends, but it’s the word “always” that trips me up. As a mother and writing teacher I must caution against using absolutes! But if I’m pressed to choose someone who has “always” been behind my writing career, it’s the voice of my Dad, who always believed that if I was willing to work hard and be persistent, I could do anything I wanted to do.

What is the most frequent comment you hear about your book (or books) from readers? Tell us a little story about the response to your work.

People say they feel as if I’m just talking to them. The inimitable Rhonda Hughes, publisher extraordinaire of Hawthorne Books, once praised the effortlessness with which I write. Of course, because she isn’t your run-of-the-mill book person, she knows that making it look easy is hard work.

And Now, Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. You remember how this works right?

I ask you a question. You answer in the comments for your chance to win a book each day.

Please just respond once, even if you make a typo. ;)

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Karen writes books about kick-ass women. What do you write about? You can answer broadly, narrowly, poetically, with a list (which you know I will love), coquettishly, even vaguely…however you like!

At the end of your life, what will folks say you were writing about or exploring in the body of work you leave behind?

Ready, set, comment!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway!

This is it. Last day, last chance to comment to win awesome books by author mamas.

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  • Brit StClair May 30, 2012, 11:35 pm

    I think I’m too early in my career to claim a theme, but I seem drawn to women overcoming inner conflict. I tend to be drawn to what seems to be a literary attempt at hashing out my own experiences. The thought of folks talking about what I’ve left behind sounds amazing…and intimidating! I’m hoping they would say that I was exploring themes common to women of my generation…for example loss of trust in mainstream religion or pushing sexual boundaries or grappling with those previous examples while raising a family…

  • Beth Fornauf May 31, 2012, 12:17 am

    I write a lot about motherhood, because it is the forefront of my life right now, but I have other interests too. Because I’m a former teacher, I am interested in education, curriculum, and students with disabilities. I think it’s important to talk about aspects of education that need to change, not just in terms of curriculum, but socialization (things like bullying come to mind). I also love to write about things my students have said in the past – some of them are so hilarious!

  • mldavis May 31, 2012, 12:24 am

    Writing is cathartic and necessary for me.  More often than not,  the content, ideas or premise  never see  the white of paper but are safely formulated in my mind; with hope, not to be forgotten but used at a later time.   I love to write about irony, twists of fate, odd ball statistics and my great love: North Dakota history.  I smile when I remember the t-shirt that says “Too many books, so little time.” Mine would read, “Too many ideas, never enough time!” As my life wanes,  I will be sad I didn’t write more and what I leave behind for readers? I can only hope,  a pleasurable trip through my work. 

  • Linda Hofke May 31, 2012, 7:26 am

    I guess I haven’t found my niche yet.  I write non-fiction articles, short stories, pictures books and poetry for children. I only write non-fiction and poetry for adults.

    At the end of my life what will people say about my writing? I hope they say I wrote about whatever I felt was important–articles to inform, to connect, or to entertain.

  • Dee May 31, 2012, 12:35 am

    I write about women at crossroads.  Women who are looking back at their lives and seeing chances not taken, mistakes made, or opportunities overlooked.  These are strong women…who sometimes haven’t realized their strength, but the world around them gives them another opportunity to take a stand. 

    At the end of my life, I hope that people will say I helped them understand themselves better and also helped them understand their times.  So much changes in the span of a lifetime that it’s often difficult to recognize it.  I want my writing to give a glimpse into that change. 

  • Sara May 31, 2012, 7:45 am

    Right now, I write about language,  literature, and  history (think educational publishers/elearning), and health topics (think brochures and workbooks) to pay the bills. I write a lot about food and motherhood and grief and gardening (and sometimes how various combinations of those intersect). 

  • 9mas May 31, 2012, 12:48 am

    I write about making hard choices that alter the course of lives.  I write about surviving those choices and staying open to what life brings afterwards.  Actions have consequences, but that’s not an excuse for sitting on the sidelines because you’re afraid to decide.  Hard choices give a person, a character, the chance to face themselves truthfully.  Who knows what will happen?              

  • Nathalie May 31, 2012, 8:06 am

    I write personal stories about real life in real time: the juicy parts, the messy parts, the mortification, the magic … all of it. I like to say that I write what people talk about on the way home from the party but don’t put in the scrapbook. Basically, I throw myself under the proverbial bus to offer others a point of connection and diminish the illusion of being alone in our imperfections. I write irreverent self-help, firmly believing that self-help is a verb. I love writing about journaling and mothering in real life as opposed to the pretend one I have on Pinterest. 

  • Diane J. May 31, 2012, 8:12 am

    My freelance writing is comprised of parenting articles. I enjoy easy pieces that give me a few tips with a light-hearted feel, so I aim for that style in my writing.

    In my novels (one in second draft stage and one in first draft stage), I noticed a common thread even though they are completely different genres. One is young adult and one is an adult mystery (not adult as in x-rated, just the characters are middle age, adult).  Both tear apart the image of perfection.

    However, the mystery is a bit more light-hearted because I like to laugh once in a while when submerged in a book.

    INot sure if that is a theme or not and I won’t win any awards in orginality, but it’s what I enjoy.

  • Judy May 31, 2012, 3:08 am

    I write about parenting, adoption, special
    needs, and tweens and teens. Occasionally I write about something else. Occasionally
    = when I have time. At the end of my life, I think people will say I wrote
    about and then began an in-depth exploration of my topics. I want to kick ass!
    Well done, Karen! And thanks again, Christina for doing the giveaway. J

  • Sarah Lindsey May 31, 2012, 10:26 am

    Most of my nonfiction articles are about parenting and nutrition. So I guess you could say that I write about life’s daily challenges…and try to find solutions to them, or at least, ways to make them more manageable. In my spare time (which really doesn’t exist!), I write screenplays for fun. Essentially, I would say that I write stories – about life, love, loss, sacrifice, and joy. And my hope is that these stories will help someone find a little more joy and meaning in their life than they had before reading my work. 

  • Krystyann Krywko May 31, 2012, 3:56 am

    I write about hearing loss and how it affects children and families, that has morphed into writing about children with special needs, which has morphed into educating children with special needs. I write about topics I am passionate about, mostly having to do with injustices or how we can all get along better. I write a lot about small moments and the impact that they have on our lives. I hope to leave behind a body of work that will help people understand each other a little better.

  • Missy_roth May 31, 2012, 4:24 am

    My niche is romance involving the sports world.   When I was younger I had a fascination with athletes and the lives they live and I read teen romance books like my mother did.  This prompted my stories to include both of the things I like to read about.  I once told a group of writers about that and they didn’t seem to be very impressed, but I have read in many places to write about what you know. 

  • Lisa S. May 31, 2012, 4:31 am

    I’m at the very beginning of my writing career and I’m starting out by writing about parenting/motherhood topics which are what my life is all about right now. As I continue on my writing journey I want to explore other topics and styles of writing, (short stories, personal essays) but I’ll just see where my writing takes me and what ideas ring true to me and a potential audience. I have no ideas or hopes for what readers would say I was exploring in my work. But I would hope that my work was enjoyable and inspiring and even possibly educational in a personal sense to readers.

  • Cara Holman May 31, 2012, 11:39 am

    I write about life. I
    never know exactly what I will write about until I write it. Since the start of
    this year, I’ve written about foxes, dreams, mom, college reunions, miscarriage,
    dad, trolls, tea, lanterns, fairies, kindergarten, hospice, writing group,
    bedtime stories, cancer, garden parties, moving, New Year’s resolutions,
    shooting stars, roses, robins, biopsies, rain, dandelions, snow, the moon,
    butterflies, starlings, frost, geese, cemeteries, precious stones, footsteps,
    dawn, twilight, clouds, spring, apples, rowboats, bridge pilings, cats,
    poodles, swings, matryoshka dolls, stars, road trips, elevators, knitting
    needles, crickets, earthworms, spiders, umbrellas, ginkgoes, old growth forests,
    banana slugs, contrails, grandma, cormorants, blueberries, ladybugs, wisteria,
    sunlight, tidepools, tea kettles, nachos, ants, pebbles, buttercups, zippers,
    puddles, palm fronds, x-rays, eucalyptus, suitcases, sandals, salted fish, and
    gnats. And that’s just for starters.

  • Chris May 31, 2012, 11:50 am

    I write about women. And travel. I used to write poetry. I love to write about culture, art, music food and folk tales as well. Mostly I just love to write. I hope that when I’m gone people will enjoy my work and admire my writing (but I would prefer they do it before I die)….

  • MLTCG May 31, 2012, 6:07 am

    At the end of my life people will say that I wrote about the human condition and spoke out on issues that would compel readers look at their world, their community, their neighbor, their family and friends with a little more empathy, compassion and understanding.
                I want people to stop and ask. Where can I help? Who can I help? It doesn’t need to be a big deal, even the smallest gestures of kindness may inspire someone to fight on, try harder, to believe in themselves. I was raised by my parents, especially my Dad, to believe that I could be and do anything, as well as any man or woman. I hope my writing leaves others with the same sense of freedom and self confidence that my family gave me.

  • MLTCG May 31, 2012, 1:12 pm

    I’ll check out your website. Love your comment. Look forward to reading your books

  • Renee May 31, 2012, 6:27 am

    When I first started writing, most of the essays and topic I pitched were related to parenting, which is why I loved your book “Writer Mama” so much. I still write a lot on that topic, and now edit a local parenting magazine, but I also seem to have a knack for covering human-interest stories. I’m not sure exactly why, other than I seem to be a really good listener and people really open up to me! 
    In the fiction realm, I’m sort of all over the map right now. I write about women that I can relate to and young adults who are overcoming tragedies in their lives, romantic relationships and mental illness. When I started writing my novel, I realized I actually enjoyed writing dialogue, and a judge reading over my work for a grant application said that my “narrative is compelling, the characters are well imagined and the intensity of the emotion is fresh, focused and realistic.” 
    Honestly, that was enough to make me feel I have accomplished something great in my writing career!

  • Dana Britt May 31, 2012, 1:30 pm

    How awesome–these books are already on my wishlist!

     I write about anything that strikes my interest, mostly non-fiction with a bit of fiction tinkering out there as well. My life’s passion is child development and learning, as well as relationships. I hope to write much more about these topics in the future.

  • Dona Bumgarner May 31, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I’d have to say the bulk of my writing is about me finding my place in the world and understanding myself. Before I was a parent, it was about my relationship and my career.  Now more about family and mothering. Even in my non-fiction writing, I stick to topics that are close to my heart – food and sustainability and living simply. I’d be very happy if someone looked back at my life’s work and came to that same conclusion!

  • Mar Junge May 31, 2012, 6:54 am

    In the last year alone I’ve written about:
    AS9100 Quality Management Systems
    Electronic Discovery Managed Solutions
    Executives, Directors and Managers
    Get Well Natural Herbal Products
    HDcctv Systems for Video Surveillance
    Hydrogen Gas Detection Systems
    Increasing Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards
    Inbound Marketing Services
    Indigent Pregnant Women in Tibet and Mexico
    Indoor Air Quality Monitors
    Microwave Power Modules
    PR and Marketing Solutions
    The Importance of Mentoring
    Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers
    Unmanned Aeronautical Vehicles (UAVs)
    When I’m gone, folks will not remember the contributions I’ve made to advance the technologies or subjects listed above because the majority of articles are ghostwritten for clients and don’t carry my byline. Perhaps they will remember the contributions I made to help advance the field of public relations. Hopefully they’ll remember my many Young Adult fiction books that have inspired teens worldwide. And maybe my memoirs, should my children choose to publish them posthumously.

  • ForeverJunge May 31, 2012, 7:31 am

    I write about myself, but not directly. I like to take funny things that have happened in my life, opportunities, all of the are-you-kidding? moments and transform them into stories featuring women who makes the moves that I was not bold enough to make, who say the things outloud that I have only thought, and who are in their own stories more kick-ass than I could ever wish to be. 

  • Deb Marshall May 31, 2012, 11:48 am

    I write about Victorian women who were 
    less-than-ladies in those times.I write about what is on people’s minds.Sometimes I write to entertain, although mostly I write to just explainWhat it is that makes each of usUniquely the same.When I am gone I think people will say,the truth wasn’t prettyuntil Deb said it her way. 

  • Kristy Grieve May 31, 2012, 12:00 pm

    I really haven’t nailed down my niche yet. I seem to find such a multitude of topics I want to write about that I have trouble narrowing it down. Which also means a lot of articles, don’t actually get written. It was very inspiring to read the other’s comments.  I plan to add Karen Karbo’s books to my reading list.

  • Rhonda May 31, 2012, 12:30 pm

    I write about education, teaching educational skills
    in the home, parenting, mommyhood, food, cooking, my childhood, my children’s
    childhood, health, wellness, and nutrition. More specifically, I have written humorously
    about trying to do yoga with a baby, my distaste for artificial sweeteners, and
    in defense of those who work at coffee shops. I have written about how to
    encourage writing in young children, improve fine motor skills, how to help
    kids generalize school skills to real-life situations, and how to incorporate everything
    from science & the senses to math & art in activities like hiking,
    cooking, and playing with blocks. I haven’t given much thought to what people
    say about my writing when I am gone, but I hope I would have encouraged them or
    entertained them in some way.

  • Julie Goldbeck May 31, 2012, 1:56 pm

    I haven’t found my writing niche yet.  I think why should I limit myself to just one niche if I have different writing interests.  I write items in support of the disabled, specifically the blind/visually impaired, fiction for women with the main character being someone who is disabled, spiritual items, children’s, non-fiction advice type pieces.  I tried blogging, but was discouraged by that so discontinued it.
    I hope readers will say my body of work was something that helped and inspired people with their spiritual growth, relationship with Christ and helped them increase their faith.  Also, that I was able to promote the abilities of the blind to the general public and help them be viewed in a positive light as capable, intelligent, contributing members of society.

  • christinakatz June 1, 2012, 9:20 am

     Dana, you win! Congrats! Pays to wish, apparently!