Featured Writer on Wellness: K.S. Jones

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on August 20, 2015 • views: 1885

KS JonesI have always wanted to be a writer. Always.

At four or five years old, I would sit at the breakfast table with my mother and read her the Peanuts comic strip.

One morning, she looked at me and said, “What if you made up your own story about Snoopy? Look at the pictures, and without reading the words, tell me what you think they’re saying.”

So I did. And I’ve spent time every week since then writing. Not all of it was good. But not all of it was bad, either.

Walk Away or Try Harder?

Like most writers, I had to balance writing and raising an active family. My mantra turned out to be “there’s always tomorrow.”

Then in 2011, while working 12-plus hour days at a paycheck job, an epiphany hit: This is it. This is all there is.

The thought terrified me.

I needed something to help combat the dread when, by happenstance, I stumbled across this quote: “One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.”

More determined than ever to be a published novelist before time slipped away, I began setting my alarm for 4:00 a.m. every morning. I wrote like mad for three hours, and then showered, dressed, and rushed to work.

The novel I had worked on for fifteen years was almost finished in 2012 when a texting teen ran a red light. We collided into a spinning, tumbling mess. With a crushed ankle, a new artificial knee, another damaged and dislocated knee, and a right shoulder nearly torn from its socket, I realized my most devastating fear wasn’t that I would never again be able to walk, or to lift a grandchild onto my lap, but that I would never write again.

The Gift of Walking

During the months of rehab and the years after, I learned that writing—yes, the chair-sitting, fingers-moving, brain-thinking art of writing—might be the only job left that I could still do well!

So I poured my determined spirit into my stories. At-home rehab is still a constant: I ride my exercise bike daily while listening to audio books on my Kindle, and I walk outdoors with my beautiful Aussie, Red Bleu.

The walks are shorter and slower now, but being outside is important to me. Walking is no longer such a chore, but a gift instead.

Healthy Eating is a Challenge

I have a vegetable garden, which grows right outside my office window. That brings the need to get up and go outside and pretend to be the farmer’s daughter that I truly am. The garden also provides us with good, healthy, organic food. (I’ve been known to enjoy a homegrown salad for breakfast!)

However, most months the garden does not produce and that’s when I find healthy eating a challenge. I have not won that battle yet, but I have learned to recognize things that I will eat, as opposed to things that I should eat.

So, no matter how many times I’m told that I should be eating fresh fruit daily, it does no good to buy a bushel and hope for the best. If I have one good peach, it is delightful! But trying to force myself to eat one every morning is a battle lost early on.

Instead, I try to eat whatever is in season, as I believe Mother Earth knows what we need and I trust her more than me. I use a vacuum sealer creatively. I fix my own granola, and then seal it in individual bags to enjoy with Greek yogurt or as a snack, or I mix veggies such as baby carrots and snap peas together in a sealed bag and stack a few days’ worth in the fridge.

I can no longer stand for long periods, so this method is fun and makes it easy to enjoy healthy eating.

The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path

There are so many stories yet to be told! Can you imagine if Moses had never told the story he knew he needed to tell? What a different world it might be today.

For me, it’s as if I have a huddle of folks around me all clamoring for me to tell their story. I cannot judge whose story is more important, so I need to tell them all. The problem is … time. Time to hear their words. Time to hear the details. There never seems to be enough time, so my solution is to try to writer faster.

Advice for a Young Writer: It’s Never Too Early to Start

The hardest part is learning the craft. Writing is not just words. Anyone can write just words.

Writing is putting the right words in the right order at the right time.

And there are so many variations! It’s never too early to start, so if you have not yet done so, start now. Take writing classes in school and understand that there is always more to learn.

Years ago, I was given great advice:

To be able to write a novel, you have to be willing to fall out of life for one year and not let anyone sway you.

Put down the cell phone. Turn off the television. Turn down the invitation to the weekend party. Everyone will forgive your absence when your book hits the bestseller lists.

* * *

Southern Writers Short Story issueKaren (K.S.) Jones has been writing most of her life, usually in stolen moments between raising children, caring for elderly parents, and working a real job. She spent fifteen years writing and researching her Depression-era debut novel, Shadow of the Hawk. During that time, she had magazine pieces published, but it wasn’t until 2014 that her writing took a giant leap forward.

One quiet morning an email arrived announcing that she had won the Southern Writers 2014 Short Story contest! While reveling in the moment, a second email chimed—a publisher was offering a contract on her novel.

That same week, two more publishing offers arrived for the same novel, and she hasn’t looked back since. With two middle-grade novels now finished, Karen has begun the writing of another young adult book.

For more information on Karen and her work, please see her website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Shadow of the HawkShadow of the Hawk: It is May 1932 and life in the timbered rise and fall of Western Arkansas has just gotten harder for sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams. With debt mounting and both friends and family fleeing, Sooze is determined to “do the right thing.” She promises her heart to a well-to-do man believing true love is just another loss along the way.

But when her uncle is murdered and family is accused of the crime, Sooze vows not to be beaten. Is salvation within her grasp by relying solely on truth, or is it in the security of her intended’s money? Sooze must decide before it’s too late.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Congratulations to Shelby and Elaine—they both won free copies of Shadow of the Hawk!

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Comments (11)

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  1. Chere Hagopian says:

    Your story is truly amazing! Thanks for your persistence- it’s a great example for all of us! And Iove your realistic eating philosophy. I have bought the bushel of peaches way too many times.

  2. What a wonderful article on persistence, dedication, and effort!
    Thank you for this inspiring piece. Motivation is always needed – especially when your passion loses that initial gleam of hope. Thank you for these encouraging words.

    • Karen (K.S.) Jones says:

      You are so right, Shelby! Motivation comes in many forms–sometimes in tiny bit and pieces. Just keep gathering what you find and it may soon be something huge and wondrous. I am happy you found good things in my story and I am pleased you came by today.

  3. Katy Cook says:

    Your story is heart warming. I gained strength from reading it.

  4. A wonderful article , chock full of inspiration. Your book sounds wonderful. The key is that you never gave up and now you have a published book. All the best.

    • Karen (K.S.) Jones says:

      Darlene, sometimes the only key we hold is in choosing not to give up. As weak as it may feel at times, it is often the strongest thing we possess. Thank you so much for stopping by to talk with us.

  5. Elaine McMurray says:

    I knew you could garden, but I just found out that you’re quite the creative, in-depth artist/writer….how exciting to read this! It’s one thing for people to be able to think vivid thoughts with textural pictures in their mind, but when you can put that in print for everyone else to read…..it becomes such a gracious gift. Thanks for sharing your horizons.

  6. Heather Norwood says:

    I hope to be published someday. Your words and experiences inspire me to keep trying. Thank you.

    • Karen (K.S) Jones says:

      Hi Heather! Don’t ever give up. You never know when your dreams are waiting just around the corner. Be sure to connect with me on Facebook or at my website to let me know how your writing is progressing.