Karen Eisenbrey lives in Seattle, WA, where she leads a quiet, orderly life and invents stories to make up for it. Although she intended to be a writer from an early age, until her mid-30s she had nothing to say. A little bit of free time and a vivid dream about a wizard changed all that. Karen writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction in a variety of genres and the occasional poem if it insists. She also sings in a church choir, plays drums in a garage band, and was surprised to find herself writing songs for her debut YA novel The Gospel According to St. Rage. A YA wizard fantasy, Daughter of Magic, was released by Not a Pipe Publishing in 2018. She shares her life with her husband, two young adult sons, and two mature adult cats.
Community and Opportunity
I have never been ambitious or good at pursuing goals, so my writing journey has been long and slow. In the long run, that has worked out well.
I always loved stories. I liked reading as soon as I learned how. I looked forward to writing assignments but didn't attempt to write a story on my own until I was 16. Not sure whether I was waiting for permission or needed a grade as motivation! From that point on, I wanted to be an author. I went to college, majored in literature, took fiction and poetry classes, wrote two bad practice novels ... and realized I had nothing to say. I gave up.
Or did I? As a 20-something newlywed, I had ideas for goofy picture books (not for children but not inappropriate). I learned to draw just well enough to make five of them, each with fewer words than the last, and shared them with family and friends. I made one more when my firstborn was a toddler, then didn't write again until the chaos years: two young children, both parents working full time, household to manage. THAT'S when I needed to write? OK ... I still didn't have anything to say, but I attempted fan fiction, short stories, and another bad practice novel.
Around this time, I went to hear Ursula K. LeGuin read at a local bookstore. I'd been a fan since my pre-teen years; she wrote the way I wanted to about the kinds of things I wished I could write about. As it happened, I entered the store right behind her and thought I would pass out, I was so starstruck. I might have said something coherent when I went up to have my book signed. I know she said something kind and supportive. She's my role model.
After I'd been writing for two years, I had a brief, vivid dream with two wizards and at least three plot twists. When I described it to my husband, he suggested I put it into a book. I found the idea of writing a wizard book daunting. I'd loved the Earthsea trilogy and now Harry Potter was huge. Did I dare? But those plot twists ...
I struggled for a year to get the story out of my head and the draft into shape, then more time making it kind of good. I liked the characters and setting enough to start a sequel, only to realize it was book 3. In order to start book 2 that summer, I made a deal with my kids: Mom gets one uninterrupted hour a day to write. By the end of the summer, I had a draft. Three books turned into four, then I worked up a science fiction novel that turned into two more. I made a few lame attempts to submit that first fantasy novel, but mostly, I wrote and revised and wrote some more.
I joined a local writers' association to network, and won second prize in their annual contest before the group folded. The best thing I got out of it was a writing buddy. We met weekly for years, swapping chapters and giving feedback. She told me about Authonomy.com, Harper Collins' site for authors to upload manuscripts for comments from other authors. I never got near the editors' desk, but I received great feedback and “met” several of my now-favorite writers, who have become friends.
Around the time Authonomy was winding down, a few participants formed the Pankhearst Collective and invited more of us to contribute to an anthology of young adult fiction titled Heathers. I didn't have anything on hand that fit the theme so I cooked up a short story about a girl so self-effacing she's invisible, until her “fairy godfather” puts a hat on her head and makes her visible. “Hat” was my first published work. I wrote two related stories and considered self-publishing them as an ebook until Pankhearst persuaded me to turn them into a novel that they would publish. Um, yes? I spent 2015 writing my garage-rock fairy tale The Gospel According to St Rage, released in summer 2016. Pankhearst folded its tent soon after and I once again considered self-publishing. Once again fate intervened.
Another Authonomy veteran, Benjamin Gorman, had started Not A Pipe Publishing. He asked to use my Authonomy comment as a blurb for his first book. He had reviewed Heathers favorably, so I sent him a review copy of my novel. He said he wished he'd published it. The fifth book in my fantasy setting seemed like my best bet to submit to Not A Pipe, as the first book of a new series. Then Not A Pipe announced that 2018 would be “The Year of Publishing Women.” I wanted to get in on that as a matter of principle, but by the time my manuscript was ready, submissions had closed. I let them know I had something for when they reopened. “Send it now.”
Daughter of Magic became one of nine Not A Pipe books released in 2018. It has been a beautiful ride, watching these exciting books come out in succession, editing and blurbing each other, going to each other's release events, taking part in panels. It's not what I expected when I dreamed of being a published author. There's little money in it and no glamour.
I just submitted another manuscript.
Find Karen on her website, Facebook, and Twitter
Daughter of Magic
Luskell has been dreaming about dead people.
Her parents may be the two most powerful wizards in the country, but Luskell doesn’t have any magic of her own, so she’s stuck spending a summer with her grandmother in the small town of Deep River where her father is the hometown hero. Then the dead start to visit her dreams with mysterious messages. In a secret pact with her friends Jagryn and Laki, Luskell begins to teach herself magic and discovers an apparently bottomless well of untapped power. But before she has control over this ability, her dead grandfather appears with a dire warning. With no way to send word to her parents, Luskell and her friends mount a daring rescue. Can they get to the capital in time to save the country … and her parents’ lives?
Where to Buy Daughter of Magic
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.