Monthly Archives: December 2012

Something for Everyone: Announcing The Orange Karen Anthology All-Star Roster

Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to craft a short story to submit to the Orange Karen Anthology. We had a tower of stories to read!

We have a great line-up of talented authors with entertaining, funny, touching and out-of-this-world stories to be included in the Orange Karen Anthology. Readers will find something for everyone in this anthology: romance, fantasy, sci-fi, suspense, and humor, just to name a few. At the present time, our editors are hard at work tweaking and polishing, and then we will be formatting the book for e-book and paperback to be released April 2013!

But I bet you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats wanting to get to know our authors. Are you ready? Here’s the list!

Alex Kimmell
Andrew F. Butters
Anna Meade
Anne Baker
Benjamin Cain
Cara Michaels
Christina Esdon
Christopher Cantley
D. Savannah George
E. Wells-Walker
Elizabeth Ann West
Emmett Spain
February Grace
Francis Stetnocis
Gareth S. Young
Glenn Skinner
J. Whitworth Hazzard
Janelle Jensen
Jeff Tsuruoka
Jennifer Gracen
Jerry Gentry
Jesse James Freeman
John Moore Walker
Jonathan Gould
Joseph Schmidt
Julie Glover
K.D. McCrite
Mark Ethridge
Maureen Hovermale
Patty Blount
R.B. Wood
Shay Fabbro
Sheilagh Lee
Stephanie Fuller
Steve Umstead
Steven Luna
Taylor Lunsford
Tim Queeney
Valerie Haight

Congratulations to all of our authors!

We will keep everyone posted about the developments as we go, so stay tuned!

A Final Word: Orange Karen Anthology Countdown

It’s the day after the official deadline for submissions for the Orange Karen anthology. First off I would like to thank everyone who submitted stories. We’ve had an overwhelming response and can’t wait to finish reading through all the short stories. We will be contacting you individually via e-mail in the next couple of weeks to let you know if your stories will be included in the anthology. Hang tight! We have a lot of reading to do!!

Thank you also to everyone to read and shared the posts. We have had great activity on this blog the website the past two weeks and that’s all because of you!Finally a thank you to everyone who posted such wonderful, funny, tender and heartfelt posts on the blog, you are all amazing.

To wrap things up, I’ve called in Glenn Skinner. He and the resident fairy in his head have some final words. Take it away, Glenn and fairy!

* * * * *

A Final Word

Purchase the Orange Karen Anthology, or the fairy in my head will haunt you in your dreams!…

There, that about covers it. What else is there left to say. For the past 15 days, this blog has been hosted by the finest, most talented, assortment of writers and friends I have ever known. Through their words we have learned everything there is to know about our orange top warrior Karen DeLabar, and her struggles and triumphs. We have felt the passion, and compassion, that this group revealed from deep within their heart and souls. They have inspired us, made us laugh and made us cry. They are the humble group we label as #teamorange. I don’t think there is anything I can add that hasn’t been already been said.

Tragedy hits everyone differently, but for every Yin there is a Yang. Tragedy while it sometimes brings out the worst in people, it often brings out their best. Back in June this was the case for a tight knit group of writers who banded together in prayer and support for a friend in need. So strong was their support, that it went viral across the net. In a desire to help their friend in need, they did everything that was within their power. Whether that everything was filling Karen’s room in intensive care with cards of support, or sending a “Doggy Howser” flower bouquet, complete with balloons, chocolates, and a single orange bow to symbolize our solidarity and support. A stranger sent pizza, so Eric wouldn’t starve while sitting by her side. Another sent a new pair of shoes to brighten Karen’s day, knowing it could be months before she could wear them. When Karen was released, their support continued, whether it was simply moral support, visits, or meals, they never let up. It was no surprise when #teamorange learned of the mounting medical bills, this group would do nothing less than rally for their beloved orange warrior.  As such, the Orange Karen Anthology was born (OK, the anthology has a cooler name than that, but the fairy insists I keep it simple).  We live in tough times. Every day we struggle to keep our heads above water. If you’re a group of talented writers (and a hack like me) what do you do to help? You write. You write from deep within holding nothing back. You reach out across the net and you ask others to join your cause.  You rally your cause from every street corner.

The deadline for submissions has past; many talented people took the time to help a friend in need. Many of whom, have never met Karen, but were moved by the compassion put forth by her friends. What remains now is to wait while the submissions are reviewed, the stories selected, and the anthology brought to completion. All that will remain then will be to purchase a copy and spread the word. There are so many people in need in this world today, and so many good causes. Why should I spend what little I have on this particular cause, you might ask?  My answer to you is quite simple; you should do it for you. The stories in this anthology will reach deep into your soul. They will make you laugh, make you cry, and inspire you. The proceeds that will help Karen, will pale in comparison to what the anthology will give you back. Feel the power that is orange.

P.S. (Don’t make me send the fairy after you)


Glenn Skinner is a fantasy writer and amateur astronomer who has spent a few nights too many with his head in the clouds. With his trusty muse the fairy by his side, he spends many an evening spinning tales of imagination, bringing color to the grey. His current work in progress is a fantasy series called “The Keya Quests”.

Learn more about him at:

Or his work:

Karen DeLabar: This is Simply My Story – Orange Karen Anthology Countdown (Day 15)

By now, Karen DeLabar should need no introduction. She’s the “Orange Karen” we’ve been writing about on this blog for the past two weeks. She’s the reason we’re doing this anthology. She is our friend, our inspiration and our warrior. Today marks the deadline for accepting submissions to the Orange Karen Anthology. Some of you know Karen, some of you don’t. But none of you (save a few) know the whole story about Karen’s sudden, and deathly illness, and how she came out alive, swinging fists after a long battle.

She still struggles with typing, and often writes by hand before dictating it to her computer. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to reflect on the past six months and try to put into words what happened. But she did it. This kid’s got moxie, folks. Oodles of it.

It is my absolute honor to share with you Karen’s story, written by the one, the only, the true Orange Warrior, Karen DeLabar.

Note: Karen has put up some pictures on her website which further depict her battle with Toxic Shock Syndrome and her recovery. While some of the pictures may be graphic, they show the marvels of modern medicine and they show the resilient spirit of our dear friend.

* * * * *

This is simply my story.

It started like any other Saturday. Eric was rushing around trying to get the kids ready and I was being lazy not wanting to get out of bed. Until, that is, I realized what was happening this Saturday. That evening was our oldest daughter’s very first dance recital. I was beyond excited. If you know me you know I love theater, the arts, entertaining. The thought of my daughter following in my footsteps just makes me want to push her out of the spotlight and take her place. Just kidding. 😉

As the day went on I started to feel tired, run down. I brushed it off thinking it was just the normal mom feeling of having to do everything in a short amount of time. I remember swaying back and forth as I tried to perfect her braid and scolding myself for doing a half-assed job.

Lily ready to take the stage at her dance recital

Lily ready to take the stage at her dance recital

When we got to the recital I started to shake with cold sweats. Taking shallow breaths and hoping not to pass out in the wings, I watched my little ballerina hit every move. After her second dance I couldn’t stand any more and opted to go home to bed. After tossing and turning that night and the following day with a high fever, Eric took me to the ER Sunday night. The night nurses took my blood, found nothing out of the ordinary, gave me fluids and sent me on my way, diagnosing it as a viral infection.

Under this advisement I went home and spent all of Monday in bed as severe pain ravaged my body, especially in my neck, shoulder, and abdomen. By Tuesday morning I was vomiting and too weak to even stand. Eric and I actually discussed not going to the hospital because of cost but I soon felt too sick to care and insisted we go. We later learned that had I not gone to the ER that Tuesday morning I would have died Tuesday night.

The total time from onset to fatality, four days.

I spent all day in the ER and after test after test with no answer as to what my ailment was I was admitted into the ICU that night. The last thing I remember was turning to the doctor, pointing to Eric and telling her to make sure he ate something. Another doctor looked down at me and said, “Lie back, we need to intubate you.”

When Eric left that night I was just intubated, when he walked into the room the next morning I was hooked up to 13 different machines. My body went into shock and they couldn’t figure out why. Just overnight I lost blood flow to my hands and feet; the toxins then pooled where there was decreased blood causing an intense rash which then turned to blisters which popped open and left open wounds. Disgusting, angry, limb losing wounds.

I lost my left thumb almost immediately. The infection was causing my body to throw out random clots. I was also placed on four machines that are designed to pull your blood to your core. The machines saved my heart, and my life, but they doomed my hands and feet. My family watched as my extremities turned black knowing there was nothing they could do to stop it.

At one point I had 19 extra liters of fluid in my body. Think of a 2 liter bottle of soda. That’s a lot of soda.

The doctors were stumped, they had no idea what was causing my sickness. I was dubbed the sickest person in the hospital by the Dean of Medicine. I’m still waiting for my plaque.

My heart was only pumping at 25 to 30% and there was concern that my body wouldn’t be able to handle the severe attack of the infection. However, thanks to the sheer determination of the many doctors and nurses on my case, a day and a half after they started antibiotics I started to turn around.  At this point I was placed on hypnotics which allowed me to respond to the doctors but I would have no recollection of the events.

I woke up 10 days later to my husband and brother looking down on me with big goofy grins on their faces. Two days later we had a cause. A culture finally came back with toxic shock antibodies. My infection had a name, and it was Toxic Shock due to strep. Yep, your everyday strep got into my blood and there you have it. It’s cause is still unknown. It was NOT caused by tampons, or the mud run I had just raced in, or anything like that. Somehow strep got into my blood and tried it’s damnedest to kill me.

We were told that 8 out of 10 don’t survive what I went through. My doctors attribute my survival to three main reasons:

1. My age. I went through all of this, which includes mastering the bedpan, just a few short weeks of my 30th birthday.

2. My strength. Before my illness I was working out five days a week, sometimes twice a day. I would have loved to have been awake when the doctor told my mom, who used to criticize my workout schedule, that my physical strength was one of the reasons I survived.

3. I’m stubborn. My body basically refused to quit. They had me on enough narcotics and medicine to down a 300 pound man for a week, and yet I was struggling with nurses to remove my own tube, even tried to punch one who went to stop me. I struggled to let them know that I was still inside, that I was still fighting.

During that week and a half in the ICU I was placed on a dialysis machine, had several blood transfusions and more than one central line put in to administer medicines. The last one I had went straight into my neck and into a main vein; it was put into place right before I woke up. I kinda miss that one. They’d put in pain meds and before they were down pushing it all in, I would be out. Until the one nurse left the syringe in my neck and I didn’t realize it.

“Karen…” Eric asked me ever so cautiously, “is that a syringe hanging out of the side of your neck?”

I brought my hand up and lightly touched around what they called the IJ (inter-jugular) pick.

“Why, yes, yes it is.” And I went back to reading.

He spent the rest of the afternoon calling me “Frankenwife”.

After a month in the hospital and physical rehab facility I was released to go home on July 4th; a day that is now my own little Independence Day.  I thought I was in the home stretch, but my recovery was only beginning.

When the podiatrist first saw me he said the worst case scenario was double amputation up to my knees. No one should ever have to hear those words. I never felt so helpless in my life. I just kept thinking about my two little girls at home; how I could never dance or run with them again. He recommended a hyperbaric chamber to help circulation in my feet to aid in the healing. For 55 days I spent two hours breathing pure oxygen at twice the atmospheric pressure. I laid in that gigantic glass tube, completely closed off from the rest of the world watching “Frasier” reruns on Lifetime. It could have been worse.

2012-09-11 at 08-00-33 2012-09-11 at 08-12-20

The hyperbaric chamber (L); Karen gets ready for one of many hyperbaric chamber treatments (R)

My afternoons were spent at various doctors, cardiologists, hand therapists, and surgeons.

With every appointment I continued to defy the odds. They told me that it would take at least six months for my heart to recover. By the end of July it was already back to normal. When August rolled around it looked like my feet were going to be saved, minus a pinkie toe.

My thumb was still the only question mark.

The first hand surgeon wanted to amputate it, sew my new stub of a thumb to my groin and grow a new thumb from there. Yeah. Let me just walk around with my hand down my pants for six weeks. I’m sure no one would notice.

But thanks to a second opinion I am now working with a brilliant micro surgeon out of the University of Penn. I am currently undergoing a series of surgeries to reconstruct my thumb using tissue from my arm.


“Look ma, a new thumb!”

I don’t remember anything from those 10 days in which I fought for my life. A part of me wants to but looking at the sadness in my family’s eyes when they recall that time I’m guessing it’s for the better that I don’t. What I do remember is waking up to two whole walls of the ICU room covered in get well cards. Nurses and doctors would randomly come in, hug me, kiss my forehead and thank God I pulled through.  My social media sites, Twitter feed, Facebook wall, were filled with seemingly endless posts of prayers, well wishes and notes of people wanting to help.

I have never been so overwhelmed in all of my life.

I’ve learned a lot this past year, patience, humility but most of all what friendship and love really means. I’ve learned to be thankful for the smallest things and I’ve gotten pretty good at finding the silver lining in darker moments.

I learned to laugh at myself.

Everyone who looks at my hands and my troubled gait say they’re so sorry that this happened to me. But please, don’t feel sorry for me; never feel sorry for me.

I’m alive, and I’m in control of my recovery.

But I am sorry. I am sorry for my parents. They had to watch their only daughter’s hands and feet turn black before their eyes, knowing there was nothing they could do to stop it. I’m sorry for my husband who called up his parents to tell them to come say goodbye to me and how he had to figure out what to say to two little girls about their mommy who went to the hospital and didn’t come back.

But I’m most sorry for my two little girls who knew nothing of what was going on and just wanted their mommy to hold them. That’s who you should be sorry for, for my loved ones who had to watch me fight this and could do nothing to help.

However, that is all in the past. So instead of feeling sorry, I try to remember to celebrate. I’m here for birthday parties, holidays, smelling honeysuckle waft through the air on a cool June night. And yes, I’m even excited to be here to potty train our soon to be three year old.

Life is truly a blessed and beautiful thing. I have many reminders by way of scars, pain, and overall way of life that reminds what I went through to ensure that I have a life to live. Whenever pettiness and pride creeps in to ruin my day I just have to look down to my hands or feet to remember how precious life is and what really matters.

I urge you to stop and take some time to yourself and be thankful for all that you have because within four days it could all be gone.

I want to quickly give thanks to everyone who has worked on this site, submitted posts, submitted stories for the anthology, and is currently working on putting everything together. Another big hug and thanks to all my friends and family who have rallied behind us during this trying time. To my doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacies, and hospital staff, thank you for your dedication to help others. And last, but not least, my husband, Eric. Yours was the last face I saw before I went out and the first one I saw when I woke up. I want to keep it that way. 

2012-12-06 at 18-28-37

A DeLabar Family Christmas 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine – Orange Karen Anthology Countdown: Day 14

We’ve had about two weeks worth of stories, testimonials and tributes to our dear friend Karen DeLabar. But we’re not done yet. There are two more sleeps until the submission deadline to have your short stories considered for the Orange Karen Anthology. As we near Day 15, we hear from a long-time friend of Karen’s, Susi Nonnemacher. She speaks of Karen’s resilience and her ability to see the glass half-full and live life through laughing. Enjoy, friends.

* * * * *

When my brother was a sophomore in high school, he was the head Winkie in our high school’s production of “the Wizard of Oz”. This was perfect for my brother, who is great a doing the straight-faced, monotone, creepy voice the role required without cracking so much as a smile.

I was 22 at the time, moved home from Florida in the midst of the preparations for the show. I remember picking my brother up from rehearsal one day when he told me that his goal was to make one of the characters playing opposite him laugh on stage during a performance. He went on to tell me that this young woman was awesome, a natural actor who could just roll with the punches, no matter what happened–until he came on stage.

Toward the end of the show, after Dorothy throws the water on the witch, my brother’s character had the line, “She’s dead. You killed her.” There was something about the way he said it that made this young actress burst out laughing. The more she laughed, the more serious his tone became–it became a game to him.

Fast forward several years, and I was out with some friends from my community theatre. Karen is sitting across from me, and asks how my brother is doing. I didn’t realize they knew each other (my brother is a couple of years younger than her), so she proceeded to tell me about how he made her laugh on stage every time they rehearsed that scene.

I love this story not only because Karen and my brother are two of my favorite people, but also because it focuses on Karen’s awesome laugh. When she laughs her whole face lights up. She doesn’t hold back, and you can always tell it is genuine. As my husband put it, her laugh is contagious–it makes you want to join in, even if you didn’t hear the joke. (For those who haven’t had a chance to see this first-hand, check out this video from her blog, posted last Christmas).

When I think of Karen, I think of someone who is happy, someone who embraces life, and someone who loves to laugh. I had a lot of pictures to choose from for this post, and I can honestly say that she is laughing in the majority of them. 🙂

I am lucky to only live a mile and a half from Karen. We went to the same high school, and did our first play together in 1996, when I was a high school senior and she was in eighth grade. I had the privilege of calling her my friend prior to us jumping into the writing world, and am thrilled to continue that friendship in the years since.

Living so close meant that I was able to go to the hospital the day after she came out of ICU. I have to admit, I was nervous walking into the hospital. I didn’t know what to expect. I knew her body had been through hell, and I was prepared for the worst.

As I was walking toward her room, I heard her laugh dancing through the halls as I was still several rooms away. I stopped, right there in the hall, and cried. The friend who had come with me looked at me and asked what was wrong. My response? “She’s going to be OK.”

Until that point, I knew she was doing better. I had heard the stories of her fighting off nurses while in a coma; I knew she wasn’t giving up any time soon. But, there was something about hearing her laugh that just made it all click… she was going to get through this. That’s not to say that it has been easy, or that it has been all laughter. It certainly hasn’t ,as anyone who knows her has seen. But, in spite of everything that happened, just days after waking from ten days in a coma, she was laughing.

KandS - Laughing by the Water

In the months since, I have seen Karen struggle at times, but her spirit was never totally broken. Within minutes of a pain attack, she was back to cracking jokes and joining in on the laughter. She is an amazing friend who, in spite of all that has gone on, is always there for others, ready to give a hug or draw out a smile.

I am so excited that Karen and I will both be returning to the stage this year in “Annie,” along with some awesome friends. I continue to be amazed at her recovery, and her excitement at jumping headfirst into her life. As I look to the coming year, I look forward to Karen and I sharing many more girls’ nights, long rehearsals with entertaining friends, support and encouragement as we keep working toward our writing goals, and, most of all, a whole lot of laughter.

Twitter 11012011Susi M. Nonnemacher is devoted wife who finds time to write between community theater and church choir rehearsals, minor league baseball games, baking batches of cookies, trying out new Pinterest-inspired crafts, and juggling more loads of laundry than any two people should be able to produce. You can find more about her at or follow @smnonnemacher on Twitter.

I Love You, That Is All: Live – Orange Karen Anthology Countdown: Day 13

‘Tis the season for love. For sharing love. For receiving love. For finding the love we all desperately need. Though it’s been said many times before, it still rings true: All you need is love. As the final days lead up to the Orange Karen Anthology short story submission deadline (December 15th), we hear from Tess Thompson who talks about the little things in life that help us find light through the darkness.

* * * * *

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. ~ Anne Frank

It is everywhere. Bad news. This autumn two high school friends lost their children. Another friend had open-heart surgery at 46; another lost his battle to cancer at 44. Our recently retired pastor at my church is fighting a brain tumor.

My little daughter is struggling in school. My mother’s been ill for months. My marriage collapsed, after twelve years.

My friend, Karen DeLabar, almost died last June from toxic shock. But in what can only be described as a will made of fire and steel, she survived. But every day since has been a struggle of gigantic proportions: excruciating pain, fatigue, and the latest in a long list of miseries, detoxing from pain medications.

And huge medical bills.

Last week, I have a sleepless night after a particularly difficult day in this journey called divorce. In the morning, after I take the girls to school I come home and crawl into bed. I watch the rain falling in sheets outside the window, the gray clouds low in a despairing sky. I think of all the ways hearts have broken yesterday and last week and last month. There’s my own heart, shattered and aching, all my dreams washed away like the rain that runs out the gutter and onto the sidewalk. I question everything. I call out to God, why? I wonder how any of us survive in this world of uncertainty and pain and struggle. I marvel that we all continue to get out of bed each and every day and fight our battles. Because on this day, I cannot.

And in the dim light, I understand only this. Despite all the bad, love continues to show itself. For me, just then, in the middle of my hopelessness, it comes in the form of several phone calls and texts from friends. Are you okay? Why weren’t you at Zumba? I love you. You will get through this, I promise. Go get your mail.

So I do. With all that love like a force, I propel forward. I do something normally so simple but so daunting in this moment. I get the mail. And in my box is a package from one of my dearest friends – an early Christmas present – a necklace with these words: “The story of friendship is written on the pages of the heart.”


And it was enough to save me. Love, there, showing its face to me in the midst of my anguish.

All of us in Karen’s circle of friends were terrified when she was in a coma. Now, we worry and fret during her long recovery. We wonder how to help. And yet, we know we’re limited. We cannot take away her pain. We cannot pay her medical bills. We cannot take away her sleepless nights.

But hear this. We want to. Because we love her. And because we’re good people. When love and good people are in combination, it makes something called hope. I know this, too – most human beings, despite our flaws, are good. We are made to love one another, both in partnerships, and families and communities. It is the best of who we are.

Some of Karen’s friends organized this anthology as a way to help with her medical bills. Will it make a dent? Who knows? But ultimately it’s not what matters most.

What matters most is how love appears despite low-hanging clouds. It is all there is. It is the only thing to hold onto in illness and loss and uncertainty. It is all that can bring us from the dark into the light.

My friend made it through his open-heart surgery. He’s home recuperating as I write this. I’m grateful.

I write this on his Facebook wall:

I love you. That is all.

He replies:

It is enough.


Tess Hardwick is a novelist, essayist and mother. She studied acting at the University of Southern California and enjoyed many years as an actress and director in Seattle before writing her first play, which won the first place prize in the Burien Theatre’s new works series in 2001. After several productions of “My Lady’s Hand”, one of which she directed, she decided her sensibilities were better suited to novels.

After several years and many rewrites, her first novel, Riversong, was picked up by Booktrope Publishing and released in April of 2011. In October of 2011 it became the number 1 Nook Book. In April and May 2012, Riversong was in the top 20 bestselling Kindle books, and number 1 in the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense categories. Since then, readership of Riversong continues to grow and is known amongst her friends and family as “the little book that could”.

Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in southern Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters and their wild but lovable dog, Patches.

In March of 2012 a book of reflections on life’s past, present and future called Write For the Fight was released through Booktrope Publishing. A collaboration of 13 writers, all proceeds for Write for the Fight go to breast cancer research. It was in the top 10 Inspirational category on Free Kindle books in June, 2012.

Tess just completed her second novel, an ambitious historical fiction set between 1918 and 1934 in Alabama and Georgia, inspired by a story from her great-grandmother. She is currently working on a new novel, also historical fiction set in England during the Great War.

The Miracle of Time: Orange Karen Anthology Countdown – Day 12

Steven Luna is a Wizard of Words. He spellbinds syllables and turns letters into beautiful prose. This post is no exception, folks. Luna waves his writerly wand and crafts up a post that inspires us to cherish all the moments in our life because each and every one of them is precious.

Just a few more days left to submit your short story for consideration for the Orange Karen Anthology. Time is precious, folks. Use it well.

* * * * *

The Miracle of Time

Steven Luna

One of my all-time favorite ideas to head-scratch over is the notion that time only exists to keep everything from happening all at once. Albert Einstein said that…or a much smarter-sounding version of it, anyway. As thought-provoking concepts go, it’s a beauty: wise and elegant, and – if you think about it long enough – thoroughly sensible. There’s a reason they labeled that guy a genius.

And let’s be honest: it wasn’t for his wardrobe choices.

Although some of those sweaters were pretty damn sharp.

In one sentence, he captured the essence of time as a stepwise element of human awareness. My world view gives it a slightly different spin: time is a commodity unrivaled by anything in the universe. It’s the only currency of which you can never earn more, and you’ll never end up with a surplus of it by working harder to acquire it. In fact, the opposite is true: the harder you push forward in your pursuit of gaining time, the quicker you end up losing it.

Whoa. That’s kind of heavy.

This, too: You can measure the prosperity of a culture not just in its ready access to necessities and luxuries, but also in the ability of its people to exert control over how their time is spent. It’s become a twenty-first century norm to double-up on everything in an attempt to find more time somewhere. But it’ll never happen. You get the time you’re given, and it’s up to you to figure out the most fulfilling way to spend it while you still have enough of it to enjoy.

Maybe you can tell that this time thing is a pretty significant concept to me.

Undoubtedly, it is for you, too.

My belief is that each of us is a clock; our windings are finite, and we’re all ticking away our moments at the pace we set for ourselves. It fluctuates according to situation, of course; sometimes it rushes right by without us being aware of it doing so, and sometimes it drags along at an excruciatingly unhurried speed. No matter the rate at which it moves, it all comes with a defined limit that none of us is going to exceed. And because of this, possibly the greatest mystery of life is how much time do we truly have? Barring any extreme circumstances, almost everything else we come into the world with can be managed or controlled in some way. But we’re losing moments from the very first one, without a single hope of ever reclaiming any of them at all.

Sometimes, though, if we’re lucky enough, we end up with an opportunity to reset our own respective timepiece. Sometimes we get to wind the spring again and start anew, with a greater appreciation for the meaning of each moment as it arrives.

Sometimes, we actually do get a second chance. And with it, more time.

My friend Karen did.

She was in the golden hour of her life, her hands and her heart and her head filled with wonderstuff– a beautiful family, a slew of friends and a long list of creative undertakings to make use of her myriad talents. And then, with little discernible warning, something dire pulled the pin and stopped her clock.

For those of us who care about her, it stopped ours as well.

She hovered, and we hung, wondering how long and how severe her ordeal would be. There’s nothing like the prospect of a friend losing the remainder of her moments – and her husband and daughters losing the rest of theirs with her – to remind you of just how important your own moments are. Luckily and happily for us all, she pushed through it.

She’s a badass like that.

Whatever force exists within her, whatever power kept her fighting for her life when it was insistent on surrendering, it recognized that she wasn’t finished with her moments. She woke up with a whole new set of them. That’s not to say some of those moments aren’t difficult or without challenges. Of course they are. But I know for a fact she isn’t wasting or overlooking or wishing away a single one. She has done nothing less than restart her own timepiece through sheer force of will, zest for life and utter obstinance. It’s been incredible to watch her come back to the world with a renewed sense of How to Live Your Moments Well. She’s embracing it all with her clock once more fully wound, and her heart barreling full speed ahead.

We would all be wise to take a lesson from her: If you’re ever faced with the opportunity to defy a cosmic phenomenon as precious and unyielding as time, this would be the way to do it.

I don’t call her Miracle for nothing.


Steven Luna was relatively quiet when he was born, but that all changed once he learned to speak. Now? Good luck getting him to shut up. He’s not known for giving straight answers, but no one listens much to him anyway, so it all evens out. He’s hard at work on his next big novel…but really, aren’t we all?

Connect with Steven: Website, Twitter, Facebook

Friends Are Friends No Matter Where We Find Them: Orange Karen Anthology Countdown – Day 11

Our friend Alex Diakonis tells it the way it is: “Friends are friends no matter where we find them”. And Karen DeLabar is one of those friends that many of us met online, and fell instantly in love with her quick wit, sunshiny personality and love for her family. This is the last week to submit short stories for consideration for the anthology we’re putting together to help Karen with her medical costs. Read Alex’s post to feel the power of friendship, no matter where we find them.

* * * * *

Friends Are Friends No Matter Where We Find Them

Alex Diakonis

When I was approached to write this blog, I was flattered.  I mean here I am, your friendly, neighborhood (soon to graduate) college student. I know that Orange Karen has become one of my closest friends despite the fact that I haven’t been out to see her yet. (Do you hear that Karen? “YET!”) I am just another guy who met her on Twitter. Many of us met her there, it seems.

I decided that, first, I should say a little bit about how I met Karen. That should give us the right perspective for the rest of this post.

I met Karen one day when I was just developing my writing habit. I was on Twitter looking around and trying to learn it all. I was new to Twitter and was not sure what I thought of it. Twitter recommended her to me. I still am not sure how Twitter’s fairies tell who should know whom.

I decided to follow her, she followed back and I have never looked back.

I am long winded but there is a lesson here, trust me, I’ll get there.

The point is that, in life, we meet people. We meet people who obviously are going to play a part in our lives. We meet people who are clearly going to shatter our notions of friendship. Karen was not obvious. Karen was not expected. She came out of nowhere and went against all expectations that I had for friends.

See, at that point, I was new to the world of online friendships; I didn’t know that there were real people out there. I mean at that point I was still in the mindset that every woman on the internet was a guy who lives in his mother’s basement.

Fact: Karen is not a guy.

If there is one thing that I have learned from Karen in this last year of friendship, it’s that we all must open ourselves to the possibility to the unexpected encounter. The best things in life are not planned. The best friends are made out of the people who care for us regardless of where we met.

Karen, as many of us know, went through an extremely scary time and is still healing. The constant that remains is that all of these friends she made are still there. We united. We gathered support and grew closer. We met online but we united to form a bond stronger than many IRL (in real life) friends ever know. We saw one of our friends suffering and we did everything we could to be strong for her and for each other.

As Karen recovered, faced down other struggles, recovered some more and realized her own inner strength, her friends, we digitally-represented, real friends found our strength. Karen became the pinnacle of all strength in Pubwrite and in many of our lives. I know that in my life, Karen represents strength and grace. She is one of the most beautiful people I have the honor of knowing.

Friends, Tweeps, Readers, there are few things that are as important in life as family and friends—no matter where we find them.

iPhone001 (57)

Alexander Diakonis resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his BFFF Danielle and their 3 mutant spider plants. When he is not studying the finer points of journalism at Eastern Michigan University or writing his novel, still a work in progress, he can be found making the best burritos you will ever eat at the local Chipotle Mexican Grill.

As an avid reader he can also be found with a Kindle in one pocket a dog-eared copy of something Sci-Fi in the other.  More general musings or thoughts can be found at and @alexjdiakonis on Twitter.

Open Your Heart: Orange Karen Anthology Countdown – Day 10 (Part 2)

Shay Fabbro steps into Part Two of today’s Orange Karen Anthology Countdown!! We figured since the deadline for short story submissions is looming (December 15th) you might need an extra reminder (December 15th). Shay’s post is a welcome reminder of what some of us wholeheartedly feel – that we have found the greatest of friends through social media (Facebook, Twitter). One of those wonderful friends is Karen DeLabar.

* * * * *

Open Your Heart

Shay Fabbro

I don’t know how many times I hear people saying that social networking is forcing us further apart, creating gaps, destroying real friendships. It sounds logical, right? How many people would rather text someone than call them on the phone? I admit I tend to do this, especially if I only need a quick answer and don’t really feel like chatting it up. For those that know me this will be hard to believe since I am not known for my lack of talking 😉

It’s true that some people sit in their homes plugged into the computer and don’t spend much time with real people. When I’m neck deep in writing, I don’t leave the house much but I am still pretty social on most occasions and spend time with real, breathing folks. I enjoy movies with the hubby, dinner with my sister, church on Sunday morning, dinner with mom and dad (complete with card playing and wine drinking), lunch with the girls.

With computers in practically every room of the house and many of us with jobs using computers, it’s easy to get locked into the internet and “socialize” with people on Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms out there. But some would argue that it’s not really “socializing” unless you are face-to-face with someone, can see their expressions, hear their laughter, touch them. I love hanging out on the internet. But does this mean that the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter is robbing me of my humanity or making real connections?

One of the first thing experts will tell an author is that they have to get out there on social media and start connecting with potential readers. This doesn’t mean inundating Facebook and Twitter with messages to buy your book. It means chatting it up with strangers about things you have in common: fantasy, sci-fi, romance, history, time travel, movies, books, kids, pets, music. It’s so much fun to get in touch with folks who share your same interests.

And this brings me to one very special lady.

If I remember correctly, Karen DeLebar and I met on Twitter using the hashtag called #pubwrite. It was used as a way to hang with writers in a virtual pub so we could keep track of our Tweets easier. Oh, the topics we covered and the shenanigans we got into! I recall that OrangeKaren ending up in Twitter jail a few times while hanging in the Pub 😉  Her Tweets would literally have me laughing out loud (not just the polite LOL people throw on the end of a post) and hoping that I would get to meet her someday.

It was clear from the start that Karen was sweet, kind, hilarious, supportive. Over several conversations, we realized that we had a lot in common, so much that we often joke that we are sisters from different mothers. Just seeing her profile pictures flashing her killer smile would brighten my day. Rest assured that Karen brightened the lives of most everyone she came into contact with.

When she contracted toxic shock syndrome in the summer of 2012, to say that the news was shocking is such a cruel understatement. I felt helpless, scared, sad…all of the things I would feel if someone I had met in real life had contracted the same disease. It was amazing how people rallied around OrangeKaren: sharing posts of her progress, prayers, positive thoughts. My whole newsfeed on Facebook was filled to the brim with posts about Karen DeLebar.

That’s when I realized that you don’t have to see someone face-to-face to love them. All you have to do is open your heart and your mind and give people a chance to show you who they really are.


Shay Fabbro was born in Longmont, CO and moved to the town of Grand Junction, CO in the early 1980′s. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Mesa State College before earning her doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. While hard at work on her PhD, Shay had a series of dreams that continued to haunt her even during the light of day. The idea for a series of science fiction/fantasy novels began to take shape. Nearly a year was spent designing the multiple planets, characters, histories, cultures, personalities, and sketching maps. It would take another four years for the first draft of The Chosen to be completed and another year or more to do multiple re-writes and edits and formatting. The end result is a novel spanning an entire galaxy, filled with believable characters, human and alien alike, and conflicts both great and small.

Dr. Fabbro currently lives in Grand Junction with her husband, Rich, and their two cats. When not writing novels, she teaches biology classes at Mesa State College. She is hard at work on the second novel in the Portals of Destiny series, Shattered Destiny, as well as a new young adult series, The Adventures of Alexis Davenport.

Visit for helpful links for authors looking into self-publishing, ask the author questions, see a sneak peek into the second book of the series, and lots more!

Into the Wilderness – Orange Karen Anthology Countdown: Day 10

Jeff Tsuruoka helps us to get our week off to a good start with his inspirational post. Head “into the wilderness” with Jeff and while you’re there write a short story to submit to the Orange Karen Anthology – deadline December 15th.
* * * * *
Into the Wilderness
Jeff Tsuruoka
    If you know anything about Jewish mysticiscm you are familiar with the words, “the wilderness”.
    In a literal sense the wilderness refers to the forty years spent lost in the desert following the exodus from Egypt. In a broader sense it represents the journey all of us take through life, our wanderings, our doubts and fears, our aspirations, our confusion and our convictions.
    We are all in the wilderness, seeking the way through to the other side, to a promised land.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner describes the wilderness as, “A place that demands being open to the flow of life around you.” To be in the wilderness means to be “on your way.”
    There are signposts in the wilderness, guides, that can help you get to where you belong, to where you need to be.
    For me, one of those signposts came in the form of a group of fellow writers I’ve become associated with via an old friend, through the advent of social media. In a very short span of time I’ve been welcomed into their family and welcomed them into my heart. The relationships are real. The friendships are real. The love and support are real. We have each other’s backs, support each other’s work, and when somebody needs a lift we are there to do what we can to help.
    Our friend, Karen DeLabar, is fighting her way back from a life-threatening illness. She is, through her own strength and with the love of her husband and two daughters, making a remarkable recovery, but insurance can only cover so much of the cost.
    That’s where we come in.
    We want to help the DeLabar’s, just as they would without hesitation help any of us, and as writers we’ve decided to do so by doing what we do best.
    We’ve decided to publish an anthology of original short stories on the theme of, ‘Orange’, in honor of our red-headed Karen, with all proceeds going to help cover medical expenses. The stories are not necessarily about Karen but have been inspired by her courage, her perseverance, and her sheer will to live and recover.
    This project is not exclusive to our small circle of writers. It is open to all.
    The forthcoming Orange Karen Anthology of original fiction is a project I’m proud to be a part of. I see it as further proof that, not just me, but all of us share this outpost in the wilderness.
    Each of us has to travel our own wilderness and while there will be times when we feel lost there is great comfort in the knowledge that we don’t always have to travel it alone.
Jeff Ferry2
Jeff Tsuruoka is an author in search of a writing career.
His life as a writer began at the age of six. He wrote stories based on the monster movies he watched on the 4:30 Movie after school.
Thirty six years later he still writes monster stories, though the monsters that populate his current work have a little more on the ball- at least in terms of conversation skills and the ability to drive cars- than Godzilla and his pals did.
He is hard at work on his first novel. Some of his writing is featured here.

Soul Sisters: Orange Karen Anthology Countdown – Day 9

Well, folks, we’re on the downward slide toward the Orange Karen Anthology submission deadline on December 15th. We’ve had wonderful guest posts so far to inspire, entertain and inform. Today’s post by Jennifer Gracen will do all three. Prepare to laugh, cry and get goosebumps. As one of Karen’s kindred spirits, Jennifer know Karen better than most. Pull up a chair, grab a glass of scotch (and raise it in Karen’s honor), some kleenex and prepare to be moved.

* * * * *

Soul Sisters

Jennifer Gracen

Karen DeLabar is my best friend. That’s a term I don’t throw around lightly. I am fortunate that I have many friends, and some really close ones. But Karen is my very best friend, a true soulmate, of which we get very few in life, if ever. And we only met fairly recently. We live in different states. She’s 11 ½ years younger than me. I met her through Twitter – no, I’m not kidding – in April 2011. But we had so much in common. Karen and I just instantly connected, hard and true. By the end of that summer, we were all but attached at the hip, texting & tweeting several times a day, on the phone several times a week, and met in person for the first time that July. We have become an integral part of each other’s lives. Two kindred spirits found one another. That kind of friendship is a gift that seems to be a rare find in adult life for some reason, so I cherish it, and her, that much more. God bless the Internet!

holidayNYCKaren & Jennifer take on NYC for the day to do Christmas, Dec.13, 2011

 You’ve likely heard about how Karen fought the horrible illness that swept in out of nowhere last summer and almost killed her. You’ve heard about what a wonderful mother, wife, and friend she is. You’ve heard that she’s a writer who loves to support other writers, but did you know she just finished — WON — NaNoWriMo by hand writing her 50,000 words since she basically lost her left thumb as a result of this thing? That’s a prime example of her determination, grit, and unbreakable spirit, why we call her a warrior. So I’m just going to tell you a few more personal things about Karen, and you can get to know her a little better.

Karen’s a fighter. She lost a pinkie toe and most of her left thumb to this, and still has bouts of random, excruciating pain at times, but she doesn’t give up or give in. There are bad days where she’d like to. She’s just a human being, not a superhero. But she doesn’t, and that’s what counts. Some people, faced with what she deals with daily, would. When she was in the coma — a coma, you understand? — she took swings at nurses. I’m talking about boxing punches, folks. She was fighting even though she had enough drugs in her to down a horse and was intubated, which is apparently what pissed her off. When her husband texted me that from her hospital room, I literally laughed out loud and cried tears of joy, because it was so fabulous. THAT is Karen, I thought. She’s fighting like hell. She’s still in there. Thatta girl.

Karen’s funny, in a warm, goofy way. She’s the first one to laugh at herself, and never laughs at someone else’s expense. She even created (I think she created it, I could be mistaken; if not, she adopted it) the perfect word to describe herself: adorkable. And she totally is. Quick example: one night, a few of us were having a Skype hangout, talking and laughing. Out of nowhere, Karen just fell out of her chair. She wasn’t drunk. But FOOMP! Right to the floor. Then popped right back up. “I’m here! I’m here!” With a big smile on her face, like nothing had happened. Yeah, nice try, redhead. We all needled her about it because we were hysterical, and she laughed harder than the rest of us.

Or the time she and I were texting each other during one of her bad pain days, and I was trying to soothe and comfort her. In the middle of a serious, heartfelt sentence, my stupid phone decided to autocorrect my “honey” to “homey”. I didn’t see it until after I’d sent it. I’m a 42-yr-old white woman; I call people a lot of things, but “homey” isn’t on the list. And Karen was right on it, before I could type anything, texting me: “Dude. You just called me homey.” We both laughed so hard over it that the tears from seconds before were history. To this day, once in a while, she’ll slip in a “homey” crack to lighten a heavy moment.

Karen cares about people. And it shows, and people respond to that in a very visceral way. That’s why when Janelle Jensen and I posted a link on Twitter so people could send her an e-card if they wanted to, her hospital wall was quickly covered in printed out messages wishing she’d get well soon. From about 200 people she’d never met face to face, and likely never will. They sent things to the hospital, they talked about her on Twitter and Facebook, they told their real life prayer groups about her and asked for prayers that Karen would get well. The outpouring from the Internet was truly amazing, like nothing I’ve ever seen.

family phot

Bestie “Family” Photo: Jennifer Gracen (top left) and Janelle Jensen (top right) visiting Karen (front) in PA, May 25, 2012, ten days before Karen was rushed to the hospital.

I must tell you that Karen has been completely flabbergasted and confounded by the massive deluge of love in her direction these past few months. I understand her shock, and why she’s overwhelmed by it, and believe me, she is humbled by and grateful for it all. But me? I’m a little flabbergasted, but not confounded. Amazed and moved, yes. But I totally get why. Some special   people simply touch others with their pure heart and spirit. Karen’s one of those people. She’s one of those rare individuals whose authenticity comes across even just in written words on a computer screen, and people respond to that. (Though I’m sure it also helps that she’s beautiful and has a smile like pure sunshine. #adorkable)

Karen is only thirty years old. She’s got more surgeries and recovery ahead of her as a result of this illness. But she’s got a lot of life to live yet, and she deserves to be able to do it without the constant scythe of massive medical bills hanging over her head. I want for her to be able to do all the things she used to do, like go to her daughters’ school trips and dance recitals, go to the gym, perform in her community theater, write novels, and laugh and love with her friends and family. She, her unbelievably supportive and wonderful husband, Eric, and their two beautiful daughters deserve to do that without the worry of enormous medical bills plaguing them, and possibly altering their lives any further than they’ve already been altered. Hopefully the proceeds from this anthology will help enable them to do that. I want that for Karen, because I love her so much. I don’t even think this gushy post expresses it adequately, but I tried. I just know I’m lucky to have her in my life, and many others feel that way too, so we wanted to help her somehow. I’m so grateful this illness didn’t take her away from everyone who loves, likes, and knows her, and am so grateful to each and every person who will buy this book.


Jennifer Gracen wears several hats: contemporary romance/women’s fiction writer, copy editor, social media addict, friend, wife, and (most important hat) mother of two young boys. If you’re interested in her writing, go to If you’re interested in contacting her for copy editing services, go to