Tag Archives: writer

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.

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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 http://smnonnemacher.com or follow @smnonnemacher on Twitter.

Tied Together: Orange Karen Anthology Countdown – Day 4

As Tim Queeney so eloquently writes, sometimes we can feel a connection to someone even when they’re not near us, or with us anymore. Many of the contributors to this anthology have never met Karen DeLabar, myself included, but I feel I know her and she has a special place in my heart. Through the power of the Internets, we are “tied” together. Also, a gentle reminder that the anthology deadline is December 15th (*nudge nudge*). Here are the Submission Guidelines.

Tied Together

Tim Queeney

Our ties to the important folks in our lives can sometimes pop up in unexpected ways. My father died a few years ago, but I recently came across an unexpected talisman of my connection to him. It started with a milk crate of odd and ends I found in his basement.

We had sailboats when I was growing up. First, an old daysailer and then a wooden ketch. And when people have sailboats, there’s always plenty of line around.

Line is sailor speak for rope. There’s line for running rigging, line for sheets, line for the topping lift, for the Cunningham, for the preventer and for the halyards — plus, various other line for just about everything else. Most of the line my Dad had for his boats was coiled and organized, but some wasn’t. He used this spaghetti of line for little jobs around the house. When its work was done, he’d toss it into a milk crate he kept near his workbench, sometimes coiled, sometimes free.

Unlike my two older brothers, I caught the sailing bug early. My dad and I sailed together often. Like many men of the World War II generation, Dad was not comfortable talking about his inner struggles, his demons. He definitely didn’t chew them over them with me. So our times sailing together were not nautical encounter sessions with explorations into our feelings. The conversation ran more towards, “Let’s set the jib, now.” Or, “Careful, stay away from those rocks,” or, “So, what did we pack for lunch?” The connection we made to each other came from terse male teamwork and the shared experience of sunny days and stormy ones. I know those hours spent sailing meant something to him because they meant something to me.


A year or so after he died I went down to his basement lair. My mother wanted to clear up the workbench and move out some of his gear. I put a few tools in a box, thinking that was enough. But she insisted, “Take that milk crate, too.”

Back at my house, I found myself needing line for one of my household tasks. I fished in the crate and came up with a coil of old, quarter-inch Dacron. My first thought was that the coil was a too long. I thought about cutting it into two shorter lengths, when I noticed it was not a single line but two lines joined with a sheet bend knot. I gazed at the knot. No one had used this line since my Dad’s death. The knot only existed because my Dad had tied it. The knot was the motion of my father’s fingers, frozen in plaits of rope forever.


(Sheet bend knot)

Though untying the knot would have yielded a length of line perfect for the job at hand, I couldn’t do it. My dad’s knot may have been tied during one of our sailing expeditions. Tied quickly and purposefully on one of those days we sailed together, talking about lunch, but sharing a deeper connection that we never acknowledged.

I hung the knot on a wall hook under a funnel lamp in my basement. In a place where I could see it from anywhere in the room.

I have no proof, of course, but I like to think that somehow my dad tied that knot for me.


Tim Queeney is a magazine editor and novelist living in Maine. Tim’s books include a historical fiction tale, George in London, and two Perry Helion thrillers, The SHIVA Compression and The Atlas Fracture. The Atlas Fracture is Tim’s upcoming release, soon to appear on Amazon with his other two books.  <http://amzn.to/RMcPpD>.  Follow Tim on twitter @timqueeney and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/timqueeney.author. Visit his website at: http://www.timqueeney.com