Monday, April 9, 2018

Guest Post with Karen Kane

Photo Content from Karen Kane

Karen Kane’s path to Charlie & Frog led her from a small village near Rochester, NY, to the bustle of Washington, DC. The people she met along the way inspired her writing with their warmth and humor, especially those in the Deaf community. Karen graduated from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, Karen spends her days as a sign language interpreter at Gallaudet University or lost in the stacks of her local library. Charlie & Frog is her first novel.

For the longest time I thought everyone else knew the best way to write a book. I simply had to find out what that best way was. Then the obvious finally hit me—there is no best way. Instead, each of us is required to find our own way. Each of us must create our own map to guide us on our writing journey. But how do you do that?

You notice.

You notice what works for you. You experiment with different writing methods, keeping only what feels right. Here’s what I’ve noticed works for me. Subject to change, of course, because maps change as journeys evolve.

When I start writing, I start messy. I have an idea. Something that I need to capture, something I want to say. Sticky notes, notebooks, index cards, pens, colored pencils, and highlighters are all part of my process. I jot down fragments of sentences, lines of dialogue, a character who pops up with something to say, incomprehensible-to-anyone-else scene snippets. I simply dump, putting down anything the universe or the writing muse says to me. Often these bits and pieces come to me as I’m riding the subway or washing dishes. This is the fun part of writing—where anything is possible. My story is my own. My story is perfect.

Then comes the hard part. I have to take all those bits and pieces and write a paragraph or a scene. And that is scary because my perfectly wonderful story won’t be perfect any more. So I procrastinate. I put off the actual writing and stay in the dreaming/creative/fun part of my process.

But my book will never get written that way.

This is when I talk to myself, as I would talk to a small child. I tell myself it’s okay to write badly. I use a timer and tell myself to write badly for 45 minutes. I know I can write badly for 45 minutes. I am actually very good at that.

So I start the timer and go. Sometimes I peek at my phone, checking to see how many minutes left. Sometimes the magic happens and I fall into the flow of my story. I love when that happens.

But it doesn’t always happen, or even happen often. What does happen is I have written. And always there are one or two sentences, sometimes one or two paragraphs, sometimes a whole scene (!) that ring true and propel my story forward. Then lots of editing and changes and rewrites will come because now I have something to edit and change and rewrite—as long as I am willing to write badly first. Then the good writing can emerge. Perhaps then my story can be wonderful on the page. Not perfect, but perfectly wonderful.

And that, dear reader, is the best way I have found to write. Be willing to write badly. It’s the only way I know to write well.

  • 1. Charlie is hearing and Frog is Deaf. 
  • 2. I had Deaf readers as well as hearing readers for Charlie & Frog.
  • 3. The village of Castle-on-the-Hudson is my version of a perfect little village nestled in the Hudson Valley. 
  • 4. Charlie’s parents leave Charlie with nannies and then grandparents in order to “help” northern hairy-nosed wombats, pygmy raccoons, and giant golden moles. 
  • 5. Charlie’s grandparents watch TV all day long while sitting in their E-Z chair recliners.
  • 6. Frog is based on the many strong and confident Deaf girls I have met.
  • 7. Sign language is not universal. Frog uses American Sign Language, but a Deaf person living in the United Kingdom would use British Sign Language.
  • 8. Miss Tweedy dyed her hair pink to honor the recently deceased librarian Mr. Woo, whose favorite color was pink.
  • 9. Vince Vinelli, host of Vince Vinelli’s Worst Criminals Ever!, loves to say, “When crime is a fact, good people act!”
  • 10. One week before my book landed on editor Tracey Keevan’s desk, she had watched a documentary about Martha’s Vineyard, a community where, at one time, Deaf and hearing people all knew sign language. 

All Charlie Tickler wants is for his parents to listen.

Charlie's parents have left him (again). This time they are off to South Africa to help giant golden moles. And Charlie? He's been dumped with his TV-obsessed grandparents. Lonely and curious, Charlie heads into the village of Castle-on-the-Hudson, where a frightened old woman gives him a desperate message-in sign language. When she suddenly disappears, Charlie is determined to find answers.

All Francine (aka Frog) Castle wants is to be the world's greatest detective.

Frog, who is Deaf, would rather be solving crimes than working at the Flying Hands Cafe. When Charlie Tickler walks into the caf looking for help, Frog jumps at the chance to tackle a real-life case.

Together, Charlie and Frog set out to decipher a series of clues and uncover the truth behind the missing woman's mysterious message. Charlie needs to learn American Sign Language (fast) to keep up with quick-witted Frog. And Frog needs to gather her detective know-how (now) to break the case before it's too late.
Discover the surprising ways people listen in debut author Karen Kane's page-turning mystery filled with humor, intrigue, and heartwarming friendships.

You can purchase Charlie & Frog (A Castle-on-the-Hudson Mystery) at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KAREN KANE AND DISNEY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Charlie & Frog (A Castle-on-the-Hudson Mystery) by Karen Kane.


  1. Sounds like an interesting tale of a town and its people!--great cover!

  2. The add to your Goodreads entry is for 'The Best Possible Answer
    by E. Katherine Kottaras.'

  3. The Facebook and Goodreads entries are for previous books you've hosted.