Karen Vanek loves to problem solve and create. She especially loves words and learning about new cultures and people.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Vanek moved to various Texas cities including Del Rio, San Antonio, and Houston as her father’s job required the family to move. She remembers when she was about ten, sitting on the tin roof of her grandmother’s neighbor’s home in Sanderson, TX and writing her first play about a courtroom scene. As her friends and siblings acted out the script, Karen realized the power and excitement of words.
A priority for Karen is her role as a mother and grandmother. She loved stimulating the thinking of her children and challenging them to problem solve and create. They often took this to heart as they did one time when folks showed up for a Halloween Carnival in her backyard – of which she had no knowledge. It seems the girls had turned the playhouse into a land of spooky games and had even handed out written invitations – all without checking with mom. Luckily, the invitation to the carnival explained that the money earned would be for charity, so mom jumped in there and helped.
At all times, Karen’s home was filled with pets and science projects that often involved animals: fish, birds, and even a squirrel one time. Karen also encouraged her children to love words like she did. Thus, when her then young daughter, Sharon, was losing her baby teeth and asked the question, “What would happen if a child lost a tooth on Christmas Eve?” Mom found the opportunity to have them work together to turn this into a children’s story. Grandma lived nearby at the time and the story was read to her. She delighted in it and insisted that mom get this copyrighted. When this process was completed, and the copyright certification document came in the mail, Sharon ran through the yard shouting, “I’m a real writer! I’m a real writer!”
After the hoopla died down about the official copyrighting of the book, Karen didn’t know what else to do to get it published, so it sat in a drawer for 22 years. Upon retirement and moving to Fredericksburg, files were cleaned out revealing the long, lost story.
Now a serendipitous occurrence took place. Karen follows the blog of Seth Godin, an American entrepreneur who often posts on how to get your ideas to spread. One post encouraged authors to self-publish their work through one of two reputable firms: Author House was the one Karen selected. With her daughter’s permission, Karen called that very day to get the publishing process rolling. She revised the book and got a former third grade student to create the illustrations. She feels such satisfaction in bringing a book to life that has sat in the drawer for so long waiting to be read by children.