Henry Ford said, “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which make us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and gives which we endure help us in our marching onward.”

On the morning of 9/11, my parents were visiting me in Denver on their annual visit. They still lived at the time in my childhood home, about a mile from the Pentagon. There is no doubt that their day would have much different if they had woken up under their own roof in Arlington. As they slumbered in my king sized bed, I met with my future husband Gary, whom I’d been dating a mere two months, at our local rec center for an early morning kick box class.

Covered in sweat and ready to grab a little breakfast together before going our separate ways for the day, a Secret Service friend rushed past us as she said, “I have to leave. Our country is at war. Go look at the television.”  Perplexed, we stood dumbfounded with dozens of other exercisers in front of a screen belting out the morning news. A plane had hit one of the Twin Towers.

Like most who initially heard this info, we assumed it was an unskilled pilot flying a small personal craft. When reports came out that it was a large passenger plane, it was confusing. How could an experienced pilot make an error like that? Then we witnessed the second plane strike. WHAT WAS GOING ON?

We continued with our plans to the local bagel spot hoping to grab some post workout nosh while watching the story unfold. Oddly, everyone in the restaurant was blissfully unaware of what was transpiring just 2000 mile east. When we heard that the first tower essentially melted, it was time to go our separate ways. Gary went to work and I returned home.

My folks were sitting in bed witnessing the surreal sights. I climbed in between the two of them as if I were 30 years younger- just in time for the second building to melt to the ground like a stick of butter in a microwave. The steel, the windows, the planes, the people- all disappeared into a billowing cloud of dust. This was what you’d expected to see in a David Copperfield show, not the national news.

It was amazing witnessing a world event as an adult in the presence of my parents. I observed a lot of myself in both of them. My mother, the extravert, wanted to head back to find out how the house, our neighborhood, her friends were doing. My introvert father was content to lay low and collect the facts as they were released. He had no intention of returning to the D.C. area until there were more answers. Even if he had wanted to travel, all flights were cancelled so we spent the week numbly under eerily silent skies and trying to make sense out of what was going on.

As many of us wondered if there would even be a world to wake up to on September 12, we soon realized as horrific as events can be, life really does keep going and we march onward. Such timeless wisdom Henry Ford offered.

Karen Loucks Rinedollar has appeared on Oprah and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. She is best known as the founder of the children’s charity Project Linus and as the author of Working for Peanuts: The Project Linus Story.  Karen is a professional speaker sharing the importance to living a Purpose-Full Life as well as training medical professionals on the importance of Excellence in Healthcare through patient safety and customer service. You can follow her on Twitter at #KarenLoucks303.

The Birth of a Book

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There is a lot of grumbling that today is a difficult time to be a writer yet was it ever easy? The publishing world is definitely in an evolutionary period and it’s never been a better or easier  time for an author to get their word out. No longer does a writer have to be a slave to the whims of what a publisher deems to be good writing. If a story is good, it will sell. If it starts off as independently published and makes a big enough splash, it will attract the attention of a publisher. Yet, is that really the direction an author wants to take these days?

I have been told repeatedly that traditional publishing in not the way to go anymore. Sure, if you are lucky enough to land a plane successfully in the Hudson, win an Olympic gold medal or run any flavor of presidential campaign- publishers may line up at your front door waving money like stock traders and their Wall Street trading sheets. However, as the yet to be discovered writer, even if a publisher does pick up your work, it will probably be years before your story makes it to book form. Will there even still be book stores by the time the finished published copy is available to the public? The image of your precious story being properly placed at eye level in a store is almost as likely as being signed to play in the NFL.

The treasured “Advance” is rumored to be shrinking proportionally to the national debt rising, and is just a loan on future earnings. More and more, writers are expected to do their own marketing and public relations and with a publishing contract, they may sign their rights away or may feel as if they are selling their souls. Without the right agent, they may have waived their rights for cover designs and even book titles.

In one sense, it would be great to have a big company taking care of all the little details. It’s like the days of the mighty record companies. The best bands aren’t necessarily the ones that were being played on the radio- those were the ones who were lucky to have someone paying off the record execs for air time. Such is similar with the “Best Seller” lists. Got money (yours or publisher’s)? You too can get on that list even if the book is of little talent. There are enough lemming readers who base their entire reading selections from those Best Sellers lists.

It seems that the “Go Green” and “Buy Local” attitudes that are starting to catch with consumers, have yet to evolve to supporting local writers. There are amazing stories in our midst whatever large or small community we live in. Just because a book doesn’t contain a label from a publishing company doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. If the subject is something that you find interesting, take the leap and jump off the lemming train. Support a local writer! It keeps money in your community and may be helping that writer evolve to evenen greater heights.

I can honestly say that one of my proudest moments was while extricating the first copy of my book Working for Peanuts: The Project Linus Story out of its Createspace packaging. The thrill of seeing it in print and actually holding it for the first time has to be similar to that of cradling one’s precious baby. It didn’t leave my side for the first 24 hours. I was overjoyed to share it with my friends and family. Like raising a child, writing a book, takes a village. There were so many who helped make it all possible and were every bit as as excited as if I had just returned with a cutie from the labor ward- possibly more!  It would still be years, if ever,  that I would be able to experience that magical moment if I’d gone through a traditional publisher.

Until that big call comes from a reputable publishing company, I’m more than happy to put my time, talent, money and name on the line to let the world know about my unique adventure and empowering others to make a positive difference in this world. My baby, Project Linus, has been featured on the likes of Oprah, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams & People Magazine.  Publicizing a great story will be anything but a walk in the park but I’m not afraid of a little hard work.  It’s said-” It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” For now, I’m happy to have my story published in my time and in my way. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had in that.