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Conversations with Karen E Osborne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen E Osborne.

Hi Karen, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. As a little girl, I made up adventures that I told to my friends. To get them to listen, I pretended they happened to me. Of course, they found out that I lied, and yet they eagerly listened to the next one. In high school and college, I wrote lots of short stories and bad poetry, but then life got in the way of my writing. Marriage, children, and a career as a higher education administrator and then my own business. I traveled all over the US, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia, and to South Africa helping nonprofits build great boards, manage effectively, and raise millions of dollars. I was recognized by CASE (The Council for Advancement and Support of Education) with two awards. I also served for seven as an adjunct faculty member for Johns Hopkins University’s Graduate Certificate Program in Nonprofit Management.

It was on airplanes, in airport lounges, and hotel rooms that I wrote my first novel — Getting It Right, Akashic Books, June 2017 — a family saga, suspense novel that “Essense Magazine” deemed one of Summer’s Best Books. “Edge-of-your seat suspense yarn…absorbing.” I was 69 and a debut novelist. Wow oh Wow. Never too old for dreams to come true. That year, “Poets & Writers” did a two-page spread about me in their annual 5 Over 50 series.

Tangled Lies, Black Rose Writing, July 2021 is a murder mystery (2021 Finalist). This year Reckonings, Black Rose Writing, June 16, 2022, releases, a family-saga, suspense novel. Reckonings will also be my first audiobook. My work in progress is historical fiction based on real people and events.

I still take on occasional speaking or training opportunities as part of the international consulting company I co-founded with my husband, The Osborne Group, Inc. Our son, Robert Osborne, Jr. now owns and runs it.

I’m a serial volunteer serving on three boards and helping in the community. Last year to support other writers, especially during the shutdown when we couldn’t do in person book talks, I started a Vlog or Zoom Show — What are You Reading? What are You writing? It’s been a joyful experience.

And I write!

My husband Bob and I have been married for 53 years, met each other at 14 and 13 years old, respectively. We have two children and three grandsons. Native New Yorkers now living in South Florida.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life is never a smooth road. I’m an incest and rape survivor/thriver, so that has been the hardest part of my journey — healing and forgiving.

As a Black woman working in a mostly white profession,  there were always bumps and challenges. I made lots of mistakes, but fortunately I “fell forward.” I asked, “What is the lesson? What do I do with this information?” The answers helped me do and be better.

Now I’m a writer. There are seen and unseen challenges but also opportunities. I find writers to be generous and I’m part of a terrific writing community.

I have amazing friends who supported me over the years. I so appreciate those who follow me on various platforms. I’m grateful to my readers and those who took time to write reviews, host me, encourage me. And I’m blessed with an amazing family. My husband, our children and grandchildren, our nephews, our cousins. I’m living my best life.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m most proud of all the people who find me and tell me that I inspired them, that I changed the way they do their nonprofit work, that I’ve had a lasting impact on their work life. That is heady and humbling.

I’m also proud that my first book, Getting It Right, helped other survivors have the courage to speak their truth. After every in-person event (pre COVID), someone would wait until everyone else left and tell me, “It happened to me.” Many said they never told anyone before. I’m proud that my suspense novel could not only entertain but also help others heal.

Finally, I’m proud that I’ve finished three books. There are so many writers who struggle to finish the first one. It is daunting. When new writers ask me for advice, I have 13 insights I share (you can find them on my website), but the most important one is “finish the book!”

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I love this question. As a young professional, I was never afraid to ask questions and seek help. I knew that I had a lot to learn, so I reached out all the time. As I developed, I mentored many others. Still do wearing either my nonprofit or writer’s hat.

As a new author, I took tons of classes, shared my writing with others, and asked for honest feedback so I could do better. I belong to a writers group and have been writing with two women who live in Australia for over fifteen years. We never met until my first novel came out. I had a speaking engagement in Singapore and from there my husband and I flew to Sydney. I met my writer friends in person. What a moment.

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