Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet The Member: Karlene Jacobsen

Welcome to Meet the Member! (If you're interested in being featured, email me and I'll add you to the queue. Also drop me a line if you have any exciting news to share in your writing life so I can share it here on the blog.) And by the way, I'm out of people to feature - unless you want me to go all split personality on you and interview myself! Anyone ELSE interested??

Today, I'm introducing you to my dear friend, a wonderful writer, and the GLC chapter's secretary, Karlene Jacobsen!

JOANNE: Thanks for answering my questions, Karlene. Tell us a bit about yourself.

KARLENE: Why is it when asked this question, my first response is how long I’ve been married? But I am and have been for . . . uh . . . let’s see . . . married in 1990, this is 2012 . . . ah, 22 years this December 1. I’m mom to four, ages ranging from nearly 10 (August) to nearly 20 (September), my oldest being my only girl. (Oh boy, my crit group leader’s gonna have a cow when she sees those ellipses. Sorry Linda.) I’m currently a student (online) at Grand Canyon University, studying English Literature/Psychology; my two favorite things, good writing and getting inside people’s heads and see why they do the things they do. I used to think I wanted to be a neuro-surgeon and fix every broken brain out there. After seeing the magnitude of the task ahead, I decided writing would be easier. More on that in a bit.

I love the color purple (not the book) and am a fan of Indian, Asian, and other ethnic foods. If I’m choosing American cuisine, I love chicken and vegetables in any form—almost. I love to laugh, especially at myself. Sometimes, I’ll start laughing at the most inopportune times. Usually it’s because I finally got a joke told to me weeks ago. *eyeroll*

JOANNE: I may have to drop you an email about that neurosurgeon thing ;). What do you like to write?

KARLENE: I love to write anything that touches the heart of my readers. Short stories: lately, I’ve been dabbling in Biblical fiction, primarily because I picture the stories written in the gospels and think, “I wonder what Jesus must have looked like.” Have you ever noticed we don’t get His POV? We aren’t privy to what happens inside His head unless He speaks. However, when reading about the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus joins them, I can almost feel Him holding back laughter as He asks them about the events of the previous weekend. Like He’s holding a gift and can hardly wait for them to open it. His eyes sparkle, their corners crinkle, and His lips quiver as He keeps from smiling because to do so would mean uproarious laughter. He isn’t laughing at them, but loving the element of surprise, and the joy that will surely invade their despair any moment. I also write stories involving word pictures God gives me when encouraging me.

Full length (novel): I tend to write about intense, life issues. My characters have had faith in God but their faith in God’s love for them is drawn into question. Their circumstances would indicate that while they would have done anything for God, He must have something against them. I like to call it a vertical romance, because God relentlessly pursues, passionately loves, and cares deeply what happens in our lives and He’ll (often) use some unlikely people to show us this. I’ve currently got three works in progress that, until God sent me a mentor/accountability friend, I worked on much like being on a three-way see-saw. The genre is women’s fiction/romance. Two are heavy in romantic elements while the third hints at it, but is more women’s fiction.

JOANNE: Love your descriptions up there of Jesus with the two followers. How long have you been writing? At ACFW?

KARLENE: I started writing as a little girl but stopped when as a young newly married woman, I felt I must choose between my dreams and my responsibilities. It wasn’t until 2008 when complaining to God about all my friends and acquaintances realizing their dreams that I heard His ever-gentle rebuke, “When will you quit complaining and begin doing something?”

In answer to that question, I pulled out my laptop and began putting words together, surprised how they flowed, especially since one of my complaints was, “I can’t put two words together to impress a fly.” I joined FaithWriters, and learned about ACFW through members from the former group. I joined ACFW in February 2011 and spent the year hovering over the loops, watching to see if I could fit in. This year has begun my second year with the promise (to me) that I would not dip my toe any longer, but dive in and learn to swim with the others. Through this move, I’ve gained mentors, new friends, and more encouragement, motivation, and accountability than I’ve had in a long time.

JOANNE: ACFW is wonderful that way. Have you had anything published?

KARLENE: I have had several short stories published with Christian Fiction Online Magazine (CFOM) and have also had one of my English papers published with school as part of their curriculum.

JOANNE: The curriculum thing is cool, I think :) What are you working on right now?

KARLENE: I am currently working on putting together an anthology (small) of my short stories to give away at our church’s pantry this Thanksgiving. I don’t plan to market this. I’ve also got a full length MS underway. Its title (for now) is Runaway. A young woman—pastor’s daughter—suffers from the belief that God is angry with her after she’s brutally attacked by her brother. She runs from her life, her family, her fiancĂ©, and her identity. After her fiancĂ© finds her, and works through the emotions ranging from anger to relief, he decides to find out the truth and fights to draw her out of her imaginary fortress. The tag line, the truth will free you is the basis of this story. If she wants peace, freedom from fear, freedom to love, and an identity rather than death, she must face the truth and speak it regardless if it muddies the name of her pastor-father, who ignored her and often accused her of lying to get attention, and her brother.

JOANNE: Wow - gotta read that one, girl! What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

KARLENE: Study. Learn the craft. Don’t sit back, writing, and believing you’ve got the next NY Bestseller if you’re not willing to be continuously learning and growing in the gift of God, the passion of your heart. Okay, so this is my take on the words spoken at the last ACFW-GLC conference where Jody Hedlund talked about getting hold of every opportunity and/or book that will help hone the skills needed to write well.

When Gail G. Martin said this writing is ministry, something inside of me broke free and I have been able to answer the "what do you do" question without mumbling and coughing behind my fist, "I'm a writer."

Regardless the venue or the genre, we need to see our writing as ministry unto the Lord and to His people--the saved and pre-saved. We may not ever know whose life was touched by the words flowing from our gift/talent/writing.

JOANNE: These are all SO good! To you, what is the best part of ACFW? The GLC chapter?

KARLENE: I love the resources with ACFW. I love that through the novel-track loop I am encouraged to set a monthly goal and keep track of it on the site as well as post my progress with the loop. The encouragement, prayer, applause, and support there is awesome. I haven’t begun getting critiques through the critique loop, but see the submissions and critiques that flood my email daily. I’ve seen some books in progress that I’ve decided not to critique because I really want to be surprised when it’s published. (Is that wrong?) I’m so drawn to one particular story that I don’t know if I can be objective in my critique. I’d probably be the cheerleader the author doesn’t need to hammer out the kinks. SO, I’d rather wait and post an amazing review for her later.

My infatuation with the GLC is in the new friendships I’ve been able to forge. Our chapter has an intimate feel (to me) and I love being able to connect on a more personal level with other writers who understand my quirkiness—as a writer—although I am quirky in so many other ways.

JOANNE: GLC DOES have an intimate feel - and I gotta agree on resources. How can folks connect with you?

KARLENE: I have two blogs right now. Dancin’ in the Rain… ( was launched a year and a half ago. At this time, it has mostly reviews. I’ve just launched Look to the Hills ( which will be the place to go if you are looking for short stories, devotionals, or testimonies. I have an author page on Facebook, (, and yes, there are two names there. It’s a long story. And then there’s my personal Facebook page, (, where I’d love to be friends.

JOANNE: SO looking forward to the posts on your new blog, my friend? Anything else you want to add?

KARLENE: I just recently returned from a trip to Southern California. From the moment the plane’s wheels touched earth in LA until the moment I re-entered Detroit, there was not one predictable occurrence. Most of the events turned into stories. Some are more humorous than others. The day after I arrived in San Pedro, CA, I asked the question: “Is there nothing I do that is predictable and mundane?”

Later in the week, author Bill Myers opened the OCCWF conference with his keynote address, “Once you say ‘yes’ to God, say ‘goodbye’ to predictable and mundane.” Hmm . . . God must have whispered in his ear.

JOANNE: BOY does that sound like our God. It has been a pleasure to get to know you better, dear Karls - and not just in this interview - wink. I know, with God's help and direction, you will go far.

 And now a "three-part question" for YOU from Karlene. Please answer in the comments (or in your head - your choice :D)
  • If God told you to bring Him a wish list of where you’d like your writing to take you, what would you say (your writing dream, be specific and hold nothing back)?
  • What do you believe is your life’s purpose (passion)?
  • What’s holding you back? (Determine whether this is an excuse or a reason.)


  1. Karls--I loved learning more about you! Fantastic interview, great questions.

    1. Thanks, Rita. It was fun sharing. I've let a few secrets out that I've never told anyone. :)

  2. Very Interesting Read Karlene! :) Thanks for sharing

  3. Great interview! Glad to get to know you ladies better through this process. :)

    1. It's so fun to share; however, in person I tend to lock up my tongue in some dungeon, or I begin tripping on it because I try to speak faster than my brain can formulate the words.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. I'd like to know more about the unpredictable trip. Guess I'll have to read the stories :)
    Donna Winters

    1. I'll have to get posting them, then, eh?

  5. Great interview, Karls! And super questions, Jo :) I'm answering those tail-end inquiries in my head, thank you very much. Very prodding and self-revealing.

    Neurosurgeon, eh? Hmmmmmm...

    1. Um, yeah, Di, a neurosurgeon. We'll have to talk about that one. Maybe it's why at least one of my MC's is a doctor? lol.

  6. Great questions, Karlene. I would ask the Lord to take me inside the hearts of some of my family members to allow Him to fulfill their soul's needs with my inspirational fiction. I believe my life purpose is to love the Lord's entire family and to seek out His will for me. At 72, I find my energy level is not always up to the task. So, push yourself while you're young. Blessings on your chosen field. Rohn Federbush