Anessia's Quest by Karen Arnpriester

My guest today is Karen Arnpriester. Karen is a creative, passionate and adventuresome woman. She raised her two children, adores her seven grandchildren and is now a foster mom of two young ladies. She has been a self-taught graphic designer for twenty five years and started her own business twenty years ago.
The desire to write began as a hobby. She had an idea for a beginning and the end. The rest of the story flowed and took Karen on a journey. She cried and laughed as she followed the twists and turns of the characters. Once friends read the book, she was strongly encouraged to share her story with others.

When asked why she limits herself to Christian fiction, she simply explains that it is where her heart is. If she commits her precious time to writing, it needs to be of value and have God’s ultimate purpose in mind.

Thanks so much for dropping by today, Karen. Let’s talk writing!

Anne - Tell us something about yourself that you would normally only share with close friends. 

Karen - I was bullied for many years in school. You think you grow up, forgive, understand why you were bullied and leave it behind, but it touches you deep in your spirit. It pounds your self-esteem until you really don’t have any. I appear to be a very confident person but the little voices still creep in, trying to convince me that I am not good enough, something about me was off and that is why I was targeted. It has taken many years of healing, God’s love, counseling and loving family/friends to allow me to tell the voices to shut up! That I am worthy of love and happiness.

Anne - So many of us battle with that. Thank you for being so open about it. When did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

Karen - My first real writing experience was a testimonial book for our women’s group. After the book was released, quite a few people came up to me and asked if I ever considered writing? They loved my submissions in the book. This started a spark, and I began my book on a whim. As the book progressed, I really liked it, and allowed several close friends to read as I wrote. Their encouragement to take the book seriously kept me motivated to finish. But the defining moment was when a reader called to discuss the book. She was quite emotional and upset. I asked her what was wrong, she told me that “Richie didn’t deserve it, he was a good boy.” I laughed to myself and reminded her that Richie was fictional. She insisted that she knew that, but she was still angry about what happened to him. I realized then that I had the ability to emotionally connect the reader with the characters. I was a storyteller.

Anne - Tell us about your book.

Karen - Anessia’s Quest follows the life of a woman born into dysfunction and neglect. The story takes you on her journey. A journey that begins with abandonment, abuse, and physical injury. Pagne (Pain) believes she is all alone, thrown away, but soon discovers that she is protected and guided by her guardian angel. A powerful relationship develops between this lost child and her loving protector that manifests as a unique method of communication.

Pagne encounters other broken people that become her family, friends and community. Her grace and compassion alter their destructive paths. She moves through her life unaware of the impact she creates, her purpose on Earth.

Her life is filled with tears, laughter, joy and heartbreak. She faces challenges that include ultimate betrayal, loss and shame. Challenges that are only bearable due to her trust and faith in heaven’s love and value for her. Love that is reinforced by her angel. She discovers the events that led to her mother’s indifference and neglect, and must decide how much grace she can extend to a woman she has hated for most of her life. The ultimate test of forgiveness.

When she faces her death, Pagne discovers the true value and power of forgiveness and love. She is shown how her life created ripples that spread into waves of glorious influence. She was not an accident, she was placed on Earth with divine intent.

Anne – Would you share an excerpt of Anessia’s Quest with us?

Karen – Yes! (Pagne is pronounced as Pain):

Now that she was awake, she heard the smoke detectors wailing. How did they all sleep through them? She jumped up and woke Macey.            

“Get downstairs now. Wake Grandma. We have to get out of the house.” Pagne saw her little, white Bible from Grandma on her nightstand and stuck it in the waist of her pajama bottoms. They both ran to the second floor. Macey threw open Grandma’s door and woke her by jumping on the bed. Pagne ran into the boy’s room and jerked them from their deep sleep by screaming their names. Grandma and Macey were first into the stairwell, heading to the first floor. Pagne was close behind, and the boys were following her.

As Macey and Grandma reached the bottom step, Grandma lost her balance and fell hard. She screamed out in terrible pain, then whimpered “My hip is broken, my hip.“ Tad pushed ahead of Pagne to help Macey pull Grandma out the front door. Pagne looked back to tell Chad to hurry and he wasn’t behind her.                               

“Where’s Chad?” she yelled.

Tad looked up, confused, “I don’t know. He was right behind me.”                             

Pagne ran back up the stairs, screaming for Chad. The flames had now made their way up inside the walls and were breaking through into the hall. Chad was in his doorway with his microscope and an armload of papers. “What are you doing you, idiot?” screamed Pagne.

“I can’t leave it behind,” he screamed back. As Chad moved toward Pagne, a portion of the ceiling fell, pinning Chad to the floor. Pagne moved in and began pulling the debris off of him. Feeling the heat and finding it harder and harder to breathe, she was struggling not to panic. She finally got him free, but he didn’t appear to be breathing. Pagne had no clue how to do CPR, and there was no time. She could feel the heat becoming unbearable. She drug Chad to the top of the staircase and pushed. He rolled down and landed at the bottom of the staircase with a loud thud. Just as Pagne headed down the stairs, the flames broke through the wall, and engulfed her. She had no idea what to do, so she ran down the stairs not realizing that she was feeding the fire that consumed her clothing and skin.

Anne - Goodness! I could feel those flames. Thank you. What do you enjoy most about writing? What part do you loathe?

Karen - I enjoy the ability to get caught up in my wildest imagination. To mold and shape events to my will, not at all like real life. Create a story that pulls the reader in and gives them the opportunity to see all sides to a complicated character, to understand why people might do what they do. It is hard to be objective in real life situations, but if you can have compassion for a unlovable character, it can carry over into the readers’ relationships.

The worst is realizing you need to change an event, but it dominos in the story and you have to rethink parts that you love. Balancing time between writing, family, home and work becomes very complicated at times and it feels like something is suffering.

Anne - Balancing life with writing is a struggle for me, too. I keep thinking there has to be a solution, but like with anything else it's a little of this and a little of that, as well as an ongoing thing! Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Karen - Yes, Ophelia Buttonhook. The first time I read the completed book, I realized that she was who I wanted to be. Caring, affectionate, patient and filled with God’s joy. I certainly struggle with those characteristics, especially patience. But she also represented my biggest fear, which is memory loss. As I get older, my short-term memory loss is very unnerving. I tell my kids that if I ever do suffer from severe dementia, to please put me somewhere safe with lots of gardens. That I will be fine if they come visit.

Anne - What activity (cause, charity, or organization) consumes your time when you’re away from the keyboard?

Karen - I used to be very involved in our church’s youth and community ministries. I was a youth leader for many years. I also supported a ministry at a women’s shelter by entertaining the children so that the mother’s could attend the studies. It was such a blessing to interact with these kids, kids needing to know they were special. We did games, holiday parties, crafts and much more. Every few months, my husband came in and we provided family portraits for them. Most of the families did not have family pictures and they were thrilled. I had to step back when we decided to begin foster care. My girls needed a lot of time and attention to adapt to their new life.

Anne – Where can readers reach you online?

Karen – at my website and on Facebook.

Anne - Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Karen. I'm certain readers enjoyed getting to know you better and reading the excerpt from Anessia’s Quest as much as I did. I wish you every success both at and off the keyboard!

As always comments are appreciated and welcome. Happy reading!

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