Stay up-to-date with blog posts from Karen

Check my blog for updates on these an other reviews and awards. Learn about my new life on the Navajo reservation in Chinle AZ.


New Books in 2013

Painted Dreams in Creole

Rev an Koule Pou Ti Marie (Educa vision publisher, 2013)

Painted Dreams is now available in Creole.  I have always wanted to have my books that take place in Haiti to be available in Haitian Creole.  Finally Painted Dreams as been translated into Creole and young people who speak that language will be able to make this book their own.   It is still a hope that one day Galimoto will be translated into Chichewa, the language of Malawi.


Recent Awards


A Beach Tail received starred reviews in both Kirkus and School Library Journal.  This little book has also been picked by Jessica Doyle the First Lady of Wisconsin as the book of the month for March in the Read on Wisconsin book club.

Check my blog for updates on these an other reviews and awards .



Work in Progress

Dreaming Tyson (working title).
In this young YA novel, 14 year old Boniface is forced to live in Kibera the largest slum in Africa as a victim of the aids epidemic that has taken his mother and his grandfather.  He manages to eke out a dignified existence where he attends school and plays soccer and dreams of going on to secondary school.  But when his best friend and mentor, Tyson is hit and killed by a pick up truck, Boniface’s fragile world falls apart.  He ends up on the streets of Nairobi as a chokera, a street boy, where life is degrading and harsh. He is unable to accept the help offered by his friends Beatrice a schoolmate and the girl he has a crush on or Madam Josephine, the local business woman who buys used paper for recylcing from the street boys. Boniface must find a way to cope with this new loss and in doing so he learns more about his dead friend, himself, life in his own world and beyond.

Finally the rough draft is finished and I am polishing and marketing this book.  I have gotten to know and love my characters well and am attached to them all.  I hope they find a home and make connections out in the world.

Facing Fear:  The Story of an Undocumented family in the US
Interest in undocumented immigrants grew out of my work with and books I have written base on the lives of refugees in the US. For this story I traveled to the border in El Paso Texas, interviewed FBI agents, news reporters, teachers, social workers. I drove through secondary checkpoints featured in the story and saw the famous fence between Mexico and the US. I spoke to children through that fence. I hope this is a timely story with meaning for all Americans whose families arrived in this country as immigrants.

The Boy Who Wanted to give Back to the World:
The Story of Albert Schweitzer
I have been interested in Albert Schweitzer and his work as a doctor in Africa since I was a child. Imagine what a unique and enriching experience it was to work and live in Haiti where my husband was a physician at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, named after this great humanitarian, philosopher and writer. I became particularly interested in the fact that Schweitzer suggests that the best of who we are comes from our childhood. He had a notion that he wanted to help the world even as a young person. This captured my imagination. One of his greatest gifts to the world is his philosophy of reverence for all life. He said simply, “Help life where you find it.” It is a simple philosophy that applies today.

The Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti (in photo to right) where I lived and worked for three years is modeled on the teachings of Schweitzer.

Sacred Words, Secret Hero:
Teddy Draper, Sr. Navajo Code talker WWII

Since moving to Chinle, AZ in the center of the Navajo reservation I have become friends with Teddy Draper Sr. and his family.  They asked me to tell his story.  After hearing about Teddy Sr. and his experiences in WWII I began research and became passionate about the subject.  I interviewed Teddy and went to see where he grew up in the canyon.  His story is compelling beginning in boarding school where he and other students were punished for using the Navajo Language until later in life when the US government was asking him to use the same language to help win the war in the Pacific.  Teddy vowed if he ever got out alive he would come back to teach his language to young people on the Navajo Nation and that is what he did.  This project is especially exciting because Teddy’s son Teddy Jr.  a well known Navajo artist will do the illustrations.  


Mexico Border

Juarez Mexico sign

Hôpital Albert Schweitzer

Teddy Draper Sr.

Teddy Draper Jr.


Truchas, NM

Snow in Pennsylvania

New Poetry

The Perfect Ten Conference with Tupelo Press was the prefect retreat to jump start the muse for my poetry.  I have had a difficult time using my experiences in the southwest to generate new poems.  I signed up late and had 5 days to write 20 poems to submit for this conference.  WOW!  It worked.  The retreat center in Truchas, NM is the perfect setting with great food, including wine and snacks.  The conference was small, personal with supportive poets and instruction by Jeffry Levine and Veronica Golos.


I am currently working on a book of Poems Living West (working title). Here is a sample:

Living West

You would like me to say the horses here thunder across blue-green mesa,
manes and tails fly on the wind of swift grace.
You want to think,  “wild and free”.

Instead.  Think lost.  Skin and bone. Feral is not wild.  Or free.
They weave across highways, between pickup trucks as if there is something to graze on the other side.  Of this life.

And on the mesa the stench of rotting flesh until the bones, picked clean by
shimmering black ravens, lay bleached,
rib cages curled in torturous sun.

Think instead, Georgia O’Keefe skulls. In red dust.

I Did Not Know
            After leaving Pennsylvania

I did not know
I would miss
crow black skies
In crisp autumn

Feathered waves
Cross translucent evening blue
a single surety of purpose

the raucous flow
keeps coming
and coming

the time and way
deeper than knowing

gives joy  to my oneness.

Sky alive still
With thinning tide
The tardy few to

one final stray streak,
Leaves quiet black, reveals
a single star like splintered ice.

Oneness becomes aloneness
crisp turns bone cold.

I did not know and thus
I did not say good-bye
To crow flooded sunsets.
I should have whispered farewell
or is the ach in having known.
And thus knowing now

The crows will not miss me.



Speaking at Schools and Conferences

Since moving out west I have visited schools from Mobile Alabama, to Pennsylvania to Arizona.

I have attended and presented at SCBWI conferences in Phoenix.  I also presented at the University of Arizona and at the Tucson Book Festival as well as the NCTE conference in Las Vegas.  It’s a whole new world for me but people still love children’s books wherever I go.



Visiting my niece in Panama


Italy in 2013

Karen and Christopher in Malawi
Christopher on my bike during our Peace Corp time in Malawi.

Travel in 2013

Panama was never on my bucket list of places to visit. Two highlights however included visiting my niece who was in the Peace Corps there and living for three days in a thatched hut on an island the size of a football field. I would return in a minute.

Our friends from Aqua Ventura, ( Johnny and Vio have moved their travel adventure business from Spain to Portugal.  We visited them there. The hiking and beach, surfing and food are still as spectacular as ever.
We got to explore Lisbon too.

It’s great to have friends and family in interesting places around the world. My sister-in-law runs Ionian Jewel Tours She also owns a house in Calabria, the bottom of the boot in Italy. We will return there this summer (2013) Can’t wait!  More food and beach, hikes and exploring.

My son Christopher was born into the Peace Corps and Steve and I lived and worked in Malawi, Africa. Now he and his wife are teachers in Mozambique with the Peace Corps, 31 years later. Full circle. We will visit them in 2013. This will be an especially meaningful adventure for me.

Check out more travel photos on the blog.


© 2013 Karen Lynn Williams