Today I'm excited to welcome author Karen Jones Gowen as she tours with WOW! Women on Writing in support of her novel Afraid of Everything.
Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It's time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something entirely different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear.
Before Helena can act on her options, there's a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds in another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.
As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. Helena is ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.
Paperback: 285 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (October 21, 2014)
Twitter hashtag: #AfraidGowen
Afraid of Everything is available for purchase in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound.
Born and raised in central Illinois, Karen Jones Gowen now lives and writes in Panajachel, Guatemala. She and her husband Bruce are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen's writing. Her children's stories have appeared in the Friend, and her essays in the Jacksonville Journal Courier. Gowen's published books are Farm Girl,Uncut Diamonds, House of Diamonds,Lighting Candles in the Snow, Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for Active Families and Afraid of Everything. She blogs at her website,karenjonesgowen.com and at Coming Down the Mountain. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“ . . . I often reminded myself to simply live in the moment: happiness is a choice, lose the expectations, enjoy each day for what it brings, good or bad.”
In Afraid of Everything, Helena Carr may try to live by the advice above, but more often than not, she fails. She suffers from such extreme anxiety that it prevents her from living her life to the fullest. She’s afraid of traveling, social situations, meeting new people, romantic relationships, and after a particularly stressful incident at work, she decides to leave the nursing profession and the career she’s so carefully built for herself.
The first half of the book deals with Helena’s attempts to finally confront the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. She wants to be able to work again and begins seeing a counselor and making plans to sell her house and move outside of her comfort zone. But there are areas she is still struggling with (unresolved feelings over her mother’s death, her reluctance to visit her father and daughter who live in different states), and before she can make more progress, she’s involved in a terrifying accident on a California freeway. (This scene really scared me, as car accidents are a specific fear of mine!)
The rest of the novel follows Helena’s journey as she lies in a coma, with her spirit anything but lifeless. This is the part of the book I found most interesting, as I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of guardian angels, spirit guides, and what happens to our souls when we die or are trapped between two worlds. Here, Helena meets several interesting people (including the feisty young woman Coriander) who help her confront her fears and give her the motivation to fight for her life—so she can finally make all the changes she promised herself she would.
Do you have any specific fears? How do you work through them?