Where Do Writers Get Their Inspiration — Karen C. Whalen

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Karen C. Whalen as she shares about a woman who inspired her writing.

Where do writers get their inspiration? Many times, it’s from other writers. As for me, Erma Bombeck (1927 – 1996) was a big influence in my life and writing career.

Erma was my role model when I was a young mother. I never missed her column, At Wit’s End, in my local newspaper from the time my sons were newborn until they entered high school. Erma showed me the way. Her words of humor and wisdom guided me and gave me the assurance and confidence I needed to raise a family. If Erma could overcome the challenges of cars that wouldn’t start, socks lost in the laundry, and meals uneaten and unappreciated (she recommended buying an oven that flushed), if Erma could laugh at the frustrations of lost homework, extra children at the dinner table, and a husband who thought helping make coffee was equivalent to carrying the baby the last trimester, if Erma got through it all…then I could, too. And I wasn’t the only one. Many a woman took a pair of scissors to the paper to cut out her words and tape them to the refrigerator door.

Erma inspired me to travel. Her book, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home is one of my favorites. Living in Illinois, my family took the same vacation every year to Wisconsin, if we took a vacation at all. The first time I flew on a plane was in college. Since then I’ve been overseas a handful of times, enduring and embracing both the exasperations and excitement of international travel, just as Erma did before me. Travel has enriched my life and my writing in so many ways. My fourth book, A Stewed Observation, released August 6, 2018, takes place in Ireland. Many of the scenes and descriptions are based on my own trip to that beautiful country.

Erma and I shared the same profession. I got a degree in journalism like she did, I worked as a paralegal, but I also wrote a national column like she did, and I became a full-time writer like she did. Erma paved the way. If she could do it, I felt I could, too, just as if she were there, cheering me on from the sidelines.

Erma was the only celebrity to whom I wrote a fan letter. This was around the time of her last book, when she was undergoing treatment for the illness that claimed her life. I didn’t keep a copy of the letter I wrote, but I must have told her that I thought of her as a friend. It did seem as if I knew her through her books and columns. Erma was the same age as my own mother, but her timeless writing made her more like a peer. She sent a post card back. I keep this postcard on my desk with her handwritten note, “you are a good friend.”

I’ve published four books in the Dinner Club Murder Mystery Series and additional books will be coming out later this year and next year. My amateur sleuth, Jane Marsh, bumbles around when solving the crime, causing situations where she needs to have a nice long laugh at herself. Humor is often the glue that brings friends together. I want my readers to feel like Jane is their friend, in the same way Erma became my friend through her inspiring words.

 About the book:

The Gourmet Dinner Club travels to Ireland to enjoy Irish cuisine while staying at a medieval, ivy-covered castle. Jane hopes Dale will ask her to marry him at this romantic dream destination. But her plans are put on hold when the elderly owner of the castle becomes violent, one of the club members tries to restrain him, and he collapses and dies. The police believe the mysterious death is murder and begin to suspect one of the club’s members. Dale leaves for home on a business emergency, and as the lone single gal in the club full of couples, Jane is thrown into the company of the handsome Irishman who stands to inherit the castle. Jane must prove her friends innocent by solving the crime. Which one of the sweet-tempered Irish could be a callous killer?

ibooks link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-stewed-observation/id1403825990?mt=11 


I guess you’ll need to trust me.” Griff’s blue eyes danced in his handsome face. The moment was suspended in the air for a few heartbeats. Then he leaned over and put his lips on hers. She smelled his scent, like the salty sea and the smoldering peat and the burning malt of the Guinness. His lips tasted like Guinness, too.

Had she fallen asleep into a dream? She murmured, “The Irish are certainly a friendly people.” She turned to stare out the car window, aware that Dale might be waiting for his connecting flight from Boston to Denver.

As if reading her mind, Griff asked. “Are you upset about Dale leaving? How serious are you two, anyway?”

Jane lowered her seat back to recline and closed her eyes. “I thought he was going to ask me to marry him on this trip.” Were they even together anymore? They were likely on the outs.

There’s something you should know.” He was silent for a few seconds as he inspected the steering wheel. “I overheard Dale’s telephone conversation, while I was at the receptionist desk, while you were having breakfast. He was talking to someone called Polly.”


He was standing right next to me. I couldn’t help hearing it.” Griff turned the ignition switch and pulled out into the traffic. “Dale told Polly he loved her.”

Her breath caught in her throat. At least she knew now. Dale had abandoned her for Polly.

About Karen:

Karen C. Whalen is the author of a culinary cozy series, the “dinner club murder mysteries.” The first four in the series are: Everything Bundt the Truth, Not According to Flan, No Grater Evil, and A Stewed Observation. The first book in the series tied for First Place in the Suspense Novel category of the 2017 IDA Contest sponsored by Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Her books are similar to those written by cozy authors Jessica Beck and Joanne Fluke. She worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado and has been a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. She believes that it’s never too late to try something new. She loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries.