First in a week-long series of profiles on moms I know in honor of Mother’s Day 2011.
Chances are you’ve read one of Karen’s best selling non-fiction books. You just don’t know it. Neither do I, and I know her in person!
Karen Risch-Mott is a ghostwriter who’s been at it for almost 20 years. She’s the enviable kind of writer who actually makes a living at it. I’ve seen it and I promise it’s not just a rumor. And I’m not talking $10 a pop articles on e-How, either.
Toiling in quiet obscurity, Karen brings some idea to fruition or some notable person’s story to life through a combination of her clear writing and her rock solid knowledge of the publishing world—what works, what doesn’t in getting a book from idea to contract to bookstore. But as a ghostwriter, she does it without notice. The apparent author is the one recognized as the book’s “author” while Karen get’s the satisfaction of a job well done. And a paycheck.
That she cranks out a couple of non-fiction books a year for clients is impressive enough, but that they often hit the best-sellers lists shows how adept she is in mastering various topics and different authors’ unique voices. She also helps teach others how to write non-fiction books through a combination of free downloads on her site as well as writing services and consultations.
Naturally she has to be a generalist of sorts, interviewing her clients and probing into their subject matters in order to realize the concepts and language associated with them. She then must translate that into a compelling way to reach readers. She’s found her edge in remaining very open.
At heart, I’m a perpetual student, constantly learning about the world around me, looking for the beauty in it, marveling at the patterns in every aspect of life. I’m fascinated by the paradoxes I recognize in others and myself, the apparent contradictions in everything from the natural world to human behavior. I love to have assumptions dashed.
A small footprint is nothing to be ashamed of
That she’s managed to do her work mostly from home over the years, being agile both creatively and in business, is enviable. It also makes for a more eco-friendly, low-energy lifestyle.
Working at home has lowered our carbon footprint, mainly because we drive less and we spend less on (i.e. use less) clothes and energy than we would in maintaining an office…We shower and flush the toilet less, too, but maybe that’s TMI. Conservation and responsible living are values for our family, and we try to reduce consumption all around.
I had to keep that TMI in. It’s so Karen. Not that she talks about toileting a lot, in fact I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it. It’s just that she’s got a wry sense of humor and definitely doesn’t take herself too seriously while still bringing her whole heart and mind into her interactions and work.
Like many women, Karen is multitasking. She lives right next door to her church where she’s very involved with her community. And she helps coordinate a women’s running club and probably many other things that I have no clue about. All this and for the past five years she’s been a mother, too. But not like most of us. At least to start.
It’s a boy!
A little over five years ago Karen and her husband, musician and designer Robert Mott, decided to adopt. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision in that they responded to a need rather than having launched an outward adoption process. But it wasn’t a decision that was rushed into without Karen’s characteristic thoughtfulness.
Still, while most of us have nine months to prepare, and in adoptions often much longer, Karen’s son came to her much more quickly.
We wanted to be parents; that’s the short story, not much different from anyone else’s who starts a family. All the rest of it is rather a long tale best told over a tall drink…I will say that I felt thrown into the deep end, since our son was six weeks old when he came to us. It all happened very fast, which is somewhat atypical in an adoption scenario. It was both magical and terrifying.
The beauty of seeing adoptive parents in action is how fully and truly a family is shaped through love. The way Karen holds her son for a moment of motherly affection, or explains something to him that he’s asked about, or checks out something he’s done reveals the inner connection of souls united in deep relationship. As deep and as fully as any other mother and child. That she’s fashioned a life that allows her to be there for him after school, or during breaks is just icing on the cake.
Karen shows that it’s possible to create the life you want through imagination, will and taking a few chances. Even if you’re a writer. Or an instant mom.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List