The Gift of Falling Forward: Interview with Karen Brown Tyson

Thursday, February 18, 2021

 By Margaret Buapim

Karen Brown Tyson had been here before, wondering how to recover professionally and personally after a lay off. Multiple layoffs in fact. With it came the need to reframe what was once seen as a career failure and relegated to a place of silence. It was what drew me to Karen’s work in the first place and the works of the growing number of writers who are addressing the shame that can block one from authentically moving forward after a job loss, goal fail, or repeated rejection.

Here at WOW, we’ve come to recognize it as a serendipitous chance to “fall forward” and writers like Karen Brown Tyson are taking the lead in showing us how.  

In Time to Refresh, her debut title, Karen shares her journey of allowing herself to “fall” into purpose.  Written as a 21-Day Devotional guide, she simultaneously encourages readers to reflect on their own experience, discern their purpose and anchor their motivation for a new path to success. 

Previously featured on the WOW! Muffin Blog, Karen enthusiastically agreed that the new year is the perfect time to start over. 

WOW: Thank you again for agreeing to share a little more with WOW readers on how to begin again after the unexpected happens. I'm currently reading your devotional, Time to Refresh. I’m intrigued with how you were able to turn the obvious pain of job loss into motivation for beginning a writing career.  Can you talk about the decision process to try something new rather than a focus on the familiar path - speaking and speaking tours? 

It’s interesting that you asked me why I decided to write a book versus going on tour.  Throughout my career, I have been blessed to travel extensively to places like London, Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, and Ireland.  However, my dream has always been to write a book to share with the world. I found it hard to focus on writing throughout all of my travels. The issue was that I didn't have a writing routine.  Once I got laid off, it was easier for me to slow down in order to find the rhythm of my writing routine.  Once I slowed down and changed my mindset, that’s when I was able to start managing my writing life. 

WOW: Great advice for us to slow down and find the rhythm of our writing routine.  Along with that, you mentioned a changed your mindset. Can you share a little more about the need for a changed mindset?

Karen: Sure. For too long, I put my writing and creative dreams on the backburner. Instead, I spent all of my time and energy focused on work, school, family commitments, and friends. By the time I helped everyone else, I never had time for my writing. Once, I made the decision to stop allowing other things to get in the way of my writing dreams, I was able to move forward. Instead of finding time to write. I made time to write.

WOW: I’m hearing a changed mindset that involved commitment. At the time you began writing, this topic of a career fail was rarely written about or acknowledged publicly by those who have experienced it. What gave you the confidence that there would be an audience receptive to your work in this format and with this theme? 

Karen: Besides being a lover of devotional books myself, I firmly believe God calls us to inspire one another. Everyone goes through tough times. Once we go through our experiences, I think we grow by sharing with others. I realized that so many people were getting laid off.  In talking to people, I could see that some were okay while others were really struggling to find answers so I wrote Time to Refresh to help people find hope. 

WOW: Definitely needed especially after what we’ve been through in 2020. It resonates and validates where we’ve been and gives the opportunity to heal while planning the move forward. So, the process of writing Time to Refresh was a labor of love, but one that you also took full ownership of publishing wise. Was that a conscious decision or did you seek representation and publishing through traditional means?

Karen: No. From the time God gave me the idea to write the book, I saw myself self-publishing rather than going the traditional route. Self-publishing allowed me to publish the book within my timeframe.

WOW: Dealing with your own experience so authentically that makes a lot of sense. It’s certainly a great book birthing experience. I love that not only have you been able to find an audience for Time to Refresh but you’ve been able to build a solid platform that continues to expand. I’d describe that as a successful authorpreneurship. When you think of that term what comes to mind and how have you applied it in your writing career?

Karen: When I think of an authorpreneur I think of someone who operates their writing career like a business. An authorpreneur is responsible for everything from writing to marketing to paying the bills. In my role as authorpreneur, it also means always thinking about the next book idea or writing project. In terms of writing, I have decided to make Time to Refresh part of a three-part series. I am also enjoying running my own writing and coaching business called Constant Communicators.  
WOW: Wonderful reminder in your business name that is also a marketing caveat – As writers, we are always telling our story platform-wise and in connecting with our audience. It takes courage! What can you tell other writers about the process of writing and the lessons you’ve learned since publishing Time to Refresh?

Karen: I never wanted to use Time to Refresh to call out my previous employer for laying me off.  I chose to focus on my response to the layoff as a way to help my readers overcome similar challenges in their lives.  I would encourage writers to focus on what’s inside - how they feel about overcoming the obstacle without spending too much time focused on the people that may have caused it. Also, although I have come to enjoy everything about building an author platform, the most important lesson learned is it takes time. Building an author platform is more of a marathon than a sprint.

WOW: Great advice. You don’t have to pressure yourself to try and make it happen overnight!  So, we’ve processed the experience of a layoff, firing, sidelining experience, what do we do next to start over? 

Karen: I encourage my clients to honestly assess where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow with their writing goals. I ask clients to take inventory of what’s going on in their life right now that requires their time and attention. From there, I encourage them to make small changes that allow them to fit writing and creativity into their daily routine.

WOW: Thank you so much Karen for agreeing to share these tips with us - honest reflection, a changed mindset, prioritizing and then executing our writing goals – a solid foundation to build with. Any teasers you would like to give regarding your new release?

Karen: Certainly! My newest book, Time to Reset: A 21-Day Devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Sidelined, Disappointed or Knocked Off Course, just released in print at the end of January 2021 and as an ebook this month.  

WOW: Great. We’ll be sure to check it out!


Think 2021 may be your year to begin a writing career, refresh your initial dreams to be an author, or enhance your goals in writing by getting specific about goal posts?  Try these suggestions to get started:  Reframe your view of obstacles as a chance to revisit your goals. Reframing how we view an experience allows us to remain unstuck and open to opportunities; Journal as a way to dig deep and gain clarity in order to discover the why and how of your journey. Your journal entries can be the starting point for great writing material as well as motivation reinforcement; Share your story as part of building your author platform. You may find that it helps you discover a niche and audience previously overlooked.

Remember, this is a marathon rather than a sprint! If you have not already started your writing journey, life may be hinting its time. 

Karen Brown Tyson is the author of Time to Refresh, A 21-Day devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Laid Off, Fired or Sidelined, and Time to Reset, A 21-Day devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Laid Off, Fired or Sidelined.


Margaret Buapim is the author of Ring Envy. She has contributed to Guide Magazine (2000) and WOW! Women-on-Writing’s Friday Speak Out (2017). Her interview with New York Times Best Selling Author, Mary Monroe is featured in the June 2020 WOW! Women-on-Writing Ezine and Newsletter. Margaret recently edited The Shameless Plug: Curse of My Father, Series Book II by author Taunishia Zoa and offers ghostwriting and editing services for fiction and memoir. She is currently querying for her second novel. Feel free to connect with Margaret on social media at @YBuapim or on her website,


Jeanine DeHoney said...

This was an awesome interview Margaret. I love devotionals Karen, and can't wait to read both, "A Time To Refresh," and your newly released devotional, "A Time To Reset." During a time where there has been so much loss, job wise, personally, and financially for many of us, these devotionals are the inspiration we all need to "fall forward," and books I will definitely recommend to my family and friends. Continued success in all of your endeavors.

Margo Dill said...

I'm excited to see this interview with Margaret and Karen! I've known about Karen's work for a while thanks to WOW! and I find you so inspiring, Karen. Thank you both for taking the time to do this interview!

Margaret Buapim said...

Thank you so much Jeanine and Margo! Having been in a position where I needed to "fall forward" in the past, I think Karen's work is a wonderfully motivating source of encouragement.

Karen Brown Tyson said...

Thank you @Jeanine and Margo for such kind words! I have been so blessed by working with Margaret on the article and by the WOW community. God gets all the glory for the books I write. Thanks again.

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