Karen Schaufeld is the co-founder of All Ages Read Together and founder of 100 Women Strong an organization dedicated to strategic philanthropy. Karen resides with her husband Fred and has three children and 4 (sometimes 6) dogs. The Lollipop Tree is her first book.

The Lollipop Tree Book Synopsis
The Lollipop Tree is a story of perseverance in the face of adversity. Share in the triumph and travails of a young tree as she navigates the seasons.

How did your book come to life?
The Lollipop Tree is based upon trees on my farm that often have tragedy strike due to chance, construction, or weather. The entire farm family celebrates when a tree thrives and mourns when it dies. Recently, we lost a 400-year-old oak in the derecho and were devastated . . . but just imagine what that tree lived through!

How long did it take you to write your book?
The physical act of writing the book only took about a month but I was refining it for months in my head. I just lacked the discipline to sit down at a computer to start writing. The longest lead time item was creating the illustrations. Each amazing illustration is a beautiful oil painting.

In two sentences or less can you tell readers something unique about your book?
Find the praying mantis!

List three adjectives that describe your book as a whole:
Beautiful, Exciting, and Meaningful

Where can a reader purchase your book?
For a signed copy of The Lollipop Tree, go to www.lollipoptreebook.com. The Kindle edition is available on Amazon. A hard copy of The Lollipop Tree will be available soon on Amazon. You can also visit www.lollipoptreebook.com for upcoming book signing events.

What other books are most similar to yours?
Peach and Blue by Sarah S. Kilborne. Whisper From the Woods by Victoria Wirth

Who inspires you?
My husband, Fred inspires me because he is smart, funny, and works very hard. I can’t be a slacker around him, so despite struggling with procrastination all my life, I feel the need to complete projects just by being around him.

My sister, Sandy, inspires me because she is constantly working to make a better world for children and the elderly which is the focus of her non-profit All Ages Read Together (AART). AART is dedicated to serving low and moderate-income pre-school aged children. Older volunteers prepare children for success in Kindergarten and beyond.

My kids, Haley, Jake and Max inspire me because I learn every day from watching their journey into adulthood. They remind me that every life has bumps and that failure, despite being hard, is an opportunity to grow. They also constantly challenge my world view so I am always reevaluating my assumptions and opinions. Mostly I just appreciate that they are all beautiful and unusual in their own way.

Where do you find your ideas? Does something trigger them? Do you carry around a notebook in case inspiration strikes?
I mostly dream my ideas and write in my head. The Lollipop Tree was based on a tree on my farm and some actual events that surround that special tree. I am working on two more books that are inspired by life on my farm but the events are a little more improbable than The Lollipop Tree.

Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do?
I don’t write enough. There’s a lot in my head that would be more effectively communicated if I wrote it and put it out there. But, I have always loved reading and fell in love with children’s literature when my children were young. I started collecting my favorite children’s books and really wanted to write a book that had the same impact as those beautiful books. Now that my kids are older, I finally found the time and had the resources to write a book that I feel could stand with my favorites.

What is your writing process?
Everything is pretty much written in my head long before I can force myself to sit down at a computer. For this type of book, there are some pretty specific goals and rules (at least as I see it). There really shouldn’t be too many words and the words that there are should be the exact right words. The book shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to read in a sitting because this is a book meant to be read to a child, and probably at bedtime. And to appeal to the youngest children, the illustrations have to be amazing to form an initial connection to the book before the words or the message can be appreciated, as a child gets older. So, once I wrote each page with the illustration in mind, I put the book away for a week. I came back to the book about once a week read the book aloud and made changes. After about four weeks I sent the book to my illustrator.

Where do you want to go with your writing career? Where do you see your writing career in five years?
In my fantasy world I would have as big an impact as authors like Dr. Seuss or Margaret Wise Brown. I am working on two additional books and I would hope that both of those books will also be successful and are read to children every night.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
My second book will be called Larry and Bob, a story about a bald eagle and a small mouth bass. My third book will be called How to Eat a Peach and explores the friendship between a farmer and a squirrel. It seems that I continue to be inspired by country living.

Where did you grow up? How did your hometown (or other places you have lived) inspire your writing?
I grew up in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. My uncle was a bookbinder and restorer of rare books and manuscripts and lived just behind us (we had connecting backyards). I grew up touching and handling the most beautiful books in the world. I still get a visceral thrill handling an old book and imagining all the people through hundreds of years that also touched that book. It is like being a part of and connecting with history. I went to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and studied in the most beautiful library in the world, Lindeman Library; my home library is inspired by Lindeman Library. I live in Leesburg, Virginia on a farm and am inspired by the plants, animals, birds, and vistas around me.

When you go into a bookstore, where do you go first?
I definitely check out whatever books are featured. I love fiction and non-fiction books that focus on history. And I always judge a book by its cover. I’m very attracted to an interesting cover.

What are you currently reading?
I’m very behind in my reading. I’m finally getting around to One Drop by Bliss Broyard. I have about 40 books next in line. I tend to read many books on one subject before I turn to another subject.

What is the best book you’ve read?
I love too many books to say, but the best book I’ve read this year is The Fish That Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen-Farrar.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?
My favorite book is Welcome to The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut. I think that when I read the short stories in this book as a teenager it really influenced my thinking about how important self-expression is and the appropriate role of authority in our lives. It made me appreciate people who strive to excel, or think differently, or challenge the norm. It made me want to create a world where we all can reach our full potential.

In all the books you’ve read. Who is your most favorite character and why?
I can’t really answer that well because every time I re-read a book the characters change because I’ve changed. When I read Catcher In The Rye I was a teenager and could totally relate to Holden Caulfield. I felt all his angst and discomfort. When I read the book as an adult with kids the same age as Holden, all I could think was “Where are this kid’s parents?” and “He really is depressed and needs a psychologist!”. I can tell you my least favorite character. I hate the boy in The Giving Tree. I got mad every time I read the book and have had to stop reading it at all.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I walk on my farm every day with my dogs. I work primarily with non-profits in the Northern Virginia area mostly in education, health, and hunger prevention. I love live music and attend many concerts. And a few times a year, holidays and summertime, I am inundated by my kids and their friends.

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View The Lollipop Tree on Amazon