About

About Karen:

I received an MFA in studio art from Southern Illinois University, and have been a professional artist and business owner since graduating. My career as an artist became challenged by Multiple Sclerosis several years ago as the disease claimed the fine motor skills of my right hand. Struggling to stay creative, I trained my left-hand so I could continue to produce art; while at the same time beginning work on The Bunco Club. I’ve always loved to write so when one door closed, I jumped at the chance to open a new one. In order to hone my writing skills, I have attended several workshops at the renowned Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband, Bob, and we have one adult son.

Recent art work of mine--still on the easel...
Four piece commission installed in the owners home.

About The Bunco Club and my Bunco group: 

I've been asked many times if The Bunco Club is a true story about my Bunco group and the answer is, NO! The Bunco Club is completely made up and a work of fiction.
  
At the heart of The Bunco Club is a story about women and friendship, and I most certainly drew  inspiration for the novel from the friendship we share in my Bunco group. As in The Bunco Club we are all quilters who have shared our hopes and dreams and secrets while rolling the dice for over twenty years. Together our children grew; parents and loved ones passed; we have cried together and for one another; and occasionally have even been annoyed by each other; but one thing is certain—we set aside one evening every month to be among friends, enjoy too much food but never enough gossip, and toss the dice in the hopes of rolling a Bunco.

Here is a picture of all of us celebrating my birthday a few years ago...

About quilting and food:

Ahhh, talk about comfort subjects! My personal favorite genre of quilts is anything with 30s fabric and I am obsessed with doing teeny-tiny squares. Having said that, I am warming up to batiks in a big way. I have a spectacular kit by Edyta Sitar in my stash that I'm dying to work on.

A group of us at quilt camp where the sewing and eating never stops for five days...

My tiny pieces...

Okay...on to food. 

I know some clubs keep it simple, but our Bunco club puts on a spread! We never do anything as a group when food is not front and center. I hope you've already enjoyed some of the recipes at the back of The Bunco Club book.

About my decision to "Go Indie":

I have coaxed and prodded this book out of my brain for seven years. True, there were many times when life took precedent and it was nudged to the back burner on a low simmer, but there were other times when I wrote with a focused fervor. Finally, my life was (somewhat) in order and I could allot more and more time to writing. With the help of my wonderful and patient friend, Pat Van West, I came up with a manuscript that reasonably resembled a book. 

Now, on to the hard part--the rewrite. Excuse me...did I say rewrite? As in one rewrite? Try numerous, as in too-many-to-count-which-felt-like-a-thousand!  Okay, I admit that's a bit of an exaggeration, but (most likely due to my problem with compulsive perfectionism) there were more rewrites than I could have dreamed there would be when I started this project. When I was done with my rewrites (yeah, right) I took one final read and cut all the fat out of the book--in other words anything that didn't move the story forward. I ended up with a leaner book that was 50 pages shorter.

Now, on to the hard part--oh, I think I've already used that phrase. Anyway, here I am, happy and proud of my seven year old infant, and I naively start querying for agents. Several months (and about 30 rejections later--which isn't very many in the scheme of querying literary agents) I began to question where the heck this thing was or wasn't going. When do I stop looking for an agent? Would I ever be able to stop feeling guilty if one day I just said, "Enough!" and put it on a virtual shelf somewhere in my computer?

After Googling and reading A LOT from Indie authors (while still attempting to find an agent) I truly had an epiphany--a big old 100 watt light-bulb went off in my brain. "Your closing in on 63 years-old...do you want to die with an unpublished manuscript collecting dust on your shelf?" Aside: I'm not planning on dying anytime soon, but you get the idea what I'm saying here. Anyway, at that moment it became a no-brainer for me. I would go Indie and if my book sells, well, YIPPEE and good for me and on to a sequel, but if it doesn't sell ...then YIPPEE I'm guilt free to spend time doing other things. It was a clear case of a win-win situation.

So, here we are and that's my short version of going Indie. It was the correct decision for me and I'm happy I did it.


About Bunco:

Bunco is easy to learn, easy to play, and to top it off a whole lot of fun!  

The skinny on Bunco--at least in my humble opinion.

You'll need to round-up at least eight people to form a Bunco Club; most websites I've looked at mention twelve people. I personally have never known of a Bunco group with more than eight members--let's face it, it's hard enough to find eight like-minded women that are willing to juggle their schedules to get together once a month.

The keyword here is like-minded. For example, as I've stated, my Bunco group is similar to the women in The Bunco Club in that we are all quilters...so quilting is the vehicle or avenue that brought us together. When trying to find enough people for a Bunco group, think about women in the neighborhood, friends where you worship, other Moms at the same school as your kid, women from work or any group/organization you might belong to...yadda, yadda, you get the idea.

Now that you have convinced eight, or twelve, or sixteen (anything divisible by four) fabulous women to go along with your idea...How do you play? What supplies do you need? What if someone doesn't show up? What about rules? You need to set a hostess rotation and then determine how much money each member pays every month toward prizes.

Don't have that panic attack just yet...

Bunco 101: 

The first thing you should know about Bunco is that there are NO set/standardized rules.
For crying out-loud, there isn't even a consensus as to how to spell it: Bunco, Bunko, or Bonko, so there's not a chance I'm going to attempt to map out the rules. But never fear, I have included a couple of the bazillions of Bunco websites to help familiarize you with the rules.

The World Bunco Association (Yep, there really is one.) You'll find helpful information such as rules, exactly how to play, history of Bunco, an available newsletter, and much much more. This will probably be your best go-to source: World Bunco Association.

This website is in business to sell dice, but they have a nice couple of pages on Bunco rules and FAQs: Bunco rules

Don't you just love eHow? They can help you with anything! eHow--Bunco

A cool link to purchase items and get theme ideas: Bunco Party Store

Okay, so it must be obvious by now that all you have to do is Google the word Bunco and you'll most likely get all of your questions answered, along with being able to find printable scorecards and other supplies.

Basic Supplies for Bunco Night and you may want to add some of your own:

Again, easy. 

Tables and chairs--card tables are great, but we often utilize a kitchen or dining room table, too. You'll need one card table for every four people. (Eight players = two card tables. Twelve players = three cards tables.) One chair per person. 

Dice--Three die per table.

Scorecards/Score sheets--One per person.

Bell -- One bell to signal the start and end of the round should be placed at the head table. Anything that can be heard above the shouting and laughter will do!

A couple of final thoughts:

Don't forget prizes and especially the food--These items (and their extent) can be determined by the group as a whole. We pay $5.00 per month and then toss an extra $2.00 per month into an envelope so in December we go a restaurant or a nice holiday feast.

Subs--We have a close quilter friend who is our all-time sub in case someone has a last minute emergency.  You can easily "ghost" one player if you need to.

Roll-offs--If the score is tied at a table when the round stops, there is a roll-off to determine the winners. Each person gets to roll as though it was a regular round. At the end of all four turns the team with the highest score wins...if the score is still tied after one roll-off round, keep rolling-off until there is a winner.

Whew! I may have missed some details (I'm sure I did) and I encourage readers to post their ideas and thoughts to help newly formed clubs. Also, please tells us about you special additions; I've heard about playing with fuzzy dice, crowns, and something called traveling.

I'd LOVE to hear from any clubs, so email me and do tell all. =)
KarenDeWitt7@gmail.com




2 comments:

  1. I have been lucky enough to have already read Karen’s book. The book is very interesting. I liked the development of the characters and how they handled the various situations of their lives! I also enjoyed the reasons of why the characters have the personalities they do.
    The opportunities that the women face range from major to everyday concerns regarding family and friends. Several issues even become intertwined between the characters. I want to learn more about these characters and their relationships, and I’m hoping for a sequel to The Bunco Club!

    Bob D. Mt. Pleasant, WI

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the kind words, Bob--and thanks for proofing my manuscript. If there is a sequel, you'll be the first to go over it for me! Karen

    ReplyDelete