After Winning Online Contest, Budding Author Aims for the Big Time

Novato's Karen Lynch, who wrote an unpublished memoir, won a Facebook-based literary contest and has meetings set up with authors and agents.

said she is "Facebooked out" for a while. For a national literary contest, she maxed out on social media as she promoted the essay she wrote about the adoption of her Chinese-born daughter.

Voting closed Monday and she just found out she won, thanks to some intense and unexpected support from friends in Novato and beyond. So it paid off.

Now that The Road to Kyra has captured first place in the Notes and Words Essay Contest, the Novato mom and retired homicide detective is one step closer to publishing her memoir, a tale mostly about how she overcame the challenge of having a mentally ill hippie mother and ended up as one of the first female cops in San Francisco.

For now, before accepting her award — a consultation with some famous authors and a publishing executive about her book Good Cop, Bad Daughter — she just wants to unplug as she gets ready to accept her award this Saturday during an event at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

"I did all the things I said would never do, but now it's done," Lynch said. "It's really been awesome. This community is awesome. I just cried because I couldn't believe that people would step up like this."

After the contest field was narrowed from 220 to 18, one of the criteria for winning was the accumulation of Facebook likes on a spot where the essay was placed on the Notes and Words Facebook page.

"I took that to mean that we needed to establish some willingness to promote ourselves, so I used it to show that I was willing to go all out," Lynch said. "I just went crazy on there. I wrote an essay called 'Like Me.' It's so not me; I hate to intrude on people and be obnoxious, but I got to see whole new side of myself. I was fighting for my child, my book."

Lynch relied on social media wildfire to drive people to the Notes and Words Facebook page to vote. Novato Patch Local Voices blogger wrote about Lynch's effort last week and many other friends from a group of families with adopted children from China rallied as well. Barry and others helped her iron out an issue with hyperlinks that led to an easier way for people to vote in the contest.

"I'm into the spiritual stuff, but I do believe in 'Ask and ye shall receive,'" Lynch said. "Sylvia stepped forward, unsolicited, and really became my champion."

As Barry wrote in her blog post, Lynch wrote The Road to Kyra about her journey of adopting her daughter from China when the girl was 15 months old. It covers the enthusiasm and support from her two boys and how her retired-cop husband, Greg, changed his mind and supported the adoption 10 years ago.

Today, Kyra is thriving as a fifth-grader at .

"This short essay vividly describes the passion, determination and love Karen had for her future ... and we get a glimpse of what and who Karen is and why Karen has such a huge following by just being her," Barry wrote.

Lynch battled breast cancer three years ago and is doing well now. She took on the challenge publicly, sharing her ups and downs with friends, family Beth Huizenga and becoming a Relay for Life Novato team captain. Meantime, she worked on Good Cop, Bad Daughter as she reflected on her 29-year career that began in 1981 when there were very few women on the SFPD force.

Notes & Words, which features spoken word and musical performances, is the annual signature event of Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Last year it raised $500,000 for the hospital. At Saturday's event, Lynch will be introduced to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, best-selling author Anne Lamott, and comic John Hodgman, the Daily Show and HBO's Bored to Death. In addition, she'll meet Notes and Words founder Kelly Corrigan, another best-selling author and a breast cancer survivor.

Lynch said she can't wait for the opportunity to have one-on-one consultations with a Random House/Ballantine senior editor, O Magazine’s executive editor and a top literary agent at ICM.

"There are no promises that anybody will do anything, but it's a foot in the door," Lynch said. "... If nothing else, I'll be making some connections. I feel like this book is going to get published whereas before the contest I didn't think so.

"It's very exciting. Publishers are very reluctant to sign previously unpublished writers, so this seemed to me a great opportunity."

Lynch said she can't see herself participating in another drive for Facebook likes.

"I started calling myself Spam I Am," she said.

KMM April 26, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Nobody more deserving of this than Karen! Karen's story of Kyra hits home to me, as I have 2 girls both adopted from China...I met Karen shortly after Kyra came home. She is strong, beautiful, kind and a phenominal parent and person. I'm glad I can say I know her...SO proud of you Karen!!! xoxoxoxo
Sylvia Barry April 26, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Karen totally deserves this. She is an excellent writer with beautiful heart and soul and great passion about what she loves and what she believes in. Her story and writing captured people's heart and that's why she won. I forwarded her article to some friends and one mother with adopted children said she was so touched by Karen's story that she cried while reading it. Also, let's not forget about Karen's wonderful family and friends. I think that's a big part of the whole story!
Beth Huizenga April 26, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Karen deserved to win not only because she's a fabulous person and mother and FB promoter, but because she's a gifted writer. Her essay speaks for itself and I can't wait to read her book! Go Karen!! "Dance like no one is watching" at that fancy-schmancy party on Sat night!!
Candy Hilder April 26, 2012 at 03:43 AM
No recognition will be enough for this amazing woman. She deserves it all & then some. I'm so proud!!
kbrethart2 April 26, 2012 at 04:20 AM
I am so happy for you Karen. You are a beautiful person and gifted writer.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 April 26, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Karen this is GREAT and you and your family deserve it! Well done! :)
Marie Rios April 26, 2012 at 09:47 AM
I am so happy for you Karen. I voted all the way from Guam.
Lynne Wasley April 26, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Congratulations Karen! I voted on Facebook and shared and encouraged Fb friends likewise - this thanks to your friends Sylvia and Sue H. (who bugged the heck out of me, but then I nagged the heck out of her when I did a Facebook contest - and won)! Though your writing ability surely brought you to this victory, so did your friends who championed you not only for your talent, but because of your courage and heart. I hope this opportunity opens the door to your memoir being published. If you haven't already, you might want to check out Book Passage for further support. I attend the monthly "Left Coast Writers" salon and find the speakers and networking helpful in a myriad of ways. I look forward to my own writing effort (a novel) being published, or if not self-published, in part due to this group - which includes book launches for each of its members. As an adoptive parent I was particularly moved by "Road to Kyra" - and look forward to reading your memoir. My best to you in this and all your journeys!
Brad Beedle April 26, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Way to go Karen!
Sylvia Barry April 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Karen and her husband, Greg, just very generously donated $1,460 to Oakland's Children's Hospital in honor of her friends. An advocate to her causes and to the kids (both Children's Hospital and the orphaned children). This donation to Oakland's Children's Hospital is pure icing on the cake. Thank you, Karen and Greg! Yes, Susan H is an amazing friend. Everybody should have a friend like her.
Katharine Johnson April 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Congratulations Karen. I can't wait to see your book in print!
Kris Mulkey April 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Woo hoo!!! Can't wait to read the book!


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