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Local woman follows dream despite health challenges

Zoe Greszler • Nov 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM

UPDATE: Copies of Karina Bartow’s book were recently shipped to her from the publisher and will not arrive in time for Monday’s book party at Western Reserve High School auditoria, so the event has been postponed.

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Karina Bartow has met challenges in her life, but none have held her back from achieving her dream of being an author.

The greatest of these challenges came when the Birmingham native was just 10 months old, when she was diagnosed with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disorder.

The disorder continues to affect her motor skills and balance today, more than 20 years later.

Despite this and only being able to type with one hand, Bartow has written four books since she started in 2008, the first of which has been published and will be released online this weekend at www.splashingcow.com and www.Karinabartow.com.

Bartow’s book “Husband in Hiding,” part of “The Undeafeated Detective Series” follows a deaf detective as she tries to solve a mystery and find her missing husband.

“It's geared mainly toward women, but maybe guys who like the mystery will like it too,” Bartow said. “The mystery is about basketball so guys might like that. There's nothing risqué or anything in it, but I'm not sure that younger kids will like it.”

Bartow didn’t always enjoy writing, however, once she discovered her passion she wasn’t willing to let anything stop her from living it.

“I didn't like writing in school,” she said. “Then when I was 9 years old I went to an author event. When I heard it, it kind of clicked. After that for a while that was all I wanted.”

Bartow said her disability has been “both a challenge and a benefit” when writing this series though.

“With the deaf detective, I drew on some of my own feelings with my own disability to put them in the character,” she said.

“When I thought about writing, I wasn’t sure I could do it every day realistically. One day I started. I didn't want to set a limit (to how long I wrote) and I just kept at it.

“I drew off of my own experiences to show that people who have limitations can still strive for the life they want,” she added.

After overcoming that hurtle of writing her books, Bartow then had the struggle of finding a publisher and editing her stories.

“I got about 50 rejections. I contacted about 120 people,” she said. “Most of them just don't reply to you. I tried not to take it personal. But then Splashing Cow accepted it. … I had to edit a lot. I edited for 2 1/2 weeks, seven to nine hours per day. I never thought I could do that much. Now it’s better after editing though. It was worth it.”

Bartow’s trouble wasn’t in vain.

She not only will release her first book this weekend, but Splashing Cow agreed to make it a series from the get-go.

“I already have the first three books of the series written. They didn't want to play it by ear and see how the first book sold. They liked it so much they wanted to start it out as a series,” Bartow said. “I couldn’t believe it. It might be a three or a four book series; I’m not sure yet.”

The young author was excited.

“I’m excited just to get my name out there,” she said. “I think when I get my copies at home finally, my family and I will celebrate with champagne.”

Any who would like to help Bartow celebrate her success are welcome to attend a larger party.

“We’re planning on having a book party at Western Reserve High School auditoria on Nov. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.,” she said. “Everyone is welcome.”

Books will be on sale for $19.99, cash or check only. Refreshments will be provided. For those who prefer online orders, starting this weekend, you can use discount code "KarTow" to receive a 10 percent discount.

Bartow encouraged others to go for their dreams, no matter their circumstances, and offered a tip for other aspiring authors.

“Though my circumstances have been a bit more difficult than some people's, I've tried to make the most of them and lead as full of a life as I can,” she said. “To anyone who wants to be an author, you need to be persistent. It sounds cliché, but it's the truth.”

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