What are you afraid of?

I’m very pleased to welcome Karen Jones Gowen during her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. Her book, Afraid of Everything really got me thinking about fears and how hard it is to overcome them.

Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen COVER

When I was a young girl I was terrified of heights and flying, stemming from my favorite uncle’s death in an airplane crash. As I grew older, I rationalized that if I continued to have these fears, I couldn’t see and do the things I wanted to. Especially because I had to fly to most places I wanted to go. So I clenched my teeth and whitened my knuckles and flew until my fears grew less and less. However, I also encountered freeway phobia in my mid thirties. I got over that by telling myself I had to drive on the freeways they were essential routes for someone living in Los Angeles. Therefore, I was gentle with myself, promising myself I could exit a freeway anytime I wanted to. I also opened the car’s window and let in a lot of fresh air. Of course the main antidote for all my fears was the death by suicide of our oldest son, Paul. The loss of a child is a mother’s greatest fear. No other fear could compare to that. Once I had that experience, all my other fears disappeared forever.

Helena, the main character in Afraid of Everything, is afraid of:

  • Thunder and lightning
  • Surprises and sudden loud noises
  • Fear of being made fun of at school
  • Large groups of people social situations
  • Birthday parties
  • Flying

When she finally seeks help, she tells her therapist: I’m afraid of answering the phone, afraid of making a call, afraid of going to the doctor, afraid of getting up in the morning and going to bed at night, afraid of stepping outside, feeling like everyone is watching me. Afraid of getting in my car, and once there, afraid of getting out. I’m afraid of weighing myself, of going to the gym.

She goes on: I’m afraid of taking a pill, of eating or of not eating, especially in public. Afraid of going to church because of all the people.

The doctor presses on for her greatest fear, and Helena says, Having my stability and secure footing pulled out from under me.

Her list is so deep and so tall her fears practically paralyze her until a traumatic event takes away her fears and turns her life around.

You’ll have to read the book to find out the way she overcomes her fears comes as a big surprise. But I guarantee you the method she chooses comes as a huge surprise (see below if you want to read a bit of a spoiler).

Coincidentally after reading Afraid of Everything, I read a January 16, 2015 Parade Magazine article, called What Are You Afraid Of? about the things you should and should not fear in 2015:

  • Flu not Ebola
  • Domestic violence not serial killers, pedophiles
  • Heart disease not Mercury in fish
  • Not getting enough dietary fiber not gluten
  • The re-appearance of measles, whooping-cough, and other preventable diseases not vaccine side effects
  • Texting while driving not air travel
  • Malware on your cell phone not bulk password theft
  • Gun violence among young people not school shootings/mass murders
  • Sitting too much not heart attacks during exercise.

It’s a given we have fears. However, it’s good to know what fears we should not bother about. The Parade article was very eye-opening. It also tells the ways our bodies react when we’re confronted with fear. No wonder my knees shook every time I walked across a bridge when I was a young girl. No wonder Helena couldn’t get herself out of her house to go to social gatherings.

It’s also disheartening. Those of us with acute fears miss so much.


Spoiler Alert:

Afraid of Everything is a touching and expertly written book about the life and experiences of Helena Carr as she explores an intriguing new world.

Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It’s time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear.

Before Helena can act on her options, however, she has a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds in another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.

As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. She is at last ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

Paperback: 285 Pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (October 7, 2014)
Twitter hashtag: #AfraidGowen

Afraid of Everything  is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon 

Karen Jones Gowen Headshot for WOW tourAbout the Author: Born and raised in central Illinois, Karen Jones Gowen now lives and writes in Panajachel, Guatemala. She and her husband Bruce are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen’s writing. Her  children’s stories have appeared in the Friend, and her essays in the Jacksonville Journal Courier. Gowen’s published books are Farm GirlUncut DiamondsHouse of Diamonds, Lighting Candles in the Snow, Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for Active Families and Afraid of Everything. She blogs at her website, karenjonesgowen.com and at Coming Down the Mountain.

Karen can be found online at:

Website: karenjonesgowen.com
Blog:  karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com
Email:  karenjonesgowen@gmail.com
Twitter:  @KarenGowen
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/karen.gowen.1?fref=ts

Karen’s Blog Tour Dates

Monday, March 2 (today) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway! http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Monday, March 2 @ Romance Junkies

Check in at Romance Junkies blog today and learn more about author Karen Jones Gowen and her latest book, Afraid of Everything. http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

Tuesday, March 3 @ The Lit Ladies

See what author Margo Dill has to say after reading Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen. There will also be a giveaway of Afraid of Everything for one lucky winner; Good Luck! http://www.thelitladies.com/

Wednesday, March 4 @ All Things Audry

Fellow author Audry Fryer reviews Karen Jones Gowen’s latest work, Afraid of Everything. Stop by and hear from Audry and get in on a giveaway for your own copy of this fabulous read! http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 5 @ Choices with Madeline Tasky Sharples

Madeline Sharples reviews the fabulous new novel by Karen Jones Gowen. Learn more about Gowen and Afraid of Everything and what fears we should have this year. http://madelinesharples.com/

Friday, March 6 @ Create Write Now

Mari McCarthy reviews Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen. Fellow author reviews are always the best – stop by and see what Mari has to say! http://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog

Monday, March 9 @ Hott Books

Don’t miss today’s giveaway and book review for Karen Jones Gowen’s Afraid of Everything! Guest author Melissa Bennett will be reviewing this fabulous novel and one lucky winner will walk away with their own copy to read (and hopefully review)! http://www.hottbooks.com/

Tuesday, March 10 @ Bring on Lemons

Join educator and guest blogger Cathy Hansen as she shares her thoughts after reading Karen Jones Gowen’s latest book Afraid of Everything. Be sure to complete the Rafflecopter form and see if you’ll be the lucky winner of the giveaway for your own copy of this great book! http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 11 @ Nutshell Newsletter Press

Join Sheila Gazlay as she reviews Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen. http://nutshellnewsletterpress.wordpress.com/ 

Thursday, March 12 @ Lauren Scharhag

Avid reader and book enthusiast Cathy Kirby Contino reviews Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen. Readers of Lauren Scharhag’s blog will also have an opportunity to win a copy of Afraid of Everything. This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss! http://laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 13 @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Catch up with Karen Jones Gowen as she is interviewed by Cathy Stucker about her latest work Afraid of Everything. Don’t miss this WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour stop at Selling Books! http://www.sellingbooks.com/

 Monday, March 16 @ Katherine Hajer

Katherine Hajer reads and reviews Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen. One lucky reader of Katherine’s blog will also win the giveaway and take home their very own copy of this great book! http://www.katherine-hajer.com/

Wednesday, March 18 @ Renee’s Pages

WOW!’s own Renee Roberson reviews Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen and will host a giveaway for one lucky winner to go home with their very own copy of this page turning novel! http://reneespages.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 19 @ I’d So Rather Be Reading

Find out what the lovely Kelli at I’d So Rather Be Reading has to say after reading the latest work by Karen Jones Gowen. Find out more about Afraid of Everything and get in on the giveaway to win your very own copy! http://www.idsoratherbereading.com/

Monday, March 30 @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathleen Pooler at Memoir Writer’s Journey as she reviews Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen. http://krpooler.com/




  1. Madeline, Thank you for hosting Afraid of Everything today on your blog. I found the account about your own fears and how you learned to manage them quite interesting. Very sad about the loss of your son, Paul, however. No one wants to cure their fears or anxieties in such a tragic way. Since I wrote the book, people have mentioned how they deal with fears. One blogger wrote that she uses it as a catalyst to get things done. I think I’m more like her than I am like Helena. Instead of allowing my anxieties to paralyze me, I use them to motivate me. All it takes is the fear of something to make me want to face it and overcome.

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      Karen, it is my pleasure to host you today. And I wish you huge success with your book. It has certainly started a great conversation about fear and how we deal with it. I think I’m with you – I challenge myself to overcome my fears whatever they are. All best, Madeline

  2. Thanks Madeline for hosting author Karen Jones Gowen. I was curious also about Karen living in Guatemala, as I lived in Belize. Guatemala is known to be dangerous in certain parts, but I was wonderingif Karen finds it easier to write and get inspired in a less fast-paced environment. Also. love the Parade article you mentioned, Madeline. So true!

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      Hi, Sonia, I’ll let Karen know about your question.
      I too loved the Parade article. It was perfect to go along with this post. Thanks for reading.
      xo M.

  3. Sonia, We are near Lake Atitlan, in a town called Panajachel, lots of families and tourists. It feels quite safe, always people, kids, everyone out on the streets. I do find it easier to write without all the distractions of living in the States, although my biggest obstacle is still myself, and things I find to put off work. Especially right now while I’m drafting a new book. This is the most difficult phase for me and when I’m least inspired regardless of where I live.

  4. The main character is a mess of fears.
    That list from Parade is so accurate. Texting while driving is so dangerous and I am ready for the gluten fear to die down.
    Congratulations, Karen!

  5. Madeline Sharples says:

    A minor correction. There will be no giveaway associated with this March 5 post. My fault. I couldn’t get Rafflecopter to work on WordPress. So sorry.


  1. […] Thursday, March 5 @ Choices with Madeline Tasky Sharples Madeline Sharples reviews the fabulous new novel by Karen Jones Gowen. Learn more about Gowen and Afraid of Everything and one lucky blog reader will win a copy of the book in a giveaway. http://madelinesharples.com/ […]

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