Karen Campbell Prough: Holding Dreams High


Everyone’s Story welcomes back warm and wonderful Karen Campbell Prough, author of historical Christian fiction. I’ve known Karen for a few years now and have had the joy of watching her bloom from debut author to “sophomore” with the release of her second novel in the Ella Dessa series. This week Karen shares with you an excerpt from Book 2, Within The Candle’s Glow, offers a dynamic BookGiveaway, as well as talks candidly on rejection that both the reader and writer might appreciate. We’re both looking forward to hearing from you

**Plus, want to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card?

Check below, after Karen’s feature.

Karen Prough's Cover Image

JPEG Book Cover, Book #2


Karen is offering 1 print or ebook (winner’s choice) of either The Girl Called Ella Dessa or Within the Candle’s Glow to 1  randomly chosen commenter. The winners will be announced here on Friday, August 12th between 5-6 PM EST.

** Please note regarding BookGiveaways: email contact information within comments are no longer required. However, if I have a question regarding yours I’ll leave a comment for you to forward it in order for you to chance winning.

Visit with Karen on Everyone’s Story’s previous appearance: Why I Chose Not to Give Up

Excerpt from Within the Candle’s Glow:

 Within the Candle’s Glow by Karen Campbell Prough

Chapter 9


Ella moved past a cluster of people in Inez’s kitchen and slipped out to the covered dogtrot between the buildings. She paused at the top of the worn steps.


It was almost twilight, and the unusual heat of the day had cooled. The sky glowed with a blush of gold and pink. It feathered out along the visible tops of the mountains. With a gasp of appreciation, she felt drawn to the gorgeous sight.


She made her way to the corral. Three workhorses occupied a rocky pasture and chewed at a pile of freshly cut grass. Behind her were eight or ten wagons, some with mules or horses still in their harnesses. Their outlines faded with the dusky light dipping between the mountains.


Attending Ephraim’s wake had brought back raw memories of her mama’s death.


She leaned against the top rail of a fence. Lord, why must death be a part of life?


“Are you all right?” A familiar voice spoke from the shadows.


Jim’s brother stepped away from the door of the dark barn. His eyes were still the cool green she remembered from childhood. A full red beard concealed much of his lower face, and he was hatless. His wild fiery hair hung long about his ears.


“I startled you.”


“No.” She tried to smile.


“That’s good to hear.” He smoothed the wooly texture of his hair.


“You weren’t inside.” She hadn’t seen him in years. He no longer resembled a slight built teenage boy. Hefty muscles showed where his homespun shirt tightened on his upper body and arms.


Duncan rested his elbows on the top rail and stared at the shadowed horses milling around the feed. “I can’t bear the sad voices and repeated condolences. I’m sick of staring at Papa’s body and eating food at the same time. I felt I’d gag.”


“I hated that part of Mama’s wake.” Ella found it strange she’d actually grasped an instant connection to his private feelings.


He cleared his throat. “Years ago, I never said I was sorry for your suffering—at the time of your mother’s death.” He spoke without looking at her.


“No. You didn’t.” She raised her eyebrows and waited.


“Well, I’m sayin’ it now.” He laced his fingers together on top of the rail fence. “I’m clearing my conscience, asking for forgiveness. I was heartless.”


Her fingers tightened on the rough railing. “I still miss her.”


Beyond the rail fence, somewhere in the dusky edges of the field, a whip-poor-will sent out its signature call—its name. She knew the mottled-brown and elusive nighthawk would call during the first part of the evening and then go silent for the night. Ella loved its special call at dusk. But it would soon fly away and disappear for the winter.


On the porch, someone coughed. An arm hung a lit lantern, and the shadowed person went back inside.


Duncan bowed his head and rubbed the back of his neck. “Papa thought of you as part of our family.”


“I’ll miss him.”


He took a deep breath. “I will, too. But Jim doesn’t believe it.” The shadows of the coming night darkened his features.


Hmm, ‘cause you’re gone from the homestead so much?” She saw his eyes skitter away. The lantern’s beam highlighted their muted green color.


“Yup.” He swatted at an invisible mosquito. “There seems to be no one who understands me. I’m alone. I muddle through life, and yes, I’m gone for a year or more at a time. But don’t ever think I forget my family. I loved Papa. I’m glad I got back in time to talk to him before … before this. He was good. He stood by his strict beliefs.”


“He loved God.”


Hmm. I chafed under his strictness, but it doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God. God created the uncharted wildernesses I travel through and places I get lost in—for months at a time. I feel close to God when I walk alone on a trail made by Indians or wild animals.” He paused. “Is that crazy?”


“Crazy?” She blinked and turned. His figure was a mere shadow in the fading light, but she could sense his proximity. “I su’pose I understand. If I were a man, I’d run away and see the world.”


“That true? Did Jim or Samuel tell you I went west—where mountains dwarf these?”


“No. I thought you were in the south, helpin’ with surveys.”


“Only one winter and spring with a surveying team. When the mosquitoes got bad, I scurried back to Georgia. I worked at a mine in Lumpkin County. I hated it and despised the greedy breed fighting for a piece of momentary wealth. The camp followers are skilled in fleecing the ragtag bunch of what gold is dug out of the mountains or panned in the creeks.”


“Well, I heard your name mentioned durin’ talks of Florida.”


Hmm, the Florida territory does fascinate me. It’s a challenge to those who explore or settle near the swamps, piney woods, and flats. But the warm waters and coastal areas surroundin’ it—Ella Dessa, I can’t begin to describe them. The tepid caress of its waters, the flocks of colorful birds, and extensive wildlife are too wonderful for mere words. A person needs to see it and touch it. I hoped to talk Papa into moving, but the dream’s gone.” He shifted his weight and faced the last reddish-gold hint of the sun, vanishing near the mountain’s peak.


She heard the pure exhilaration in his voice die to deep remorse. “Death doesn’t wait.”


“I know that full well.” He cleared his throat. “Can I call you ‘Ella’?”


“If you wish. Some do. Samuel always calls me ‘Ella Dessa.”’


Darkness enclosed them, with only the lantern’s faint beam reaching where they stood. The promised radiance of the rising moon lit the mountaintop on the other side of the cove, and she could make out filmy clouds drifting near it. Nearby insects began their night trills.


“The moon will be beautiful,” she said and sensed he came closer in the cool shadows. She heard the intake of his breath.


“Ella, I want to say something for your ears only. I need you to understand me as what I am—a changed man.”


“Why me?”


“It’s something of our shared past. The day of your mother’s wake, I hiked up to your place, without my family knowin’. They were all sick in bed. A girl I was madly in love with was at your place. I was young—not like now. I feel ancient.”


“I know who you’re talkin’ about. You hurt her,” she whispered. “Don’t you know that? How is that love?”


“You fail to understand the way of a man … a boy, when the sight of a girl steals his heart and mind. Breaking her heart wasn’t my intention that day.”


“But you did.” Her eyes adjusted to the lantern’s yellow glow and the new silver light inching its way above the rugged heights.


“She promised to kiss me when we met. When she resisted—said ‘no’, it made me crazy. I had thought about kissing her for weeks. It was in my head she would, so I took the kiss she refused to give. I ruined everything with her. I lost her. You saw me force her to kiss me.” He went silent and then muttered, “Why am I standing here talking of this?”


“To ease your mind?”


“No, it’s to erase your dislike of me.”


“Duncan, I’ve no feelin’s either way. God’s the one you must talk to—if it’s guilt you feel. I hold nothin’ ag’inst you. It’s the past. Yes, you were relentless in getting’ what you wanted—a kiss. It don’t matter today.” She changed the sticky subject by asking, “How long will you stay home this time?”


“Ahh—me, the constant wanderer?” He gave a low chuckle. “It’s the big question on Jim’s mind. Ella, I want to leave now. There’s a full moon rising over that mountain. I can see to travel through the cove. I want to go—”




“Who knows?”


“Don’t do it. Think of your mother. She needs all her children nearby … for a short time, at least.” The moon’s silver light inched its way above the rugged heights.


He faced her. “You’ve grown to be a charming young lady.”


A strange tingly feeling passed over her. She was shocked to realize his words pleased her.



In this written piece, I am addressing writers, but rejection hits all walks of life.

As a writer, we all have our stories and articles rejected, but do not worry yourself sick over it or swear you will never write another word. You must realize rejection is not always a bad thing. It can be a good thing! Be thankful.

Now, you are thinking I have totally lost all connection to what rejection means and what being published is all about.

I can hear you say, “What? You’re kiddin’! Be thankful? I want my book or story accepted—right now! I want someone to say they love it and yearn to publish it. I do not want them to give me vague reasons as to why they rejected my manuscript.”

So, how can we be thankful for rejections?

It is hard to believe, but a rejection may direct us to a better fit with a different agent or publishing house. Sometimes, it pays to give ourselves the freedom to accept rejection as step in the path we will always walk as writers. So, we ought to thank those who take the time to consider our work—an article or story—but reject it.

After the rejection, we must move on and search for a better fit.


I have received rejections from agents and publishing houses. Yes, it can hurt. Nevertheless, one rejection really stood out! The incident stays with me, because my manuscript was not read—not even the first paragraph got a cursory glance. I was stunned. It was rejected, because I mentioned part of the storyline. An animal dies. Dead people did not matter, but a dead animal was a “no-no”! I wanted to protest and beg the person to just read it!

But, instead, I collected my manuscript and pride and said, “Thank you.”

I wandered away feeling alone and puzzled.

Yes, it upset me. I felt there was no hope.

But I then spotted another author/reviewer waiting for a hopeful writer to arrive. I introduced myself and asked if she had the time to read just a couple paragraphs and give an opinion on my work.

She agreed to read, so I handed her the proposal and sat down. She read the first couple pages of the manuscript. Silence prevailed . . . then a tear appeared. She looked up and asked if I had an agent.

“Not yet,” I mumbled.

She replied, “You are ready for one.”

Going from rejection to being brave enough to ask a stranger to read my story is the best thing that could have happened. The rejection hurt, but it drove me to the right person, who would say the perfect words. I suppose, some people might say it was like I stepped back into the “path of bullets”.

You also could consider me crazy to risk another painful rejection, or … you can see yourself in my shoes and realize you have the courage to seek another opinion. Say “thank you” for a rejection, and stay on the path you feel God called you to hike.

Now, say to yourself, “Rejection is only one person’s response!”

The next person you talk to might be sitting nearby—waiting to give encouragement. So, keep a good supply of dauntless fortitude and march forward with your talent!

Compare past rejections to an icy snowflake. One does not count for much. You can ignore its frosty touch. And a huge snowstorm might try to trap you in despair, but remember this—the cold snow eventually melts. In the meantime, keep reaching upward. Hold your dreams high. Be thankful God gave you the desire to write or to do anything else in your life! You may be an artist, a speaker, or a trail guide! It does not matter. Rejection can be a good thing!

Karen’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Everyone’s Story: How did author @Kcampbellprough’s bounce back from rejection? (Tweet This)

Like #HistoricalChristianFiction? Visit with Karen @Kcampbellprough #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author @Kcampbellprough: Comparing past rejections to an icy snowflake (Tweet This)

Author’s Bio:

Karen Campbell Prough writes historical fiction and a broad range of short stories. Seven of her short stories have been published in a variety of magazines. She has won awards at the 2014 BRMCWC, the 2015 FCWC, and the 2016 FCWC. She has had two books published. The Girl Called Ella Dessa, came out in 2015, and Within the Candle’s Glow was released in 2016.

Places to connect with Karen:






In appreciation of all those who downloaded their Free Kindle copy of

Always With You, helping

to make it #1 on the Kindle Best Seller list, here’s a way

to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card:



Karen and I look forward to your comments.

27 comments to Karen Campbell Prough: Holding Dreams High

  • I am well acquainted with rejection. 🙂 And I’m thankful for them. If someone had given me a contract when I wanted it, I would now be so embarrassed. I learned that everything is in God’s timing. And at the right time, He put me with the right agent and the right publisher. I totally agree with Karen–rejection hurts but it’s not the worst thing that can happen to a writer.

    Great post!

    • elaineadmin

      Pat, I so agree with both you and Karen, both writing wise and life wise. One thing that the writing biz has taught me is that one shouldn’t take rejection straight to the heart. It hurts, sure. I admit I’ve been known to fret, stew, sulk… all that ugly emotional stuff. But it always comes to this,as you’ve said: He is always right.

    • Patricia, I shudder when I think about stories and books I sent out years ago! I thought they were ready for the public to read … nope! Ha. Yes, God knows where everything fits in our lives, even though it’s difficult understanding delays and stop signs!

  • Marilyn R

    Elaine, Karen Campbell Prough is another new author to me. I appreciate her perspective on rejection. I take rejection as a time to trust God more for something greater as He sees the big picture. No, it’s not always easy but every human will feel rejection in some form. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading Karen books in the future. So many on my TBR list.

    God bless you, Elaine and Karen, with brighter days if rejection comes in the future. God will take care of His children!!

  • Andrea Stephens

    This is a helpful reminder for non-authors. Rejection can be so much a part of everyday life for some.
    I have read A Girl Called Ella Dessa and Within the Candle’s Glow and loved them both so much! I have been eagerly waiting for the next book, as Karen knows. I lovingly pester her on Facebook every once in a while. I’m so glad she and all authors keep going despite the rejection letters. I love to read!
    Elaine, I am one of those people that stumbled across your book when it was free the other day. Now that I have “met” you and read the first few pages, it has moved the top of my read next list. I am currently busy fulfilling my duties as part of Melissa Jagears “influencer” team for her latest book A Heart Most Certain. (I loved it and highly recommend it!) I think you will be finding a positive review from me very soon.

    • elaineadmin

      Andrea, thanks for visiting Everyone’s Story; thanks for making my day with your sweet words on my novel. Do let me know what you think!

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed Karen’s feature and that it has lifted your spirits. I too have read A Girl Called Ella Dessa and enjoyed it… I do need to read the Within the Candle’s Glow!!

    • Hi Andrea! Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment! You are a great encouragement to me. I need pestering! Ha. Elaine’s book is a story that has a “real” feel to it. It makes wish you could help the main character get out of the situation she has been pulled into. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Pauline Essary

    Karen is my cousin and I am so proud of her and her accomplishments and that she has given God the glory and praise with her writings and books. She has always had a very vivid imagination. I remember as a child she would tell me stories and sometimes scary stories that would scare me. I was 5 years younger than her and I always thought very high of her and what she thought about things. I’m glad she has succeeds with what she has always wanted to do. Love you Karen, keep giving God all the glory, Pauline Essary

    • elaineadmin

      Pauline, welcome to Everyone’s Story and for sharing fond memories of Karen, a gentle and kind soul. You brought happy tears to my eyes 😊

      Hope to see you again.

  • Pauline, thanks for being my cousin! Actually, we acted more like sisters! Ha. Yep, I guess the vivid imagination was always with me. 🙂 The five years between us didn’t seem all that much. I remember us locking your mother out of the house and watching “Dark Shadows”, while eating a whole bag of Fritos! Thank you for your kind words. Love you!

  • Great post! You said: “Rejection is only one person’s response!” So true, and I appreciate the reminder. And thank you for sharing the excerpt from your book – very interesting read!

  • Hi Karen:

    I have found over the years that rejection hurts in proportion to our inability to learn from it. For the most part, I consider rejection as being a form of feedback. If this feedback is helpful, then it is good. (Even rejection).

    I trained sentry dogs in the military and we wanted the dogs to make as many mistakes as possible. As soon as possible! That way the dogs learned how to do things in the right way. If a dog was doing what you commanded it to do because it felt like doing things that way, then the dog was learning nothing. The next time, when the did not feel like doing what you told him, you’d learn that it was you, as trainer, that had the problem.

    Some student dog handlers would try and hide the dog’s mistakes from the instructors. The instructors were always after them. “Let the dog make the mistake and then correct him. That’s how the dog learns.”

    I also found it helpful, at least psychologically, to enter situations where one can make a lot of mistakes and get immediate feedback. Writing contests are ideal for this. Often you get three differing opinions which helps show that a lot of feedback and rejection is based on personal opinion.

    That leads to another consideration: there are dozens of reasons why a story can be rejected that have nothing to do with its objective merit. For example, I read about an editor who rejected every manuscript which had an evil ex-wife. No need to even read it! The editor was a bitter, rejected, first wife herself. I think this may have happened to you. Maybe the editor’s dog had just died!

    In short, I always look at what comes back from an editor or contest judge as feedback. Rejection seems just too final.

    One last thing: I’m curious as to why you picked a sample of, “Within the Candle’s Glow,” from Chapter 9. I’m not sure I’ve seen an author do that before. Why miss the opportunity to use the hook so carefully crafted at the start of Chapter 1?


  • Vince, I never knew that about training dogs. Interesting information, in connection with rejections. 🙂 The sample I chose gave attention to one young male character who seems to have a track record for always doing the wrong thing. I honestly believe he has a story to be told–perhaps, in another book. But he’s still an unreliable character in my next book. 🙂

  • Karen, I can so easily relate to what you have shared here. Both the agent I have and
    the publisher I have are such blessings to me. I can see how God’s plans are better
    than my original plans. And there is so much to learn along the way. Rejection is
    only part of our journey. It’s what we do with it, like your getting back up and
    sharing with someone else that counts.

    Elaine, so glad you gave Karen the chance to share her words of wisdom on
    your blog.

  • Kathy, it’s amazing how we all learn and advance in our writing. Sometimes, things just click into place when another writer shares with us and helps us along the way. Some have been so helpful to me … not laughing at my lack of knowledge. I guess I’ve fought insecurity all my life, and it’s very difficult for me to step out and promote my books. Too much like bragging, but I guess we have to look at it in a different way. God gave us the urge to write. And sometimes, rejection kills the joy. Perhaps, we ought to have a “party” on FB and everyone spend time bragging about everything they’ve accomplished in their life. Ha. Ohhh, maybe limit it to three big things! Some people could write a BOOK if we didn’t set a limit. 🙂 We could call it A Night of Permitted Bragging … for writers only! Ha. Have a nice day! Oh, by the way … did you know I have a book published? Well, let me tell you ….

    • elaineadmin

      By nature, I’m a very quiet and Insecurity is my middle name. Yet… put me behind a keyboard or set me in a group of writers or readers and I’m a whole different person. Hmm. Maybe that’s a warning 😮

      • Karen Campbell Prough

        Elaine, I understand. I’m a whole different person when in charge or with a group I can connect with. I built houses for twenty years or so, and I could hold my own with the men who worked for me as subcontractors. But tell me to stand up and talk about my books … I want to hide. Ha.

  • elaineadmin

    Karen, heartfelt thanks and much appreciation for appearing on Everyone’s Story as my lovely guest. It was a pleasure to host you this past week. I hope this time has helped to grown your adoring readership!

    Thanks too for your BookGiveaway–I can’t imagine a book reader being disappointed with choices of books 😊

    The winner of Karen’s Giveaway is…

    Andrea. Congratulations, Andrea, and happy reading! Both Karen and I will contact you in direct emails.

    May everyone beat the heat this mid-summer with a great book 😎

    Blessings to all.

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