Local author launches GoFundMe to print 1,000 books for children with cancer

Featured photo courtesy of Randall Priester – Author Karlene Kay Ryan displays the third book in the Genevieve series.


By Carole Grosch, Reporter

Karlene Kay Ryan, an award-winning local writer, artist and interior designer, has a special place in her heart for a special group of children.

Ryan is giving her new book, “Genevieve has a Very, Very Periwinkle Day,” to children with cancer. It’s the third book of the Genevieve series, and is a story “to put a smile on the face of a child who needs hope, friendship, and support,” says the author. “I care. This is personal, it’s from my heart.”

“Through the adventures of Genevieve, a young girl who embodies delightful authenticity and resilience, I shine a light on treasured moments of childhood – moments of discovery, creativity, and true friendship.

“I want to print a minimum of 1,000 books to create ‘Gifts from Genevieve,’ a bag with a book and other goodies. This book supports creative expressions as a healing art for children, which will be promoted through the gift bag.”

Cancer Centers for Children will receive Gifts From Genevieve. Three centers are already promised these gifts: Craycroft Cancer Center at Valley Children’s Hospital Central California; Wipe Out Kids Cancer a Foundation in Dallas, Texas; and The Periwinkle Foundation at Texas Children’s Hospital.

This is just the beginning. Ryan wants to add other centers across the country to the list.

Getting the book published and providing the gift bags is an expensive endeavor, costing about $60,000. Ryan has set up a GoFundMe account to help with the project.

The Genevieve book series is illustrated by Meredith Johnson, an artist with 35 years of experience and over 120 titles illustrated. “My goals for children are to encourage creative thinking, to have desire to write and draw, and to develop a love of books,” says the artist.

The fictional Genevieve is a creative and fun-loving girl; the first two books showed her the importance of family and support. The third book is a healing story and Ryan feels the message will give young cancer patients hope.

Periwinkle is Genevieve’s favorite color. It is also the color of the Vinca minor plant that has properties of the chemotherapy agent, vincristine.

In 1986, Ryan experienced firsthand how art led to healing after a family tragedy.

“Those first hours of painting were a rebirthing experience, not unlike singing forth my feelings,” explains Karlene. “From the pain, I found the beauty. And, from the beauty, I made a personal commitment to bring more beauty to the world. My artistic endeavors are my prayers in gratitude and trust and hope.”

The Holiday Guild for Children’s Hospital of Central California commissioned a Ryan original oil painting, “For the Children,” in honor of the hospital’s 60th anniversary.

Ryan has been certified as a Life Coach and Practitioner using art assignments. Under the auspices of an oncology physician, she was selected as an art director. Supporting patients living through cancer, she created “Day Retreats of Creativity” to inspire others through art, beauty, and the joy of creativity.

“I have always been involved in art and music and writing from an early age,” says Ryan. “This is what has made my artistic and creative self keep these pursuits a part of my everyday life. It is the heartbeat of my soul.”

The two other Genevieve books from the series are Genevieve and the Moon, in which Genevieve and her friends combine science and imagination to recreate the movements of the sun, moon, and earth, and Genevieve Goes to School, which shows how the heroine discovers the joy of new experiences. Both of these books can be found in both hard and soft cover.

Another of Ryan’s children’s books, Holy Moly, A Mole in One, was the inspiration of her brother, Lance Corporal Michael Joseph Lowe, a decorated veteran and avid golfer. Friend and illustrator Hergie Hergenroeder worked with Ryan to bring the book to life after Lowe passed away.

Ryan writes inspirational books for adults, such as Thank you God For Robin’s Egg Blue, dedicated to her mentor Debbi Soligian, “my treasure of a friend,” who she lost to cancer in 2003. Along with co-author, Valerie Hill, she wrote To Find Hope and This is the First Day of the Rest of My Life.

“As an author, I can only share my strength and hope and wisdom in writings gleaned from my own life struggles,” says Ryan. I have taken my practice of journaling to a place of sharing and publication.

“I am so grateful for my life and the people that I am blessed to know. I am so grateful that I get to look at this life through the eyes of artistic vision. I breathe in the beauty of the Divine Creator all around me.”

Born, raised and educated in Fresno, Ryan is the mother of four and grandmother of eight. She and her husband, Mayo, make their home in Fresno and Carmel-by-the-Sea.

For additional information or to donate, visit Ryan’s website at http://www.karleneryan.com or gofundme.com/booksforkidscancer